REVIEW: Hogwarts Whomping Willow – Part 1

I’ve had this set for a while. I liked that the whomping willow finally got included in a set, and a decent looking Ford Anglia too. I resisted building it until I had time to take photos along the way and write up a review. It has taken way longer than expected, so to get going, I’ve decided to break it into two parts. Many readers will already have bought and built this, but those who haven’t, this may help you decide. And for those interested in how this Ford Anglia stacks up to previous versions, read on!

Box and bags

Let’s first a look at the box. It has of course the same Harry Potter branding as the other sets in this wave. Otherwise, the front it shows the three key components of this set: The whomping willow, the Ford Anglia, and parts of Hogwarts.

Considering the number Harry Potter set made to date, it is surprising that this is the first time the iconic whomping willow is included in a set. The Ford Anglia is however a rather frequent visitor as we will discuss later.

The box also has a banner in the lower left showing the six included minifigures. More about these in part 2, but it is great to see the inclusion of Seamus Finnigan in particular, which should allow some explosive action.

IMG_20180815_120910

The back of the box shows play features and how this set links up with the Great Hall set (set 75954) to create an bigger castle, rather similar to the 4th generation Hogwarts Castle (set 4842) and the Battle of Hogwarts (set 4867).

IMG_20180815_120934

Inside the box you find 5 numbered bags, two manuals and a sticker sheet.

IMG_20180815_121815

IMG_20180815_121643

Lets get building – Ford Anglia

Bag 1 gives you the first two figures and the car. The figures are Harry Potter and Ron Weasley in casual clothes – as they were in Aragog’s Lair too, but different outfits though hair and head pieces are the same. I’ll get back to the figures in more detail in Part two.

For the car, some of the new 1×1 brackets are used. They come in two different colours.

IMG_20180815_130445

They prove very useful in adding details around the wheels and many MOC builders will appreciate these coming in out in a wider range of colours. An example of their usefulness is shown below.

 

IMG_20180815_130559

Apart from the use of the new parts, the construction also include upside-down elements as shown and is generally a fun little build.

IMG_20180815_131204

The final product can be seen here. It looks great next to Ron and Harry. Note that the door is printed. No sticker needed there. But stickers are used as usual for the license plates.

IMG_20180816_221409
Missed the Hogwarts Express? No problem, we’ll take the car…

It is not perfect though, as we shall see.

Without articulation of legs, figures cannot both “sit” in the car. One person can stand in the middle with the roof still on. Change of legs to normal or the new “teenage” legs (see discussion of these in my blog post about the Harry Potter CMF series figures) will make them fit in height, but rattle around, as they do not fit on studs side by side.

IMG_20180815_183710
Roof cannot be put in place, when Harry and Ron are ‘sitting’ side by side

Also, the car completely lack any interior detail apart from a steering wheel.

IMG_20180815_182747
A steering wheel, and that’s it. No gear, nor seats…

Flaws aside, this is a pretty good looking car. As we shall see later, the best yet.

Whomping willow – a tree with attitude

With bag 2 we get the whomping willow. The tree is build on a base, with alternating use of colours and shapes gives it a good rough and natural look. It also has an entrance to an underground tunnel as featured in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

IMG_20180828_070057
Tree trunk with tunnel entrance at the base.

However, on top of this base comes first a layer of Technic bricks with exposed holes followed by a rather pale looking section of two half cylinders, who are given stickers to break up the smoothness, though rather unsuccessful in my opinion. The four curved branches that embraces the cylinder centre are doing a better job.

The reason for use of these half cylinders is the key play feature of the set – the rotating branches of the tree, simulating when it is upset (which happens rather easily).

Through turning a knob, Technic axles and gearing, the four large branches that are added on top can rotate around its base.

‘Can you believe our luck?’ said Ron miserably, bending down to pick up Scabbers the rat. ‘Of all the trees we could’ve hit, we had to get one that hits back.’

He glanced over his shoulder at the ancient tree, which was still flailing its branches threateningly.

The branches are connected to the rotating top through ball sockets, giving good articulation (allowing the branches to hold on to the car as it spins around). The ball sockets however are light grey in colour rather than brown, which does attract from the overall look.

IMG_20180815_183502

Rotating the branches works well visually (and from memory, the tree is seen in one of the movies exactly rotating its branches like that in the background). It does shed it leaves in the process. Green stems to be inserted into Technic connectors does not fit well enough to hold on during any serious turning, to a point it must be considered a design error.

IMG_20180815_183828

Overall, the tree looks pretty decent though, big enough in size to match the car, and a play feature that will keep kids entertained (once they have accepted that the stems will fall off). The inclusion of the tunnel entry that played a large role in the third movie is also a nice addition.

IMG_20180815_183540

I would have preferred smashing branches rather than rotating, and getting rid of the half cylinders. I may try alternative build ideas later this year.

Ford Anglia – how do the LEGO versions stack up?

The car, a 1959 model Ford Anglia Anglia 105E, feature in (at least) four memorable scenes from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The rescue at Privet Drive, the car trip along the railway to Hogwarts, the accidental landing in whomping willow and the car coming to the rescue when facing the spiders in the forbidden forest. The first three have now been covered in sets.

microscaleIn addition, a small version of the car was included in the LEGO Dimensions team pack, and an even smaller is coming in the huge microscale Hogwarts castle (set 71043).

In the photo below, they have been lined up in order left to right (excluding the microscale one shown to the insert picture).

Comparing them (disregarding the Dimensions car in front), they all capture the backward sloping back window using different techniques. The latest model is significantly lower than the previous, though as explained, the figures cannot fit side by side in there. The front is best modelled in the last two versions with the grey mudguard piece. Only the latter has printed door, though the colour is a bit transparent rather than full white as the rest of the stripe along the car.

IMG_20180815_175205

Here are a few photos of the a real Ford Anglia for comparison(unsure if this is a model 1959), standing in front of my local favourite Harry Potter store: The Store of Requirement. Looking at these, the two first versions of the Anglia seems too high.

Viewing from the back, I think the first and last of the models does the best job. All three versions have a trunk that opens.

IMG_20180815_182523

As pointed out earlier, the interior in the whomping willow version was disappointing. Here, the two earlier models have more detail added with minimal use of bricks. Why couldn’t LEGO have added a couple of extra brings to give that better finish?

IMG_20180815_182648

In summary, the new models is the most accurate to date, though seating of figures are difficult due to the lower height, and interior generally lacking.

This is LEGO, so the latter can easily be adjusted by your own modifications. Or you can design your own from scratch. This is what Danish LEGO fan Lukas (lego3x11l)  has done as seen on his YouTube channel below. It is hard to believe it can be done any better!

Enjoy the magic!

One thought on “REVIEW: Hogwarts Whomping Willow – Part 1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s