Roller Coaster (10261) Review

The Roller Coaster (10261) made my wish list early on. There was a time when I thought it would retire before I could ever get it. Luckily, tides turned, and I purchased the set spring 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic ranging, the Roller Coaster also became one of my quarantine builds. Currently, this is the 10th largest LEGO® set ever produced. In this week’s review, we look at whether it met my expectations or not.

Click here to read about how I generate scores in my reviews.

Roller Coaster (10261) front box art.

ROLLER COASTER (10261) SUMMARY

  • NAME: Roller Coaster
  • SET #: 10261
  • THEME: Creator Expert
  • COST: $479.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 4124
  • MINIFIGURES: 11
  • RELEASE DATE: May 17, 2018
Roller Coaster (10261) rear box art.

ROLLER COASTER (10261) QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 86% (Good value, but not great compared to other Creator Expert sets.)
  • BUILD: 80% (Lots of frustration troubleshooting this set.)
  • MINIFIGURES: 80% (Modified score based on comparison to only other Creator Expert sets.)
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 100% (The finished product is truly display worthy.)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 87%
Roller Coaster (10261)

ROLLER COASTER (10261) REVIEW

VALUE: 86%

First, let us just get this out of the way: the Roller Coaster is an expensive set. Some argue that it is an inhibitive price. In fact, in the two years since the set came out, I refrained from buying it for precisely that reason. Good fortune smiled on me and I eventually picked it up. Considering that the kit costs $479.99 in Canada, the resulting cost-per-brick is $0.12. Comparatively, my average is $0.14/brick currently. Therefore, you get a good value. However, it is not an excellent value. To give you an idea, the average cost-per-brick of all the Creator Expert sets that I have built is $0.09. As a result, I rate the value-per-brick for the Roller Coaster at 86%.

Roller Coaster (10261) sign.

With a set this large, you can bet on a lot of build time. I spent 11 hours and 34 minutes putting this together (694 minutes total). Therefore, each minute of build time cost $0.69. Again, that is good, but not amazing. Consequently, it earns a score of 86% in this category as well. My best guess for the good-but-not-great value is the added cost of producing the specialty tracks. However, take that with a grain of salt.

Minifigures riding the Roller Coaster (10261).

BUILD: 80%

This build had some real highs and monumental lows. It was a roller coaster ride (pun intended). I do not think I have ever felt so polarized about a LEGO® set review before. Overall, the Roller Coaster is more than I thought it would be. The build is HUGE. I had seen it in the LEGO® Store before, but the size of the set blew me away regardless once I finished it and it was sitting on my kitchen table. There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of my favorite sets. However, there were moments when I was not so sure.

Juice stand in the line-up area.

Firstly, if you do not like repetitive builds, you are in for a rough time. Repetition usually does not bother me. However, there were moments where assembling columns and crossbeams became monotonous. Piecing the lift chain together was not as big a deal as I have read in other reviews. Each bag of chain links contains 52 pieces. A little math will save you a lot of counting in that regard. Based on others whom I have talked to about the Roller Coaster, there is a good chance you will have to play with the “official” number of links anyway, I did.

Cotton candy machine.

Be ready to troubleshoot… a lot.

That leads me to my next point. I had to troubleshoot this set SO MUCH after finishing. That was a major disappointment. After spending over eleven and a half hours building, having the mechanisms not work was really upsetting. It almost ruined the experience because it was not a quick session of finding and fixing problems. There is so much going on in this set that I did not know where to start looking for an issue. Additionally, the design is so intricate and complex that disassembling sections is necessary to find gear and mechanism issues in areas. It took me well over an hour to troubleshoot. All my other fairground rides have also needed troubleshooting, but no where near as much as this one.

Ticket booth

Troubleshooting suggestions:

  1. When building, do not pack the gears too tightly
  2. Check for firm connections between column bricks
  3. Ensure tracks are firmly connected to columns
  4. Check that track-to-track junctions are level
  5. Turn cranks under the boarding deck to make sure they rotate easily
  6. Ensure gears at coaster peak all turn easily
  7. Play with your lift chain length to make sure it flows smoothly (I had to add one link to mine, other have had to remove or add varying numbers)
  8. Ensure all car wheels rotate smoothly (see video below).

Ultimately, the major issue with my Roller Coaster was not in the structure assembly. The wheels of my cars did not turn properly. If the wheels of the cars do not rotate well, your cars will get stuck in the first dip of the ride (see video above). I figured out that my wheels were faulty because I tested each car of each train one by one. If a car could not make it through the first dip, then I exchanged the wheels that came with the set for a pair that came with the Pirate Roller Coaster (31084). I found that seven of the twelve wheels in my kit did not roll properly. Thankfully, the LEGO® Group has amazing customer service. I explained the situation to them, and they sent me seven new wheel pieces.

Park map showing previous fairground rides.

If you move the set, get ready to troubleshoot some more.

Finally, I also recommend that you build this set wherever you intend to display it. I had to move mine after building it and will have to move it again soon. The move required me to troubleshoot the ride again. However, this time it went faster because I knew the train wheels were not an issue and I focused on the rest of the list above. However, the structure of the Roller Coaster is very sturdy. It withstood the move well and only a few pieces misaligned.

Minifigures on the first incline.

With troubleshooting out of the way, I really enjoy this set. There are many fun details including signage, a park map, juice stand, photo/ticket booth, line-up area, and cotton candy machine. I added power functions to mine, and I have liked watching my roller coaster trains whir around the track. However, the repetition, the level of my frustration immediately after building, as well getting seven faulty wheel sets pulls the score down. I rate this build at 8/10 (80%).

"Do not stand up" sign on the Roller Coaster (10261)

MINIFIGURES: 80% (Modified scale, 59% using my regular scale.)

The Roller Coaster comes with eleven Minifigures. One of them is a stumpy child. I do not know why the set included a child Minifigure because they cannot even sit in the roller coaster seats. Given that I loathe the unbending legs of those characters, this set loses some points right there. Otherwise, the characters are fun, and the rest have all the standard Minifigure parts. Of the eleven, only three do not have double-sided faces. Additionally, all have front and back torso printing, but none have leg printing. Finally, the set contains 17 accessories (ride tickets, calculator tiles, money tiles, cameras, cotton candy, etc.). These design specifications earn a score of 133/165 (81%).

Since the Roller Coaster contains 4124 pieces, you get a brick-to-Minifigure ratio of 375:1. Despite a seemingly large number of characters, the brick-to-fig ratio is bad. Comparatively, my average is currently 156:1. Using my normal scale, this set earns an underwhelming 36%. However, Creator expert sets are notorious for poor ratio scores. Their average is 372:1. Therefore, for this category of set, the number of Minifigures included is close to standard. Based on only Creator Expert sets, I rate the ratio score at 79%. Averaging the design and ratio scores on a regular scale gives a Minifigure rating of 59%. When using the Creator Expert only ratio score, the set earns 80%.

ENTERTAINMENT: 100%

I like the finished product for this set a lot. Once all the troubleshooting is out of the way, the Roller Coaster is phenomenal. I am keeping this set built exactly as it is and putting it on display. As an AFOL, I rate the entertainment score at 100%. Additionally, I showed the set to my nieces over video chat and they seemed impressed. As a kid, I would have never gotten such an extravagant and expensive set. However, I would have loved it if I had. This is way too difficult for a younger builder to assemble though. The set has a 16+ rating. For that reason, I will not rate the KFOL score this time around.

OVERALL SCORE: 87%

Thinking about the build experience for the Roller Coaster (10261) still upsets me a little. However, I am happy that I bought this set all the same. The product is amazing once you get it working. Despite including eleven Minifigures, a set this size still needs one or two more in my opinion. Additionally, the value is good but not great. I doubt many people will ever find this set on sale though. So, if you want it, you will just have to fork out the full price. The assembly might be aggravating, but I cannot see many people hating the result. Overall, I rate this set at 87% when compared with only other Creator Expert sets. However, if I use my normal criteria, the set earns 81%. All the same, I recommend this set.

Until next time,

-Tom

Roller Coaster (10261) line-up area

What do others think?

Brick Insights is an awesome site that aggregates LEGO® set review scores from around the web. Based on their statistics, you can see what other reviewers think of the Roller Coaster (10261) below.

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