LEGO Ideas switches to a new track with the reveal of 21344 Orient Express. The Orient Express is a classic train that is a part of popular culture, most prominently in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express novel and its movie adaptations. The Orient Express first ran in 1883, and though the original incarnation ceased operation in 1977, you can still ride the Venice-Simplon Orient Express in very similar coaches today. The set rumbles in with a 4-6-0 steam locomotive, a 3-axle tender, a restaurant car, and a sleeping car with two classes of accommodations. Built from 2,540 pieces and including 8 minifigures, it will be available from LEGO.com and LEGO stores worldwide starting December 1st for US $299.99 | CAN $TBD | UK £259.99.
LEGO Ideas 21344 Orient Express | 2,540 pieces | Available December 1st | US $299.99 | CAN $TBD | UK £259.99
Nearly every Ideas set provokes opinions, positive and negative, about changes between the original submission and the released set. In this case, reaction has been especially mixed because there are significant changes. As submitted, there was only one coach and a much larger locomotive. However, the locomotive used wagon wheels in place of driving wheels and was a long way from being able to run on LEGO track. The final engine has also been made more generic, causing some train fans to absolutely lose their studs, but perhaps a reasonable choice given that the real train has run with so many different locomotives over time, let alone that it changes power every time it crosses into a new country. Even a Crocodile Locomotive has been seen leading the OE…
The changes to the coaches are structurally less drastic – they are a bit smaller than the original, having been shortened and also brought in to eight studs wide instead of ten, but the inclusion of two is quite welcome.
This is a licensed set, but the license is with Accor, the current holder of the Orient Express brand, not with the recent “Murder on the Orient Express” movie. The included cast of characters certainly could let you act out your own mysteries, though.
Here’s the press release from LEGO:
ALL ABOARD! TRAVEL THROUGH TIME WITH THE NEW LEGO IDEAS ORIENT EXPRESS SET
16th November 2023: The LEGO Group today unveils the LEGO® Ideas Orient Express – a beautiful brick recreation of the one of the world’s most luxurious and legendary forms of travel. Known as a ‘rolling palace’ the Orient Express was the world’s first international luxury train that carried thousands of passengers across Europe to Istanbul from 1883 to 1977.
Released to celebrate the train’s 140th anniversary, the new 2,540-piece LEGO set transports builders back to the Golden Age of travel, with some stunning key features, including the main locomotive, tender, dining and sleeping cars.
The LEGO Ideas Orient Express set also features removable roofs to allow access to detailed interiors, 8 LEGO minifigures including the conductor, a chef, staff, and a variety of passengers that depict different passengers. Decorations of the destinations that the train visited on its original route are also visible across the magnificent set.
The set was designed by 27-year old Paris-based, LEGO fan Thomas Lajon, as part of the LEGO Ideas programme. Once designed, 10,000 people voted for it to be made into a real set. Talking about his design, Thomas Lajon said, “I have always been a great fan of locomotives, sailing ships and ocean liners. As a child, I collected everything related to them. Years later, my girlfriend encouraged me to get back in touch with LEGO bricks and knowing my love for trains, she encouraged me to make one. Obviously, I chose to make the Orient Express. A sumptuous French train, at the heart of many stories.”
The LEGO Ideas Orient Express Set is available from 1st December via LEGO Stores and www.LEGO.com/Orient-Express priced at $299.99 / £259.99/ €299.99/ 469.99 AUD/ 2499 CNY / 121990 HUF.