The LEGO Group kicked the Fairground theme off with a carousel set almost a decade ago. Now they are out with another in the theme’s latest entrant. Daniel Konstanski gives us his first impressions of the new 10257 Carousel set.
Is one allowed to have two first impressions? I hope so, because that was the case for me with 10257 Carousel, and I would guess I am not alone. How I see this set depends entirely on whether it is viewed as a successor or the next addition to a theme.
In 2009, the LEGO Group released 10196 Grand Carousel, taking the AFOL world completely by surprise. That 3,263 piece, £179.99 / $249.99 masterpiece was a complete anomaly. Not part of any subtheme, it stood in a class all its own until the Fairground Mixer, set 10244, finally followed five years later. The UCS sized set was still almost exclusively the domain of Star Wars at the time of 10196’s release, so it is hard to understate how much of an anomaly that glorious set was. Most of us did not get it, a hard fact that the aftermarket prices today testify to. For years we have been hoping for a worthy successor to rescue us from the cruel aftermarket gods by giving us a comparable set on retail shelves. Alas, 10257 is not that set. In every way it is 10196’s inferior: size, piece count, shock and awe value, number of riders, minifigure count; across the board it comes up short. The only category in which 10257 notches a win is price, and quite honestly I believe that is the key.
Thus we arrive at impression number two, which is based on the following assessment. The key clue is right there in the names: 10257 Carousel is not meant to be a successor to 10196 Grand Carousel, it is meant to be another entrant in the slowly growing Fairground theme. This is not meant to be the permanent ride one finds at a grand old museum, it is meant to be the mobile version owned by the travelling fair that comes through your town once a year. If one can get over the disappointment of that fact, 10257 emerges as an absolutely outstanding offering by the LEGO Group.
Both its size and price place it squarely in the mix with the much loved other recent Fairground sets: Fairground Mixer and Ferris Wheel. Like those sets, it can be motorised and includes a lovely display of colours and clever building techniques. All of the functionality of a carousel are present with animals that move up and down, rotation and the ability to motorise. Quality of build and design remains just as high as its recent predecessors. The animals especially stand out; it is almost like a collection of Creator animal polybags were gathered for the carousel. Bottom line, this is another excellent entrant in the Fairground theme, which I am sure will begin popping up immediately alongside its siblings in displays on the convention circuit.
I will not lie, I was hoping for a proper successor to 10196 Grand Carousel. Objectively speaking however, 10257 is the set I should have been expecting as it is far more in keeping with the more recent Fairground sets, and is more than worthy of joining their excellent ranks. Had 10196 never existed, I would have nothing but glowing praise for 10257 Carousel. Unfortunately, that older set does exist so I will not be quite as ecstatic upon purchasing 10257 as I was when picking up the Ferris Wheel, but I will no doubt like the set even so as it appears to be excellent in its own right.