Lego Donkey Kong’s Tree House review – childhood dreams fulfilled

Lego Donkey Kong's Tree House is one of the best things to come out of the Lego Super Mario line and a real treat for fans of the iconic ape.

Lego Donkey Kong's Tree House review image showing Donkey Kong in front of the tree house.

Our Verdict

This is one of the best Donkey Kong products I've ever seen and my personal favourite Lego set. It's a real nostalgia trip for older fans, and a beautifully designed naturalistic environment for younger fans to enjoy as well. The only thing stopping it getting a 10/10 are the walls and trees which come off too easily.

Reasons to buy
  • Filled with charming small details
  • Lego Donkey and Cranky Kong are amazing
  • Interactive, immersive set
Reasons to avoid
  • Parts of the house come off easily
  • Lack of traditional minifigures may be disappointing for some

Lego Donkey Kong’s Tree House is something that I wanted back when I was a child. Growing up in the 90s, two of my biggest obsessions were Donkey Kong Country and Lego, and considering the amount of joy this brings me as an adult, I can only imagine I’d have been through the roof as a kid.

Back then, of course, Lego Star Wars was just about the only crossover IP to exist within the range. It was a different time. Nonetheless, now that you can get Lego Doctor Who, Lego Friends, and just about anything else in Lego form, it says something about this set that I would still describe it as one of the best Lego sets for adults – though with the added caveat that I am an enormous fan of Donkey Kong, so of course I’d say that.

When writing this review, I considered the overall design, the building experience, and the value for money. Jump ahead to different aspects of the review below:

Lego Donkey Kong's Tree House review image showing the completed set with Donkey and Cranky standing in front of it.

Specs

Lego Donkey Kong’s Tree House specs:

Model number 71424
Build time Roughly 3 hours
Number of pieces 555
Number of minifigures No traditional minifigures, though Lego versions of Donkey and Cranky Kong are included
Recommended age 8+
Dimensions (H x W x D) 19 x 46 x 17cm

Lego Donkey Kong's Tree House review image showing Cranky near a tire.

Design

The set draws inspiration from Donkey Kong’s tree house as it appears in the games. Specifically, it seems to be based most strongly on its appearance in Donkey Kong Country Returns. I think it looks absolutely delightful and it’s filled to the brim with little references and details that will make fans like me smile.

For example, there’s a little pair of bongos, which have been synonymous with DK ever since Donkey Kong 64. There’s a neat little tire, which of course references the Donkey Kong Country series where they’ve frequently been used as a sort of springboard. Beyond direct references, there are also plenty of little shrubs, plants, and bananas for you to put around the place to give it a more naturalistic look and feel.

Outside the house, you’ve got a hammock tied to a tree. Traditionally, DK’s hammock is inside the treehouse, but considering that that would be been quite a tight fit, I think it makes good sense for it to have been put outside – and it’s nice that it’s not just the tree house, but also the surrounding area.

At the back of the house, there’s a button that opens up a trap door. I’m not entirely sure what the inspiration behind this was, as none of the games have featured this, but it is a nice detail because underneath there’s a little box you can fill with bananas. Perhaps Lego’s best approximation of the banana hoard cave that’s usually underneath. You can also use it to “launch” DK if he’s standing on it when you push the open button, which may be a loose reference to his defeat in the arcade game.

Some fans may be disappointed that the set does not include any traditional Lego minifigures. It comes with Lego versions of both Donkey and Cranky Kong, but you have to build each one of them separately. As much as I can understand those who wanted to see the Kongs rendered in the same style as countless other icons of popular culture, I actually think these Lego versions of the characters look a lot better than regular minifigures would have done. They’re big and sturdy and I keep them on my desk.

Lego Donkey Kong's Tree House review image showing DK inside the tree house near a cassette player.

Ease of assembly

The first thing to mention is that this set does not come with an instruction manual and instead asks you to use the Lego Super Mario app to get your instructions. The app is very well made and essentially gives you everything a printed book would, except that you can rotate and zoom in on any picture that shows you where to put a piece. This is actually really, really helpful and makes building this set a lot easier than those with paper manuals. In my mind, this is a win for accessibility.

Having said that, I also find the reliance on an app a little worrying. In ten years, fans are still going to want to own this set and unless it gets a reprint, they’ll just have to track down the originals. At that point in time, will the Lego Super Mario app still be available? I think there’s a good chance that it won’t and while fans will no doubt preserve it for the next generation of Donkey Kong fanatics, it’s still not so good for preservation. The physical instructions from thirty-year-old sets are still able to be used now, after all. Hopefully, I’ll be proven wrong and Nintendo/Lego will keep the app available in perpetuity.

Aside from that, I don’t have a lot else to say about the ease of assembly. I thought it was easy enough to put together, although I did find the walls and trees on the tree house itself came off very easily, which could get a tiny bit frustrating when I had to reattach them over and over when adding new bits. The base of the tree house, and the legs that it stands on, were all very sturdy though.

Lego Donkey Kong's Tree House review image showing Donkey Kong thrown out the door as the trapdoor opens and reveals a banana.

Pricing

It’s a little expensive, I guess, but about what I expect for Lego these days. Considering it’s tied to a big Nintendo-owned IP (and one that happens to be a favourite of mine) I didn’t mind the $59.99 (£57.99) asking price… especially as this set is going to be discontinued at the end of 2024 and will no doubt sky-rocket in price then.

Lego Donkey Kong's Tree House review image showing Cranky in the undergrowth.

Final verdict

What more can I say? I loved it. We Donkey Kong fans haven’t had much in the way of new games in a long time, so something like this is a lovely treat during our current drought. Instead of spending a few hours playing levels in a game, I’m spending a few hours building a bit of scenery that’s accurate to the games, and I love the whole experience.

As it offers full compatibility with the Lego Super Mario figures (with Lego Mario, Luigi, and Peach having different reactions to various aspects of this set thanks to special pieces that can be scanned), I like to imagine little kids getting introduced to the series through this too – meanwhile, it gives older fans a reminder of what they love so much about the series.

Lego Donkey Kong's Tree House review image showing DK in the hammock.

For another 90s videogame Lego review, read our Sonic the Hedgehog Lego set review. That’s also a good one.