Marvel Avengers: Rocket Mech Armor (#76243) by LEGO

Happy Friday, folks! I’m kicking off a three-day weekend today, but I didn’t have a lot of time leading up to it, so today’s review is going to be a bit on the short and sweet side. But, I did have so much fun building and playing around with this tiny LEGO set, that I wanted to share it here, and today seemed like a perfect time!

Yes, this is a small set, weighing in at just under 100 pieces in two tiny bags. That builds the Rocket Mech Suit and includes the Rocket Raccoon Minifig. I normally don’t go after LEGO sets this small, because they’re just a big tease. By the time I start getting into it and enjoying the build, it’s all over. But, this one just caught my eye and I like to fiddle with stuff while I watch TV, so I cracked it open and wound up assembling it in about 15 or 20 minutes. Let’s start with the Minifig!

This Minifig certainly does Rocket proud… mostly. There is something missing and that’s his tail, but as we’ll see in a few seconds, the set makes up for that. The head sculpt is very nice with some excellent printing and his mischievous grin gives him a lot of personality. He’s got some gold printing on his orange jumpsuit showing the front and back of his vest. He also comes with a nice big gun, which is assembled from three different pieces. Very cool stuff!

And then there’s the Mech Suit, which I absolutely adore. The chest hinges down to reveal the cockpit for the Minifig to stand in. It would have been cool to put in some of those control sticks pieces, but you just have to use your imagination that he’s controlling it. The chest hinges closed leaving just Rocket’s head peeking out of the Suit.

The Mech is mostly orange and brown with some black and gray trim. There’s also a printed piece for the chest. And for a simple set, this Mech has some really fun articulation with ball joints at the shoulders, hips, and ankles, and four hinged fingers on the left hand. The suit can also pivot 360-degrees at the waist. The arms and legs are made out of the same solid, bent orange pieces, so there’s no articulation in the elbows or knees, but it still makes for a surprisingly fun figure to play with. And there’s there’s that big tail to compensate for the Minifig’s shortcomings! The tail is all spikey and full of bristles and it makes me grin like an idiot knowing that Rocket intentionally put a racoon tail on his Mech Suit because… why not? I also love the two thrusters on the back with the blue engines, and these can also articulate a bit.

Thanks to the ball joints in the ankles, the Mech has surprisingly good balance and the friction in the ball joints is sufficient to hold the limbs in place and not have it flop over.

Of course, the big attention getter here is the giant 6-stud cannon that he has in place of a right hand, because we all know how much Rocket loves his guns!

And that’s it! This set was an impulse buy at just under $15 and I am so very glad I decided to let it follow me home. Sure, the build wasn’t the most satisfying, as it was practically over before it started, but it was short-lived fun nonetheless. And in this case the finished model is where the fun really kicks in. I’ll likely have this Raging Raccoon Mech Suit on my desk for a long time to give me something to fiddle around with between projects. This one is highly recommended. It also won’t break the bank, which is pretty rare for a good LEGO set these days!

Star Wars: TIE Fighter (#75300) by LEGO

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me doing a lot of LEGO Rebuilds the past couple of weeks. One of those was the X-Wing (#9493) from around 2013 or so. I was so impressed with this set, even building it the second time, that I hopped online and ordered the TIE Fighter that’s on the shelves now to go with it.

I’ve seen this set in the LEGO aisle countless times and I’ve always passed it up. I think I just had the mindset that it was going to be a boring and largely redundant build. Turns out I was mostly wrong. The set has a total of 432 pieces, which builds the TIE Fighter and three Minifigs. Guess what? We’re going to start with the Minifigs! You probably guessed.

LEGO could have just slapped a TIE Pilot in here and called it a day, but you also get a Stormtrooper and an Imperial Droid called NI-L8. The Stormtrooper is excellent and I dig the TIE Pilot a lot too. My only complaint about him is that the back of the helmet doesn’t cover his entire head, which is really kind of weird. NI-L8 looks like a black version of what I knew as a Death Star Droid when I was growing up.

The Stormtrooper and TIE Pilot each come with blasters and they have printed faces under their removable helmets. The TIE Pilot looks very mean and nasty while the Stormtrooper only looks slightly cross.

Here’s the TIE Fighter all complete and I have to say that this was a pretty interesting build. The first bag of bricks builds the body, which was a lot of fun. The remaining bags build the wing panels, and the design here is cool enough that I did not mind building them twice. The result is a TIE Fighter that resembles the old Kenner toy with the shorter wings. And that’s fine, because growing up playing with that toy it still feels more familiar to me than the taller panel on screen models. I should also note that this set uses ZERO stickers, which really floored me, as even the $150 Raiders of the Lost Ark set used stickers over printed pieces. You not only get printed detail on the top dome and front window, but also the central caps on the wing panels… not bad for a lower price range set.

The wing panel builds are really clever. You build the top and bottom and then mesh them together before adding all the bits for detail and the support struts. The edges are pretty neat too. You build them as hinged strips, clip them in the top and the angle down and clip again at the bottom. The inner panels are largely unfinished, but the outer surface is a nice mixture of studs and smooth panels. I initially thought the panels would be too thick, but they actually look fine as well as being nice and sturdy.

The cockpit opens up at the top and front to give you a great access to the interior. Nah, there’s not a lot going on in there, but plenty of place to sit the figure. I dig how the two red console pieces fold down too. I think my only real gripe about this model is that the top and front hatches don’t actually clip together in any way. They do stay put pretty well, but I would have liked some type of fastener. The wing panels are attached with Technic clips, so if you want to reproduce the ejected wing panels from the old Kenner toy it’s pretty easy to pull them off and stick them back on again.

Finally, you get two translucent green flick-fire missiles that shoot out where the laser cannons should be. They actually look like laser cannons when inserted and if you pull them out a bit they kind of look like lasers being fired, which makes for a cool effect.

I got this set on sale for $35, and I think that was a pretty good deal. It’s a fairly quick build and I was able to do it in about an hour or so. The limited colors in the bricks make it a bit more of a hunt for pieces, especially if you like to open all your bags at once. But I built it bag by bag, so it was no big deal. The ship looks great and Droid and Stormtrooper Minifigs feel like nice bonuses. If LEGO released this set in white, I would probably buy it again. Hell, I’m pretty sure I have all the pieces needed to build it in white, but I don’t like mixing up my sets! There’s a TIE Bomber set floating out there, and I’ll probably pick that up next!

Indiana Jones: Escape From The Lost Tomb (#77013) by LEGO

I don’t have a heck of a lot of regrets in my decades of toy collecting, but one that I do have is not getting in on the previous Indiana Jones LEGO sets, because if you haven’t looked lately they go for a lot of monies. So, when LEGO announced some new sets to launch in advance of Indiana Jones 5, I jumped on board as quick as I could. There are three sets up for sale right now, two based on Raiders of the Lost Ark and one on Last Crusade, with a fourth based on Temple of Doom that mysteriously disappeared and may have been cancelled. I’ve already built two of the three sets, and I’m starting today Escape From The Lost Tomb!

Oh God, it’s so good to see Indy themed LEGO packaging again! It makes me want to bust out my Nintendo DS and re-play some LEGO Indiana Jones. I don’t know what kind of tortured PR rationale goes into naming these sets, but clearly The Well of Souls was off limits. Maybe the word Souls isn’t cultural sensitive enough in some countries. But whatever the case, this set depicts the final resting place of the Lost Ark of the Covenant from Raiders, and gives you everything you need to recreate the recovery of the Ark and the subsequent escape from The Well of Souls. At exactly 600 pieces and only one thick instruction book, this set is a fun and satisfying build that gives you the playset, the Ark, and four Minifigs. Oh, and also a whole lot of snakes! Why did it have to be snakes? Let’s start with the Minifigs!

The set includes four Minifigs: Indy, Marion, Sallah, and a Mummy and each of these is excellent. Indy looks as iconic as can be with his printed leather jacket, satchel and fedora-hairpiece combo. He even has his holster printed on his belt. He comes with his coiled whip, and I actually got two of them in the set. They did a great job on the whip, as it’s flexible and the end can even be plugged into a stud. Marion has her printed dress with hairpiece and she comes with a torch to fend off all those snakes. Each of these figures have two printed faces.

Sallah and the Mummy are also really well done. I do feel like they skimped on Sallah’s printing a bit as there’s nothing from the waist down, but he still looks good. He has a turban on his head and just the one face print. He doesn’t come with any accessories, which is a shame. They could have at least thrown in a shovel from some other set. The Mummy is suitably gross with some really intricate printing both front and back.

And here’s the Well of Souls all built and ready to be explored! I think the scale here is really good for a set of this size, as it recreates all the basic beats of the movie set without skimping. Even Kenner’s old Well of Souls playset didn’t include the two statues. There’s some excellent detail in the wall in the back with different textured bricks, some gaps to show it’s crumbling down and lots of stickers with hieroglyphs. There are a pair of sarcophagi on the back wall, flanking the alter that holds the Ark, and a little archway leading up to it. The statues are on swiveling bases, and the one on the right has a handle for a play gimmick we’ll see in a minute.

It’s worth noting that my set included two of the wrong pieces, for building one of the statues. If you look close you can see the two gray pieces that are holding the hips on the statue on the left, whereas the statue on the right is built correctly. It’s a lucky coincidence that the pieces they included were still able to be used in the build, even if it throws the coloring off a bit. I even went back through the instructions to see if I had used the wrong ones earlier, but nope. Anyway, I really dig the build on these statues and some of the creative uses of pieces for the abs and the face. Each uses three stickers to add some detail.

Speaking of detail, the hieroglyph stickers are fantastic, and one even recreates the R2-D2 and C-3PO cameo in the movie. I remember seeing that image in one of the books I got about the movie and thinking it was the coolest thing ever.

The Ark itself is a pretty neat build. The pieces they used to recreate the angels on top is really creative and there are some stickers on each side to give it a little more detail. You also get the carry bars, so Indy and Sallah can transport it. Just don’t open it!

The back of the playset is a little unfinished, and you can see where some of the gimmicks are set up. I do like the little raised platform and covered hallway as it offers a little more play space for figures. On the right you can see a little chute that can be used to drop snakes into the front of the playset using the lever. They drop out to the left of the Ark alter right where the snake is coming out of the wall. It’s funny because I had no idea what that was going to be even when I was building it. Each of the snakes on the floor come with clips to keep them in place.

The main play gimmick in the set has the right statue fall back and knock down the wall, so you can recreate the scene where Indy pushed it over to make their escape. It’s very simple engineering and works well, but you have to hold the statue and wall in place if you transport the playset because there’s nothing holding either up. Some kind of catch might have been worthwhile. Still, I’m impressed how well everything holds together even after I knocked that wall down about a dozen times.

The final feature recreates the scene where Marion goes through the fallen wall and the Mummy springs out and scares the shit out of her (and 12yo me as well!). The Mummy Minifig hides under the raised platform and when you pull on the technic piece the platform swings out to reveal him. Again, a very simple bit of engineering that works beautifully. I also dig the creepy sticker in the alcove which features some spiderwebbing and mysterious eyes glowing in the darkness.

At $40, this is one of the few times I can say that a LEGO set feels like a decent value. This is a fun build, although there is some redundancy here as you are building the same statue twice. Still, with four Minifigs and some solid play gimmicks, this set recreates the sequence of the film very well and offers a bunch of fun display options when its on display on the shelf. It also reminds me of just what a perfect fit LEGO and Indiana Jones really is. If you aren’t up for the big challenge and price tag of the Temple of the Golden Idol set, then this is an excellent pick up. Or do what I did and just get both! I’ll be checking out the larger set when I revisit with this line in a couple of weeks.

LEGO City: Lunar Research Base (#60350) by LEGO

This year, I’ve been dabbling with a lot of LEGO, and so far I’ve checked out two of the LEGO City Space sets. Today I’m going BIG with the Lunar Research Base, which is not only a damn cool set on its own, but also has some compatibility with one of those other sets, which we’ll check out at the end of the review! There’s a ton of stuff to look at here, so strap in tight and watch out for those G-Forces!

I got a nice deal on this set through Amazon, but the downside was they shipped it in the “Hassle Free” packaging, which means they just slap 1000 shipping labels on the box and kick it out the door. As a result, mine arrived in dire condition, so I’m using LEGO’s official picture for the box shot. Clocking in at 786 pieces, it’s not the biggest set out there, but it’s a lot bigger than anything I’ve built recently. And the piece count feels a little deceptive, because it feels like you get a lot of bang with for your buck when this one is built. When all is done, this set builds two ground vehicles, a drone, the research base itself, a rocket ship, a mineral deposit, and six Minifigs! It’s a whole world of fun in one box. Let’s start with the Minifigs!

The six Minifigs include three astronauts, a rocket pilot, and two scientists. It’s a satisfying number of Minifigs, and despite the rather high level of reuse between them, it feels appropriate and not like a cost-saving cop-out.

The astronauts all use the same bodies, helmets, and backpack harness, but one of the backpacks is built differently having clips on the sides to store tools. These are essentially the same astronauts that we saw with the Lunar Roving Vehicle set, and that’s appropriate, since we’ll see later that the two sets are very compatible. The gold helmet visors are removable to reveal that you get one man and two women. You also get hair pieces for all of them for when you remove the helmets entirely, and each head only has one face print. You get a metal detector for one of the astronauts, and I gave the other a drill taken from the large inventory of tools that comes with this set. The printing is crisp and colorful, and the backpacks each get stickers.

The scientists also share the same body, which consists of blue jumpsuits and that makes the rocket pilot the only totally unique Minifig in the set. He has an orange pressure suit and a helmet with a removable blue face shield. The pilot comes with a hair piece for when you take off his helmet and all three only have single face prints. The printing on these figures is simple, but it still looks great.

With the Minifigs out of the way, let’s check out some of the smaller builds! First up is this little solar powered robot rover. This four-wheeled little guy is a simple but fun little build. He’s got some solar panel stickers on the side to keep him powered up. There’s a light, or perhaps a camera on the front, a tail hitch on the back, and a sensor dome up top. I love the use of the translucent blue pieces for the body as you can see some of the basic mechanisms inside him. Very cool!

Next up is the Lunar dozer, which seats one Minifig. It’s a sporty little work vehicle with four big wheels, a dozer blade on the front, a little blue lightbar, red tail lights, and some lever controls for the driver. The blade is on front is hinged to angle it up and down. The dozer comes in handy for pushing around rocks or cleaning up the dig site! I love the look of this little crater-hopper and it looks like it would be fun to go off-roading around the Kepler Crater with it.

Speaking of dig sites, we get another mineral deposit, which is very similar to the one included with the Lunar Roving Vehicle. The big rock opens up to reveal blue crystals inside, one of which can be removed and taken back to the Research Base where it infects the crew with a bizarre alien radiation that turns them into violent rage zombies. Nah, just kidding. I’m sure they’re perfectly safe.

And how do you transport that big boulder of alien goodness? With a crane drone of course! This quad-thrusting workhorse has a massive claw that can capture the boulder and carry it off to be poked and prodded by the Geological Team! The big claw uses a rubber band to keep it closed, and you also get a simpler hook in case it needs to rescue the rover robot from a bad tumble.

The rocket is a neat build all to itself, and an awesome bonus for this set. It has a one man cockpit, a ladder for getting in and out, two gold dishes, which I assume are for communications. Maybe it can be used to relay messages from the Research Base back to Earth. When you pick up the Rocket to blast off, a transparent flame piece emerges from the thruster cone and the landing legs fold up, which is pretty clever. The sides of the rocket have four gold foil solar panel stickers.

The cockpit module is attached by two technic pieces, so you can detach it. I’m not sure if it’s intentional since it has no propulsion of its own, but I guess it can be used for emergencies if the engine overloads and is about to explode. The cockpit is both roomy and sparse. There’s a place for the pilot to take his helmet off and stow it and there are a couple of control panels on each side.

And then we get to the Research Base itself, which can be broken down into four basic areas: Garage, Research Dome, Lab Pylon and Airlock Pylon. The main body of the base houses the garage, which can be accessed by lifting off the Dome Section. The garage has a little work bay and lots of places for tools. And that’s convenient, because this set comes with a whole bag full of tools! The robot rover can recharge in his little alcove in the back and there’s still room for the rover dozer to come in for repairs. There are hatches to the left and right that lead off to the Pylons.

The transparent dome on the top of the Research Base opens up to allow you access. But only pretend access, because if the dome actually opened, the Minifigs would did of asphyxiation. Inside are sleeping quarters with two beds, a work station, and a hydroponics area. These scientists seem to be focused on growing vegetable life in space, and it looks like they’ve produced some sort of giant mutant carrot. It was fun building all of the plant life, and if you don’t want to follow the instructions, you can just go wild and come with all sorts of fun combinations. The central column has a circular table for coffee mugs, with additional space on thet wo end tables by the beds. There’s a smart-phone accessory, which I think is probably intended as a work tablet.

The pylons contain opening compartments. The shorter pylon has a little laboratory with room for one scientist. On top there are articulated solar panels with foil stickers and a communications dish that can rotate and angle up and down. Open up the pylon and you gain access to the lab. There’s an electron microscope and a containment jar with some microscopic organisms in it. I like to think this lab is isolated because it’s where the real dangerous stuff happens. If any of that deadly alien bacteria escapes, they can just lock it down and vent it into space, doing the infected scientist a kindness by not allowing him to be taken over and consumed from the inside out. Nah, just kidding. I’m sure it’s perfectly safe.

The middle of the longer pylon has the same articulated solar panels on top and opens to reveal an airlock. Here there are some clips to store tools and places for the returning Astronauts to place their helmets when embarking back onto the base.

Beyond the airlock is a corridor that can actually angle upward to allow it to dock with the Lunar Rover vehicle from the previous set. The engineering in the walkway is really cool in that it angles upward while keeping the two end ports perpendicular to the ground. Both the rover and the airlock use the same ports, so you just have to flip up the hatches and the two ports will line up perfectly. If you have some spare technic connectors you can even lock them together.

Wow, what a set! The Lunar Research Base has a lot going on and it took me about two nights to build. It wasn’t a difficult build at all, but there’s just a lot to it. Once it’s done this is a wonderful playset in a box with a bunch of different play patterns and lots of compatibility with the other LEGO City Space sets. It retails for $129.99, but I was able to get a little bit off of it when Amazon was having a LEGO sale. This is just the kind of thing that I would have loved to find under the Christmas Tree when I was a wee lad! I’ve got two more sizeable sets from the LEGO City Space series to build, but next time we look at a LEGO set, it’ll be time to bust out out trusty whips and fedoras!

Star Wars “The Mandalorian:” Slave-1 (#75312) by LEGO

Yeah, that’s right, the box may say Boba Fett’s Starship, but it’ll always be Slave-1 to me. Fight the power!!! Since I’ve been on a LEGO kick this year, I thought I’d take a break from the LEGO City Space stuff and switch over to The Mandalorian. These have been the only Star Wars sets I’ve been buying, not because the others don’t look good, but I have to try to set limitations where LEGO is concerned or I’ll be broke. I saw this set the last time I was at Target and the price seemed right, so let’s see what we got!

The set is a tad bigger than any I’ve built in a while, weighing in at 593 pieces, which come in four numbered bags. BUT… For some reason it only comes with one big instruction manual, whereas the last bunch I assembled had a booklet for each bag. Now, I’m not saying that has anything to do with anything, but I did find this build to be a little more challenging than any other recent LEGO experiences. So, I gotta call foul on that 9+ rating. I’m more than five times that age, and I had to backtrack a few times to see what went wrong. Needless to say, this was a pretty dense build with some neat stuff going on, and there were a few times where I honestly didn’t know why I was building something. I love that, because it creates a real gee-whiz moment when you place it on the model and see what’s going on. Anyway, in addition to Slave-1, the set builds two Minifigs, a Carbonite Prisoner, and a Transport Sled. As always, let’s start with the Minifigs!

The figs are Boba Fett and Mando, and these are pretty straightforward. Boba has his jetpack and Mando has a cape. Both have articulated range finders on their helmets, Boba comes with a blaster carbine, Mando has his spear, and there’s an extra blaster pistol if you want to give it to Mando. Only Boba comes with a jetpack, but Mando comes with a cape. Boba has a printed face, so you can display him with his helmet off if you want, whereas Mando just has a blank head under there, which feels kind of cheap. I know he rarely takes that bucket off his head, but he has in the show, so I think we should have had a printed face on there. But, it’s no biggie. I am particularly happy to have the Beskar Armor Mando, since the one I have that came with the AT-ST set is in his original armor. I also have to give props to the beautiful printing that makes up Boba Fett’s armor. It’s crisp and colorful and looks fantastic.

The Carbonite Prisoner is just a slab with a vent piece on the bottom and a sticker of a Gamorrean Guard. It’s OK, but the slab is really thin, which seems doubly out of place for a portly Gamorrean.

Here’s “Prisoners-With-Jobs-1” all assembled and looking pretty cool. So straightaway, if the size and cost of this set didn’t tip you off, don’t come into this one expecting a full scale model of Slave-1. It’s a substantial build, but as you can see, it’s scaled down a bit when compared to the Minifigs. The build is completely solid, which means the back doesn’t open up or anything beyond there being a sliding ramp with a slot to stow the Carbonite slab. And that’s fine, given it’s size. The fact that it is a solid build means the ship is pretty hefty and takes to being handled well. I ran into some difficulties assembling the side pieces, but I’m going to chalk that up to the way it was illustrated in the booklet and the few drinkys I had while building. As for aesthetics, I think it’s a good looking model, but I have two nitpicks. The canopy is a little flimsy the way it closes up and obviously doesn’t seal shut, and the guns on the tail boom are rather oversized. Neither are deal-breakers for me, especially given the size of the set.

There’s only room for one Minifig in the cockpit, and as you may have guessed, there’s no gyroscope articulation to the pilot seat. As a result, the Minifig is designed to sit in it as if it’s always in flight. There is, however, articulation in the wing stabilizers, and these will remain horizontal to the ground as the ship is maneuvered, just like the old Kenner toy, and that’s pretty cool. There are two cannon that fire red studs, and there’s a flip out handle hidden in the undercarriage to hold while you’re whooshing it around the room.

The Transport Sled is designed to move Slave-1 along the ground, but it can also be used to transport the Carbonite Prisoner, and it even doubles as a stand for displaying the ship at an angle, which is a really nice bonus.

Considering I recently paid a little extra for a pair of discontinued LEGO sets, this one actually felt like a decent deal at $40. Well, at least it felt like a decent deal by LEGO standards. Despite a few frustrations, I found the build to be very satisfying and while the ship is definitely scaled down, I think I’ll be content with it as my sole LEGO representation of Slave-1 in my collection. Especially since the bigger Slave-1 runs for hundreds of dollars. If you’re hankering to build something while you’re watching the next episode of Mando, and you want another cool little Star Wars ship for your LEGO shelves, you could do a lot worse than this one!

LEGO City: Lunar Roving Vehicle (#60348) by LEGO

I’m heading back into LEGO City today, or should I say out into LEGO City Space, with a look at another one of these NASA themed sets. LEGO’s goal here is to take some real concept vehicles from NASA and make them a little more toyetic and fun. Last time I checked out the Mars Research Shuttle, and now it’s time to go to the Moon with the Lunar Roving Vehicle… Let’s Go!

As the box claims, the Rover is based on the Artemis concept vehicle, but takes a lot of liberties with that design. This set is about the same size as the Shuttle, give or take a few pieces, but unlike the Shuttle set this one really just focuses on one vehicle. You get 275 bricks, which builds the Rover, a Mineral Deposit, and three Minifigs. As always, let’s start with the Minifigs!

You get two Astronauts and one Rover Pilot, and straightaway I like these better than what we got in the previous set. The Rover Pilot is great, with a blue jumpsuit and printed leather jacket. He has a ballcap and a cocky smirk on his face. There’s no hair piece, so the hat stays on, and none of these Minifigs have second face printings. The printing on the Astronaut suits is quite nice and both have shoulder harness pieces to attach their backpacks The backpacks are actual builds, which I like more than the one-piece on the EVA Suit from the last set. These are male and female figures, with the mail having a backpack with articulated spotlights and the female has a tool pack with a circular saw and as shovel, although you can switch them if you like.

The gold solar screen visors lift off to reveal their faces and, unlike the Pilot, these figures have hairpieces so you can take their helmets off completely. I dig all three of these Minifigs a lot!

The Rover is a fun build, but I’m a little iffy on the final model. It’s super clunky and looks absolutely nothing like the concept design that it’s based on. In fact, this thing is just plain ugly. The Rover rolls along on six sets of dual wheels, each of which can rotate 360-degrees, which makes for a spectacle of chaos when this thing is in motion, but it is interesting to see it roll. The cab has an upper and lower windshield, which looks good, there’s a blue lightbar on top, as well as an articulated radar dish. The back has a platform that drops down like a tailgate, which I guess can be used to haul cargo or samples, and it also has clips for tool storage. There are five stickers visible on the outside of the Rover, four are gold solar-panel type stickers on the side hatches, and the fifth is the space agency logo on the top.

The front of the vehicle has two articulated arms, one with a build in drill and the other with a clip that holds a metal detector-type device. The detector can be swapped out to be used by one of the Astronauts, and you can put the circular saw in this arm so the Rover can dig. I’m not a big fan of the way these arms are built, as they just look kind of awkward.

The vehicle opens on both sides, with the large circular ports leading into the cabin and the blue solar-panel-type hatches leading to an airlock compartment. It’s pretty tight quarters in the vehicle, but if you put on Astronaut in the airlock and one in the back of the cabin, you can load everyone onto the Rover. There’s no access from the airlock to the cabin, so that whole thing has to work with the power of your imagination! It also seems kind of odd that the side pieces with the solar panel stickers drop down rather than rise up to collect those rays!

The cabin has room for the Pilot to sit, with consoles on either side of him and joysticks to either steer the Rover or control the arms.

You get a Mineral Deposit, which is basically a big rock on a pedestal, along with a space agency flag to show those filthy Commies that it belongs to us! I really dig how they did this, with the rock opening to reveal translucent blue crystals inside, as well as a single crystal that can be removed as a sample. It’s a lot more interesting than the paltry little samples that came with the Shuttle set.

The Lunar Rover set is a fun and satisfying build with some excellent Minifigs and some promising play value, but it falls short of the Research Shuttle set, at least in my opinion. The Rover is pretty ugly, and that’s all you get, whereas the Research Shuttle looked awesome and came with a Rover and two Drones. I certainly don’t regret picking up this set, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find it. It’s solid just not exceptional. It does, however, interact with the Lunar Base set, and I’ll be taking a look at that set in the not too distant fugure!

LEGO City: Mars Research Shuttle (#60266) by LEGO

I went through a long dry spell without looking at any LEGO sets here for a while, and that’s probably because I’ve been digging out old sets and rebuilding them to get my LEGO fix. Last year, I checked out one or two Star Wars sets, but that’s been it. Now some of the NASA inspired LEGO City sets that I’ve seen in the toy aisles have caught my interest and even reminded me that I had a couple of these put away, waiting to be built. I also bought some newer ones to build while I was on vacation. I’m starting today by building the Mars Research Shuttle!

This one is actually from a few years back and features a brick count of 273 pieces with three numbered bags and three instruction booklets. It’s not really a big set, but one that seemed to offer a fair amount of extras. The Research Shuttle is the main draw of the set, but it also comes with a Surface Rover, a Mineral Deposit, a Heli-drone, and a second Drone to transport samples, plus two Minifigs! Let’s start with those Minifigs!

You get two astronauts, consisting of a male in an orange space suit and a female in a white EVA suit. The male is a simple build with a set of oxygen tanks on his back and a helmet with a tinted blue visor. The female’s EVA suit has a one piece rig, which includes the helmet and backpack and has a gold painted visor to protect from solar exposure. The printed bodies are nice, but there’s no detail on the packs, which is a bit disappointing. You also only get one printed face on each head and no hair pieces, so you’re going to have to keep this pair’s helmets on.

The Research Shuttle takes up most of the build, and it is a really cool design, borrowing heavily from the traditional NASA Space shuttles. The spacecraft is mostly white and black, with stickers used on the tail fins and the thruster pods at the ends of the wings. The body is smooth, while the wings have studs on top, but it still looks great. You also get a number of tiny wheels on the bottom for it to rest on when it’s waiting for the next mission. The cockpit is one large translucent piece with white paint that doesn’t quite match the white bricks, but it’s close enough for me. All in all, this is a solid and decent sized model that was fun and simple to build and looks great.

The cockpit opens by removing the clear canopy piece and it reveals the one-man operators seat. It’s kind of deceptive, since the canopy piece makes the cockpit look like it’s going to be big and roomy, but there’s just the one seat.

The cargo bay doors open up to reveal another one-person station in the back along with space for the sample drone. Yeah, it’s pretty tight back there too, but considering the size of the shuttle, I think the designers made pretty good use of what space they had. The operating station here is presumably to control the Drones and the Robot Rover on the planet surface. The consoles consist of two printed bricks and one screen and it looks pretty good.

The sample drone is very simple, and really just a box with a clear hatch and four small thrusters to propel it from the shuttle to the planet surface. I kind of dig how simple and utilitarian this little guy is.

One last play feature on the shuttle involves the engines opening to reveal what looks like a power coil or some other inner workings of the drive system. So at least if the engines fail, the EVA suited Minifig can open these up and poke around in there to get it up and running again!

Moving down to the planet surface, we have the Heli-drone and the Rover. The Rover is a fun build and a cool vehicle considering it’s not the main draw of the set. It rolls on six wheels, has a turret that can rotate 360-degrees, an articulated solar panel with a sticker detailing the panels, an articulated claw, and a laser cutter. The claw springs closed thanks to a rubber band, which really should have been orange. The laser is a translucent red rod, which makes for a nice effect. There’s also a hitch on the back to possibly interact with another model from another set. Maybe a dump bin trailer for samples? The Mineral Deposit has two geode pieces, which can be collected by the Rover’s claw and placed into the Sample Drone for transport. There’s also a sticker with some coded images.

That’s where the Heli-Drone comes in! This little guy has a scanner, which is a translucent red screen and when it’s placed over that sticker it reveals the scientific data for the available samples. No, the Mineral Deposit piece isn’t all that convincing because it’s so angular, but I like the play mechanic it adds and the geode pieces are very well done, with translucent blue plastic molded into the shells.

I think this set is from around 2019 and I believe the MSRP was around $35, which feels about right. It’s actually still available at some online retailers, but it’s going for close to twice that these days. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this set and the play pattern is really well thought out. You have the Heli-Drone seeking out samples, the Rover collecting them, the Sample Drone bringing them up to the Shuttle. The Minifigs are a little blah, but they fit in fine with the rest of the set, and I’d definitely recommend it, if you can find it for under $45. Hell, the Rover itself feels like a model that could have turned up in one of those small $9.99 boxes all by itself.

Star Wars “The Mandalorian:” AT-ST Raider (#75254) by LEGO

It’s hard to believe it, but it’s been more than five years since I last built and reviewed a LEGO set here on FFZ. And while LEGO has been out of the picture here, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been picking up the odd set here and there over those years. And having recently moved, I’ve unearthed some of those sets from storage and decided that it was time to build some of them and check them out. So, let’s have a look at the AT-ST Raider from The Mandalorian!

Full disclosure: The main reason I bought this set was because it turned up on clearance and I just couldn’t resist it. I would have much rather picked up the Hoth AT-ST that’s still on the shelves now, but I’m just a sucker for discount LEGO, and it is still an AT-ST. This one is based off Chapter 4 from the first season, titled Sanctuary. I wouldn’t say that I actually disliked any episode of The Mandalorian yet, but Sanctuary was probably my least favorite. It was just really cliched, but at least it had an AT-ST going for it. Anyway, this set consists of 540 pieces, spread out over four numbered bags, which build the AT-ST itself and four Mini-figs! It’s been a while, so let me see if I remember how to do this… oh, yeah… LET’S START WITH THE MINI-FIGS!!!

You get two heroes and two villains, which would make this a well-balanced battle in a box if it weren’t for the giant AT-ST. The heroes consist of The Mandalorian himself and Cara Dune, both of which were good incentive for me to pick up this set. They both look great, and don’t involve any surprise pieces. Mando has a cape, but does not have a printed face under that helmet, just a black head slug. The printing on both figures costumes is nice, and I like Cara’s smirk, while she also has a bit of a snarl as her other face. Cara’s rifle is great, but I’m not as impressed with Mando’s. I guess this is supposed to be his disintegration rifle, with the claw serving as the tuning-fork style barrel, but that’s a bit of a reach. But, even with that nitpick, I love these figs!

For the villains, you get a pair of Klatooinian Raiders, and these guys are pretty damn cool too. Their legs feature the same printing for both, but their torsos are each unique. One has a helmet and a road-warrior style piece of spiked shoulder armor, while the other one just has this weird neck piece. You get an impressive rifle and two pistols for these guys. But do you really need guns, when you have this…

This is my first time building a LEGO AT-ST, so I can’t speak to whether or not this is the same build as the Hoth one, but it is a very impressive model. The scale on the AT-ST feels just right, as it could easily step on a Mini-fig if they get underfoot. The build was pretty fun, with the only redundancy being in the legs, and the model mixes things up a little bit with different colored bricks to show the custom work done on this beast. You also get some exposed cables for the left leg, which is a great little touch.

The legs are a fairly technical build, and the design kept me interested in exactly what they were doing with all the support pieces. It is, however, a little deceptive, as during the build, I believed that I was creating a lot of articulated joints, when in reality the only articulation in the legs is in the “knees” up near the top. I though that would be disappointing, but it’s really not, as I appreciate the stability of this model. It stands rock solid, and I doubt that would have been the case with a lot of working joints in the legs. And I’ll throw it out there again, how much I dig the custom color pieces, which are also helped along by some well-placed stickers.

One of the biggest surprises of this build was the way the body goes together. It isn’t a solid box, but rather the sides just kind of hang on the front and back pieces. This means there are notable gaps where these connect, which become very obvious when looking inside the cabin, but is also pretty apparent from the outside too. It doesn’t deter my enjoyment of the model at all, but it’s an interesting design choice, nonetheless. There is an action gimmick with a knob on the back of platform that can be used to rotate the head left and right. The weapons are also all articulated, so you can swivel the cheek guns, raise and lower the chin guns, and there are two flick-fire missiles hidden on each side of the chin guns.

Like the old Kenner toy, the entire top of the body lifts up to give you access to the cabin, but there’s also a hatch that can be opened as well. There’s actually room inside for both Mini-figs, even though in the episode, the AT-ST was some kind of robotic drone. I like that there are hand rails on each side of the hatch, so you can snap a Mini-figs hand onto it and it will hold him in place popping his head through the hatch. The window armor plates are also articulated, and can angle up or down.

This was a great set to come back to after being away from LEGO for so long. I’d say it took me about an hour or so to build, but I was having some drinks and taking my time. The instructions were well illustrated, and I was able to get through it without making any stupid mistakes or swearing up and down that I got shorted a piece, only to find it a minute later. Yeah, that happens to me a lot! I don’t remember what this sold for originally, but $22 was the magic number that got me to take it home, and I’m very glad I did. It’s a fun build, has some solid Mini-figs, and the AT-ST is a great model with plenty of play potential.

Marvel Super Heroes: Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum (#76060) by LEGO

I know, last week I promised to finish off the Doctor Strange Wave of Marvel Legends today, but then I realized that I’ve had this LEGO set built for a couple of weeks now and decided to take a detour. Sorry! Rest assured, Marvel Monday will return to its regularly scheduled Legends content next week! 

After a whole year of not building any LEGO sets, I’m happy to be jumping back into the saddle again. LEGO used to be my consolation prize when I went toy hunting for figures and didn’t find anything new. But, now I seldom go out toy hunting anymore… it’s almost all done online, hence there has not been a lot of LEGO coming into the house. I’ll confess, I miss it, but when I’m shopping online there’s almost always a dozen other things on my Want List that take precedent over brick sets. This set, however, was sent to me from a buddy of mine a few weeks before Christmas and I had a great time building it, but it’s time to break it down soon, so let’s check it out! But before we do, I should forewarn you that my cat was all up in my business the whole time I was building this thing, so apologies for the higher than usual amount of cat hair in the snaps!



The set comes in a long, narrow box with the Marvel Super Heroes branding. It contains three numbered bags, containing 358 pieces, including a loose base plate. You also get a sticker sheet, two instruction manuals, and a small box containing Strange’s Cloak of Levitation. When you’re all done with the build, you get three Minifigs and the Sanctum Sanctorum playset. Let’s start with the Minifigs!


The set includes three Minifigs, which include Doctor Strange himself, Karl Mordo, and The Ancient One. It’s a decent selection of characters, and I’m still shocked that we got a Minifig of The Ancient One, but as far as play value goes, you’re limited to having these figs sparring with each other, because there’s really no villain here. At least not yet!


With that having been said, Steven Strange is a fantastic little figure and he will proudly take up residence among my other Marvel Minifigs. The Cloak of Levitation is comprised of both a collar and cape, and was an absolute bitch to get on. Strange features two printed faces and a couple of very cool magic effect parts.


Mordo also features two printed faces and he comes with his staff.


And finally, The Ancient One. She features just one printed face, which is to be expected since she doesn’t have a hair piece. She comes with a pair of mystical fan weapons, which are damn cool.  Moving on to the Sanctum Sanctorum…


So, there’s good and there’s bad here. The good is that this is a wonderfully detailed set with some interesting play features. It’s also a pretty fun set to build, and apart from the bookcases, there isn’t a lot of redundancy here. I do feel, however, that those instruction manuals are spread pretty damn thin just to make the build seem more substantial. Let’s take a tour…


To the extreme left of the Sanctum there’s a treasure chest and a bookcase. The bookcase features some books on the bottom shelf, a top hat on the second shelf, and a mystical crystal on the third. The top features a lamp and a chain. That black lever thing is supposed to be used to levitate the Cloak of Levitation. Honestly, it was such a pain in the ass to get the Cloak on the Minifig, I’m not going to bother taking it off to try this out. It’s kind of an eyesore for what is a pretty mediocre gimmick, and it requires you to display your Strange Minifig without his Cloak, and who wants to do that?


The chest opens up to reveal a couple of large keys and a gemstone. You also get a pile of letters on the floor. Most of the scattered ephemera in this set feature stickers.


Moving on to the center of the Sanctum, there’s a large circular window and two transparent lever platforms to simulate the Minifigs dueling while levitating, which is pretty nifty.


The table in the middle has a pair of lit candles and some more letters stacked up. One contains the WiFi code and the other is a mysterious letter from Stark Industries!


A little further to the right and we have another bookcase, this time with two shelves of books and a skull on the center shelf. There’s a bottle beside it and another on the top. You also get a pile of ancient books and maps. A couple of these are printed and are re-used from other sets. I’m pretty sure I have a few of those pirate maps already. The two books use stickers and one is The Codex Imperium!


And then we get to the Cthulhu-inspired Portal Beast and it undoubtedly the star of this set. It’s a great looking construct and thanks to some gears, you can rotate a wheel in the back and make the four big tentacles squirm all over the place! The ramp leading up to The Portal features a large sticker with some runes and magical markings.


As you can see, a lot of the brick count in this set falls more into placed accessories than a meaningful build and that may disappoint some. The treasure chest and its contents, the various books and papers, all of these are just pieces that are placed around to add to the room’s clutter. Granted, it does mean you can easily customize the hell out of this set, but in the end I felt all the extra accessories made the build feel a little insubstantial. It also felt like this set should have been bigger. As far as I know, this is the only set we’re getting from Doctor Strange, and as a solitary set piece, I wish there was more to it. As it is, it feels way too narrow and confining.


I like this set well enough. It was pretty fun to build and the Minifigs are excellent, although I would have liked at least one bad guy, like Kaecilius to be included. The set retails for around $30, which seems OK as far as LEGO pricing is concerned. But with that having been said, I would have been happier paying a lot more for a bigger set. As it is, this one feels a little too confining and it doesn’t live up to the very name Sanctum Sanctorum. I can only imagine what LEGO could have done with this set in the $50-60 range.

Lego Minifigs Series Crapshoot… DISNEY EDITION!!! #1

It’s been a long time since I featured any LEGO here on FFZ. I did a Minifig Crapshoot back in March, but you’d have to go back to last year for the last LEGO set I built. It’s nothing personal, LEGO, I love you. But you’re expensive and I mostly used to buy you when I went hunting other toys at the store and came up empty handed. I don’t go toy hunting much anymore, and that’s why I haven’t picked up much LEGO lately. I’ll have to remedy that next year.


Ah, but it’s Christmastime. A time when devious retailers put out boxes of blind bagged Minifigs near the registers and I can’t help myself. I spotted these the other day when I was buying cat food for my son (it’s OK, he’s a cat), and tossed four of them into the basket. And yes… they’re the first series of Disney Minifigs! I didn’t try to feel these out in the package, I suck at that and it ruins the fun. I did, however, live tweet this out yesterday, so if you follow me on The Twitters, the suspense has already been ruined. And the first figure is…


Alice from Alice in Wonderland. I’ll confess, I had no idea who she was until I saw the bottle with “Drink Me” on it. She’s cool and I’m happy I got her. The skirt is a new piece to me. I’ve never had a Minifig with it before. Now I really want a Cheshire Cat, but I’ll concede that the odds were against me. I felt as if I’d be more likely to get another Alice than a Cheshire Cat. Nonetheless, I pressed on. And the second figure is…


Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I was pretty happy with this one, not only because it’s such a unique little figure, but now I have the power to turn any one of my Minifigs into a mermaid. Mermaid Captain America. Mermaid Lone Ranger. Everyone gets to be a Mermaid! Besides being a cool little figure, she comes with a clam that can be displayed closed or open with a pearl in it. Nice! Moving on…


YES! I scored big with the Cheshire Cat in bag #3. This one is a very simple build: Head, torso, legs, tailpiece, but it’s all about the sculpt and paint on that head. Fabulous! One more figure… what was it going to be???


ARGGGHHHH! Another Cheshire Cat! I rarely ever look at four random Minifigs without getting a set of doubles in the mix. Now I have to start troop building Cheshire Cats.


All in all, I thought this was an OK assortment, doubles not withstanding. Part of me kind of wishes I had picked up four of the regular blind bagged Minifgs, because I think they would have had more appeal. I enjoy a number of Disney properties, but straight up “classic” Disney films aren’t really my wheelhouse. Then again, the only reason I bought these was because they were there right by the check out. It was an impulse buy, so I can’t really second guess myself.