Review of 10233 Horizon Express
LEGO has previously released two trains targeted at the enthusiast community - the Emerald Night in 2009 and the Maersk Train in 2011. A third train model is scheduled to join those legendary trains on 1st Jan 2013, the Horizon Express, a modern high-speed passenger train.
LEGO has kindly provided us with an early copy for review.
Box and contents
The third of the LEGO 'Direct' trains is the largest of the three in terms of parts count (1351 elements according to the pre-order page on LEGO Shop), but comes in a box considerably smaller than the last outing, the Maersk Train; the box is about the same size as that for the Emerald Night (54cm x 28cm x 8.6cm). It's almost as heavy as the Maersk Train (at 1.85kg), so with the smaller box size it feels like a very solid set.
When complete the model consists of three units - an engine and two carriages. The two carriages are almost identical from the outside (there are slight differences in the window construction & sticker), but have different interiors.
The art on the box is quite striking and shows the train in a dynamic pose. The box art on the rear shows two additional building options - two of the sets combined (2 engines in a push/pull configuration, with four carriages in-between), or fitted with the train Power Functions to make it remote controlled. Out of the box the train is a static model, suitable for display only.
Note the 'Expert' branding on the box. It's believed that LEGO exclusives like this and the modular buildings will be branded 'Creator Expert' from now on.
Parts are divided into 13 bags, with the train bases loose in the box. Six of the bags are labelled '1' for the first instruction book, while stages '2' and '3' get three bags each. The 13th bag is unlabelled and contains parts used in all three building stages. As with the previous 'Direct' trains, the set doesn't contain any track.
The three instruction books and the sticker sheet are packed in a bag with a cardboard stiffener.
The instruction manuals cover each of the models - book one covers the engine, book two the middle carriage and book three covers the rear carriage. The stickers are printed on clear film and provide options for a number of different carriages, should owners wish to build longer trains.
The set contains a generous six minifigs; two staff members (driver and conductor) and four passengers. It's worth noting that they are split evenly between 'male' and 'female' figures; I think this might be the first female train driver in any LEGO set?
The models are interesting & enjoyable builds in their own right and they employ a number of advanced building techniques. I won't spoil the surprise that I know many of you enjoy, but it will say that the chin, windows, 'skirts' on the bottom of the units and the 'chevrons' on the engine are particularly well done & I learned a thing or two.
As well as instructions for the rear carriage, the final instruction manual contains a full parts list, and also instructions for retro-fitting PF motor, battery pack, sensor and lights. It looks like reworking the train for 9V operation would be fairly straightforward. However, the long extension of the nose of the engine might make the train challenging to operate on an established layout.
The completed model
I'm not a 'train-head', but I have built & enjoyed all three of the 'Direct' trains. This set has a different feel to either of the previous sets, but it is an enjoyable build. The finished model looks great, but really needs to be combined with another set to complete the train. The finished train bears a remarkable similarity to the early orange version of the French TGV.
There is plenty of detail in the passenger carriages; both have working doors and removable roofs to add play value. The middle carriage has three passenger seats and a toilet with a sliding door, as well as storage space for luggage. The rear carriage also has three passenger seats, but also has a bar and a coffee machine.
What I liked
- Great looking model of a modern high-speed passenger train.
- The six minifigs are all great.
- There are some great & unusual building techniques used.
- Little use of stickers or printed elements; most of the detail comes from built detail.
- Lots of great elements - plenty of orange & loads of 'SNOT' pieces.
What I didn't like
- The open area on the roof of the engine around the pantograph is a little disappointing.
- Not a lot of strength in the walls of the carriage when the roof is removed.
- As with other six-wide carriages, the interior of the passenger cars is a little cramped.
This is an excellent set: as with the previous 'Direct' trains it'll probably work better as a display model than as a working train on a display. It is a great build experience. Many people will want to buy two of them to complete the train. Highly recommended for any LEGO train fans, for anyone wanting to display a great looking model and anyone interesting in learning new & interesting building techniques.