If the box office success of The Lego Batman Movie has proven anything, it’s that audiences really, really, really, really love clowns. Why else would they go to see a film called The Lego Batman Movie? Out of love for Lego? For Batman? No, people clearly flocked to theaters to see the Joker (who sometimes goes by the alias, “The Clown Prince of Crime”). He’s just such a happy guy, always smiling and laughing! Sure, there’s the whole criminal thing, but my point remains the same: everybody loves a clown.
With that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to have a look at a small set from a new Chinese building block brand called Winner. The company that produces Winner also produces Bela blocks, a brand most commonly associated with bootleg Lego Friends and Ninjago sets. With Winner, they appear to be making a grab for a global audience (and some legitimacy) with original themes and set designs. Even the name Winner projects a universal familiarity (not to mention self-confidence mixed with maybe a touch of arrogance). Unfortunately, I don’t have a photograph of the packaging. The vendor I sourced this set from did not offer that option, which is why this review opened with a picture of “America’s Sweetheart.” What Joker has to do with Winner will become abundantly clear in a moment.
For their inaugural “City” theme, Winner has chosen a series of sets revolving around recreation rather than the safer, more conventional Police and Fire sets. This particular set contains a balloon pushcart and a clown. Other sets in the series are modeled after amusement park rides and assorted pastimes. Based on the promotional material that I’ve seen on the web, the clown appears to be a mascot of sorts for the series.
The balloon cart is a straightforward build for the most part, with a couple of exceptions. I found it slightly unusual that it’s built upon what’s normally used as a car chassis. Instead of tires, the cart has saucer-like wheels. I only wish they hadn’t used blank minifigure heads for the yellow and green balloons. They look deflated in comparison to the pink balloon. Although Winner uses “flesh” as their default minifigure skin tone, the yellow balloon reminds me too much of a head on a stick (which I suppose it technically is).
The set includes this printed tile, which I suppose is some sort of currency…? I know that some currency systems use different colors for different denominations, but the reason why I’m confused is mainly due to the clown portrait on the bill. Is it supposed to be play money? Is it a counterfeit bill? If it’s legal tender, does that mean the clown is some sort of dignitary? Why is he pushing a balloon cart if that’s the case?
Speak of the devil, here is the star of the set! I’m going to drop the whole “I love clowns” facade and just be honest: this is one creepy clown. Why is he so happy? He certainly can’t be pleased with the subpar plastic or the thin and shoddy printing on the parts. I know I’m not.
Is it really fair to judge a new building block brand on the basis of a set of this size? The brick elements are satisfactory, but the minifigure leaves much to be desired (Still, the little guy just might find work as a henchman in Joker’s crew). Since this set does originate from China, online prices are variable. All the caveats related to buying from foreign sellers apply.