Review: 79109 Colby City Showdown
In a good Western, the “where” is often just as important as the “who.” There’s a movie called “Tombstone,” after all (which is very good). Okay, maybe a bad example, since there’s also a movie called “Wyatt Earp” (which is terrible) and “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” (which had Lee Van Cleef, who was one of the best Western bad guys ever), which tells me that the “what” also pretty important. But there are certain names that you hear with Westerns that feel right. Tombstone, Dodge City, Carson City, anything with “Fort” in the name, or things like Yuma.
Which is why when I first saw the name of the set, “Colby City Showdown,” my thought was, “what, like the cheese?” I keep wanting to call this set “Carson City Showdown.” I don’t know why, there’s really little of note in the whole mythology of the Old West (and despite loving it, I acknowledge that The Quick and the Dead is not a documentary) in Carson City. Colby City just doesn’t feel right, probably because the only one that comes up in Google when you search for “Colby City” is in Kansas. I’ll refrain from insulting Kansas… I did enough of that back in my Smallville review; some other state is due for an insult. Maybe Oklahoma. Add your suggestions to the comments!
Colby City Showdown is a $50 set that’s a classic playset, and the presumed reason why we didn’t get the wonderful Western Modulars that were featured on Cuusoo. So, on one hand, I’ve got my professed love for the Lone Ranger sets, yet a huge amount of hate for killing off what is probably the single best idea that Cuusoo has ever featured, and that makes me wonder if this set is really worth the money.
Kansas was a frontier state, and Kansas City was certainly a hub of “Western” mythology, and it has Dodge City. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on there, so I guess maybe the city of Colby City, KS has more going for it than its Wikipedia page would indicate. The Cheese is from Colby, Wisconsin, if you were curious. And according to Wikipedia, The Lone Ranger took place in Texas… though I guess the name “Colby” was mentioned somewhere.
Reading the plot summary says that there was basically no showdown in Colby City… most of the action seems to happen on a train or in the mine, both of which are larger playsets than this one. I assume this is more about the bank robbery, given the contents of the set, which does happen (I assume), so maybe someone can help me out in the comments.Oh, and spoilers in that previous couple of sentences, in case you were one of the rare people who desperately wanted to see this movie but didn’t go to the theaters and watch it (the latter describes almost everyone on earth, based on its box office numbers).
This was a tough set to review. Sure, on one hand, you get some awesome western-themed characters in this set (also, Tonto). On the other hand, at least one of the characters included was dead well before the robbery happened or The Lone Ranger was even the Lone Ranger (he was just some guy named John). There are plenty of playset features, but they’re a weird mixed bunch that I’ll get into later.
For minifigures, we get The Lone Ranger (of course), Tonto (because why not), Dan Reid (LR’s brother), Frank (Sadly not of the TV’s variety), and Ray. As far as I can tell, not-TV’s Frank and Ray are just background guys in the main baddie’s gang (at least according to wikipedia and that brave soul who watched this movie to write the details). But all are delightfully western and cliched, down to the chaps (which I’m just waiting for someone to combine with one of the shirtless male torsos in some sort of Magic Mike MOC).
First up is Tonto. He’s still Tonto. You can check out my thoughts on him, if you’re that curious, in the Comanche Camp review. In short, he’s very Jack Sparrow-ish.
Why is he called the Lone Ranger when he obviously has a companion as well as family and friends? I’m pretty sure he’s not the only Ranger, just the only that is so unremarkable that he can wear a simple mask and not get recognized. That or people that see him are Daily Planet level of stupid when it comes to not recognizing what’s right in front of them behind a fairly plain disguise.
We also get Dan Reid, the Lone Ranger’s brother and the inspiration for him to become the Lone Ranger (who travels with other people). Yeah, even based on the trailer, I know that this guy died before the Lone Ranger was the Lone Ranger. And reading over the plot synopsis, I also know that he was killed in the wilderness, oh, and he also apparently gets his heart eaten? Cause that would be an awesome minifig torso and accessory.
Okay, kidding aside, I actually like this figure. He’s generic enough to drop into any western scene, and there’s no flesh-colored printing so you can swap in yellow heads as you feel the need (personally, I like Fleshy over Yellow, but given everything else I’ve said here… does that surprise you). The printing on his jacked (front) lines up, but like pretty much all other minifigures, it just ends abruptly in the back.
I wish LEGO would have come up with a trenchcoat cloth solution for this movie and these sets… that would have spiked their value immensely from what’s already a pretty high spot (given that Cas and I both liked the previous sets we reviewed). My only ding is just on reusability of the torso with that badge there, but maybe you’re going for a Tombstone thing and giving Marshal’s badges to everyone you can as an excuse to murder you some Clantons, and can use a lot of them.
Frank is entirely a generic bad guy, as far as I can tell, with an awesome printed belt buckle (hey, I’m a Longhorns fan, after that BYU crushing last week, I need something to latch on to), a torso that can be used a lot of places (like a ton of the stuff from this line), and legs that can be used for your Matthew McConaughey custom minifig. Guy also looks a little worse-for-wear, based on some of the scuffs, but is otherwise a nice minifig.
One of my favorite things about these sets is the almost total lack of alternate faces, which gives me a lot of utility for parting out minifigs. This guy is no different, and the new cowboy hat continues to be awesome. Plus, the black variety is only available here and in the stagecoach (while the white one, from the Lone Ranger, is destined to be a weed among parted out figures).
The other bad guy, Ray, is slightly less Generic, with a glorious mustache and a very scuffed vest torso. I suggest these chaps for your Channing Tatum custom figure, and while his belt is less glorious, it still is pretty cool. Since he’s only wearing a shirt/vest, and not a long jacket, the printing works better between the torso and legs. I love the bowler hat, though it’s been in several sets lately… which doesn’t affect my desire to have a bunch of them. For some reason… I want to put them on Stormtroopers… I’m not sure what’s up with that.
Really, with the exception of Tonto and the Lone Ranger, we get three minifigs that have any number of applications, especially in western-themed MOCs (also, Firefly-themed). I’m certain that someone out there has built some Back to the Future III MOCs using these guys as town folk (a shame that the Rebel Trooper’s head from Ewok Village has an alt-face… otherwise it would make a very serviceable Seamus McFly figure)
The actual playset pieces is divided between a Sheriff’s office (wasn’t Dan a Texas Ranger), where Tonto is jailed after the opening, and a Bank that is robbed later in the movie to fund a blatantly illegal attack on the bad guy, because it’s okay to do kind of bad things when you have something worse to address (you know, like what the NSA does).
There is also a cart and a bush, because we always need a bush on a 2×2 plate. The cart is something I kind of assume has to do with the shootout, but again, not seeing the movie, I’m not certain. It seems odd, otherwise, being both a terrible getaway strategy to have a hand-drawn cart full of money and booze (but an awesome plan for a Friday night out) and weird to have money stored outside the bank. It’s a cart like any other cart in set, and you get some printed money bills, a clear plain bottle, and a crate in dark flesh. Not bad for parts.
This set, more than the Stagecoach (and like the Comanche Camp), is a playset first. It’s absolutely riddled with play features… and like the stagecoach, it’s also riddled with stickers. You can see the worst of them easily in the picture above, and also a couple of the best of them (mostly). Those stickers on the large tiles are just awful, both in how they look and what they’re for. It would have looked better just as a plain black panel, instead of partial stickers.
At the same time, the Sheriff and Wanted poster stickers are just wonderful, and can be used in a variety of roles. Curiously, the 1×4 wood tiles are printed (the same as what we got in Unexpected Gathering and Uruk-hai Army), which always feels weird when stickers and printing are mixed.
The strangest feature in the playset part is the flip-out cannon on top of the building. Someone who saw the movie will have to explain this to me… was there honestly something that absurd in the movie? Don’t get me wrong, from a parts point of view, I can always use more cannons, given that every pirate ship LEGO has ever made includes about 1/3rd of what you need, but still.
Put aside the fact that an artillery emplacement like that is totally impractical inside an urban setting, what with having to fire over distance and via careful calculation, or that usually jails like this are towards the center of town, or that firing something like this in what would amount to across the street is beyond stupid, or… you get the idea. It can’t turn side to side. If this was on a cart or wheels, like in the Cavalry builder set, not a problem. If it’s mounted on a movable platform, like a ship, that’s not an issue. I might have thought that the addition of a cannon to the sail barge was asinine, but at least it can turn to face the enemy. With this setup, you get to make a loud bang and hope your enemy is upstairs above the whorehouse across the street when you fire.
Also, you’ll probably end up blowing off your roof with it. The bigger problem is that the thing is just ugly, and makes the whole front look unfinished.
Inside is.. a whole lot of lazy details. We’ve all built something like this, where we put a lot of effort into making part, and then got inside and went… “eh, let’s just stick a chair there.” Pictured above… that chair. There’s a little gunrack, a table with a glass cup (that seems out-of-place in a Western setting… glass was expensive outside of basic shapes, and a cup like that would be wood or metal), and not much else. You get some shutters and a barrel outside, so there is that.
It is a sherrif’s office, so there is a little jail, complete with a push-out pin and clip holder to put some dynamite so you can blow out the wall, alert everyone in town that something is up, and turn your buddy into a tenderized pile of goo and bits. Dear Hollywood (and LEGO making stuff for Hollywood)… Mythbusters is quite popular, and kids have watched some of these things. Especially kids that are buying Lone Ranger LEGO stuff (and probably a given that at least 95% of adults that buy this stuff). They tested this. It ended up badly for Buster.
The other big part is the bank from the fake town in Blazing Saddles. At least that’s what I assume is what you get when you build a bank without walls. That being said, this building is vastly better than the other one, at the very least for value in parts. We get windows, glass, “brick” bricks, dark-green, and small arches. All of these things are wins, even if the building itself is ugly.
To be fair, I would love me some LEGO Mongo. Maybe that’s part of my problem with this set outside of its hand in killing off the Western Modulars… it reminds me of the Pirates of the Caribbean set, London Escape. While I don’t think this set is as bad as that thing (which was great to pick up for parts on clearance), it has a whole lot of the same features. Partial buildings are great for movies, and they do make “playset” features a bit easier, but you can do a lot more to actually make a partial building playset friendly. LEGO seems to have forgotten any lessons from one of the best sets they ever made, Castle’s Medieval Market Village. These things flipped open to make it look “bigger when displayed out and played with, or closed to make a complete building.
The inside of this building is quite a bit better than the Sheriff’s Office as well, thanks to there not being an entirely impractical cannon on the roof (though i would like to use a bank like that). There’s a wall presumably for a teller (or whatever they were called back then), a door, and a big safe.
The safe is really the highlight of the interior, with swing-out doors and pretend turning wheels, it’s the kind of little feature you can easily adapt into other settings or builds. It’s not flashy, but it’s certainly a nice touch, given how spartan the rest of the stuff is.
Inside the safe is what seems to be the target of the robbery (if Wikipedia is true, it’s the Lone Ranger and Tonto who are actually doing the robbery), and it looks like that’s $400 in cash and maybe another $200-300 in silver (which is only like $25 per ounce now and wasn’t anywhere near the value of gold even back then). So I guess this is less a bank and more like knocking over a Burger King on a slow Thursday.
Like the Sheriff’s Office, this building has a playset feature in a little wall that can get knocked out to access the safe. While I question the builder’s choice to leave the back of the safe open against what looks to be some basic masonry and wood building, it’s something you can hit and go “kerplew!” while it flies off. There’s little to say on it other than that. Honestly, there’s little to define this building other than the safe and the quality of the parts you get once you take it together. All of those brick-bricks and dark green 1×1 bricks give you some fantastic utility as a builder.
While I’ve loved almost all of the Lone Ranger sets thus far, this is easily the weakest of the entire lineup. It’s a set that smacks of trying to do too much in its price point, and ends up under-delivering on everything. The focus should have been on one building or the other… the bank for the Sheriff’s office / Jail. Given the price and piece count, there’s a whole lot that could have been done on either one to make it a good stand-alone building. And either one could easily still take a “showdown” scene (even if there wasn’t one in the movie).
In terms of parts, this is a good set, in terms of minifigs, it’s average (the three good generics offset by another set of LR and Tonto), and in term of obscure western references, lame jokes, and Magic Mike jokes, this thing is absolutely a knockout. On sale, it has decent value
What I liked
- Good selection of parts, including light grey “brick” bricks, dark green, bottles, silver bars, and printed dollar tiles
- Generic figures can be used in any western setting or building
What I didn’t like
- Terrible name for a set with pretty much no direct connection to a movie
- Set tried to do too many things and didn’t do any of them particularly well
- We didn’t need another Tonto and Lone Ranger minifig
Verdict: Pick it up on sale for the parts, otherwise there’s not much in here to justify getting it. There are better sets for the money, and the figures aren’t important enough to the whole setting to justify the full price cost. As of this review, you can pick up the set on Amazon.com for almost 15% off!