To say that I'm a fan of Ms. Marvel is a bit of an understatement. It might seem a bit strange to think that a teenage muslim girl that's taking up the mantle of a character that was far too often known more for her costume than for all of the cool stories (seriously, Ms. Marvel / Captain Marvel was always a cool character, but since the name change, has just gotten more cool). The thing is... Kamala Khan is just this wonderful mix of awkwardness, hitting her from all sides: her Muslim heritage and family contrasting with the fact that she is thoroughly American, her deep nerdiness contrasting with wanting to fit in, the whole Peter Parker-esque teenage struggles, and trying to be a new super hero dealing with standing shoulder to shoulder with her idols.
Her series took some of the things that Marvel has always excelled at in its comics... first done by the mix of Peter Parker and later by the real human struggles of people like Tony Stark. She got hit with the Terrigen Cloud (she's an Inhuman) after sneaking out to go to a party, only to be made fun of by the cool kids. She didn't know how to control her powers (she's a polymorph, meaning she can bend around, increase size, and heals a lot... she can even assume other forms, like when she appeared as the original Ms. Marvel in her classic costume). A few issues later, she's searching for her bad guy in the sewers, and comes across Wolverine for a team up, and she nerds out in a way that I think we can all relate to, because we'd all do the exact same thing in her shoes.
This isn't really a review of her comics, it's just that reviewing 76076 Captain America Jet Pursuit means that I'm going to have to focus on a set that can only be described using words like "mediocre" and "disappointing" and "wrong." Starting at the very premise of the set... Captain America flying a jet. The Captain has been many things in his long life, but pilot is not among them. Sure, he was sitting at the controls of plane thing in First Avenger, but his role in that was to crash it (the vehicles were mostly auto-pilot).
He was an Army captain, for crying out loud. The villain is probably someone most people have never heard of; I actually had heard the name, but he looks nothing at all like what you get here. In short, this $19.99, 160 piece set is all about Kamala... and I seriously hope my first impressions are wrong.
Three minifigures isn't bad for a $20 set, especially when they're all unique, and one is obviously a totally new minifigure type. Add on top of that the latest "okay then" play features for Super Heroes sets, which I know have a name but I can't be bothered to go look it up. My only impression is that it's better than Super Jumpers, but so is most everything (and these won't break your minifigure legs).
First up is not-Ultron, Super Adaptoid. He's one of the many forgettable Avengers villains; a few years ago, he had a secondary role in the Annihilation story line that probably me and maybe two dozen other people remember. It mostly just killed off a lot of characters that I liked, and I'm waiting for them to show up in the MCU so they come back into the comics. Oh, and he showed up last year for a couple pages in Uncanny Avengers and was killed off by Deadpool as an excuse for Spider-man to leave the comic book (I guess they wanted him on the cover for that first issue or something). The problem with this minifig and what' in the comic, though...
He's supposed to be green. Also, in recent appearances, he's had a face. This guy strikes me like one of the designers wanted an official helmet to make custom Destiny figures with or something. The same helmet shows up a few different places, so maybe it's just the new part that follows the "when you have a hammer, everything is a nail" rule. That being said, this is the best, if generic, use of it. But that's for the Iron Man set review...
The wings are what kind of throw me here... Super Adaptoid had the ability to copy and mix powers. I guess he's run into Falcon from a set that came out a few years ago? And... a helmet? I guess some Iron Man? No actual powers from anyone that's in this set, though, so there is that. He's pretty generic, so there are uses for him outside the set for those of us who buy extras.
On one hand, Steve Rogers was never a pilot. I'm sure he's probably flown something in the comics at some point, but that's never been his purpose. Originally, I was thinking that his torso could be used to build a First Avenger variation of the figure, but the red/white printing, and the star outside, kind of dashes that one. Apparently this version of Captain America is into branding... but I'll talk about that when we get to the jet.
The printing on this suffers quite a bit, and I'm noticing a pretty disturbing drop in quality for some LEGO stuff. I've been harping on the printing quality of flesh bits on heads and torsos for awhile, but it had been improving. On this one, it's very apparent that the blue background is bleeding through the flesh printing like we got on a lot of the old Captain America figures.
I think we need to adapt the adage of "you should never meet your heroes" to something about minifigs and characters or something. By all means, someone work up something if it comes to you... I'm too overcome by wishing this figure was something else. It's an interesting idea and looks pretty striking when you first glance at it. Once you get past that first glance, and think about the character, it falls apart a bit... for a few different reasons.
The first one is something that they put on the printing, and that's her scarf. On one hand, I'm glad that they put the scarf into design, because it's a pretty big part of her costume. It's effectively her cape, and something that's long and flowing, and should have been worked into a bigger part of the outfit. The alt face isn't awful, but would have been great if they dropped the mask for it and gave us her nearly trademark "confused and perplexed teenager" look. Her scowls and non-happy looks are usually more teenage annoyance than actual anger.
The bigger problem I have, though, is that her bendy stuff is just in the hands, and that makes it feel like a typical LEGO play gimmick. In other words, it's fun for a little bit, but eventually you want to lock it down and make it a regular part instead. Ms. Marvel does stretch out a lot, but the majority of the time, she stretches out her legs and her arms (or just grows big in proportion, like Giant Man). There are a few times that she did the arm things by themselves, but it's always a short and quick thing. Because the rest of the minifigure body is just regular size, it just feels a bit off.
The torso itself is a new design. It's hard to pick up in the pictures above, but it's actually two pieces that have been fused together to allow the arms to slide through. You can move it fully from one side to the other, which, like I said earlier, is fun for a few minutes. Once you want to work it into a display, it's just awkward and made worse by the fact that you need a lot of room to fill with the character. Worse, the whole thing just feels very cheap and light, like the plastic for the torso was changed. I wanted a version with regular arms (Kamala spends far more time in her regular form than a stretchy form, after all), so that meant I had to do some LEGO destruction.
That left me with one option, really. The bracers at the end of the arms work as stops to keep it from sliding all the way through. I wasn't brave enough to see if I could break apart the torso, since that's the thing I wanted intact from the whole affair, so I took some scissors to the arms and did something I've only done a couple of other times and "modified" a LEGO brick. In this case, modified into a trash bin. I understand why LEGO made it all one part, but this still feels like a move that's not all that friendly for a product designed around building your own thing. It seems like they could have just made the bracers a removable part and gave us an arm that is removable to build our Plastic Man or similar minifigures... once we have the torsos to support it.
For those looking to put in regular arms, the fit is extremely close, like 98%. It fits well and is perfectly playable, but you can pull them out of her torso a bit easier than a normal minifigure. This problem is made worse by the hair that is included for her figure, which is draped over her shoulders. That restricts the movement of the arms to about a 45 degree angle (and I added a One Ring to her left arm to replace the bangles, which restricted it further). Still, I was pretty happy with the final results, at least as a display piece. Now I just need a Viv, Totally Awesome Hulk, and young Cyclops and I can have a Champions team going (also, LEGO, if you're taking requests, a Gwenpool and Spider-Gwen would be awesome... also make a Spider-Woman minifigure for all of us).
Also, there's a jet. The biggest problem with the Marvel Super Heroes line is that they only seem to have three types of sets: Jets, Mechs, and trucks... with a playset sprinkled in once a year to break it up (that often includes one of the other things). It's strangely branded in Captain America's colors... something that the character himself isn't going to do or approve of. Sure, he'll put the stars and stripes on a shield or a motorcycle... but a whole jet, including branding the weapons (that he's not likely to fire)?
This jet is just a garbage build that I would have expected out of a LEGO set from the mid-90s. It's blocky, it's ugly, and the play features are just dumb. The disc launchers aren't bad by themselves... but they're fired by the ugly technic pin on the back of the wings that doesn't match the color of anything else on the jet. There is a complicated mechanism that pushes things forward, but it's only there to cause the wings to swing forward. That picture above is far too nice, because it makes the jet look halfway decent instead of just the thin-winged junk pile it actually is. Remove all of that and build wider wings (like we got in the Black Panther jet or the SHIELD jets or the seventeen million other Marvel jets) and you get a better set. As it is, this only serves as a big pointer to how bad the jet looks.
Before I get to my conclusion, though, I want to rant a bit about the problem with the Marvel Super Heroes line, and the growing feeling of stagnation in LEGO in general. Let's look at the most recent sets...
- 76058 Spider-Man: Ghost Rider Team-Up (Motorcycle)
- 76047 Black Panther Pursuit (Jet)
- 76067 Tanker Truck Takedown (Truck)
- 76077 Iron Man: Detroit Steel Strikes (Mech and a Car)
- 76059 Spider-Man: Doc Ock’s Tentacle Trap (Mech)
- 76078 Hulk vs. Red Hulk (Trucks/cycles)
- 76051 Super Hero Airport Battle (Playset and Jet)
- 76057 Spider-Man: Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle (Playset)
- 76079 Ravager Attack (Jet)
- 76076 Captain America Jet Pursuit (Jet)
- 76080 Ayesha’s Revenge (Pod Thing)
- 76081 The Milano vs. The Abilisk (Jet)
- 76060 Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum (Playset)
Let's say I'm generous and give 76080 a spaceship tag and ignore that it's just a remake... it's all just the same stuff. There are a couple on the margins, like the Tanker Truck Takedown set (which I keep forgetting is a thing, it must be an exclusive at a store I rarely frequent) that feels like a city truck, or more unique playsets like Doctor Strange and the Bridge Battle. Same with the Ghost Rider cycle, which I have pictures taken of but haven't reviewed because it's more meh than anything.
If I wasn't a fan of both LEGO and comics, I would likely have a problem telling the sets apart. You know who fits into that circle of people that may not be in those groups? Parents that buy sets for their kids, and who ask the question "don't you already have a LEGO jet?" I get that there are only so many directions you can take LEGO stuff, but the whole line has really felt stagnant lately because it seems to be repeating itself so quickly. There are times when you can repeat a set and it work... but this set most certainly isn't one of them.
About those first impressions... they're not wrong. I don't think I've ever felt let down by a set so much in recent history. I desperately wanted this set to be wonderful. Ms. Marvel deserves a great set... heck, Captain America deserves a better set than this. I know some people seem to think we just hate LEGO and give nothing but low ratings (my average rating is actually a 3.6 last time we calculated them out), but the truth is that we just want sets that are fun. The LEGO Batman movie sets were fun, and the ratings reflected that. This set isn't fun, and that means it's going to end up lower.
We get a new type of figure, which is cool, but it feels so gimmicky after playing with it for a bit that you're going to end up just wanting a regular figure. Ms. Marvel aside, though, the rest of the set just falls flat. The jet looks worse than any of the other jets we've gotten, the "bad guy" could be called the Great Generic-O, and the printing on Captain America is a real step backwards. I want to rate it higher, but I'm still left calling this thing a two out of five, and that's just because it has a figure people will still likely want and not much else.
What I Liked
- We are starting to see newer characters show in in the sets, like Miles Morales and now Kamala Khan, so there's hope that some other characters will show up in the future
- We now have printed tiles of the Captain America logo
- Only $20, so it's a little bit easier to take having to destroy a part to make a regular figure
What I Didn't Like
- If you read above, almost everything. Jet is just a bad build overall, and looks worse than any of the other recent jets
- Kamala's arms are fun for a bit, but it makes it very hard to position her, and limiting the figure to just arms doesn't due justice to the character
- Printing on Captain America had the blue showing through the flesh tone, which seems like a real step backwards on quality.
Verdict: 2 out of 5. I wish it were higher... but if you want to deface some LEGO arms and build a proper Ms. Marvel figure, you can pick the set up right now on Amazon.com.