The Kwik-E-Mart has been home to some of The Simpsons best moments.
There was the time when Apu was held up by a robber and he refused to give Homer change for the payphone to call the police.
Then there was the episode where Paul and Linda McCartney planted a hippie garden on the store’s roof. Or when actor James Woods replaced Apu as proprietor to research a movie role.
My favorite was when Jasper Beardly, one of the crotchety residents of the Springfield Retirement Castle, pulled a Walt Disney and cryogenically froze himself in the store’s freezers. Apu, ever the opportunistic capitalist, transformed his store into Freak-E-Mart, an overpriced tourist attraction.
It’s only fitting, then, that the Kwik-E-Mart is the second Simpsons location honored with its own Lego playset (the first being the titular family’s home, naturally). The 2,179-piece set, available May 1, is full of little details that evoke these moments. It’s one of those rare Lego toys that makes you laugh while you build.
The rooftop vegetable garden is there, as is the frozen Jasper. So is the sign on the Squishee machine reminding Apu not to accept checks from Chief Wiggum, Reverend Lovejoy, Homer J. Simpson, Homer S. Simpson, H.J. Simpson, Homor Simpson, and Homer J. Fong. The Wiggum mini-figure even has smudges of donut on his face and uniform.
As a rectangular building, the Kwik-E-Mart could have been a dull build, but the designers did a good job varying the action between structure and details. Some Lego buildings are devoid of these interesting parts, which can make them tedious to construct. With years of funny TV material to draw on, there’s no danger of that here.
The store itself is comprised of three sections: the main front area and two adjunct parts that swing open to reveal the rear. The roof, vegetable garden and all, rests on a ledge that runs around all three sections and is removable, so you can get at the interior easily.
That’s an important feature for kids, who will likely want to play with the set and its cast of mini-figures: Wiggum, the fugitive Snake, Bart, Homer, Marge, and of course Apu. For adult aficionados, opening up the store may not be as important, but it is where most of the laughs are found.
Much of the funny comes from stickers, and there’s a lot of them. Licensed Lego sets typically come with a few, but there are more than 50 here. The Simpsons relies a lot on visual comedy, so it’s not surprising.
There are posters on the walls outside advertising Spider-Pig: The Musical and Springfield Seafood, which apparently now has 50 percent more fish eyes. There are stickers that turn innocuous red bricks into a stack of Rainer Wolfcastle’s Powersauce energy bars. There are even license plate stickers for Wiggum’s police car that proclaim him “#1DOOFUS.”
Perhaps the best part of the Kwik-E-Mart set is the cartoonish pastel colors of the various bricks and elements. If you’ve built any of Lego’s other licensed toys, such as Star Wars, Marvel, or Harry Potter, you’re probably used to a lot of gray and black bricks. There’s very few of those here, and indeed there’s something refreshing about working with bright yellow, pinks, and purples for a change.
A big reason why The Simpsons initially stood out as a show and ultimately enshrined itself as a pop-culture touchstone is its day-glo animation, which was—and still is—entirely unlike anything else in prime time. The Simpsons Lego toys stand out from other lines for the same reason.
Now if only the designers could have somehow recreated the best Kwik-E-Mart moment ever: when the sliding doors refused to open for Bart because he’d sold his soul to Milhouse.