Wednesday, 23 February 2011

That's more like it !

After having been somewhat underwhelmed by the first wave of 2011 LEGO offerings, I've now been able to take a closer look at what's coming later this year, and things are definitely looking up. New York Toy Fair 2011 has come and gone, and finally we have high quality pictures of the Summer 2011 wave of sets. As a result, I'm pleased to report that my levels of enthusiasm have gone from "Meh" to "Get in there !" almost overnight.....

Reasons to be cheerful ? Well, a solid City and Creator line up for starters. Then there's a couple of licensed properties - Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean - which I freely admit to not initially thinking I'd be interested in but have had to revise my opinion of after seeing pictures of the sets. Plus there's a brand new theme - Alien Conquest (pics below - thanks FBTB !) - which looks very promising, harking back to some of the LEGO Space sets from past eras but with some interesting new twists.

Alien Mothership from the Alien Conquest theme

Earth Defense (sic) HQ from the Alien Conquest theme

But first things first - what of the Summer 2011 LEGO Star Wars sets ? Well, I have to admit that the first wave of 2011 Star Wars sets left me a bit cold. When it comes to Star Wars I'm a traditional kinda guy, worshipping the Original Trilogy, liking Episodes I-III more than most, but with only a passing interest in the Clone Wars and next to no interest in the Expanded Universe. Consequently, I didn't recognise the ships making up the bigger sets so far this year - the Bounty Hunter Assault Gunship and the T-6 Jedi Shuttle - and therefore found it hard to get too excited about them. The Summer 2011 Star Wars sets are largely back to basics, however. Most of them are remakes of older sets from Star Wars Episodes I to VI, which is great for newer collectors but perhaps not so good for me who already has multiple versions of some of the sets. We're getting a new System Scale Millennium Falcon, for instance. This will be the third System Scale Millennium Falcon that LEGO have produced, following in the footsteps of Set 7190 (from 2000) and Set 4504 (from 2004), and the sixth LEGO Millenium Falcon that I own when you include Mini, Midi and Ultimate Collector Series versions. In fact, when you add the Millennium Falcon Bag Charm to the list that's seven overall....!

Set 7965 Millennium Falcon : come in Number Seven - your time is near....
I've moaned a bit in the past about all the remakes in the LEGO Star Wars range, but I have to say that LEGO can't really win. Since 1999 they've produced LEGO versions of pretty much all the recognisable vehicles from the Star Wars films, which means that either they have to remake sets they've produced before, in which case long-time collectors like me complain, or else produce sets based on obscure stuff or ships from the expanded universe, in which case traditionalists like me complain.....! So like I said, they can't win, although the millions upon millions of dollars that LEGO earn from this most lucrative of licenses probably softens the blow. To be fair, one of the Summer 2011 Star Wars sets significantly improves upon what's come before - Set 7962 Anakin's and Sebulba's Podracers looks great, and far better IMHO than any previous podracer set. Hands down the highlight of the Star Wars Summer 2011 releases for me. I also think that the new Sith Infiltrator set (Set 7961) somewhat improves upon what's come before (particularly the ghastly 1999 version), even if it is the third System Scale version, and 4th version overall, of a ship which only appeared briefly in the movies.....

Set 7962 Anakin's and Sebulba's Podracers

Set 7961 Darth Maul's Sith Infiltrator

So what of the pleasant surprises awaiting us later this year ? Well, I'd largely written off the Cars theme as kid's stuff, but now I've seen some decent pics I'm not so sure. OK, so they certainly are aimed squarely at the younger market, but I can't help finding them quite neat... On the basis of first impressions, my favourites so far are probably Set 8487 Flo's V8 Cafe and Set 8677 Ultimate Build Mater (pics below, with thanks as ever to the wonderful Brickset), although there are really quite a few cool sets. I can certainly see myself buying a few of them, although not perhaps all 14 sets which are apparently on their way.... Merchandising tie-ins - don't you just love 'em ?

Set 8487 Flo's V8 Cafe

Set 8677 Ultimate Build Mater

Set 8486 Mack's Team Truck

And then there's Pirates of the Caribbean, another theme which I didn't think I'd be that fussed about. Except that some of the minifigures, such as the multiple versions of Captain Jack Sparrow, look superb, and a few of the sets such as 4195 Queen Anne's Revenge (pic below) look decidedly interesting....

Set 4195 Queen Anne's Revenge

So, an expensive 2011 awaits, I fear - in addition to the sets above there are some other potential gems on the horizon such as Set 5770 Lighthouse Island and a LEGO Star Wars advent calendar, not to mention new Harry Potter stuff and the new set I'm waiting for with the most excitement of all - Set 10219 Maersk Train which will be with us on 1st April 2011!

Set 10219 Maersk Train - now officially announced and on it's way....


  1. Jabba the Taff23/2/11

    You've basically hit my wish list on the head! This year doesn't appear nearly as bad as many people are still saying. The two Cars sets are probably going to be my only purchase in that range. I'll try to complete PotC. And as yet I don't have a MF or podracer so they're top of the list. I'm hoping there's as many sales as last year! The Maersk train is a must as well, I'm buying it over the cargo ship and it's not a bad price in comparison to what I was expecting. I'd have to disagree with you about Creator though. This line was very disappointing. I do like the Lighthouse but I always like a big, great looking set like the Highway Transport or Off-Road Power to get just before Xmas. It helps when getting 3 for 2 purchases as well!!

  2. Cheers, Jabba. Having read your comment and subsequently taken another look at the 2011 Creator sets, I'm going to have to revise my opinion and agree with you that there are a couple of gaping holes in the in the 2011 Creator line-up. For me the most painful omission is a nice big Creator House. Not sure how I missed that as I've snapped up every one LEGO have produced for the past few years. The Apple Tree house is still available, but it's pretty small compared with the succession of great tan and white houses that we've had over the last 5 years. The Beach House is gone from the line up too, and Creator is actually looking surprisingly bare. I'm wondering whether the lighthouse is this year's house, but there's certainly a distinct lack of big Creator sets.