Reviewed by Clive Crafford (SAFOLs Member, jhbLUG Member)
Suffice it to say I was jumping up and down like a five year old on Christmas morning when I received this set. When joining the LEGO® hobby, it doesn’t take long before you have a wish list of sets that your heart desires. And it is not every day that you get the opportunity to add one to your collection, so when I saw this, I could not let it go by. Advertised on Facebook for more than a month without selling it, I made the seller an offer nearly 35% less then what he was asking, and he was happy to take it. It was also far less than the cheapest one currently on Bricklink – and with the set in a good condition with the original box – a bargain!
The set was first released in 1990, with 767 pieces, 9 minifigures and a retail price of $140.00. The set I have unfortunately is missing one window, one minifigure and one 16 x 16 baseplate, but sure I will be able to replace those – the important (and expensive) parts are included – working motor and track. The box has some tears around the corners (as can be seen above – left bottom corner). It still holds up well though, and can be carried around with all parts inside. The box art is not faded, can still clearly see the image of the monorail car. The track layout is shown as well, and this is the smallest configuration space wise, that it can be set up in. The age range is given as 8 – 12 years, so I am a bit old for it – but the set itself is older than I am.
The box has a cover that you can lift up – revealing some images of a child enjoying the set, and instructions on how to operate the monorail. The bottom has windows so you can see the perfectly packed parts, or in my case, scattered parts in a few Ziploc bags.
The original price sticker of this set was also still visible, retailing for US $159.99 in New Jersey at Jamesway Discount Stores that unfortunately did not last as long. I bought this set from a guy that received this set from his parents back in 1990/1991. It was built and played with by him as a child, but was then boxed up and packed away for more than a decade, until he discovered it again and decided to sell it.
The first item out of the box is the manual – there are a lot of pages with creases, and also some loose pages as can be expected from a set belonging to a child that just wanted to have fun. Despite that, it is still well preserved. The majority was clear though, and I used it to build the model. LEGO instruction manuals have come far though compared to this nearly 30 years old manual, and big improvements have been made by the LEGO Group. There are times where you really have to check what parts are needed, as they aren’t always listed, or check where they go, and the page cuts them off without you being able to identify which piece it is.
The next parts are the baseplates that come with the set. There are also two 8 x 16 green baseplates, just not pictured here. The grey parts are quite discoloured here, but the green baseplates is still in an excellent condition. There is another 16 x 16 grey baseplate for this set that I did not receive, but was able to use one from my parts. Both the shuttle stations are built on these, one being a raised platform, and the other being on ground level.
Also included are the track supports, 8 tall ones, and 2 half the height, for the middle of the ramps. They slot into the monorail track easily, but still with enough gripping power to not fall out when you lift the track. They also have plates at the bottom that can be stuck onto other plates or bricks, however is preferred.
The most expensive pieces in the set are of course the track itself. With this set comes 8 quarter curves, 6 quarter straights, 5 straight pieces, 4 straight ramp pieces, 2 half straight pieces that allow you to control the monorail train and 1 half straight. Unfortunately one of the track control pieces was broken in my set, so although it works for the train to go across, it doesn’t allow you to control the train. The ratio of straight to curved sections of track was a lot better back in the day, as you got more straight pieces, which are the hard to come by and always in demand pieces.
The monorail train itself is a good size, has a sturdy design, and is similar to other train sets of the time. There is certainly room for MOC’s here, especially using pieces that are available today for a much more modern take. The motor still works perfectly, and I hope it will for a long time to come. There is space at each end of both cabs for a driver. The one on the left above only has space for two passengers as opposed to four in the other side, because of the space being taken up by the battery pack. The more recent city sets with a monorail or tram car don’t have space for more minifigures either. The sides and windshields of both cars also flip open for easy access to place minifigures inside. The on/off switch for the battery is on the battery itself, and access is gained by lifting the side cover up.
The first station you get to build is the one on ground floor. (There is one tan plate instead of a white plate.) The station itself is very simple, just a platform with a small roof overhang, and seating for two people. The cross walk extends over the road, to a bus stop, also with two seats and a phone booth. A nice touch, remembering that this set came out long before cell phones became popular. There are some flowers decorating the sidewalk – made from pieces with the same moulding we can find today.
The second station is raised about 10 bricks high. The platform has seating for two minifigures, with a staircase leading up. The stairs are completely brick built, and parts intensive, so I understand why they have the single stair piece now. There is also a hot dog stand underneath. The newer sets contain a few more details then this set, but still nice to have it included. On the opposite side has a bus stop with two seats for waiting minifigures, some flowers and two lamp posts. (One missing above.)
The set assembled completely. It is an impressive set, and takes up quite a large area, 120cm x 140cm. In comparison to train set today, it takes up more space, mostly due to the two stations that are included. I think it would be great if LEGO could do something similar again with its current train sets, including bigger stations, or at least have proper stations for sale separately. The market for trains and related products is definitely big enough world-wide to encourage this. The stickers are all intact, and still well stuck one, with just one exception.
Overall I am very pleased with this set, and feel the lack of monorail sets today. It was a great theme that LEGO surely can continue. I will be playing with it all weekend, and planning on how to incorporate it into my yet to be built city. I hope to add to my monorail track collection in the near future, and incorporate this set along with that on a much larger scale.