The Ghostbusters Firehouse HQ (75827) vs the Brick Bank (10251)

For the last few years Lego has had a fairly comfortable schedule. In January, they release a new edition in the modular line, which sets the standard for the year to come and often ends up the very best set that year. The last two years gave us Detective’s Office and the amazing Parisian Restaurant, and while the Tower of Orthanc dominated 2013, the Palace Cinema was a pretty neat set as well. Also, the tower fits fairly badly in your average city skyline, so the comparison isn’t as obvious.

2016 began, as usual, with a wild rush at the online store on New Year’s Eve. But instead of just the new Brick Bank, Lego also released the much awaited Ghostbusters Firehouse HQ. Waiting to get either of them is obviously out of the question since sets like this tend to sell out quickly and then take a lot of time to get back in stock. But most people can’t comfortably spend almost 6000 SEK (or about $600) on Lego, so which one is better? Lego brought this comparison on themselves, so no mercy!

Ghostbusters 01

The Firehouse arrived two days earlier for me, so I didn’t have to choose which one to start with. With over 4600 parts (plus a ton of spares) it will take many, many hours even for an experienced builder. As usual the parts are divided into bags that you open as you go along, but there’s still a huge pile to look through at each point. Still, the build went by fairly quickly. The most tedious part is the outer wall, which tends to go up in the background of what you’re building on the inside. Stacking alternate rows of dark red and those corner stones gets tiresome, but the repetition pays off later. What keeps it from becoming really dull is the plethora of recognizable props from the movies, setting up lots of small scenes. Some of these employ really clever parts usage. The set itself has a few new 2016 parts but generally stays classic, but things like the kitchen sink, the heater, the pool table and the arcade game are really fun to build. There are a bunch of stickers which are slightly annoying to get into place, but they add lots of character. I also ended up switching some details from the right to the left sidewalk, to fit better into my city layout.

Brick Bank 01

The Brick Bank was the final stretch of this week’s Lego marathon, which might have influenced my opinion. It starts by covering nearly the entire baseplate with different tiles, which is always annoying. The new Nexo Knights shield parts are used well to add variety inside the bank though. What surprised me was the lack of Jamie Berard moments. He tends to blow me away with every build: the corner wall on Café Corner, the signs on Pet Shop and Fire Brigade, the entire front facade of Parisian Restaurant, the upside down dome on the Pet Shop windows, the entry building on Sydney Opera House, and so on. The Brick Bank has an amazing parts usage for the service windows on the bottom floor which use old doors in a fantastic way. But apart from that, the neat details are made mostly from new parts which feels like cheating in a way. The new SNOT brick used for the tiled pillars will be useful but a Lego master shouldn’t have to use it. And sure, the sand green windows (especially the vaulted ones) are appreciated, but there’s nothing special about how they fit. More than any recent modular, Brick Bank feels more like a well realized Friends set.

The Firehouse is a HUGE building at three big floors. At 36 cm high, it dwarfs the old Fire Brigade which, while not a licensed building, obviously took inspiration from the same kind of old style of New York firehouses. There’s no getting around the fact that it is a big red and grey box though. There is plenty of texture thanks to a heavy use of brickwork pieces and the stones around the windows. The back is a mix of colours due to how it’s built, but most of the time it won’t be seen anyway. There’s also a huge seam going down the side, which allows two big sections of the house to hinge open for play access inside. However, the simple side suits me fine, since a ton of figures can be posed on the sidewalk, on the fire escapes, on transparent poles attached to the wall, or on the roof. Once this gets into my city, there will be action indeed.

The Bank is more compact and packs more detail, but as mentioned most of it is because of fancy parts being used. The walls are strictly standard Lego thickness, without a single jumper plate to offset anything. The corner pillar on the top floor also looks unfinished. As a corner, two sides will be hidden, so what you see is what you get. I appreciate the colour scheme though, and the secondary building of the laundromat adds character. The corner clock is nice too, with a fancy build.

Ghostbusters 03

While the exterior is simple, the true greatness of the Firehouse is inside. Let’s take it from the bottom floor. Both Peter’s and Janine’s desks are here, with Janine’s particularly detailed (she has a game of Breakout going on her computer!). There’s the ghost prison under the stairs since you can’t build a basement under a Lego baseplate. While you can drive the Ecto-1 (sold separately in the Lego Ideas line) through the doors, it doesn’t fit inside without removing most of the stuff since it’s so oversized. There’s also a pole that figures can slide down, using a new spiral part.

The second floor has the kitchen which is packed with detail, including the dancing toaster from Ghostbusters II. The set of the first movie had a few arcade games and here we get one with a Ghostbusters theme. There’s also the bedroom which unfortunately only has three beds (and no midnight succubus to visit Ray). The bathroom is on the hinged part so it’s not really divided by a wall but still a little scene of its own.

The top floor has the lab, with all kinds of computers and gear. There’s also the pool table, which has an entirely different build than the one in Detective’s Office. Finally there’s the photo studio, with appropriately shut windows, singed Vigo pictures on the walls and a developing fire for Winston to bust in and take out. All three are memorable scenes from the movies and very welcome to see.

Brick Bank 02

The Brick Bank has the service area up front, which is one of the best builds of the set. The back has a vault with an unlockable door and a roof grate for play access. The laundromat also takes up one fourth of the building. The play features take up a lot of space: you can put valuables in one of the washing machines and they then end up in the vault. You can also drop a burglar down the chimney for him to end up on top of the vault through the ventilation.

The second floor has two offices, with nice if unremarkable builds. Since there is a railing overlooking the first floor, there’s not much actual floor space here. There’s also a chandelier hanging from the ceiling but you’ll lift that off to access the floor, so when is it actually going to be seen? Finally, a staircase takes you to the roof, which is nicely divided into two major sections. The skylight is a neat touch, and since the building is rather low, you can stage all kinds of scenes up here and still have them visible.

Supposedly there is a Ghostbusters Lego theme coming, but you get most of what you could ask for with this. All the four Ghostbusters are updated from the Ecto-1 set, with new hair for Peter and Winston, and new arm prints for everyone. Unfortunately Peter has the slimed look – to get his standard uniform you need to buy the Lego Dimensions version of him. Oh joy. In addition to them, you get Zuul and Vinz Clortho, aka Dana Barrett and Loius Tully possessed by Mesopotamian demons. Then there’s Slimer (obviously), as well as the Librarian Ghost and the 5 second gag Taxi Driver Ghost, plus two smaller spectres reused from Ninjago parts. With the possible exception of a Walter Peck, Gozer and a Vigo and/or Janosz, there’s nothing really missing. If there is indeed a new line of figures, I’d expect a rooftop with Gozer and a museum with the others to be obvious additions.

As usual the Brick Bank includes five classic Lego figures, but aside from a few rare hairpieces there’s not much to be excited about. This is never a strong point of modulars though.

While I don’t really play with these sets, the Firehouse gets points for both being able to open the wall and lifting off floors separately, although this is more for transportation than anything else. Essentially, it will act more like a backdrop for staging scenes either based on the movies or just anything you want.

The Brick Bank has more actual play features and a bank is very welcome in a Lego city, considering how many robbers there tends to be. And that’s not even counting the millions of criminal masterminds between the Ultra Agents and the Super Heroes themes. You can even make your own Dark Knight intro or Heat shootout. I guess kids with smaller hands can have more fun with this than most modulars, considering the play features inside too. And if you really want to bore someone, you can explain stock options or retirement plans!

I realize this is not a fair comparison. At almost the double parts count and more than double price, there’s just so much more to the Firehouse. It obviously has thirty years of nostalgia attached to it and I’ve wanted the Ghostbusters headquarters for nearly that long. They could have skimped on the size or interiors, but it’s put together with tons of love, and the build is very respectable. If the Brick Bank had been a top-of-the-line modular, it would have competed well despite the smaller size. As it is, it’s a below-average set and definitely Jamie’s weakest. It beats Market Street, Town Hall and Palace Cinema, but even Grand Emporium had the fantastic exterior going for it.

As exclusive Lego sets, both sets can be expected to be good investments. The modulars all increase in value as soon as they go out of print. As for the Firehouse, nostalgia will probably drive it through the roof. It’s not likely that we’ll ever get another like it – on the other hand, this is the perfect time to release it, with the new movie coming and the original fans all grown up to afford it.

In terms of parts, both are good investments too. Brick Bank mostly for the new parts which are rare or exclusive here, plus a decent amount of sand blue and white and grey. The Firehouse is an amazing source of dark red and useful building parts like tiles and the textured walls. The figures will be either exclusive or very hard to find too. You can get Slimer and (a better) Venkman through Dimensions but that’s not exactly cheap either.

Ghostbusters 02
If you know what sound this makes, you want this.

If you are a decent fan of Lego and of Ghostbusters, or a huge fan of either, there is no question: you must get this. It’s all we could have hoped for. A more balanced individual might balk at the price though. Paying what is essentially the cost of a Playstation 4 for a Lego set seems crazy, even though the actual parts count is very reasonable and there’s plenty of huge parts that make it feel chunky and expensive. Luckily I can afford it, but if I couldn’t, I would have saved up and dropped mostly everything else until then. You can also brag about owning the third biggest Lego set ever and the biggest one in production.

Brick Bank 03

The Brink Bank? Unlike the Firehouse which will probably stay around at least a year, you have at least two years to get it, but depending on the reception it might drop quickly after that. A completionist obviously needs it, and it IS a fine addition to any modular street. But if you need to choose, it should wait. An average modular is still a great Lego set, but with the Firehouse out, a 60’s Batcave coming and rumoured Star Wars sets all over the place, the competition for your big cash is tougher than ever.

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