When we reported on the release of 4999 Vestas Wind Turbine back in 2008 it caused a lot of excitement but also disappointment when it became apparent that it was to be made available to Vestas employees only. Consequently it became much sought-after and expensive on the secondary market. It went to the top of my wanted list but unfortunately I never managed to get hold of it.
When we learned that it was to be re-released I had mixed emotions: happy that I was finally going to be able to acquire one but also disappointed that it looked to be pretty much identical to the old version when we might have expected it to have been refreshed a bit to take advantage of pieces that have been introduced since its original release.
Now I've built it my disappointment has waned...
Box and contents
The box has been updated with Creator Expert branding, a prominent list of Power Functions components included, and the plants from plants logo.
Parts are supplied in unnumbered bags: 9 'crinkly' ones contain all the small parts.
A further three contain the large pieces used for the mast, the green BURPs,and Power Functions parts.
There's also a green 32x32 baseplate: something of a rarity in sets nowadays.
You are no doubt expecting a photo of the sticker sheet about now, but there isn't one! All parts are printed which is a significant upgrade of the original set and somewhat surprising given LEGO has a policy of not printing company logos on bricks, I believe because it confuses ownership.
The manual is now one book instead of two. As well as the building instructions, there's information about wind turbines, Vestas, wind power, plants from plants and LEGO's environmental policy.
The minifigures are all new. The Vestas workers have printed torsos this time, with a V logo which looks OK but I would have preferred a detailed jacket or shirt print with a more discreet logo on the pocket or something. They are protected by dark blue hard hats instead of the original red. The backs of their torsos are not printed.
The female figure sports a modern torso print instead of a plain white one and the dog is the new design introduced in 2010 or thereabouts.
Building begins with the van which is actually one of the best and most realistic 6-wide vans LEGO has produced. A plain white van might seem a bit dull but as those in the UK will attest, they are ubiquitous on the roads here.
The van in 4999 Vestas Wind Turbine has a blue stripe along the side but Vestas has changed its branding since its release so this version has been changed to suit.
A tool box and welding equipment on a sack barrow are provided to enable the workers to facilitate repairs when needed.
It slides neatly into the back of the van.
Next we turn our attention to the cottage and base.
The building is simple with an open back. A few nice details have been included such as a cooker and sink, a cupboard with lamp on top and a bed.
The most impressive part is the inclusion of Power Functions lights, on pillars either side of the front door, and the neat routing of the cables under the furniture and green plates behind the building. This is the only non-Technic set to include lights.
A shallow sloped roof finishes off the house before building the hill behind it. It's made using four green BURPs which have only ever appeared in 4999 and now this one.
The most significant change between this and 4999 is the method used to mount the mast to the baseplate. It's a bit flimsy in the original set and I suspect lifting the model by the mast would have caused it to detach. That is not a problem with this one thanks to the use of brackets and Technic bricks which hold it very securely.
The mast is constructed next (sorry, I didn't take photos as it's a bit fragile to move about until finished) and attached to the base before the hilltop is completed.
The battery box is hidden inside the hill. It's a bit of a job routing the cables so the 'lid' above it can be fitted. Once it's on, the yellow Technic beam allows the switch to be operated from the back.
Here's the house, hill and scenery completed.
In 4999, the door at the back of the mast was affixed onto a grey plate using grey 1x4 bricks with 4 studs on the sides but they have been changed to white on this version and it looks much better as a result.
Finally, the head and blades are built. There are one or two differences here between this and the original model, most notably the absence of a blue stripe on the side, to reflect the change in Vestas branding.
A 2x2 round tile with 1 stud neatly finishes off the cone on this version and one or two pieces elsewhere on the head are now white instead of grey.
The blades can be mounted to the hub at an angled pitch, as I have done and as shown on the front of the box, or straight, as shown in the instructions.
The head can be freely rotated on the mast, thanks to the large Technic turntable underneath.
The head is hollow and houses a medium Power Functions motor which powers the rotor. Two Power Function extension cables connected in series provide power from the battery box at the base.
The completed model
Until you see it it's difficult to appreciate just how huge it is! The top of the head is some 65cm from the floor and when a blade is pointing directly upwards, its tip is just under 1 metre above the ground!
It's an impressive size that will wow all those that see it.
Differences between this and 4999 Vestas Wind Turbine
I've pointed out most of the changes above, but to summarise, these are what I noticed when comparing instruction manuals:
- Vestas minifigures are printed and not stickered, dark blue hard hats, new heads
- New female minifig; new dog
- The blue stripe has been removed from the van and the Vestas logo is now printed
- The tools are the new bagged ones and not the old type supplied on a circular sprue
- The flowers are the new type, as are the stems, which has necessitated the use of 2x2 tiles with 1 stud to affix them to the base
- The mast support has been significantly improved
- The surround of the door at the back of the mast is now white instead of grey
- Several small parts on the head are now white instead of grey; other minor parts changes
- The blue stripe has been removed from the head and the Vestas logo is printed
- White 2x2 round tile with 1 stud on the front of the turbine cone
- Other hidden parts colour changes
After seeing the press release for the new set I though it was a missed opportunity not to update it to take advantage of new parts and modern building techniques. Now, having built it my opinion has changed and can be summed up as 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' because, actually, there's nothing wrong with it and absolutely no point in making improvements just for the sake of it.
The weakest part of the old set -- the mast mounting -- has been improved and that was probably all that needed doing. The rest is 'old school' LEGO, utilising traditional bricks and methods, and that is not a bad thing.
Perhaps what's not so good at first glance is the price, $200 and £160 for 826 pieces. In the UK the same amount can buy you 21311 Voltron with 2321 pieces so from that perspective alone it appears to be poor value.
However, it does contain more Power Functions components that any other non-Technic set I can think of (M motor, lights, battery box, 2 extension cables) which would cost about £25 if bought separately.
It also includes a lot of large pieces: the BURPs and, in particular, 9 of both White Slope, Curved 8 x 6 x 2 Double and White Slope, Curved 8 x 6 x 2 Inverted Double which, as you can see if you click the links, cost a fortune on BrickLink. To buy them, and the four green BURPs on BrickLink at the moment, would set you back about $120! Prices will no doubt tumble when this set is released but nevertheless they are not cheap parts.
So, on balance, then, £160 / $200 is a lot of money to spend on this set but when you delve deeper perhaps it's not so bad after all.
Having said that, if I only had that amount and had to choose which set(s) to buy it probably wouldn't be this one. It's definitely one for the connoisseur, the collector who has everything else already.
It will be available from shop.LEGO.com from 23rd November and you will be able to buy it via these links:
Thanks to LEGO for providing this set for review. All opinions expressed are my own.