Back to the Hidden Side today, with the second-largest set released so far, and the largest one in my collection, 70424 Ghost Train Express.
As much as I’m a fan of all things spaceship, I am singularly not a fan of trains: not in the real world, and not in the realm of toys. They’re boring.
So how did I end up with two of this set?
Well, its that Hidden Side element. As a train set, I wouldn’t look at it twice. But add in all the glow-in-the-dark pieces; the wacky guns and containment pods; and the sections that swing open to reveal monstrous eyes, fangs, and wings, and suddenly it becomes something interesting.
Nowwwww you’ve got me!
I’ve mentioned before that I have no interest in the interactive app aspect of this particular theme, so enjoyability boils down to whether the set is fun to build, the extras are worth the effort, and how good the finished product looks. In this case, despite my train-based reservations, it’s a good fit for all three questions.
The train itself looks really nice. The rich red and black colour scheme is reminiscent of the ‘classic’ era of trains, and the three carriages are long enough to make a visual impact without becoming tedious to build. Each carriage features different techniques and parts, so what little repetition there is is based around the chassis where it’s to be expected.
Enough detail and variation to overwhelm the required repetition.
Apart from the long engine, there’s a flatbed carrying a containment pod and portable lab. The final carriage consists of a container sporting that most basic of ghost-hunting equipment: an enormous glowing ray gun! Both lab/pod and container set-ups are removable, maintaining the integrity of the train while providing some playability away from the static display.
A playable extra that goes beyond simple display.
The station is a little delight. It’s quite compact, and most of the building techniques go into cleverly building up the platform and accoutrements: the steps to the side, for example, are a combination of gate, clip, and tiles, rather than a single element (and it could have been: Lego have several stair pieces in their catalogue). A quick twist of the signage, hanging clock, and light, and what was a friendly community train station is now a haunted, carnivorous hell-house, ready to swallow all who trespass upon it.
All abooooooard…. for DEATH! Mwuhahahahahahaaaaaaahhhhhh…..
The minifigs are a combination of what is clearly the Hidden Side standard — normal folk with swappable transparent, scary ‘monster’ heads, and the same two teenagers and dog you get in every damn set. The ‘haunted’ characters will work nicely in a future diorama, but what anybody’s going to do with dozens of identical what-old-white-Lego-executives-think-teenagers-look-like teenagers is anybody’s guess.
Nothing says ‘cool’ like even more snow white ghetto wannabes…
At just shy of 700 pieces, and longer than my bookcase is wide, 70424 Ghost Train Express is a substantial set, and it feels it. It’s visually appealing, has plenty of play elements, and contains plenty of intriguing parts and techniques. A slightly underwhelming selection of minifigs — and the fact that it’s still, ultimately, a train — aside, this would be the highlight of someone’s set collection without a doubt. Even accounting for my own particular tastes, it’s still very good indeed.
Plenty to like, even for non-train lovers.
The League Table of Awesomeness