*Yawn* How tedious... another run of Police sets. I confess to being deeply underwhelmed by the news that the latest additions to the CITY range would not only be yet more police sets, but also straight remakes of previous releases. However, on closer inspection, I noticed a number of features which looked like improvements over the previous renditions, coupled with a spattering of new parts to add appeal to collectors, so I thought they might deserve a closer look.
Here I review a set which is ostensibly the same as an earlier 2005 release; I'll take a good look around the model then compare it to its ancestor to see what LEGO has done to improve it.
Review: 7286 Prisoner Transport
Name: Prisoner Transport
Theme: CITY (Police)
Price: GB £13.99 | US $19.99 | EUR 15.99 - 16.99 | CA $24.99 | AU $29.99 | DK K149.95
Stop the robber escaping on the motorcycle using the roadblock! Chase him down if he tries to escape on foot. Once the police officer catches the robber, it’s time to put him in the back of the van and drive him to jail!
- Includes 2 minifigures: police officer and robber
- Features include motorcycle, road block, money sack and money brick
- Open the back doors to put the robber inside!
- Transporter measures 5” (12cm) long and 2” (5cm) tall.
Links ... Shop@Home ... Brickset ... Bricklink ... Peeron (not yet inventoried) ... EB Set Index 7286
Click for a high-resolution image
The general format of the CITY range boxes hasn't changed in years: a blue surround partially frames the set against a cartoon silhouette of a city backdrop. Here, we see the good policeman has abandoned his vehicle in order to give chase to the grinning felon, who has decided to run into the blue surround. I like the consistency in the box design, though it is getting a bit long in the tooth, and I wonder whether it's time for something fresh.
Click for a high-resolution image
Again, there is consistency in the CITY line. Several panels show off the various features; the largest on the left details the modular construction now commonplace in these sets. This time, a smirking cops says, 'Hey!' - I could live without that. Note the centre panel: the captured miscreant grins behind the bars of the van. As we shall see, this is difficult to recreate due to the design of the rear section.
Click for a high-resolution image
The top panel has the usual minifig display, and gives us an idea of the size of the box. There are only two figures, so the empty space is filled with the accessory box. The criminal seems happy to stand by unrestrained while the cop shows off his tools.
The box opens with thumb tabs, revealing a single manual, a small sticker sheet, a reasonable quantity of Billund Air (breathe deeply), and two polybags:
They are numbered for modular construction, although there isn't really an intuitive place to halt the build: there's just a similar quantity of pieces in each bag.
The single manual came out of the box reasonably uncrumpled:
It's the same scene as the front of the box, although the fence part has mysteriously disappeared, along with the tower from the city scene. The Photoshopping here isn't the best: you ought to able to see some of the background through the cab, but all we see is a white space.
The steps are clear:
No piece callouts are included, or needed. Black and dark bluish grey are differentiated with ease.
Toward the back of the manual is a single inventory page ...
Click for a high-resolution image
... and several pages at the back are occupied by a multi-pane cartoon, apparently designed by a fan using the cartoon designer on the Lego website. It describes the apprehension of the felon, but noteworthy is this final picture:
There's something disturbing about this pane, looking at the expressions on their faces. Get the cuffs on, luv, you've pulled!
Decal Sticker Sheet
The expected sticker sheet has the usual 'POLICE' logos; the two longer stickers are meant to be placed on the fence piece.
I was a little disappointed not to have a choice of 'Polizei' here: I'd be interested to hear from members in other countries who have this set, to see if they have sticker logos in the local lingo.
Bag 1 contains the minifigs, accessories, the fence piece, and the first half of the van:
New to the 2011 CITY range is the 6x3x2 blue windscreen, currently unique to this set, but I'm sure that'll change. I'm looking forward to seeing it in trans-black! Note that this model is built upon the 6x16 vehicle base; as we shall see, it would be possible to build this set using 'simple' plates, but I guess it saves money to do it this way.
Bag 2 builds the second half of the van, and the motorbike:
Other pieces of interest include the crate, appearing for the first time here in yellow; the black lightsaber hilt (not so rare, but new for me); and the new minifigure sack:
On the right are four new 4x1 semi-tiled plates, which are used to allow easier removal of the roof. The coloured pieces are shown here just to make the semi-tiles easier to photograph.
Unsurprisingly, the set features a cop and a robber. The latter is the usual hirsute, grinning, gold-toothed villain, although why he's already wearing prisoner garb when this set is about his capture is uncertain. Maybe he broke out of prison then immediately went on a crime spree?
The cop has a strangely benign expression. Not like any policemen I've had dealings with! He wears the usual police officer torso, replete with 'Brick Sheriff' badge.
The backs are entirely unadorned:
I'd like to have seen the stripes on the prisoner torso continue round the back, but there you go.
The build starts with a few plates on the underside of the vehicle base, which is then built up from on top. The recess is filled in: hence it would be possible to recreate the base with two 4x8 plates, a 6x6 plate, and two 6x1 plates.
The SNOT front is built around last year's modified 2x6 SNOT plate, providing extra strength here. After that it's brick on brick. You'll note that although the cab is quite roomy, the chair sits between the wheel arch pieces, forcing the driver to sit in the centre.
Now we move onto bag 2. The centre section of the van has shutter doors on both sides, and will contain the accessory box, in a manner similar to the 7239 Fire Truck.
The rear segment is therefore a little shorter than the previous incarnation, but this time the prisoner is at least given a chair. You can see how the 4x1 semi-tiles are employed to allow easy roof-removal.
The roof has two sections: One for the cab and one for the rear.
There's a rear entry spotlight, and a swivelling one on the roof, for those night pursuits.
The motorbike is identical to the one in the 5626 Coast Guard Bike.
The accessory box contains a pair of handcuffs, megaphone, radio, sonic screwdriver (torch) and a paddle with a blue light, the purpose of which is uncertain, but apparently it is a Police requirement to have one.
The Complete Set
Let's start with a good look around the van.
From here, I think she's pretty good-looking. A little square at the top, maybe, and Lego still hasn't solved the problem of the square front over the angled SNOT grille and headlights.
From the side, we can see the effect of the new windscreen:
The new screen has a gentler slope, which matches that of the roof pieces, giving a uniform, streamlined look to the front. Nice! Again, the rear looks a little blocky, but that's necessary to allow a low step for prisoner ingress.
From the front, she looks a little plain. This would undoubtedly be improved by stickers. The greatest incongruity is the centrally placed steering wheel.
The rear is also plain, and rather square. I like the use of red plates/tiles to simulate brake lights.
The roof is unremarkable. Two strips of blue lights frame the rotating spotlight; binocular pieces on the cab roof simulate sirens/loudhailers.
The underside shows the simple mechanism for attaching the wheels:
The red plates are inexplicable, and probably aren't needed at all, let alone in such a colour.
Yay! Opening cab doors have returned for good.
The cop looks quite comfy in his spacious cab. There's even room for him to keep his mug. Tsk! Drinking and driving ...
In the rear, the naughty crim maintains his toothy grin, even shackled so uncomfortably. Perhaps even now he's planning his escape...
If the chair were removed, it might be possible to sit to villains seated face to face on the wheel arch pieces. They'd have to play tootsies, though.
Here's a view from top, with the roof off:
There's good ease of access to the cab and the rear sections, but getting the accessory box out requires you to open both shutter doors, and push it out with your finger.
Everything comes together:
There's a surprising amount to this set: An attractive van, with interesting play features; a wealth of accessories; the fence, and the motorbike. As such, it's a nice self-contained playset, and a number of different scenes can be fashioned.
Comparison to 7245
The previous incarnation of Prisoner Transport was 2005's 7245, on sale originally for £9.99 / $12.99. This was essentially the same concept, but simpler and without many of the play features (there should be a small rotating torch on the roof of the earlier version, which has mysteriously disappeared ... )
As you can see, the earlier van is smaller, and lacks the centre storage section; coming as it did from the first days of SNOT vehicle fronts, its grille/headlight arrangement is a little ugly. It also lacks wing mirrors and doors. You might spot a minor difference on the front: 7286 has two 1x2 slopes flanking a 4x2 slope; in 7245, there are 2 3x2 slopes. The new configuration allows the sticker to be placed onto a single brick, avoiding the problem of STAMPs. Nice touch.
The rear of 7245 has smaller doors, and an ugly rear step which, protuding 2 studs from the rear, must make reverse parking hazardous.
The doors are smaller, so the felon would have to duck to get in. Note also the difference in the design of the barred windows: 7245's are made from fence pieces, while the latest versions use half-ladders installed in window frames. These mean that the baddie could, in theory, push the bars out from the inside, so some suspension of disbelief is required (must... stop... living... in ... Lego... world)
Another side effect, is that the prisoner can no longer do this:
Not only can't he grip the bars in 7286, but the placement of the wheel arch pieces and chair makes it difficult to stand him facing the window at all.
Here's how the figures compare, 7286 on the left:
Aside from the colour of the hat, the villain is identical, down to his gold tooth. Both are prisoner 50380. It's a pity they didn't use 24601
The cop differs only in his facial expression:
If you ask me, the scowl on the face of the earlier cop is much more appropriate.
Putting both sets together yields the following scene:
7286 and its components are mostly on the left. There's a big gap on the right: 7245 really doesn't contain much but the van, the two figures, and a megaphone. The new version has much more in terms of accessories and play features, but does that justify the higher price?
The mischievous thief speeds by, unheeded by the good policeman, who enjoys a well-earned cuppa having already fulfilled his arrest quota for the month.
One of the most frequently heard moans among members of this forum is the frequency with which similar sets are redesigned. The January wave of 2011 CITY sets is dominated by rehashes of earlier sets; in this case the entire Police line is recreated, enhanced by some added features, new parts, and a corresponding price hike.
Is this a welcome update on an older set, or a merciless attempt to extort more money from LEGO's loyal fans?
Here, I'm inclined to the former. I could live without endless emergency services sets, but when you consider that these ranges are the bread and butter of the CITY line's range, with the most appeal to the target demographic, this set represents a very positive move. Firstly, it's a much more attractive design than the former, which by comparison is dull and boring; secondly, it has a wealth of features, and I suspect would provide a great deal more play opportunity than the modest price hike might suggest.
Indeed, when you consider the price, 7286 wins hands down: at 8.1 pence per piece it is significantly better value than 7245's 10.1; however, it is still poor value when you consider wonderful sets such as last years 3180 Tank Truck.
Design: 8/10 It's an attractive set with some decent features, though it doesn't really break any new ground.
Build: 7/10 A straight-forward process, aimed at the younger Lego fan; there isn't much to challenge the AFOL, but neither is it tedious or repetitive.
Playability: 9/10 This is 7286's star quality. There's a lot for the kids to do with this set, even if their collections are small; it's quite self-contained. In terms of features, it puts the earlier set to shame.
Figures: 5/10 In contrast, the figure selection is very weak. There's nothing really appealing here if you already own a criminal and a cop, and the choice of face on the cop is disappointing.
Parts: 8/10 A splash of new parts, and the existing pieces may be useful; I'm sure the motorbike will find a good home in your Town layout even if you're not fussed about the Police van.
Value: 8/10 As discussed, this represents good value when compared to some of the earlier sets, but there are still better deals around.
Overall: 75% My score: 8/10. Yes, it's a rehash. But it's a good rehash. My now redundant 7245 is going into the parts bin (or perhaps will become an ice cream van or similar!)
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! Please feed back on the set and the review.
My Brickshelf folder, with high-resolution pictures
Th Cobra's review of 7245
Cop: 'This 100 note I'm holding? It's not a bribe - it's forensic evidence. Let me put it in my pocket for safe-keeping.'
Edited by Zorbas, 13 February 2011 - 09:35 PM.