“ Theme: Bricks „
We have this Lego set, it's absolutely excellent as I knew it would be when I paid around £20 for it six or seven years ago. The 5573 version shown here isn't available brand new in many places now, but the category is still valid as the vibrant red box can be found in smaller toy shops and is occasionally available in places like Toys 'R' Us. When I bought the set it was as a gift for my daughter, who was around five at the time, and it was labelled as a Starter Pack.
The 5573 Lego set contains 643 individual pieces of Lego, all contained in a handy red plastic box. This figure includes some very small one hole Lego pieces, which means you shouldn't expect a box which is absolutely heaving with large pieces of usable Lego but that's still an impressive haul of Lego in one go to get you started. I keep saying you, obviously I mean Alice (but I'm not adverse to playing with a bit of Lego at times!)! One good thing is that the box is big enough to hold more Lego than you actually get with this set. Lego is great but storing it can be a pain, so for someone starting their own collection this box should be big enough to keep them going space-wise for a while!
There's no instruction leaflet in this set, as there is sometimes when purchasing Lego. This is both good and bad in my opinion, no instructions mean children have to use their imagination but a booklet of ideas might have been nice considering some of the strange Lego pieces that came with this set! I remember the first time Alice played with it, it was me and her trying to build a car only we couldn't work out how to fix the back wheels to it! Soon as Mark grabbed it (in impatience at me being such an imbecile I think!) he slotted the wheels into place, so for me then a brief pamphlet explaining how wheels actually work would have been good! <inserts embarrassed at how pathetically girly she is sometimes emoticon>
Most of the pieces speak for themselves, you've got the usual array of brightly coloured Lego in different sizes to put together as well as a few colours which you might not find in regular Lego sets. In our kit there are some very dark green Lego bricks that I haven't seen anywhere else, they're a great addition as this colour helps add a bit of interest to any landscape your child may build. You have a good ratio of colours, and I know I didn't get the lucky box as my friend has the exact same set (bought on the same day for her son) and hers also includes a wide range of colours and piece sizes. As I have already mentioned, you get wheels and other small pieces to enable you to make cars and other vehicles. There aren't many wheels and you'll probably need to buy a bigger set at some point if your child gets into Lego as quickly as Alice did, don't forget this is a starter pack though so really the wheels and other accessories are in there for you to try and see how you get on with them. I definitely think the main thing Lego have concentrated with the 5573 set is getting new people involved with the actual root and branch of the company, the Lego bricks.
There is one glaringly obvious omission when these sets were being put together, and that is the fact that Lego haven't included any base plates. You know, the big grey or green rectangles where you build your creation so that it's stable and can be moved around. There are none in the set, and that's a shame as the amount of Lego you get is perfect for making a wider scene than just a few chunky houses on the coffee table. There are also some very fiddly to use eye blocks which come in handy if you want to make an animal or dinosaur (she says dinosaur as they were Alice's big thing), bizarrely there is an odd number of eyes in our set so perhaps that's encouragement to build a Minotaur as well as the more traditional puppies and cows!
There is unfortunately only one poseable figure included in the 5573 set, this is a handyman and when new he came with a few tiny tools. It took Alice less than a day to lose these, so actually we don't have the full original set anymore! They are the only thing I can think of which are in the set but of no use, I can picture them now because as soon as I spotted the ant-sized hammer I knew they wouldn't last long. And they didn't. Over the years I've added more figures to our collection of Lego, but this original handyman is still looking good and has taken on a new lease of life since my younger daughter discovered Handy Manny.
If this set sounds good to you, but you're struggling to find it, then I'd recommend you look at the Lego 6166 version. It comes in a blue box and the contents look very similar to those found in my 5573 set, better in fact as it looks like you get at least a couple of base plates with the set judging from the piccies on Amazon.
£20 - £25 from small toy shops rather than large retailers.