Anything off the trolley, dears?
Ever since I first saw the Harry Potter movies as a younger child, I have been attached to the Wizarding World, and always wished to be part of it. Between you and me, I still do. Harry Potter has always been my favourite movie and book franchise, and sadly I was too young for the original wave of Harry Potter sets. Luckily, my brother gave me a big box full of old LEGO, that included some original Harry Potter minifigures such as Ron Weasley.
This set I’m about to talk about is from the LEGO Harry Potter wave from late 2018. “What has that got to do with the Ron minifigure?” you may ask. Well, this set includes a minifigure of Ron, and even though the minifigure outfit is different, I have an attachment to this minifigure from the new set, because it was the first Ron they made in the new wave.
What set am I referring to?
Picture a certain train station in your head, and imagine yourself with a trolley running through the wall. I’m sure most of you know what set I am talking about, but if you don’t, imagine a big and impressive looking train in front of you after going through that wall. By now, you must all know that I am referring to the beautiful set 75955, LEGO Hogwarts Express.
Not only is it an amazing set from a builders’ point of view, it is also a wonderful display piece for collectors, and even a great play set for children, with many play features, such as the wall of platform 9 and ¾, where minifigures can go through. The main part of the set itself, the train, which thanks to the wheels, can be moved around by hand, or on a track if you own one, as sadly, this set doesn’t include any.
The building experience
You often get sets with builds that are very repetitive and sometimes boring. But from my experience building this set, I have to say, while some things are similar, they are only really similar because they have to be. If they weren’t, you’d have a train that looks different on both sides. This repetitive building isn’t boring, as you only have to repeat each step a few times, so it doesn’t feel like you are doing the same thing over and over again. In my opinion, this set is great fun to build, as it is full of different and interesting techniques that really keep you engaged as a builder.
9 and ¾, think you’re being funny do ya?
Trust me Station Guard, we aren’t being funny. The only thing funny is that you don’t know what you’re missing out on.
The station build is obviously not the main attraction. However, unlike with some sets, it isn’t a throwaway build. This part of the set uses several stickers, mainly on the signs. These stickers add good detail to the platform, such as the wanted poster of Sirius Black, and the sign that says 9 ¾ Hogwarts Express. As far as the actual build goes, you can tell what it is, even if you didn’t add the stickers, and because of that, you can tell that LEGO did well with this set. It is a good feature that the train can fit under the bridge of the station, as it means you can have minifigures standing on the platform, waving at the students on the train, or in the case of Mrs. Weasley, running to the window with Ron, so that she can give him Scabbers.
Obviously, this set isn’t based on the first film. With the poster of Sirius, we understand it is set during the times of the Prisoner of Azkaban. However, it could easily be used for any of the books, as you could easily not put the sticker on, or put the sticker on, and turn the piece around if you are not using in the Prisoner of Azkaban setting.
The last thing I am going to say about the station build is the ability to recreate the scene from several books/films where Harry and the Weasleys run through the wall. This is possible because of the use of the Technic pieces that enables the wall to swing up and down, so the minifig can go through. The fact that you can do this is great, as a lot of people travel to King’s Cross Station, just to pretend to run through the wall. With this set, people can make anyone they want run through the wall, onto Platform 9 and ¾.
LEGO Hogwarts Express
The main attraction of this LEGO set is the Hogwarts Express itself, which is the main mode of transportation to Hogwarts, unless you are Harry and Ron who occasionally travel to Hogwarts in the Ford Anglia. No LEGO Harry Potter collection is complete without the Hogwarts Express, and this new one from 2018 is definitely a good representation of the iconic train from Harry Potter.
The printed and sticker pieces, like with the station, add great details to the train. The gold accents stand out against the large amount of red, and contrast well to the parts of the train that are black. Because of the wheels, the train is able to move on LEGO track pieces, and if you have power functions, Hogwarts Express is able to travel around the track like a normal train. While this set doesn’t include either, if you want to get a track, it wouldn’t be too difficult. However, this train still moves great even without those additions, as it is able to be moved straight, and it is also able to turn around corners, because of the connections between the different parts of the train, and because of the wheel piece used at the front.
As I mentioned, the stickers add to the detail of the train. Some of them aren’t easy to put on so that they look good, such as the two small angled stickers at the front of the train. Having said that, there are tips for putting on stickers, such as using a brick separator, and if you do struggle with putting stickers on, well, there is usually at least one person you can ask to put the stickers on for you, who can do it more cleanly that you can.
Finally, with the front section of the train, there is a nice detail showing the flames that power the train. The one thing I wonder is, are those flames muggle or magically powered?
Moving down the train, the next compartment seems like it is for storage. However, the only baggage they included in this set is a case for Lupin, and a couple of cases for Ron. While this inclusion was nice, I wish they would have included a trunk for Ron instead, because most Hogwarts students have trunks because of the amount of stuff they have to bring with them to school.
Moving on to the actual seated compartments… From the exterior, both sides look identical and accurate, which is a lot of what you can want from a train set. Getting to the interior, you can access it by lifting off the roof, or if you want more access, and a better ability to move minifigures, one of the walls can be removed easily, as it doesn’t have too strong a connection below. Once you get into the interior, the floor is nicely tiled, and there are two sets of seats, making it four seats in total. The seats are made out of mainly sand blue and brown pieces, but are on the base of a grey plate. This is perfectly fine, as the grey isn’t too different in colour to the sand blue, meaning it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
As far as the design of the seats go, they look exactly like the kind of seats you would find on a train in the UK, even though you could say that they are only single seats, when a lot of the time trains have double seats. The counter argument to that would be that having double seats wouldn’t work, as it would be very compact inside the compartment, and it would mean that one, minifigures wouldn’t be able to go out the doors or down the train, and two, you would lose the intricate design on the side of the seats that look so good. So, in my opinion, only having single seats is a good compromise by LEGO, in order to have the interior detail, and ability to play inside the train.
The last point I have on this part of the train is technically not part of the train itself, but something that you would see inside the train. I am talking about the trolley witch’s trolley, which is built with a combination of sand green and gold, which black wheels, and is topped with several sweets which seem like a chocolate frog, and what is quite hard to tell, but what I’d guess is a box of ice mice and either fizzing whizbees or some kind of popcorn.
The Marvelous and Magical Minifigures
The final part LEGO Hogwarts Express is possibly my favourite part……. THE MINIFIGURES!! While not all of these figures are exclusive, they all have designs that are exclusive to them, and for one of the minifigures, this is the only set that their character has appeared in.
The character that has only ever been made once in LEGO is the Trolley Witch. For a first-time appearance, the minifigure is looking very accurate. If you compare the minifigure to the appearance in the movies, which is what the sets are based on, you can see that the printing on the torso and two faces match the actress very well, and the choice of hair piece is the most accurate piece that LEGO currently have, for this character. The last thing to say is that this minifigure has grey legs, which are fine, but like most minifigures, it would have been nice for them to be printed.
Next to take a look at is Ron, who has a good print for his torso, a hair piece that works well for him at this age, and the short blue legs are fine. The face is good for a younger Ron, as it has freckles that appear in the books. However, the main problem I have is that the face print is too young for his third year at school, and that this same face print appeared in all the sets of the first wave. Some of those sets, such as the Great Hall, were based on the first year, where this face print works.
The same thing with the Ron minifigure can be said about Harry and Hermione. They both have good torso and face prints, and fitting hair and leg pieces. Like Ron, whose face seems too young, their faces seem too young for the third year as well. Also, both of their hair pieces look like them, but from the first year, and not the third year, from when this set is based.
The next minifigure is a Dementor, who has a new design for the dementors. Instead of having several smaller pieces for the torso like the old design, they now have a torso and ghost legs. The new design is definitely better, as it captures these dark creatures as what they are. With the use of great printing for the torso, we can see the weird body of a dementor. The face also has a great print, in the form of a mouth that is in the process of sucking the soul out of one of the passengers of the train. The hood and cape pieces work well to depict the cloak, and the ghost “legs” work perfectly as it makes it seem like the dementor is floating right in front of you.
And finally, Mr. Have-some-chocolate. Remus Lupin, one of the four marauders, and one of the founders of the Marauder’s Map. Every part of this figure is perfect, from the fantastically printed torso, to the newish hair piece that captures Remus so well, to the incredible face print that on one side shows a happy Lupin, and on the other side shows Lupin after an brief encounter, with yellow eyes, and a very angry expression. Luckily his encounter was only brief, as otherwise Lupin would have gone full werewolf, and wouldn’t have been able to stop the dementor from sucking Harry’s soul.
LEGO Hogwarts Express has a few minor things that aren’t necessary, but would have made it more accurate, such as the faces of the main trio. Now that could just be down to personal preference, but even with these slight issues I have, I still believe this is an incredible set with amazing builds and amazing minifigures like the exclusive Lupin and Trolley Witch. It also has what is arguably the most important thing for a LEGO set, since it is technically made as a toy. It has a good amount of playability, and the functions of the set, such as the wall, don’t take anything away from this great set.
I mean I might be biased because I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, but this set is definitely worth the amount of money it sold for when it was in stores. Like I said at the start, it has the three things anyone could want in a set: You can play with it, you can display it, and it looks like what it is based off of.
Oh look, we must’ve arrived at Hogwarts.