Thursday, 14 February 2013

LEGO City 2013 Analysis: Part I

With New York Toy Fair now behind us, fans know exactly what will be coming for the entire year – and what it looks like. So how does the long adored City theme look for this year? What will it add to our LEGO layouts?

The sets already released focus on Police and Fire. Specifically, the Police sets feature the ‘Elite Police’. This is partially to tie in with the upcoming LEGO City Undercover video game for the Wii U, as the plot of that game is based around the City’s top cop, Chase McCain. Clearly the City designers feel that the sets must reflect the world established in the game, making Elite Police make sense. The subtheme may prove popular among children, however they feel a bit more action orientated than City is used to (apparently to keep boys interested in the theme for longer as they get older). For adult fans, there is perhaps less to love. There is nothing too wrong with the sets (aside from the buildings having very little to them), but like Forest Police they just don’t seem to have much relevance. That aside, if LEGO insist on releasing new Police products each year, it may as well be something new rather than slightly redesigning the Police Station for the fiftieth time. One set that seems particularly out of place is Helicopter Arrest (60009), which feels like it is a Batman set that has wandered out of the Super Heroes theme.

As for Fire, this is the regular re-launch with the standard range of sets. The Fire Station (60004) doesn’t feel like much of an upgrade, and the Fire Truck (60002) definitely does not live up to its predecessor. The Fire sets, and Police sets, show how LEGO are convinced that there must be a story inside the box. This has been their approach for some years now, but is becoming more prevalent throughout themes like City and Star Wars where it wasn’t the case before. When new designers are interviewed for jobs at LEGO, they must design a set and explain the story that comes in that one box. So now, rather than just getting a Fire vehicle, a burning house is included (60003) or rather than just a Police vehicle, a Robber with some loot to pursue (60006). This adds to the playability for children and makes for more varied sets for collectors.

The Great Vehicles collection continues to give some great standard vehicles to help populate LEGO City. The Tanker Truck (60016), Flatbed Truck (60017) and Cement Mixer (60018) are all nice looking, solid builds. Even those who have all of the tankers and cement mixers that their layout needs might be tempted by how well designed these sets are. The only disappointment for 2013 is that the price has increased by 20%, which seems completely ridiculous as LEGO are selling more of these things than ever before.

Check back next week for Part 2, for thoughts on the Summer range of sets recently revealed at the various Toy Fairs.

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