Review: 76013 Batman: The Joker’s Steam Roller
Continuing with the campy vibe of the Penguin Face Off set comes this latest attack from the clown prince of crime. Time for me to roll all over this set like a 20 tonne road compactor filled with hungry hyenas. Let the rant begin!
Nah, just kidding. I like this set, but it’s not without it’s weaknesses. One definite strength it has though, is the minifigure lineup. Let’s get right to it.
Get ready to root for the bad guy, again. I maintain to this day that the only reason Batman is often cited as having the greatest gallery of rogues is this guy, the Joker. As a villain, he seriously throws the curve. Chaotic, sadistic and vaudevillian with a keen fashion sense, the Ace of Knaves is an incredibly complex character that most would agree is one of the most recognized and loved villains in pop culture. If the Joker, the Wicked Witch of the West, Darth Vader and Dracula all fought for the title of Best Villain, it would be one hell of a fun show. The Joker here is another new version and since his outfit changes from artist to artist, subtle to blatant variations are common while still maintaining the same basic look. I believe this Joker alludes to two distinct sources, Jack Nicholson’s Joker from 1989’s Batman film and The Killing Joke. Both incarnations sported the classic fedora and while only the movie versions was purple, the inclusion of Batgirl in this set makes the connection for me. I love the printing on the torso, it’s clean and bright and even though it is similar to the Joker from the funhouse set, the colours, different tie and absence of his flower all give a nice option to vary his wardrobe. The purple legs are the same and I wish at this point they would do a pant printing. Plaid would be awesome with a bright orange vest and purple jacket, but even simple purple pinstripes would be nice. The head is one sided with an excellently wide, crooked grin and single sided printing is necessary without a hair piece to cover up the back. All topped off with the purple fedora, he’s a treat of an eyesore.
His henchman here is perfect for the job at hand. Part of Joker’s De
Construction crew, he’s decked out in a striped shirt and safety vest. Again great printing on the torso and the face is nice too, though I think the Joker must be riding him hard because he doesn’t seem to take any joy in his work. A hard hat and crowbar are perfect accessories, though I wish they’d taken the opportunity for a new coloured hat. Purple or neon green maybe, I don’t know… I just want a new hat.
Meanwhile on team good guy, we get the dynamic duo plus one. The Batman is the same as in the Two-Face Chase, Man-Bat Attack and from the Bat-ski poly. Very Burton-esque and one of my favourites, but I’m not going to go into detail on a well trodden figure. Robin is again new and this time it’s the most recent version, Damian Wayne. It’s a good print with a really nice utility belt, but the side stitching on this robin suit makes it look like they are trying to slim him down like they do with the female figs. His face alternates between angry and shocked, for when he inevitably needs saving from the Joker’s plan.
Batgirl is the new edition to the line up and adds a great new member to the Bat family. While I love her inclusion in the set, I do have some issues with the fig in general. First off, the hair/cowl combo looks good, but it pinches the cape in the back where they generally bunch up due to the fold. Minor issue, but it does put a lot of creasing on an already rare cape. Secondly, it’s the new 52 print again and as much as I’d like a more classic look, I get that they’re positioning them to mirror the current comics. The only other thing about the print that puts me off is the female figuring. I’ve never really had an issue with it before, but with Batgirl it really stood out for me. I think what it comes down to is, I’m jealous. Why should I have to watch what I eat and work out to lose weight and keep my girlish figure when I could just wear shirts with printing that makes me LOOK more slender? No more horizontal striped onsies for me folks, I’ll be altering all my shirts for the new streamlined look and rest assured that I’ll be talking to Ace about new FBTB shirts that with just the right side printing, will help those of us with a more rounded figure achieve a more socially acceptable slenderization.
Let’s move on the the build.
Half of the build in this set comes in the form of a new Bat-plane. I call it the Bat-scissor Jet or The Bat- clamp, yeah… that’ll work. So the clamp is designed to fly along resembling a hammer head bat-shark (make sure to keep your hammer head bat-shark repellent handy, they look dangerous) and with the push of a button, the wings snap forward and grab the villain. I don’t know how this could happen and still maintain flight, or how it could fly low and slow enough to grab the villain without sheering them in half and blasting straight through them. I’d guess the answer is something like, because BATMAN!
Just look at this thing. It’s a bit of a mess really. If you look at it with the scissors open, it isn’t too bad, but any other way and the aesthetic completely falls apart. The build is boring and the mechanism is very jerky. It feels more like clacking mallets together then it does smoothly opening and closing a clamp. Upside of the whole thing? You get to clamp minifigs like the picture below and pretend it wouldn’t crush them or chop them up like some crazy contraption from an infomercial.
So, while it’s not the worst Bat-vehicle LEGO has ever done (man, I feel like we need to set up a poll for that one), it doesn’t do itself any favours and brings the set down a few pegs in my book. What’s getting dragged down is a completely different beast and yet still a bit familiar.
See. That right there is how you do crazy. It’s really hard to decide what my favourite super hero/villain vehicle is when I look at this and the Penguin’s rubber duck boat. As adorable and fitting as that duck is, there’s more fun to be had playing with this beauty. I’ll have to call it a tie before I over analyze which is better. I need to get to over analyzing it on its own.
Visually, this thing is fun, eye-catching and joyously sinister. The smile is infectious and the build is more fun because of the look of this thing coming together. I built the single drum roller from the city line a few years back and I really liked it, truth be told it was a superior build. What this one lacks in construction it makes up for in whimsy. It’s actually a quicker build then you would expect, but that could be a symptom of weakness in the end. It has a few flaws, but before I get into them, I just need to assure you that I love it. That doesn’t mean i’m going to go easy on it though. No free rides.
The missiles look neat, but they swing around easily and don’t sit still long enough to TAKE A DAMN PICTURE! The front roller assembly is a bit flimsy, but it should hold together for a good amount of rough play and otherwise the only issue is the two grey wheels among the orange. I’d have much preferred them to be purple, but you can’t always get what you want. The only design flaw is the roof. There isn’t enough clutch from the 2×4 plate that holds the two curved slopes on the bottom to keep the two jumpers on top from pulling the outer edges up as you can see in most of the pictures. A huge issue? No, but it’s a blemish on an otherwise good build.
The main issue with the set is not a new one. They sacrificed making one good build a great one in order to jam half the parts into a crappier build. This is one of those times I wish they’d beefed up one vehicle and shoehorned in a tiny one on the other guys side. Of course with my luck they’d have butched up the clamp and given Joker a tiny squirting flower car or something…
Note to self: build tiny squirting flower Joker car.
Sturdier front end, bulking up the back wheels and an overall firming up could really make this a stellar build that actually fits the character. Take it as it is and tweak away, nerds. Tweak away.
The Whole set is worth buying for this picture alone.
What I Liked:
- Nice fig assortment, with extra points given to the long overdue Batgirl. Even if she has cape issues.
- That steamroller. Could’ve been better, but worth keeping together if that’s your thing.
What I didn’t Like:
- The Bat-clamp is weak all around. Except the clamp, that would kill you in real life.
- Am I greedy to want a new Bat-suit more often? Yes I am. I want a new Bat-suit more often.
Verdict: It’s a toss up, worth it for the figs and the roller, but the Bat-clamp brings it down. I’m calling it a 3. but I’d go as high as 3.5 for the above mentioned reason. Oddly enough, I was a bit bummed they didn’t do a Batgirl fig sooner so she’s have the classic look. Now I wish they’d waited just a bit longer to do her new outfit.
If you can get it on sale, do it. At full price, it comes down to whether or not you want Batgirl or like a crazy colour scheme in your builds.
Pick it up on Amazon by clicking pic below.