Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Night at the Museum

I've had something of a love/hate relationship with LEGO's City theme over the past few years. Many of the sets seem distinctly dumbed down for a younger audience, with an over-reliance on POOP, and I also find the annual procession of Police and Fire sets rather tedious. Even so, every year there seem to be a few City sets which break the mould. Last year's Set 4440 Forest Police Station was a cracker, for instance, impressing me so much that I included it in the Reader's Choice poll for Set of the year. True to form, 2013 is following the same pattern. A bunch more Police sets ? Check. A load more Fire sets, including a new Fire Station ? Check. Too much POOP ? Check.

Also true to form is the presence of some more interesting offerings, however. I'm a big fan of the three City Traffic sets released so far this year, including Set 60016 Tanker Truck (above), and I have to confess that even one of the 2013 Police-related sets caught my eye, so much so that when it briefly appeared at 33% off RRP at UK retailer I decided to grab a copy and check it out.

I seem to recall that Set 60008 Museum Break-in caused a few ripples in the fan community when news of its impending release leaked out; my suspicion is that some people saw the word "Museum" and immediately started to fantasise about an ornate, modular-style edifice. Those people should have known better - it is a City set, after all - and as you can see from the front of the unfeasibly wide box above, the reality is rather more mundane, although it's still interesting enough to have caught my attention. The back of the box (below - click to enlarge) is predominantly occupied by a bunch of action shots, mostly featuring various acts of heinous thievery, plus a few of the set's multitude of play features which we'll get to later.

The contents are accessed by cutting a couple of tape seals on one of the end flaps. Inside the box you'll find a cardboard-backed package containing the instruction booklets and sticker sheets, 6 bags of parts, and a dark bley 16 x 16 plate.

There are a total of 4 instruction manuals lurking within the cardboard-backed package. Booklet 1 is forty pages long, but the building guide for the helicopter takes up only 27 of the pages; also present are fully 6 pages of information about the LEGO light brick contained within the set, of which 5 are filled with various warnings in no less than 19 different languages - incredible. There's also a page explaining how to use the new orange Brick Separator and a 4 page inventory of all the parts to be found in the set. Booklets 2 and 3 are more focused on the task in hand, containing little other than the building guides for their respective vehicles.

Booklet 4 (below) has a bigger footprint than the others and unsurprisingly contains more pages given that it covers the construction of the museum. The back cover shows the various elements of the set integrated within a City layout. This layout, commensurate with the make-up of LEGO's City theme, is best described as a Police state, filled as it is with villains being chased by a variety of LEGO Police vehicles, at least one of which is no longer even available at retail.

The set comes with two sticker sheets (below - click to enlarge). None of the vehicles nor indeed the museum are spared the indignity of stickers, but at least they genuinely enhance the appearance of the models to a lesser or greater extent (particularly the museum) and they aren't too challenging to apply reasonably neatly. Unless you're desperately ham-fisted, that is.

You get a total of six minifigures with the set. Four of them are described as LEGO City Undercover Elite Police Officers, and the other two are crooks. The supposed Undercover Police Officers are anything but undercover, being resplendent in Police uniforms; clearly a use of the word "undercover" that I've not previously encountered.... Three of the Police minifigures (below - click to enlarge) have identical torsos front and back and their printed legs are also identical; they differ only in respect of their facial features and headgear. Two of them are wearing aviator caps with trans black visors (the caps presumably approximating for the kind of headgear that riot police wear) while the third sports a baseball-type cap.

The fourth Police Officer is the helicopter pilot. His torso and legs have different prints to those of his three law enforcement colleagues, and he sports a motorcycle-type helmet with a visor. This figure can be found in two other sets, one of which is Set 30222 Police Helicopter which some of you will recently have received for free with a purchase from S@H or a LEGO brand store.

The two crooks have identical torsos and legs. The torso print is excellent both front and back, from the rope wrapped around the torso, to the tool belt on the front and the keys and lock-picking tool (or is it a file ?) on the back. I'm as yet undecided which one of these guys unnerves me the most; is it the crook with the hat, who looks distinctly unsavoury and frankly disagreeable, or is it the guy with the mask who sports the kind of maniacal grin that makes you wonder what he'll get up to next ? The crook with the mask is unique to this set, while his partner has appeared in three sets to date including this one.

Moving on to parts of interest (below), the dark blue 1 x 6 x 5 panel is unique to this set, and there are a number of other dark blue parts of interest here too - the dark blue 1 x 1 x 3 brick with clips is currently only available in this set and one other, the inverted 2 x 2 slope has surprisingly only previously appeared in two sets in this colour, and we also get a few dark blue 2 x 4 tiles. Other interesting inclusions are the dark bley vehicle mudguard, the dark tan 4 x 4 tile modified with studs along one side, and the white 4 x 4 wedge with no top studs, all of which have only appeared in this and one other set to date. The light bley microfig has appeared in a total of 3 sets, as has the trans light blue windscreen with handle and the red brick with 2 studs on one side, while the tan 4 x 4 macaroni, the tan doorframe and the trans black windscreen have only graced 5 sets to date including this one.

Each sub-model is built from its own bag or two of parts "for easy start" as the back of the box puts it, but I chose to just open all the bags at once and dive in. First up is the helicopter (below - click to enlarge). It's pretty basic, truth be told, and from some angles has a distinctly crude, unfinished look to it. The rotors are great example of this - there are only two of them, and because they're mounted on top of a 4-blade propeller, it looks like someone just forgot to add the other two rotors. The rear boom is just a white 2 x 12 plate, which doesn't look great, and helicopter's undercarriage is moulded as one large element rather than being made up of smaller parts, which I'm not a fan of.... On the positive side, there are a number of play features; in addition to the rotating main and tail rotors, LEGO have intergrated a light brick into the design as a searchlight. Also, I think the front canopy works well, elegantly complementing the contours of the underside of the fuselage, and opening to allow the pilot to fit inside.

Next to be built is the Police van (below - click pictures to enlarge). This is I think considerably more aesthetically pleasing than the helicopter, aside from the wheels which look too small for the vehicle. The dark blue colour scheme looks good and works well with the helicopter, and overall it's solid, pleasingly proportioned and nicely designed, even if the back of it does have more lights than a Christmas tree.

Both the roof and rear door can be opened (below) to provide access to the interior of the vehicle. There are unfortunately only two seats for our three Police minifigures, so one of them will have to slum it in the back or just walk home. Assuming the Police can catch the crooks, there's ample space for miscreants in the back, although there's no seating at all. It would have been nice if the van had had at least one pair of opening side doors, but it's a minor criticism of what is overall a decent-looking vehicle.

The final vehicle is the crook's van (below - click pictures to enlarge). The front looks pretty good, and I like the colour scheme and "go faster" decals, but the vehicle is a bit too short and stumpy to be stylish. Similar to the Police van, the back swings open to allow access to the interior, and there's more than enough load space to fit in a goodly anount of swag, if you're that way inclined.

Finally on to the titular museum, which can be seen below (click to enlarge). Despite its disappointingly (although predictably) small size, the designers have nevertheless managed to give it a suitably museum-like appearance, complete with tan columns and bley statuettes on the roof. There are also a number of nice details such as the plantlife growing up one side, the red-carpeted entrance, the banners advertising the exhibition, and the exterior lighting. The roof features a couple of trans blue skylights which open to allow the crooks access to the building.

The interior of the museum is crammed with nice little details as well (below - click to enlarge). The highlight for me is the neat laser security grid protecting the front entrance which is made up of a bunch of trans red light saber blades and can be retracted if desired, plus there are a host of 'treasures' including a cute rendition of Vermeer's "The Girl with the Pearl Earring", a pearl gold crystal and sword, and a blue gem in a protective case.

Look, let's be honest - this set wasn't designed for me, and as such any of my complaints need to be taken with a large pinch of salt. My 5-year old is a far better representation of the target demographic for the City theme, and I have to report that he was absolutely mad for this set, variously declaring that it was "awesome" and "wicked" during the hour that he playtested it for me.

Set 60008 Museum Break-in contains 563 pieces and retails for £49.99 / $69.99 which is I think on the pricey side, although it's undoubtedly a much more attractive proposition at a third off RRP which is what I was fortunate enough to get it for. With three vehicles, six minifigures and a building crammed full of loot and play features this is without doubt an excellent playset, but it's harder to give it such a ringing endorsement from an AFOL perspective on account of the crudeness of a couple of the vehicles and the underwhelming size of the museum.

UK folks can currently pick the set up for £44.99 which is 10% off RRP by clicking here, while our American cousins can get $5 off the RRP by clicking here.


  1. The Vermeer sticker is terrific. Class act. I'll pass on the set, but I have just ordered the sticker sheet off BrickLink. Thanks, Dave.

    1. In case you hadn't guessed by now, I'm not a big fan of stickers.....even I have to admit that the Vermeer sticker is class, though ! All the museum stickers are pretty good, truth be told - they defintely enhance the build.

    2. Nice review (as usual I might add). I'm interested in your comment about the wheels being too small for the van since something that has bugged me (and seemingly only me) for a while now has been the use of small wheels for town trucks (and in this case a large van). The scale is just wrong and once you notice it there's no "un-noticing" it. I'd love to have the kind of wheels they used for the 7622 Indy Jones German trucks for example, on the tankers and cement trucks. TBH it's stopped me buying some, otherwise really cool, sets.

  2. This set has been on my purchase radar for a few weeks now but I was never able to ascertain the size of the museum, so thanks for the close-up detail shots!