We have seen a lot of new locations from the Harry Potter universe covered by LEGO sets in recent years. But one of the central institutions has been missing: the Ministry of Magic. This is about to change, as one of the new sets coming out in June will feature this. LEGO has kindly sent me a copy for an early review. Here are my thoughts…
Set 76403 – The Ministry of Magic
Price: US$99.99, £89.99, €99.99, CA$129.99, AU$179.99, DKK899
I’m often joking that LEGO is always releasing sets of a particular location just after I’ve created a MOC (my own creation) of them. This happened when I built Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade and most recently the Shrieking Shack.
This year I had planned to build a major MOC of the Ministry of Magic and I have accumulated a sizeable number of parts to build it. It was therefore not a surprise to see it is now a set – though normally, it tends to happen just after I’ve build it. Maybe it was because the MOC was delayed as I decided to build a large model of King’s Cross station instead here at the beginning of the year. Anyway, I’ll probably still go ahead with my plan – but for once I’ll get to review the official set before completing my MOC. And I will otherwise wait for the inevitable announcement of a new King’s Cross set to follow this trend.
I should also note that I have previously posted about the Ministry of Magic, showcasing the LEGO model that Russell built for our large collaborative Harry Potter display.
But before we get to the official set just released, let’s have a look at what happened at the Ministry in the Harry Potter universe.
The Ministry of Magic is an important institution in the wizarding world – and in the movies too. Harry first went there to attend his disciplinary hearing when accused for use of underage magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Luckily, Albus Dumbledore came to the rescue.
“As you have already received an official warning for a previous offence under section 13 of the International Confederation of Wizards’ Statute of Secrecy, we regret to inform you that your presence is required at a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic at 9 a.m. on August 12th. Hoping you are well, Yours sincerely, Mafalda Hopkirk“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Later in that book, Harry with some of his friends from Hogwarts came back during nighttime to help Sirius Black, which they thought were hurt there. It ended with a battle in the Department of Mysteries, including in the Hall of Prophecy, with a group of death eaters.
This set include both a courtroom and the Hall of Prophecy, but in terms of included characters, it focuses on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows during Pius Thicknesse’s administration of the Ministry of Magic. Here, the trio’s infiltrated the Ministry in order to recover one of Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes, Salazar Slytherin’s Locket, from Dolores Umbridge.
Using polyjuice potion, Harry, disguised as Albert Runcorn, with the assistance of Hermione (disguised as Mafalda Hopkirk – yes the one that sent the letter to Harry about the disciplinary hearing) and Ron (disguised as Reginald “Reg” Cattermole) entered the Ministry of Magic and ultimately did get the locket.
The trio also helped the Reg’s wive Mary Cattermole escape her trial before the Muggle-Born Registration Commission, where she was being interrogated by Dolores Umbridge and Corban Yaxley.
It was quite an introduction, but you’ll understand why, when we get to the presentation of the included minifigures. Before that, let us first have a look at the box…
Box and content
The box is quite impressive. It is based on the blue colour scheme with the logos on top, and a rather action oriented photo of the ministry filling the centre of the box. We have a flying dementor and a descending phone booth. Mary Cattermole is being interrogated by Umbrigde and the trio (in disguise) is being chased by Yaxley and the Minister of Magic himself.
All these included characters are identified in a banner in the lower left corner as usual. In particular in cases like here, with some lesser known characters included, having them listed by name helps!
The back shows the interior of the offices along with a number of play features. It also highlights that the set is modular, similar to the current Hogwarts series, which allows sections to be re-positioned on top of each other or next you each other, as you might prefer. There are not that many options to be honest with just six modules, but we’ve seen many LEGO fans building custom Hogwarts rooms, so maybe we’ll see many new offices built for the ministry as well.
Opening the box was a surprise. For the first time, I have got a set where a plastic bag had been replaced by paper. It wasn’t for the bags of bricks in this case, but instead of plastic wrapping of the instructions and stickers, these were in a paper envelope. I guess we’ll see a lot more like this in the future.
In the envelope was a single manual along with a quite small sticker sheet, considering the size of the set.
Apart from the envelope, the box contained seven numbered bags of LEGO parts.
Let’s open them and see what’s inside.
The set provides us with nine minifigures, some of which represents multiple characters. For a set at this price point, that number is not surprising, but what is interesting is the vast number of new characters it includes. Overall, we get six new persons from the Harry Potter universe represented in their minifigure form (though these are generally lesser know characters, I should add). Here is the full list from the front of the box.
Let’s start with the well-known. You get Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, though not in their normal form, but when they represented Albert Runcorn, Mafalda Hopkirk and Reg Cattermole (having used polyjuice potion to infiltrate the Ministry as those characters). Legs and torso’s are identical, but each come with a second hairpiece, so with a turn of the head and the new hairpiece, they transform into the other character. We also got Mary Cattermole – opening up for some awkward interaction between Ron (as Reg) and her!
The characters are all well made, with very detailed prints on the torsos. Albert Runcorn (to the left below) and Mary Cattermole (to the right) both have printed legs too, which is something we rarely see unfortunately. If you scroll up and compare with the photos I shared in the introduction, you can see how well they represent the characters in the movie.
The back of the torsos are also printed as illustrated below. Also shown here are the alternative face prints. For the three figures to the left, you can seen Harry, Hermione and Ron’s faces (and I’ve changed to their included hair pieces) representing them when the polyjuice effect is ending.
The remaining four human characters included in the set are Dolores Umbridge, Corban Yaxley, Arthur Weasley and Pius Thicknesse. They are similarly well done, with detailed torso prints (so many nice business outfits in this set), though none of the four have legs printed as well. Umbridge comes with her patronus (not surprisingly a cat) as well a small round tile representing the Locket of Slytherin.
All four figures have printing at the back of the torsos, but surprisingly Corban doesn’t have the dual face print you normally expect on these characters. His hair, which is nicely set in a “man-bun” (not shown) – would have hidden the alternative face as for all other characters.
And talking about hair, Pius’ hair piece would be perfect for any advertising campaigns about shampoo and conditioner – so straight and shiny!
That leaves us with a Dementor, though a golden statue could be seen as a tenth minifigure (noting it is not a character as such).
This rounds off a rather impressive and definitely different minifigure selection. Next up is the actual build…
The set comes with seven bags with parts. The first six each covers a section of the ministry (and sometimes a small extra model), while the seventh bag adds the roof/ceiling segment.
The first bag starts with a traditional red London phone booth. It is one of several ways to enter the Ministry and is therefore a nice addition. Visitors must dial 62442 (spelling “magic” on the numerical keyboard) on the telephone and the booth will then transport them from the ground level down to the Atrium on floor B8. It is a pretty neat design.
Next we build another entrance to the Ministry – this one for the ones travelling with floo powder. This build is shown below.
The little lever visible on the first photo above (otherwise hidden on the back) allows you to flip the “fireplace” back to magically remove whoever was seeking to travel away in a swirl of green flames.
The last photo above shows the Technic brick that allows you to combine these segments side-by-side in a modular way.
Overall, the dark green, black and gold colours look great together, and we’ll get to see a lot more of that throughout the set.
Next up is a “windows” section. This was the first of four rather similar builds – at least when it came to the outside.
The thing that differentiates the four windows sections is what that is on the inside. In this case, it is a courtroom. There is not a lot of room to add details, but you can just fit the tall desk, where Umbridge can sit and interrogate Mary Cattermole, who can sit next to the desk on one side, while a stack of documents on the other side can seat Umbridge’s patronus cat.
When adding the figures though, you can hardly see the head of whoever is behind the desk. Ideally, it should have been about a brick lower as the ceiling is blocking the view.
You can of course turn the scene into Harry being interrogated by Cornelius Fudge (should you have that figure from the Hagrids Hut set) in his disciplinary hearing instead.
Here is what the two modules look like when stacked. Compared with the previous section, this section adds red colour to the mix, which complements the other colours well, though I think dark red would have been even better (and a closer match to the colour used in the movies).
The following bag is for another windows section. As you can see through the window, there is a pink carpet.
This is of course because this is going to be Umbridge’s office. It is quite well done, considering how little space there is, with plenty of cat illustrations.
Here you can see it with Dolores Umbridge added.
The fourth bag gives us some variation. Firstly, we get another minimodel – this time of a fountain with statue for the big atrium.
It is much smaller than what we saw in the movies, but does the job pretty well overall as we shall see.
The majority of the parts in this bag is for building another of the “floor” sections. This one houses stacks of Harry Potter Undesirable No 1 posters.
With the red “smokestack”, it has a steampunk feel to it.
A play feature here is when you press either of the two pins on the back, a stack of posters is shot away from the wall.
With bag 5 we are back building windows sections. As seen on the first photo below, this one also has a lever. We will get back to that one later! Otherwise, the main difference here is that some of the window panes are covered with pages from the Daily Prophet.
Inside this section is the Hall of Prophecy represented by a tall section of shelves full of glass orbs containing prophecies. The satin transparent white-ish colour is pretty perfect for the orbs.
Here is what the room looks like with the shelves added.
Pulling the lever will make the shelves fall over. Hopefully, it will fall on a few death eaters! I’ve shown this below (using minifigures not included in this set I should add).
On to bag 6 and the last of the four windows sections. At this point I was getting a bit tired combining stacks of five red candle pieces, which you need four of for each section. I guess there are much worse sets that this, but I’m just not very good at repetitions. And to create the look of all the windows facing out towards the atrium, you can’t get around it.
The inside of this section is probably my favourite. It contains Arthur Weasley’s office and it is totally packed with muggle artefacts, including a rubber duck (nice touch)! We also see the family photo from when the Weasleys were in Egypt. It is impressive how much detail you can add into a very small space.
Here is Arthur Weasley pondering what the purpose of a rubber duck is…
This get us to the seventh and last bag of parts. You start with building a couple of paper planes (I really like that inclusion too – the wizarding answer to emails) and two decoy detonators. The latter was one of many inventions by Fred and George Weasley, which they sold from the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes store. Harry got several from the twins and used them to create a diversion at the Ministry of Magic.
Following this, you get to build the two roof segments and a connection piece between them.
The connection piece is also a walkway with a seat, where a typewriter is located.
Underneath, you can hang a large Ministry of Magic banner.
Finally, here you can see it all combined. It definitely looks like the ministry, with good use of colours and capturing the atrium feel well. The statue works well, though maybe it could have been put on column of couple of bricks to give it a bit more height.
So when can I get it, you may ask? The sets are available 1 June 2022 in Europe, Australia and I assume most other countries as well, though for USA and Canada it is slightly later: June 19, 2022. Thinking about heading to LEGO.com to preorder/order? Please consider using our affiliate links to go there. It is the same price for you, but Blockwarts get a minor commission as well, which I use to help running this site.
So what is the verdict? Firstly, I must say that it is good to see a set covering the later books. We haven’t really seen many sets covering scenes beyond Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, though there have been a few.
As noted, I do like the look of the Atrium. It features a nice colour scheme – guided by the movies really – though I think dark red would have looked better than the red. But overall, it captures the feel of this old-fashioned, decaying institution, where being the ministry is more important that the needs of those it serve (or at least that is what I felt about the ministry).
The current Hogwarts sets are modular – and so are the sections included here, allowing you to stack them as you would like. I’m not sure how useful this is though as you don’t have that many to rearrange. Each section is small and doesn’t allow for much detail at all. I think the designers have done a good job capturing different rooms within this very limited space. The sections will work well for role play – but at a higher level, it is also a nice display set, in particular when viewed from the atrium side.
When it comes to minifigures, it is great with a set that adds so many new characters in minifigure form. They may not be very well known, but they are very useful for the scenes the set allow you to recreated. The minifigures are created with the same attention to detail that we have come to expect.
So is it worth it? Well, I do like it – but it is rather expensive and I wonder if it will sell well. As the ministry didn’t feature till the later movies, it is unlikely many younger kids will have it high on their wish lists. As for collectors, many might concentrate on Hogwarts (maybe supplemented by Hogsmeade) if they are space constrained. But there is a market for this and I’m really pleased that they have finally given us a Ministry set.
As a final note, being modular would make more sense if you had more modules. Will we get more modules for it in the future? Either as a normal set – or a small gift-with-purchase set? Time will tell…
Till then, Build the Magic!
(Note that this set was kindly provided by LEGO for review. The views expressed here are my own however).
You can check all my other reviews here.