Review: 21036 – Arc de Triomphe

Jetro - Posted on 05 October 2017

I’m not a collector, more of a hoarder. I also don’t have much (or any?) display space in my home. Add those two together and I’m not you’re most likely suspect for a LEGO Architecture set. Still, sometimes a set has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it stand out and catch your eye. I probably wouldn’t have picked up the set in a toyshop: I’d have had things to compare it to and would have walked past it several times before taking the “rational” decision that I don’t “need” it nor have a place for it. Given the opportunity to review it though, I accepted eagerly.
There is something about these LEGO Architecture sets – no matter what the subject. It all starts with the packaging: the glossy black box and the subdued colour scheme make it look special. Not a toy. Add the picture and description on the back, and you are buying a piece of art, or “culture” if you prefer.
The sensation endures once you open the box. 
The glossy black instruction booklet confirms what you already know: this is a delicacy. Something to savour. Historical and design facts get you in the mood for what is to come: the opportunity to build your very own Arc de Triomphe.
Since this is a special set, I have promised myself to take my time. First things first: a complete inventory of the set, all neatly laid out:
Of course, once you get to the actual construction it requires some effort not to lapse into speed building as if your life depended on finishing the set in five minutes flat. The base of the set. Paving the base is by far the most boring bit and doesn’t require quite as many steps as used in the booklet… for a seasoned builder. Even so, the pace is good and you soon get to the good bit: the actual Arc, and the interesting building techniques used in recreating it.
The trouble with and impatient builder like me is that I end up building with both hands (meaning one hands build one thing and the other another) and the occasional oversight occurs. I am sure you can spot where I went wrong.
I was so excited to see the astronauts from the Saturn V reused as statues that I didn’t even see those ugly open studs facing the wrong way. On the back they are of course perfectly covered with a white 2x4 tile. The offset of the pedestals, created with a pair of jumpers under each one wasn’t sufficiently spectacular to make me pay more attention either. That soon changed though. You can get some very nice (receded) texture using the back of a couple of jumpers, as shown below. The thin part of the brackets accentuate the frames for what on the original Arc de Triomphe are tableaus portraying the victory.
That was only the start of my real enjoyment in this set. The next layer uses a combination of different SNOT techniques – using modified and Technic bricks sideways to create another thin layer of decoration. 
But the fun continues. Another layer of bricks on the side perfectly represents the particular finishing of this level of the original monument.
With the final cover we are back to standard top to bottom building. Still, the level of detail at this scale is excellent and the monument is not only instantly recognisable, but bears closer inspection and comparison to the original.
All in all, a lovely set and a great addition to any Architecture collection. 

I would like to thank LEGO for providing this set for review. This opinions in this review ar of course entirely my own. The opinions in this review are mine and mine alone