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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Nick Martin | February 28th, 2014 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 75037 Battle on Saleucami

75037 - Full Set

When is a battle pack not a battle pack? The obvious joke answer is “whenever it’s one of the crazy minifigure assortments in all the other sets,” but that’s too easy. Maybe when a set is focused on a few figures of the same type that can be used to build an army, and more than that, battle? Nah, can’t be that obvious.

Battle on Saleucami is an odd set. It’s battle pack sized, but marketed as a regular set. At $15, it’s the first set at that price point since 2005’s Tri-Droid fighter (or 2006’s $16 A-Wing), and sort of sits in a strange place between LEGO’s $12 battle packs and $25 base sets. 183 pieces is certainly nothing to sneeze at in a small set like this, even if it’s heavy on battle droids over regular minifigs (you get one, a Clone ARC trooper).

At first, I figured this was kind of a throwaway set in the lineup because Lego didn’t want three different battle packs for Clone Troopers. After building it though, I’m thinking that this should be the benchmark for all Lego Battle packs. It combines some very interesting and unique play features with some good builds and decent army builder figures (assuming you’re building a droid army, that is).

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Nick Martin | February 27th, 2014 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 75038 Jedi Interceptor

75038 - Full Set

Quick, what’s yellow, flies, and is a totally unneeded re-release? Okay, I’m sure there are more than a few smart… um, alecks… that probably yelled “Naboo Starfighter!” at their monitor (and at least one who had to be different and said something about a lemon catapult), but for the rest of us, it’s Anakin’s Jedi Starfighter, I mean, Interceptor. I suppose that’s technically correct (the best kind of correct), as these ships are based on the Eta-2 Interceptor, but it makes finding them difficult when searching because all of them except this one and the green one before it are called Jedi Starfighters.

That green one is really the big problem with this particular release, though, as you can still find them on a few shelves and it was just retired a couple of months ago. It was a Target Exclusive, which made it a little harder to find, but wasn’t exactly a knockout set by itself. To be fair, this version is nine years past when the original was made, and the Eta-2 fighters haven’t been the weeds that the Delta varieties have been, but still, it feels like they could do something else (like that Obi-Wan’s version, or maybe make the Hyperspace ring again).

At $25 and 223 parts, this is basically the new “budget” level set. It’s also a crowded price-point in the early releases, with Grievous’ Wheel Bike, the V-Wing Starfighter, and the Droid Fighter all in the lineup and running the same amount. I guess $25 is the new $20. The original included a Droid Fighter and Anakin’s fighter in just 202 parts, so obviously there have been some updates done. So the real question is how does this live up as a re-release of that set?

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Nick Martin | February 26th, 2014 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 75035 Kashyyyk Troopers

75035 - Full Set

 

Is it possible to get battle pack fatigue? Maybe that’s why Lego keeps playing with the $10 range with stuff like Planets (which were awesome) and the Microfighters (not as much). Or maybe it’s just that a lot of the recent battle packs have been somewhat underwhelming, with mixes for the type of figures in them or not enough generic troopers to help build up an army. 

That was my chief complaint with the Death Star Troopers pack, where the Royal Guard figures really detracted from the overall value of the set. The Utapau Troopers set did a better job of some more generic troop types, assuming you wanted to build up an army of troopers that would be able to blend in very well at a Texas Longhorns home game (which, as a ‘horns fan, I can totally get). They weren’t bad troopers, but we’ve had other Sherbet clones recently so it’s good to see a change.

Enter the Kashyyk Troopers battle pack, the third pack we’re getting this year. These are obviously not a very “generic” figure, being dressed up for a Duck Dynasty / Star Wars crossover convention (I’m not sure I want to know what that looks like, but I bet TLC will have it on the air within a year or two), but they all look pretty good. If you were going to build up an army of Clone Troopers, I’m willing to bet you’d rather have them capable of hiding in a jungle than at an AT&T store.

At 99 pieces, this one comes in slightly under the Death Star battle pack and well above the Utapau Troopers. The real question is does it justify your money any better than the other two battle packs (or the existing two you can still get)?

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Ken Robichaud | February 25th, 2014 | LEGO Super Heroes, Marvel Comics, Reviews

Review: Thor: The Dark World

Lego Thor Poster

It’s been a while since I’ve done a movie review. Part of that reason is that I didn’t feel the movies I considered reviewing warranted wasting any more of my time beyond the two plus hours lost watching them. Sure Iron Man 3 had it’s moments and we all like the flashy suits, but my patience for Tony Stark’s growth as a character has worn thin. Man of Steel had a lot of potential, but just fell too short of the characters core for me to care. Then the god of thunder came crashing onto the big screen for the third time, mixing in the more mythologically “magical” side of Marvel’s canon and the response was generally positive if a bit mixed. Thor has long been a character that has straddled the concept in comics of magic in an ever increasing world of technology and so, the magical aspect has in many ways been peeled back to a reveal character more in line with science fiction then fantasy. This is exactly the type of peanut butter I like in my chocolate. Even though I’ve been reading Thor in comics for over 30+ years, I still prefer sci-fi over fantasy.

Now, a few critics were hard on the film and in some cases with good reason. Thor suffers from the same drawbacks of trying to put Superman on screen and give him a challenge worthy of a god, but I felt the story was entertaining and it was easily the best sequel in the MCU up until this point. The score on Rotten Tomatoes is a decent (if not uncommon) indicator of the divide between the critics at 65% and the general audience who scored it at an average of 82%. It solidified the character as a Marvel tentpole, locking in a third outing outside of the Avengers franchise and even spun off two episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with the second bringing Sif back to Midgard for the first time since Thor. I’m not really going to review the movie here in full, as most who were interested have probably already seen it. I was going to do this when the film first came out, but I didn’t get to see it until it had been out for a couple weeks and then with the holiday season approaching, things got very busy, on site and off. It seemed to make sense to do it with the DVD release, which just happens to be today. I want to take the opportunity to address my one true disappointment with the film, which actually doesn’t really have to do with the film at all.
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Nick Martin | February 25th, 2014 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 75034 Death Star Troopers

75034 - Full Set

When the first leaks showed up with pictures of a proper Death Star Gunner, I think the general reaction for fans was “It’s about time!” I mean, we’ve had two Death Stars, including the huge Death Star Playset that included a big ‘ole gun like this set seems to be based on. There are also a couple of Royal Guards, which get a nice “New” label on the box thanks to different arms and capes. It’s notable that there isn’t an Emperor for them to guard, and there isn’t an Emperor coming out in any of the sets this year, so I guess they’re guarding the gun?

I’ve always maintained that Battle Packs are hard to rate, but this year, there are three varieties to go with the two from last year, Republic Troopers vs. Sith Troopers and Clone Troopers vs. Droidekas, giving us five battle packs currently. This one, however, is the only OT set we have to choose from, and the only OT set in the early-2014 wave that isn’t a Microfighter. The summer sets are packed with OT stuff, so the dark days are almost over, but will this set tide everyone over with these four figures, a couple of new blasters, and the 100 pieces?

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Nick Martin | February 24th, 2014 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 75036 Utapau Troopers

75036 - Full Set

Did you realize that battle packs have been around for seven years now?  I’m actually kind of scared to count how many of the things I’ve bought, because they’re just easy. Even when a pack isn’t all that great, sometimes it’s just fun to crack open a set and build something (like that Assassin Droid battle pack from a few years ago). Of course, one of the biggest problems is that it’s just been years since the promise of those original battle packs, with their regular rank-and-file Stormtroopers and Rebel Troopers, were the kind of thing you could buy a bunch of to build an army. 

This has been especially problematic with clone troopers and battle droids. Yes, there are some special colors and commanders, but in the movies, even in Episode III, it was all of the regular troops that were there to blast things and get shot. Sadly, we’re still waiting, as both of the Episode III battle packs this year only include special troopers, Utapau 212th Clone Legion and the Kashyyyk Troopers under Gree and Yoda. So, orange and green, but no plain white in anything other than the Microfighters Clone Turbo Tank.

I wouldn’t normally get (as) hung up on that fact if there wasn’t a brand new Clone Trooper Phase 2 helmet, and suddenly, my colored troopers look different from everything else. I’ve mixed/matched before, but it’d be nice to have a better source of regular clones. Instead, we get the guys that tried to off one of the few competent Jedis (Obi-Wan), and not even the commander. But hey, it’s a $13 set that gives us four troops and a droid, so it can’t be all bad… right?

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Nick Martin | February 20th, 2014 | LEGO Super Heroes, Marvel Comics, Reviews

Review: 76014 Spider-Trike vs. Electro

76015 - Full Set

Sometimes, your first impressions are very wrong on a set. Like when I built the most recent Republic Gunship and was very impressed with the updates and overall feel of the ship. Or how nice The Lego Movie sets turned out, despite me not being impressed on the initial scenes. Just saying, sometimes a set can surprise you. Then again, sometimes your first impressions are spot on. I still think the most recent Sail Barge was a let-down that was only made worse by play features that made no sense (it was like buying a Superman action figure that comes with special battle armor and a sword… why does he need any of those things?).

This set, Spider-Trike vs. Electro, manages to do both. My first impression of the set was that it looked dumb and a bit too small, but wow, that transparent head on Electro looks slick. After purchasing it, and building it, I can say that I was wrong. It is way too small, exceedingly dumb, and perhaps one of the worst sets for the value that I’ve ever built. Somehow, I managed to overestimate a set that I already had low expectations before.

I’ll just warn you now, this set will be rough on this glorified polybag. I’m going to scrounge for some good things that don’t involve Electro or getting 5 force lightning bolts… but it won’t be easy.

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Nick Martin | February 3rd, 2014 | LEGO The Hobbit, Reviews

Review: 79013 Lake-town Chase

79013 - Full Set

My feelings on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug are on the record, and my feelings about two other sets, Mirkwood Elf Army and Dol Guldur Ambush were about as varied as you could get for two sets. I actually built this set around the same time as the other two, and shortly after watching the movie in theaters. But the review hid from me, because we were overwhelmed with the amzingosity that is The Lego Movie (and I had a whole bunch of sets to review for it)… so this sort of got forgotten.

This was actually the first set we had as a preview for the upcoming sets, revealed at San Diego Comic Con in-between all of the minifigure gnashing of teeth. It was a bit of a letdown, if for no other reason than it wasn’t as amazing as the reveal the year before, An Unexpected Gathering, unquestionably the best set in the theme. Once you get past that though… it’s still a little bit of a let-down.

At $50, the price isn’t as high as Gathering was (that’s reserved for the “not even in the movie” Battle of Dol Guldur), but when you look at the pictures for this set and, say, Mirkwood Elf Army, they look almost identical in size. They’re not, but it’s hard to shake the impression tha the set doesn’t give a whole lot. And yet, there is one thing that you’d think could redeem any set, and something that could certainly make me buy a set I’d otherwise be inclined to ignore. Three simple little words…

Lego. Stephen. Fry.

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Ken Robichaud | January 3rd, 2014 | Reviews, The LEGO Movie

Review: 70813 Rescue Reinforcements

1

OK, so maybe the Flying Flusher didn’t blow my mind, but how about a set that has not only the largest “Micro Manager”, but a helicopter cobbled together from a windmill and a giant fire mech? This is more like it.
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Ken Robichaud | January 3rd, 2014 | Reviews, The LEGO Movie

Review: 70811 The Flying Flusher

1

I’m late to the party with my reviews for sets from The LEGO Movie and Nick already picked up the Glider and Cloud Palace sets, so I’m going to dig right into the two I have left. Starting with the Flying Flusher. This set seemed more interesting for the tongue in cheek aspect then the Ice Cream Machine or Trash Chomper which to me looked like more fun, but the Flusher did have those plungers… is it worth picking up for those parts alone though?
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