40311 Traffic Lights and 40312 Streetlamps are two of five polybags released in 2018 as part of an experimental, limited run of accessory packs branded as LEGO xtra. These packs provide a wide range of accessories for builders to enhance their LEGO cities and give them a little bit more life.
I didn't pick up all five of the polybags, just these two as these were the ones that I was most interested in. The rest of the LEGO xtra polybags include:
These polybags are accompanied by three cardboard playmat packs, each of which contains two pieces of cardboard with road or terrain prints on both sides:
The front of each polybag shows you, interestingly enough with illustrations instead of photographs, all of the contents therein.
Since there isn't much more to these polybags than the contents themselves, which are self-explanatory, there's nothing interesting on the back but you do get to see more of what's inside, which is nice at least.
Of note is the fact that these are the only two LEGO xtra polybags to contain building instructions alongside the pieces themselves, as these are the only two polybags to feature substantively buildable models.
Obviously, these aren't very big sets, but there are still enough pieces for me to knoll and make the sets look good before they're even built.
The building instructions appear as folded leaflets with no more than 4 steps for any one model or subassembly. Experienced builders can easily put together the models just by looking at the front of each polybag, however.
The other side of each leaflet contains a shot of the various LEGO xtra sets composited into one scene. Each leaflet contains a unique arrangement of the playmats so it's not just the same scene printed on both leaflets, which is a nice touch.
New, noteworthy or rare parts
40311 Traffic Lights contains two new leaf elements that were introduced in 2018, and 40312 Streetlamps contains a new lantern element that was also introduced in 2018.
40312 Streetlamps also contains a white 2x2 plate with reduced studs. This type of plate was first introduced in 2017, but didn't appear in white until 2018.
40311 Traffic Lights
This model of traffic light is actually not new to this set; it was first seen in 40170 Build My City Accessory Set. That set contains only one, along with a variety of other objects. This set contains four traffic lights. Two of them also contain a pedestrian call button. The building instructions place these buttons so high that minifigures have to reach all the way up, though, so I recommend lowering them the way I have as shown in my photos.
Besides the titular traffic lights, this polybag also comes with a wheelbarrow, a push broom, a trash can, a smoked-colored bottle, a banana, and a bone. (Another bone is included as a spare.)
When I was younger, I used to build my own LEGO traffic lights, stacking 1x1 bricks to make the posts and using headlight/Erling bricks for the lights themselves. Unfortunately, I ran out of the latter very quickly, so I never managed to make enough traffic lights for my LEGO city.
I very much prefer the use of an actual signpost element along with 1x1 bricks with a stud on 1 side though. Check out the comparison!
Speaking of signpost elements, I owned 6427 Road Signs from 1999 (almost 20 years ago!), and I still have all the road signs in that set so I have the rare opportunity to show you a comparison of the old and new signpost elements.
And here's where things get really interesting: besides the transition from old light grey to light bluish gray, the base of the element seems to have gained some sort of indentation on one side. It doesn't seem to be just a molding artifact either; it's clearly illustrated even in the building instructions, so it seems to be an intentional part of the element's design. I wonder why that was added!
I also have a few trash cans in old dark grey and the new trash can does have some changes in its shape, most notably the 4 cover holders as opposed to 2 so the lid fits on much more tightly.
Unfortunately, unlike 40311 Traffic Lights, Streetlamps only includes two full-size streetlamps, one with street signs and one without. A street with more traffic lights than streetlamps doesn't seem quite right. But I digress.
The set also comes with two much shorter lamps with trans-fluorescent green bulbs, a post box (that does not include a letter — you'll only find one in 40313 Bicycles), a newspaper stand, a bench, a lantern, a lime green camera, and a cellphone.
The bench is created by supporting a tan 2x6 plate with two reddish brown 1x2 log/palisade bricks. This provides room for two minifigures to sit side by side, although at least one of them will have to sit on the edge for it to work.