It takes time to properly appreciate good art. It's with this concept in mind that I consider a piece that's now been hanging on my wall for almost 6 months. It's a special piece too, carefully crafted and intricately put together over many hours. I should know, afterall, I made it.
LEGO's art range has always looked undeniably impressive so when they announced a version of Hokusai's masterpiece (no, not the one with the octopus), The Great Wave, it seemed like the perfect excuse to buy large quantities of LEGO to play wit- ah, that is, carefully asses for review purposes…
The price tag is undeniably high at £89.99 especially given how many of the 1800-odd pieces are just little dots, and true it's pretty disappointing that as with the Optimus Prime set and unlike in the Van Gogh set released previously, there's no minifigure included here which does feel like a big miss. Either a little Hokusai or a doomed sailor would have been a nice inclusion. It's also true that the set looks its best when viewed from a good distance away, as the closer you get, the more the gaps between the pieces become apparent.
However, despite these issues the set as a whole is really good. The build itself is a lot more complex than it initially appears to be. Whilst laying of hundreds of dots in a precise pattern isn't the most thrilling thing in the world, things quickly become more involved as you carefully build layers of this image which is in fact 3D. The wave itself bursts and crests out from the flat background to give a really good sense of depth to the piece. The combination of pieces used to create the wave is also ingenious. The often-unnoticed sailors and their fishing boats are represented by printed dots and tooth-like oars while the wave itself is topped with flower petals and birds.
The brick-built frame which surrounds the image is surprisingly sturdy and easily takes the weight of the set as a whole when used to hang it on a wall, which means this set looks brilliant and takes up no shelf space making it a big win for a LEGO set. All-in-all you're going to have several hours of fun putting this piece together and then many more looking at it on your wall and fielding questions from guests who don't realise that it's made of LEGO until they get up close.