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Review: 6409 Arcade Island (Paradisa)

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#1 The Cobra

The Cobra

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 01:10 PM

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Roll of the dice, take a spin of the wheel - Out of your hands now, so how do you feel - But you’re not gonna win, you’d better go back again (Iron maiden - The angel and the gambler)

Here comes my second walk in Paradisa. I've been at the Sidewalk café, but there's another place where you can buy ice creams and have some fun. Welcome to the pink chairs battle pack Arcade island!

Set data:

6409: Island arcade
Year: 1993
Theme: Town
Subtheme: Paradisa
Pieces: 140 + 6 extras
Price: 21 USD (source: Peeron) Legopriceguide.com states a 97,50 USD as value for a MISB set.
Building time: less than 15 minutes
MISB on review: Yes
More info: Brickset - Peeron - Bricklink
Official description: N/A

Box front: a bit hurt, but that's no problem. Good overview of the set. The most interesting fact about the pic is that it's quite different from what you see in the first and last page of the instructions: the palm, the cupboard, flowers, chairs and small table in the bottom left corner, fridge and carousel. See these pics:
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Box rear: alternate models. On the left side, a girl carrying a cupboard instead of a pram and a photo shoot with odd tripod and an odder light umbrella; in the center, an horizontal wheel of fortune with chairs and tables on the side and an open air dancing (nice piano and congas, but is the 4x4 dish meant to be a bass drum?). On the right side, a happy family walking a pram and a close-up of the main model focusing on the gambling side.
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Box side: OK, THIS is what you build by using instructions and not placing items at random.
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Box inner: good to see there was some solid cardboard inside, otherwise it would have been hard for the pieces and papers to be safe inside a thin outer container.
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Box content - paper: the instructions booklet and a huge one-sided poster.
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Box content - building material: a 16x32 light green baseplate, three different sized bags and a small sticker sheet (found in the instructions booklet).
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Pieces: a lot of pink, some gray, obvious green leafs and brown palm trunk.
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Pieces: all the white ones, and that includes a few printed pieces (who doesn't love those ice cream come tiles?)
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Random instructions page: That's where you put the money. Nice seaside sunset background, with a view on not-so-far-away islands. Full instructions available here.
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Stickers: only three of them (and in perfect shape). Trouble is, they are to be put on two 2x2 tiles or three 1x2 bricks.
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Poster: A really nice theme overview, but not so nice to scan. Everyone's happy there, even the unhorsed girl. Please click the 4 thumbnails for a larger view.
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5 people and a parrot: Yes, 5 minifigs in such a small set. It seems like in Paradisa all girls like the same hair style (and most of them are into heavy make-up).
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Building: We start with the palm (good to have a trunk that can be curved) and the pram (it's REALLY hard to put a baby in there. I don't own any microfig yet, so I can't try it)
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Building: Step 6 of 14: the background's there, so is the place to put the ice-creams.
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Building: Step 11, we now have the cupboard, carousel, chairs and table too.
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Building: Close to complete, we only miss stickers and flowers.
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Building: And now everything's there and we're done.
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45° views: How does it look from the corners?
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Rear view and leftovers: Looking at it from behind, it surely looks far from great.
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Side by side(walk): My little corner of Paradisa.
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Lego is about building, playing and collecting. While there's not much to build here, there is plenty to play with. You can enjoy the wheel of fortune (and probably lose a lot of money; more on that later), have a seat with a friend for a drink, buy an ice cream, teach a parrot to talk, ride a carousel or carry your newborn in the pram. There's a lot about family too, with at least two minifigs per gender and a total of three females (that's a lot, we all know). It's not much of a deal that each girl has the same hair piece, look at the poster and see that EVERY girl in Paradisa has a ponytail. What about head pieces? That's basically the same; everyone in Paradisa has either shades, freckles, moustache or heavy make-up. But that was 1993, a long time ago, so the whole thing is fully understandable. Obviously no back printing on heads or torsos, but who cares? We have 4 different legs and 5 different torsos; while most of the minifigs parts are common amongst the theme sets, at least they are different within the set itself.

Back to building: I was really surprised (should I say "Shocked"?) when I saw that the set was built in three slightly different ways on the box and the first and last page of the instructions. But that's good, because it tells the 6 year old "you're not too forced, do as you like". Don't look for odd techniques, a turntable and a SNOT sign is what you'll find. But something's spinning, something's opening, there's a lot to do after the build. The two ice creams consist of two 1x1 tiles (red, yellow), but you could add some of the leftovers. You can stock 6 of them vertically (if you leave the fridge open) or 4 horizontally (and close the thing)

As for colors, that's probably the only con of this set. I know it's very female-oriented, but the whole thing (except for palm tree and parrot) looks pale to me. It's not so bad on other sets, but with such a few pieces it just doesn't look good to me.

The collector's point of view: it's not too big or tall, it's different than the usual (whether modern or vintage), it has plenty of figs and features and it was a steal! And for those who weren't there yet in non-Internet days: yes, most sets came with a full catalog or mini/maxi poster.

Overall: This is probably not the MISB set you want to spend 75 bucks on (I spent much less than that, within the luckiest LEGO find of my life) but something a lot of kids would like or have liked. I'm curious about the new Lego Friends theme, but I wonder if it is going to be so much better than Paradisa. Pale colors aside, this female-oriented theme was really good.


Color scheme: 3/5. I know white, pink and gray is what it's allabout, but this time I don't like the scheme that much.

Minifigs and accessories: 5/5. If it was a 2011 set, I would complain about head pieces and hair pieces. But with such an old set, I just can't.

Pieces: 4/5. Mostly because of the uniqueness / rarity of the printed pieces. And there are never enough palm trees, I say.

Playability: 5/5. This is a true playset, just as much as most every other one in the land of pink and white.

Design: 4/5. Simple and effective, appealing and inspiring.

Overall rating: 4,5/5. A bit short of outstanding, but absolutely good.

The final words: This is not a collector's item at first sight, it quickly becomes one as soon as you own it.

Extra: so, what about gambling?  click the Spoilers button, if you dare!


Edited by Rick, 05 September 2011 - 06:50 PM.

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#2 WhiteFang


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Posted 23 August 2011 - 09:42 AM

Yea! You are back with a Paradisa review.  :wub:

Thank you for bringing this classic review. I am always fond of this pinkish theme, where you can get something out of the typical boring red (fire), black (police), yellow (construction) themes.  :laugh:

Even though it may looks very simple in terms of its built, but the idea of having a fun playground is definitely there. Did I mention that the wheel itself, looks like the "Wheel of Fortune".  :tongue: And, I love your spoiler at the very last!

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#3 cimddwc


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Posted 23 August 2011 - 11:13 AM

Nice review – that I apparently missed when it was new; a few days before that, I happened to get this set (assembled, no box or instructions) on a flea market for 12€ since it may be useful for part of my planned beach/lake promenade. I agree that it looks too pale overall – and also that red flower contrasts too much.


If that's actually how the game works, I'm getting a dealer's license!
Don't all games work such that the dealer wins in the end? :)

#4 lightningtiger


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Posted 23 August 2011 - 11:44 AM

Thanks for the review 'The Cobra', yeah.....pink, lots of pink....in way too much - perhaps another two pastel colours might make it look better. But it is cute, goodness is this the kind of thing the 2012 'Friends' theme is going to look like in a way ? :wink:
I do like the game wheel, what's the prize though ? :laugh:
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#5 Rick


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Posted 24 August 2011 - 07:08 AM

Yay, another Paradisa review! This looks like a great (girl's) play set. As you indicated, there is lots of play value on a relatively small 16 x 32 base plate. And whereas I'm not such a fan of the color scheme (as I already noted in Pandora's review of 6403 Paradise Playground) and would prefer some brighter colors, the selection of pieces in Paradisa sets is pretty good. The minifig selection in these sets is simply excellent and pretty varied too, compared to sets of the time. And those ponytails must have been in fashion back then, but at least they don't all have the same hair color. :wink:

I'm surprised to also find a full SNOT build, using the base plate as a wall, as an alternate model in this set. I wonder what the alternate build in the bottom-left corner is supposed to represent and whether it is as inventive as the fried-egg tap in 6403. :grin:

And whereas the gambling odds are terrible, congratulations on getting a good deal on this MISB set! :classic:

#6 Hinckley


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Posted 25 August 2011 - 03:12 AM

Great review! I've highlighted it in a blog post. And congratulations on three successful years of the Reviewers Academy. Hard work pays off and high quality reviews like this are the awesome result.

What a very fun, yet bizarre, set. Paradisa was like this, though. "What will girls like?" "An arcade?" "Maybe. But, it will need a bird, a lottery wheel and a baby carriage." "An empty baby carriage?" "Is there any other kind?" And where's the fried egg tap? No consistency. :laugh: Just kidding. This set is cool for what it's worth. You gave it a fair review and thorough analysis. I can't see anybody but the most die-hard Paradisa fans paying $90 USD for this. But they did succeed at making a nice "playset."

Thanks for sharing the review with us and please keep up the great work.

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#7 Nightshroud99


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Posted 25 August 2011 - 03:17 AM

Ah so bright! I'm blind  :wink:
Weird set, some nice pieces, but not something I'd want.
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#8 22kane


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Posted 25 August 2011 - 03:26 AM

Great review! I really don't know what to think about these sets. The colors are hideous and there doesn't seem to be anything that really stands out. However, if I could get one at a good price I would buy it. Same goes for this upcoming Friends line. I may purchase a couple sets and store them away. Back to the review... This also seems like one of the better sets from the line that I have seen so far. There is a whole gambling thing going on here so you get some good interaction from the set. Now there is an idea for a Lego theme, Lego Casino. I could get into that.
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#9 Aanchir


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Posted 25 August 2011 - 05:12 PM

This particular set is kind of confusing to me. The pastel color scheme is kind of bleh (not nearly as vibrant as more recent girl-oriented sets), but it's no different than the other Paradisa sets. What really confuses me is why on earth TLG figured a casino-like set would be particularly appealing to girls. Other Paradisa content like beaches, stables, and Poolside Paradise (the closest thing the theme had to a dollhouse) all resembled girl-oriented toys that were popular then and are still somewhat popular today. But a casino? Really? While a logical extension of the "vacation paradise" setting of the theme, it doesn't make much sense to me from a sales perspective.

The set design of this one is also rather boring. The "wheel of fortune" is the only action feature, and while I know girls don't necessarily flock to action-feature-heavy sets the way boys do, there's also not much there in terms of role-play. There's tables, but no food besides ice cream. There's a merry-go-round, which is at odds with the otherwise seemingly adult-oriented "arcade" where actual gambling seems to be taking place. There's a baby carriage, but what responsible parent brings their newborn kid to a place like this?

The parts disappoint me as well. White, grey, and pink are the only colors in any sort of quantity, and the pink parts are almost all specialized. The 1x2 tile in pink is nice, as are some of the printed parts, but overall there doesn't seem to be enough content-- let alone desirable pieces-- to make the 16x32 baseplate worthwhile. One thing I do like is the detail of the fences with arches over them. Those look especially nice. The arched entryway feels a little bit tacky to me, though. And despite the tolerable piece count, the overall structure is about as simplistic as a Duplo set.

Now, from a certain perspective Paradisa was very realistic indeed-- I have seen many beachside "tourist traps" with gross pastel color schemes and tacky architecture in my lifetime. But that doesn't make too many of the sets appealing to me, particularly not this one. And while I'm not a girl, I have difficulty imagining girls having too much more fun with this set than I would. Poolside Paradise or one of the other sets with some substantial building and appealing role-play opportunities involved would be a much better value for anyone, I imagine.

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#10 LuxorV


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Posted 25 August 2011 - 05:24 PM

I remember this set from my childhood, as my sister loved it!

As strange as it is, I still think it's quite a good concept for am ArcadeIsland/Park; though it could have used a bit of refinement and less 'typical' feminine icons (at least in TLG view at the time).

Maybe TLG designers could have a go with another arcade set with more modern design in mind :wink:

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#11 Masked Builder

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 11:28 PM

The Paradisa line has been one of those themes that I would like to get a set from.  I was much to young to have gotten any of the sets, the somewhat appeal to me now.  That wheel sure is an interesting piece!
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#12 Jeff Huntington

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 03:12 AM

If I remember right, this set was never available at retail in the United States. You could only get it directly from LEGO, since it was advertised on the back of the catalogs from those days.

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