Trains are one of the longest-running lines that LEGO has produced, dating back to 1964. Modern-day LEGO fans may not have been waiting for this particular modern train set, but 40518 High-Speed Train is an interesting and inexpensive take on the subject. The 284-piece set will be available January 1st for US $19.99 | CAN $24.99 | UK £17.99. Read on to see our review of the unboxing and building below.
Unboxing the parts, instructions, and sticker sheet
The High Speed Train set comes in a standard Creator box, similar to a low-to-mid sized 3-in-1 set. One thing that’s quickly apparent from the front cover is that there is no track included – and in fact, the train won’t run on standard LEGO track. The back cover suggests, “Hey, this isn’t expensive – buy two!” as the build is designed to combine two sets into a 4-car EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) with driver’s compartments at either end.
Inside are four un-numbered bags along with a small instruction manual and sticker sheet, both of which were folded up among the bags in my review copy. I was able to flatten my sheet and all of the stickers were fine to use, but this is a perennial issue with smaller LEGO sets.
There are no new or printed parts. If you’re looking for a parts pack, the only set with more white 1×2 cheese slopes (36 included!) is 2016’s massive 75098 Assault on Hoth, and the 10 white 1×2 ingots are more than any set of at least twice the size.
This is not an advanced build, as you’d expect from the 7+ label, and it comes together quickly. The second car is built first – perhaps because it’s entirely symmetrical? – and is almost entirely stacking bricks and plates. There is a little bit of sideways building to get the doors at the correct depth.
The front car, with the driver’s compartment, is exactly the same except for the front shaping. The dark blue stripe that runs the length of the train at window height ends in a diagonal as the nose slopes down, and this detail is brick-built. There’s a small gap between the combination of slope and inverted slope, but it’s fitting for a Creator set not to rely on a sticker for this. Finally, the way that the front window is made flush with the nose makes clever use of a small upside-down assembly and two 1×1 double-peaked slopes, and makes a satisfyingly smooth curve.
Each car is finished with the bogies (the wheels – often referred to as trucks in North America). These don’t rotate, so the only point of rotation is the coupling between cars. At this size, that makes sense; if they spun freely rolling the train along a floor or table would be much more frustrating! When both cars are complete, the expansion to a 4-car train is illustrated (the extra piece needed for cars two and three to connect to each other is included).
The completed model
For under 300 pieces, this is a sleek and relatively attractive build. The white and dark blue color scheme, with royal blue stripe, looks sharp and could match a number of high speed trains throughout the world. I suspect that it’s specifically inspired by the Chinese CRH3 series. The pantograph serves as a hint that this is an electric train, and while the ingots aren’t entirely convincing doors, I’m not sure what other options are available. Perhaps the back end of a headlight brick? In any case, I’m again glad that the designer didn’t resort to a sticker.
Conclusion and recommendation
It’s not the new advanced train that fans of 10277 Crocodile Locomotive were hoping for, but this $20 set is clearly not targeted at scale model railroad LEGO fans. LEGO’s description of the set includes “Portable play” as a feature – “so kids can play with it at home or take it with them wherever they go” – and it is indeed a compact and very sturdy build. I would expect the coupling between cars to come undone in a bag, but the only other part that might be dislodged is the pantograph. And it’s a great size to just zoom around on the floor from the bookcase station to the trash can depot. One miss, though, might be the 7+ age rating. I couldn’t say what construction technique makes this move from a 5+ to a 6+ to the eventual 7+ – perhaps it’s the upside-down front window – but it does seem like the portable play concept might land better on the younger end of LEGO’s age range.
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.