The Orient Express (LEGO #21344) – Review

· 5 min read
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A promise of adventure

This train has history beyond the actual legendary train featured in Detective Poirot‘s case files. For over a century the line connected Paris to Istanbul and became synonymous with luxury, intrigue, espionage and excess.

The set, itself, started as a LEGO Ideas set with a beautiful unique green locomotive that was reminiscent of the images you see online and the movies that have been released with the name of the line.

Sadly this build would have been about the size of the Crocodile Locomotive but without the flexibility needed for the train to use standard lego width tracks. Therefore it should have come as no surprise when it was revealed to have been changed to a more traditional locomotive in the leak we had a few months before release.

Tamed and Refined

The set that was released, is in a beautiful blue color with gold accents, which were only featured in the single carriage of the Ideas submission. The number of carriages doubled to two, now having a dining car with a bathroom and a sleeping car in addition to the locomotive and tender.

We love the unified colors and liveries of the current train line that carries the name. It is a more coherent more up-scale train and the minifigs included show as much.

That said, the LEGO Group have explained that the train is too heavy to be motorized and they spent many hours trying to make it work, but couldn’t (more on this below – tl;dr: it isn’t). This gives us an ability to display the train on the provided makeshift tracks and push the train through our cities which was something many people asked from last year’s Hogwarts Express CE which was a few studs too wide to fit on regular train tracks.

If we did not know about the history of the train, we would still consider the locomotive to be a bit on the boring side, but most of the build is the carriages and those are great. They are nice builds that produce a good looking, long train that would look great in most cities. The design is timeless and looks like it belongs wherever it is. The only real complaint would be the inability to motorize it… out of the box.

Build notes and surprises

There are 23 numbered bags, of with 14 of them being the carriages. There are 8 minifigs including a conductor, two attendants, a server, a videographer, two passengers, and reporter Pippin Reed. The set also features brick-built buffers for the carriages and a really nice set of couplers with extra details instead of the classic coupler and magnets system featured in most other trains that fit in traditional tracks. This could also be part of the “too heavy” problem that prevented the set from being motorized.

The new coupling rods are great and add to the realism of the locomotive. I look forward to them being used in further sets, or maybe… retrofitting these on to older sets.

Missed Connections

We found the build’s details to be engaging and the design to be exquisite. The changes that were made at the request of the current Orient Express operators make the set overall better, in our opinion and the only reason we found a reason to complain about the locomotive was because of our knowledge of the existence of the previous version with its unique green engine.

At $299 this set is also on the outer limits of where it should be price-wise. Train lovers will likely enjoy the details, but its quite expensive and large to have it be in most cities, you’d be better served with the Express Passenger Train which also features two carriages (albeit not as exquisitely detailed) for 40% less money.

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