When it comes to 10276 Colosseum, expect to read and hear the old adage ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ a great deal, perhaps across much of the LEGO Group’s marketing but most certainly in various reviews. Reflecting that ‘creating great things requires time’, the proverb perfectly and fittingly surmises everything about 10276 Colosseum.
For the LEGO Group, this stands as the culmination of years of work establishing LEGO Architecture as an outstanding, one-of-a-kind theme exploring and celebrating the world’s most iconic landmarks. It may be branded as its own 18+ release, but 10276 Colosseum is from the same talented LEGO Architecture and wider Creator Expert team that has brought a host of famous and iconic buildings to LEGO life, and it sits as not only their largest ever creation, but also the LEGO Group’s largest ever. It’s a celebration of all that they as a design team have put into LEGO Architecture and – after years of proving this – it represents all that they are capable of, at a truly unlimited scope and scale.
And for anyone who will experience unboxing and building it, 10276 Colosseum stands as one of the most time-consuming and at times tedious build experiences ever, but one that for the amazing creation that stands at the end of it, is worth every agonising hour.
A lot of time and work has gone into creating 10276 Colosseum. And, a lot of time and work stands between buying the set and completing its 9,036-piece build.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was its famous Colosseum.
— Set details —
Price: £449.99 / $549.99 / €499.99 Pieces: 9,036 Minifigures: 0
— Build —
It’s between bags 11 and 12 of 10276 Colosseum that it really hits you. Deep into tan-coloured territory, you finish that first little section of the curved tier of the Colosseum’s inner seating area, when, a few pages into bag 12 you twig that you’re building the exact same thing, again. And then you glance at the pieces in bags 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, and notice that they too all have the same pieces in each of them. And do you dare look at the box art again? It’s worse than that feeling after getting through 20 pages of instructions and seeing ‘x2’ glaring back at you. Only, this is ‘x16’ or x32, and it’s hidden in plain sight across the next 100 pages or so of instructions. And across then the next two boxes of numbered bags and their respective instruction booklets too.
This isn’t our first rodeo, Brick Fanatics has built big before. We’ve had the very good fortune in recent years to put together some of the very largest LEGO sets that have ever been produced. We’ve worked through sets that have required several hours-long sittings across multiple days and some, such as 75192 Millennium Falcon, have been at once both brilliant and at times eye-wateringly difficult to find the energy to keep going. Others like 75978 Diagon Alley have benefitted greatly from being split across a more compartmentalised approach. It’s from various experiences such as these, building some of the biggest LEGO sets of recent years, that we say 10276 Colosseum will challenge your passion, resolve and commitment for the brick like no previous LEGO set.
Coming in at 9,036 pieces, this is a LEGO set that in 2020 well and truly eclipses all those that have come before, boasting the highest piece count ever produced. Even if 10276 Colosseum doesn’t measure as the longest, tallest or widest LEGO model, it contains a huge 1,495 pieces more than its nearest rival, the behemoth 75192 Millennium Falcon.
Combine 10276 Colosseum’s exorbitant piece count with the fact that its model is only going to be a display piece, and discussion and thought naturally turns to its construction process – the experience around putting it together. How long will it take? Is it dry and repetitive? Does it take longer for a majority of the pieces being the one colour?
These are important considerations with regards to the value, fun and interest to be had with 10276 Colosseum, because after building it, the only further hands-on interactions with it will be in dusting. For the design team behind it – the same ones that have brought you everything in Creator Expert and Architecture – you know that the accuracy, attention to detail, fun little insights and all round awe of the final display piece is guaranteed, and, at this particular scale, perhaps appreciated and realised like nothing that they have been able to create before. You can see that in the imagery and if you catch sight of it in person. It’s amazing, and part of why is due to its ridiculous size.
But to get to that final, inspiring creation, you’ve first got to build it, and to build 10276 Colosseum, more so than with most other supersized LEGO sets of recent times, you’ve really got to want to do so. This is not a build for the faint-hearted and it’s not an oversimplification to say that at times it is boring.
It’s a build that otherwise does benefit greatly from the practicality of what’s required. Split into four large boxes of many numbered bags, you start with the four-brick-thick base before specifically mapping out the damaged inner circle and then assembling first the front outer wall and then the huge, towering back wall. The order of construction ensures real appreciation for every point of focus and detail that the design team has worked into the model, and, as you go through the various stages and take breaks from it, how smart the architecture of the building is, from the inside out.
But take breaks from it you will, because however much you may be interested in the Colosseum, its history and splendour, it is not enough to get you through more than a few numbered bags at a time before the LEGO blindness sets in. The first box of bags puts together the model’s base and gives you that first appreciation for the true scale that you are building within. You also construct what’s left of the arena’s hypogeum, which stands today as the ruins of the underground that would have originally been covered by a wooden floor.
It’s from the second box of numbered bags that you move on to the interior seating and really gain an understanding for the size of the task at hand and what that scale of building will actually entail. It’s then that you also begin to realise, with a majority of the monument coming in tan, how challenging, long and at times repetitive the build process is going to be.
It’ll also be at this stage, hours-deep into something you’re still so far away from completing that you’ll not want to hear anyone say ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Just, don’t.
The LEGO Group has been careful in the marketing of other sets – LEGO Art in particular – to push the sentiment of building in stages, be that so as to unwind across multiple evenings, or to stretch out the enjoyment of putting the set together, or to pace what otherwise may be too much to do in one go. The issue with 10276 Colosseum is that in whatever approach you take, it remains a frustratingly repetitive and so, at times, challenging build. Take a break or share with friends, but you’ll still be faced with a significant number of near-identical sections of the inner seating area to build.
It’s important to note that the tedious nature of building 10276 Colosseum during long stretches is, by the very nature of what is being recreated here in LEGO and at this chosen scale, unavoidable. Indeed, this translation of the Colosseum into LEGO is fascinating in scope and scale, but, as such a large, oval-shaped and almost uniformly-constructed building, there are a lot of sections to build, each one out of a lot of pieces, and each one coming in very similar in assembly and design.
Equally, there’s little need for intricacy in the design because, with the model so big, larger bricks can effectively capture what is required in detail – it’s microscale, but, at such a size that it benefits from a ‘less is more’ approach. This is an intelligent approach by the design team, but one that just compounds the construction process even further – it’s repetitive and relatively uninteresting to put together. There’s nothing to criticise the design of the LEGO set, nor complain about the choice of subject matter. But, when put into this ridiculous scale, the compromise is in creating a build process like this.
There is, of course, slight variation in the design of some of the sections, to reflect the crumbling nature of the Colosseum in places, and to also help catch the curvature of the building very smartly. The latter is achieved in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them changes from section to section, but serve as reminders that even in amongst the monotony of tan, there’s detail and ingenuity.
As you move to the larger parts of the build that include the high outer wall section of the Colosseum, greater variation can certainly be enjoyed between each section, as more of the cracks and broken-down areas are captured in brick form. It’s still far from fun and quick, but relatively speaking does expediate the latter quarter of the build process.
The completed model
And then you come to the completed model. Finally. And for all the frustration felt across many hours of building, what sits before you is genuinely amazing and as a display piece, there are few LEGO sets that can compare to this. It comes in at about the same width as 71043 Hogwarts Castle and slightly shorter, but with much greater depth and overall ‘build’ caught within a surface area quite comparable with 75192 Millennium Falcon.
Part of what makes the Colosseum so unique as a subject of architecture and a choice for such a LEGO set is how so much of its almost 2,000-year history can so visibly be seen across what’s left of its structure. As a 24,000 square-metre amphitheatre that could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 people, its place at the centre of Ancient Rome’s civilisation can still be felt in the 48-metre height that it continues to stands at, and the large north section of the outer wall that still stands today, which had an original perimeter of 545 metres. Its oval shape is reflective of a design derived from placing two Roman theatres back to back, whilst its numerous exits (80 in total) were reflective – even in those days – of safety requirements to be able to evacuate a capacity crowd.
That so much of that outer wall is missing is reflective of a combination of earthquake damage and how Rome’s citizens requisitioned its materials through the years. The great earthquake of 1349 brought down most of the south wall, and the materials that came from the resulting rubble were taken for construction of other buildings within the city. Similarly, in later medieval times, further stonework, bronze and iron was broken from the Colosseum for use elsewhere in Italy’s capital, hacked away to leave pockmarks and scars across the walls that were left. Meanwhile, the triangular wedges at each end of the outer wall were only added to the otherwise freestanding construction during the 19th Century, so as to shore up the wall.
The Colosseum bears the markings of several hundred years of history and change in Roman society and stands today as a monument like no other. Its place within Italian culture and wider historic architecture is unique and its interpretation into a LEGO set of such scale and size is both apt and expertly realised.
Not a brick has been wasted, and there are so very many bricks within this. More often than not, your eyes will glaze over as you survey the mammoth creation, and that only happens with LEGO sets that are particularly engrossing, that invoke a true reaction of awe and engagement. The model captures both the large structural shapes to the Colosseum and aspects of finer architecture and character to be found within it.
There’s nothing to criticise and, pertinently, what made it such a challenging build – the quantity of bricks and the one or two exclusive colours they all came in – come together to add necessary value and accuracy to the final model. It’s not big for the sake of being big, nor is it all tan so as to keep the price down. It’s a masterpiece that needed to be done in a certain way. Where we label the build process a compromise, the final model is the reason why, and it’s very much worth it.
— Characters —
10276 Colosseum does not include any minifigures, nor has the opportunity to do so.
— Price —
This is a display piece that will draw you in from any angle and is packed with ways to appreciate it. It captures everything recognisable about its subject thanks to a design approach that really makes the most of the ridiculous scale it has been built at.
Its price – £449.99 / $549.99 / €499.99 – well and truly puts it into the upper echelons of what’s currently on the market, and there’s no getting around what is a frustrating experience building the set. There’s also the significant challenge of finding space for it – it’s really not small.
But, if you can overcome those issues, 10276 Colosseum is a remarkable display piece that demands your attention every time you glance at it. A high price should produce something incomparable, and 10276 Colosseum well and truly does that.
— Pictures —
— Summary —
A large amount of this review focuses on the build process behind 10276 Colosseum, and for good reason. Given that the set is a display piece, there’s no play or functionality to it, and given the size it has been designed at and with consideration to the largest ever piece count that it comes in at, the build process takes up more importance for anyone picking this set up, when compared with a more normal LEGO set. And as explained above, it’s an experience that across long stretches is challenging, time-consuming and tedious. Each stage of the build will hold your attention for less and less time, and it will take an exhausting amount of time to complete.
But, upon completion, the model that sits before you is utterly fantastic. It’s an accurately-defined, expertly-constructed piece of LEGO engineering that celebrates Rome’s Colosseum in a truly unique way. It’s incomparable to almost any other LEGO set produced and pays the perfect tribute to one of the world’s most iconic architectural achievements of ancient times.
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