LEGO‘s Classic brick boxes are a bit of an oddity – overall and specifically within the company’s product portfolio. The short version of it would be that they neither seem to have the interest nor the ability to make them really good, because unlike the themed sets they won’t be able to sell them for high prices.
As a result, many of these sets feel like they are merely used as leftover dumps for bricks that don’t fit elsewhere. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if useful elements were included in sensible numbers, but that’s usually where you get disappointed a second time – you may have gotten over it and decided to build your house from those pink bricks, after all, and then you run out. The simple formula here is indeed “More is better!” and with this years new addition, the Extra Large Brick Box (10717) we might be a bit closer to finally being able to do sensible things.
I got the set because it was on discount at Toys’R’Us this week. Yes, the brand name still exists here in Germany though they belong to Smyth’s Toys now just like everywhere else – talk about trademark laws being different in different countries. At its full price of around 60 Euros it seems overpriced, but with 20 percent off or even more it’s acceptable. So watch out for those promotions at your favorite outlet(s).
What makes this a good value-for-money offer is first and foremost a sensible selection of larger parts. Being mostly focussed on more fragile, semi-realistic stuff I don’t have that many two studs wide bricks, but here you get quite a good number of them in various colors, including really useful stuff like 2×2 bricks in Dark Orange, Dark Red, Sand Green and Dark Green! Additionally there’s a good serving of 2×3 and 2×4 bricks in various colors. Most of these elements are included four times each, which may not sound much, but with a bit of strategic planning this can suffice to build a robust base for a building, a bridge or whatever you have in mind. There are also thirteen (!) blue 2×6 bricks, which almost tempts me to rebuild my Master Falls set with the necessary extra stabilization.
The goodness continues on the narrow bricks front as well with 36 2×1 and twenty 3×1 elements in Tan. That’s enough to build a small open house corner for a vignette and when you throw in the Olive Green, Dark Tan, Dark Orange, Dark Medium Flesh etc. bricks, you could build yourself some nice mossy walls with varied masonry colors. Quite unusual for these types of sets this one also contains a few 2×1 and 4×1 plates plus a bunch of smooth tiles. What also stands out are several Pearl Gold elements, which would otherwise be difficult to scrape together from other kits. As a final bonus there is a grass-green 16×8 plate to serve as a basis for whatever building you may fancy.
All of this seems almost too good to be true, but of course LEGO wouldn’t be LEGO if there weren’t a few oddities. Returning to the “dump” theme of course there is the usual ton of inverted slopes in all too flamboyant colors. Aside from serving as window sill flower boxes in Friends sets I find it really hard to find any serious use for them. Yes, they make sense for the small example builds included in the sets, but otherwise? Similarly, there are still those situations, where you just run out of elements to use. One really wishes they’d ease up on that and at least make sure that the smaller elements like the 2×1 bricks would be included in equal, sufficient quantities. Ten of each sounds like a good number, but definitely they should at least double the count on the colors that only come with four pieces to match the rest where there are eight.
On the whole this is a pretty decent set, though. Especially because of its good selection of “natural color” elements it can be recommended in particular to people who like me may be slowly building their parts stock in the hopes of doing reasonably sized custom builds one day just as it is a good opportunity to have a bunch of parts handy for small modifications of other sets, which incidentally is also something that fits my description when dealing with those smaller sets that may be a bit unstable due to shortage of parts like the Master Falls one. I’d be more than ready to buy a second box, just not at full price, so I’m biding my time and saving money until the next special sale comes along…