Kits to add lights to LEGO models seem to be big business, judging by the number of companies selling them. Relative newcomer on the scene Game Of Bricks offered to send us a couple of kits to review, so rather than ask the usual suspects to do so I thought I'd send them out to others.
Here, then, is the first review, by Mr_Cross:
Having not explored the world of adding lighting kits to LEGO models, I was excited to receive the Game of Bricks lighting kit for the 10269 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
The kit comes with all the parts you need to add a headlight, a brake (or ‘tail’) light, indicators front & rear and some illumination in the exhausts. However, it doesn’t come with batteries and you will need three AAAs to power these eight lights.
The first thing that struck me was the impressive packaging, a nice black outer card box containing a sturdy plastic box. This little box will be great to put the lighting kit back in and should tuck into the Fat-boy’s box for storage.
Within the box, the components are neatly packed in a number of resealable anti-static ‘shielding’ bags. So, up to this point, it all looked extremely high quality and I was quite impressed.
From the video on the product page it is not possible to see what format the kit is in. Are these ‘special’ bricks? Are there wires and if so, exactly how are they connected? The video makes it appear very discreet and unobtrusive, so I was hopeful.
Upon opening each packet I realised that the ‘LEGO’ components attached to the wires & LEDs were all of the ‘third party clone brand’ variety, and I have to say that this turned out to be the first in a number of key disappointments for me.
Things also looked decidedly fiddly, so I enlisted the help of a couple of experts (with small hands) to help.
“Custom job, Barry, ‘ope you brought your adjustable spanner.”
The quality of these parts, whilst not terrible, was not really a match for the ones I was replacing from the set.
The LEDs seemed to be hot-melt-glue-gunned in to place and the accuracy of their positioning was a little off in the all important headlight. I had to carefully move one of the misaligned diodes so that the clear radar dish could be attached, even then the dish still wouldn’t sit flush and I didn’t want to damage anything by being too forceful (this was the second disappointment).
“Here’s ya problem buddy, the bulb’s stuck on all squiffy, that’s gunna impact the internal flange of yer lens.”
I didn’t want to be unfair and judge the product before I had installed it. So, dutifully, I followed the link to the YouTube video that was to serve as instructions. In my opinion, several things are wrong with this approach:
- The video is like a speed build, and in places is difficult to follow, to the extent that for the headlight it doesn’t actually show you where to thread the wires through, and a little educated guess-work or trial & error is needed to figure it out.
- Stopping the video at appropriate intervals, so that you can replicate the actions you have just seen is another fiddly step in a sea of fiddly wires and connectors. I found myself trying to “rewind” the YouTube video, an action that is imprecise and often frustrating, in order to see a step again.
- If the video is removed for any reason, you will need to remember how to install these parts, which for the modest number of lights here is probably fairly easy, but might be problematic for something more complex.
At least one of the competitors of these products has step-by-step photo guides available online, which in my view is a far superior method, and shouldn’t be any more difficult to do than the video.
I had built the Fat Boy with my son (7), but the task of adding the lights was one I felt was probably a bit tricky for us to attempt together.
“Barry, I think you need to replace the negative power coupling.”
I was impressed with how the wires were neatly hidden within the build. In places, I think it might be possible to improve the exact location of the wires by further modification of the original build. Overall though, I felt that the kit offered a reasonably well thought out solution to the problem of integrating the wires.
“...just need to connect this sucker up, give it sum juice, and we should be in biznizz.”
Connecting the wires to the ‘circuit board’ was very fiddly, but the micro connectors are a simple and effective solution to the problem of attaching a number of wires to the power source, even if they are arranged in ‘series’ rather than a more preferable ‘parallel’ circuit.
Once I had all the lights connected up, it was time to add the battery box and test it.
I definitely didn’t like how the battery box was intended to be attached (via an elastic band trapped under a plate) on the underside of the bike. I wonder whether this 3x AAA unit could in any way be miniaturized for better onboard storage or perhaps integrated better by adding studs to the casing.
All the lights are permanently on, which to me is another missed trick. How much more difficult would independent switching for the indicators have been? Even if it wasn’t exactly straight-forward, I think that it would have been worthwhile for the increased realism and play value.
The way the wires are packed also means that the most visible wires, those near the handle bars are crimped. Despite my best efforts to gently straighten and smooth, kinks in the wire are still visible in the pictures.
When illuminated, the misalignment of the headlight LEDs is painfully apparent, this is the main viewpoint of the model and for me is a further disappointment. Just a tiny bit more care in the manufacturing would have made all the difference in the world.
The lighting kit retails for £30.99/€32.99 which is a significant chunk of the overall cost of the Fat-boy in the first place (£84.99/€89.99).
I possibly expect too much, but for that amount of money, I want greater flexibility.
The final disappointment for me is that the LEDs aren't really going to be useable in any other builds. It's a shame that they aren’t a fully compatible, standalone product that could be easily incorporated into my own creations.
The parts supplied are specific to this model alone, which removes what I find to be the intrinsic joy of LEGO - the possibilities. Game of Bricks, or their supplier has “tooled up” to produce these components, so why not go the extra mile? Design a ‘universal’ system that can be added to and adapted for each model. Something that might even allow incorporating sound effects, a model of a bike is always enhanced with some “vroom, vroom” sounds, right?
If you are going to display your Fat-boy then I think you might still enjoy this addition to the set. The lights and wires are secure and don’t move about that much, even the elastic band holding the battery box seems sufficiently tight to keep shaking to a minimum.
I have to admit that the lights on the Harley look cool and does add something to the model, but for me, there are too many niggles and things that I just don’t like. Ultimately, I feel that the lighting kit could have added so much more, the Fat-boy is a magnificent model and it deserves, no, demands the very best to enhance it’s looks.
“Headlights on Harley”
I can appreciate that there may well be less palatable solutions but I can’t help thinking that there must also be better approaches too. The micro-connectors really are a very neat solution to hiding the wiring, but I don’t think this is a feature unique to Game of Bricks’ product.
Before reviewing the kit, I was generally of the opinion that I don’t like third party additions to my LEGO, I was a purist, and regrettably, this lighting kit has not really changed my view. I’m still not sure I’d buy into this or any of the other third-party lighting products available for LEGO models and displays.
If you are looking for a lighting kit for your Harley however, this kit will do the job well enough and I doubt you would be as disappointed as I was.
The kit is available from GameOfBricks, priced at £30.99/32.99€
Thanks to GameOfBricks for sending the kit for this review, which is an expression of my own opinions.