Blox - Double Decker Bus review
Previously I bought and reviewed the “High Speed Tanker” set and in the review I stated that I didn’t want to purchase any more of the plagiarist sets ever again, mainly so that I am not supporting companies that are freebooting previous LEGO designs. Fast forward a year later and I find the pull of Blox once again which is why I am reviewing the set “Double Decker Bus” which consists of 280 pieces and a ‘medium’ difficulty building level.
Just like my previous review, note the section saying that Blox bricks are compatible with a leading brand.
This set is based around the iconic red design of an AEC Routemaster bus which began service around London in 1956, being withdrawn almost entirely in 2005. The box of this set however is not as reliable as the iconic bus because the product on the box is incorrectly built according to the instructions inside. The box shows a 1x2 black tile underneath the front grille whereas the instructions show it to be placed above the passenger entry at the back of the vehicle. Sadly it is the first of several inconsistencies and an inconsistency that is easy to miss (but also easily forgettable as it doesn’t affect the overall design).
Inside the box there are five bags, one instruction sheet and no stickers which is a welcome surprise given my previous encounter. The bricks are separated by size and transparency with some of the smaller opaque elements included with the transparent ones. Interestingly, out of the almost 50 transparent elements the windshield came wrapped in a separate bag within the largest portion of bricks. Curious because all of the other trans elements were included together.
There are some unique moulds to this set that I have not encountered before. On the left the tyre and wheel assembly are all made out of plastic despite Blox manufacturing rubber tyres in other sets. The assembly will run smoothly on all surfaces however it would have been nice to see a rubber tyre instead of hard plastic. In the middle we have a red wheel arch which has a 2x2 plate attached behind the arch. Below that a 4x3 angled tile that will eventually form the hood of the bus. On the right there is a 2x2 modified plate with a 20 to 25 degree angle wedge at the front and below that a 1x2 inverted slope that has a ⅔ depression where the main bulk of the element would normally be. Finally on the far right there is a 1x1 angled SNOT plate and a steering wheel below. The angled 1x1 plate is intriguing and I would like to see exactly how versatile that could be. This is also two for two on Blox sets I own that have a piece I would like LEGO to produce.
Unfortunately I could not avoid the curse of the clone brand because I was presented with a few bricks that were marked or incorrectly moulded in some way. The worst offender was a 1x2 brick which had black marks on some of the corners. Whether this was a foreign object in the mould from a previous cycle or some sort of machine lubricant - these marks are not removable from this piece. Another, unhappy inconsistency which I would not expect from other brands.
Going back to a happier subject the bags are a lot easier to open because each one has two serrated edges. Simply pull one side of the bag from top to bottom and you have instant access to the pieces. This is a welcome addition considering that the smaller, cheaper sets are still packaged with an almost impenetrable plastic bag that knives and fingers struggle with.
The instruction sheet is one piece of A4 folded in half to make an A5 booklet with printing on all sides on a quality gloss paper higher than the photocopier standard I have experienced. The individual instructions have a section to call out what parts are needed at every step which will be especially useful to younger builders and adult fans alike. The first page has a complete list of parts as well as the name of the set. To round out the first page there are instructions numbered one to three that culminate in creating the base layer of the chassis.
Expanding on the chassis on page two we complete the first layer of the vehicle, showing the trademark split cab design of the Routemaster we know and love. The vehicle is 6 studs wide in total with a 4 stud wide interior and no seats, however rudimentary stairs are included at the rear. While it is possible to fit a minifigure inside there is simply too much of a contrast in scale between them. Instead I would encourage your imagination to populate it.
Coming towards the end of the instructions on page three we are nearly finished with the upper deck. Page four attaches the roof and wheels leaving us with a finished bus.
In the end the build is quite fulfilling considering it only cost four pounds. The 280 pieces fit together without stressing other elements and the overall shape matches that of a Routemaster so thumbs up for that. There is also an appropriate level of detail throughout including a white line between the two decks, the placement of the front lights halfway up the grille and two destination signs.
Some of the less attractive features however are the flashing that has been left behind from the moulding process. Quite a few pieces have little sections of soft plastic jutting out from the side and one or two pieces that are a bit thinner than their counterparts. Luckily the flashing can be removed by rubbing your fingernail across the side. Personally I would like to see rubber tyres included in the future instead of the plastic ones we are presented with - but for four pounds I shouldn’t really complain.
All in all when you consider that this set is reasonably priced it is not a bad gift and I’m sure most children would love it. It took me about half an hour to slot this together and the simplistic techniques would not take a child much longer. They would get an afternoon of fun out of this so, despite it’s flaws, I would recommend this set for parents and children. As an adult fan I will add it to my display of clone brands now that I have it and I would recommend some of the pieces to my friends but all in all I would not expect other adult fans to purchase it for themselves.
If you would like a copy of this set then click here to purchase from an online stockist. Sorry to those outside the UK however as I have not been able to find an international stockist/retailer. I have heard that they are available in the US branded under a different name but that is as much as I have been able to find.
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