Make some space behind your sofa cause LEGO's going supernatural! There's something bad in the neighborhood. Who ya gonna call? JACK AND PARKER!!! Hidden Side arrived on the scene last summer offering a new way to play. I wanna bust some ghosts (but in a way that is not associated with another popular Ghostbusting franchise) so let's get started.
Sci-fi/Supernatural themes aren't uncommon in LEGO. Infact they can often be found in the most popular themes (and I'm not even talking about Star Wars!). Supernatural elements are found in almost every theme LEGO have released, from Bionicle to Ninjago. LEGO original themes such as Monter Fighters and Ultra Agents were focused around catching some supernatural 'baddies'. Ultra Agents even introduced us to the concept of a LEGO App cross-over.
Monster Fighters was a very popular theme (which is code for expensive on the secondary market). Released in 2012 it only lasted one year. The sets contained all the classic monsters you can think of, with the story being head-honcho Lord Vampyre trying to colect 6 moonstones to block out the sun forever. Infact some of the sets are considered remakes of an older theme, Studios.
Studios was a very ecclectic theme LEGO used as a catch-all for odd sets and licenses that didn't fit anywhere else. Themed around the production of a movie or TV show. The theme gave us the first Marvel Super Hero sets with a set based on the Spider-man movie of the early 2000's, as well as sets based on Jurassic Park and Universal Studios Classic Monster movies (Frankenstein, Wolfman, etc...). It also gave you the opportunity to get your very own Steven Spielberg minifig (although for some reason LEGO never actually named him that.)
Another Sci-fi theme that deserves an article of it's own is Galidor. This very short lived theme is widely considered the worst sets ever released. LEGO were coming out of the nineties (a decade that almost ruined LEGO) with renewed success following their pivot to licensed sets. Star Wars and Harry Potter were huge successes for LEGO. Then in 2002 they co-produced a CGI TV show with Fox. The intent was the TV show would act as a 30 minute commercial, driving kids to the sets. This approach wasn't new, Transformers in the 80's pioneered this model. The problem was the TV show was not received well, and neither were the sets. With too many specialised parts that were largely incompatible with existing LEGO, people were not impressed. LEGO quickly pulled the plug and would like you to forget Galidor ever existed. They've done quite a good job of that too. They are still so unpopular (even with hardcore LEGO collectors) that we only had 2 of the promotional McDonalds sets in our cataloge. The 15 sets in the original theme were missing. For this article I added them all and the 3 other McDonalds sets, however with well over 100 unique parts to the theme I couldn't add the parts in time. I'm lighting the Bat-signal to our users, if you can submit any parts, with images, to add to any of the sets please do.
I have never seen LEGO push a theme as hard as they have for Hidden Side. I never see LEGO ads when watching TV but were inundated with flashy commercials of these sets and how 'cool' it is that you can play with them on your phone! Hidden Side ad's were a mainstay in my social network feeds for weeks too. LEGO even redesigned their box layout for the theme, highlighting device connectivity over the actual finished model. In Hidden Side you play as some high-functioning High Schoolers, fed up with their town being over run with ghosts and ghouls. The sets are based around an spooky scene which is then the basis for the app game. With said high-schoolers using their wits (and gadgets) to catch the ghosts for good. The main selling point to the theme is the interactivity with devices. The app is not just an associated game, it uses augmented relaity (AR) to involve the set you just built.
When announced the LEGO community seemed split on whether the theme looked awesome or a mess. Some compared it to fan favorites like Monster Hunters and some unfavorably compared it to the infamously terrible Time Cruisers theme of the 90's. The interactivity seemed polarizing too, with critics declaring LEGO have sold out and missed the point of what a LEGO set is for, while others applauded them for thinking outside the box and trying something that broadens LEGOs appeal to the very important 15 and under audience.
Personally, I loved the look of the theme when it was first announced. The app thing didn't catch my attention though, but the great thing about that is I can just ignore the app and still enjoy the sets. I heard all the criticism and all the accolades and found myself firmly on the fence. Let's see how I feel after building one of the sets.
Immerse kids in a fast-paced augmented-reality play experience with the LEGO® Hidden Side™ 70423 Paranormal Intercept Bus 3000 playset. Download the Hidden Side app and scan the model with a phone to make it come alive – interacting with the model makes things happen in the app. With continuous updates, a unique boss ghost to battle in each set, new mysteries to solve, cool items to find, games to play and ghosts to collect, this LEGO Hidden Side set offers kids a whole new way to play and interact with building bricks! This powered-up school bus toy features cool tech details, like a pull-out command center and flip-out toy cannons, to inspire hours of creative play. With 2 hero minifigures, each with his and her own smartphone, tech genius J.B., 2 haunted workers and cute ghost dog figure, this building set features a lot of fun play-starters.
The box measures 535 x 280 x 55 mm. Inside are 5 bags numbered 1 to 5, an instruction manual, and a sticker sheet.
The instruction manual measures 270 x 190 mm. With 134 pages and 183 total build steps.
The pdf can be downloaded here.
The set contains 689 parts and 26 spares, in 40 colors, and 33 part categories, with a total of 276 unique parts/color combinations.
Main colors are:
- Light Bluish Gray: 66 unique parts, 159 quantity.
- Black: 29 unique parts, 81 quantity.
- Bright Light Orange: 28 unique parts, 128 quantity.
Main categories are:
- Plates Special: 35 unique parts, 85 quantity.
- Plates: 35 unique parts, 110 quantity.
- Tiles: 32 unique parts, 72 quantity.
Alot of new parts in this set (mostly Minifigure). However most were also available in multiple other Hidden Side sets released at the same time. I have marked the ones that are unique to this set.
New Prints of Existing Parts:-
Parts in new colors: I have separated this into new this year, meaning they have appeared in a set for the first time in 2019, and totally unique to this set.
First, new colors, unique to this set:
Introduced in 1978, 3841 Pickaxe is a mainstay of Minifig Accessories. The first re-color of this part since Pearl Gold was introduced in 2011.
Now, parts in new colors in 2019:
Also in 75973-1 D.Va & Reinhardt.
Also in 75973-1 D.Va & Reinhardt.
New with other Hidden Side sets.
Also in 71023-20 Unikitty CMF.
New with other Hidden Side sets.
This set comes with 5 minifigs, Parker, Jack, Professor JB, Worker Bill, and Worker Nanna (pictured in order). The last two having an alternate set of heads and accessories to make them more spooky.
Bag 1: We start of with a fun little build. The Porta-potty-Monster looks great. My sons thought this was the funniest thing, helped by the fact that it shoots "poo-disks" (his words) out of its mouth. In addition to this the bus insert is built. Not really sure why it's built like this, only thing I could think of is so the roof of the bus doesn't have to be removable. It represents the 'laboratory' part of the bus, with computers and gizmos.
Bag 2: We begin on the bus. Not much to say about this section really, it's pretty straight-forward.
Bag 3: Again, things are kept simple. It really starts to look like a bus now, and the surprisingly versatile paint roller comes in handy again with the wing mirrors (is there anything that part can't be?) The front profile already looks good (and a little mean) even without the finishing touches.
Bag 4: The roof is finished and the front is made meaner! During this section part 24599 Brick Round Corner 5 x 5 x 1 is used. Being a new color of this part it's a shame it's been covered with stickers making it hard to re-use in MOC's. If I wasn't writing this review for you I wouldn't have put them on, keeping the part clean for other uses. An intersting bit came with the exhausts. Because of these my son now calls this a Rocketship-Bus. They're actually a very effective use of part 2489 Container / Barrel.
Bag 5: Finishing off the build we add the rooftop satellite and ray-gun(?) and fit the hidden weapons on the sides. The satellite is used in the app, to help you find hidden ghosts. The weapons weren't used (I only ran through a couple of levels of the app though so I don't know if they're utilized later on)
I played through a couple of levels on the app before I got thoroughly bored. It consisted of me waving my phone around and tapping my screen alot. The idea is you catch all the ghosts and clear Newbury from all the spooky goings on. I found the augmented reality part lacking too. One bit asked me to place a minifig on the roof of the bus, I did so but the background image of the game cut off everything but it's feet (you can see it in some of my screenshots), then it appeared to do nothing and continued with the same game mechanics I had been doing up to that point. I tried it a few time to see if it was me doing something wrong or my camera angle but it did the same thing all three attempts leaving me to wonder why I have a minifig on the roof of my bus.
I have mixed feelings on the final set and remain firmly on the fence when recommending it. I enjoyed the build, even if it was basic. But theres something about the final model that I just don't like. It does look messy, something I didn't mind in the pictures but annoys me holding the model. Playability is high, even when ignoring the app, it is a fun set. And the Minigures all look great, including Spencer, that awesome ghost dog.
The App: I hated it. I thought I would but was prepared to eat my hat, however my hat was safe. I found it uninteresting at best. For those kids who love to collect things and hit achievements its probably great, but for me, if it's no fun getting the achievements I just don't care. It suffers from the same issue that a lot of mobile games do, screen tapping til your fingers bleeding, it offered very little else. But, like I said up top, the great thing about these sets are that I can enjoy the set without ever having to touch my phone so it's not a problem for me that the app sucks, LEGO haven't let that affect the quality and value-for-money of the physical sets.
If I were to recommend the set it would be for this reason alone, it's the only non-duplo, non-friends school bus LEGO have released. The Friends set (41134-1) school bus is a smaller scale build and doesn't look as impressive as this one. School's seems to be a ignored part of the LEGO City theme and if you're a city builder than this set gives you the opportunity to add a decent scaled school bus to your City (you will have to make a couple of modifications though).
Is Hidden Side a better theme than Galidor? Obviously, how could it not be, but better than Monster Fighters? Not based on this model. I'm keen to hear your experieces with this new theme so let me know in the comments.