Earlier this month I was extolling the virtues of the 2016 City set 60119 Ferry, saying how refreshing it is that LEGO is producing something a bit different rather than just an endless stream of fire and police sets.
In actual fact LEGO ferries are not new at all: last century LEGO produced promotional models for various European ferry companies, 15 in total, that were sold on-board the ships. More recently, a Creator ferry was produced, 4997, in 2008. However, I believe this is the first one to come with minifigures, and it's certainly the first City one.
Thanks to the LEGO CEE team I now have one in hand. Read on to find out whether it lived up to my expectations.
Box and contents
The box shows the boat arriving at its destination, having crossed the water from the city in the background. It hasn't been tied up or moored, which is typical of operations on some routes (e.g. the Campobello Island one I mentioned in my first article).
Other than driving on and off, there isn't a lot of play or interaction that can be illustrated on the back.
Inside, three instruction manuals of varying sizes and a sticker sheet. More on the stickers later.
Parts are presented in four numbered bags.
There are three loose parts. The 8x16 green tiles are new in this set.
The set comes with two minfigs: a female car driver and the ferry captain. The woman's torso is fairly common but her hair piece is not, having been used for Black Widow in two sets this year.
The captain's torso was used in one of this year's Deep Sea sets
The car is built first, and like all City cars, it's unremarkable and pretty poor. I really wish LEGO would work on their minifig-scale car designs to make them a bit more realistic. They have nailed 6-wide trucks and lorries but cars still look out of proportion: when was the last time you saw a car with tyres sticking out from wheel arches? It's illegal in many countries as far as I'm aware.
Anyway, it is what it is, we will just have to live with it for now.
Car out of the way, we move on to the ferry itself. It's a simple build.
The angled sides are achieved using old-school hinged bricks which, in yellow, have not appeared in a set so far this century.
The cabin uses window and roof parts that I am not familiar with although they are not new.
The cabin roof lifts off to enable the captain to be inserted but as the door is just 2 studs wide it's impossible to get him to stand in the doorway. There's no ladder provided for him to get up there: maybe he jumps...
The completed model
As you can see from this angle the boat is certainly not water-tight!
The stickers were easily applied. They appear to be made of a new material with which I am not familiar: it's far more shiny that usual and slightly thicker and thus more robust. Time will tell whether it will peel, but I have hope that LEGO has resolved that issue with this new formulation.
I think it's a fantastic set. It's a realistic representation of a real-life vehicle, quick and easy to build and, at 34cm long, an impressively sized model.
It's not perfect: another car or some other vehicle would have been welcome, and as I said above, the design of City cars needs some work to make them more realistic, but as for the ferry itself, I don't think it could be improved, other than the provision of a ladder to the captain's cabin. Some have said it's a shame it doesn't have much of a hull, but adding one would limit its playability because the deck would be raised as a result, and of course it's not visible when the vessel is on water anyway.
I have no idea what the set will cost but I suspect that, given the relatively niche subject matter, it will be a 'hard-to-find' retailer exclusive in some markets. I guess we will find out on the 1st of January.
Kudos to LEGO for taking a bit of a gamble and producing something that is different. Let's hope it sells well such that LEGO is encouraged to take risks in future.