I visited my local Lego store on June 1st to check out the new Sopwith Camel set.
Once there, I got to see a variety of new sets I have not seen in person previously, including the Sopwith, several of the LOTR sets (Helms Deep, Mines of Moria, Shelob), the new Vampyre Castle, R2-D2, and the Big Ben from the architecture series.
It occurred to me yet again just how poorly photographs and even videos reflect the true nature of built Lego sets in the flesh. You simply must see these things built in plastic to know what they are all about.
That Sopwith Camel is a staggeringly impressive set, and it is huge! I was just not prepared for how big it would appear, even knowing its dimensions and even calculating its scale (around 1:16).
Big Ben struck me immediately as being really well done and very polished looking. It immediately struck me as one of the better architecture kits I have seen, and I think I have seen them all. I bought one! And I do not really like the architecture series!
The Vampyre Castle is a set I would not have otherwise given the time of day to, but seeing it in person in the display case blew my socks off. It's actually really quite neat in the Harry Potter mold, and in my opinion, massively more impressive than any of the LOTR offerings, which were all quite disappointing. I was not a fan of the LOTR sets based on photos, as they come across as simplified play sets for children. Seeing them in person did nothing to change that opinion. Mines of Moria is particularly disappointing, as it has a very "plastic" and toy like appearance. It doesn't seem like it is made out of many independent bricks, but rather, comes across like a pre-made child's toy.
Helm's Deep is simply too small with walls too low to be taken seriously. Some spare bricks and a little time would yield a better depiction via your own MOC. It has simplified details, the ramp leading to the gate is pathetic, and this set simply does not reflect Lego's better work.
And then I saw the new R2-D2 set. It looks absolutely fabulous. It is a fairly good size if not overly large, but it comes across as extremely polished and well thought out. It's just one of those supremely well done Lego sets where everything came together in a great package, even if you are not a fan of Star Wars or R2-D2. Judged on the basis of simply being a well thought out and executed Lego kit, it looks absolutely superb.
It never ceases to amaze me how impressions of various sets can be totally wrong once the sets are finally viewed in person. It's really quite fascinating to me. Lego needs to do a better job of showcasing their best creations on their website. Their finest sets often do not come across as amazing as they actually are. I'm not sure how they would do that exactly however!
And then you have the other side of the coin as well. Some sets seem OK and then are a total disappointment in the plastic. Sadly, that is all of the LOTR sets I have seen so far. And I'm a huge fan of LOTR!
The Sopwith Camel is a great example of what I'm talking about. I studied the photos weeks ago. I watched the video 10 times. I knew the dimensions of the set. And yet I had no idea that it would look THAT big in the display case, or that the green wings (which I was skeptical about) would look so good! That color is great! It's amazing how poorly the photos and video represented the real thing actually.
I'm curious as to what other people think about this phenomenon.