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  1. Ok, so this townhouse MOC is actually a MOD of a MOC. It was taken from a set of Shrieking Shack instructions by JL.Bricks and heavily modified into a facsimile of the Polar Express narrator child's house... or, at least it's close enough to work with a de-winterized Winter Village line and / or Hogsmeade Village Visit without snow. (set 76388) See this Rebrickable link to see what I modified it from. The building was originally winter themed, but it clashes way too much with my other buildings that way, as they aren't winter themed. Basically, it's a normal townhouse now, but can be quickly converted by slapping white parts onto the roof, adding a decorated pine tree out front and Christmas decorations throughout. The back of the house is a new design by me. I had to redo the roof from plates ands tiles (as it was originally shown) to slopes as it was too fragile. (This made me add in an attic to the inside for structural support as well.) The lower floor features a coat rack, steam heater borrowed from set 10185. (Green Grocer) Upstairs we have the child narrator's bed (plus another steam radiator) with clock and picture frame on the walls. More details are in the back of the house, such a kitchen stove and more living room details plus a train layout upstairs. Sadly, there was no room for stairs in this building. This vehicle was originally inspired by @hachiroku's model of the staff car from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and can be found here in his photo-stream. It's not inspired by the Polar Express film, but if fits the time period it takes place in. It's never outright stated, but I'm thinking the Polar Express film takes place about 1950 or even the very late 1940's. So this late '30's car is a little like 10 years old give-or-take in-universe. (That's actually understandable given car production was stopped for a few years here in the USA, rubber tires / gasoline were rationed for quite a while, and personal travel was discouraged during WWII... so it could be a basically brand-new 10 year old car.) It seats two figs, - one in front and one behind - plus the two front doors open. The car is already built (except the roof of it), along with a few pieces of the furniture on the inside of the house. Any Thoughts? EDIT 10/28/21: All 981 parts found so far of the 1,500 total used on my Harry Potter / Polar Express house. Some have been pre-assembled into furniture and the car, but most of the parts are loose. This includes a bag of two hundred reddish brown 1 x 1 bricks (modified, with one stud on side) just arrived a week ago from LEGO Bricks and Pieces.
  2. It's a rainy and cold evening in Scotland, and you are on the Hogwarts Express as a first year student. You have noted other students have changed from street-clothes into the black robes with the crest of your destination on the front: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You do the same, and then notice the train slowing down, and finally coming to a stop at a small station marked "HOGSMEADE" on a wooden platform sign. You don't want to get too wet in your nice new robes, and feel a bit lost in the hustle and bustle of older students departing and railway staff getting luggage off the train and onto the platform. You spot your trunk on the platform and detrain. It's raining less hard now, and a slightly portly-looking, very tall man in a beard and fur-lined coat comes down the platform shouting above the steam engine's noise; "First years with me!" He leads you and about dozen other 11-year old's away from the nice and neat (and warm!) station down to a series of boats on the water's edge of a huge lake not far from the train. He leads each student into the boat, and then boards the lead boat himself. He taps the oarlock of his boat with his umbrella, and all the boats move away in sync by themselves. You are then astounded to see a huge castle, perched on rocky cliffs on the other side of the lake, lit up by hundreds of candles under the moonlight of the clearing sky. The man then shouts out to everyone assembled in the tiny boats; "Welcome to Hogwarts!" (small note: This movie concept art was taken from the Harry Potter wiki sometime in 2015. It is NOT mine.) I have converted and combined this Hogsmeade Station from two different versions found on Rebrickable, and made it my own using pictures and guesswork. This design is supposed to go well with set 76388 - Hogsmeade Visit - (or my Winter Village MOCs) but of course, in the official Harry Potter canon it's on the other side of the lake from Hogsmeade proper. I removed the original version's snow piles from the roof and sidewalk, and will add printed 1x8 tiles saying the name of the station to the side walls where the plain black tiles. (I still haven't decided if I'm going to stay with Hogsmeade or try a different name instead.) This side features a ramp for luggage trolleys, a staircase to the station proper, and the entrance to the employees-only ticket counter area on the side closest to the camera. The lanterns on the front / rear are my own idea as additions (as is the double-sided platform clock), so the transition to the archway looks better. The station has a fully removable roof and new detachable platform. The model has two rooms under the removable roof, featuring seating from the Disney train set. One one side is the ticket office, with a cash register / ticket window and a mail sorting desk. (I couldn't decide to put that in or not. I know owls are used in HP, but where are they dispatched from if the mail is coming from Hogsmeade, not Hogwarts?) The other is the waiting room with a few bench seats w/ individual arms and a steam heater unit. The station is in the planning stages right now, and *should* be ordered by August. (I now hope it will be ordered someday, too many things on the Wishlist as of now, such as my Hogsmeade-inspired post office and non-haunted Shrieking Shack MODs!) Thoughts, comments, suggestions, and complaints are always welcome!
  3. I've been staring at Hogsmeade Village Visit (set 76388) for a while now (ever since pictures leaked!), trying to figure out how to fit it into my vintage city... I think I may have figured out how to do so now with the added rear halves and removed Winter snow parts. This model's front half was originally from the Honeydukes sweet shop portion of Hogsmeade Village Visit. I added a look-alike back to it, changed the color to red, and turned it into a small post office with inside details on both floors. I also added a truck I built in real life way back in 2011 - modeled after the official Winter Village Post Office truck from set 10222 - which is now back to being used for a postal truck. (I have determined said truck is styled like a Ford Model AA (wiki link) just based on the front end alone.) Yes, the model is missing nine parts not in LDD. This includes four each of parts 48208 and 48205, and one of 35563, all in black for the roof. Inside features are as such: - Ground floor has the public area, with pay counter and several boxes / crates waiting to be shipped. - Upstairs (even though there is no stairs!) is the sorting area with plenty of mail being gone through to be delivered to it's destination. Everyone may have heard of the Ford Model T and maybe it's successor, the Model A. But here is something you may not know: The Model T and later Model A both had trucks made from the basic principles of those cars. They were called the Model TT & Model AA, which is where this Lego model comes in, as it's based off a Ford Model AA truck. (or at least that's what I think it it is - the model was originally from set 10222, Winter Village Post Office.) The rear of the truck has two tail-lights and a license plate. MODEL NOTES: The building can only open 90 degrees due to interference from the roof and building footprint. (The post office will be built shortly after the Polar Express house, and then the heavily-modified 76388 tavern early next year.) Thoughts?
  4. A wild non-Hogwarts set has appeared in the June 2021 lineup. Let's take a look! 76388 Hogsmeade Village Visit | 2021 | 851 Pieces | 6 + 1 Minifigures USD $80 | GBP 70 | EUR 80 (variable) | CAD 120 | AUS$ 130 __________________________ Thanks once again to LEGO for providing these four Harry Potter sets for review. Check out my Hogwarts reviews if you haven't already: 76386, 76387, 76389 and combining them all. When images for the June 2021 Harry Potter wave came out, one set stood apart for NOT being a departure from the standards maintained for this rebooted theme since 2018. 76388 looks to contain two highly detailed buildings in a location that has never been done apart from a small Honeydukes included as a side build in 2004's 4756 Shrieking Shack. There are unique characters in screen-accurate outfits, and details aplenty. Is 76388 Hogsmeade Village Visit as good as it looks? __________________________ THE BUILD & PARTS The build for this set feels more in line with the majority of this line prior to this year, with lots of fiddly bits added for detailing, and such things as the angled roofs which satisfyingly fall into place with each other once they are all added. The buildings still make use of a few larger parts, but the build progresses more slowly and intricately than this year's Hogwarts sets. One of the best aspects of the build is that two instruction manuals are included, one for each building, making this set ideal to split and build alongside a partner or friend or family member. Here are the excellent spare parts, which include an unprinted white bowl, still-rare 1x1 stud with bar attachment in black, that printed 1x1 tile with a heart previously found in four Friends sets, the 1x1 with red swirl (not rare but mostly used in Friends), and cherries in red and magenta - always nice to have. In my reviews I actually haven't touched much on the Chocolate Frog cards. They're a nice little bonus but don't excite me personally. I hope they don't excite you too much either, because they are nearly impossible to collect without resorting to Bricklink (once they become widely available). In this set, I got duplicate McGonagalls. __________________________ THE MINIFIGURES The particular Hogsmeade Village Visit being depicted in this set comes from Prison of Azkaban, and minifigures have thus been chosen somewhat appropriately. The Students For Hogwarts students we get Harry and Dean Thomas in civvies, plus Goldenron. I always appreciate getting students other than Ron and Hermione, though they visited Hogsmeade at the same time, and Dean gets a lovely exclusive head and very repurpose-able torso. Harry has all re-used parts which aren't completely accurate, but not too bad really. Dean was barely glimpsed in this outfit in the film, if at all, but again he's so nicely done that that doesn't bother me. He was seen in Honeydukes, so he's a good choice as he can be browsing there while Harry is taking care of business in the Three Broomsticks. Dean's other face bears striking resemblance to his previous LEGO appearance, in the first Wizarding World CMF series. The only difference is the lack of cheek lines. Oddly, this is the second time in this theme that LEGO has changed a character's hair colour from dark brown to black: first with Madame Maxime, and now with Dean. The Adults For adults, we get Madame Rosmerta, the landlady of the Three Broomsticks; McGonagall in the outfit she wore when Harry eavesdrops on her, Madame Rosmerta and Minister of Magic Fudge discussing Sirius Black at the Three Broomsticks; and the Flumes, who run Honeydukes. All of these figures have outstanding details, though Fudge truly is missing to complete that scene. All four of these include brand new body prints that closely match their on-screen appearances. All four hair and hat pieces are recolours so far exclusive to this set, and Mr Flume gets a new double-sided head. The reused Mantis head works better for Rosmerta than it did for Bellatrix, and though Mrs Flume reuses the Helga Hufflepuff print which has already been reused for Mrs Weasley, I'd care more about Mrs Weasley getting an exclusive print than Mrs Flume. I'm happy as well for a repeat of this McGonagall face from her Hogwarts Moments book set, as those weren't everyone's cup of tea. All of them have delightful back of torso prints, McGonagall especially. You'll see lots of accessories within the builds, but Madame Rosmerta also gets a hammer - maybe to ward off unruly customers? Only the students and McGonagall get wands, which I haven't bothered to show. The acid pops head is much more enticing, and two are included. __________________________ HONEYDUKES Both of the builds included are obviously going to have details reduced from their on-screen appearances, and some incorrect proportions - it's a LEGO set after all. That fact alone doesn't bother me, and I will judge them both on their own merits and their success at capturing the essence of the source material. Exterior Honeydukes looks quaint and charming from the outside, with good asymmetrical detailing ranging from the mismatched chimneys to the snow on the roof to minor details like the placement of 1x1 grey tiles for added texture. The asymmetry continues on either side as stickered brick details and more 1x1 grey tiles are placed in different positions. The roof angles come together quite well too, forming somewhat complex shaping. There's an elephant in the room detracting from the exterior of the model, though, and not the cool new moulded elephant from the City line. It's the stickers. I don't mind stickered detail. They're not going to print things like 2x2 tiles all the time, or stickers like those used for minor brick detailing on the side of the building, and that's just fine. Honeydukes, however, is 100% reliant on the stickers. Without them, you'd have no lattice on the windows, and no pink at all. If you screw up their placement, the thing is doomed. And, even if you DON'T screw up the placement, you could very easily have trapped finger prints and air bubbles in your massive windows, like I have. I tried to be as careful as I could, and my alignment is ok, but the result is still very hazy and looks even worse in person. Interior The vibrant ground floor candy store and storage room above comprise the interior of Honeydukes. Let's take a closer look. The ground floor is filled with a variety of sweets along the walls and bigger displays of chocolate fondue and a glittery opalescent ball in the windows. It also has a removable sort of aquarium stickered on both sides that can be placed in the centre. I thought I knew the Harry Potter franchise well, but my knowledge has failed me again with this one! Both sides have further stickered details on the wall panels, which are easy to apply and create a fine illusion of a more packed store. The cash register area also has a few pleasing details such as the white bowl for weighing, and a couple of stickers. In my Chamber of Secrets review I wrote about the "usable space" test, and I'm happy to report that Honeydukes has plenty of usable space for posing figures. The 2x2 jumper plates were a good choice, and Honeydukes is surely often packed with candy-hungry students anyway. The upstairs simply has fireplaces on both sides. a Honeydukes storage box, a bucket and pot, and some more old bits and bobs stowed in the rafters. It too has enough room for a couple of figures, and would have more with the box removed. All in all, Honeydukes has great exterior shaping and detailing, and the interior offers lots of sweets in eye-catching colours with space to pose figures, but the massive, integral stickers are an equally massive pain. __________________________ THE THREE BROOMSTICKS In the films, The Three Broomsticks looks rather gnarly and has lots of odd angles, all of which have been straightened up for this set. Some people might wish that this location got the D2C treatment so that it could be reproduced more faithfully, but I think having varied locations at more reasonable and accessible price points is better. Exterior This building provides excellent contrast against Honeydukes, with a completely different style. There's still lovely asymmetry to be found, and sloped roofs intersected by windows, resulting in a building that looks eye-catching despite its muted colour scheme and not at all boxy, as one might expect a LEGO set to be. Stickers provide minor details on the front and sides, and are easy enough to apply. Once again, even stickers aside the build feels complex with lots of good detailing and a distinct look. Interior The ground floor, while fairly small, displays the pub portion of the Three Broomsticks, with a combination of brick-built and stickered detail. The stickered shrunken heads and painting are nice touches, while the high bar looks good with a slightly raised area for Madame Rosmerta behind it. Like Honeydukes, both side walls utilise stickers for extra depth and detail, and I'm fine with that. There's obviously not a tremendous amount of seating provided, though The Three Broomsticks feels like a communal enough place that separate parties could sit at the same table, like I've done here. There's also enough floor space for a few other customers, and for Madame Rosmerta herself. I also can't forget to mention the butterbeer mugs, appropriately making their next appearance after the second CMF series. Love as many of those as I can get, and the 1x1 white studs make excellent head on the beer! Upstairs contains a private room, presumably the one where Harry overhears Rosmerta, McGonagall and Fudge. There's a large, roaring fireplace in the centre with holly and a cup above, and a comfy arm-chair to one side with a sticker behind it. The other side has a small chest of drawers and stool, and a sticker that's quite difficult to see. I've boosted the brightness on the second photo so that you can see it's a Hogwarts skyline. This room also contains plenty of open space for staging figures. Madame Rosmerta isn't happy about that. __________________________ SET DRESSINGS In addition to the two buildings, the set also contains three small side builds to set the Hogsmeade scene: a lamppost, a bench, and a sign-board. All are simply but well designed. The signboard has stickers for both sides, with a more enraged Sirius on the reverse. __________________________ FINAL THOUGHTS & RATING All in all, 76388 Hogsmeade Village Visit meets and exceeds my personal expectations. It continues the high level of detail expected for the Harry Potter theme since 2018, with two intricate, visually varied models that complement each other and create a lovely little slice of Hogsmeade along with the snowy side builds. Parts-wise, it includes a wealth of useful parts in dark tan, including arches appearing in that colour for the first time, and the large rounded trans-clear pieces used for Honeydukes windows could be useful without their bothersome stickers. There's also the exclusive acid pops head, butterbeer mugs, and minifigure-scale candy aplenty. On the minifigure front, getting three unique characters is always delightful, while McGonagall and Dean provide excellent new prints. Even if you don't care for the characters, they have useful and not terribly specific prints, as well as some hair and hat pieces in exclusive colours. There's just one thing about the design that detracts from this set, and it's the massive bloody stickers on Honeydukes. Even though they're bad, I wouldn't go so far as to say they ruin the set. If displaying is your aim, from a distance the stickered windows have the desired effect, but up closer at all and they look subpar. They really needed to be prints to alleviate their issues. One other pretty minor gripe I got thinking about is the lack of animals. An owl, mouse, rat, frog or two or three etc would've been great and felt very Harry Potter-y. Minifigures: 9.8/10 - Harry is bland and somewhat inaccurate, and Fudge should've been included to complete the scene, but really these minifigures are fantastic. Pieces: 9.6/10 - Good variety including some exclusive recolours and prints, as well as thankfully two butterbeer mugs and plenty of accessories in Honeydukes. Lacking animals, though!  Design: 7/10 - It's only fair to knock this down because of the Honeydukes windows, which play a prominent role in the set. Every other design choice is good, though. Playability: 8/10 - Unlike Hogwarts, which is itself a magical building and thus should have more play features built in, these two shops are shops, so playability will all come down to using them like doll-houses and enacting scenarios. There's mostly enough space for that, though the seating area in the pub and the upstairs of Honeydukes are limiting. Price: 10/10 - I haven't touched on price until now, but it feels like a fine USD price for the volume of stuff and level of detail, as well as all of the well-done minifigures and accessories. Overall: 8.9/10 - This is a very strong score, though not perfect, for a very strong though not perfect set. Given all of the well-done design choices, I wouldn't want to ding it too badly because of the Honeydukes windows, though they are a real shame. Still, I heartily recommend this set for either what it is or as a parts pack. Though I ended up liking the new Hogwarts sets more than I expected to, more of this please LEGO! __________________ This concludes my reviews of new 2021 Harry Potter sets for now. I hope I provided some useful insights for you, and let me know if there's anything you'd like to see with any of these sets that I haven't already covered. Please leave a comment with your thoughts on the sets and/or my reviews, and also let me know if you'd like me to cover any of the other sets once they're available for purchase. I'll definitely be getting the chess one!