(Written by William)
The #10268 LEGO Creator Vestas Wind Turbine has such an interesting history, so when I got the chance to review the set I jumped on the opportunity. Back in 2008, LEGO created a limited-edition promotional set for Vestas employees. The set included a wind turbine with a van, a small house, three minifigures, plus dog. For a promotional set, the #4999 LEGO Creator Vestas Wind Turbine is rather large. Containing 815 pieces, and featuring LEGO Power Functions (to operate the wind turbine and a light), the set went on the top of many collectors’ wish list. On average, the 2008 set has been going for roughly $400 on the secondary market, before the release of the new version of the set. The re-released new version of the set has 826 pieces and costs $200, so just about half of the price of the earlier set. So, why, then, is the new set not the hottest thing on the market? 😕
There are a couple of reasons I can think of. First, although the price of the new set is significantly lower, the price per piece still roughly sits at 24 cents. To give you some reference, non-branded LEGO sets usually have a 10-11 cents price per piece average. Sets with an Intellectual Property (IP) attached may go for a couple of cents more per piece. So, the price of the #10268 LEGO Creator Vestas Wind Turbine is far above the norm. Even sets that come with LEGO Power Functions don’t usually go over the 20 cents per piece threshold. Secondly, the original set had a very low supply, so it was attractive to collectors who like to collect rare and unusual sets. This made the price of the sets go up, but this didn’t necessarily mean ordinary LEGO fans were clamoring for it. Now, that the set is readily available to everyone and is not a collectors’ item anymore, LEGO fans are looking at the price more critically.
So what gives? Is Vestas really that expensive to work with as a partner? Was demand blown all out of proportion to warrant a re-release? My feeling is that the demand was probably a bit skewed, and coupling that with the unusually high price makes this set less attractive to LEGO fans. As far that why the price is so high, my conclusion is that it most likely has to do with the addition of LEGO Power Functions, plus the large number of big pieces; the more plastic is used, the higher the price is going to be.
As far as the differences between the two sets, I would say that the newer version is better. Instead of stickers like in the original set, in the #10268 LEGO Creator Vestas Wind Turbine all decorated elements are printed. You also get some of the new plants-from-plants elements (see more info on this at the end of this post), which is nice. As for building differences between the two sets, the new version has a handful of more parts, but otherwise, they are identical. I did find instances where the set design felt a bit dated, especially for a LEGO Creator Expert set. The building experience is similar to other sets from ten years ago compared to the more complex sets of today.
Once you build it, the LEGO Creator Vestas Wind Turbine does look very impressive. It stands nearly 40 inches tall, and with the motor turned on, it’s spectacular. It has some faults too, especially when viewing from the back. The house looks weirdly incomplete, and the back of the hill has lots of open gaps. Granted you probably wouldn’t be in too much of a rush to see the back when you can look at the front. Also, it’s worth pointing out that the motor is quite loud. You don’t see this demonstrated in the designer-video and most reviews, but it’s something to be aware of. Real wind turbines are pretty loud too, so I guess this is a realistic feature. Another oddity is what I mentioned above; the set is rather simple to put together. I’m used to more complexity from LEGO Creator Expert sets. Things only got a little tricky when threading wires and building the gearbox at the top of the turbine. This leads me to discuss some of the unique building techniques.
➡ BUILDING ON MASS WITH LEGO
Even though using big pieces is more efficient and in general leads to a more stable model, LEGO fans usually frown upon using them extensively. They are expected in LEGO Juniors and other sets meant for young kids, but teens and older LEGO fans prefer to build up intricate details from smaller parts. This provides not just a more detailed model, but also a more satisfying and interesting building experience. Thus, LEGO sets targeting older builders in the LEGO Creator Expert, LEGO Ideas, and LEGO Architecture lines usually don’t use what LEGO fans call “juniorized” pieces.
The #10268 LEGO Creator Vestas Wind Turbine is quite unique in this regard. It is released in the LEGO Creator Expert line, but it uses a large number of big pieces. Large airplane hulls make up the majority of the turbine’s tower, BURPs (Big Ugly Rock Pieces) are used for the majority of the hill, large bricks are used for the small house, and even the van is built on a one-piece vehicle frame. All of this gave me the fastest $200 sets I’ve ever built, which meant less building satisfaction.
On the other hand, using large pieces as a technique assures that everything is extremely sturdy – which is something this set really needs. Having such large moving components as the rotating propeller means that a lot of stress is placed on the model. Add all the height, and you’re looking at a major engineering problem. Therefore, using sturdy large pieces is the best solution.
➡ THREADING WIRES WITH LEGO
Before we begin talking about the electronics, I want to point out that the #10268 LEGO Creator Vestas Wind Turbine uses the original LEGO Power Functions, rather than the new LEGO Power Functions 2.0 (also referred to as LEGO Powered Up). This means that it doesn’t have Bluetooth capabilities and is all around simple to use. It is still very rare to get a set with LEGO Power Functions already included. Normally, even if a set is compatible with motors and the like, it is up to you to get your own. The exceptions to this are some of the larger LEGO Technic sets and the LEGO City trains.
As we are talking about a set that is motorized right out of the box, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss treading wires. They are, in a word, a pain. They seem to never want to go in the direction you need and get pinched in all the areas you don’t want them to. Ultimately, there are two things you’ll need to do when threading wires in a LEGO model.
The first is that it is more important to direct wires in a path than it is to completely enclose them. You will never know when you may need to get to the wiring. Perhaps you need a bit more slack or in more serious cases, you need to change out a section. For this reason, pushing wires out of the way is more efficient than enclosing, since an enclosed wire takes a lot more to get to. Take, for instance, this set. The instructions direct you to place down a few plates to act as a channel, then lightly cover them up to get them out of the way. The second thing you’ll need to keep in mind when threading wires is to create a space for the excess wire. More often than not, you’ll have much more wire than you know what to do with. Having an empty pocket of space is the easiest way to deal with the rat’s nest you’ll most likely end up with. Other than these two major concerns, wires will usually take up about a single plate’s worth of space. So they can fit easily in a wide assortment of models.
➡ USING LIMITERS WITH LEGO
All the LEGO Power Functions in the #10268 LEGO Creator Vestas Wind Turbine face an interesting issue; how to prevent wires from getting tangled in a model that moves? And, how can you make it so that your battery switch is not to hard to use? The answer to this is the use of limiters. Don’t worry, this doesn’t involve electrical engineering.
Limiters are simply ways to limit the movement on elements. We’ve talked about this in the past when discussing certain types of hinges. In this case, limiters are just pieces that stick out far enough that they will run into something when you try moving too far in a direction. The switch on the battery pack is simple since there is just a modified plate with rail that prevents the switch from moving into one of its three positions. This turns it into just a basic on and off battery pack.
The more subtle limiter is found at the top of the turbine. On the front of the turbine, there is a thin lift-arm that sticks down just past the large gear section on the tower. This lift-arm has a pin that sticks into the space under the teeth of the gear. At the back of the tower, there are lift-arms that prevent the pin from moving past. This means the turbine still has an impressive range of movement but can’t be turned in circles and thereby twisting the cord that runs up to the motor. This is an unusual circumstance for many builders as we don’t usually have things that run continuously through our models. However, if you find yourself graduating to playing with chains, strings, and electronics, you may want to take a moment and add a limiter to your creation.
➡ APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARN
Not every builder will want to create something massive. However, if you do end up working on a large model, the ability to build on mass is a useful skill to learn. We tend to take the extra space as an opportunity to cram in as much detail as possible. Only with experience do we realize adding an internal structure made with large LEGO pieces (or even LEGO DUPLO elements) is a great way to prevent our model from imploding under its own weight.
As for threading wires, I definitely recommend learning how to work with the LEGO Power Function elements. The Online LEGO Shop offers all the LEGO Power Function elements for reasonable prices. The AAA battery box and the medium motor are what I’d recommend starting to play around with first. They aren’t too big, so they are fairly easy to incorporate them into LEGO creations, and they also give you an experience with treading wires.
And finally, limiters come in every shape and style. They can be made out of nearly any element including rubber ones. The interesting thing about them is that they can have additional side effects. They may limit the movement of a component, and at the same time also trigger a different action. Or they may be the trigger to launch something in the opposite direction like a slingshot. It really depends on what your needs are.
➡ CLOSING THOUGHTS ON LEGO VESTAS SET
Normally I stop the Brick Breakdowns at the end of the summary section, but I really wanted to give my final opinion about the #10268 LEGO Creator Vestas Wind Turbine. It’s a fantastic display piece that can be hard to display. It’s a neat looking playset that can be hard to play with. It’s an incredible looking building that is kind of boring to build. However, this thing is definitely a crowd pleaser. It has such a unique look with its moving and light-up elements that it’s something people can’t ignore. In fact, it will be a regular feature at every show I will attend with my LEGO club in 2019.
The set is definitely not for everyone. The price and older style design will turn many LEGO fans away. I don’t it is going to be flying off the shelves, so it’s possible that LEGO will discontinue it sooner rather than later, and perhaps even put it on sale at some point. For collectors, and for those who like elegant large LEGO sets, it’s worth checking it out. Its value seems to lie more in its symbolism than just being a building set. The LEGO Group has a heavy investment in wind power as well as going green. That makes this set practically a mission statement for the company, and thus a worthy addition to the collection of serious LEGO fans. Still, I’d prefer if it went on sale, because there are sets that can give you better value for the same or lesser price.
What do you think? How do you like the #10268 LEGO Creator Vestas Wind Turbine? Do you have the set already? Or perhaps the original one? Are there any other interesting building techniques you found in the set beside the ones we talked about? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below! 😉
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