The LEGO Juniors range may not be for you and me, but these are sets to not overlook, as Cars 3’s 10743 Smokey’s Garage highlights
Price: £19.99 / $19.99 / €24.99 (DE) Pieces: 116 Available: May 16
This is a second chance I didn’t think I would get – to be able to purchase Cars-based LEGO sets. I skipped the original run of releases that ran from 2011 to 2012, that were primarily based on Disney Pixar’s Cars 2, and had regretted doing so rather soon after they were retired.
With Cars 3 due out in July, though, the LEGO Group are back with a very similar-looking selection of sets – is it enough to shift out of neutral for? I make no apologies for that car-based pun.
Interestingly, whilst the Cars 3 range of sets offers very few upgrades or changes to the original run of sets, one notable difference is the drop in age range and branding – from being targeted at 5-12 and 7-12-year-olds, Cars is now under the Juniors banner, for 4-7-year-olds.
Perhaps inconsequential, but it does drive home the reason why I neglected to even consider buying these sets first time around, and why, even more so with the Juniors label, many of you won’t have this range at the top of your mammoth wishlist come June 1.
It’s a range targeted to the younger builder, with characterisation to suit, generally fewer pieces included (in terms of value, you don’t get a lot of LEGO for your money), larger moulds, and simpler instructions. That there’s a complementary Duplo range coming out is no coincidence – these are the sets designed for those builders taking that first step from bigger blocks to smaller bricks.
In terms of piece variety, build experience and final product, there’s not much with 10743 Smokey’s Garage that falls outside of that description of the Juniors range – it’s simple, there aren’t a lot of pieces, it took only five minutes to put together and it’s based on a licence that is primarily for young children. It ticks all the boxes for the builder it is aimed for. Though that price is a bit steep.
Yet, there are things for the older builder to take in about this set, starting with the car chassis that, although large, do offer plenty of MOC-ortunity (MOC opportunity, I’m coining that phrase). The curved edges to them, the variety of colours they are available in and, combined with those wheels, the effective final effect mean they are primed in the hands of the right builder. Likewise, the scenery includes a printed wall piece and a printed curved ramp piece, both of which would not be out of place in any number of more complicated creations. A cursory glance suggests that it’s the same for a number of the new sets – look close enough and there’s bits and pieces that will catch your eye.
I cannot review this set from the perspective of its target builder, but who I can imagine will love driving Lightning McQueen across many a surface. However, from the perspective of someone who enjoys smaller, hand-held MOCs and printed parts, there’s certain appeal in these sets. It may not be enough to justify the £20 price quite as much as someone of the target age for this set, but, it should at least have you taking a second look at it.