Fun at the fair with Creator 3-in-1 31119 Ferris Wheel [Review]

Over the years we’ve seen a decent amount of fairground and amusement-style sets. We’re always enthralled with moving creations and what says fun more than the fair? In particular, the best sets have been those in the unofficial fairgrounds subtheme within the Creator Expert line. Such models like the roller coaster, carousels (yes, plural!), and Ferris wheel are sure to make anyone smile! We can’t wait to see if another massive set joins the party, but in the meantime, we’ll explore an “all-in-one” day at the fair with LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31119 Ferris Wheel. This set consists of 1,002 parts and the instructions to complete a swing ride, bumper cars, and of course, an 8-seat Ferris wheel. The set is currently available in Europe and will hit stores in North America beginning August 1 for US $79.99 | CAN $109.99 | UK £79.99.

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 for this set is bright and cheerful, giving off all the fun vibes of a fair. It has a taped opening versus the thumb-punch of some of the other sets in the theme. The one advantage is there is less damage done to the box in the event you want to save it. The front primarily features the namesake model in all its playful glory. The back, however, sheds greater detail on the two alternate models and their play features.

The set comes with 7 numbered bags (with two #2s and two #3s) and a pair of loose 16×16 stud baseplates in bright green. There are also the customary three instruction booklets. They are roughly the size of a standard sheet of paper and the main model takes up about 100 pages, while the others are 60-70 pages long.

The main build

Naturally, we’ll start with the main model, the Ferris wheel. The bags are numbered with the intention that you would build this one first, and it would likely be a bit challenging to find everything quickly if you were to build one of the alternate models and then the wheel second.

The first things you’re instructed to build are the ticket stand (complete with popcorn maker) and balloon cart. They’re cute and colorful, and the butterfly balloon is especially clever. It makes great use of a magenta motor/video camera element (1x2x2/3 with studs on sides) for the body and 1×1 double-curved slopes (bows) for wings! The former of which is brand new in this color. The white bar with clip (or claw) element attached to the stems of the balloons is odd. Is it just another hand-hold, or representing the bit of tied-off string? Not sure, but it seems unnecessary and gets in the way. On the plus side, this useful recolor is new as of this year, as well as the lime 4L bar used as axles for the cart.

In terms of the actual Ferris wheel itself, we’ll start with the base and a fairly solid yet simple foundation. We’re lucky to get several medium azure elements in useful numbers. The 2×4 tile and 2×6 plate are both by far the highest quantity to ever come in a set at 20 and 12 respectively. The 1×2 plate is the highest by double (32), and the 2×12 plate is brand new in this color entirely.

Included in the base is the mechanism that makes the magic happen. It is comprised of a crank driving a standard 16 tooth gear to a 20 tooth double bevel gear. This helps prevent slipping and creates the desired gear ratio. In order to put less stress on the moving parts, as well as create a smoother ride, the whole thing is stabilized with a liftarm attached to a rubber band. This allows the system to flex with the imperfect circle that makes up the wheel. The teal pin connector that acts as the crank handle has only been in one other set, also released this year. The black Technic bushing is a welcomed return of a part that disappeared from both 2005-2018, and 2018 to now.

Bag two has you building the stairs, supports, and decorative centerpiece. The latter of which consists of a smiling sun and the word, “FUN” emblazoned in a cloud. The introduction of quarter-round and macaroni-shaped tiles in the past several years has really been influential in creating dynamic lettering and signage. The 3×6 half-round plates that comprise the sun have only shown up in that color in two sets released last year. Additionally, the 11 medium azure windows used as supports are appearing in this color for the first time.

Moving on to bag number three, we get to start constructing the wheel itself. The ratcheting 1×2 hinge plates (both sides) help provide the shape and stability of the outer rings. At 32 of each, both are the most ever in a set. The dark bluish grey receiving half is the most by 8 times! The spokes/spindles consist of 12L bars with 1×2 plate sandwiched between 1×2 clips, which are then attached to white 2×2 octagonal “life ring” plates. That dual clip setup is what prevents things from twisting/shifting and keeps them sturdy.

It is at this point that you really begin to notice (if you haven’t already) that this set is definitely paying homage to the giant Creator Expert 10247 Ferris Wheel. In addition to bottom supports of a similar color, the spindles feature the brilliant orange and yellow of its predecessor as well. But more on that in a bit…

Finally, bags four and five have us building the gondolas. Of course, one of the primary features of building a Ferris wheel is repetition. These are pretty easy, and by the time you build the final one, you could do it in your sleep. They feature a single seat, as well as a striped cover with two matching gondolas per color combo. 2×3 tiles with clips act as the doors. Yellow and dark purple are both brand new recolors with this set and the green only recently showed up in 21324 Sesame Street. In addition to those elements, the 1×2 teal technic bricks (with single hole) used in the teal/green gondolas are a new recolor, and the 2×2 plates with pinhole that help lock everything in place from the bottom are the highest quantity ever in a set by nearly double (32).

The gondolas actually play a big role in the stability of the model. Without them, the structure is a bit wobbly in terms of both sides of the wheel working together. Also, a test of the mechanism produces poor results until the seats are in place because the added weight and stabilizing connections are important to complete the circuit of the mechanism. The initial connection of half pin studs into the anti-stud of the spindles works, but they are fully secured by a good old-fashioned minifigure mallet/hammer element. This reliable piece, which was first introduced in 1984, has been in 227 sets. Of all of those, this one contains the most ever at 16. That total beats out by 5 the previous record-holder, Creator Expert 10185 Green Grocer, which used them as part of a decorative fence.

As an aside, the clearance from the gondola doors to the platform is teeny tiny. Kudos to the designers on that one!

All complete, the model is pretty darn cute. It’s compact but feels like a reasonable size for the part count of the set. It would likely fit nicely in your typical fairground display. Technically, the view from (and of) the gondolas is a little restricted by the wheel itself, but that’s a minor concern.

Turning the crank gives a fairly smooth cycle if you hold your hand above the mechanism. Coming at it from another angle or having larger hands might cause someone to knock their knuckles on the table, making a case for somehow raising the platform up a few bricks. Alternatively, you could outfit the build with a motor (not included). The set does not provide instructions for doing so or even suggest it as an option, but it’s very easy to accomplish. If you’re going for the quick and dirty solution, you have to be slightly aware that the axle is a little too short to be able to sink all the way into the motor hole. But you don’t need more than that!

The GIF below shows an extremely easy setup using a Powered Up motor and smart battery box to be able to control the speed using the app. If you wanted to use Power Functions, you would either need to alter the gearing to reduce speed, or use an infrared sensor to control it via remote. Mindstorms and 9V options have their benefits themselves, but PU and PFs would be easier to hide under the stairs (with a bit of modification).

And now, perhaps the moment you’ve all been waiting for! How does it compare to the original mammoth Ferris Wheel? I rebuilt my copy for this review and I was amazed by just how massive it is. At least, in comparison to this little guy, which it dwarfs by 3-4 times. When you look at them together, it’s like the original had a baby. Both of them operate with a crankshaft mechanism that uses tires to help drive and stabilize the wheel, which happens to be pretty much how real ones operate too.

The first alternate model

Sadly, it’s time to take the Ferris wheel apart and move on… The bumper car model begins with the foundation and ticket booth, complete with microphone, just like you often see at fairs and fun centers. The actual bumper car containment area is attached in an interesting way. Instead of ratchet-style hinges on both sides, the designers chose to go with open ratchet hinges on one side and open clips on the other. The result allows for an extremely smooth fold-up or removal of the back section. If the closed ratchet hinge element (which is indeed included in the set) were used, the added force needed to manipulate or take apart the model would possibly result in unwanted or unnecessary damage

The tiles used in the lettering of “FUN” make another appearance here, spelling out “BUMP”. Despite being a pretty big focal point for the model, it isn’t too flashy.

Finally, the structure is finished off with overhead “speakers” as well as various sets of tiled “lights”. As you’re building you may feel like you’re using up all the colorful elements and won’t have enough for the bumper cars. But interestingly, the pile of pieces feels like the gift that keeps on giving.

The bumper cars are just as colorful as the Ferris wheel gondolas, although thankfully the color combinations have been mixed up. Not that there is anything wrong with the previous combos, but some variety is nice. The tan areas around the edges feel a little odd, particularly at the back, and would likely look better in white, which happened to be available as an alternative.

Once completed, you’re ready to rock and roll. Well, slide, actually. The 2×2 plates with pinholes that were used to hold together the gondolas before are now used to give the bumper cars the ability to slide rather smoothly. It’s nice to have four cars, although they are a bit cramped in the space provided. Even though the intent is to bump, there isn’t much room to get some oomph behind your bump.

As mentioned previously, the pile of parts feels like the gift that keeps on giving. When it comes down to the leftovers, we have two 16×16 bright green plates and plenty of extra brick to choose from. The variety seems quite useful, and would, at minimum, set you up nicely to begin building a gift shop, carnival game, or food stand with some supplemental parts from your collection.

The second alternate model

Skipping right along, we venture to the next ride. The final model starts off with a gumball machine and a great little claw game. They both look nice for the scale, but the claw game is particularly good. The model also includes instructions for a tiny ladder for minifigures to get inside the swings. It’s a bit “meh” but passes.

Before the ship goes on, the top of the frame for the swings is solid. You could probably chuck it across the room and it wouldn’t fall apart. (This is not a suggestion that you do so, however, and TBB is not responsible for any damages that may occur if you attempt it.) The ship itself looks a bit like a high-five (4?) but fits nicely with the theme and color scheme.

The swings themselves hold two minifigures comfortably and share the similar colorful, rounded-edge seats of the previous models. They are affixed by cleverly re-purposed spindles (12L bar element). It feels like the connections would be weak, but they’re actually reasonably solid. And they’re further secured by more supports that are added after they’re in place, preventing them from coming loose.

Sadly, the swings are not driven mechanically like the Ferris wheel. And while it’s possible, it would take lots of modification to add that function, especially only using the parts included. Perhaps it’s asking a lot from a 3-in-1 set, but it would have been neat to see them try to reuse the gears and crank from the first model. Regardless, it’s a fun model to play with. The swings don’t have a ton of range, but it’s enough to keep it from feeling too restricted. The GIF below demonstrates the movement just a moment after being poked. The attachment is loose enough to let them make several passes before coming to rest.

The minifigures

The set comes complete with 5 minifigures — 2 fairgrounds workers and 3 attendees. For each model, a little bit of body-part swapping occurs to give them their own personalities. The employees are, at first, denoted by their matching lime legs and blue and white pinstriped torso with a red bowtie. None of the parts are particularly unique or new. Four of the faces are dual-sided and tell the story of your typical day at the fairground. The fair-goers consist of a mom, dad, and son according to the LEGO website. The group also features a brick-built dog, presumably something along the lines of a basset hound. The white neck bracket element was a great choice for giving the pup a smoother head.

The second set of characters look almost identical at first glance, with only the boy and father swapping torsos and mom and one of the fairground workers swapping legs. Additionally, our previous dog is now a poodle. From the side the poodle looks really convincing with its popcorn element ears. A more head-on view shows that they stick out a mile, but nevertheless it’s still clever. 1×1 lime bricks are added to one of the worker’s legs and he becomes a stilt-walking hammer juggler.

Finally, the last trio has the father going back to his original look, while the son becomes a daughter. The included dog looks more like a dalmatian this time. Interestingly, the employee with the top hat never really changes other than the stilts. Overall, the variety of expressions allows you to come up with all sorts of stories behind the characters.

Conclusions and recommendation

So there you have it — a day at the fairgrounds. This set checks the right boxes: cute, colorful, playful, and as the sign says, plain old fun. Versatile pieces with several elements in large quantities make this a valuable part-pack. In addition, the fairly well-rounded fig heads and torsos would be useful in a variety of scenes. All the builds bring something worthwhile, though the Ferris wheel is the true shining star (no pun intended). While it seems much smaller than the original, it’s a decent model and a well-executed tribute to that iconic set. You’ll definitely get a good bang for your buck in terms of play features for grownups and kiddos alike.

If you like Creator 3-in-1 sets, check out our other recent reviews:

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31119 Ferris Wheel is currently available in Europe and will be available August 1st in North America. It retails for US $79.99 | CAN $109.99 | UK £79.99.

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.

3 comments on “Fun at the fair with Creator 3-in-1 31119 Ferris Wheel [Review]

  1. WemWem

    “The son becomes a daughter” – Lego signifying support for trans rights???? Probably not but you won’t convince me otherwise!

    I like this set a lot. The small size doesn’t bother me because it actually reminds me of smaller, transportable fairground rides like at county fairs in the USA. Pretty sure I’ve BEEN on a ferris wheel roughly this size.

    Alternate builds are OK but are more like ideas to expand upon than full models. A full-size bumper car pavillion or swinging ship would be awesome in Creator Expert fairground line.

  2. Steve

    Would you be kind enough to advise the part numbers for the powered up motor and smart battery box that you used please? My young grandson has just built this and would like to provide some power to it.

Comments are closed.