The Set Review Library here at The Lego Car Blog is – just like your Mom – ever expanding. Today we’re joined by guest reviewer Andy Boal to add one of the most eagerly anticipated sets of 2017 to the library’s stock – the 1,686 piece Creator Expert 10258 London Bus. Is it worth £110 of your cash? Over to Andy to find out…
When I was young, I wanted LEGO’s London bus set 384. Smart, red, and it looked like a Routemaster to someone like me who had never been to London and didn’t know it was modelled on the Routemaster’s predecessor, also manufactured by AEC, the Regent III RT.
So I decided to make my own London bus, a full half-cab bus, and I made it 10 studs wide. Unfortunately I ran out of parts after the lower floor, so I didn’t bother making the stairs.
My history with Lego buses is otherwise rather chequered. 696, a white and blue bus almost entirely unlike the Ulsterbuses I would later take to school, was given to me in the 1970s, and I bought the original Knight Bus 4755 in 2004, complete with beds racing all over the floor.
I finally got my hands on 384 and, some time later another set I coveted for making models in the 6000 and 7777 Lego ideas books, 379, from eBay some years ago, and with at least one unique chassis part, 384 lives at my parents’ house.
So until this year I only had one model of a London bus. A Valentine’s trip let me pick up the four stud wide 40220 in Leicester Square, but then this week we were in Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries shopping mall…
The 10258 London Bus box is the standard size for Creator Expert sets, and boasts two pictures of a real life Routemaster, as well as interior shots of the completed model.
Opening up reveals what is a relief to those of us who have had to build and later rebuild a nephew’s Death Star after parts had broken off while moving house – numbered bags. The bane of many a builder’s life, but I’m fully sold on them for making it easier to find the piece you want. Call me a wuss if you want.
The instruction book is 176 pages long – I have to say I like the single books. Looking at the sticker sheet though reminds me that the number plate is incorrect, because no UK numberplate runs to five digits. Of course, I’ve no idea whatsoever whether Morten Graff-Wang could have a personalised numberplate MGW258 or not, but GW was a South-East London registration.
Anyway, back to the set itself, and I’ve thrown the bags for parts 2, 3 and 4 back into thebox to save space and leave me with four to cope with. And breathe.
Part 1 is the chassis and the body sides up to a row below the windows, and the staircase. Turning the page reveals what many will assume is a new innovation, and that is highlighting the added pieces with a yellow outline, but those of us with longer memories will remember outlines on added pieces from the 222 Lego Ideas Book (there’s my childhood again!)
As you would expect, the chassis begins with Technic bricks and frames – all studded construction, of course, and establishing a strong foundation for the rest of the set.
After 21 main steps the floor is laid, the stands for the seats are set up, the staircase has begun, we build the engine with grey bullion forming the top of the engine block, and finally it is time to start building bodywork. 4×3 panels provide most of the flat bits, with a hint of a curved back to come.
As I build the driver’s seat I decide I’m glad I’m not driving this thing, as there is only one stud of leg room between the driver’s seat and the steering wheel and gearstick, and the seat won’t go back.
And then it’s time to build the stairs! The construction is very straightforward – the end of each step is held in place with a single stud round plate. I don’t think the five resulting steps are quite enough, but shh, it’s impressionistic.
The back of the bus includes a new 1x1x1 2/3 brick with two studs on the side, which match up if placed on top of the washing machine piece. It’s used to attach both rear light clusters – the left one directly, and the right one indirectly due to the curved corner I’m now expecting. You also get a yellow number plate option. A yellow fire extinguisher goes under the stairs (Hmm. Canary yellow is for hot oil fires. Who’s keeping a commercial deep fat fryer on a Routemaster bus?).
The side benches complete Part 1, and then we move on to Part 2 to finish the lower deck.
Another five bags come out of the box, perhaps surprisingly including the wheels, and we keep building the body with a break for the umbrella bin and the ten beach seats, each with the old fashioned grab rails, and one with damage to the fabric. A black postbox, which I’m still getting used to existing in anything other than yellow, despite M-TRON and the Winter Village, becomes a ticket bin, and a grab rail goes at the front.
The windows go in, and one of the early really nice touches: the sliding driver’s door. We move on to the rounded rear driver’s side corner and the axles (with front hubcaps).
The part finishes with the front lights, radiator grille, umbrella, and of course the essential grab stanchion at the rear entrance.
The four bags of part 3 let us put the lower deck to the side for now as we concentrate on the upper deck below the windows, and starting with the floor and the yellow stripe.
The yellow stripe. I know the bus company ‘First’ used a yellow stripe, but I definitely think ‘brick yellow’ as in the miniature version would be better. And I’ve got to admit that 20 black taps downstairs and 34 black taps upstairs gets annoying and finicky. Yes, I know, aesthetics and greebling and so on. Like the chewing gum under the fifth seat back.
Grumble over. Time for some nice SNOT stuff on the destination blinds, and in a nice touch three of the blinds are on pieces of smokey plastic in a window frame, reminiscent of the glass over the blind on the real bus.
We add 36 seats (two a little narrow, but it’s always about practicalities) for a total of 62 seats. I should but don’t know how many seats there are on a real Routemaster. A can, apparently of 7UP according to its colour, has been abandoned at the front of the bus.
And so to the last three bags. Windows, roof, advertising, rear destination blind, front corners, and a copy of the Lego News updated since the box and the instructions were printed. The new edition clearly has more up to date information.
The windows are slightly different this time – the one stud bulge above the advertising boards needs support between windows, so the two stud-wide windows are only 2 bricks high, with a clear plate above (perhaps representing the opening section?).
Including the row of plates above the top deck windows, the roof is only two plates thicker than 384’s roof, and is deliberately and carefully round. It’s delivered very nicely with a mixture of flat plates and SNOT techniques with only two studs visible at intervals, making me think of vents on the bus – similarly, the inside of the bus has no visible studs outside the entrance area except where one might dispose of a 7UP can, chewing gum, or a newspaper.
The advertising boards go on before the main part of the roof – I set the two different ads on each side of the bus. The flags work very well for the job.
So, after about 3.5 hours, we have the full bus beside its little brother. Marks out of ten?
Ok, I moaned about the monotony of building so many seats, and I could criticise a Number 9 bus going to Brickston via Yellow Brick Road, Brickadilly Circus and Twobytwo Square when we all know you want the 159 via New Brick Street. But it has to be said – LEGO’s 10258 London Bus set is worth the £104.99 I paid (after the Lego VIP reward I hold), because it is so handsome.
The verdict: 9.5 out of 10. And I’ll give the minime beside it another 9/10.
Thanks to Andy for joining us here at TLCB Towers as Guest Reviewer. You can check out Andy’s website here, and you can see all of the official LEGO sets, books and third-party products that have been reviewed to date here at The Lego Car Blog by visiting the Set Review Library.