I actually got this set back on my birthday in September but since it's Halloween I decided today is the perfect day to review this set. After all, what's more appropriate for the season than a haunted house?
This is the Lego Monster Fighters line Haunted House. The Monster Fighters line is a series based off of old horror movies with a lot of sets based off of vampires, werewolves, mad scientists and swamp monsters. The Haunted House is the biggest set in the series, and also one of the hardest to get because it's usually not sold physically in stores except for the Lego Store. The set actually came out last year but I didn't find out about it until a few months ago until the lovely Zarnyx said she wanted the set, too. This is the first new Lego set I've gotten in a while, so what do I think of it?
First off, this sucker became the biggest set in my collection by leaps and bounds. Normally the large sets in series are between 300-400 pieces, this sucker as over 2000 pieces. The only other set I own that's anywhere even in that same ballpark is the original Lego Mindstorms which clocks in at over 700 pieces.
This is the instruction manual. When I first opened it I thought it was actually just one manual and a couple of catalogs as Lego is wont to do, but actually the manual is three volumes. I repeat, this set is HUGE. It actually took close to three evenings to build the whole thing, and for me, normally I'm done building even some of the larger Lego sets within a few hours. The building actually isn't too complicated, there weren't any weird piece arrangements and the instructions were actually really nicely organized. The pieces all came in numbered bags and the manual divided the building up into sections based off of the numbers. And for each step it would not only show what pieces would be added next, there was actually a key that said specifically how many of each piece was needed so you could gather them before trying to build things. While it seemed a little daunting at first, it was actually very simple as long as you didn't get ahead of yourself. The one downside of the manual was that the first volume didn't have the colors printed correctly, so I spent half a hour looking for light gray pieces to build the fireplace when in reality I needed the dark gray instead. The large reason for taking so long isn't just the amount of pieces, but all the detail work. A lot of sets include wall pieces that are about two and a half inches tall to fill in large solid sections, in this set you're building every wall brick by brick. There is also a lot of detail in terms of broken cobblestone, loose floorboards and some very detailed furniture.
When the set is totally built it's about 15 inches high, and honestly, I was expecting it to be bigger. The box the set came in was over 2 feet high and 18 inches long. Even though it was smaller than my expectations, it's a really nice design. It's a very convincing looking Victorian style house that opens up like a dollhouse and has six rooms inside including a kitchen, a bedroom, an office and a large attic with working ladder.
The set comes with six mini figures: two ghosts, a vampire, the vampire's bride, a Frankenstein butler and zombie chef. The ghosts and the vampires' heads glow in the dark for a nice, spooky touch. The figures, like the rest of the set, are very detailed with the vampire bride and zombie chef having printed decorations on both sides of their bodies, and the vampire having detail even on his legs. I'm a bit disappointed that there weren't any skeletons included in this set though, since skeletons were always pretty common in other Lego sets like the Adventurers, Pirates and Castle sets.
The detail in this set is absolutely astounding. The bottle over the fireplace has a ship printed on it, the furniture is built to have real spun legs and crown molding and the phonograph player is even built with a needle. You can open and close the stove in the kitchen and open the door of the wardrobe. Some of the windows have stickers that imitate cracks and spiderwebs and many of the windows are barred with boards with nails and woodgrain printed on them. The finished set has the real impression of a dilapidated old mansion with exposed bricks and worn fixtures. And as you can see from my photos, it photographs great.
While this set is awesome in many ways, there is one giant chink in an otherwise perfect toy: the damn box. Most Lego sets, especially the largest sets, have one of three kinds of boxes: a box that closes to the side like old Gameboy boxes, a two part box like for shirts or a flap and tray that holds all the pieces. Not the Haunted House, it has a tab and flap opening that opens far too easily, and none of the bags of pieces are resealable, so if you take it out of somewhere the wrong way up, it's going to pop open and 2000 extremely small pieces are going to go flying everywhere. When a toy costs almost 200 dollars, it shouldn't have the same kind of closure as a box of Count Chocula! Not only that, the box is way too big for the pieces. They could have made the set a good 20% smaller and still have an impressive looking box, and one that would have fit better with my other Lego sets. It's actually going to take a bit of rearranging to have this thing fit in my closet with the rest of my collection.
Over all if you are a Lego fan this is a really great set. It's huge with lots of great detail that will eat up a lot of your time and provide you with lots of great pieces for original concepts. The mini figures are cute and it's a beautiful finished model. Just be aware that your manual may have some color issues and have a plan on what you're going to do with the box before you get started since it will be underfoot because of its size and illogical closure.