Lego movies have always been a little bit tongue and cheek, with self-referential jokes, puns, and silly references only fans of the source material and Lego stuff in general would get. But that's usually just a little bit of the overall film, like building jokes in the Star Wars movies. But usually, the puns are directed at the Source material more than it just being Lego.
With The Lego Movie, we've now in that perfect meta superstorm of self-referential jokes and puns where it's all about Lego. None of us have seen the movie yet, but you only have to see the promotional material and the sets to know this movie is going to have Lego puns about the Lego puns. The preview pictures don't do justice to how crazy these sets are once you see the boxes and start to build the sets. Sure, I absolutely loved The Melting Room, but the craziness that this movie represents didn't hit me until I started to put together the $40 set, Creative Ambush.
This set is effectively an official set that represents every crazy build we did as kids. We all built that house with wheels and a cannon, admit it. Or what we called a ninja death robot that was also a surfing champion, but really was mostly that wind-up motor and a bunch of blue parts and those yellow bricks with the eyes and smiles. Walking down memory lane? Good. Creative Ambush is a set that consists of a death robot (named Micro Manager), a flying meat truck that shoots kabob missiles, and a biplane made out of parts of a Wild West Saloon.
And that is just awesome.
One of the reasons why Pixar movies have been so consistently successful, other than just being written well, is that they always make sure that it's equally relateable for adults as for Children. Wall-E was cute and entertaining for kids, but it was absolutely heartbreaking and touching for adults. Up gave kids balloons and fun to start, but gave adults a punch in the gut that made certain we were going to keep watching.
It seems like LEGO has taken some of that to heart with their movie, making something that's going to make kids laugh at the same time it entertains Adult (Fans of LEGO). That shout-out to AFOLs is apparent in the theater displays, in case you haven't seen it...
Lego has a sort of history of ignoring the adult fans, primarily due to business reasons (after all, we aren't their target market). But recently, it seems like they've been stepping up to catch our dollars more than usual. The UCS line has been firing on all cylinders since the UCS Falcon, there's been more attention played to OT and classic lines, and the CMF line is basically like finding the ultimate AFOL addiction.
What does all of this have to do with Creative Ambush? Basically, this entire thing seems to be a set for kids packed with stuff for AFOLs. The stickers, the build, the minifigs... it's a toy for kids that we can really enjoy as well. My hat is off to LEGO and these set designers for these sets, because it's like a little memory lane trip building a set like this.
We get four minifigs in this set, and what a mixture we get. I'll admit, this set, more than any other, even Melting Room, got me excited about watching this movie. I just cannot come up with a scenario that has cowboys and a kabob stand guy fighting against a robot, and that alone strikes me as a good reason to go watch this movie.
More than that, we're looking at the second set that wasn't a Modular Building, Teaching Pack, or Friends set that included more than one female minifigure. In case you're wondering, it's the current Arkham Asylum set that includes two female minifigs.
Our buddy Kabob Bob (Shop@Home lists him as "Kebab Bob," but the box lists does it correctly) is a purveyor of what sounds like a less-than-successful food stand. Having not seen the movie, and going off just the product description, it seems like Bob here is one of Lord Business' henchmen, out to shoot down the flying saloon.
As a minifig, he's wonderfully generic, and can be dropped almost anywhere. We've gotten a lot of these food service figures in CMF and Modular houses, and I welcome Bob, and the custom cart I'm going to make to sell Kabobs, to my Modular house shelf! Also, I just love that baseball cap with the spinny cone (or Kabob). I should count how many of the new-style hats I have, and make a Lids or something like that in my modular setup.
Of course, those who know me and my building habits know I've been trying to build custom modulars for years, and they always make it about halfway before I see something shiny and go somewhere else.
Executive Ellen is up next, with her blue pinstripe suit, briefcase, and scaredy alt-face. Again, a good, somewhat generic figure that has all kinds of utility outside of this set. I also like that they put in a female minifig without going absurd or over-the-top on the look. This is a minifig of a woman in a regular job (okay, presumably she's in league with the bad guy), with regular clothes. It's a refreshing thing to see in a toy these days.
Also, she reminds me of Veronica from The Muppets.
You know, there's a minifig here, I'm certain, but my eye ends up going directly to that delicious brown bowler hat and I just get stuck there. Okay, okay... there's more. He's also got that great new stache face (which is a real throwback to the older ones), and great western ware that could easily go more generic. Also he's named Sudds Backwash, and that is just one unfortunate name for anyone, Lego character or not.
The last figure we have is our second female character (I checked outside, and it is snowing, so perhaps something has frozen over). A nice western dress that can easily be a castle or city minifig in a fancy dress. She's got a generic female face, which isn't bad either, and a recolor of the Hula Girl hair that has showed up on a few other female minifigs lately. And no alt face, so that face has more promise to switch around.
When you put a robot in a set named Micromanager into a set (and presumably Movie), we know a couple of things. First, there are going to be more puns per square centimeter in this movie than any movie in recent history. Second, that the writers are obviously putting in some jokes for adults as well as kids, which is a great way to tell how good a kid's movie can be. Seriously, think about the kids movies that are most popular with adults (Pixar stuff, early Shrek movies)... they're the ones that are funny to both.
As a robot, he's a good little mix of robot shape and "very lego" design. That blocky look works perfectly given the tone of the movie. The addition of claws on hinges, those new round tiles with the holes, and some other newer pieces is just nifty.
And I know this may come as a shock, given my track record of making fun of flick-fires, but I am totally okay with these sets having the missiles that couldn't put out an eye unless it was shot out of a .22 rifle. It sort of adds to the campiness of the entire design, and even has a spot to store it (I presume) on the back.
Of course, I was never that good at building something like this when I was a kid. Part of the reason might be that I grew up in the 80s, and there were like six different types of parts, and all of my builds involved putting stuff on that big motor with the red key. In my old collection, the only part you could use to change direction and stick a part on the side was called "scotch tape."
Our boy Bob's Kabob flying... ship, is that the word here, is a unique mix that really makes me wonder what it's supposed to be. We discussed it in chat, and I saw it as a Ice Cream Truck style build, while Ace thinks it's more like a street cart. It's hard to say who's right (me, obviously), but this is the best I could come up with as a way to build some alt stuff with it.
Octan's Tasty Meat... that sounds... appetising. I mean, is that like Lego Spam? What would that even consist of? Better not to think about it, and instead to focus on what I first thought was one of the fire extinguishers that infected all of The Avengers sets. When I put together the first one, I was thinking "why would they put a exting-" and then saw the yellow one and realized that it was a ketchup and mustard pump. That's probably my favorite feature of this whole set, something so little and simple that made me smile and wish there was a hot dog cart nearby.
It's really easy to confuse this as an ice cream truck, especially when you build the missiles under the wing. They're using that little cone-with-a-peg part that's showed up a couple of other places, which makes it look like an ice-cream cone and not a kabob. That being said, what sort of Philistine puts chocolate ice-cream in the middle of a cone, and pistachio on the bottom? At least if this is a kabob, I can wonder why there's not more meat stuck on there, or an onion.
This set does make use of stickers, which I'm perfectly okay with. I think we've all softened to stickers, and in applications like this they make sense. Not only that, all of the stickers have a lot of use outside of this particular build. I'm certain there will be a Bob's Kabob coming to many MOC setups when these sets release.
Since this wasn't one of the two-in-one sets with alt build instructions, I was forced to use my own imagination to come up with a normal build. Maybe I can come up with something...
Okay, that's the best I got with a first pass. It's actually kinda difficult to make something like a stand, since there aren't a lot of usable parts to turn it into something. There's a big plate that's too big to use for a cart, and most of the other parts are either the curves or just unsuitable. I probably had about half left over at the end of it, which is kind of an issue for an alt build.
The bigger part of the set is something that any adult that's been on a pub crawl would recognize, a bar that's transformed into a biplane of some sort and started to fly around and chase you around. What, is that only me? Really? Maybe I should take up moderation on my pub crawls.
There's a lot to love in this set, even the stickers. I'm not a huge fan of the wood patterns, but that dartboard is just awesome, and I need more of them for the modular sporting goods store that I'll never get around to building yet keep buying parts for. Outside of the stickers, we get the gold faucet, a pair of canons (though no bases), some window shutters, and 4 wine bottles, all unprinted. There are also stickers for sheet music and some jokes related to tabs presumably owed to Belle.
As a build, this thing is just fun and weird. The treasure chests on the back hide dynamite, it's got whips and cannons and uses shutters for a rudder and breaking flaps, though how a biplane with no elevators or stabilizers is going to fly is beyond me. Then again, it's a saloon that's been turned into a biplane, so perhaps I'm overthinking it.
Also, yes, I know I put the tile with the music on sideways. You'd think that's a detail I wouldn't miss, as I can read sheet music quite well and spent years playing instruments and singing when I was younger, but you know. Too much root beer. Anyway, I popped off the wing here to show off the little piano and the unique way to mount up the cannons on the wing. I actually love how they did that, even if it was basic (and obvious in hindsight). There's something about a unique build method that's always fun.
I'm not going to put together a saloon custom here... I leave that open to everyone else. Maybe click on that link below, pick up the set, and try your hand at a good alt-build!
In the end, while this one isn't the pure knockout of Melting Room or Trash Chomper, it's a good set that is just as much about memories as anything else. There are some great parts tucked into the set, and good stickers, and it's genuinely fun to build. Like most of the rest of The Movie line, it delivers excellent value for the price, packing 473 parts into a set that only runs $40. In short, it's a set you won't feel bad about picking up, and as an AFOL, will probably get some nice memories out of. Like a house on wheels.
What I liked
- Great value for the price
- A good selection of minifigs that can be used in multiple settings and themes
- We all built stuff like this as a kid, and it's cool to see that made in an official set
What I didn't like
- Would have been nice to see tires for the hubs used on the cart
- Set is screaming for an official alternate build, but I suppose the point of Lego is "you can build it yourself"
Verdict: 4/5. This set is worth the money, gains more value on sale, and is a great member of the Lineup.
Pick up 70812 Creative Ambush right now on Lego Shop@Home!