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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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

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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…

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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…

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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???

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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.

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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.

Lego Minifigs Series 15 Crapshoot #1

It’s been forever since I last looked at some blind bag LEGO Minifigs. I don’t know why I keep forgetting about these when I should be throwing at least one or two in the cart every time I go for groceries. I actually Tweeted these first, because quite frankly I think that makes for better suspense. So, let’s just take a look at what I got.

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I went in here double blind, because I actually had no idea what was in this assortment. I mean, apart from what’s printed on the bags. I didn’t look at them. I didn’t eve know what Series they were. I just know that yesterday was the end of a particularly shit work week and I needed some Minifigs in my life today to cheer me up.

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So, the first one I got was the Shark Suit Guy and I was thrilled. The novelty animal suit figures have been my favorites. I was fortunate enough to get a pair of Chicken Suit Guys back when I did the Series 9 Crapshoot. I really need to find what I did with my others. I fear they’re mixed into one of the thirty or so bins containing my broken down LEGO sets. Anyway, this guy is pure love, and he has a worried/scared face printed on the other side of his head.

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Next up was the Wrestling Champion and yeah, I actually got two of these. I’ll confess that I haven’t been a Wrestling fan since the 80’s, and even then it was just something goofy to watch when the cartoons ended. That having been said, I like this guy. There’s some particularly nice printing for the belt and muscles and I love the mullet hair piece and the colorful eye make up. I’d say I’m disappointed at getting two, but then I realized they could be a twin tag team, so it’s all good.

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Finally, the Astronaut. I was pleased to get this guy because other than the sci-fi space sets, I don’t have any realistic LEGO Astronauts, so he fills in a nice gap. He’s also a wonderful little figure, featuring some of the best printed detail I’ve seen on a Minifig in a while. He has two faces and the gold visor is really cool. I wouldn’t mind getting another of these as I continue to pick up more bags.

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So, all in all, not bad.  Now that I’ve had a look at the checklist, I think this is a damn strong series. I’m really jonesing for the Laser Mech or the Frightening Knight, so I know I’ll be grabbing more Series 15 bags over the next couple of weeks. Before then I’m going to try to hunt through some totes and see if I can’t find what I did with all my other blind bagged Minifigs.

LEGO Pirates: Soldiers Outpost (#70410) by LEGO

I love pirates and some of my favorite toy expressions of that love have been from LEGO and Playmobil. You don’t need licenses or stories or specific characters, you just need ships and pirates and soldiers and forts and booty for them to fight over. ARRRRR! When I first saw that LEGO was doing a new generic line of Pirates sets I was extremely excited and vowed that this would be the series that would finally got me to pony up all the monies for a pirate ship. But I’m still going to work my way up to it. I haven’t gone all in on a LEGO series since Pharaoh’s Quest, but I’m going all in on this one, baby! Today I’m starting things off with one of the mid-range sets… Soldiers Outpost!

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The box is yellow and sports a ripped flag with the series logo and a cutlass underneath it that really says all there is to say about what’s to come. It’s generic LEGO through and through and I love it! But check out that front panel art. What the hell is supposed to be happening here? A lone straggler pirate on a ragtag makeshift raft is being harassed by asshole soldiers taking pot shots of him while a giant squid is nipping at his heels. That dude is having a seriously bad day. Doubly so when you assume he’s probably just survived a shipwreck. They maybe should have called this set “Soldiers Target Practice.” Anyway, between the front and back panels you get a great look at all you get to build with the 164 pieces inside. The contents include two numbered bags of bricks and an instruction manual and I was pleased to see no stickers! This is the first LEGO set I can remember in a long time without any stickers! When you’re all done with the build you get a pirate raft, a soldier outpost, a squid and three Minifigs. You guessed it… let’s start with the Minifigs!

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The Minifigs include two soldiers and a pirate, plus the squid. The pirate is your typical scurvy sea dog with a printed striped shirt, black pants and a red dew rag tied around his head. The printed face is pretty spectacular as he’s go an eye patch and a particularly surly look. This is basically a Minifig of Tom Savini playing a pirate as a Lego Minifig and that’s just plain awesome. He also comes with a pair of cutlasses, although I suppose you can give one to the soldiers. The squid is a single black sculpted piece with a couple of studs for eyes. Not much more to be said about him.

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The soldiers are built off of the same bodies, both with identically printed uniform shirts and white pants. You get four sets of epaulets, two white and two gold. The Officer features a printed face with a goatee and a sculpted hairpiece, whereas the Soldier has a simple printed face, a tall hat, and a backpack. You also get two blunderbuss style pistols and a rifle.

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The pirates raft is a fun little build and it really does look like it’s crafted from the remnants of a LEGO ship right down to the barrels that are sticking out of the sides. I like to think that each of these bricks are actually used for building the LEGO Pirate Ship in this series, in which case this makeshift raft would be all the cooler. It really toes the line between being impressive and pathetic. He has a single oar, a bottle of booze, a barrel with a fish in it, and a mast with a crow’s nest and a ragged sail. Oh yeah, he also has a little catapult mounted on it. I guess it would be a pretty swanky little raft if it weren’t for the fact that he’s going up against a fortified outpost armed with a cannon and while being attacked by a squid.

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The rest of the set consists of the Soldiers Outpost, which is also fun to build and looks great. I particularly like the exposed brick areas showing through the chipped painted walls. It’s got plenty of room for the two Soldiers and includes a chest full of gems, a crab ‘s den (complete with crab!) scuttling underneath, a lantern, a flag, and a pivoting cannon on top with a spring-loaded firing mechanism.

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At $20 this set feels like a solid deal, at least as far as LEGO economics go. It didn’t take me very long to build, but it was fun and refreshingly not terribly repetitive. The Minifigs are solid and both the raft and the outpost have a lot of charm to their designs. I’m actually kicking myself for not picking up one of the other smaller sets too, because I probably would have tore into it right away. Either way, I can see a lot more of these Pirates sets in my near future. This is going to be a fun series to collect and a fun world to build!

Star Wars Rebels: Ezra’s Speeder Bike (#75090) by LEGO

One of the biggest disappointments out there right now in the toy aisles for me is Hasbro’s total failure at getting their 3 3/4” Rebels figures out to the pegs. I’ve yet to see one in the wild and, while that’s not uncommon in my area, the fact that the figures are still selling for around $25-30 each on Amazon leads me to believe that the distribution problem is universal. And so, I fall back upon LEGO to get me my Rebels toy fix. Way back in September, I looked at LEGO’s Phantom and this time I’m going to check out Ezra’s Speeder Bike set.

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There’s not much to say about the box, except the deco is pretty cool. I like the use of the Stormtrooper helmet in the corner a lot more than a giant Darth Maul or Yoda head. It’s going to be hard to get used to new Stormtrooper helmets when Episode VII comes out. Anyway, the box let’s you see exactly what you’re going to be building. Inside there are two baggies of bricks, one small sticker sheet, and one instruction booklet. There are 253 pieces total and when you’re done you get two Speeder Bikes and three Minifigs. As always, let’s start with the Minifigs!

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The Minifigs include Ezra Brooks Bridger (Yeah, I seriously typed Brooks first. I obviously have cheap whiskey on my mind!), Sabine Wren, and a Stormtrooper. Ezra is unfortunately the same Minifig that came with The Phantom only without the Imperial Pilot Helmet, so I don’t have much use for him. I’m not going to complain, though, since the set is called Ezra’s Speeder Bike, I knew what I was getting into. He comes with a lightsaber and a wrench. Sabine seems like an odd choice for this set, but she’s a great figure and I’m glad to get her. On the downside, the fact that she doesn’t come with her Mandalorian helmet is unforgivable and an obvious ploy to get you to buy another set where it will most certainly be included. She comes with two blaster pistols. The Stormtrooper is another great figure. The sculpt on the helmet is fantastic, even though he looks more like a regular trooper than the stylized ones that appear in the cartoon. The printing on him looks great and he comes with an E-11 Blaster. Ezra and Sabrine each have double printed faces and the Stormtrooper a single.

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The Speeder Bikes are great builds and they’re actually a bit bigger and more complex than I was expecting. They are, however, identical builds so if you aren’t a fan of redundancy in your LEGO sets, this one might disappoint from that aspect. The only differences between the two bikes are the color of the bricks and some extra stickers on Ezra’s bike. Some of the play features include articulated front stabilizers, a clip to hold a weapon behind he seat, two firing launchers slung under each bike, and the front stabilizer assembly can extend outward. Both decos are plenty cool and if you want I suppose you could easily use the Stormtrooper and his bike with your regular Star Wars LEGO sets.

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For a $20 set, this one feels like a pretty good value. Three Minifigs and two vehicles is certainly nothing to complain about and I had a good time building everything, even with the redundancy. The bikes are excellent and all the Minifigs are quite good. Still, I take serious issue with Sabine’s helmet not being included. I consider it a necessary part of her outfit and the omission smacks of serious money-grabbing tactics on LEGO’s behalf, although currently I haven’t seen any of the Rebels sets that includes her with the helmet, which kind of makes the situation suck all the more. Either we have to buy another set to get it, or we aren’t getting it at all. Ah, but I can’t stay mad at you LEGO and with Hasbro dropping the ball on getting their toys to retail, I intend to pick up more of these Rebels sets.

Galaxy Squad: Vermin Vaporizer (#70704) by LEGO

I was hoping to save the second LEGO set I got for Christmas, at least for a little while, but to me LEGO sets are like bottles of Jameson, they don’t hang around the house for long before being opened. I had so much fun building the last set I decided to build this one on my very next day off. At 506 pieces, this isn’t exactly a massive set, it only has the last one beat by about 60 pieces, but it’s the largest Galaxy Squad set in my collection and I’m rather excited to get started.

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The box sure is big! Open her up and you get four numbered baggies of bricks, two beefy instruction booklets, a sticker sheet, and four loose wheels. There’s a ton of great stuff to build in this set, so let’s get cracking and as always we start with the Minifigs!!!

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You get two good guys and one bad guy, and if you’re rooting for the aliens and think that’s unfair, well this clearly isn’t the set for you, but we’ll see more of that in a bit. The two Squaddies consist of your typical guy in a spacesuit and a robot. The robot features the same chest piece we saw on the last robot, but a different head and no wings this time. Oh yeah, one of the benefits of joining Galaxy Squad is obviously that you can wear any color you like, because both of these guys are green and at odds with the blue and orange guys I got in previous sets. I guess when it’s humans versus aliens, your comrades don’t need to identify allies by the color of their uniforms, but rather whether or not they have giant bug heads. Oh yeah, the human Squaddie is the exact same figure that came with the Crater Creeper set that I looked at a while back.

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Speaking of the Crater Creeper set, the Swarm alien you get here is the same one that came with that set too. He even has the same gun. I guess some may bitch about the lack of original figures in this box, but hey, they’re all basically army builders, so I’m not complaining.

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On the bug side of this horrific battle is this little walking bug chair. I love this thing. It’s a cool and original design, particularly the way the articulated tail curves up to point the gun forward. You also get two flick-fire missiles. I’m hoping this thing can fly. I mean, if this is all the bugs are bringing to this fight, they’re screwed, because…

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BEHOLD THE VERMIN VAPORIZER! Awww, yeah! The Galaxy Squad isn’t f’cking around on this day and they rolled out this assault tank to take care of their tiny little bug problem. Sending this behemoth against the bug vehicle in this set is like sending a Sherman tank to take out a cockroach. But hey, you never can be too careful… we’re in this war to win it, people!!!

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So, what we have here is a heavily armored assault vehicle that rolls on four gigantic wheels. The design here is really cool. There are some nice curves and contours to the armor, but at the end of the day it’s just a rolling box of death. The front of it is a slab of metal wall designed to smash through anything that comes in contact with it.

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There’s an opening canopy for the cockpit where the driver sits and a secondary canopy for the gunner. The squished bug stickers on the front canopy sure are a nice touch! When fully bulked out this thing features four cannon and four flick-fire missiles. The cannon assembly on the back can rotate 360-degrees and each of the weapons are mounted on ball joints for more precise aiming and target tracking. But wait… this thing has a couple of surprises…

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For starters, the front can drop down to reveal that the driver seat is actually a little self-contained vehicle. I’m going to call this thing an escape vehicle, because I can’t imagine any scenerio in which you’d want to leave the safety of a giant tank to scoot around on this little puddle-jumper. Maybe it’s for scouting, but it’s clear that once it leaves, the tank isn’t going anywhere. So, the logic behind this feature may be a bit muddled, but I don’t care because it’s a really cool play feature.

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Next up, the upper back portion of the tank is actually a mech that can deploy by simply jumping off the back. It’s a lot smaller than the Eradicator Mech we looked at last time, but it still looks like it can stomp a lot of vermin. This guy has rotating joints in the hips, hinges in the ankles, and ball joints at the shoulders, plus it can swivel at the waist. You can also mount the robot’s gun and shield on it.

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With the mech deployed you now have access to the inside of the vehicle. There’s a little lab back there where it appears our Squaddies are trying to analyze one of the bug eggs and possibly find a way to get one of their trapped comrades out of it. The set does indeed come with a purple bug egg, which is cool because all the ones I have so far have been yellow-green Mountain Dew colored.

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Apart from the lack of original Minifigs, I can’t say enough good things about this set. The vehicle is loads of fun to build and it’s imaginative design and superb playability make it an instant winner. Technically it does fit the whole “battle in a box” mentality, but if you really want to have fun with it, you’ll probably need one of the mid-sized alien sets so you have something beefy enough to give the bugs a fighting chance against the awesome might of the Vermin Vaporizer.

Galaxy Squad: CLS-89 Eradicator Mech (#70707) by LEGO

Ahh, LEGO, how long has it been my addictive and over-priced friend? By my reckoning it was last September when I built a LEGO City 4×4 and Boat Trailer. Of course, it’s been even longer since I visited with the Galaxy Squad series. That was way back in October of 2013. Wow, how time flies. I guess TRU was having a 50% off sale on these sets. My parents emailed me a list asking me which ones I had and if I would recommend any for my nephew. Turns out they were just trying to see which ones I didn’t have because I got two of these bigger sets under the tree on Christmas! Santa can be tricky… I like that! Anyway, I’ve got the LEGO withdrawals, so let’s get the preliminaries out of the way so I can get started.

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The box is pretty big and as always the art and photos give you a great idea of what you’re building. In this case it’s a giant Galaxy Squad Mech to fight off those damn space bugs. I absolutely loved this series. It’s like a cross between Space Police, Alien Conquest, with a love letter to Starship Troopers thrown in. Opening up the box reveals…

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This mess… SHIT! Bag #1 literally exploded on me when I tried to tug the corners and straighten it out. Hopefully I didn’t lose any pieces. We’ll find out soon! Anyway, you get two beefy instruction booklets, a small sheet of stickers, and three numbered bags of bricks. When all is said and done, you build two Minifigs, two Swarm Bugs, and the Galaxy Squad Mech, Eradicator! Let’s start with them Minifigs!!!

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The Minifigs include one human Squaddie and one robot. The Squaddie features an orange space suit with a gray double-printed torso. He has a helmet with clear visor and two printed faces. I like to use the one with the breathing gear when he’s wearing the mask and the other when the mask is off, but maybe it’s supposed to be the other way around. He also features two big ass guns. Actually, I thought they were big ass guns until I saw the one for the robot. I guess everything is relative. And hey… robot! I forgot this line featured robots, but now I remember one came with the Space Swarmer set. They’re cool!

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The first bag builds the Swarm Bugs and I’m glad to see that I hadn’t lost any pieces in the terrible bag explosion. The Swarm Bugs are pretty cool, although they do share a fair amount of the same build. The heads are identical and the legs are the same, and they both feature translucent green butts that can double as prisons for the unfortunate Squaddies that get captured and shoved up a bug butt for imprisonment. It’s a terrible war! Also, one of these beasts has wings while the other is purely a scuttler. I would have preferred an extra set of legs for each as six legs would have made them more stable. C’mon LEGO… This set sold for a lot of money, could you not have thrown in four extra tiny pieces??? I may eventually frankenstein them together into one superbug if I get ambitious enough.

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The second and third baggies build The Eradicator and it is one cool and tough looking mech. I’m definitely getting a lovely MechWarrior vibe off of it. It stands on two stubby legs with ball joints at the hips and ankles and it can pivot at the waist. The two arms feature a chain gun and a rocket launcher with five rockets, because as the song goes… “Everything is awesome… when you’re inflicting genocide on a hostile alien race.” I really like the design of this thing and some of the wonderful little touches like the cartoony sprays of bug guts on the feet, no doubt from stomping on the fleeing enemy forces. Another very clever touch is the way the robot’s big gun can mount on the gatling gun for added firepower. The main cockpit can fit the Squaddie, while the robot sits in a rather awkward position in the back. But there’s a reason for that…

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Because you can launch the main cockpit of The Eradicator as a little attack shuttle and transform the rear cockpit into the mech’s main cockpit. I just said the word “cockpit” a lot! You simply flip up the back of the mech, swivel the waist 180-degrees and reposition the weapon arms. It’s pretty cool that The Eradicator can lose a good piece of its structure and still function as intended without missing a beat. It’s a perfect design for divide and conquer tactics against the damn, dirty bugs!

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The little attack shuttle is exactly the kind of one-person ships that the folks at LEGO love to design. It is indeed small, but it has hinged wings and a pair of missile launchers. It can also poop a landmine out of the back. I imagine it’s also a good escape pod for when the tide of alien bugs turns against you. “Hey, robot, wait here, I’ll be right back… YOINK!”

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I seem to recall seeing this set at around the $40 price point, which feels like a very good deal as LEGO sets go. Even without the clever separation and transformation engineering, The Eradicator would have been a welcome addition to my Galaxy Squad forces. Likewise, I’m happy to add a few more bugs to my Swarm Army. While there’s a fair amount of redundancy to the build, both in the bugs and the mech itself, I still found building it to be quite enjoyable and it took me a couple of hours, although granted that includes interruptions here and there. The set is also loaded with playability as you get a very fun good guy vehicle and a couple of bad guys to fight. I place a lot of value in these “battle in a box” style sets, as even if this is your first acquisition in the series, you’ve got everything you need to start waging the war between humankind and the dirty bugs.

And with that, I’m off to do a little drinking and flip the clock with some friends. Everyone have a very safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and I’ll see y’all on the flipside…

Lego City: 4×4 and Diving Boat (#60012) by LEGO

Sup, Toyhounds… It’s a bonus Saturday feature today because I’ve had this LEGO set kicking around since last Christmas and I thought it was time I built it. I’m so backlogged on stuff to feature I decided to just throw it up this weekend or else I’d never get around to it. It’s been a while, but I seem to recall going over to Walmart one Saturday with the express purpose of picking up one of the larger Coast Guard sets, only as usual they let me down. In fact, this little guy was the only Coast Guard set they had on the shelves. I decided it was better than nothing and brought it home with me. And here we are, nearly a year later and I finally built it. Let’s take a look…

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The set comes in an elongated box with the familiar blue deco from the LEGO city line. Something about this Coast Guard sub-series struck a chord in me. I think it’s because it just reminded me of Playmobil. Either way, this is sadly the only one I’ve picked up so far, but maybe I’ll try to hunt some of the others before they get too pricey on the secondary market.

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Inside the box you get an instruction booklet, a sticker sheet, a boat, and two baggies containing 127 bricks. When all is said and done you build two Minifigs, the truck, the trailer, and the boat. Yeah, the boat is mostly already assembled, but does require some extra pieces. I’m not all that keen on getting big pieces like this in these sets, but I guess that’s the only way to get something like that into a set in this price range. Let’s start with the Minifigs…

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You get truck driver guy and diver guy. These are nice, basic figs, but I don’t have a lot to say about them. They each have only one face, but they do have printing on the backs of their shirts. The truck driver has a ball cap and a life preserver. The diver has a life ball cap and some diving equipment. I like that the license plate number is the same as the set number.

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The equipment consists of a helmet with goggles and a snorkel, a set of flippers, and oxygen tanks for his back. Pretty cool.

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The truck represents the bulk of the build here and while it is the usual super-deformed style and fits only one figure inside, I still dig it quite a bit. It’s got big, beefy off-road tires and is raised quite a bit off of them. There’s clips on the side to hold a walkie-talkie and a megaphone and the back has a little equipment pallet that holds all the diving gear. The boat trailer attaches to the hitch via a ball joint and the boat itself locks on top with just a couple of studs.

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The boat requires you to build the motor and the light bar and the steering console, but other than that there’s nothing else to it apart from slapping on the stickers. Once again, the registry numbers on the sides of the boat is the same as the set number.

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So, this isn’t the most exciting set out there. It was an insanely quick build and I think to get the full value of this set you really need to have some of the bigger Coast Guard sets to go with it. I like it well enough and at about $20 it seems like a pretty good value. Maybe if I felt safe enough to go to the pond out back I could get some cool pictures of them launching the boats, but the alligators that congregate on the shore tend to disuade me from venturing too near.

Star Wars Rebels: The Phantom (#75048) by LEGO

Here it is, September and so far I’ve only looked at one LEGO set this entire year and that was back in July. It’s crazy, but the reason is simply that LEGO sets have always been my fallback purchases for when all my other areas of interest are running dry and that certainly hasn’t been the case this year. Nonetheless, with the new pre-Christmas resets underway in the stores, I’ve been venturing out to see what’s new and the answer is… NOTHING! The local Walmart has done the set, but the only product on the shelves is what’s been there all along. And so I turned once again to LEGO so as not to come home empty handed.

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Unlike the action figure aisles, the LEGO aisle had some new stuff. Not much, but some. I was really hankering for another Marvel set, but none were to be found and so I came home with this new Rebels set. I’m still not one hundred percent sold on this show. I could never really get into Clone Wars and it looks like there may be just enough annoying things about this series to keep me off of it. Still, I have a thing for Expanded Universe ships and this little guy seemed to be right up my ally. The box deco is rebranded with a look at the new animated style Stormtrooper helmet and a shot of ship itself on the front. I like this deco a lot, but then I was never a big fan of putting Darth Maul or Yoda’s face on every box like they’ve been doing. The back of the box shows that this ship can dock with the larger Ghost ship, which I will most likely also be picking up.

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While this is a middle-of-the-road set in terms of size, the box is packed. Inside you get a sticker sheet, an instruction book, and two baggies containing 234 pieces, which build the ship and two Minifigs, Ezra Bridger and C1-10P. As always let’s start with the Minifigs!

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I don’t have a lot to say about Ezra. He’s a pretty standard looking Minifig with a printed outfit and I certainly wouldn’t know he’s a Star Wars character just by looking at him. It seems like he’s going to be the “relatable” character for the kids as he’s a young thief who will seem to hook up with the Rebellion by happenstance. All the source material about him claims he’s “Force Sensitive,” so I would imagine he’s going to become a Padawan at some point in the show, but for now he’s just equipped with his blaster. Speaking of which, I’m still hoping that Rebels tones down the Jedi bullshit and focuses on ships and blasters aspect of Star Wars. Ezra also comes with what appears to be an Imperial Pilot helmet based on the design they will be using in the show.

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The second Minifig is the Astromech droid C1-10P also known as Chopper. If I abandon this show early on it’s probably going to be because of this character. He looks like he’s going to be insufferably annoying every second that he’s on screen. In terms of his Minifig, well if you have any LEGO Astromechs than you should know what to expect out of this guy. I’ll just say here that it still pisses me off that LEGO doesn’t do printed details on the back half of these Astromech figs.

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In addition to the Minifigs, the first bag of bricks builds the cockpit portion of the Ghost. There are a couple stickers to apply to the sides and the instrument panel otherwise this is a pretty straightforward build.

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The second bag builds the back half of the ship. It’s a tad more complex because you get some articulated wing flaps as well as an opening compartment on top and in the back. I would have liked to see some SNOT pieces under the wings, since they are exposed when they’re folded up, but I guess the extra bricks needed didn’t cost out.

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And there’s the The Phantom all complete. If you’re looking for a sexy ship, this set is definitely not for you. I don’t know anything about The Phantom yet, but based on its boxy design and the fact that it docks with The Ghost, I’m guessing it’s supposed to be more of a shuttlecraft than anything else. It sits one Minifig in the cockpit and there’s room in the back for the droid, but even then it’s some cramped quarters. Now, I’m not saying I don’t dig it. Not all spacecraft need to be sleek fighters, and I think there’s something cool about this sort of workhorse style ship. I’m not sure if this LEGO version accurately represents the scale of the ship in the show, but I’m guessing it may have room for more passengers. But maybe not. Let’s take a quick look at the features and I’ll point out a few improvements I would have liked to see.

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The back hatch opens up and offers a tiny bit of cargo space to store Ezra’s gun and helmet. I think a sticker for the hatch would have been nice, otherwise this is a cool little feature.

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The top lifts off to reveal the compartment for Chopper. Again, there’s not much room in there. You just drop him in and close it up again. I really would have liked to see the top hatch hinged or something. Having to dig the top piece off is a pain and some kind of proper opening hatch would have at least explained how Chopper gets in there. Again, I think this goes back to the actual ship being bigger than this LEGO version.

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The side panels of The Phantom fold out and angle downward for flight. It gives the ship a slight Imperial Shuttle look, which I’m sure is what they were going for. The fact that the wings are just rectangular plates doesn’t do much for the design, but again, I don’t think this ship is intended to be all that flashy.

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The top of the ship features a spring-firing missile, or maybe it’s a proton torpedo. You get two of them and they fire simply by pulling them back and letting them go. On the one hand, it’s a bit of an improvement over the flick-fire system, but on the downside, the missile doesn’t lock in there so it winds up spilling out when I’m swooshing the ship around the room. Yeah, I swoosh. You got a problem with that?

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This set is priced at $25, which feels about right. I think it’s the same price point as the A-Wing Fighter that I built late last year and this one is certainly bulkier and comes with more articulated parts. Taken on it’s own I like the Phantom well enough, although I’ve got to reserve some judgement until I see the ship in action in the show. I believe Hasbro is also making a 3 3/4” scale version of this thing, so I very well may pick that one up too. In the meantime, I’ll also have to grab the LEGO version of  The Ghost, so this little guy will have somewhere to dock.

LEGO Movie: Bad Cop’s Pursuit (#70802) by LEGO

The LEGO movie gets its home release today and it seemed like as good a time as any to start looking at some of the sets from the movie that are piling up in the corner. If you didn’t catch the movie while it was in the cinemas, I highly recommend checking it out. I actually wound up going to see it only because some friends were going and I was blown away by how well it was done. We’ve had lots of movies based of toys lately, from Transformers to G.I. JOE to Battleship, and none of those treated the source property with as much clever reverence as this movie did. And it’s about building blocks. Think about that for a moment. In this case, the movie is not only entertaining, but it dealt with some great aspects of LEGO philosophy. Do we build the sets as they were meant to be built or let our creative freak flags fly and do our own thing? Here’s a tip, if I had government secrets that enemy agents wanted, all they would have to do is tie me to a chair and start mixing my Lego sets into a big box in front of me. I would be reduced to a jibbering mess in a few seconds. The film also applied the analogy to real life and people who follow the rules vs people who tend to rebel and how the two play out in a society based on control. Yep, that’s all in there… in a LEGO movie. Meanwhile, the Transformers movies had toilet humor. Anyway, I’m starting out with Bad Cop’s Pursuit, because I have a thing for flying cars and I really liked Bad Cop’s ride.

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There’s nothing too special about the box. It’s landscaped in orientation and does a good job of showing you what you’re going to get. Inside you get three bags of bricks containing a total of 314 pieces, a small sticker sheet, and the instruction booklet. When all is done you get to build the police vehicle, a piece of the railway bridge, two police alligators, and two minifigs. As always, let’s start with the minifigs!

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This is a good starter set because you get the hero, Emmett, and the villain, Bad Cop, right off the bat. Ok, actually Bad Cop is the villain’s henchman, but he had a strong presence in the movie. Both figures are well done. Emmett features the Kregle piece on his back, although it seems to only attach upside down. It recall the hollow end pointing up in the movie. No biggie. He also has two printed faces, one happy and one scared. Bad Cop also looks great. He has a gun and his police helmet. Naturally, his double printed face features both Bad Cop and Good Cop. I love it!

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I suppose you can count the Police Alligators as minifigs. You get two of them and together they do take up 14 pieces in the set’s total count. Not too bad. I still don’t get where the Police Gators came from. They were just sort of there, but the randomness alone made the scene hilarious. Plus, you can always pull the police lights off them and repurpose them for other sets.

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Speaking of repurposing, the first bag of pieces builds the part of the railway bridge and I’m kind of “meh” over this part of the set. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well done and all, but it just kind of stands there as this disjointed piece of a bigger scene. The bridge has a play gimmick where if you stand a minifig on the end and pull the lever on the back, the front part of the tracks will collapse and drop the figure. There’s also a tiny LEGO frog sitting on one of the rocks under the bridge. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a LEGO frog before. Cool. Most likely I’ll repurpose this to one of my Lone Ranger sets. Oh, shit… I still have some Lone Ranger sets I haven’t built yet. Better get on that someday.

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The second and third bags build the police vehicle. It’s a great looking build, although I do have one complaint: The hood portion could have used some more support. It’s only being held on by one row of studs and it has a habit of drooping down if you press on the front. That minor structural problem aside I think this is a really cool looking ship that takes me back to the glory days of the Space Police sets. It also makes good use of stickers from the side panels to the “Bad Cop 01” on the roof.

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The roof is hinged and opens up to reveal the cockpit. There’s room for one minifig inside and there are also two compartments to stow Bad Cop’s weapon.

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The sides panels are hinged and open upward to reveal two fold out sets of guns. I think the way these are designed to fold away is particularly clever.

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I enjoyed building this set a lot. It gave me two important characters from the movie and the police vehicle that I wanted. All that having been said, I probably would have designed it differently. Instead of the bridge part, I might have used extra pieces to allow the police vehicle to be built as either a car or the flying car as it was changed in the movie. Still, kids will probably appreciate having the ability to recreate the scene from the movie so I’m sure LEGO knows what they’re doing. At $25 the set seems pretty reasonably priced and it’s certainly got me excited to build more from the movie!