LEGO recently got in touch with me to ask if would like to review 60271 Main Square. I had seen the leaked images of the set so I accepted because it looked really cool. This was before the price was announced. If you missed it the Australian RRP for this set is $279.99, which has caused quite a bit of discussion (the discussion is about it being too high).
I think it is a real shame that the price is going to be thing most talked about with this set because the actual set itself is something really interesting and I love what LEGO are trying to do with it.
Opening up this box you are presented with a forest’s worth of printed LEGO instructions rather than just one thick instruction booklet. In total there are 8 different booklets. Why is there 8? Because the idea behind this set is that you build together – you sit down as a family, everybody gets their own little section to build and in the end you’ve created a Main Square for your LEGO City.
This set is $280 and LEGO wants me to share? I’m meant to build with my family? Fine. I guess I can share with them (kidding, I actually really like my wife and son).
The included builds quite nicely cover the spectrum from novice to more experienced builder, in a way that will enable everybody to engage with this set and contribute to the overall assembly.
I’m going to present my thoughts on the set as a whole first, then run through this set looking at each section in order after that.
My son likes LEGO, more so the playing with LEGO part of it than the building at this stage. My wife tolerates LEGO. She’s built a few sets for me to help out but it’s not something she actively enjoys. The three of us building together isn’t something that happens a lot at this point in time but I was definitely excited to give it a go.
What really worked was having very clear distinction between the builds. I could work on something while my wife built something else. My son could float between us helping out as he saw fit.
The other thing that I liked was that the minifigures are well spread out with each build. For a young kid it means new people to play with at each new segment, rather than getting a heap of people at once and getting distracted just playing with them.
Let’s discuss the elephant in the room. This set is not cheap. It has an Australian RRP of $279.99 and it’s exclusive to LEGO.com, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and LEGO Certified Stores. That all means it’s going to be very difficult to get this for under RRP. The RRP that is really high.
This set is being positioned as a $280 family activity. $280 buys a lot of things. For $300 I could get 12 month access to Dreamworld for my wife, son and myself. That would be a lot more excitement than a couple of hours of building.
The price of LEGO has always been a weird thing to think about. Is a $500 LEGO set worth $500, really? But the position has always been that you are getting something big and exciting to display.
The biggest problem with 60271 is that it is priced the same as one of those big display pieces but each of the components are designed for young kids to build. There’s no real complexity or innovative build techniques. It’s just an expensive collection of city sets.
I don’t see anybody displaying this set proudly on a shelf.
Build 1- The small vehicles
The first booklet will guide you through the build of three different vehicles. The fist of these vehicles is a simple motorobike with a chain and grappling hook attached to the back. Included with the motorbike is the very evil looking Snake Rattler minifigure. The bike is only a few steps of actual building so that won’t take long, even for young builders.
The second vehicle is the handyman wagon. This isn’t really a strong part of the set. The end result build is messy and confusing and the three wheeled design makes for a finished build that is pretty unstable. This build comes with LEGO City handyman Harl Hubbs.
The third of these small builds is Duke Detain’s ATV. Again this is very simple and you can knock this one out in a few minutes.
Build 2 – The helicopter
LEGO loves helicopters. LEGO loves helicopters so much they created their own Avengers Endgame fan-fiction that included a helicopter scene. If you are aware of LEGO’s obsession with helicopters then this one won’t be a surprise to you. It’s a fairly compact single seater with the quirky addition of a side-mounted net.
While the helicopter itself doesn’t overly impress me I am a big fan of the Freya McCloud minifigure. She has comes with a mug and has an alternate face print where here hot chocolate has been spilled all over her face. It’s a fun minifigure.
Build 3 – The limo
I understand that politicians use government cars to get around, and that higher up politicians may have chauffeurs to get them around. Still it feels a bit pretentious for a mayor to be driven around in a stretch limo rather than just a sedan.
The limo is not a super exciting build, is a pretty simple car just longer. Also being all black it’s not the most interesting. The limo build comes with a female driver, with black pants and a suit vest.
Build 4 – The diner
LEGO City sets are great at using large panels to quickly make up a structure. That’s what you will find here with the diner build it’s basically 4 elements that make up the walls.
The highlight of the diner would have to be the giant burger on the roof. It just cool.
The diner comes with a female minifigure waitress. She features a striped blue shirt and blue pants.
Build 5 – City park
It’s important for a city to balance urban infrastructure with green spaces. In 60271 you get a small area of park, but it’s seems to be mostly concrete. A green plate instead of the tan one would have just been such a simple change but I think it would have made the park a little nicer.
I am also not a fan of the statue. It includes a forestman figure to place on the top but you are meant to put his sword at its feet and handcuffs behind its back. Who wants a statue of somebody being defeated and arrested? Make the statue a Robin Hood type folk hero instead I say.
This build comes with a family of minifigures. There’s mum, dad, a boy and a girl. The dad minifigure is very Ned Flanders.
Build 6 – The stage
Another modest build that uses a few big elements to bulk up the overall size. The giant speakers are quite nice and I also like the lights. This is one of those builds that looks like what it is meant to but isn’t that interesting in terms of build.
This build comes with one of the named minifigures. A female musician called Poppy Starr. I don’t know much about Poppy but she’s a great minifigure with her blue hair and colourful torso print.
Build 7 – Not a monorail
All of the designed material for this set implies that this tram is a monorail. It’s not. That alone is going to piss a lot of people off.
If you can get passed that initial disappointment then the tram isn’t bad. It features two identical ends with a small middle section to allow for some bend in the middle. The finished build is decently sized for a small inner city transport option. It’s not a full sized train but it’s not meant to be.
The tram of course needs a driver and the one included looks very fancy with his dark red outfit. There is a lot of detail on the torso print, such as a lanyard with ID, and some pockets.
Also included in build 7 is a small station platform. The platform includes a vending machine, ticket machine and a timetable/map sign.
Catching the tram is another female minifigure. What is really interesting about this minifigure is the printed hearing aid on the side of the head.
Build 8 – City Hall
This is the largest of the builds and while not at the same level as something like an 18+ set it should keep mum or dad engaged while the kids work on the smaller builds.
The overall design really works for a “town hall” building. It’s just got that look about it.
The bottom level features a few trinkets that the bad guy is trying to steal, in particular the key to the city which is guarded by lasers. I quite like the play feature of being able to spin the lasers around.
The upper level features a small office with a basic desk and there is a small access door on the roof.
City Hall includes a Mayor Fleck minifigure. I don’t know why this named character is wearing a corn costume and I’m not going to look it up. City sets shouldn’t require prior knowledge of a TV show to make sense.
I really wanted to like this set because I like the concept of “build together” but I just can’t say that this set is worth the price. If the end result was something amazing then I’d be more inclined to say this one was worth the price. If you try and make a meal with a bunch of average ingredients it is going to take a lot of skill to elevate the combination beyond the mediocrity of the component parts. It’s not impossible but its difficult. LEGO wanted to create a big expensive awesome city set, but they attempted it with a collection of average at best builds.
The final thing. I hate named minifigures in a city set. City is meant to be a refuge from the licensed themes. A place where any minifigure can be whoever you want it to be. Don’t force a wacky corn costume wearing mayor on kids. Let kids come up with that wackiness themselves.