This is my very first review for the group and getting a most appropriate set to do so—the LEGO Architecture Singapore Skyline set 21057, featuring iconic buildings from my country. So, allow me to be your virtual tour guide.
The brief was to shoot the set with these buildings as a backdrop. Prior to receiving the set, I had assumed it would just feature the Marina Bay Sands since it’s one of our most iconic buildings and expected it to come in the same form as some of the other buildings featured in the Architecture series. But when the set arrived, I was so wrong. Not only does it contain the aforementioned building, but it includes six other landmarks in the build.
COLOURFUL! And where’s the Merlion, the once default Singapore landmark? These were my first thoughts as well as the rest of the local AFOL community when the set was first revealed. It was also smaller than I had anticipated. Not necessary a bad thing, if you consider lugging the set around outdoors to shoot, but from a display point of view, a bigger and less colourful set might be more impressive.
The featured buildings
Let’s take a look first at the landmarks in the set:
1. Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort. It’s become the landmark that represents Singapore.
2. OCBC Center, a 52-story skyscraper serving as the current headquarters of OCBC bank, known locally as the calculator building.
3. Gardens by the Bay, a nature park in the Central region of Singapore, featuring the iconic Supertrees.
4. Lau Pa Sat, which means OLD MARKET in the vernacular Chinese of Singapore. A great variety of local dishes can be found here.
5. The Fullerton Hotel, a five-star luxury hotel, which used to be the General Post Office building.
6. Boat Quay, a popular place for a waterside drink or nibble, with a wide range of colourful bars and alfresco restaurants.
7. One Raffles Place, is one of the tallest skyscrapers in Singapore, with a mix of shopping mall and office space.
The set has 827 pieces, comes in five bags and took me about 5 hours to build. Not sure if this is the average speed to build for this number of bricks, but I think I took longer than usual, having misunderstood the instructions for the last two towers of the Marina Bay Sands. My favourite buildings are One Raffles Place, partly because of its shape and the cute little shophouses that made up Boat Quay.
To be honest, when I received the set, it felt underwhelming. Partly because of my preconceived idea of what the set would be. However, as the pieces came together, the final result is a nice little display piece.
I purchased a metal plate that screws onto a tripod, allowing me to have a base to rest the set on. This allowed me to position the set in any location and level up the set to the background building. This metal plate was definitely a life saver! Also definitely useful in the future for some forced perspective shots.
We have two kinds of weather here: rain or shine, with high levels of humidity on most days. It had been raining for days after I received the set. After checking the weather online, I took a chance on one of the days and set off at 6 a.m. to try to catch the sun rise at my first location, which was the Marina Bay Sands.
I set up the metal plate on the tripod quickly and carefully placed the set for my first shot of the day. This was to be the procedure of the day for each location. The LEGO pieces tend to fall apart in the container where I put the set, and as the day drew on, with the intense heat from the sun and humidity, the assignment got tougher. Putting together loose LEGO bricks in this weather was not fun. A good tip for anyone doing future assignments using LEGO sets with complicated builds: Bring along the instruction booklet, just in case things break apart!
As the buildings are right in the heart of the business district, there were a few curious onlookers. An elderly lady stopped and asked permission to have a photo of me busy trying to get the shot. We had a short conversation and I shared with her what I was doing and gave her the URL of this website. I hope she is reading this right now! Having shot outdoors regularly, I no longer have a fear of shooting in public. In fact, I always enjoy sharing this hobby with total strangers.
At my next location, the Fullerton Hotel, another lady on a bike with a LEGO themed backpack stopped and shouted, “Fellow LEGO fan, yo!” I also had a few strange looks from people driving by as I was just next to the road while getting the shot with the Fullerton Hotel in the background.
The buildings featured in the sets are pretty close to one another in the central business district, except for Gardens by the Bay. I walked from location to location, carrying a luggage bag and tripod together with my camera bag. Thanks to COVID, the area was generally quieter than normal with just a handful of office workers and tourists.
The OCBC building and Boat Quay was my favourite location, because these buildings are located right next to each other. I killed two birds with one stone!
Despite the general poor response from the local AFOL community, mostly because several more deserving landmarks were missing, my feelings toward the set are pretty neutral. I think it makes a nice display set and the designer did a good job getting the shapes of the buildings right. From a toy photographer’s standpoint, I can only think of it being used as a set in a monster movie. But that’s just me.
In any case, it doesn’t matter if it was a missed opportunity. At least it gives me a chance to introduce a bit of my country to the toy photography community. And if anyone within the community decides to pay Singapore a visit, DM me and we will go for an outdoor shoot together followed by feasting on some of our awesome local dishes.