Under the old Creator Expert label, we could expect a train set released every few years. In the last decade or so, we have seen the legendary 10194 Emerald Night; the 10219 Maersk Train, the 10233 Horizon Express and the 10254 Winter Holiday Train. It must be time for a new one.
Today, LEGO unveils the 10277 Crocodile locomotive. With 1271 elements, and featuring the 18+ branding, where once we would see Creator Expert, this engine will be available from 1st July 2020. It will be priced at €99.99/ 899.99DKK/ $US99.99/ $AU169.99/ $NZ189.99. In Australia, it will be available from LEGO Branded retail, as well as David Jones department stores.
Unfortunately, no press release was forthcoming in advance of the announcement – so I am just going by what I can see in the photos:
The Crododile Class Ce 6/8 II
Produced between 1919 and 1929, the real world version of this train features an articulated locomotive, with front and rear engines, either side of a central, elevated cabin. The articulations allow for managing tighter mountain curves than traditional locomotives might be able to manage.
A version of this locomotive was the featured model on the 2007’s 10183:LEGO Factory Hobby Train, a set which arrived at the tail end of the 9 volt era, before power functions was to establish itself.
As such, it might be regarded as a controversial choice for an adult marketed set. That and it’s perhaps a little bit of an ugly train. There are so many beautiful European and American locomotives out there. But, in the last decade, we have been served up a steam train, a diesel-electric freight train, and a high speed passenger train. You might consider that any thing else is not especially different to things we have seen before – particularly if you stretch back to the Santa Fe locomotive as well.
Looking at the set, this appears to be designed to be treated as a set to display, or to run. The set comes with 8 grey rails, with brick built sleepers and ballast, forming the display base. There is also a display plate, providing details of this train. Unfortunately, this appears to be a sticker. The locomotive itself is predominantly reddish brown, with light and medium stone grey details. there are a few tiles with further detailing: in the renders used in the box art, they do not appear to be stickers, but I could be mistaken here. The set comes with 2 minifigures, dressed in blue – one a bearded older man, and a woman.
There crocodile is approximately 58 studs long ( 52 cm) and 16 cm high (including display base).
The box art declares the set to be ‘Ready for Powered Up’ – and it appears to be a relatively simple process to add a smart hub(88009), as well as a large linear technic motor (88013). There appears to be a new screen to be added to the Powered Up app, providing specific control for this train. I am secretly hopeful (but have no information about) that there might be a firmware update that could allow the train remote to be used with the linear motor. At present, the large motor (88013) only operates at full speed when powered by a hub linked only to a remote control. I suspect I shall be disappointed. As such, this motor will require the App for ongoing control. There may well be cunning work arounds, but I shan’t look at them in the here and now.
Powered Up Rant Follows
I am normally a fan of Powered Up. However, many of the Powered Up components seem to be regularly sold out in the Australian online LEGO store. The Large and Extra Large motors, along with the Technic Smart Hub have recently become available individual items overseas – but not in Australia. Unfortunately, the total cost (looking at euros for the smart hub, L and XL technic motors) is €149.97. All of these elements are included in the 42109 Top Gear Rally Car – for €129.99 – including additional car building elements. This makes no sense to me!
The elements required to motorise the Crocodile ( 88009+88013) cost €84.97/£74.98/$US89.98, almost doubling the purchase price, if you do not already have these elements. At present (13/6/2020), they are not available separately in the Australian online store. But I fear for my wallet.
Powered Up has not endeared itself to LEGO Train fans: in major exhibitions it is, by all accounts, unreliable on large layouts, with many bluetooth devices active; to say nothing of the system stopping, when out of range of the controller ( as opposed to Power Functions, which would keep going until it picked up an Infrared signal again. I am uncertain, but it may well be possible to install the PF L motor, along with a PF Battery box and IR control on board. Of course, I could be wrong!). And of course, 9V trains would just keep on going, as long as there is power in the rails.
As a home hobbyist, I don’t mind the system, and it looks like the ‘engineer’ screen in the app could well be quite satisfying to play with. But it’s not all about me.
11th Hour Update:
Just before publication, the following product description for LEGO.com was sent to me from the Community team at the LEGO Group:
Remember those happy childhood hours spent playing with toy train sets? Now you can escape your responsibilities and head back to those joyful days with this LEGO® Crocodile Locomotive Building Kit – but this time, it’s strictly for adults! Take your time with the build, then immerse yourself in the sublime engineering as you explore the features and functions packed into this impressive model.
Build and display a railway icon. Unwind with this rewarding building challenge as you create an authentic, displayable, LEGO® model version of the iconic Crocodile Locomotive.
Clear your mind and escape the daily grind with this fulfilling building project. If your passion for toy train sets has never really left you, you’ll love recreating the amazing details of the Crocodile Locomotive, a vintage classic from the golden age of rail travel. Impressive attention to detail Inspired by the Class Ce 6/8 II locomotive, first built for the Swiss Federal Railways between 1919 and 1927, this beautiful LEGO® model is packed with realistic details. With side rods that move as the wheels turn and posable pantographs that move up and down, there’s lots to explore. Lift the roof to access the crew compartment and use the 2 minifigures to bring the story of this iconic train to life. Add the Powered Up components (sold separately) to motorize your locomotive. Spark your passion for building The Crocodile Locomotive (10277) is part of a collection of LEGO® model building kits for adults who love beautiful design. This model also makes a great gift for anyone who loves model trains.
• This LEGO® Crocodile Locomotive (10277) model kit is perfect for adults looking to build a vintage locomotive model or for anyone who loves trains and is looking for their next hobby project. • Enjoy a rewarding challenge as you bring this buildable model train to life. Then explore the features and functions packed into this set, which celebrates the classic Crocodile Locomotive train. • Discover amazing details with authentic features true to the original Crocodile Locomotive. The 2 LEGO® minifigures with tools, display track and plaque provide lots to explore after building the classic train. • Ideal for model train fans, railway enthusiasts and LEGO® lovers, this building kit for adults makes a creative gift or birthday present to transport building fans to a world of total relaxation. • This train model measures over 6” (16cm) high, 20.5” (52cm) long and 3.5” (8cm) wide, making it a beautiful display piece to show off with pride. • You can jump right into this immersive building project since no batteries are required. To motorize your locomotive, add 1 x 88009 and 1 x 88013 Powered Up components (sold separately). • This building set for adults comes with coffee-table-style building instructions with design details to encourage and inspire you. • Part of a series of inspiring LEGO® building model sets for adults, designed for LEGO building fans, and hobbyists who love elegant design, beautiful architecture and models packed with detail. • LEGO® building bricks meet the highest industry standards, which ensures they are consistent, compatible and connect and pull apart easily every time – it’s been that way since 1958. • LEGO® bricks and pieces are rigorously tested to ensure that every building set meets the highest safety and quality standards, so you can be sure that this set is designed to last.
The Crocodile locomotive looks quite striking, in a utilitarian, early 20th century kind of a way. I like the look of the proposed drive mechanism, but it’s dependence on Powered Up may well limit its appeal to a number of serious LEGO train enthusiasts, with regard to running it at an expo. Unless it can be retrofitted with Power Functions. It may also well run effectively if pushed by a powered carriage, but this is just wild speculation. As a build and display piece, it will certainly be a conversation starter.
For someone after an interesting build experience, I am pretty sure that they will have a good few evenings taken up building the Crocodile, before putting it on display.
What do you think of this set? A challenging build? Just for display? Something you would be determined to run on the tracks at a display, even if it drives you crazy in the process? A nifty looking parts pack? Or one to just leave on the shelf? Leave your comments below, and until next time,