Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Undermined by Price

4194 Whitecap Bay
The Chronicler's Rating - 3/5
Price ~ $80.00
Year Released - 2011

In the last few years Lego has undergone a subtle yet undeniable shift.  In comparison to just a few years ago the would be buyer's dollars just do not go as as far as they used to.  With rising manufacturing costs, more and more themes requiring licensing fees and straight up general economics this shift was somewhat inevitable but that does not make it an easy pill to swallow.  Lego has tried to mask this fact by increasing the piece count of sets dramatically over that same timeframe but those pieces are small (which is the point, they add far less plastic to the production cost than their counterparts from years past) and don't add a lot of bulk to sets.  On some sets it is less noticeable than others but Whitecap Bay is, unfortunately, not one of them. 

The large price tag on this set is truly a tragedy for two main reasons.  First this is a fabulous set and secondly it is without precedent in Lego's history, never before has there been a lighthouse set in a Pirate theme.  The play possibilities of this set are extraordinary.  You can play along the story lines of the movie (this is after all a recreation of a scene from the latest film), it can easily be incorporated into an existing pirate collection, or it could be a historical lighthouse in the harbor of a modern city.  With great colors, excellent construction and architectural details I really like this set.  The only problem is price. 

Even if value is not one of your major considerations in buying a Lego set for your child or grandchild it is hard to look at this set and not think "they want HOW much???".  As great as it is, once built, it is hard to believe that it cost so much.  Because of how little I feel you are getting for your money on this set I would recommend that, unless your child has their heart set on it or are huge fans of the latest Pirates movie, you look elsewhere.  The smaller sets for more money phenomenon has not hit all sets and themes equally, it is still possible to get more for your dollar (a good place to look is in the non-licensed themes such as City, Ninjago or Castle).  Another option is to get 4183 The Mill which is cheaper and could be easily modified into something resembling Whitecap Bay with a few pieces from your child's collection.  If, however, you can absorb the price, and your child loves the Pirates movie or pirate Legos in general then I would highly recommend this set to you. 

This is a great Lego set.  Whether you are looking to add to existing pirate collection or start a new one this set would make a great addition.  They only thing you need to think about is whether or not you want it enough to spend this much money on it.  Lego sets like this can easily turn onto disappointments if you are expecting it to be huge and then find that it is not as big as you thought.  Get this if you have thought about it and still want it otherwise I would spend your money on something that gets you better pieces for the money. 

This set is without precedent in the history of Lego Pirates (both the recent theme based on the movie and the long running Pirate theme that preceded it).  Beyond being the first historical lighthouse set ever produced there have only been 2 other lighthouses of any type in the modern era of Legos (6414 Dolphin Point from the Paradisa theme from the early 90s and 5770 Lighthouse Island from the Creator theme this year) so this set is truly in elite and unique company.  Not only that but it has excellent play value along with great construction and pieces.   Its only weakness is price and that weakness is, unfortunately, quite looming.  If you can stomach the price get this set but if you cannot and must look elsewhere I don't blame you. 

Happy Building
The Lego Chronicler

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