I wouldn't call myself a comic nerd, honestly. I like comics, and I read them a lot when I was a kid, but it was also something I'd more or less stopped caring about as a teenager. At least until the start of quality comic movies, which hit overdrive when the MCU came into being, and I started to go back and read some of the older stuff. The advent of Marvel's digital subscription made it even easier to catch up on older and some of the stranger titles.
One of the first ones that I latched on to was this weird little title called Guardians of the Galaxy, which quickly tied into a big series called War of Kings (and then Reign of Kings and the Thanos Imperative). It reminded me of some of my favorite titles as a kid... I was an X-Men reader (everyone in the 90s was an X-Men reader), but my favorite titles were the constant Infinity sagas, the new Infinity Watch series that followed up on the Infinity Gauntlet. A bunch of the characters in Guardians were from that team... Drax (in a vastly different form) and Gamora (who was less 90s and more killer), as well as Adam Warlock, Thanos, etc.
Guardians of the Galaxy was a very different comic from a lot of the typical fare that's fed the MCU up to this point. It's made up of a bunch of imperfect characters that have dark histories and do messy things. Unlike the other properties that have been in the MCU, GotG is a big unknown even in a lot of comic circles... but I can tell you, the trailer looks like it has the team and the characters just spot-on, especially Star-Lord and Rocket from the looks of it.
Lego, for its part, is giving us our first movie tie-in sets since the underwhelming Iron Man 3 lineup. Of course, there's a danger in sets in giving away some of the plot of the movie (which, luckily, the IM3 sets didn't really do, since they had very little to do with anything in any of the movies). 76019 Starblaster Showdown is the $20 set in the lineup, and gives away only one thing that we haven't really seen in the movies (but has been in a lot of interviews or details on the movie)... that Sakaarans are in the movie. Otherwise... we get a small set with a Nova Officer, Star Lord, and 196 pieces. So, how does it hold up in what is getting to be a crowded Super Heroes shelf?
The Iron Man 3 line took the unique tack of making the sets both small and terrible, with the $13 Golf Cart and the $20 "boat that was never in the movie' set. The closest any of those came to spoiling the movie is by telling us that there was going to be a sea port battle. Otherwise, the Mandarin, Extremis, and the destruction of Tony's house were all in the trailers.
[caption id="attachment_28401" align="aligncenter" width="500"] I might be remembering this set wrong[/caption]
At this point, the only thing we really know about the Guardians of the Galaxy movie is that it's going to be an absolute stampede of new characters and settings. We've got the Kree, the Sakaarans, Nova Corps, a raccoon, and a sudden resurgence of 80s music and cassette tapes. In short, the movie should be a lot of fun and give a lot of possibilities in Lego.
Three minifigs in the set, which makes for a strange lineup. Normally, on big ensemble casts like this, we see the characters scattered across all the sets, so you have to buy all of the sets in order to get everyone, no matter how terrible the set is. The only fully unique character in the set is the Nova Officer. Star-Lord has unique printing in this version... another one shows up in The Milano, but "The Sakaaran" is the same and shows up in every set.
Star-Lord, or Peter Quill, is pretty much the crazy glue that holds the team together. A natural leader and high-functioning slacker, the whole start of the trailer where they call him star lord, and someone ask's who calls him that... "pretty much himself" is the perfect description of the character. He's a hard character to describe, honestly.
The movie version really improves on the comics version in my mind, replacing the odd full-face conquistador helmet with a face mask that can let Chris Pratt's glorious red hair (I may have a bias here) flow. I'm not as excited with the whole "two heads" thing they have going on, but I will admit that this is probably better than Iron Man's giant helmet over the face solution.
The face matches up well with what we've seen thus far, with both a fighting alt-face and that exasperated grin. I'd make a joke about how Emmett's really let him self go as well, but I'll save that for when someone does a mash-up with Guardians of the Galaxy and Everything is Awesome. This torso is obviously the jacket we see at the start of the trailer, when it looks like Star-Lord is stealing an Infinity gem, and we get printed legs that represent the longer jacket.
I like the torso, but the printing on the legs looks so much darker that it doesn't really feel like it's a longer coat at all... it seems more like details. Dark red legs with black printing would have worked out better here, especially since the back is devoid of printing entirely. We'll cover the other version in the Milano review, but at least we can get him cheap, I suppose.
The Sakaaran, as he's referred to on the box, is the one figure that's kind of a spoiler, but as a fan of the comics, he's also the one that has me the most confused. Mostly it's because there isn't a character with that name anywhere in the books. Sakaar is a place, and Sakaarans are actually two races, the Imperials (who have red skin) and the shadow-people, who look kind of like this guy. As a figure, he's actually a nice blend of super and generic. It'd be very easy to take that torso and convert it into castle (I'm thinking orc armor) or space (bounty hunters) and still look good. Shame that head isn't green, or we'd have a great predator stand-in.
I'm wondering if Lego just mixed up the marketing stuff here and called the disposable grunts, like the Chitauri, out as a single guy. Or, perhaps, the MCU is throwing us a curveball, which seems kind of odd, since that means they're out one of the races that they seem to need for cosmic stories. A lot of the existing stuff, like the Skrulls and Shi'ar, are huge players in the cosmic setting but tied to the Fantastic Four and X-Men licenses.
Let's be honest with ourselves, though. If we're going to get multiple copies of this set, it will be because of this guy right here. We're into new territory here, getting a generic "good guy" in a Marvel set. For those who don't follow Marvel stuff, Nova Corps are basically like the Green Lantern corps, except without such poor decision making skills (like kicking someone out and not taking away the all-powerful ring) and a better uniform. Also, they have actual weapons instead of pretend ones they have to imagine.
I'm going to make the assumption that this is John C. Reilly, in part because I really want it to be him and... well, that's really the only reason. If this follows comic logic, this guy is a centurion, which means he's crazy powerful in his own right. Really, I just wish they would have given us another Nova guy in the set, maybe a different rank, so we could do some work building up the Nova Corps for the inevitable Guardians of the Galaxy sequel where they're taken over by Ego the Living Planet. We've got Knowhere, and that's a giant Celestial head, so it's only a matter of time for Ego to show up. Especially since Ego originated in Thor's series (which are MCU), and it's a way to tie the two series together...
The Nova Corps ship is called the Starblaster according to Lego and the name of the set. It strikes me as a strange name for the ship of an intergalactic defense corporation... kind of aggressive. I guess Nova Corps is made up of former Chicago cops or something.
I added the little stand that I usually keep my Jedi Starfighters on (at least when I have them displayed... they're not up right now) to stand up, because otherwise you have to keep the bottom wing/flare/pylon at the back. Not ideal, but at least you can fold it down and make it work. A lot of other sets that do expansive or off-kilter builds like this are often impossible to keep on a shelf without some additional help (looking at you, Droid Gunship).
The wings and accents on the side are all stickered, but the dark blue matches up well, and it looks okay. I have no real complaint about stickers being used in situations like this. That being said, I'm not a fan of the sticker that goes on a small control panel on the inside, stuck to a 2x1 cheese slope. I'd taken a picture of the interior, but that was the only thing that was in there.
As a ship, it's not bad. Somewhat simple, but a solid build in a $20 set, and it is swooshable. I'm sure that the movie will make it so we need like a hundred of them to lead an attack against Sakaar or Thanos or something. The engines are what hold the wings at the angle, and you get a couple of big round plates, so that's always nice.
The bottom does get a couple of flick-fires, but it's minimal for parts involved and you get some blue missile tips, which I can always use more of in any color.
The other half is described as a Necrocraft on Shop@Home... so I guess the Sakaarans are zombies or something? That or it's just a catchy name and they're necromancers or something. If they're going to work Mistress Death into the mythos, I'm all for that, but I'm not a big fan of it otherwise.
This is a fairly barebones little ship, with those odd wings that get angled up on a couple of technic pins, a stickered control tile, similar to the Starblaster, and for some reason, a rock-pattern slope that makes up the back. There's a more complex version of this same ship in the Milano set, and we'll cover this design more in there... but honestly, it's just so basic there's not a lot to say.
The window is stickered with that blood pattern (at least, I assume blood), which matches the red color. So I guess we're back to the red = evil / blue = good mechanic with Guardians... except Star-Lord wears red.
Of course, it wouldn't be a new subtheme without some parts, and those come in the form of a couple of new minifigure guns, both very sci-fi and both quite awesome. The rifle in particular I'd love to see in greater bulk, to start outfitting aliens to zap Galaxy Squad troopers with extreme prejudice. Star-Lords twin pistols are also quite nice, though part of me would really love to see them colored yellow and turned into nail-guns in Lego construction sets. There is also a silver orb (which has a technic spot on the bottom), which we can presume is the infinity gem/cosmic cube seen in the trailer that Thanos is pulling the strings to get.
In the end, this set is far better in my eyes than either of the cheap Iron Man sets were. The Starblaster, especially, is a good little ship that can be swooshed around, you get some new minifig guns, and the Necrocraft is... there as well. The minifigs are good, though I'm still kind of shocked there isn't a team member exclusive to this set. I guess that's okay in a sense, as I want more Nova guys, and there's some dark blue parts as now, and the worst I have to do is get rid of a lot of extra Star-Lords. In short, it's a solid set that's worth $20 that gets even more attractive on sale. It's a solid 4 out of 5.
What I liked
- Starblaster is a good little starship, even if it's a bit plain in the build overall
- New minifig guns are a welcome addition to the arsenal of anyone that builds space-themed stuff
- Nova Corps officer is going to be needed in bulk for any large MOCs
What I didn't like
- Necrocraft is bland and not greatly different from the one included in the much more expensive Milano set
- Sakaaran is the same in every set, so it would have been nicer to see the Starblaster built up more and another Nova trooper added
- Lego, please just start printing control panels for us. I get stickering accents and tiles on the outside, but little things like that are just nice to have
You can buy 76019 Starblaster Showdown right now on Lego Shop@Home and Amazon.com!