Thinking the other day about my 5 most favorite sets led me to also think about the flipside: the sets which have been the most disappointing. By no means does a disappointment mean the set is not enjoyed but the following are sets that, for one reason or another, did not quite live up to the expectations I had going into the acquisition.
6991 Monorail Transport Base – 1994
The set that is absolutely at the top of this list for me is the Monorail and I will say upfront that it is not entirely the set itself which is at fault. Today Lego sets over $100 are common and there are multiple sets that stretch toward the $250 mark and beyond. But back in the early 90s this was very rare. A $100 set was super expensive and anything more than that was unheard of. So this set’s price tag of well north of $150 made it absolutely out of reach and therefore the unattainable dream of most of us young collectors who were kids at the time. The impossibility of ever owning this set gave it a mystique. So when my little brother won a Lego contest and was awarded with $1000 gift certificate to Lego shop at home and impossibility became reality the monorail did not live up to the hype. Its primary shortfall is the amount of track. In order for this to really be a fun set it needs about 6x the track it comes with. Unlike Lego trains, however, additional track is very hard to come by. Since Lego spent all their production money on the track pieces there is almost no detail within the two base buildings so the set feels incomplete as well. Still had many happy hours with this set but it definitely fell short of expectations, unrealistically high as they may have been.
6280 Armada Flagship – 1996
I can describe the downfall of this set in 3 words: too many colors. Having read several books on maritime history and ships I recognize that there is some historical accuracy in a ship being painted in this multi-colored pallet, but on a Lego set it just looks gaudy. This was the first ship in my fleet and as such its paltry size, lack of an enclosed rear cabin and single cannon added insult to injury on top of its ugliness. I have tried very hard to like it since then and have attempted multiple times to modify it into something that is pleasing to the eye but have failed on every try. My wife, with her artist’s eye, was able to come closer than I ever have but even her best efforts failed to make it a truly appealing ship.
6977 Arachnoid Star Base – 1998
This set was saved from being an abysmal disappointment due to the fact that I picked it up, still sealed in its original box, on eBay for a mere $12. Had I paid full price for it or even anything more than about $35 I would have felt completely ripped off. This set includes almost every special element that was produced in 1999 and as such the excessive production costs had to be offset by a price tag which is just too high for what you get. Sometimes unique elements make a set so awesome that the high price can be swallowed but not in this case. Too small, too many colors, ugly construction, too few figures and tiny wheels add up to a set that is just lame and ugly.
7259 ARC-170 Fighter – 2005
In the movies this ship is a foreshadowing of the iconic X-Wing Fighter. As every Lego version of the X-Wing has been excellent I built this set for the first time with anticipation of holding a similarly outstanding model when I was done. This turned out, however, to not be the case. Undermined by being too long and poorly connected to the body of the ship the wings of this ship literally droop. Those albatross wings also make it a very cumbersome size. Decent figures and parts but very hard to do anything with because of poor design.
7189 Mill Village Raid – 2011
Much like the Arachnoid Star Base I would have felt very taken advantage of had I paid full price for this set. As described in a previous entry I purchased this set brand new, minus the figures and animals, for %60 off MSRP. Don’t get me wrong this is a great set, well constructed with great pieces. I hope that Lego makes many more peasant themed sets. The problem is that this set is wholly swallowed up by Legos new paradigm of sets being more expensive due to containing exclusive figures and pieces (in this set’s case the new animals) that are meant to be as much of the draw as the set itself. As great as the set is I would feel ripped off had I paid the full $70, the figures and animals just are not worth that much to me.