I wanted to love this set because of my life-long love of Spider-man. I am, admittedly, a fully realized and completey self aware Marvel Zombie and probably will be for the rest of my life. Marvel would have to screw something up big time for me to jump ship and they've screwed up so many times already I doubt they could really tick me off anymore than they already have over the years (I'm looking at you, Brand New Day!). LEGO's announcement of the Marvel license was a joyous day in my household and while I did pick up a couple choice sets based on the movies years ago the thought of having more classically themed sets and characters was very exciting. Having the first Spider-man set pop up themed around a cartoon I'd never seen, that I assumed was based on the Ultimate Spider-man comic that I can't stand was troubling, but I still wanted to love it.
As the man once said "You can't always get what you want..."
"...But if you try sometimes, you just might find. You get what you need." When you're an addict, what you need is a hit to keep you going and this new cartoon was just what the doctor ordered in that respect. It took forever for the new Ultimate Spider-man cartoon to finally hit Teletoon in Canada and I was looking forward to yet another animated take on Spidey. It skews younger than the last couple of series and I'm cool with that because that's always who the comics were aimed towards, at least until they got bogged down with so much back story no casual reader could follow the plots of Amazing Spider-man and the need for more and more spin off titles were necessary. It's influenced heavily by the goofier side of anime style programing and relies on a generous chunk of each episodes exposition being served in a fourth wall shattering delivery worthy of the merc with the mouth himself. This fits somewhere between The Super Hero Squad Show and Spider-man & His Amazing Friends in terms of tone and the stories in general. It's not great and I'd be hardpressed to even call it good, but it's what we have and it's popularity has already earned it a second full season of 26 episodes. As a series, it's funny in a childish way, but that only makes up so much for the frenetic, uneven pacing and lackluster storylines that have been the case for the first half of the season. I was hoping to see the entire season before doing the review, or at least whatever episode this set is based on (if there is one), but with the expiry date creeping up fast on 2012 I can wait no longer.
As I said earlier, I wanted to love this set just like I wanted to love the new cartoon, but for me the cartoon is okay at best and I have to admit the set isn't much better. Let's start by looking at the highly anticipated (sorta) figs.
With the Marvel license still in its infancy and this being the only Spidey set of the year, we get three figures that are exclusive for the time being. I'll admit that getting another version of Doctor Octopus in this set felt like a bit of a rip off with all the possible Spider-man villains available, but now that I've seen the follow up bad guys for 2013 all is forgiven. This new Ock is alright I suppose and the torso could be used for many different space themed figs, but the faces just don't do it for me. The Doc has been more of a background character up until now so there hasn't been a great look at him, but a quick google search shows they did a fair job with the printing and the one change they made to his arms, the switch from bley to black, was to match the show also. The Dastan hairpiece is as close to the greasy unkempt hair in the show as any existing piece could be and while I'm not a fan of the face, at least the alternate is different enough that it may be useful for future combinations.
The new Spider-man on the other hand, I love. The red printing on the torso darkens it down a bit, but that's not a huge issue for me and the shifting of the waist band up onto the torso was a welcome fix from the previous figs. This classic style was at the top of my list for possible Spidey variant suits and while I'm dissapointed I'll probably never get my hands on the Black Suit Spidey, I'm optimistic that they may do some other variants from the show like the Iron Spider. I can only dream they'll do a time travel episode so I could get an official Spider-man 2099 figure.
Lastly we have the only 100% new figure in the set, Iron Fist. I love this guy and the fact that Power Man is a character in the show is one of my favourite aspects. Unfortunately, while the Iron Fist suit in the show is pretty much the same as the modern version of the character in the comics, the costume Luke wears in the show is ridiculous and I know that sounds odd considering he used to wear a tiara. This version of Danny Rand looks more like a generic amalgam of the character over the years and less like the zen/surfer from the show, who isn't smart enough to tuck his gorram hair up into his mask. IT'S A DISGUISE, STUPID! Still an awesome fig and a great addition to the crew from 6866 Wolverine's Chopper Showdown along with Spidey. The back printing on all the figs is good and I don't think the complaints that some people have that the figs are getting "too detailed" apply here.
Moving onto the set things start to get a little dicey. Since this one has been set up exactly like the Hulk's Helicarrier Bust-out set I'll cover it the same way and split it into the sets three segments and and the vehicle. The first segment is the trap/containment cell and it was a big disappointment to me after the one that came in the Hulk set. It has no release lever or function at all beyond the open/close hinge and when you stash a fig inside you have to push them all the way to the back or balance them gingerly in the cockpit part for fear of them falling into the space created when the dome is opened. Other than the trans black TIE cocpit there are very few interesting parts in this secton and the laughable function is a fail for me.
The second segment is the main laboratory and it is framed by two hinged parts that allow you to stretch out or compact the playset to suit your mood, which I think is still a nice feature. This section has the restraint table for Iron Fist or Spidey depending on who you want to experiment on and the table features simple restraining arms and it spins, but that's not all! It also has a dental light/x-ray scanner that swings down and let's you do... stuff. Science-y stuff, I suppose. This area looks pretty good, but it's all flash no substance and the parts selection is pretty bland as well. A lot of the look of this section is helped by the stickers, which is another negative for me. My issue with stickers is 50% not being able to use that part in a more generic way and 50% stupid fingers. I like printed parts because every time I apply stickers, they end up crooked or with visable finger prints on the sticky side. Stupid fingers = Stupid stickers.
The final segment is what I believe is some sort of cooling tower or something. It has a fan on top, so I guess that's a ventilation fan and the spot where Spidey infiltrates the lab to spring Fist...y. After building the tower (sadly my favourite part of the whole build) I figured its main purpose must be a tall object for Spider-man to swing from. It just doesn't work out that way as you can see from the pictures above. At least this section had a decent selection of parts, with the standout being the medium blue half cylinders to match the smattering of like coloured parts throughout the set. Still, other than a double spinning fan, it does nothing but look good. Just not that good.
Lastly, we've got the vehicle portion of the set and other than being pointless, it's a bit of a crap build too. It's just so useless. A four wheeled cart for driving around a lab a normal person would walk about for a guy who already doesn't walk around on his own legs. Also, you can remove Doc's Octo-arms and attach them to the back of the cart. While there have been times over the years that Ock could remove his extra arms, it's an instant sign of poor writing and a serious lack of understanding the character. There are parts used that are unwarranted, the flick-fires have the worst range of any set I've built this year, the design looks unfinished and the whole build feels slapdash at best. What a waste. If those parts had been used to beef up the lab and add some play features, this set could have been something. Unfortunately, the only thing it is is boring.
What I Liked:
- The figs. Mostly Spider-man & Iron Fist.
- There are a few very nice parts in this set, most of them in that sweet medium blue.
- Cheap-ish. At least I didn't have to pay a lot to get the figs I wanted.
What I didn't Like:
- This set follows the blueprint set by the 6866 Hulk set, but I think something got lost in the translation.
- Very bland assortment of parts can't save this boring build with little to no play value.
- The Ockmobile is just lame. If it ends up in the cartoon, my statement will stand and expand accordingly.
Vedict: If you're like me and you have to get your hands on the figures, wait for a sale. Or even just hit up Bricklink if the parts don't do it for you. Full disclosure, I bought two and I still feel dirty. I fall on the builder side of the equation so the parts will get use, but I love spider-man and wanted to make sure I had an extra fig. My son and I derived very little enjoyment from the set, but Spidey has been hanging with Shelob and the Hobbits for a week now and he's still a hit. I wish I could've loved this set, but I don't and in the end it barely squeeks into the like catagory. If I'd seen next years Spidey sets earlier, I would have stuck with one and if your only real reason for buying this set is Spider-man alone then wait for next years sets. The hope is still alive though! I really want to love the upcoming Spider-cycle Chase set. What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment.
Buy 6873 Spider-man's Doc Ock Ambush from LEGO Shop@Home: