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Showing posts with label train. Show all posts
Showing posts with label train. Show all posts

LEGO Set Review - Bricktober Train Station 40142

Ahh, October. Full of leaves and pumpkins and overpriced Toys'R'Us sets. We're cruising through Bricktober 2015 and looking at this year's second promo, the Train Station.

Sort of.

There are several things wrong with this set. Primarily it's the shortest line ever. At 8 studs it's little more than the two cars that fit on the track. It takes more time to queue up than it does to ride it. At least that's the presumption. Sneaking a peek at the back of the box, there's no connections to be made unless the sidewalk spontaneously turns into track. The platform has two signs on it. Both ends of the line? "How far are you going?" "To the end of this fence." But at least the track is dark pearl grey, not just a normal grey!

Second, these things seem to be growing. Last year all of the modules were 6 studs wide and 8 studs deep. This year's hotel is 8x8. But it's a corner module so that kind of make sense, kind of. This train station is 10 studs wide.


The draw of the large modular sets is that they are all standardized to a 32x32 baseplate. This means they can be mixed and matched and still all set up nicely. Now in the real world, I understand that building lots can be different sizes. Most often (where I live) they are 50x100' but anomalies happen. Maybe they'll be 60' or 75' wide. So I get the aspect of injecting a little bit of realism. But this is microscale LEGO where the scale is no longer 1:1. Now we're about 1:480. There's not a lot of wiggle room for subtle variation while still staying within a larger uniformity.

Therefore, I decided to redesign my Train Station to be 8 studs wide. But now that I've built it and shot it I realize it still doesn't solve the problem of the shortest ride ever. I think I need to make it 8 studs wide and 10 studs deep so the train track is actually out in the right of way. Then maybe I can expand the track and make it travel all around the town.

But despite these problems there are a few redeeming things about the set. Namely, trans-clear, dark green and roller-skate, roller-skate, ROLLER-SKATE!

By the way, if you would, please petition Great Ole's ghost that I would be able to obtain the next two Bricktober sets. I'd hate to lose out on one and, well, you'd hate to miss a review.

LEGO Finds - 2015 Week 27

Welcome to the second half of 2015! Or the third sixth or the xth 2xth. This week was a unique find. Of course aren't they all. Instead of the usual DUPLO or Bionicle I found a train track! Sadly no more train parts. There was an 8x16 plate that looked like it was run over by a technicolor steamroller though. The bottom was all mashed up and the top half had lost a fight with a marker. Tempting as it was I left that one behind. Gotta have some standards.

LEGO Finds - 2015 Week 17

Again with the single piece finds. I now have about 4.2 miles of Duplo track.

LEGO Techniques - Building a Santa Fe Super Chief 10020

The public really seems to adore these rebuilding posts. I've had an amazing amount of hits to my Millenium Falcon rebuild and quite a few to the Cafe Corner one. Recently it was requested that I do a breakdown of how to build the Santa Fe Super Chief on the cheap. Request granted!

I would not have chosen this set myself since it is fairly low on Bricklink's most wanted list. In fact, it's not even ON the list! The Green Grocer should be the next one I do. The Emerald Night is the first train on that list and that one is about the 20th one down. But let's take a look and see what kind of savings can be had!

As before, crank up the gerbils and open Brickstock. Load the inventory for set 10020-1, NOT the Limited Edition. Right there we saved $25 for a used complete one. For reference, a used one costs $200. Ctrl-A, Ctrl-G to get the price guide data for all parts. Sort by price, highest first. Go to the bottom and delete all the counterparts. They have no price data which means none have sold in the last 6 months. They're all stickered parts that already occur in this list as parts plus the sticker sheet. Head back up to the top.

Ctrl-A to select all the parts. On the left upper side I show that all parts are $368 in new condition. Change condition to used and you can reduce the price to $212. So far, not good. We might as well buy a used one. I'm going to keep the condition as used since many of the old light grey and dark grey parts will be pretty expensive otherwise. We'll test for swapping them to the newer greys later on.

The most expensive item is the sticker sheet. Strike this for over $17. Next is a panel with a porthole window. Unfortunately it is painted light grey so recoloring the train may not be possible without looking off. There are no other versions of this piece available.
The minifigs are each under $2. Striking them doesn't help much. Below this is not much point in changing pieces; they are all low cost anyway. We've gotten down to $195. Add the assumed 12% for shipping and you're looking at almost $220. Might as well buy complete.

So what if we recolor the train slightly? Arrange by color. Select and change all the Light Grey to Light Bluish Grey and all the Dark Grey to Dark Bluish Grey. Hit Ctrl-A, Ctrl-G to reprice the items. Total comes in at $164 and that's assuming that every piece is available in its updated color. Two doors, a decorated slope, and that old chunky SNOT brick are in fact not.

As I'm not a trainhead, I can't give recommendations for reconfiguring the bogies or rejiggering the train base by using several other pieces or updating the couplings. Unless you already own a bunch of older train parts, I would say that you are better off purchasing this set complete then you are piecing it together.

So, request granted?

Set Review - Emerald Express 31015

This is the final set in a series of three reviews covering the smallest Creator sets for the first quarter of 2014.  The first was a helicopter wherein I described much of the confusion involved (not all mine) in obtaining these sets.  The second was a three-fer where I got my kids involved.  This week we've got one more three-fer but we take to the rails.  Alone.  Yeah, I stiffed the kids.

This set was the hardest to get.  Apparently everyone loves trains.  I'm good with trains.  Anything that can kill you should rightfully be respected.  Very few things can do it with awe though.  Kill and respect, that is.  The Emerald Express (not to be confused with the Emerald Night) is a small train that evokes its confusing namesake if it were about 100 years older.  The first thing that caught my eye was the dark green.  This is the first set to offer us dark green 2x2 round bricks and one of only a few to offer us the 2x2 round plate in the same color.  But I think that's just icing on the cake.

The reason this set is so hard to get is because everyone seems to want three copies.  How else can you build the train that they insinuate with the packaging diagram?  You can't!  So I bought three and I built three.  For as much as I appreciate trains though, I was a little disappointed.

For starters, the main locomotive has something about it that isn't quite right.  It struck me that it looks as if Monster Garage got a hold of it.  The cab is a bit low.  And by a bit I mean a lot.  This is like the low rider of trains.  Or maybe an idea of what a low rider monster truck might look like.  Other than that it's rather evocative of the classic era of the rails.  Cow catcher, smokestack, and some sort of piston looking things up front.  The extra parts get you some sort of track side signal.

The second train you get to build is some sort of vaguely steampunkish rocket train.  I say steampunkish only because the Victorian vibe is still there.  This looks sort of like what Jules Verne may have written about were he a train head.  It's a touch silly but still sort of okay looking.  It certainly looks fast, even while standing still.  It can probably achieve 88mph if you need it to.  With the extra parts I put together some sort of larger track side signal.

The third car is some sort of carriage that looks like a stage coach sans horsies.  But it rides on rails.  Like some sort of early trolley.  It takes advantage of very few of  the pieces and overall has an air of "We had to have three things, sorry" to it.  If you have an imagination then it can certainly look the part but personally I wish something in the 8-long category could have been effected a little better.  there were several leftover parts that just wanted to help give it an upgrade.  Instead I used them to build some sort of Civil war era mobile field cannon thingy.  Trust me, you don't want to be standing near the wheels end when that thing goes off.

So then I thought to myself, if models two and three offer so much disappointment, couldn't I do better?  Maybe.  I noted that while there were three pieces to be built, there were really three connections.  Since all the trains have 3 sets of wheels, I could probably squeeze out another car and get 4 total pieces of rolling stock.  Would the remainder of the pieces let me do that though?  I left the original locomotive alone.  I did boost the cab by a brick in height so it looked more proportional to itself.  And as you know, any self respecting locomotive needs a tender behind it.  So the tiny wheels made that happen as well as the proliferation of 1x1 black round plates.  It's a coal tender.

At first I thought I'd like to have a passenger coach and a caboose.  But that dream was quickly dashed and I had to combine the two ideas into one.  With what little was left I tried to figure out what to do for the fourth car.  It ended up as a flatbed carrying something that resembles either a calliope or a nuclear missile, Victorian style.  I'm still undecided.

In the end I'm pleased.  I only left 8 pieces out of the entire train.  Since each set comes with 3 extras I'm mathematically ahead by one piece.  So I got that going for me.

A single set is $5 and includes 56 pieces plus those three extras.  This lands somewhere in the 8c per piece price range.  It also comes with wheels (and no tires) and a wide assortment of functional pieces.  It's a little bit of a mess to me and probably a borderline joke if you're into real 9V and RC trains.  But as a desk model the main build is reasonable.  I'd love to see what sort of improvements you've come up with.  Give us a link in the comments below.

If you'd like some more substantial trains, click the image links below:

Set Review - Holiday Train 40034

Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christmas may begin.  I have been rather appalled at the earlier and earlier release of Christmas items in stores, sometimes even before Halloween.  My children have been listening to Christmas music for at least 3 weeks already, and they keep looking for snow (which we don't often get) and asking how many days are left.  Slow down kids, you're killing me.

But now that the turkey's been rebaked and shoppers have been trampled, let the Christmas season begin!

Those long winter shadows...

I've never been a fan of the small polybag trains. I like model trains a lot. My dad has an HO scale train that he set up when I was a kid. That put me on a train kick. But the hobby is expensive whether scaled trains or LEGO trains and I never was able to afford it. When I got back into a LEGO big time a couple of years ago I explored the train theme again. I was hoping that I could do some 4-wide trains on the roller coaster tracks with an NXT motor. Still expensive and you're stuck with an oval as no wyes exist in that scale. And I haven't got the space anyway so what's the use in experimenting with solutions? Someday, maybe.

So anyway the next option is the 4-wide polybag trains. The Mini Hogwarts Express (while creative) is a joke to me. "Looks like your tires got jacked, man. Oh, wait, that's a train? Ah." This Holiday Train follows the same aesthetic. If I recall correctly (and I know I do) most trains such as TLG are trying to depict have at least a few large drive wheels on the engine.  Instead, these trains just receive rows of silver Hot Wheels style wheels all the same size. Certainly they have other styles of wheels that they could use, don't they? Like, train wheels?  They were able to do it for the mini Emerald Night.

I think I would prefer that the wheels were in black. At least then we could avoid this shoddy paint job. It would be fine if tires were covering up the slop but we get no tires. Not only is the paint run over on the wheels I received, but there's not enough on the spokes.

The candy canes are a neat touch. I think they would look better with round 1x1 plates instead of square.  Not quite sure how to make the crook all round though.  Maybe a new piece is in order?

I'm very impressed at the price point though. Many of these mega polybags such as the seasonal ones have cost in the neighborhood of $8. That makes sense given that the part count is around 80. But this train with it's 82 pieces and 6 extras cost me a mere $4.99 at Target. That in and of itself is a fabulous Christmas gift from TLG. In fact, it's worth getting 2 or three of these sets to expand the train. The only drawback is that you'll have to throw in a few extra hitches of your own. You'll have tireless wheels and fenders up your festive wazoo, but you'll also get scores of red and white parts as well. For some of you this may be an awesome parts pack. I plan to pick up a few more myself.

If you're creative with making some 3.5-wide track (or don't care about the track), this might make a nice addition to your holiday LEGO diorama.

Or put your train in a bauble!