Theme: Creator Expert
Available: Feb 1st, 2020 –
Dec 31st, 2022
Why I bought this set
I have been a massive Manchester United fan for thirty years, so it makes sense to have this as part of my collection. I was promoted at work early in the fall of 2022 and decided to get this as a self-congratulatory present. Perhaps I needed an “excuse” as the set was retiring at the end of the year, and I’ve wanted it since its release. I regret nothing. At the time, I did not collect Lego and wanted it solely for the Manchester United connection and the fact it looked incredible. By the time I completed the build, I was firmly hooked on my new hobby.
I don’t have many images of the early part of the build, as I wasn’t documenting my Lego journey yet. However, I will take you through my recollection of the awe and wonder I experienced throughout the process.
The packaging comes in a stylish black box, which screams quality. It is part of the creator expert line, so it’s evident this is a build for older and more experienced Lego fans.
The build is split into 21 stages and is outlined in a 368-page manual. The front of the instructions has 10 pages about the stadium and club history, and there is also specific stand information before you build that section. For club fans, this is delightful, and for those making the set as a Lego collector, it provided great insight into the club and reasoning as to why Lego has immortalized this stadium.
The first building stage is a quick one – creating the pitch. Technic bricks are used on the edges so each stand can be connected to it with pins. Three large print pieces make the pitch, which look fantastic.
Stages 2-4 generate the East Stand by first building the structural shell before placing red ridged bricks at an angle that looks convincingly like stadium seating. The roof is built last, using clear transparent panels and technic connections to make the structural supporting architecture.
Stages 5-7 build the Stretford Stand, mirroring the East stand. Both stands use technic connections to attach to the pitch. I’ll take the opportunity to point out that this set is riddled with stickers (48). I hate stickers; no, I detest them. Even more so when having to place them perfectly on something I want to look at and appreciate for years. I probably spent as long attaching the sticker elements as I did building the Lego. Unquestionably, the stickers add a vast amount of detail, and the set would look awful without them. However, I will always advocate for a more expensive print-piece set rather than stickers. It’s just my preference.
Stages 8-16 concentrate on the main stand (Sir Alex Ferguson Stand), and I hope the number of bags helps you conceptualize how big the stand is. First, you lay out an impressive solid base with technic elements and brick to create a solid structure. After the exterior was outlined, I placed the main stand next to the existing build to show the size of the structure. Immense.
While constructing the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, I noticed I was missing two pieces! I’ve circled the red connectors I didn’t have in my set, which were crucial to holding the upper seating in place. So, I could not build the same on the left as I had on the right. Nowadays, I’d hit up my inventory and carry on. However, I instead contacted Lego, and they sent me replacements. So, my main stand build was put on hold. You can see from the semi-constructed stand the details and build elements used to make the glorious replica.
While waiting on the missing pieces from Lego, I started building the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, which is smaller than the Sir Alex Ferguson one it sits opposite. The build is very similar, though, with a solid base that is tiled before the stand’s walls emerge. As this stand has one seating tier, it is a less technical build, and the roof details are the simplest of all four.
Outside the stand sits a team bus (microscale), and you make a free-standing mini statue for the three legendary players Charlton, Best, and Law. I placed mine on the pavement so my cats wouldn’t knock it onto the floor. Setting it with the near-finished model, I was thrilled, excited, and eagerly awaited my missing part’s arrival.
The missing parts arrived around a week later, and I was impressed to see how it was packaged – in a poly bag (below) that came in a padded envelope, so there was no concern about the parts arriving safely.
I got to work quickly and put together the rest of the seating in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand. The picture below shows how the ridged bricks, separated with white plates, create effective stadium seating. This view also highlights the stress of placing the sticker elements. If one of those letter elements were placed poorly, the entire set would lose its glory. Much to my relief, I think I did a decent job.
I took a few more pictures of the last stages of my build as I was deep into loving Lego by this point. All that is left to complete the stadium is the roof for the main stand, which is constructed from white panels, brick, and a bit of plate. The transparent section in the roof is made of transparent panels – the same as the two smaller stands. My final bag was full of white and grey connections to construct the roof stabilization architecture.
Once all four stands are completed, they snap via technic pins to the pitch. The pins hold the five separate builds in place, but they aren’t strong enough to hold the stadium together when moving it. So, move this model in sections.
The final product is outstanding and a visual feat for any soccer/football fan. I adore the transparent blue tile to emulate the glass exterior, and the grey and nougat bricks are a good color scheme to represent the building faithfully.
Manchester United is one of the largest football clubs in the world, so I understand why Lego made a product that would appeal to both Lego enthusiasts and fans of the club. It worked; I wanted this set despite having zero interest in collecting Lego. The reason is that the finished product looks spectacular and realistic.
Without looking at the build closely, it doesn’t seem like Lego as the technic elements on top of the stands aren’t the classic look you associate with the product. I think that design assists in attracting non-Lego fans and appeals to adult fans of Lego (AFOLs) as it has no resemblance to a “kids” toy.
I loved constructing this set, but I will remove the fan girl from the situation and attempt to give an honest overview of how fun it was. Firstly, I must knock a star off immediately for all the stickers. It was tedious and nerve-wracking. I don’t want to destroy a $300 set because I can’t place a sticker correctly. I understand that stickers keep the set costs down, but when so many are visible and are the set’s highlight, I think most people would prefer to pay more for something that will look right. The stadium is a display piece, so appearance is paramount and crooked stickers can ruin the aesthetic immediately.
I considered removing another star for some repetitive elements. However, compared to other architecture replication sets, such as the Colosseum or the Eifel Tower, this set barely registers on the tedium scale, so I felt that wasn’t fair. I took my time building too, which helped mitigate any sense of repetition, and that’s always a sensible approach to enjoy any build of this nature.
To most football fans, this build is instantly recognizable as Old Trafford, a testament to the set’s design. It looks stunning, each stand is different, and the stadium is fascinating from every angle. Although there is a standard way to display the set (with the main stand facing forward), it is a perfect 360-degree build and looks outstanding from every angle. Consequently, I want to put it in the middle of a room to appreciate it from all directions.
In 2022, Lego prices increased by up to 25% for many large sets (Hogwarts Castle, Batmobile Tumbler, Titanic, Assembly Square, etc.) but luckily, Old Trafford was excluded from those sweeping price hikes. The price per piece remained well under the average of 10 cents (~7.7 cents) which is a remarkable value for Lego.
You get some great parts for your money too. The pitch pieces, the transparent columns, and all the SNOT (studs not on top) elements are all premium pieces.
If I wasn’t a Manchester United fan, this isn’t a set that I would add to my collection, and I think that would go for most people. Even football fans don’t tend to want a replica of a stadium that’s not from your club (which is why I didn’t buy Camp Nou or the Bernabeu). I am mesmerized by this build and the reality the design has captured. It is a classic piece of sporting architecture, and there is a reason this stadium is dubbed “The Theatre of Dreams.” Now that I am a fan of both elements (the club and Lego), I am delighted to have snapped this before it retired at the end of 2022.