UPDATE: Lightailing has updated their product page to include both a clickable link to the product reviews, and my own review. This prompted me to update this post to include only my product review.
Suppliers should <em>never</em> lie. Ever. And fake or suppressed reviews? Those are lies.
I’m basically a kid with extra decades on the clock. For instance, Lego exercizes an irresistable pull on me. My collection of Lego model cars and modular buildings keeps growing, and I’m the proud owner of the 75192 Millennium Falcon, the largest Lego set ever*.
Surprisingly, my wife has accepted my obsession to such an extent that she recently pointed me to the Lightailing website. Lightailing is a Chinese web store that sells LED lighting kits for a broad range of Lego sets. Their product images look amazing, so I ordered one of their sets to test drive their product range on my Detective’s Office modular building.
The lighting set arrived well within the promised time frame, and I eagerly set about applying the various lights to the different floors and rooms of the building: front lanterns, pool bar, barber shop, the eponymous office, and everything else.
Let’s start with the good news: the final product looks great. The lighting kit comes with different types of lights, and these are cleverly suited for purpose. From the colorful blinking lights for the POOL sign, to the subdued yellowish light in the office, to the bright blue-white light strip that gives the barber shop a convincing fluorescent effect, the lights are well-chosen and cleverly distributed.
But that’s where the good news ends, and the bad news begins**:
While the effect was excellent, getting to the effect was a nightmare.
It was expected, of course, that adding the lights to the building would require some disassembly. But this was made more difficult than necessary by the instruction booklet. This consisted of a tiny photo album of the steps.
Almost all the steps.
And in addition to some steps having been forgotten in the booklet, many of the photos were unclear enough to guarantee mistakes. What didn’t help was that Lightailing seemed to have started from a Detective’s Office they had already built somewhat according to their own unique insights, causing many of their photos not to match my compulsively correctly constructed building.
What’s more, the very thin wires connecting the lights are nevertheless not thin enough to allow the pieces of the building to fit back together. Where wires run, Lego bricks fail to click and snap, and bits of the design have thus acquired a haphazard appearance and a vulnerability that no Lego set ever has. (To work the wires properly into the design, one would need to file conduits into the edges of the bricks.)
And the worst thing: once I’d surmounted all these challenges, I ended up with an unplayable set. You see, most of the lights are strung together on a single wire, with distances between them exactly wide enough to bridge the distance between lighting points. So the wire feeding the POOL sign lights runs through the wall to connect to the cafe’s ceiling lights, then to the lantern in the alley and the lights above the barber’s shop window, into the barber shop to feed the fluorescents… and then on to the second floor.
It was all but impossible to even get the second floor lights in place, because the wire is exactly long enough to stretch from barber shop to second floor toilet, but not even an inch longer. Getting the first second floor light in place required putting the second floor on top of the ground floor, sliding it to one side just far enough to fit my fingers, but not a quarter-inch further, or the wire would no longer span the distance from barber shop to toilet ceiling.
After many failed attempts, and a lot of cursing, I got all the lights in place. And then I realised that the wires now prevent me* from taking the different floors apart to access the interior. The lighting kit has turned a perfectly playable building into an ornament, albeit an exceedingly well-lit ornament.
In the meantime, as is every web shop’s wont, Lightailing had sent me a customer satisfaction questionnaire. Which I obligingly filled out, with a less wordy version of the above, and a two-star rating. At the time of purchase, the lighting set for the Detective’s Office had a 4.6 star rating, based on seven reviews. So after submitting my review, I expected the rating to go down to 4.2, and the number of reviews to rise to eight. Of course, I checked. Perhap not entirely surprisingly, the rating had remained firmly at 4.6, and the number of reviews hadn’t changed. This annoyed me, but also peaked my curiousity about those seven reviews. So I clicked on the seemingly clickable word Reviews. Nothing happened. Not one to jump to conclusions, I waited a week, and when nothing had changed, emailed Lightailing asking about my review, and the unclickable, so unreadable, other reviews. Their rep;y was: Nice day.***
Thanks so much for your email.
We will check it later. As of this writing, I still have no clue how they plan to quantify ‘later’. But as a public service, I’m posting this more extensive review for y’all to read.
* Sometimes my kids even get to play with it.
** Or in geek: </goodnews><badnews>.
*** As a matter of fact, it was, but they had no way of knowing, unless they checked their weather app for each customer’s location.