Review: CDX Blocks Cyclone ("the Lego roller coaster")

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 14, 2017, 11:38 PM | comments: 0

Disclaimer: Many years ago, I had a relationship with CoasterDynamix, as I built their first web site back in 2004. That said, other than a long-time friendship with one of the principals in that business, I bought these kits myself through their Kickstarter campaign, and I have no financial interest in this review. I want to make that clear in the interest of keeping it real.

A very cool package was delivered today, as the CDX Blocks Cyclone came today! Actually, three of them came today, because that's what I backed when the project was just a cool idea on Kickstarter. CoasterDynamix has sold a lot of really cool roller coaster model products over the years, but this is probably the coolest of them all because it's Lego-compatible.

You probably know that Lego's patent for their block system expired quite a few years ago, so really anyone can make bricks that are compatible. Most of these "compatible" products absolutely suck. The plastic just isn't the right consistency, they don't snap very well or they squeak. Actual Lego might be expensive, but the bricks are without question of an incredible and uniform quality. They've been making them for decades and they all still work together. It's with that knowledge that some healthy skepticism is warranted when considering anything made by anyone not Lego.

Having gotten to know the CoasterDynamix guys over the years, I know they get off-shore manufacturing, and the risks associated with it. What they've delivered, a little later than initially expected (sounds like getting through customs is hard for inanimate objects and not just foreign folks), is remarkably good quality plastic "Lego" parts. It's not perfect, but it's so close to actual Lego that I suspect most people won't know the difference.

There were two trains in the box, which surprised me, but I vaguely recall that being a bonus if they reached a certain funding goal on Kickstarter. If you're the kind of person that likes to sort all of your pieces before you start (I don't, as I like the numbered bags), you might just love that almost every category of brick comes in its own bag. The instructions are not long, and they're easy to follow. You essentially build the structure in three sections, then join them together and add the track. The only thing that wasn't clear is that there are two angled wedge sizes to bank the track, and it wasn't obvious until near the end when the same step used both sizes. The smaller ones are used in the transition to a turn, while the bigger ones are used through the body of the turn.

The only thing difficult about the build is snapping on the rails, because they're really rigid. Given my occupation, I don't work a lot with my hands, so they're not very durable, and the pressing started to hurt a bit toward the end. But if you've played with any kind of roller coaster model at all, you know that rigidity is what makes these things work. A squishy track or support system bleeds energy and it risks not completing the circuit.

The trains show what CoasterDynamix has always done well, in that the wheels are metal and low friction. There is some room there to stick some mini-figs in the seats, if you desire, and nothing would be better than putting a Storm Trooper, a fireman and ninja together.

Total build time was about three hours, and the most tedious part of that is assembling the 194 chain links. It's visually very satisfying, and would look great along side the Lego carousel or ferris wheel. My 7-year-old son has already decided that we need to build a station. I'm really happy with the end product!

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