I hadn't originally signed up to review of Hulk's Helicarrier Breakout for two reasons, pricing and the uncertainty of how the Hulk would look in LEGO form. I volunteered for the Loki's Cosmic Cube Escape set with a certain expectation of what that set would be and then the first pictures surfaced. I jumped ship and swam for the Helicarrier as fast as I could and I've never looked back. Other than a decent assortment of dark blue parts and an exclusive Iron Man print variant (circular ARC reactor FTW), I've found nothing of redeeming value in that set that couldn't be found elsewhere. This set on the other hand piqued my interest instantly and became the only 'must have' of the super hero line. Don't get me wrong I wanted all of the Marvel sets for one reason or another, but I had to own this set if it meant saddling up my polar bear, riding all the way down to the US of A and laying seige to the nearest LEGO store. I opted to order it online, then I waited to see if the nine year old in me would get to revel in the realization of Marvel and LEGO coming together or be as crushed as he was when they cancelled The A-Team...
First off, let me just say that I'm still upset at the cancelation of The A-Team even though I never excepted the addition of Eddie Velez and Robert Vaughn in the final season which I found to be quite jarring and out of focus in it's revamped state. How great would A-Team LEGO sets be, am I right? Not just the classic tri-coloured GMC Vandura either. You could have Faceman's car, the cabbage cannon, Murdock's ultralight plane plus a movie tie in that features a flying tank with unmanned drone and that's just the first wave!
Now where was I? Oh yeah the Helicarrier set, let's do this thing.
The only Marvel Super Heroes LEGO set I haven't built at this point is the Quinjet, but I have a good impression of the parts and look forward to it in any case. Even so, I'm willing to call this fight right now. This is my favourite Marvel set so far (including the older Spidey sets) and could quite possibly land at my favourite of the year if experience holds up. I can't remember how I did the last review, but let's do this one build, parts, play features and then the figs.
Just kidding, we all know a largeportion of you are in it for the figs and here they are. The key issue I have with the the Avengers sets has been the repitition of specific figures and while it ticks me off in some cases, I can't help but like getting extras of some of them strictly because I like the characters.
Hawkeye and Loki both appeared in the Cosmic Cube Escape set and Loki and and Thor are also in the Quinjet, plus Hawkey and Thor have individual polybags. I get that Loki is the main villain and have no issue with him being in the sets he's in. They make sense and I really like Loki anyway, so it just works for me. If you were to go for strict accuracy you'd need to create a few other figs and there would be less overlap, but that would mean the kids would get less of the popular Avengers and more of the uber-geek faves and generics. That would put a generic pilot in this set to replace Hawkeye and let's have Black Widow here to get the Hulk rage going and stick Barton in the Quinjet, since he was the one
Let's talk Hulk. I love this big green monster and he's reason number one that I really want a second copy of this set. Also, the fact that the Spidey set is based on the Ultimate cartoon gives me just a glimmer of hope in seeing a RULK from the upcoming Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. cartoon. I will not be holding my breath, though.
If I had to make any complaints about this beastly Hulk figure it would be the hollow arms and the immovable head. The head I can forgive because there is little need to move it around and I was lucky enough to get a normal minifigure Hulk, so I can use that one wherever it suits me and this Hulk never has to lose his head. The hollow arms on the other hand are foolish because this is the Hulk, the character who stole every scene he was in all through this movie and he wasn't even given the same treatment as the cave troll from the Mines of Moria set. Otherwise he's a great figure if a bit bright, though the way I see it, LEGO is just trying to balance out the colour pallet. A few avenging minifigures sitting on the wee bit too dark side and a giant Hulk who is laughably a bit too bright. I have too admit that my son and I had entirely too much fun playing with this guy and using him to re-enact some of our favourite scenes from the movie. You may recognize a few of them below, or at least a reasonable ABS facsimile.
So when the initial euphoria of having your favourite super heroes in minifigure form wears off, what are you left with other than an empty wallet? The set of course! With licensed sets, we've seen some clear winners and obvious losers over time. Just look back at the reviews in the past couple of years and the slew of throw away vehicles and uninspired playsets that fail to capture the spirit of the scene they are supposed to portray and are about as much fun as a pet rock. This set gives you both a vehicle and a playset which increases the opportunity for at least one good aspect or doubling it's chance at failure, depending on how you look at it.
The vehicle side of this set comes in the form of a branded SHIELD fighter jet for Hawkeye to pilot. First off, as I already mentioned, Hawkeye wasn't in the jet it was a generic pilot. Second, It was just a plain greyish plane not a big blue SHIELD one to match the truck from the Cosmic Cube set. That aside I'd be lying if I said this wasn't a welcome addition to the set. It's a tight, simple model that doesn't try too hard. It captures the basic shaping of a fighter while remaining a bit blocky and avoids trying to get too complex like the recent Ninjago jet that tried harder to achieve a look closer to a real fighter plane. The more, dare I say, LEGO-ish look of this snub-nosed fighter adds to it's swooshability and it's overall strudiness.
This thing was played with hard and rolled/crashed several times and the worst that happened was a popped tailfin, so they really made this little guy sturdy. The play feature even worked really well and one time we re-created the Hulk on a Plane scene the canopy flew off and landed quite a few feet away (it actually took us a couple of seconds to locate the thing). Also it has the dreaded flick fire missiles. I can provide my address to anyone who wants to get rid of these dastardly things if that would help you out :D . Once again, we had a great time playing with this plane and the accompanying figs as you can see.
The lion's share of this set comes in the form of the SHIELD helicarrier, or at least a specific portion of it. I'll get this part out of the way and say that this entire set is almost ridiculous in it's failure at capturing the look of the scenes it's meant to portray. Once again, I'll bet LEGO only had some concept art to go on at best when designing this set. That in mind this playset works really well at being a fun amalgamation of a number of scenes even if it's laughably no where near accurate.
The set is comprised of three main segments, each is seemingly meant to represent a different scene across about a half an hours worth of the film. The removable components are great and make this a highly customizable set. You can switch the parts around to a configuration you find more appealing; build a few extra if you have the parts to do so, or buy a second set and connect the two. I wish now that I had thought to photograph the extra segments we built to represent the bridge, QM and expand the hangar bay.
The first of three sections start with the lab Doctor Banner is assigned and is basically a place to store Loki's magic wand. Your little nerds in training can use this section to do science stuff and run imaginary tests on whatever they feel needs further analysis and if they get bored with that, they can smash the windows! HULK SMASH!
The design of this play feature is simple and works surprisingly well if you're into rampant minifigure rampaging.
Which I am.
The next section represents the holding cell SHIELD built to contain (Ha!) the Hulk, but ends up being used on Loki instead. Oh, and Thor.
It has a simple "breakout" feature that works well enough, but feels more like the result of a plate glass window falling out due to an improper seal rather than a super powered being busting out of a jail cell. Even Jar Jar Binks could break out of this cell, but Coulson probably would have died in a less honourable and far more slapstick way if that were the case. I find it quite funny that the cell designed for the Hulk is too small for the big guy to even fit into. It's possible that plot point wasn't mentioned to the LEGO designer, that they choose go with one just big enough for Loki because the Hulk never ends up in it anyway, or they simply made the call based on set economy. It doesn't really matter, but its a funny side effect and one I'm sure a few kids pointed out to their parents in frustration.
The monitoring station above is a bit pointless, but it adds another play feature and it's funny to think they'd put it up there considering the purpose of the one in the film. It must be the post they assign agents when they're done looking for land mines blindfolded. Still a step up from having to deal with Stark though. Any issues with this portion of the set up are immeadiately nulified by this picture from dwhisper's photostream.
The last section is basically a stand for your Hulk figure. It has a little container dumping feature on the hinged connector and the same window smashing function as the first segment, but that's about it. HULK SMASH!
That last section may be pretty bland, but when you take it into account with the set as a whole it just works. Of course there is always room for improvement, but I think that we're getting a good value for the price with this set. It's a very nice assortment of parts and minifigures and it seems specifically designed for further customization, which is a trend I personally wish to see continue. I've looked at a lot of the playsets that have come out in the last couple of years and even some of the ones I purchased just weren't as much fun as this set. It could be the subject matter as super heroes fighting on a flying fortress seems like more fun than a brieifing room on a star ship or pirates fighting on a giant wheel and it's a lot more realistic than that last example.
What I Liked:
- Nice assortment of figs if a bit inaccurate.
- The jet and playset are not only well designed, but a lot of fun to play with.
- Space Invaders. A great sticker, or the greatest LEGO sticker ever?
- Nice parts assortment and a good value.
- HULK SMASH!
What I didn't Like:
- Needs more flick fire missiles.
- This would have been a great opportunity for a Coulson figure with a BFG. All the kids are clamouring for more Coulson!
- Hulk won't fit in his cell... HULK SMASH!
Vedict: Buy it, if you haven't already. If you have and you love it as much as I do, buy it again. As always a sale is preferable, but I think this set is worth paying full price on. If you can manage to score it at 20% off it's right in line for those who like to beat their dead horse on the golden ratio. I'll call it now and say this is easily the clear winner for me in 2012 sets for a great balance over all aspects from play to value. You can snag it on Amazon right now for 44 bucks, so... you should do that. I'll wait here.
You can also pick up this set, and many others, on FBTB's Shop@Home Store!