Lego 10233 Horizon Express
Lego's newest adult fan-oriented train is the Horizon Express. Based off the French TGV (most notably the 1980s orange livery), it's a high-speed passenger train. The TGV has a distinctive sloped nose and end-to-end symmetry, so Lego designed this set for AFOLs to buy a pair and put them back to back. The set comes as a stand alone train, but includes instructions for motorization and works fine on all Lego tracks. Even if you only plan to display it, I'd recommend getting some straight track lengths to put it on.
When this set was announced online, the train fans immediately began poring over the images, looking for any details of interest. A few things quickly became topics of discussion: The SNOT arrows on the sides of the locomotive (ok, so technically they call it a "power car," but I'm sticking with locomotive throughout this review since that's what most people would call it), the windows, some new parts like the pneumatic connector being used in the pantographs, new colors - lots of orange - and the few stickers and printed parts. Lego generously provided this prerelease set to Eurobricks for reviewing, and EB generously provided it to me for this writeup. Enjoy!
Name: Horizon Express
Set Number: 10233
Price: US $129.99 CA $149.99 DE 99.99€ UK 79.99 £ DK 899.00 DKK
Theme: Expert Creator
Year of Release: 2013
Links: Bricklink Peeron Brickset
Fly down the track in the Horizon Express! Collect this highly detailed LEGO® interpretation of a modern, high-speed electric passenger train! The detailed body features black train windows, brick-built chevron detailing, extendable pantographs, printed windscreen and brick-built doors. Remove the roof to play inside 2 detailed passenger cars! Steer from the front engine car with, a control panel and brick-built electrical box! Then take to the tracks in luxury with the first-class car’s seats, luggage, newspapers, computer screen and even a bathroom with sliding door! The rear car features a bar with hinged counter, tables for the passengers with seats, a coffee machine, cups and bottles. For the ultimate high-speed experience, attach a second Horizon Express model, or motorize it by adding LEGO Power Functions! Hard-to-find elements include orange LEGO bricks (including 6x28 chassis plate) and printed tiles. Includes 6 minifigures: train engineer, train steward, and 4 passengers.
•Includes 6 minifigures: female train engineer, male train steward, 2 female passengers and 2 male passengers
•Features 3 train cars, detailed engine room, printed windscreen, black train windows, brick-built chevron detailing, extendable pantographs, seats, a bathroom with sliding door, bar with hinged counter and tables with seats
•Accessories include luggage, newspapers, computer screen, coffee machine, cups and bottles
•Discover sideways building techniques!
•Ride the rails in high-speed LEGO® style!
•Upgrade your model by adding LEGO Power Functions 8878 Rechargeable Battery Box, 8887 Transformer 10V DC, 8884 IR Receiver, 8879 IR Speed Remote Control, 88002 Train Motor and 8870 Lights
•Train measures 31" (79cm) long
The Box by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
I came home from work to find this - a white box all the way from Denmark. With a Lego address label...
Opening the Box
Inside the Box by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Inside, some genuine European bubble wrap. I wonder if it's different than American bubble wrap. Metric dimensions? Different smelling air? Do the bubbles sound different when you pop them, sorta like how European police sirens are different than our American ones? Oh, wait. No one cares about the bubble wrap. There's also a Lego Horizon Express set in there. Better get that out fast and get reviewing!
The Box, Front
The Box, Front by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The front of the box has a nice action shot of the train. Note that there's not really track its running on - don't want to possibly confuse people into thinking track is included. Being a European box, it's a bit plainer than our American versions, but it's got nice insets of the dimensions and minifigs. It's also marked "Expert" - apparently Lego is now highlighting the larger, AFOL-oriented sets this way within the Creator line.
The Box, Top
The Box, Top by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Like other Creator sets, an inventory of parts is on top of the box. Unlike most, it's crammed full of tiny parts since there's so many in this large set. I love that the 1:1 size indicator is the SNOT built arrow graphic from the side of the locomotive - it's a part the fans have been discussing since the set was first revealed, so Lego is obviously thinking about the target market clearly with this set. This one's for the fans.
The Box, Back
The Box, Back by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Unlike the front, the back of the box is crowded and busy. Lots of action shots dominate - opening up to show the interiors down the left, the big station shot at the bottom, and details of the car furnishings at the top. The middle has plugs for the expandability of the set. Two can be run back to back to make a longer, more accurate looking train, and you can pick up PowerFunctions parts to electrify the set.
The Box, Bottom
The Box, Bottom by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
On the bottom are the mandatory production location listing (Denmark, Hungary, Mexico, Germany, China, and Czech Republic in this case) and choking warnings. There's also though a neat shot of the train with the roof off, so buyers can see inside. Nice way to fill the space with a new image.
The Contents by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Lots of bags here - numbered 1 through 3 (since there's 3 cars, I bet I know how they're divided...), the three train baseplates, a bag with the magnetic couplings and tubing, and the manuals and sticker sheet, nicely protected with cardboard so they are pristine. Much appreciated, Lego!
The Stickers by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Like the Emerald Night, the set includes extra stickers. The manual only has you apply the two decorative stickers, the #14 stickers to the locomotive, and the #1 and #2 stickers to the cars. If you got a second set, you could make that have locomotive #10 and number additional cars all the way through 9. That'd be a long train, but I'm sure it won't be long before a LUG somewhere is showing one off.
The Manuals, Backs by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
There are three manuals, one for each car. The fronts are all the same image from the front of the box. The backs have some new (at least I don't recall seeing them before) images - no more "WIN!" kid!
The Manuals, Page 1
The Manuals, Page 1 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The first manual starts with more new graphics - instead of the old pictographs telling you not to work on carpet and not to dump them all together, now we get a minifig kid building one group at a time. There's also a very nice set of photos on how to use the brick separator - I'm sure lots of people didn't realize how useful and flexible it is, so this is a great educational tool. There's also a text and QR code reference to lego.com/brickseparator for more information.
The Manuals by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The instructions themselves are plain but clear. There's no extraneous graphics, just clear instructions. I had no trouble at any point in the build knowing what to add - helped of course by the rarity of grey parts, but still, it's a nicely made manual. With all the black in the set, the new outlines on black parts help a lot as well.
The Special Parts
The Special Parts by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Lucy the engineer here will show us some of the special parts in the set. There's the brick separator - despite the image in the manual, it's NOT ORANGE! That's nice, since practically the entire rest of the set IS. There's some train slope parts in orange and black, the decorative train wheel sides, a printed windshield (new print, as far as I can tell), the pneumatic connector in dark bluish grey (new color), a couple printed tiles (unique to this set) and a few of the new and rare 2x2 inverted tiles.
Building the Locomotive, 1
Building the Locomotive, 1 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Time to start building. The locomotive begins with a train base and a rim of bricks. There are the mandatory parts that make no sense yet (the blue handles) and some grills and jumper plates at the front that will come in useful later.
Building the Locomotive, 2
Building the Locomotive, 2 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
At the rear of the locomotive is this interesting part. I assume it's supposed to be some electrical equipment (it's right below where the pantographs will eventually be), but you can see how the bars on it are used to hold the end of the snot arrows.
Building the Locomotive, 3
Building the Locomotive, 3 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Here's details of how those arrows are made. It's just cheese slopes on 1x1 plates with clips, and then all attached to the bars. It's simple and ingenious, and it's a technique that many people will never have seen before.
Building the Locomotive, 4
Building the Locomotive, 4 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The nose of the locomotive is built separately. There's a number of different snot attachments used, clear headlight bricks that are *actually used as headlights!!!*, and a seat and control panel for the engineer. There's also the usual interesting part usage, such as the black grills that will never be seen and could easily have been any other 1x2 part.
Building the Locomotive, 5
Building the Locomotive, 5 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The nose is coming together now - two of the orange wedge pieces stack up, and orange and while tiles and curves are added to the snot connections to make the lower sides.
Building the Locomotive, 6
Building the Locomotive, 6 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The nose attaches to the body of the locomotive by the grey plate under the driver's seat. Other parts of the body have been added as well - lots of grill bricks, some recessed handles (using those jumper plates in the beginning), and the printed tiles via more SNOT work. The tiles do make a nice transition between the orange and black, but the printing could be better. The white and orange ink aren't opaque enough, so they show the black through. It would have been better to use a white tile and print the orange and black on it, or use heavier printing of the white and orange on the black tile. Plus, this is such a specific part. The train would look strange without it since it's designed for it, but I can't see using it anywhere else.
Building the Locomotive, 7
Building the Locomotive, 7 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
A row of orange adds another stripe to the sides, and you can see here all the interior space left available for eventual motorization of the set.
Building the Locomotive, 8
Building the Locomotive, 8 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Ok, what on earth is this? Random parts joined together, with pins holding the brown bottom and the grey/orange top together... this is one of those moments where you are following directions without having a clue what it'll turn out being. I love those parts of building...
Building the Locomotive, 9
Building the Locomotive, 9 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
It's a transformer! Well, sorta. Twist the orange parts around, thanks to the pin connections, and now you have some unique angles that will look great under the locomotive.
Building the Locomotive, 10
Building the Locomotive, 10 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Bogey time. Anyone who's built other Lego trains will find these pretty normal. I love though how they build two with very different methods yet they look so similar. The left bogey uses the special train wheel holders, metal axles, and wheels, and then adds some black minifig heads and other parts as decoration. The right bogey uses technic beams as a frame, wheels on technic axles, and then the decorative side pieces.
Building the Locomotive, 11
Building the Locomotive, 11 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
If you're familiar with the TGV or other high speed trains, you know they have interesting air splitters under the front end for aerodynamics. So let's make that here - note the dark tan rails inside the orange wedge. Those will be useful in a second.
Building the Locomotive, 12
Building the Locomotive, 12 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
With the loco upside down, we can add the splitter. The orange wedge slides into the bricks with grooves, making a nice upside down slope.
Building the Locomotive, 13
Building the Locomotive, 13 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The grey portion attaches to the few stud holes left visible in the previous photo, and a couple orange tiles brace it all together.
Building the Locomotive, 14
Building the Locomotive, 14 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Since the set doesn't include electronics, Lego fills in the interior with some decorations, much like they did with the Maersk train. There's a block of random pieces that looks strangely similar to the PF receiver, a unit that I suppose is supposed to be some electrical or motor equipment, and of course, the very nice pantographs using the pneumatic connectors as joints. They work great here.
Building the Locomotive, Finished
Building the Locomotive, Finished by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The complete locomotive. You can clearly see here how the printed tile doesn't quite match in color, but also how nice the rest of the unit is. There's a TON of black cheese graters on the roof. The stripes just look great, and the snot arrows nicely break up the large black expanse.
Building the Locomotive, A Flaw
Building the Locomotive, a flaw by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
This, however, bugs me. There's no roof under the pantograph, so you can see all the way to the floor under it.
Building the First Car, 1
Building the First Car, 1 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The first car begins with a baseplate and assorted parts down one side. Some things are pretty obvious if you've build Lego trains before - the long grey plate will have some chairs on it later I'm sure, but other parts I don't yet know about - like the weird snot section at the left, or the grey neck bracket.
Building the First Car, 2
Building the First Car, 2 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Now it's coming together. Chairs and racks for luggage are filling in the space, there's a computer screen, and there's long black tiles down both sides.
Building the First Car, 3
Building the First Car, 3 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Time for the windows. The fans immediately jumped all over the window design as soon as photos got on the internet. These are tall windows laid on their side, so there's some fiddly snot work to make it happen. This section of the build uses a lot of small parts - headlight bricks, 1x1 plates, 1x1 tiles, etc - to hold it together.
Building the First Car, 4
Building the First Car, 4 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
A row of windows goes down each side of the car and white and orange stripes are added. It's still very flimsy at this point though - only a few studs hold each side together. There's also nice brick-built doors at the end where you can add the number stickers to the window.
Building the First Car, 5
Building the First Car, 5 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
This unit will go under the car to fill in between the wheels. Like on the locomotive, pins are used to make otherwise-impossible angles, and there's a pair of 2x2 orange tiles that will fill in the holes in the train baseplate from underneath. I found it interesting though that Lego used the silver 1x1 round plates. You can't see them and they're not used anywhere else in the build. Why not save a few pennies and use 1x1 square plates or even round ones in another color? Heck, I'll probably replace them on mine and have some flat silver 1x1s to use in something else.
Building the First Car, 6
Building the First Car, 6 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Two more bogeys. The left is a very common Lego design, used on lots of other trains over the years. The right one is different. It's a Jacobs bogey and goes between two cars so they share it, hence the pins on the ends rather than one in the middle.
Building the First Car, 7
Building the First Car, 7 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The roof. Lots of black. I actually like the couple spots where cheese wedge and a tile break up the smooth curve. There's also some tubing running the length of the roof to mimic the power cable on the roof of the real TGV.
Building the First Car, 8
Building the First Car, 8 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
A look inside the car. That strange bunch of snot work at the very beginning turned out to be a bathroom, complete with sliding door. However, as a train car, it's pretty cramped. You can't actually get a fig past the bathroom and there's studs sticking into the aisle (some snot plates were used just to stick up and keep the long window section from being pushed inside the car when you handle it). But just stick the roof on and car 1 is done.
Building the Second Car, 1
Building the Second Car, 1 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Car 2 starts similar to number 1, but obviously the interior will be different. Big thumbs up to Lego for having the cars be unique. My wife saw this and immediately guessed the white overhangs will be tables (she's right).
Building the Second Car, 2
Building the Second Car, 2 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
This is obviously the eating car. Seats with tables, the coffee maker, and a bar at the end. Yep, a bar. But it's Lego, so I assume they're serving fancy bottled water and maybe some sparkling juice. The rest of this car is built like the first - windows, then roof - so now we'll jump ahead.
The Finished Train
The Finished Train by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
I love how the train flows. The stripes run the length just like they should, making it look like a complete train rather than a random assortment of cars like freight trains do. To nitpick though, I don't like how the hump at the start of the first car sticks up higher than the locomotive. I think that should be flush, but they had to cheat a little on the back of the locomotive to make the pantograph the way they wanted to. [edit: comments have pointed out that the real TGV is like this - Lego modeled it accurately. It's just not how I would have done it.] Also, the windows are too low - if you have figs seated inside, the windows are below their heads. They'd have to crawl to see outside. They look good from the outside though; it's just Lego proportions being off a bit. The limitations of Lego also mean there's more gap between the cars than there should be and the whole thing is too short, but it's still nice. I've seen some interesting work happening in the EB Train forum though on spring-loaded bogeys to fix this passenger train issue (basically, the cars can be closer together while in straight track, but then spread apart a little to negotiate curves) and I'd love to see Lego do something like that. I think it takes up space inside the car though, and they want the playability more. The length would definitely be helped by adding a second set to extend it. Sadly, there's not parts provided to make the Jacobs bogey in the middle. The official pic on the back of the box shows the double train using two bogeys in the middle. I'm sure anyone buying two sets to make a longer train will modify the middle to have the Jacobs bogey again there.
Opening the Finished Train
Opening the Finished Train by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The Horizon Express opens nicely for play. I especially like that the top of the walls on the passenger cars come off with the roof, making the interior easier to access.
The Minifigs by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Here's the six figs that come with the train. It's a nice assortment: and engineer (female), a steward (male) and four passengers. I'm not a minifig expert, so I'm not sure what's new and old about these figs, but they're all nice.
The Minifigs by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Most have back printing, but there's no second face on any of them. I appreciate though having 6 different hairpieces though.
Power Functions, 1
Power Functions, 1 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The third book of the instructions includes step-by-step instructions for powering the train, assuming you have all the needed electical parts. First, a bunch of the loco comes apart.
Power Functions, 2
Power Functions, 2 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
Here's what you need to power it - a speed remote control, an IR receiver, a battery box (I'm using the 6 AAA battery box, but Lego recommends the rechargeable battery box and transformer), PF lights (if you want headlights), and a train motor. Pricey if you don't already have them, although using the AAA battery box over the rechargeable one saves $50 or so.
Power Functions, 3
Power Functions, 3 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
First the decorative sides are put onto the train motor.
Power Functions, 4
Power Functions, 4 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The PF lights stick into the trans clear headlight bricks and the wires run on each side of the engineer. Finally the reason for those blue handles in the very beginning is revealed - they make it MUCH easier to mount the center brick of the lights to the base of the train without disassembling more of the walls.
Power Functions, 5
Power Functions, 5 by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The IR receiver and battery box mount in the space freed up by removing the other parts. This is a perfect snug fit. According to the manual, you're supposed to put the lights and motor on separate channels of the receiver so you can control them independently. Since I have multiple trains, I didn't want to use up two channels like that, so I stacked them on the receiver. At first I had the lights as the top plug, and then the battery box wouldn't fit. It's so precise in there that raising the light plug 2 plates made the cord block the battery box. I reversed the plugs (since there's plenty of extra wire coming from the motor) and it worked fine. For people who want to run dual motors, it might be tricky. You need a switch to reverse the second motor, and there's not much room for that. I don't know if a switch would fit behind the driver. Stacking a third plug on the receiver also might hit the pantograph.
The Trio by mostlytechnic, on Flickr
The three recent AFOL trains - Emerald Night, Maersk, and Horizon Express. Steam, diesel freight, and electric passenger. Very different in every way, but all well-recreated in Lego.
Comparison to the Real Thing
Wow, Lego nailed it. They replaced the TGV logo at the back with their arrows since this isn't officially a TGV. Otherwise, look how much it matches. The sticker on the nose. The grey chin. Even the little windows on the side of the driver, that they used the backs of headlight bricks to make. The cheese graters on the roof, the grills on the side, the size of the stripes. About the only way to get closer in appearance would be to have a custom nose part molded (like some of the old trains did) but that wouldn't be nearly as cool as the brick-built version.
(click through to YouTube to see in 1080p) In the video you can see how nicely the train runs. I never got it up to full speed, since my straights aren't long enough to do it without crashing. I have no doubt the LUGs will soon have long versions of this train running on their high-speed layouts. You can also see how well it handles curves and switches, both in forward and reverse. The nose does overhang though, so make sure to leave room around your track.
If you're a train fan and like passenger trains, get this set. It's a great design and better than the 7938 Passenger Train. It's got the playability of the 7938, but looks better for the adult fan. The color scheme stands out and it'll look good either on a layout or as a static display model.
Value: 9/10 - It's more than the EN or Maersk cost, but there's also more parts. It has a lot of a less-common color, but not as fantastically usable as the EN's dark green or Maersk blue. Still, it's at the 10 cents a part sweet spot, has 6 figs, and all the train-specific parts, so the value is solid.
Design: 8/10 - The look is good, but personally, not as good as EN and Maersk. I think the HE suffers more from the shorter design, and there's some minor flaws IMHO (under the pantograph, the printed tiles, etc). It feels less detailed than the other two, but the real train is much sleeker and less "greebled" than a steam or diesel loco as well.
Playability: 8/10 - It's got nice playability, but I can't go higher since other train sets (3677, 7938, 7939) come completely with the Power Functions and track and accessories, the Maersk had containers and a truck, etc. However, this is targeted at a fan base that likely already has track and motors and stations, so I understand not including that.
Parts: 9/10 - A number of new or rare parts, LOTS of orange. Can't help but wonder what it'd have looked like in dark blue or dark red though... or the modern blue and silver livery. Can you imagine tons of flat silver bricks and parts :)
Overall: 8/10 - Part of this is simply bias - I'm not a big passenger train fan. Here in the US they're rare. Trains here are cargo and that's just visually more interesting I think. I appreciate what Lego did here, making a very different train from EN and Maersk, it's just not my cup of tea like those were (for the record, I own two of each of those - along with 7939 and 3677 cargo trains). For what it is, it's well done, attractive, and ripe for modding. I can already picture people making longer versions of this (longer individual cars that is) and running them on some of those high-speed layouts they have in European LUGs. It will look fantastic there. On my layout, not as much. Additionally, when I look at EN or Maersk, those are nearly flawless. The railings on Maersk annoy me since they get out of shape so easily, and EN has a cord from the tender to the locomotive if you power it, but those are minor. The printed tile and hole under the pantograph here bug me more. Still, it's a solid train and I have no doubt it'll appeal to tons of fans. Just be ready to buy 2 of them, because you know you'll want a second.