Recently, LEGO has been licensing numerous franchises and brands, from auto manufacturers to movies and cartoons. However, none of those collaborations is strong enough to result in the biggest LEGO product ever released. The truth is, LEGO is at its best when “licensing” Italian history and culture. And it’s not surprising: there are so many perfect things created by Italians, and they look even better when rendered with danish bricks. After numerous Ferrari cars, the recent 10271 Fiat 500, and even 21026 Venice from Architecture theme, here comes the largest LEGO set released so far, 10276 Colosseum. Consisting of 9,036 pieces, it is almost 1,500 pieces bigger than the previous record-holder, Star Wars 75192 UCS Millennium Falcon. The new set is available starting today, for US $549.99 | CAN $649.99 | UK £449.99, which is, in the US, $250 less than the original 75192 Millennium Falcon price tag. Let’s build and take a closer look at one of the most famous Italian landmarks.
For customers who purchase the new Colosseum over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, it will come with an exclusive gift-with-purchase, 6346109 Roman Chariot.
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
The box and contents
The box of the new Colosseum set is significantly smaller than those that 75192 UCS Millennium Falcon and 75252 UCS Imperial Star Destroyer are shipped in. With the recent trend of massive exclusive sets, the Colosseum looks like a medium-sized product rather than making an impression of the all-time largest model.
The back of the box features the size of the complete model. Learning its dimensions is obviously crucial before purchasing one. It turns out, the Colosseum is far from being the longest or the widest LEGO set; the completed model is about 10.5” (27cm) high, 20.5” (52cm) wide, and 23.5” (59cm) deep.
Premium packaging guarantees a premium unboxing experience. For instance, each flap on the box’s side contains schemes or a quote about the monument.
Inside the outer premium-quality box, there are four smaller boxes marked I through IIII. Don’t let the numbers confuse you; there are two ways to write the number “4” with Roman numerals, either IV or IIII. Since the writings on the walls of the actual Colosseum use IIII, the design team decided to go with it in the packaging design.
Each box contains its own building guide, although some of them are much thicker than the others. The Independent building process makes this set one of the best candidates for collaborative assembly: whether you build it with your partner or invite a group of friends, this set can be comfortably built by 1-8 people. Obviously, this would also be a lot faster than building it alone.
Inside the boxes, there are 40 groups of plastic bags. For comparison, 75192 Millennium Falcon included 17 groups of bags, averaging 444 pieces in each group. Each building stage of the Colosseum consists of 225 pieces on average, making it a perfect long-term evening project. Just like LEGO Architecture sets, the Colosseum has no stickers at all — not even a regular plaque with basic facts about the model.
Because of the arena’s repetitive structure, the set only includes elements of 221 types between 23 colors, meaning that, on average, there are about 40 pieces per type. With other LEGO sets being more versatile, I believe the Colosseum holds a record in this regard.
Beautifully designed building booklets contribute to the experience a lot. Each of the four includes several spreads with detailed pictures and schemes of the Colosseum and remarkable facts from the monument’s history.
What I liked particularly about the additional information in the booklets is that it includes an explanation of the inner structure of the walls. Depicted along with a LEGO structure scheme, it gives a wonderful insight without being too detailed or specified.
I found it amusing that the fourth building guide opens with a congratulation on “surviving” such a long build. Honestly, the assembly is so tedious, very soon, you start wondering if the set will be ever finished. A neat reminder that the complete model is close is very refreshing.
New pieces and pieces in new colors
If you run a quick analysis of the largest LEGO sets, you’ll discover that most of them are designed in tan. 71043 Hogwarts Castle, 10189 Taj Mahal, 10214 Tower Bridge, 10253 Big Ben, 71040 Cinderella Castle — all of these include a fair share of pieces in tan. This means that over the last decade, LEGO has accumulated a very solid portfolio of elements in tan, which made it possible for set’s designer Rok Zgalin Kobe and his team to create the model with as few innovations as possible.
There are five types of pieces worth a closer look. First of all, massive 16×16 Technic bricks first presented in LEGO Art mosaic sets earlier this year. For the Colosseum, the piece was recolored and now comes in olive green.
For the first time, panels 1×3 come in tan. The rest of the recolored elements (minifigure roller skates, minifigure candles, and round tiles 1×1 with bar and pin holder — all in dark tan) are used for various columns in a darker color than the default tan.
Once the fancy unpacking is over, it’s time to face the harsh reality: this is the most tedious LEGO build you can find on shelves today. This is not an opinion; this is just a fact. The building starts with the base, which consists of two identical halves. For those going to build the set, the only advice I can give is to put on Gladiator with Russell Crowe. The basement of your arena should be finished just in time for Maximus to find himself fighting before Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix).
Like any other huge LEGO set, the quest to figure out its structure is what I find particularly thrilling. With the Colosseum, it doesn’t take long before you discover that it’s the base and the four opposite sections of the walls that make the model amazingly robust. The rest of the sections are articulated and are not connected to the base directly.
And this when the assembly becomes particularly repetitive. The rest of the arena consists of nearly 40 almost identical sections. There are only two slightly different versions of the inner structure (either 2-stud-wide or 3-stud-wide). By the 15th building stage, I learned 80% of the building steps of the section. Whatever your expectations are, this set is not about imagination and the discovery of unusual building techniques. And in case you knew hardly anything about this fascinating architectural monument, the assembly will make you appreciate all the hard work that went into the construction of the actual Colosseum — whether you want it or not. And it’s not even the complete stadium!
While the southern wall is shorter due to being partially destroyed in the last 2000 years, the taller northern wall is still relatively intact. As for the LEGO version, the northern wall sections require a bit more pieces. The larger size gives room for more diversity; now, there are no two identical sections, each featuring a different pattern of slopes and tiles in the upper part.
The Colosseum can be divided into four sections. The curve of each section is created with joint ball connectors between the smaller sections. With several dozens of connectors across the walls, these parts are fairly robust. You can easily store the model this way if you do not want to display it at the moment.
One by one, sections of the walls take their place around the ruins of the arena. Slowly, you come to recognize the result of the long monotonous assembly; long curved lines of columns create an oddly satisfying pattern.
The arena is not a circle, but an oval, meaning that the radius of the wall’s curve varies. The ball joint connectors give just enough freedom of movement for each of four corners to be placed and secured in their respective positions. Once secures, the Colosseum instantly turns into an unbelievably robust structure.
All in all, in our case, two fairly experienced builders spent more than 21 hours to finish the model. Because of the tight inner structure of each section, any building mistakes are easy to avoid. And should you make one, it will be easy to find and correct. But monotonous build can be very tiresome without regular breaks.
The sight of the finished model is something that easily takes away the building fatigue. The first thing you realize is that, despite consisting of numerous identical arches, the Colosseum has no two angles that it looks the same from. You can actually walk around the build, and you’ll keep on finding new patterns and combinations of architectural elements that make it so statuesque.
Moreover, it’s not only about walking around the model (or rotating it on a table large enough) but also about the height of the viewpoint. Enjoying it from the “ground level” and from above are two completely different things.
After a week with this monstrosity on my coffee table, I can conclude that it’s the massive curve of the northern wall that makes it a fascinating model. There are many ways to build a curve structure with LEGO bricks, but we’ve never seen a wall of this size and scale. It’s literally a wall curving around your coffee table. You can’t simply walk across the room without casting a glance at it.
Another thing you start noticing while the assembly is that, unlike many other world-known monuments, 10181 The Eiffel Tower or 10214 Tower Bridge, the Colosseum is asymmetrical in its current state. This makes various parts stand out, like a very high slope on the northern wall’s left side.
The space in front of the arena is decorated with tiny trees and cars. One of the cars is made of two pieces in bright yellow, which obviously makes it a very tiny copy of 10271 Fiat 500.
I felt the review wouldn’t be complete without an attempt to recreate the painting that comes with the Fiat set. Because of the difference in scale, these two look quite funny side by side.
However, don’t let all the compliments make you think that this set is absolutely perfect. First of all, its sheer size and scale will be a true challenge for any inexperienced adult builder. Second, the structure may seem immovable, but it’s not true for the decorative elements on the top of the wall. In the picture below, you can see that some of the elements are sitting on just one open stud of 1×1 lamp holder plate. This is nowhere near the most secure way to connect LEGO pieces, plus it is located exactly where you grab the model when assembling it, rotating, or moving across the table. I can’t remember how many times I had to reattach plates and tiles on both sides of every single column. Will this make a good impression on somebody new to the hobby?
What is more, the longer I stare at the model in the middle of my living room, the more I question whether I should be displaying it this way. Unlike many other huge displayable LEGO sets, the Colosseum is the first to come with a thick brick-built base decorated with small trees and cars. This makes it similar to architectural scale models that professionals and enthusiasts make by hand using paper, cardboard, plywood, and other materials. The key element of such creations is that they are all unique; they are done by hand and tell a story about the living room owner. Obviously, it can be a sailboat model, a steam locomotive, or a diecast car displayed in the living room. Still, we always presume that they are either created by the owner or has something to do with their interests or occupation.
As for the Colosseum, it’s neither unique nor handmade like diecast models. Even the smallest LEGO elements are still way too big to convey the monument’s architecture’s finest details. Moreover, it doesn’t require that much talent to assemble a set following a step-by-step building guide. So, the longer I keep it in my living room, the clearer it becomes that it’s just a LEGO toy set — still limited by its system. The Colosseum tries to be what it actually isn’t; the fancy black stand and the size make you think it’s a wonderful scaled architecture model, but it’s still a LEGO toy, with studs and everything.
This makes me think that it only takes an experienced adult fan of LEGO to truly appreciate all the advantages and see all the disadvantages of the build. As for those who will get this set as an ultimate present or choose to buy it at the start of their new hobby, I doubt that every set opened will be even built completely. It’s way too specific to keep a builder involved long enough to see the final piece attached.
Final thoughts and recommendations
In Gladiator, Gracchus, a senator of Rome, says, “The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate, it’s the sand of the Colosseum.” No doubt, the LEGO version of the arena can take the place of any fan’s collection’s beating heart. Still, the question stands: what will you do with a model like 10276 Colosseum?
Will you consider getting it just for the journey that is over 9,000-piece long? Will you put it in the middle of your dining room to enjoy during fancy dinners? Or, maybe you want for the sake of the heap of pieces in tan? With so many new exclusive and adult-oriented building sets released by LEGO in recent years, the question is no longer whether you should buy one or not, but rather what reason do you have to get one? In this regard, the Colosseum is one of the most questionable additions to one’s collection. Do you know another solid reason to get the set? Let us know in the comment section.