LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition review
76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition brings something completely new to the table for LEGO Harry Potter – and reminds us just how magical 18+ sets can be.
When we talk about LEGO sets trying to do too much at once, it’s often because they’re trying to satisfy kids, adults, minifigure enthusiasts, collectors, investors and so many more demographics, all within a single box. That’s a gargantuan undertaking for any LEGO set, and the result is that they usually fail to satisfy in at least one department.
When the first images of 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition landed online, along with subsequent details surrounding the width of its rails, or the reality of its size, those same worries reared their head: is this latest LEGO Harry Potter set trying to juggle too much? It’s the biggest LEGO train of all time, but doesn’t run on regular LEGO tracks. It’s a beautiful display piece – but one that few of us could hope to have room for (or indeed, afford).
These are the concerns raised by the prospect of a 5,129-piece Hogwarts Express, but it’s to its credit that the building experience essentially answers each and every one of them. It’s also something completely new and different for the Wizarding World’s direct-to-consumer bracket (previous sets include a microscale model, minifigure-scale playset and buildable objects), so can it choo-choo its way to the top of your LEGO Harry Potter wish list? Let’s climb aboard and find out…
— LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition details —
Theme: LEGO Harry Potter Set name: 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition Release: August 31, 2022
Price: £429.99 / $499.99 / €499.99 Pieces: 5,129 Minifigures: 20
— LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition build —
Probably the most salient point to begin with is that it’s incredibly difficult to get a sense of just how big 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition is from images alone. In short: it’s absolutely massive, and that becomes very quickly apparent no matter where you kick things off (and with four instruction manuals to choose from – one each for the engine, tender and track, carriage, and platform – the Wizarding World is your oyster).
The sheer size of the build goes someway to justifying that high price tag, of course – more on that later – but it also sets the tone for the entire experience across 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition. Where any other LEGO train set takes shortcuts necessitated by squeezing into a specific budget, here designer Marcos Bessa has effectively had free reign to unlock the full potential of the ultimate Hogwarts Express.
It’s what you’d want from a Collectors’ Edition set, and especially one that costs north of £400, but what does it actually mean for the build? Does that size make a difference to the bricks you’re clicking together beyond the fact that there are more of them?
The answer is yes – for good and bad.
First, the bad (and it’s first because there isn’t a lot of it): as you’ve probably surmised already, putting together that black base and its non-standard, brick-built track involves one of the single most laborious instruction steps in any LEGO set (eat your heart out, Taj Mahal), and requires so many elements that it risks overshadowing the rest of the build. It’s too part intensive for what it adds to the model, and you’ll definitely feel it during the build process. Our advice: get it out of the way first.
And now the good: which, to cut a long story short, is effectively everything else. From the engine that cleverly recreates the real thing’s conical shape with staggered cylinders of different diameters, their joins masked with flame yellowish orange Technic elements, to the way half the platform is built upside down to ensure gravity doesn’t ruin all your hard work, 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition rivals 71043 Hogwarts Castle for the theme’s most satisfying build to date.
It’s not quite as varied as 75978 Diagon Alley and 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition, in the main because it focuses on a single massive build, and also because it uses a much smaller colour palette. That’s obvious from the outside, but there’s minimal room in its internals to squeeze extra colours in, so you’re left working with mainly red, dark yellow, black and a sea of greys and browns. But while it might not be as visually interesting as its immediate predecessors, 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition is still a magical building experience.
Given the number of 18+ sets that roll off the production lines in Billund every year, with many breaking records for size, cost, number of minifigures and so on, it’s easy to lose sight of the wood for the trees. But 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition is the kind of model that grabs you by the shoulders, gives you a good shake and forces you to appreciate the LEGO Group’s absolute mastery of brick geometry. Throughout the entire build (okay, maybe not the track), there are complex and fascinating sub-assemblies that twist and turn studs in all directions to achieve particular lines or details across the engine, tender and carriage – no corners have been cut or oversimplified, within reason (this is still an artistic interpretation of its source material, like any LEGO set).
It all speaks to that 18+ label on the box, which is further communicated through the very specific story told through 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition. Inside the carriage and on the platform are four separate quotes pulled straight from the Harry Potter movies (some more memorable than others), and they each establish a particular scene in which to display the set’s longlist of minifigures. And in doing so, 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition positions itself far away from the rest of the LEGO Harry Potter range.
That’s because those quotes anchor the model to Harry Potter’s journey through Hogwarts in those specific scenes, and with those specific characters, and therefore effectively close the door on any creativity or imagination beyond them (at least with what’s provided in the set). The wider Harry Potter range is very much open to having kids tell their own stories with its characters and builds, but 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition is clearly targeted towards a specific adult audience that’s only interested in building and displaying sets as sold.
It’s not a criticism, and of course you can simply remove the quotes and pop in your own minifigures if you like, but it does represent a clear distinction between this set and the rest of your LEGO Harry Potter collection – and gives some insight into who the LEGO Group is hoping to reach with this set. It also means that its functions, of which there are really only two, are both oriented around display rather than play.
The first, and perhaps least interesting, is a handle atop the engine that – when turned – rotates the locomotive’s wheels, pistons and all. They hover ever so slightly above the custom-built rails, so it isn’t going anywhere, but it does give a slight point of interest when showing off the set to someone else. Alternatively, you can take the engine, tender and carriage off the base entirely and use the handle to scoot it around your floor, as you wonder why a magical train needs tracks in the first place.
More captivating is the series of three light bricks built into the carriage, which illuminate each of its three compartments in turn. Their buttons stick out like a sore thumb on the carriage’s roof, but it’s a necessary evil for the magic they inject into the set, bringing life to its interior in a manner that modular buildings (for example) wouldn’t be capable of. These are small spaces deftly lit up by standard light bricks, so here it works a treat.
In and of itself, then, 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition offers an excellent and engaging experience. But we have questions. Like… did it need to be this big? On one hand, no, nobody needs a train this big (where are you going to put it?!). But halfway through building the carriage, you’ll add the minifigures into each of the three compartments, and it’s really only then that it dawns on you why the train is so unmanageably large: comfortably fitting four minifigures into a train compartment has previously been unthinkable in a LEGO set, but it was completely necessary to do justice to each of the iconic scenes in 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition.
That also means adding a walkway down the side of those compartments, for the Dementor to enter in the Prisoner of Azkaban, or Hermione to show up asking about a toad in the Philosopher’s Stone. But even with those considerations in play, 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition makes smart use of space: the corridor is just two studs wide, but still allows access to the carriage’s compartments through sliding doors. Despite the grandiosity of everything else in the box, the internals of the carriage – from their precise and calculated dimensions to those light bricks – are arguably the best thing about 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition. (They’re also the only place you’ll find much in the way of story or character detail, though: unlike 75978 Diagon Alley, this set feels pretty light on nods and references to the wider Potter-verse.)
That sort of answers our second question, too, because it’s exactly the reason this train can’t be motorised. According to designer Marcos Bessa, the scale for the rails (which is one stud wider than regular LEGO track) was chosen to communicate to builders that the size of this train – as necessitated by the minifigures – means it cannot physically be operated by the LEGO Group’s Powered Up system or classic Power Functions. Popping it on normal rails would have risked encouraging train fanatics to integrate it into their wider layout, which could apparently have had disastrous results.
Our third and last question is a little trickier to answer: why bright red and dark yellow? The train as seen at Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London is inarguably bright red, but thanks to cinematic tricks like lighting and colour grading, the locomotive on screen is very much dark red. 75955 Hogwarts Express (and all Hogwarts Expresses before it) have been bright red, and appropriately so for playsets – but this is an adult-focused set, and a dark red colour scheme might have been a better fit.
According to Bessa, bright red was used because dark red runs the risk of reading as brown, which is a fair argument (even if it does gloss over the inconsistencies often present in dark red), but perhaps more pressing is the flame yellowish orange used for the train’s highlights. All but 2010’s 4841 Hogwarts Express have eschewed the secondary colour altogether (75955 at least took a more muted approach to the carriage), but the expanded scope of 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition has given the design team room to work it in, and in ever more inventive ways as you progress through the build.
But it really should have been gold, and we have the box art to thank for that yearning. The lighting on the official product images very craftily gives the train’s highlights a slight gold tint, which makes the final product’s distinct yellowish orange a little disappointing. It pops off the shelf, no doubt, but a dark red and gold combo could have elevated the appeal of 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition even further.
One element that does elevate its appeal – particularly with an eye on the ‘Collectors’ Edition’ suffix – is the printed 8×16 train ticket tile, which faithfully recreates the original graphics produced by designers MinaLima for the Harry Potter films. It’s by no means necessary, but it is very welcome.
— LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition characters —
Like 75978 Diagon Alley before it, 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition includes an enormous roster of minifigures, with 20 in the box in total – and all but two of them feel relevant and fundamental to the story being told across this set.
The three scenes built into the train’s carriage are populated by characters from the Philosopher’s Stone, the Prisoner of Azkaban and the Half-Blood Prince, each matching their relevant quote, while the fourth quote on the platform connects to the Deathly Hallows’ epilogue minifigures of the Potter family. Each of these 16 minifigures includes most of the detail you’d expect from a set with this price tag, with brand new and scene-appropriate face prints for many of them, while the Trolley Witch and Conductor add life to the wider train scene.
Inevitably, the two odd ducks are those that have proved most controversial among the community so far: the unnamed Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff minifigures. In a set otherwise dominated by light nougat flesh tones (that’s the Harry Potter universe for you, though), they’re a welcome injection of diversity, but narratively they make less sense. Everything else here is geared around telling a specific story of Harry’s journey on the Hogwarts Express, so jamming in two random characters feels unwarranted.
It’s a problem without an easy solution, largely thanks to the set’s source material, but when other credible candidates were left on the cutting room floor – including epilogue Ron and Hermione – they’re likely to prove divisive.
— LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition price —
Is 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition good value? At a price like this, it’s almost moot. This LEGO Harry Potter set could be good value, but it won’t change the fact that it’s exorbitantly expensive – the most expensive LEGO Harry Potter set of all time, in fact. That means the conversation around its price should really hinge on whether you are even capable of and willing to spend that amount of money on a single box of LEGO.
It’s a conversation we’ve already had in other themes like Star Wars and LEGO ICONS, where the prices of sets increasingly outstrip even the cost of 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition. But the end result is still the same: this is a Collectors’ Edition in the sense that it will only be easily accessible for a very small number of collectors.
While the value can be felt in the sheer size of the finished model, £430 / $500 / €500 will go a long way across the rest of the LEGO Harry Potter range, so saving up for this one set might not be the wisest use of a limited budget. To that end, 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition‘s price pitches it as a set for train fanatics (who are happy with a train that can’t function) or Wizarding World completists alone. If you count yourself among those groups, you probably won’t be too disappointed with what you get for your cash.
— LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition pictures —
— LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition summary —
We’re now five years into the renewed LEGO Harry Potter theme, and 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition is the Wizarding World line’s fourth direct-to-consumer set. It’s important to consider what’s come before when approaching this latest wallet-buster, not only for what else your money might get you, but also for what it does better and worse than its predecessors. Few of us will be able to afford all four of these sets, so has 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition done enough to claim a significant slice of your LEGO budget?
Well, it really depends what you want from a Wizarding World direct-to-consumer set. If you are lucky enough to have the rest – 71043 Hogwarts Castle, 75978 Diagon Alley and 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition – you’ll appreciate the variety this locomotive brings to the table. 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition takes us on a magical journey from the Philosopher’s Stone to the Deathly Hallows (with a couple of pit stops in between), anchoring its build around a narrative like no LEGO Harry Potter D2C before it.
As a standalone model, though, it perhaps doesn’t have quite the sheer fun, whimsy and magic of the rest of the collection (and in particular, 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition and 75978 Diagon Alley). By virtue of the opportunities afforded by its source material, it’s missing those inspired details and moments of joy from the wider Potter universe, and (to a degree) the sparkling colour palette of its contemporaries. The result is that 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition sometimes feels a bit plain by comparison.
All that said, the build is still positively engaging, and what the train really has going for it is its sheer size: it’s bound to elicit a ‘wow’ from anyone who walks by, even if they’ve seen images beforehand, because it’s difficult to grasp the real enormity of 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition until you see it in person. That makes it tempting for train fans too, even if it can’t join a wider loco layout (and the reasons for that validate it: where else will you find a train scaled so perfectly to minifigures?).
It could really end up coming down to price, then, and that’s where 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition gets really difficult to justify – if only because £430 / $500 / €500 can go a very long way elsewhere in this theme. And that really says more about LEGO Harry Potter than the Hogwarts Express…
This set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.
Click here to read more about our stance on LEGO Harry Potter, and consider donating to charities that support transgender people, such as Mermaids and Stonewall.
— Alternatives to LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition —
If you’re happy with any version of the Harry Potter train (not just the biggest one), make a beeline for 75955 Hogwarts Express before it retires at the end of 2022. Otherwise, for a cheaper (but arguably just as ultimate) Wizarding World experience, consider picking up any of the theme’s previous three direct-to-consumer sets in 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition, 71043 Hogwarts Castle and 75978 Diagon Alley.
— LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition FAQs —
How long does it take to build LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition?
With a total of 45 numbered bags in 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition (some of which are opened simultaneously, curiously), there’s a lot to get through. Expect to spend up to 12 hours putting the finishing touches to the magical train, with multiple instruction manuals included to split the sections between builders.
How many pieces are in LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition?
76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition includes 5,129 pieces, which makes it the third-biggest LEGO Harry Potter set to date, behind 71043 Hogwarts Castle (6,020 pieces) and 75978 Diagon Alley (5,544 pieces).
How big is LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition?
You’re going to need some serious space for 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition: the final model measures a whopping 118cm long, 26cm tall and 20cm deep. It’s one of the longest LEGO sets of all time, and longer than all four buildings in 75978 Diagon Alley.
How much does LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition cost?
76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition is available from August 31, 2022, and retails for £429.99 in the UK, $499.99 in the US and €499.99 in Europe. That makes it the most expensive LEGO Harry Potter set to date at the time of release.
One thought on “LEGO Harry Potter 76405 Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition review”
$500 in the US? No thanks. I’ll spend it elsewhere.