When the first LEGO roller coaster came out in 2018, it felt as though it was long overdue. All the folks playing with K’Nex were chomping at the bit for LEGO to produce something in a way that only LEGO can. Of course, if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want some milk. The same people dying for a coaster were soon dying for track made for loops. Four long years later we’ve finally gotten our wish! And not only that, but something with a lot of wow factor. Join us a we take the plunge and loop-dee-loop our way around the LEGO Icons Fairground Collection 10303 Loop Coaster. This epic set contains 3756 pieces, has 11 minifigures, and will retail for US $399.99 | CAN $499.99 | UK £344.99. It will be available beginning July 5th.
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.
Unboxing the parts, instructions, and sticker sheet
While it’s not quite as large as the Titanic or the AT-AT, the box for this set is giant. If that’s not enough indication of how huge the model is, perhaps the fact that the model won’t fit on the box art is. It’s so tall that they had to wrap the top of the picture around the box! It’s even chopped on the back too! But it was the right move, as this scale really allows you to see the finer details. The back also indicates that you can add Powered Up components, though they are not included in the set.
Inside the box is another large box containing 18 bags, with 13 numbered 1-7 and 5 unnumbered. An additional 22 bags numbered 8-15 are loose in the main box.
The instruction manual and sticker sheet are contained in a cardboard sleeve. Inside, the first few pages of the instructions are a timeline of the Fairground Collection to date. Interestingly, this does not include the original Grand Carousel from 2009.
There are stickers in this set, but fortunately they are pretty minimal. They are also quite fun, featuring characteristically overpriced food menus, a rogue squirrel, a great entrance sign, and a height board nodding to the fact that this is most definitely an adult set. A park map shows the coaster alongside 10273 Haunted House. But interestingly, the Ferris wheel in the picture is not the Creator Expert 10247 Ferris Wheel. Instead it appears to be the smaller Creator 3-in-1 31119 Ferris Wheel. Likewise, the carousel doesn’t look like either of the previous iterations.
Several new color variants are in this set, such as the white 1/2 pin and dark blue 2×4 with axle holes. But more notable is the introduction of a collection of roller coaster track. All of the elements are new in the light bright orange color, though only a few are entirely new pieces altogether. These new pieces are an extra short track section, a 90° curved incline, and a steep skewed incline for the loops. It’s hard to tell when it’s on its own, so I’ve connected the skewed track below to give you a better look.
Things kick off with the creation of a handful of park fixtures. This includes the park map with a bench and three vendor carts, which we’ll get some closeups of in a bit. Last time we had two sets of cars, but this time there’s unfortunately only one train. You’ll see why once you see how fast this thing is!
Next up is a plate and clip-heavy section of the base for all the supports.
Then the lower supports are added to the base. The dark blue and light bright orange color scheme is really nice. It’s a great contrast to the red and white color scheme of the last roller coaster. Another nice thing with this model is that there are never more than a few support columns that are identical. It has been argued by some that that made the last roller coaster a bit of a boring build.
This section is made complete with the addition of the lower level of track.
Up next is the other half of the base, which includes a pathway and some foliage. It’s not densely packed with supports yet, though it is plate-dense. The base includes 12 green 8×16’s, as well as 272×6’s and 17 2×16’s. There are also 31 leaf elements and 31 2×4 jumpers in bright green.
The short path links together the entrance and stairs to the platform. Here’s where the first stickers are placed on azure 2×6 tiles, and include the entrance sign, height checker, and banned items list. Leave your squirrels at home, folks!
From there we begin our ascent into the loops. I’m a fan of the use of different rounded elements to maintain the round column look. In this case, small half cylinders make a very blocky arch look smooth and uniform with the rest.
That brings us to the conclusion of the bottom section of the roller coaster. At the base of the big loop you’ll also find a camera and a trapped balloon. If you’ve ever been to an amusement park, you know that’s a staple. There’s always a lost balloon somewhere.
Moving right along, it’s time to build the tower. And this thing is ginormous! The sheer quantities of some elements really becomes apparent here. Including the base, there are 125 2×2 round bricks, 112 1x2x1 cylinder halves, 139 inverted 2×2 tiles, and 104 2×4 tiles, all in dark blue. This is on top of a myriad of other parts in the double digits. Several of these elements are also new and rare color variants. As far as the tower goes, the interlocking of plates, along with columns supported with axles, makes for a pretty solid structure.
Another element in significant quantity is the straight track. Ten may not seem like a large number considering the ones I just mentioned, but it’s significant compared to other sets. While the track is necessary for the counterweight in this design, a clever builder could possibly use these to mod the coaster in a major way.
There are some clever mechanics to this set, but perhaps the most clever parts usage is the drop turn. Who knew that you could turn the curved tracks on their sides and the System would allow cars to still travel on them? Clever, LEGO, clever! Some roller coaster enthusiasts may have already figured this out, but it blew my mind.
There’s not a lot of fluff to the signage for the coaster. A simple “LOOP” is emblazoned on the side, but it actually looks pretty slick. Paired with the color scheme for the rest of the set, it feels pretty classy.
Once installed, the tower is secured in place via small 2×4 liftarms. What’s particularly interesting about this is that the supports are actually sitting on the studs of jumpers. There’s no System connection there, just Technic. I can’t recall ever seeing this done before, where studs are used as spacers for something like this.
Now that we’re all finished with the primary support, it’s finally time to get to the mechanism. First, the elevator. The column includes a whopping 222 small chain links and 33 larger chain links for the catch. This section, too, is plate and tile dense. We’re talking 11 6×16’s all in light bluish gray and more.
Next is the elevator shuttle itself. This sub-build wraps around the column and rolls along it on bearings. An extra long string connects it to the counterweight on the other side. As a side note, considering there are multiple, it would’ve been cool if the stars were on printed tiles. It’d be a great piece to use in quantity on other park attractions, but oh well.
Plate density never stops in this build (in a good way). The counterweight consists of a bunch of plates stacked together to make it heavier. Underneath are a pair of roller coaster cars to affix it to the track.
What’s most interesting about this component is the simple ratchet mechanism used to wind the string. Rubber Technic axle connectors give it just the right amount of springy flex.
Once both sides are connected and affixed to the column, it’s complete. Again, studs are used as spacers. Unfortunately, this section is the weakest part of the whole build. The elevator shaft and support frame are connected by a block with SNOT (Studs Not On Top) bricks on it. There is lots of room for error here. With enough shaking from the rollercoaster doing its thing, the block can start to work loose from the base or from the inverted slopes of the shaft. At the top the track is only connected by a couple clips, so it can also work loose. Additionally, the counterweight has to be in just the right spot. Between weight, friction, and the string length, if it’s not quite right, balance is disturbed. It can jump off the pulley and mess up the whole equation.
On the other side of things, one of the best features of this set is the fact that the whole thing has a single linked mechanism. At one end, you have the break/feeder, which controls the speed of the cars coming into the station and pulls them to the elevator.
It’s a funky looking thing but serves its purpose. A planetary mechanism with a rubber band allows for some tension to be kept on the cars while still pushing them forward. This puts minimal strain on the rest of the mechanism.
Fortunately, the awkward look of it disappears when the track is added to the build.
The powerhouse of the whole mechanism is a crank structure that converts horizontal movement into vertical. One of the neat features of the component is that it has a few liftarms added to the center to weight it, sort of like a fishing reel. This makes the operation smoother. Unfortunately, the set does not come with a motor, so unless you have one, it’s up to good old manual labor. It’s not hard to crank and runs fairly smoothly. The only downside is the slightest jerk, which translates to bigger movement at the top of the structure. This in turn can lead to that separation over time I mentioned before.
But if you do have a motor, it’s much smoother sailing! It’s also extremely easy to add. There is already a spot to place both your motor and battery box. The set box advertises adding Powered Up, but in this case I use a Power Functions medium motor and basic battery box.
We’re down to the finishing touches with the station. The base is straightforward, but the best part is certainly the curved roof. Here we get five more pieces of track! Gray tiles with clips are added to give the roof a shingled appearance. The gray is fine, but it may have looked better with any of the other primary colors from the set. Inside the station are screens featuring pictures from the ride.
A final piece of mechanism is the car stopper. It simple, yet brilliant. When the elevator comes down it pushes on the stopper and allows the cars to slide on. But if the cars get to the station first, a rubber band holds the stopper up to block the path.
The completed model
And with that we’re done! The finished model is both massive and beautiful. It may be a difficult set to display within your home, but it’s certainly impressive. Overall, it’s a triumph from every angle. But we can’t cover this coaster without giving you the full experience! Let’s take tour of the ride in action from start to finish.
First up, here’s a good look at the cars arriving at the elevator. I’m not sure what’s more terrifying: the slow climb of a typical roller coaster, or the fast vertical shot to the top. I do have one concern about this bottom part though. The elevator drops back to the bottom pretty hard. Sometimes it even bounces a little bit and there’s an audible “clunk”. Again, it seems like over time this could work things apart or cause damage to the parts themselves.
There’s no lollygagging around at the top. The cars are quickly passed along with just enough time before the catch passes and the elevator drops back to the bottom.
Then there’s the vertical drop that will make you lose your lunch. Here you can also see a little bit of that bounce from the counterweight.
The cars come into the first loop at incredible speed. This is at 75% of real time. I tried to slow this down more but I don’t have the equipment or software to do so without it being an unrecognizable blob.
While there’s a small wobble, the large loop is actually quite stable. This thing could go all day, and perhaps it’s the tiniest give that allows it to do so.
A lot happens right at the end. Whiplash is a real danger. But don’t you love how things flow so nicely? It’s almost like they designed the new parts and layout to keep the timing and momentum just perfect! (Of course they did.)
Here’s a slightly slower look from the front this time.
And here’s a closeup of that feeder. It sort of shows how the cars naturally slow down just enough to match the speed of the feeder. No binding or jerking thanks to the way the mechanism is designed. No falling short. Just a natural return.
It would be nice if the major slowdown was right at the station, but that’s a nitpick. This thing truly is impressive and totally mesmerizing to watch. I’ve stared at it countless times for this review and it never gets old.
As mentioned at the beginning, and like the last coaster, this set includes 11 minifigures: 3 vendors, the operator, and 7 patrons. (There’s also a squirrel to play out all those squirrel antics.) Let’s introduce them, starting with the vendors.
The hotdog stand, shaped like one, is adorable. The fig, on the other hand, is probably the least exciting of the set. His head (new this year) is nice though, with a sweaty brow. Slaving over that grill must be toasty!
The pretzel cart is cute as well. My only complaint would be that the pretzels slide around and fall off their stick very easily. They prefer to stack in line, which is not as visually appealing as spreading out. As for the vendor, she too has a nice head. The magnification of her eyes behind the glasses is fun. Also, the ponytail hat is always a welcome addition to the collection.
The most colorful of the bunch is the balloon cart and vendor. This is the perfect occasion for including the balloon dogs, which first showed up in the 2018 CMF series 18 with the Party Clown. The design of the cart/bike itself has been in other sets, most recently the Downtown Noodle Shop. Our balloon vendor is a happy fellow, sporting a great multicolored party shirt covered in hats, balloons, and cupcakes. This torso was last seen in a tiny birthday set from 2020.
A couple of my favorite minifigures are up next. Of particular interest are the excellent head on the guy (which has only been in a couple city sets) and the torso on the woman that features a great scarf and backpack (which has also only been in a couple city sets.) Both of their hair are pretty awesome parts too.
The only child in the kit sports a jacket that has only ever been in one other set: Ninjago City Gardens. He has a dual-sided face featuring a frown because he’s not having a great day. He’s too small to go on the ride, and he lost his balloon. His apparent guardian also sports a dual sided head. It’s a nice one, and perfect for a coaster set, though it’s relatively common.
Next is a couple of colorful individuals. Well, their hair, at least. The tousled dark azure hair was introduced in this color this year with two Friends sets. The spiky red hair has been seen in one other set: 40516 Everyone is Awesome. The torsos are also new this year. Both characters have dual sided heads, and I’m a huge fan of the freckled winking face, though it’s very common.
Finally, we have our last patron and the operator. You can never have too many torsos with the LEGO logo on them! And this one was also in the last roller coaster. The torso on the other fig is cool too, and has only been in a small handful of sets. His head, with its awesome sideburns, has only been in a couple sets, while her head features the newer hearing aid, also in a handful of sets.
Conclusions and recommendations
So, by this time you’ve probably picked up on my excitement for this set. Other than the few fallbacks I’ve mentioned along the way, it truly is an impressive piece. The pros far outweigh the cons. Simply for the fun-factor, I would give it two thumbs up. The build experience is never boring, yet it’s a good one to settle into. For some, it actually might be a quick build, which means more time for simply ogling at it. Experienced young builders could tackle it, but this really is a set intended for adults. That’s not to say that it’s overly challenging, it’s just got a grown-up vibe to it.
Now, price is another thing. I suppose the price-per-piece is fair, but $400 is nothing to sneeze at. It makes a cool display, but it’s so massive that it will be impractical for most people. On top of that, you’ll have to provide or fork out more money for motorization, because who wants to sit there and crank it all day? The folks who will really get the most out of this set are the ones with room and the means to motorize it, who also plan to take it apart and remodel it into new layouts. In that regard, there are loads of possibilities.
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with a copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.