LEGO Creator Expert | Ghostbusters Ecto-1 [REVIEW]
Theme: LEGO Creator Expert
Name: Ghostbusters Ecto-1 (10274)
Price: €199.99 | $199.99
Based on the new Ghostbusters: Afterlife movie, the Ecto-1 is technically the largest creator expert vehicle to date. It feels strange to classify it as such, given how it’s much larger and more detailed than the rest. It’s similar to the Aston Martin DB5 set in the sense that it’s a licensed vehicle with lots of features, but the Ecto-1 contains 1,062 more pieces and retails for €50 more.
The question is, for €199.99, is this an overpriced Creator Expert vehicle, or a UCS Ecto-1?
This set has no minifigures, so those sections won’t be included in this review.
The boxart is the same style they use for all 18+ sets these days. The glow behind the set is green and blue, while the greebling strip is a strong red colour. There’s nothing incredibly new with the boxart, but it does work well for this set.
The unboxing was interesting in that the instructions came in a cardboard envelope instead of a plastic bag. It’s weird they don’t do this more often, given their ‘environmentally friendly’ progression recently. As a once off, it is appropriate for this set, at least.
The instruction manual includes unique art on the cover, a trivia section, and is printed on black paper. This was a nice surprise, given how formulaic and similar many D2C sets are these days. This is potentially the last time a set I build is printed on the black paper, as it happens. On one hand, I’ll miss how premium they felt, but I did experience issues with faded/scratched printing during this build, so maybe it’s for the best.
Compared to other Creator Expert vehicles, this set was exceptionally fun. There’s so many satisfying bodywork sections and interesting play features all throughout. If this set had a display plaque, it could easilybe a UCS set (but we’ll get to that).
The mechanism for the steering in this set is the same as in the Porsche 911 set. It’s one of the first things you build, and it’s a super strong and genius piece of engineering. I think it has extra gears to simulate the extra turning of the steering wheel you find in older cars like this Cadillac. I’m not 100% sure if it was intentional, but seeing the rest of this set I wouldn’t be surprised.
The highlight of this build was definitely the mechanism for the rotating extendo-chair. It is easily the coolest thing I’ve built since the cartridge feature in the NES set. It’s the same type of idea, with the triangular piece creating a ‘hump’ that flips the chair around. The loosely attached inner working combines with a pneumatic piece to create the effect. The mechanism on the inside is so unique I still don’t really know how it works. When I saw the mechanism in action, I was genuinely blown away.
Trap Door Mechanism
You build a mechanism for a play feature very early on, whose function doesn’t get revealed until the last page of the instructions. I spent the entirety of the build wondering what the sliding chair does. It turned out to be a ‘trapdoor’ ramp that slides a tiny rc car off it. Much like the swinging door mechanism, I was blown away when I figured out what it did.
There’s a lot of subtle play features that you build almost unknown to yourself throughout this set. You’d start something very early on, add a little bit to it halfway through the build, and only find out what it does right towards the end. Its immensely enjoyable and made me almost gasp when I finally figured out what I was building.
The back fenders over the wheels were weirdly my favourite sections of the bodywork build. It uses a much cooler technique to connect them than you’d imagine just by looking at it. They actually connect it by using ball joints, before connecting more sloped pieces around it. It wasn’t exactly an incredible technique, but it was surprising and incredibly satisfying.
The overall bodywork surprised me with how it is put together. You kind of put it together in patches that are attached to a technic frame via 1×1 technic pins. You’d think they all be built as one but that absolutely isn’t the case.
The entire front section of the car fits together extremely well. The bonnet especially was quick but very fun to put together. Especially around that pointed white bit about the grille, the pieces fit together so smoothly that it almost feels like a single piece.
Similarly, the technique used on the doors to get the window recessed into the body a bit more wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking, but it was different to what I’d expect. In general the body comes together in very surprising ways all throughout. Every section comes together in an interesting and different way.
I think the most surprising thing about this build was that it had pretty much 0 repetition. Large scale vehicles like these are symmetrical by nature, so it’s generally almost impossible to build an accurate model without some. This set is an exception to that. The entire build has so much variety to it, with two sections rarely if ever needing to be repeated. Even the back doors are different, to accommodate the interior and its play features. I really can’t emphasise how much this build experience exceeded my expectations. This has got to be the most fun Creator Expert vehicle set to build so far, and that’s saying something.
The sticker usage in this set is pretty special because it allows you to essentially choose which version the of car you’re building. Most stickers on this set are to add rust/aging details on it, as that’s how it looks in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. I feel like the vast majority (if not all) people who end up buying this set are buying it because of their love for the original movie, so it’s fantastic to see that by omitting placing these stickers on, you are creating the car from the original movie instead. Whether this was intentional or not, I love having this option. If you really wanted to, you could buy two of this set and have an “old vs new” set of Ecto-1’s, where the only difference is using some stickers.
I personally didn’t apply any of the rust stickers onto this set. As a result, I feel like the model and my build experience were far better off for it. I don’t have any interest in the new movie, but I appreciate the car for how iconic it is. I don’t think I’m alone in that thought process either. You can treat this as confirmation that you need not apply them unless you want to.
Surprisingly, the ghostbusters logo on each door (both sides and the back) are all printed pieces. I’m not sure why they decided not to make them into stickers, but I’m not complaining.
The only stickers on the exterior of the car would be the Cadillac logo on the bonnet, the license plates on each end, the crooked lines on each side of the windshield, and the tiny “danger” labels on the top of the car. Everything else you see on the outside is printed (including the “vents” on the sirens and speaker atop the car).
There are more stickers in this set, but I have no issues with how they are used. The dashboard of the car has only printed pieces, so too does the gadgetry in the back of the car. Stickers are used for the Cadillac logo on the engine, as well as some small details on the interior, such as the “RTV” writing on the box. The sticker usage overall is very appropriate and didn’t feel excessive in the slightest.
One thing I really appreciated about the stickers here would be that they all had a transparent background. This meant there were no worries of a sticker not matching up colour-wise to the piece it is stuck to. It’s a small detail, but its something I wish LEGO did more often. There’s nothing worse than placing a sticker with a white background onto a white piece, and seeing that the colours are noticeably different. This solves that completely. Massive thumbs up to LEGO here.
The Extending Chair
The play function to have the chair spin as it extends out the door is easily my favourite feature. To work this, you need to push into a specific slope of bodywork while the back door is fully open. The way they blended it in seamlessly to the bodywork and the interior is nothing short of amazing. You couldn’t tell there was a play feature here at all just by looking at the model. My only criticism with this is that the chair will not extend properly unless the back door is fully open. It feels and looks strange to have the door folded in on itself, but that’s a limitation of the medium. I’m sure the designers tried to solve this, and it would be fixed if it was possible. That being said, it’s a small price to pay for such a cool feature, so I can’t really complain.
The RC Car
The little RC car is a nice addition, but the mechanism to allow it to drop out and drive away is next level. You pull out the back left section by the back door and the floor opens out, which creates a ramp. The rc car then drives down the ramp (because gravity), and the momentum keeps it driving for a little bit. It sounds so simple, but the execution is brilliantly hidden and works so well.
Another really cool feature would be the tv and directional antennae on the roof. What I love about these is that they are both linked to the rear wheels’ rotation, but by using a kind of ‘piston’ mechanism. As a result, one continuously turns 360 degrees, while the other slowly ‘scans’ only whats ahead of the car. I built the model and I still don’t really know how it works. This is another example of the actual engineering genius that goes into a set like this, even if it’s to create such a small feature.
The Steering Siren
A feature I didn’t even realize was there until I finished building would be with the siren light. You can actually use this siren to control the steering of the car! The car of course has a functioning steering wheel as well, but by putting this extra ability to steer on the top, you don’t have to cram your hand in through the window to turn the tiny steering wheel. It’s such a nice quality of life feature that they very easily could’ve gotten away with not including. I’m so glad they did include it though, as it makes posing and positioning the model so much easier. The mechanism to allow this is cleverly hidden within the interior of the car too.
In terms of how the car looks, I think it looks incredible. The shape of the car is so iconic and well recreated from every angle. The bodywork is smooth but still has the occasional visible stud to remind you that it’s still a LEGO model. Comparing it with an image from the movie, the roof apparatus is spot on aswell.
They represented the chrome of the original car with light grey throughout the model. I like this decision, as I think using chrome pieces would’ve added too much to the cost and could be distracting to look at.
The Front Section
I love the use of the barrel pieces and the rollerskate pieces to give the front all of its texture. The grey 2×4 tiles under the headlights are a little too big and square compared to the real car, I think. The slope of the body directly above the headlights is a bit too pronounced and steep aswell, in my opinion. I can see why they opted for this design, as using any other piece could’ve ruined the ‘bubble-y’ look of the front of the car.
I love how tightly the car doors fit together and close into one another. It makes it very addictive almost to just keep opening and closing them just to hear them ‘pop’ into place. There is a gap on the window/door on the right hand side of the car, which is a shame. I think the maths involved in opening/closing the doors prevent it being filled by any available piece right now. The gap is pretty much exactly a single tile wide, so tolerances would probably be too tight to fill it in, unfortunately.
The White Walls
I think the white wall tyres on the car could be more pronounced for the sake of accuracy. If they used a different wheel piece with a smaller grey disk piece then there would’ve been more white visible. It doesn’t look bad at all as is though, I just think white wall tires should be more pronounced.
Overall, I think this car is absolutely amazing. They did such an amazing job with the shaping of it that it would’ve been completely acceptable even just as an empty shell, but they managed to pack a few fun features in there as well which really elevates this set into an exceptionally great one. Everything included with the set is brilliant.
The Big Issue
However, I do have one big issue with the set. It isn’t necessarily with what came with the set, my problem is what didn’t. I think this set is fundamentally a larger, more detailed Creator Expert car, which, as a concept, simply isn’t worth €200 by itself. In my opinion, this set needed minifigures or at the very least a UCS-style plaque to justify the price. I know it’s an incredibly small thing, but the ten pieces it would take to add a plaque to this set would elevate it from ‘Creator Expert vehicle’ to ‘UCS Ecto-1’ to me. It’s a tiny distinction, but it’s one that justifies in my head the jump from €180 to €200. The set is easily of UCS quality by its build and design already, a plaque is all that’s missing.
The price of €199.99 is too high in my opinion. What you’re getting here is essentially a larger, more detailed Aston Martin DB5 Creator Expert car. I think for this price, the set should’ve come with either a few minifigures, a UCS-style plaque, or both. Truthfully, even just the inclusion of a plaque would’ve been enough for me to justify the price of the set, but without it, I can’t shake the label of “very expensive Creator Expert car”. For this price, I think this set needed to be a “UCS Ecto-1”. As it is, I think €179.99 would’ve been a much better price for this set.
The retail price of €199.99 makes this a set with lots of tough competition, including the Batwing, UCS A-Wing, and buildable R2-D2. If you are a Ghostbusters fan, old movie or new, and you can get this for about €179.99 then it’s absolutely worth it. I’d definitely say wait until there is a double VIP points promotion going on before buying this set. If you’re not a Ghostbusters fan, and €199.99 is the cheapest you can find this, then I think there are better options for you elsewhere.
For my money, I’d take the 1989 Batwing over this set 100%. For the same price, you get the same number of pieces, great minifigures, the ability to wall mount, and a UCS-style display plaque and stand. The Ecto-1 has none of these things.
Overall, I think this is a wonderful set, with a surprisingly varied build and fun ‘play’ features. The only thing that let’s it down is it’s lack of minifigures and/or a UCS style plaque, both of which competitor sets have for the same price.
Creator Expert Vehicles Rank
Ranking it in terms of Creator Expert Vehicle sets, it is easily 1st out of 8 sets. By virtue of it’s size and piece count alone this is an easy decision.
Creator Expert Rank
For Creator Expert sets as a whole, I’ll rank it at 4th out of 18 sets. It does edge out the Downtown Diner, but I don’t think it’s special enough to beat Assembly Square.
All Themes Rank
Finally, relative to All Sets I own, I’m going to rank it at 16th out of 97 sets. I’m placing it above the Statue of Liberty Architecture set, but below the UCS Snowspeeder. If this set had a UCS plaque, it easily could have found itself a few spots higher. Make no mistake though, this is a great set, just not as good as it could’ve been.
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