The LEGO Group has unveiled The Orient Express Train, in an official partnership with the Accor Group's iconic steam locomotive.
The new LEGO set measures 116cm in length and contains 2,540 LEGO bricks. It also boasts an 18+ age rating due to its complexity, despite being entirely family friendly.
The set comes just in time to celebrate the 140th anniversary of The Orient Express, which began transporting passengers across Europe in 1883.
The LEGO Orient Express comes with a dark blue engine, a tender, and two passenger carriages which are filled with small details that fans of the real train service will recognise, such as a backgammon board and a large bed for comfortable travelling.
This is not the only LEGO steam train currently available at this scale. Last year saw the release of LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Collector's Edition, a similarly sized recreation as it appears in the Harry Potter films.
Unlike the Hogwarts Express, the new Orient Express is built to the standard LEGO train gauge and will run on standard LEGO track, although out of the box it does not contain a motor. Enterprising LEGO fans who which to motorise the new set will need to adapt the model to their needs, as is typical for buildable LEGO toys.
LEGO and locomotive history are often paired together. The National Railway Museum in York has frequently used LEGO as part of their activities to draw visitors to their collection of historic trains.
There are eight LEGO minifigures included in the set, all of which are wearing outfits that would have been fashionable during the 1920s. For those who travel on The Orient Express, it is common to dress in costumes from this time period, not least because doing so pays homage to the train's most famous appearance in popular culture, as the setting for the Agatha Christie murder mystery novel Murder on the Orient Express.
Among the lineup of minifigures is a film director, complete with a movie camera, in reference to the LEGO set's initial fan designer, the Paris-based Thomas Lajon. As a set from the LEGO Ideas range, The Orient Express Train started life as a fan-submitted design. After earning the support of 2,000 LEGO fans on the LEGO Ideas website, Lajon's initial design was given approval to be developed into an official LEGO set.
Designers at The LEGO Group worked closely with the Accor Group to ensure accuracy in the set's design. The LEGO Group and Lajon were given access to archives containing schematics and photographs of many previous iterations of The Orient Express, and the Accor Group were insistent on the particular style and colour of the finished model.
According to Lajon:
“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.”
LEGO 21344 The Orient Express Train goes on sale in official LEGO stores and at LEGO.com on 1 December 2023, and will cost £259.99 in the UK, $299.99 in the US, and €299.99 in the EU.
For more information on the set, visit the Brick Fanatics website.