The latest LEGO set to be released under the Adult Portfolio theme (previously known as the Creator Expert line) is the Crocodile Locomotive. LEGO has been making trains and locomotives all the way back from 1965 and since then it has given life to die-hard fans that gather around communities and clubs that that focus on this single theme. Trains and locomotives, without a doubt, is an evergreen theme that has evolved in many forms and I dare say that its featured every single year since the beginning of its first introduction regardless the sub-theme it may appear in, from the tiniest polybag to the generic City sets, or even tie-ins from the Harry Potter franchise. After a 7-year hiatus of a serious train release, we take a look and share our thoughts on the latest Crocodile Locomotive theme consisting of 1271 pieces and priced at US $99.99 | CAN $149.99 | UK £89.99
Preamble – Looking back and why Crocodile?
While LEGO has always consistently released trains year after year, one thing that’s observed is that a large portion of them are very much targeted towards a younger audience, until the Creator Expert theme was first introduced. If we go by the listing that Brickset has under this label and category, we’ve only had four other trains that are targeted to an adult fan base and the Crocodile Locomotive would be the fifth over a span of 14 years. Considering trains are a serious crowd pleaser, it’s a wonder that it’s not something that’s released with a higher frequency. Having said that, there are other train sets that I personally feel fit into the gaps yet still within the adult category and do have a level of realism (but not positioned as a standalone train set) is the LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts train 75955 Hogwarts Express, and the recent LEGO 71044 LEGO Disney Train. The other two outliers that have the serious feel to them include the 2002 LEGO 10020 Santa Fe Super Chief and the 10133 Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Locomotive. Regardless of how we categorise these, the Crocodile Locomotive is one that stands out to me as the most authentic replica of a train to date with a serious and realistic colour scheme.
|Santa Fe Super Chief
|Burlington Northern Santa Fe
The Crocodile Locomotive is named as such because of its long nose that’s alike to the outline and shape of a crocodile’s long tapered snout. First introduced in 1919 with various iterations over the years and finally retired after a long run 1986 according to the sticker label.
The box, instructions, and contents
The box art is exquisite and has a premium look and feel targetted to the adult market.
There are two packages each for bags labelled 1,2,3 and 3 packages for bag 4 making it a total of 10 packages including one that’s not numbered. The unnumbered package contains a few grey plates and the wheels of the train and two train buffers. The sticker is sealed together with the instruction guide.
LEGO seriously needs to reconsider the black background on the instructions provided. It is an eye strain, especially when building in decent-light conditions which are sufficient to see parts, but terrible to discern when referring to the instruction guide. As it is, brown parts and shades are already difficult to tell apart, this just amplifies the issue.
The below may look decent, but it’s largely due to the camera and lighting setup as we frequently prepare for in our reviews to make clear photos. In reality, I simply despised the building process every time a brown element showed up in this build. This comes from the experience of having built a couple of other brown-heavy sets which were the LEGO Ideas 21318 Treehouse and the LEGO Wild West Saloon. Both were already somewhat off-putting during element hunting and placement even with non-dark backgrounds.
The one and the only sticker is the label that’s placed at the edge of the tracks describes the few fun facts of the Crocodile Locomotive.
The train comes with a few unique printed parts which are mirrored on both sides of the train. The train number is playfully named after the LEGO set number 10277 and the CE 6/8 depicting the class of the locomotive.
The first section to be built is the train tracks. This isn’t the most interesting part to build but is a necessity to complete the overall look and base to the display train once it’s fully built. Be prepared for monotonous placements of bits and pieces which shouldn’t take too much time to complete.
The centre section of the train which hosts the engine is built with a base and sidewalls. Embedded and hidden in the centre lower section are gears that will power the train engine system if the optional motor assembly is acquired and built.
The sides of the engine are decorated with the printed tile and built-in symmetry for both sides of the outer facade.
With both sections up the engine block starts to take some character.
An inner centrepiece is built separately to house the two seating arrangements for the engine drivers – one at each end. This section is designed to be slotted into the middle of the engine block in absence of the optional motor system.
The centrepiece fits in quite snugly without any studs affixed to facilitate easy insertion and removal of the battery box and motors.
The tail front is a new element that makes its appearance in this colour for the first time. It’s a unique shape that completes the look and feel of the front windscreen of the train together with the glass window combination. We predict that this element in the shade of brown will make the train something hard to recreate once this set is no longer manufactured and will certainly create a demand for it in the near future. Having said that, it’s still early as we’ve already seen it being used in other creative ways (albeit in white) when it first appeared in the 31107 Space Explorer. The shape and design definitely add to the distinct look and feel of a train that rightfully deserves.
The top section of the engine is decorated with a couple of whips in red to reflect the cables that appear on the real roofing of the engine block.
The pantographs which are attached to the top of the roof is meant to connect to the power lines overhead. In this case, it’s obviously a decorative element as trains in The LEGO world do not implement such power systems.
With the completed windows both front and back and top sections affixed, the finished result is a handsome build indeed.
The remaining builds are the two carriages on either side of the engine block. Both are exactly the same thus the building process was cut short by assembling them in tandem side by side.
They’re made up of two sections connected that allows range for a swivel for curved tracks. The train buffers are sadly decorative for this as they’re mounted to the end of the trains never to be used unless you have a bigger train system and carriages in place to connect them to.
The two sections are connected by a ball joint and ball sockets. There’s a curious interesting section designed in the centre which function wasn’t apparent until the top shell section was put in place.
The outer skin detailing is constructed in a shell-like structure with simple detailing using 1×2 profile bricks for subtle textures.
The finished structure slides in from the top with little effort completing the build.
The carriage doesn’t hold much personality in comparison to the main engine as a standalone build, but it certainly complements the overall package.
Two minifigures are supplied with a male and female train engineer/driver. Both don the same torso which are unique prints in terms of minifigure torsos. They feature two pockets on each side of the overalls and a red scarf around the collar. The male engineer sports sideburns and a moustache while the female engineer has a simple smile on her face. She features one of the newer molds for the hairpiece introduced this year which sports a fashionable and neat look. The male engineer sports a mini cap matching the torso and pants in medium blue. Both figures only have a single face print expression.
The pants are unprinted parts and the back of the torso piece features a creased look.
For minifigure placement, the seated figures are easier to manipulate with the blocks removed from the engine block.
It isn’t too difficult to slot in the centre section to slide down into the engine block.
The completed build
I’ll have to admit that I wasn’t very impressed during the build process, the steps were repetitive with the tracks and duplicate carriage and not particularly challenging. However, the finished look is smashing and a real display piece to be proud of that’s perfect for a mantelpiece or something to add to your train collection. There’s no doubt that if you’re a train enthusiast, this is one to add to your collection.
If you’re undecided and sitting on the fence on this purchase, the easiest way to decide is whether you like the finished look as you see in the photos here. If it does appeal to you and you have display area ready to show off to your adult friends visiting and could potentially be a conversation piece and share your love of LEGO, I’d say yes, give it a go. It’s decently priced at $99 USD and while we don’t enjoy highlighting the speculative nature of the LEGO aftermarket, train sets such as these do tend to rise in price quickly once they’re no longer on shelves. So hesitate not, and get them now if you like them.
Let’s talk about the ‘old’ new LEGO Adult product strategy since this is one of the first few sets that’s rolled off the lines. The whole repackaging approach works for these types of sets which has a tone of seriousness to target adults builders and collectors. Excluding the current Adult Fan of LEGO fans, of which a large portion do not necessarily expose their hobbies to their peers, there are tons of adults in an untapped market worth millions that could be triggered to revisit their childhood nostalgia of playing with LEGO. The change in the box artwork is a clever idea to reduce the perception and stigma of LEGO being a child’s play toy with minimal changes in the actual product design strategy.
If that has not convinced you enough, the play value of this set goes beyond what comes in the box, stay tuned for a quick review of how we explore the additional parts required to power this locomotive.
The LEGO 10277 Crocodile Locomotive is available in LEGO stores and the LEGO Shop Online and priced at US $99.99 | CAN $149.99 | UK £89.99. Demand has been high and as of the writing of this review, sets are currently on backorder.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
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