Reports of odd occurrences anywhere near the Miskatonic University aren’t anything new, that stuff happens all the time. Even stories of phantom trains blasting their whistles near dorms, sending students into the cold evening air in their night shifts, aren’t uncommon. But the stories are turning into something more ominous. First a farmer’s field was completely torn apart by what could only have been done by an unseen enormous plow, now an entire block of Pickman Street has been utterly demolished with two evenly spaced ruts running directly through buildings and tearing up the street tarmac. But it all culminates tonight with the alarm that an actual green, glowing train has been spotted at the edge of Hangman’s Hill. With that the MF team (gee, maybe they ought to pick a more family-friendly acronym) jumps into action and it’s an opportunity to try out the professor’s new ecto-plasma-vaccu-mizer plane. Barb and Elvis Aaron are the only ones available but they’ll be plenty to take on the latest uprising of paranormal activity in the not-usually quiet town of Arkham!
The 9647 Ghost Train is comprised of a locomotive, three ‘train’ cars and an open cockpit monoplane.
The plane is a well done, larger than previous bi-plane models (such as the 6615 Eagle Stunt Flyer or the more recent 7307 Flying Mummy Attack plane) but it still fits in well with those models and the larger size is easily rationalized as will be explained. The cockpit is open and fits one minifigure. The craft’s basic colors are dark red and dark grey (reminiscent of the Pharaoh’s Quest vehicles). Each wing features two flick missiles (yawn) but the most prominent aspect of the plane and reason for it’s larger-than-usual size is the apparatus behind the cockpit: A large wooden barrel is mounted just before the tail fin with rubber hoses that lead to each wing. The tubes on the end of each wing then feed into what looks like a small compressor/drum ending in a gold horn/orifice. It looks like the horns could either spew stuff (like the 7786 Scarecrow plane) or suck stuff up to go into the barrel (kind of like a ghost-busters device). The concept is executed fairly well. One final feature of the plane that falls just a bit flat is a chain that snaps onto the fuselage of the plane to allow one of the figs to hang there while the plane is in flight (probably could have been carried out better but I’m not sure how). Details throughout the plane are well thought-out such as using pistols for exhaust pipes on the engine (press these all the way in when assembling or they’ll come loose).
The train locomotive model is also fairly well done, decked out in main colors of black with white (bone) highlights. What probably ought to be handrails on each side of the engine are twisted thorny bone-barb rails that lend a good air of menace to the model. A ghostly, evil, grinning face adorns the front of the train with a ghostly plume of green smoke/flame coming out of the smoke stack (this is a cool trans-green element that has just a sliver of glowing plastic running through the core of the element). The blue ‘ghost crystal’ sits atop the engineer booth. Other nice details on the train include a stationary bell just in front of the engineer cab and a hinged furnace door within the cab (opening to show a bit of the furnace flame). It should be noted that the locomotive does not use a standard train baseplate but the forward and rear wheel bogey assemblies do mount on pins so the engine could probably be pushed along standard rails without problems.
Right up to the completion of the locomotive there is no obvious waste of additional (throwaway 1x1) parts to enhance the part count for the whole set, each bit and small assembly or addition of 1x1 parts adds to the flavor of the model.
Unfortunately after finishing the locomotive the economical use of small parts is thrown right out the window and the quality of the remaining models for the set basically goes down hill. Two lame open-air single-passenger cars are reminiscent of funhouse mini-cars (with wings that go up and down as the cars are pulled forward--whee!). A third train car depicts a rolling prison cell complete with cell doors made of bone elements but there isn’t really any inspiration here. Where the locomotive sported standard train wheels, the three last cars feature rubber wheels.
Each of the last three cars are overly decorated with small parts to raise the part count for what was already starting out as a great set. In my opinion, instead of three extra cars we could have been provided with a nice, creepy ‘soul’ (coal) car, or at the very least the prison cell car could have been built up to fit in with the locomotive ‘twisted’ handrail motif. (If we were going for a more mature/grindhouse model, I’d suggest that the cell doors look more like a ribcage.) As it ends up, the three cars are a waste of piece-count with not many usable parts (plates, slopes) that would have really helped toward making a beefed up alternate locomotive model (which I may still attempt).
Figures in the set do add to buyability. The two fighter figures (Elvis and Pebbles Flintstone) have great face, torso and leg prints (such as Pebbles’ scar on the cheek, corset and garlic cloves hanging on her belt) plus the addition of three of the new ghost figures has gotta set a record for the most ghosts in a set. Modifications to the ghosts over previous versions include gloomy faces, legs and the peaked ‘hoods’. Accessories in the set include pistols, spears and a crossbow (don’t mess with the scarface chick!).
While there are a minimum of usable basic plates and bricks in this set, it ought to be noted that there are twenty (count ‘em 20!) 2x2 quarter circles (rounded corners) taking the place of five 4x4x1 circle/cylinder elements. Also, I have to say that the set came with a nice piece of cardboard to keep the instructions from rolling up in the box (thank you, Lego!).
Final note: As I was building the plane and locomotive models I found myself getting very excited to buy more Monster Fighter models, and I think I’d still like to pick up at least a couple more but the price on this set is gonna be a deal-killer for frugal shoppers. I lucked out and found it at $65 which is probably a good deal for a set with over 700 pieces, but choose wisely before you decide to pick it up yourself (I’m seeing more and more stores drop their prices) and be mindful that in this reviewer’s opinion, the combination of models is lacking in consistent quality.
Rating: Five out of eight studs.
Thumbs up for: The theme itself (who doesn’t love monsters?) and an interesting idea for a haunted locomotive (that could probably still be improved upon). Also the figures are pretty cool.
Thumbs down for: Dropping the ball after giving us two decent models. Either drop the piece count and give us a cheaper set, or keep the quality consistent and QUIT FILLING SETS WITH THROWAWAY 1x1 parts!
Wallet-Wise: About $80 USD for 741 parts. Shop wisely and get it at a cheaper price!
Edited by gonzilla, 14 October 2012 - 03:42 PM.