Funwhole A-Frame Cabin Building Block Set review – an old-fashioned house with lights

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REVIEW – Last year I reviewed Funwhole’s Lakeside Lodge, and it is probably my favorite building block set.  It’s amazing how a good set of lights can really enhance the quality of a set, and no one knows how to light a set like Funwhole.  I decided to review another set in this same genre of wilderness houses to see if Funwhole has made any improvements in their designs.  I am building the A-Frame Cabin, and it did not disappoint!

What is it?

The Funwhole A-Frame Cabin Building Block Set is a LEGO-compatible building block set (model F9013) of a two-story A-frame cabin from the 1950s set on the edge of a lake.  The set contains 2061 smaller pieces that are mostly in shades of browns, greens, and black.  The set includes a lighting system that uses a USB-A cable and a AA battery power source.  Funwhole claims to be “the world’s first brand of light bricks,” and their goal is to “bring everyone the whole happiness of day and night.”

What’s in the box?

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  • 2061 pieces
  • Lighting kits
  • Manual with 420 steps
  • Brick remover and tweezers
  • Decals

Design and features

When it comes to LEGO alternatives, there are a handful of questions that always need to be answered.

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Are they compatible with Lego?  Yes, these bricks are perfectly compatible with genuine LEGOs.

Are they of the same build quality?  The Funwhole A-Frame Cabin bricks are really close.  I believe they are the best alt bricks that I have tested.  I had no problems with the bigger flat pieces being warped, something that confounds most non-LEGO building sets.

Do they fit tightly, or do they come apart easily?  They fit together tightly, and there weren’t any connector pieces with bad tolerances.

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Are they cheaper in cost than Lego?  One of the more compelling reasons to buy off brands is a lower price.  To see how this set from Funwhole stacks up, I compared it to three different LEGO building sets that have a similar number of pieces:

In comparison, Funwhole’s cabin is only 4.9 cents per piece, and it includes lights.  It’s anywhere from 30 to 50% cheaper than similar LEGO sets, making it a very good deal.

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How do the instructions compare?  These instructions are very good.  Funwhole has made several improvements over the last set I built, and the first improvement is that the colors in the manual more accurately reflect the colors of the bricks.  With the Lakeside Lodge, I often could not tell the various shades of brown and green apart; I never had that problem with the A-Frame.  Most steps only added a few pieces at a time, often the same color and in the same area, making it easy to keep building; that also made the manual a lot bigger – it’s a hefty book – but that’s a good tradeoff.  Previous pieces are in full color, and new pieces are outlined in red.  (Step 384 forgot to add some of the red outlines, but that was the only mistake I found.)  The manual consistently showed the size of larger pieces, making it easy to know which piece to use.  The front of the book has special instructions for the lights, the decals, and the brick separator.  The decals were in the first page of the book, which kept them from being crinkled.  Overall, I love this manual, and fans of LEGO will have no problems following the steps inside.

Setup

Once I opened the Funwhole A-Frame Cabin Building Block Set box, the first thing I noticed was the second improvement:  The bags are now numbered and correspond to the major sections in the manual.  This is so huge, as it drastically cut down on the time that I spent searching for pieces.  After sorting the pieces from the first bags, I set out to build the twelve sections of the cabin.

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The first section lays out the initial foundation of the building and some of the nearby lake, and it was super solid.  It’s a good underpinning on which to build a house.

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The second section built out the walkways to the house and the start of the firepit area.  The first decal was used in this section, the grain of the wood on the log.  Decals are a two-step process.  First, place down the decal; second, remove the plastic coating on top.  They take some time to add, but they look really nice.  They will be challenging for younger kids, as they can be easy to tear.

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The third section added more details to the lake – check out those frogs! – and laid out the flooring for the ground floor.  The first lights made their appearance here, one light for the inside fireplace and one for the outside firepit.

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The third improvement that Funwhole made to A-Frame Cabin Building Block Set is the use of conduits to run the lights.  The Lakeside Lodge had wires everywhere, and they were often pinched by placing brick one the wires.  I really thought this would reduce the lifespan of the wires, and so I was totally geeked out when I saw this new type of piece that Funwhole used.  (The piece in the picture above is upside down.)  This eliminated pinching the wires while still securing them in place.  Kudos to Funwhole for this invention.  While they didn’t use these pieces everywhere, they did use them a lot, and I think this is a big improvement.

The wiring for the lights terminates in a USB connection, which plugs into a box housing three AA batteries.  This works great for me, because I’ll ditch the box and plug the USB directly into a smart plug that will let me control the lights using HomeKit.  All the LEGO sets in my office turn on every night at dusk and then back off after three hours.

The hardest part of the lights is plugging the itty-bitter connectors into the little circuit boards.  There’s a real reason why Funwhole includes a pair of nice tweezers in their sets.  Younger children should not be allowed to plug in the lights, as they will likely break them.  Funwhole recommends this set for kids aged 16+; that’s a little conservative in my opinion, but not much.

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The fourth section adds the furniture to the living room, including a piano, a phonograph, and a fireplace.  The sheet music on the piano is Piano Sonata #2 by Chopin.  I love the details!

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The fifth section builds the structure walls of the living room.  The front of the house has sliding glass doors that actually slide!

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More wiring was added for the downstairs lights, and this picture shows that sometimes Funwhole was clever and ran wires through holes, but at other times they still pinch wires with blocks.  I think that Funwhile will eventually evolve their designs such that all the wires run through holes and conduits and none are pinched.  They certainly did a good job of keeping most of the wires hidden out of sight.

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The sixth section built the second story walls and demonstrated a nice use of the SNOT technique to keep the front of the house smooth looking.  A triangle is a non-traditional shape for a building block house, and Funwhole did a great job designing it.

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This section also added some of the furniture to the upstairs bedroom.  I love the way that the blanket is folded down to reveal the white pillow.

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The seventh section added some of the walls for the downstairs bedroom and some of its furniture and the right side of the roof.  There was a small mistake in the location of the picture attached to the wall, as it prevented the wall from sliding into place and knocked down the flowers in the living room.  Funwhole needs to move that picture a couple blocks to the left and one down, and this problem would go away.

The roof is really starting to look like an A-Frame roof.  It has these locking mechanisms on the top that will securely keep it in place.  They will also prevent the roof being opened up and allowing kids to play inside the house with mini figs.  Funwhole has made so many improvements in this design, and I really think this should be the next major step forward for them:  Designing houses so that the interior is exposed and allows kids to play with them.  The current design of their houses are beautiful, but they are not very fun.  Their name starts with “Fun,” and they want to “bring fun and joy to millions of people.”  Building block sets that kids can play with are definitely the way to make that happen.  I’m hopeful that they will begin doing that.

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The eighth section finished the downstairs bedroom.  Check out those hanging curtains that are actually hanging!

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I love the flowering vine crawling up the side of the wall.  This shot also shows how the angled roof section is anchored to the ground and how the wires exit the side of the building using another of those conduit pieces.

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The first of two circuit boards were added here.  They function as connectors, allowing several wires from lights to come in and only one wire go out to the power source.  Funwhole has done a nice job keeping most of the wires out of sight.

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The ninth section finished the other half of the roof.  These smooth, black bricks really show the fingerprints.

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The tenth section adds a trellis on the front porch as well as a chain fence and a cool sign.  There is a hanging swing on the trellis, and this was not designed well.  Because the seat uses Technic-like pieces, it can rotate, but this allows the seat to flip upside down, which it always does.  Funwhole should have done something else here, but it’s really a small thing and something I could easily change on my own.

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The eleventh section added the tree and finished the firepit, including a kabob with onions and peppers.  The pot was sitting on the fire, so I used a couple spare pieces to raise it up.  The final furniture of the house was a rocking chair and a telescope that sit out on the balcony upstairs.

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The last step to building the Funwhole A-Frame Cabin Building Block Set was to add the final circuit for the lights and tidy things up a bit, which I did by adding those four small brown pieces.  The fourth improvement that Funwhole made was to keep the wires cleaner at the end.  The Lakeside Lodge had a rat’s nest of wires, but the Cabin is a lot simpler and cleaner.

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The fifth improvement that Funwhole made was to add some minifigs.  There’s a complete family of four, which is exactly what this little vacation house needs.  While I’m really glad that Funwhole added these minis—they really increase the playability of this set—I’m not a big fan of these minis.  They are rather pot-bellied, their hands are weird, and there are no holes in their backsides for connecting to studs (i.e., dad can’t sit in his own rocking chair).  While LEGO has long since lost the patent on their bricks, they managed to trademark their minis, so Funwhole can’t sell matching ones in European and American stores.  I’ll look for some knock-off minis on AliExpress and add them to the set.

Performance

I love this set!  Funwhole has done a marvelous job designing and building this old-timey cabin.  The amount of detail is amazing.  The overall structure is solid.  The lights look great.  They made so many good improvements from the last set I reviewed.  I’m not afraid to say it:  Funwhole is the premier source of LEGO alternative sets.

What I like

  • Quality pieces
  • Great instructions
  • Good design
  • Lights!

What I’d change

  • Redesign the swing so it doesn’t flip upside down

Final thoughts

The A-Frame Cabin building block set from Funwhole is a wonderful, rustic set replete with an old-style house, two stories, interior furniture, and exterior plants.  The entire set is carefully designed, and the lights are strategically located.  The set is designed more for adults who want to build than for kids who want to play.  If you enjoy constructing buildings that can add a gentle ambiance to your room, then I recommend that you pick up this set from Funwhole.  Happy building!

Price:  $99.99
Where to buyAmazon or Funwhole’s online store
Source: The sample was purchased by The Gadgeteer for the purpose of this review.

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