10257 Carousel is the latest in LEGO's semi-annual collection of Creator Expert fairground sets. Its release comes 8 years after the first one, 10196 Grand Carousel, which is now highly revered and sought after, and which commands ridiculous sums on the secondary market, around £2000 for a new example on BrickLink.
The minifigures in Creator Expert sets are never the star attraction but they bring them to life. This one contains seven: a ticket seller (left), adult female and male, an elderly female, and...
three kids: two girls and one boy. Although all seven are new as far as BrickLink is concerned none of their component parts are new.
A number of accessories are included to ensure they have a fun day out. The printed ticket piece is new.
Now the inventory has been published by LEGO you can view the new parts and recolours easily in the set's inventory and by clicking on the 'Elements in sets' column so that those in only one set (this one) are at the top of the table.
Tim at New Elementary has discussed the new parts and recolours at great length already so I won't dwell on them here.
Much of the pleasure we derive from Creator Expert sets is in actually building it so I've taken plenty of photos to show how it all goes together, but hopefully without revealing all its secrets.
Parts are divided into bags numbered 1 to 5 so thankfully there's no need to sift through all 2670 parts when building it.
Before getting stuck in to the carousel itself, the ticket booth is built. It's small but functional and if the set didn't include it it would be no loss.
Unlike the original carousel, the base is constructed from plates rather than a baseplate, and measures 40x40 in size.
The drive mechanism takes shape early in the build and it's important to make sure everything runs freely so ensure smooth operation later.
The base is then plated and tiled. Wheels run on top of the circle of tiles so they need to be pressed down firmly and flush.
At the end of bag one the spine of the central column, with studs sticking out in all directions, is in place and this section is put aside while the carousel's platform is constructed from bags numbered 2.
The platform is a two-level dodecagon. The smaller central section is held together with clip-and-bar plates underneath.
The larger outer section is constructed around the 24121 1/4 Circle Gear Rack 11X11 which was introduced last year in the Bucket Wheel Excavator technic model. It is this, of course, that meshes with the gears in the base to provide rotation.
The twelve sections are connected to it using Technic pins, then the whole thing is made rigid with clip-and-bar connectors around the circumference.
Six of the sections have wheels underneath which will roll on the tiles shown in the picture above.
The two pieces are connected before the whole assembly is positioned onto the base.
Bags #3 provide parts for the central column and the framework of the canopy. The eight sides of the column are angled using hinges and clever geometry.
The canopy's Technic framework is very unsightly but thankfully it's hidden from view. The four wheels on it roll over tiles on the top of the central column.
The four cams (red and yellow technic pieces) are connected to the wheels: it is this mechanism that raises and lowers the animals on the ride as it rotates.
After much repetitive building (although there's more to come...) things get interesting in bags #4 which supplies parts for the animals.
They are all delightful but also they are all flawed as you will see below.
The frog's hind legs are hinged so that his feet stay on the floor as his body rises.
The flamingo is a master class in parts utilisation.
The tiger is perhaps the most impressive and colourful, constructed with some great SNOT-work to create his stripes.
The elephant looks simple enough but, again, there's some impressive and interesting SNOT at work to give it its distinctive shape.
For those whom the excitement of going up and down on one of the animals above is too much there's a static option in the form of a swan.
The seats are staggered to enable two minifigs to be seated side by side.
The animals are attached to the cams at the top before out attention turns again to the canopy.
The perimeter of the canopy is very parts intensive and, it has to be said, very tedious to build. First it's 12 of this 26-part assembly...
...then 12 of this 18-part one...
...and finally 24 of this one!
I didn't know until now that the tail part, 40379 Tip Of The Tail Ø6,47, comes in left- and right- handed varieties, presumably depending on which side of the injection mould it's been produced by. This is evidenced by the hole on one side of it. If you don't have the exact same number of left- and right- hand ones the hole will be visible from the outside on some of the subassemblies, as is the case on 8 of mine. Does it matter? Probably not, although it does of course look better without the hole showing.
Once the 'sails' and all the subassemblies have been attached, and some gold crowns added, it looks spectacular.
The 2x2 tile printed with a book is new.
The completed model
It looks stunning! The carousel itself matches the colours of the Ferris wheel while the animals add a much-needed splash of colour. It's interesting to note that, like the Ferris Wheel, this model doesn't use any bold blues or reds in its palette.
It's rotated by turning the white crank on the right but it's a bit tiresome doing so for more than about 15 seconds so a much better option is to plug in a M motor and let it take the strain. Seeing it whizz round on its own is much more satisfying!
As great it all looks its design is let down by one simple thing: the kids can't ride the animals properly. They need to cling on for dear life while standing on top of them.
I suspect providing a 1x2 cutout in the top of each for them to stand in would have complicated the design and spoiled their aesthetic, which it why it wasn't done, but it does seem to be a bit of an oversight that spoils it somewhat.
In Billund last week I had a opportunity to chat briefly with the set's designer Mike Psiaki about the choice of animals.
He said that initially he tried one-piece horses but they did not meet the requirements of a Creator Expert set. So, he tried brick-built horses but they looked rubbish compared to the one-piece ones, so he built dozens of alternative animals, from which these five were picked, I suspect as much for their colours as anything else.
Apparently a sea-themed one was considered, with dolphins, sea-horses and so on, but it was thought to be too niche and too much of a departure from the original carousel.
Anyway, this is an excellent addition to LEGO's growing collection of fairground rides.
I would like to say that I enjoyed building it but, as you have seen above, and can understand given the symmetrical nature of the set, it does get a bit tedious, with 4-of this, 6-of-that and 12-of-the-other to be built at times. As a result, it's not a model you'll want to finish all in one session. Building the animals and appreciating their design while doing so just about makes up for it, though.
The finished model does looks fantastic and, if you've remembered to ensure the gears run smoothly, works well. While it can be cranked by hand it's not much fun doing so. I think I would have preferred to pay another tenner to have the motor and battery box included, even though I have spares.
The animals are excellent and could all stand-alone in small Creator polybags. It is a shame that the minifigs have to risk life and limb when riding them, though. They way they are attached to the mechanism is fairly straightforward so it would be easy to swap them out for something else: Star Wars Microfighters or Super Hero Mighty Micros or something like that, should you wish to experiment.
This is definitely a set that LEGO connoisseurs will not want to miss out on and, who knows, in 8 years' time it too could be fetching a princely sum on the secondary market...
Wait, I didn't mention the stickers! Did you notice that I didn't apply them? Possibly not, as the model looks fine without them.
A single sheet supplies shiny gold ones for the white tiles on the central column and the 2x2 round tiles around the edge of the canopy. I felt the chance of applying them all straight and central was unlikely so I decided not to: that way you can see what it looks like should you choose to do the same.
Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for review. The review is an expression of my own opinions.