When we first saw pictures of The Joker Manor -- the first set to include the new roller coaster track pieces -- in September last year, we correctly predicted that a Creator Fairground Roller Coaster would follow this year, but little did we know that it would be as huge, and awesome, as 10261 Roller Coaster.
Judging by the number of AFOLs who have been wishing for an official roller coaster set it should prove extremely popular, but before you rush ahead and buy it, there is the small matter of its size and fragility to consider.
Read on to find out if it's the set for you...
Box and contents
The box is huge, 58cm x 49cm x 18cm, and while I haven't checked, it's probably on a par with the Millennium Falcon and Death Star.
Contents are supplied in numbered bags -- thank goodness -- some of which are inside white boxes to prevent them all settling in transit.
The 474 steps of instructions are spread across two books -- 180 and 250 pages in size. The latter also provides guidance on fitting a Power Functions motor or integrating LEGO Boost.
The set is brought to life with eleven minifigures, which are spread across the bags, so act as a 'reward' as you progress through construction. Going just by the part numbers at the back of the instructions, none of the heads or torsos are new.
In no particular order...
Candy-floss seller and juice bar operator:
Fairground staff: male ticket seller and female roller coaster operative.
Both have LEGO logos on their backs.
There's only one short-legged figure, a girl buying candy-floss. What a genius idea to use the beehive piece upside down with a pink minifig head in it to represent the floss!
Next, we have two adults males to ride the coaster.
Grandad also has a horrified expression; Mr. Cool Shades doesn't.
Finally, we have four of what I presume are teenagers, all of whom are roller coaster riders.
They all have alternative expressions; I'm not sure the blonde girl's is entirely appropriate unless riding the coaster sends her to sleep...
A good set of generic figures, then.
Before looking at the erection of the roller coaster itself, I'll show you these three small models that are constructed at various times during the main build.
A small mobile stall complete with sugar spinner, sun shade and another beehive candy-floss.
The booth sits at the entrance to the ride. On one side you buy tickets....
And on the other, the photos taken as you descend the ride. The seat is on a turntable allowing the operator to serve both sides.
This sits tucked away under the coaster and is accessible when queuing for it. I really like the orange and lime motif at the top.
Constructing the Roller Coaster
Make no mistake, the coaster is huge: 75cm x 38cm x 50cm tall. Building a structure that size in one piece would challenge even those of us with dedicated build tables. Thankfully, then, the bulk of the construction is performed in two halves, with them coming together only right at the end.
First the right hand side is built, and as you can probably imagine it does get a bit repetitive, what with building the all the pillars and the struts between them.
You can see the clever way that the pillars are mounted to the baseplates. Just plonking down a 2x2 round brick onto them would not be sufficient so each pillar has a Technic axle inside it, and an octagonal ring at the bottom, which is clipped into the grey strips that form the base. As a result they are held in place very securely.
In total there are 530 2x2 round bricks and 74 octagonal rings employed in the construction.
Some much-needed relief from stacking round bricks on axles comes in the form of the coaster sign which is the work of a genius.
Each letter is clipped to fence pieces behind.
Once it, the track, and the drive mechanism, which you'll see in detail below, is fitted, the right hand section is complete.
After a long and slightly tedious build of the right hand side, it's perhaps a little disheartening that you have to start from scratch again to build the left hand side.
However, it soon starts to take shape and besides building pillars and struts there are interesting diversions, such as the detailed pathways leading to the ride entrance and exit from the ticket/photo booth which is positioned in the bottom right corner
The chain drive mechanism is, of course, a Technic construction but is not too complex.
The controls under the platform are more so.
Here, the platform is complete, and the ticket booth and juice bar are in position.
Then it's back to pillars and struts to complete the final roller coaster supporting structure.
There's a lot of cool details on the platform: gates in front of the queue lines, a height measuring stick, a control panel for the operator and separate entry and exit stairways.
Joining the two sides
Now's the time that you'll need to clear space on your building table to make room for the two sections to come together.
Initially they are clipped at baseplate level before struts and tracks connect them together.
It's at this point the most tedious part of the build has to be done: clipping 203 chain links together, then carefully threading the chain through the mechanisms at the top and bottom
Once that's done, though, we can play!
The completed model
Here are a few photos of the completed model:
The Technic battery box does not come with the set: it's connected to a Power Functions motor which is plugged into the chain drive mechanism. There's a picture below.
To the right of the platform is a sliding section that allows a second train to be taken in and out of service.
The chain is held taught by means of an elastic band.
No cameras, drinks, lollies, babies or dogs!
A nice little detail round the back...
The coaster can be operated manually using three controls.
Pulling the lever on the left out engages a wheel with the train which stops it when it's passing, and also allows -- by rotating the handle in the middle -- it to be started again.
The handle on the right operates the chain that hauls the train up the ramp.
To be honest it's not much fun winding it up the ramp manually so I recommend adding a medium motor, which can be mounted near the chain. When you do so the train will run perpetually.
The riders look anxious at the operator releases the train...
..which then climbs to the top...
Once there it doesn't have enough momentum to continue round the bend so three rotating wheels help it along, until it's reached a position to fall down the first drop.
It goes surprisingly quickly, as you can tell from the motion blur that's evident even when using flash.
It's possible to run two trains at once, and as long as there's a bit of separation and you don't attempt to stop them at the station they'll keep going and won't collide.
Instructions are provided for adding the Boost box, motor and motion sensor. The only real advantage of using it instead of a PF motor is that the chain is started when the motion sensor detects that the train has arrived at the bottom of it. I'm told there are sound effects, too.
A set such as this really requires a video review but rather than make you suffer one of my feeble amateur attempts, I'll refer you to Jang's review, a stop motion film, and the 360 VR video we mentioned the other day which between them show you everything you need to see.
There is no question that this is a fantastic set and the best fairground ride produced so far. An official LEGO roller coaster is long overdue and this set will make many dreams come true.
Price-wise, £300 / $380 for over 4000 pieces represents pretty good value and my only complaint about it is that it might have been better to have charged a tenner more and include a motor and battery box because without them it's not as much fun.
The build is a little repetitive, but once it's complete it looks great, works well and it's a lot of fun to play with. Mesmerising, almost. But, before you rush out and buy it you'll need to ensure you have enough space to both build it and display it. At 90cm long and 38 deep it won't fit on a shelf or bookcase: you'll need a table or chest of drawers or something similar to put it on.
It's also very fragile. The two halves are pretty sturdy and can be lifted and moved easily but once they've been joined together there is no easy way to move it, mainly because there's nothing solid to 'grab' to do so. Thus, once it's where you intend to keep it you won't be moving it about very much.
You can, however, split the two halves to move it. It's fairly easily done, although you need to break the chain and potentially re-thread it, which is a nuisance. To move it to photograph, I had to carefully slip an A1-sized piece of foam board underneath and carry it on top of it.
Here's where is currently rests, on top of Ikea Malm drawers, to give you a sense of scale. The baseplates are the same width as one unit, 80cm. It won't stay there for long. White bricks and sunlight don't mix too well...
If you do have somewhere to put it, go ahead and purchase: you will not regret it. If not, but you have an ugly great Corellian light freighter sitting in the corner gathering dust, break it down and put this in its place: its much more fun!
It's available to VIPs now at shop.LEGO.com and to everyone from June 1st. If my review has piqued your interest please use these links to place your order:
Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for review, which is an expression of my own opinions.