Ship in a Bottle

Have you seen the latest LEGO Ideas: Ship in a Bottle set? Like all the LEGO Ideas sets this one is beautiful. There’s something about these fan driven sets that make them approachable, and very collectible. The Ship in a Bottle is no different.

How do I know? LEGO was kind enough to send around a few copies so that I, and a few Toy Photography friends, could take this cool set out for a spin. I’m here to report on the results and share the images that where created by Brett Wilson, Luigi Priori, Robert Whitehead and myself.

The Review

The set is actually three builds: the ship, the stand and the bottle. I enjoyed the building experience for all three builds. The ship was a nice compact micro build with six canons and preprinted flags. The ship bears very little resemblance to the original design presented by Jacob Sandovich. Considering how much smaller the bottle is from the submitted idea, you can see why the Ideas team made a few modifications.

The base was probably the coolest build with a couple of clever tricks utilizing the studs not on top (SNOT) building technique. I especially loved the inverted dish printed with an old fashioned compass rose design. Elegant and beautiful!

The bottle itself is cool, but rather fidgety to build. It won’t have any structural integrity until you place the neck of the bottle onto the end of the four 6 x 6 x 9 corner rounds. More than once it crumbled in my hands and I had to start over. The neck of the bottle is a simple yet elegant build. Personally I think it makes the entire bottle. The addition of a printed tile which represents the ‘wax’ seal seen on many rum bottles is a nice touch of authenticity.  So much so that this teaser image by Brett was rejected because it looked too much like a liquor bottle.

Reading the comments on the Brick Blogger I realized that the typical blog reading LEGO fan is primarily looking at this set as a display piece. There where several comments about the Ship in a Bottle’s lack of playability.

Maybe they’re envisioning a model gathering dust on a bookshelf somewhere?

by Robert Whitehead

But why not this?

Love by Brett Wilson

Or this?

by Luigi Priori

Benni sure is happy about his Ship in a Bottle.

by Shelly Corbett
The cons

Yes every set has a few cons and this set is no different. The Ship in a Bottle has a very fidgety nature. More than once the set exploded in my hands and small 1 x 1 rounds spilled everywhere. This problem would disappear once I put the ‘neck’ on the bottle. But then I would make the mistake of picking up the bottle from the neck. Nothing good ever came from this mistake.

The base of the bottle is built from lots of small transparent parts surrounding two ‘large’ 1 x 4 x 3 clear windows. The photographer in me would have loved to see a clean shot of the back of the ship or customized scene.

Customize your Ship in a Bottle

Not every set is going to translate perfectly from submitted idea to production set. But I think that given the restraints of the market place, the LEGO Ideas team created a set that not only honors Jacob’s original idea, but offers an opportunity for imaginative customization.

Maybe you want to show off your favorite mini figures in a creative scene like Brett did with his Zombie water fun.

Zombie water fun by Brett Wilson

Or maybe creating a mini build like this adorable Brickley, like Luigi did, is more your cup of tea.

Brickley by Luigi Priori

Of course there’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying this elegant set in its own right. The Ship in a Bottle is an wonderfully nostalgic look at a time when sailing ships ruled the oceans. When pirate chanties were sung and unsuspecting men where pressed into years of service on ships destined for exotic ports.

by Shelly Corbett

This set will be available for purchase onFebruary 1st which gives you plenty of time to think of a creative build to place in your own Ship in a Bottle.


Will you be purchasing this set when it become available on February 1st? If so will you display it with the little three masted schooner? Or will you display your personal LEGO creation? 

Thank you Kim and the entire LEGO Ideas team for allowing us to take your latest creation out for an advanced test drive!

by Robert Whitehead


  1. OMFG, a fidgety build would be right, I can imagine the scramble to stop all the 1×1 round tiles flying everywhere with their amazing ability to bounce as they do!

    The images here are ALL divine. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the use of the bottle for other things especially your Benny’s Spaceship in a bottle, the Fabuland flower garden by Luigi (I miss the Fabuland folk, Lego should bring them back) and Brett’s Zombie Water Fun.

    Burying one in the sand… that must have been a fun job. Awesome resulting image though.

    I want to get a couple, I really like Brett’s idea of them as a “container” like he has used in his “Love” piece. I could see a few of them used as a type of zoo/museum set up for showing off different lifeforms.

    I imagine getting all those 1×1’s in a photogenic position must have also been “fun” especially for those that were shot on location.

    It comes out the day after my birthday, but I’m still after Assembly Square, and now the Diner, so the ship in a bottle might have to wait. The pain of being an AFOL with shallow pockets! But you guys have all made it look all that much more appealing!

    • Thank you for your kind words on our photos! We had fun and agony in equal measure on this project.

      If I had unlimited pockets I would have all the sets you have mentioned including the Bank. Im so behind on my modulars! Plus Ninjago City! But for strategic planning I wouldnt wait too long on your bottle purchases. The Ideas sets never stay in the stores as long as other sets. Being a LEGO collector is a slippery slope to the poor house and Im sorry we have made it so tempting for you. 😀

    • Tony, the little ship is pretty cute. I will wait to see what you think when you see it in person. Many fans are disappointed in the ship since it really is a shadow of the ship in the original idea. But the base for the ship is inspired!

      • Tony Tulloch

        I understand the disappointment of fans, but as consumers I think it is important that we remember that Lego needs to make these excellent fan ideas a commercial reality. The larger the set, the more it costs. I can personally only afford sets as large and expensive as the Old Fishing Store every now and then. Sub $100 sets are much more easily justified.

  2. This is great, i loved this set since the very first moment, i think that the changes that LEGO made have turned this set in a wonderful display piece.
    I already had some ideas for displaying with different “themes” inside, but, guys, your pics are suggesting me to buy more than one. Maybe more than two!!!
    Great post and, of course, awesome pictures!!!

  3. Skizzo PH

    Guys you are the best: this is a fantastic review! This LEGO set looks really cool and you made it even more beautiful with all your photos and ideas for customization!
    I will definetly buy this set and display it in my living room… Plus, I already have a lot of ideas for photos 😉

    • The work the team did on this set was amazing! Luigi’s image was used for a magazine ad and both Brett and Roberts work was featured by LEGO. I’m so proud of the work we do for LEGO.

      And just so you know…Im STILL finding small blue LEGO dots in my office and my shop. Its like they multiplied after those numerous operator errors! Ugh!

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