Review: #10261 Roller Coaster
It’s hard to imagine a theme park without a great roller coaster. Does the first Creator Expert Roller Coaster offer a great thrill for those LEGO enthusiasts who can afford the steep price of admission?
Koen Van Der Hoeven
Before we get started, please help me in welcoming Koen Van Der Hoeven to the Brick Architect team! He is our fourth writer.
An avid traveler, Koen likes to explore how different ages and cultures result in different architectural styles, with preferences for historic European and Japanese architecture. He was drawn to LEGO as a way to explore his interests in medieval architecture and fantasy, so it’s no surprise that some of his favorite themes are Castle, Lord of the Rings, and Ninjago, although he also really enjoys the Modular Building Series. A software engineer by day, he finds LEGO relaxing and it gives him a creative outlet outside of the office.
#10261 Roller Coaster
Roller Coasters are engineering marvels that constantly push boundaries to terrify and delight thrill-seeking guests. #10261 Roller Coaster is the latest addition to the Creator Expert line, and the largest attraction in the Theme Park series. The massive set aims to delight and impress LEGO fans.
About the set
#10261 Roller Coaster is a monster of a set, with 4123 parts. It costs $379.99 (329.99€, £299.99), pricing it at 9.2 cents per part. It was release May 16th 2018 to VIP Members, with widespread availability on June 1, 2018.
The first thing you need to realize about this set is the size. Just reading the diameters makes it difficult to appreciate how big this set is. Due to the number of pillars and empty space in the set, the whole coaster measures over 20 inches high (53cm), 34 inches wide (88cm) and 16 inches deep (41cm). For reference a 48 stud baseplate measures 15 inches wide and deep, making this set over 2 baseplates wide and over a baseplate deep. This makes it an eye-catching, while actionable display piece so ensure that space is aplenty before deciding to purchase this set.
Not only is this set a fantastic stand-alone set, but you can automate it using Power Functions or LEGO BOOST:
- You can power the chain lift using Power Functions—all you need are #8883 LEGO Power Functions M-Motor, and #88000 LEGO Power Functions AAA Battery Box. If you don’t have them already, you can buy them both for an additional $20.48.
- If you own #17101 LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox ($159.99), you can program your roller coaster to respond to sensors and operate the motors based on programmable commands. All in all, fun for all ages.
If you want to build the theme park of your dreams, check out sets such as #10247 Ferris Wheel, and #10257 Carousel. If you want even more, #10244 Fairground Mixer adds an additional ride to your theme park, but it’s a retired so it’s pretty expensive. (As I touched on earlier, like other sets in the CREATOR Theme Park line, this was designed to be powered.)
If the price of this set is too high, but you still want a roller coaster, check out #31084 Pirate Roller Coaster. It’s a much smaller version of this set for just $89.99. (Since it is part of the Creator 3-in-1 line, it includes instructions for two alternate models.)
History of the track
Being one of the first in its line of LEGO roller coasters, this set does not obtain credit to be the first of its line to use the new tracks. Going down the rabbit hole into Lego history we will explore how the LEGO track has evolve to become the track we use in #10261 Roller Coaster.
Back in 2006 LEGO replaced the powered track system with simple plastic track pieces. For the LEGO train line this was revolutionary. This allowed trains to be battery powered and let to a variety of uses outside of the train line. These tracks are still sold to date on the LEGO store as sets such as #7499 Flexible and Straight Tracks and #7895 Switching Tracks. These tracks, like the powered track counterparts were 8 studs wide, making it a large but useful piece for any train set.
In 2009, LEGO once again introduced yet another track system for the Lego Indiana Jones line. At the time being made exclusively for the now retired #7199 LEGO Indiana Jones Temple of Doom set. This track piece made for a perfect introduction to allow for a minecart system, however oddly enough LEGO did not decide to opt to use this track as part of their Minecraft sets which were released in June 2012.
Moving forward once again into September of 2017, #70922 Batman Movie Joker Manor was announced, introducing us to yet another type of track. Fans were excited for the new set, but even more excited to learn about this new type of track, hoping to see it appear in a much larger set as soon as possible.
Jumping forward to the massive #10261 Roller Coaster we are reviewing today, we now have seven different track variations, which is enough to build some pretty impressive creations! It’s a dream come through for LEGO fans that have wished for pieces like this for years. Other sets which include some of these pieces include #60188 Mining Experts Site, #76099 Rhino Face-Off by the Mine, and #31804 Pirate Roller Coaster.
As part of the main draw of #10261 Roller coaster this part comes with a total of 44 roller coaster track pieces. The most of any set to date. Of these there are 7 types of track available to allow you to customize the roller coaster to your heart’s desire. Planning however is required as the set is designed to perfectly accommodate all the twists and turns with the parts provided. Additional sets could be purchased to expand the roller coaster further, but the pre-provided design does its job well.
As with other large sets the roller coaster is broken up into multiple manuals, both preparing you for what will be a long build experience. The manuals are broken up to separate the build into two parts, building each the left and the right part of the coaster separately. The 180 and 258 page manuals build the left and right half of the coaster respectively, allowing for the build to be broken up between two or more individuals each building a separate half. Or just the whole set together for a longer experience.
A mix of natural and man made
As is the case with LEGO sets, you build from the ground up. The base detailing and structure is designed and built in a way not only to support the coaster and allow for space to figures to stand but also is built to be structurally sound so that once completed the coaster can be easily picked up and moved without parts breaking off. Despite this structural support built in, it is important to note that until you start building the coaster up the base is rather flimsy and can fall apart so before starting find a nice large space to build the coaster on so that you do not need to move it. Small natural details such as animals, a natural pond and fauna litter the ground to add detail to what would otherwise be a very plain and boring foundation to the coaster. A new unique part labelled Plant, W/ Plate 1×1, No.1 (part 6229130) that to date is exclusive to just #10261 Roller Coaster and #75953 Hogwarts Whomping Willow are used to add floor detail and are used to build a new tree model that is unique to this set.
Structure, structure and yet more structure
At first impressions, due to the size one may be overwhelmed by complexity, however as you start getting into the build, frustratingly that overwhelming may shift to frustration over repetition. As can be seen from the box alone you will anticipate repetition in columns. Albeit detail in structure and making use of technic pieces in order to support the thin, yet increasingly tall, columns one may feel slight boredom when building the bulk of this set. Unlike many other sets in the Creator Expert line, where builds are detailed with unique designs and details this set unfortunately is lacking with hundreds of pages dedicated to just building the support. Once you start to work on the gearbox and mechanics however you start to appreciate how intelligently this set was designed to support the twists, rises and turns of the coaster, however unfortunately turning back into repetition when you start building the second half of the roller coaster.
Intricate mechanisms behind the motion
With a main draw of this set being that it is mechanized, it comes as no surprise that LEGO made use of the Technic parts it has in its parts library. Without ruining what to me was the most pleasurable part of the build experience be prepared to marvel at how gearboxes are created and linked throughout the whole coaster design to either allow a motor or hand crank power and move the cart through the whole roller coaster. As with many mechanical sets, this set is designed nicely to hide the motor, sensors and battery box out of visible sight, not infringing on the design of the coaster.
The set makes use of Chain Link (part 14696) along with two Technic constructs both at the top and the bottom of the roller coaster to help pull the cart up the steepest part of the roller coaster. This is powered either through a hand crank by the base of the track or a motor. Once at the top wheels are creatively used to push the cart along a curve in the coaster before preparing for the drop.
At the base of the coaster the set comes with an additional cart to allow two sets of individuals to ride the roller coaster in parallel, and if timed right you can have them both run at the same time with no collisions. The extra set is placed on a reserve track on the side, and through a neat power function can be slid out to replace the main track letting the second cart run.
There is a built-in lock mechanic to prevent the cart from continuously flowing, letting it stop at the station, however the mechanic is oddly built as the cart does not lock properly so you may have to manually force the cart through, fortunately however this feature can be disabled to let the cart move seamlessly.
As is with LEGO, details are core to the success of a set, and #10261 Roller Coaster is no different. Despite repetition in the structure, this set makes up for this repetition in details in its side builds. Along with the roller coaster itself the set comes with some details side builds to complement and give off the impression that we are in a theme park. On the side we have a juice bar, ticket and photo booth, along with a cotton candy machine littered around the park, giving more depth to the build. Taking reference from parks such as Six Flags or Disney parks we can see how these kiosks entertain the guests in the park as they wait in line for their ride. With all of these being modular, they can easily be removed and moved around the park to the builders choosing. Amongst the detail, a new part labelled Mini Hat, No. 54 (part 6229124) or more commonly used as the bee hive part is released to create a cotton candy treat for our park goers to enjoy.
As with most large sets, the #10261 Roller Coaster is no stranger to new parts, with the set coming with 17 new exclusive parts, either of new color or design. The most notable and interesting parts are the new track parts that are exclusive to just a few sets, with to date the red track parts being unique to this set. This set contains 3 entirely new parts, with an additional 14 parts being existing parts printed in a new color.
- 26561 Rail 2x8x6, Slope, W/3.2 Shaft, in 21Bright RedRed
- 37998 Mini Wig, No.98, in 308Dark Brown
- 37352 Brick 1×2, Outside Half Bow, in 21Bright RedRed
New color of existing parts:
- 34738 Rail 2x16x3, Bow, Inv., W/3.2 Shaft, in 21Bright RedRed.
- 25059 Rail 2×16, W/3.2 Shaft, in 21Bright RedRed.
- 25061 Rail 13×13, 1/4 Circle, W/3.2 Shaft, in 21Bright RedRed.
- 26022 Rail 2×8, W/3.2 Shaft, in 21Bright RedRed.
- 26559 Rail 2x16x6, Inv. Bow, W/3.2 Shaft, in 21Bright RedRed.
- 26560 Rail 2x16x6, Bow, W/3.2 Shaft, in 21Bright RedRed.
- 31584 Front 5x3x2/3, W/Bow, in 321Dark AzurDark Azure.
- 24201 Plate, W/Half Bow, Inv. 1x2x2/3, in 321Dark AzurDark Azure.
- 2654 Slide Shoe Round 2×2, in 28Dark GreenGreen.
- 27925 Tile 2×2, W/Bow, in 140Earth BlueDark Blue.
- 2440 Snow Plough Ll, in 140Earth BlueDark Blue.
- 26021 Chassis 4×5, For Rail, in 140Earth BlueDark Blue.
- 35574 Mini Hat, No.54, in 222Light PurpleBright Pink.
- 3626 Mini Head, in 222Light PurpleBright Pink.
For a set of its size I expected stickers, but due to the majority of the set being the roller coaster and structuring to support the roller coaster the sticker sheet is limited to a single sheet of 19 stickers. Compared to larger sets such as #70620 Ninjago City the sticker sheet isn’t too large so you do not have to worry about stickers too much if you aren’t a huge fan of them.
For a theme park, the only thing that seems to be missing from this set is children. This set comes with 11 minifigures, of which only 1 is a child. For an unlicensed set this set comes with a large number of figures, all of which are dressed as park goers. Of these however none stand out super heavily as uniquely desirable figures, but the set alone makes up for that. Unique dual molded faces exist however unfortunately none of the figures are exclusive to this set, something LEGO does normally try to do with large sets to drive up desirability. The prints on the conductor and store clerk however would give off the impression that this ride exists in a LEGOLAND park, with these shirts being somewhat rare driving up desirability.
On the whole, a nice selection of figures that does well and fits into the park, however having more children wouldn’t hurt. Despite the lack of children, the Roller Coaster carts are not designed to have children be able to sit in them, and along with the height chart makes this decision seem intentional. LEGO makes up for this by adding small yet entertaining faces on the figures to highlight a variety of expressions when riding a roller coaster, while also paying homage to the old school LEGO space theme on the shirt of one of the attendees.
Despite coming into this set with high expectations I was left with mixed feelings. The cool selection of minifigures and my inner engineer nerding out at the mechanics behind how to operate the coaster and watching the carts seamlessly glide through the tracks leaves a soft warm feeling in my heart. Despite that however, this is one of the few sets I have built recently that I would not like to build again. Repetition for me and the lack of finer details and varied building styles within the set left a feeling of being glad to be done after building this set, which is something that I have not yet experienced, nor want to experience with LEGO. Scale was something I did not anticipate on, and to no fault of the set I feel it is very large for the average collector so this is not a set one would purchase on a whim to display, this does not affect my review or rating of this set but is something to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to purchase this set.
In light of the high expectations I had coming into this build, and my mixed build experiences, I would rate this set as “Good” (3/5). For $379.99 it has a steep price, but you do not have to fear that you are getting a small set for this price. Having the ability to tie in nicely with Boost and other mechanical products released by LEGO gives this a nice play feature and I would recommend this set to anyone with kids due to playability or those who are a fan of Roller Coasters or trains, but unfortunately this was not a set for me. On a whole this is a fun large set for the whole family and provides endless hours of fun during and after the build experience.
To watch the coaster in action, check out the following designer video which highlights the main functions of the set.
Unless otherwise noted, photos in this article are by Koen Van Der Hoeven.