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Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

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Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby Staff » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:04 am

Full Set

When I watched Man of Steel, I was overwhelmed by the fact that somehow, a "small town" had that much stuff that could get tossed around and blown up. Sure, it was effectively like a small town drag that absolutely litter the midwest, but it wasn't accurate in the least, since there wasn't a Walmart or Dollar General to be seen and most of the shops looked to still be open and in good repair. That and thinking that a bit of destruction could only serve to upgrade any place in Kansas (seriously, the only good thing to have come out of that state is the Interstate to somewhere else).

Really, the battle was almost overwhelming, at least until you saw the whole Metropolis scene at the end of the film and realized that this set should probably have been called "The Smallville Dust-up." This set is the most expensive of the Man of Steel sets (thus far), and features the closest thing to an "iconic" ship that we saw, the Black Zero Dropship that transported people who had suits that could fly. I know, I don't get it either.

At $50, this set is certainly more of an investment than either of the other two sets (combined), and has a bit going for it at first glance. The question is, does it keep that going for it when you break it down?

Of course, there will be spoilers in here. So don't come crying when you found out that Braniac killed a couple of polar bears while breaking in to the Fortress of Solitude during the Battle of Smallville.



Given that I'm writing this before I publish my review of the $40 Iron Man 3 set, Malibu Dream House Adventure (or something like that... I can't think Malibu Mansion without trying to fit in a Barbie joke for some reason), I can't quite compare the set in value to it. But some of the other $50 sets include the Daily Bugle Showdown (which includes some bricks and Nova... not Nick Fury which I'd originally put), the Batmobile vs. Two Face, and my personal favorite from the Super Heroes line, Hulk's Hellicarrier Breakout, there is certainly some competition out there.

Minifigs


For minifigs, we get a couple of short sticks off the bat, with Zod and Clark being identical to what we got in the Black Zero Escape set (and Zod without the armor the same as Metropolis Battle). More than that, Zod is only involved in the first few seconds of the entire battle, right before Superman * bleeps * him up for hitting on his mom. Or threatening her. It sort of blurred together for me at that particular scene.

Side note on the movie, I actually really liked how they handled that whole powers when exposed to the atmosphere thing in this movie. Back to the set though... Zod was knocked out of the fight in the first few seconds, and the actual "battle" (if you can call a whole mess of collateral damage between accelerator suits and a super hero a battle) is between Superman, Faora, and Nam-Ek. Seriously, the armor really reminded me of the fight in Rise of Cobra, except it wasn't just gawd awful.

The Bad Guys - No Armor The Bad Guys


Which is probably why the set includes Zod, Faora, and Tor-An. For those not up in your nerdy Superman canon (I had to do quite a bit of time on Wikia and IMDB for the names), Faora was the woman and Tor-An was the doctor / researcher type that stole Superman's blood. He did fly down in the ship and rescue Zod, but that was pretty much it. His figure looks nothing like the disposable actor who played the character, but I think the logo did match.

The Bad Guys - Back Alt-Faces


Faora looks pretty good, and is captured well. The hair, especially, works on the figure, even if the head is just a recycled Satele Shan from the Republic Striker fighter Old Republic set. It is a little strange that her armor was shorter than Zod's was, but I can't really remember if that is normal or not.

  Colonel Hardy Colonel Hardy - Back


Rounding out the set, we're get an Detective Elliot Stabler minifigure, who was playing Colonel Hardy in this movie. If you don't know who Detective Stabler is, turn on your TV and start changing channels... within about five or six clicks, you will undoubtedly come across a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit rerun. All questions should be answered.

I actually quite liked the role he played in the movie, even if he was somewhat under-utilized. He makes sense in this set as a figure, especially given his interactions with Faora at different times in the movie. However, I would have never connected his part in the movie to this minifigure unless I looked up the names on both S@H and IMDB. This is basically a generic soldier figure... it looks nothing like Chris Meloni, who was not bald (a military cut, yes, but he had hair). I can see a lot of people buying multiples of this figure though just for the military torso. I may even end up doing that...

The weird gun he has? Not so much, but I guess LEGO still isn't ready to include a Sig 9mm sidearm given their strange policy on guns. Revolvers, rifles, bombs, lasers, swords... all okay. A modern sidearm? NEVER! What he is missing, given the scene between him and Faora, is a knife... and as I'll get in to a bit later, the vehicle he was in for the battle.

Much like the Black Zero Escape set, the Battle of Smallville is defined by the figures that aren't included. Why isn't there a Nam-Ek figure, otherwise known as "the tall guy that wasn't a real person" involved in the fight. Seriously, he was all CGI. I guess you just can't find tall people to play bad guys anymore? He should have been in here over Zod, and honestly, for $50, I would have liked to see another figure, possibly Martha Kent, who figured prominently into setting up the whole battle, or another nameless soldier.

Black Zero Dropship


The actual LEGO part of this consists of two things... the Black Zero Dropship that shuttles off Zod and drops off Faora and her CGI friend, and a little military jeep.

Jeep


The inclusion of the jeep for the colonel is nice, though I am seriously wondering what movie they were watching, as the military came into Smallville to smoke the Super Friends  in a pair of AH-6 Little Bird helicopters (one of which carried Hardy as the field commander), and a few AH-10 Warthogs. I guess capturing Superman and attacking the Kyptonians was a joint operation?

The Jeep isn't bad, I suppose, but this thing really needed to have some helicopter presence. That was the character's whole place in this scene. His chopper was destroyed, and he's the one that had the stones to actually stand up and take on Faora even after discharging all of his ammo. He brought out the knife, in front of the wreckage, and stood his ground. He impressed her, something that I doubt any other human had. Given that this was a $50, and the chopper already small, they could have put in the right thing.

Otherwise, it's a tan jeep with a silly missile launcher set up on the back, complete with flick-fires. It's not a LEGO set without flick-fires.

 

Black Zero Dropship - Opened


The dropship is big, and ties up the majority of the set. Compared to the movie rendition, it's a decent LEGO representation. Sure, it has a few stickers, but the overall shape and style fits it... for the most part. The only part that really bugs me about it is the opening of the cockpit and storage areas above.

Black Zero Dropship - Back

The dropships had a ramp that opened on the bottom, and the top was just a bubble. It would have added complexity, but it would have been more like the movie (and given a bit more playset value).

Black Zero Dropship - Bottom


The underside is like most undersides of LEGO ships anymore (read, flat and boring), but does include a decent little cannon. We also get a bit of a throwback with the actual launchers for the big ship instead of flick-fires. I don't remember it shooting missiles, so perhaps these are parts that could have been better being something else, but adds some fun feature to the ship. Plus, these could actually hit your eye from a distance, unlike most of the things that carry the "you'll shoot your eye out, kid," warning.

Black Zero Dropship - Side


The side pylons and the antenna are both hinged, with the pylons on a technic pin that can rotate, and both can spread apart. It captures the organic feel of Krypton technology.

The whole of the dropship does have a decent collection of parts, including small saucer sections (which were also in the Escape set), a bubble cockpit in clear and two in dark grey, and other assorted goodies. Also, if you like trans green cheese slopes, this is the set for you! It's a strange mix for stuff, but overall, I like the part makeup a lot more than I did in the Escape or Metropolis showdown. I'll leave if that's because of the big price difference or not up to you.

In the end, this set probably delivers the most value in the line. It actually looks like what was in the movie, and has characters that were (mostly) involved. At $50, this is firmly in the modern "mid-range" for LEGO, and it feels like a mid-range set. It would be a great set if it matched the $40 price-point of the Malibu Mansion Attack, but otherwise, it's above average.

What I liked

  • Dropship is a decent representation, given the price and size, of what we saw in the movie

  • Good selection of parts

  • More armor parts and Krypton guns


What I didn't like

  • Okay, I get putting Superman in every set, but there's no reason for Zod to be on here, there were plenty of other figures that could and should have been in the set...

  • Not having Nam-Ek, who was prominently involved in the battle (far more than Zod or Tor-An), is a huge miss

  • Colonel Hardy is just some generic figure, and doesn't look much like Chris Meloni

  • The Jeep should have been a helicopter. There was no jeep in this scene


Verdict: Pick it up if it's on a really good sale, but probably hold off at full price. You can get the Battle for Smallville on Amazon, along with the other two Man of Steel sets, Metropolis Showdown and Black Zero Escape.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby rushiosan » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:43 am

Complaining about extra figures that were not in the scene is just too much for me. It's an extra figure, god dammit! You pay $40 for a set and complains because there's a third figure with nice armor and helmet that someone would probably kill for it even if not a superhero enthusiast. LEGO did not produce a Nam-ek minifigure anyway. Who would you want instead? Another generic military figure?

Also, LEGO policy on guns was partially lifted since 2007 Star Wars (blaster rifles introduced) and Batman (Tommy gun) sets. A lot of parents complained back then. Even saying they would never produce any "modern warfare" weapon replicas, I remember seeing a lot of vehicles and weapons in some Indiana Jones sets, including a german fighter plane. I don't get this...
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby dWhisper » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:59 am

I take it you just went the tl;dr route, rushed to the bottom, and didn't read the paragraph about who I would have rather seen in the set?
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby Jedifireman » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:11 am

Seriously? "The only good thing to come out of Kansas is the Interstate to somewhere else." And "a little destruction would upgrade any place in Kansas" I've lived in Kansas all my life and I resent those comments. You'd do well to remove them as they are very rude. I've followed your site for years and your pitiful attempt at spicing up your review only serves to make you look ignorant.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby RfAurora » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:40 am

If you don't know much about the town they chose to use for Smallville, then don't complain about it lacking stuff from the movie. I grew up in Plano, IL, the place they chose to use for the back drop, and for the size of the street they chose to use, they did a remarkable job getting what they did in there...
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby Drock » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:44 am

Feels like LEGO was going for: "Pick the one set that best suits your price range" with the Man of Steel line. That's why Kal and Dru are in every set.

Also, there can't be a helicopter here because LEGO already had the requisite helicopter in this Superhero wave in the Malibu Mansion Attack set. ;)

Who knows how much of the plot/concept art Warner Bros. revealed to LEGO. At least we didn't get Zod in a flame-throwing golf cart.

Overall, I'm pleased with what I've seen about this set and I'm planning on getting this set but not the other two MoS sets.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby dWhisper » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:00 am

RfAurora wrote:If you don't know much about the town they chose to use for Smallville, then don't complain about it lacking stuff from the movie. I grew up in Plano, IL, the place they chose to use for the back drop, and for the size of the street they chose to use, they did a remarkable job getting what they did in there...


I never made any comment about the set lacking anything from the scene in the movie (as it doesn't include anything from the street). My comment was about the general state of small town America (and much more our mythology around it). I hail from Iowa originally, and lived in Missouri for years, and most small towns would look far more run-down and closed in. Those that have put work into a "historic" district usually do it over a couple of blocks, and block off the rest of the buildings with banners and parks.

The movie view was built around a wide street, which isn't normal in most small towns. And most of them may include local stores still, but it is strange to not have a Walmart, a Dollar General, or of course a Family Dollar if you're not upscale enough for a Dollar General. Smallville was built more around the small town mythology than actual small towns.

Also, I'd have to say if you think that was an attempt to spice up a review... yeah, I do things like that in all of my reviews. I'm pretty sure that's not even the first time I've insulted Kansas on here. Or several other states. And Canada... I make fun of Canada a lot too.
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby CloneEmperor » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:13 am

Holy crap there are a lot of people who read dWhisper's reviews who seem to complain a lot. Here's a hint, pull the sticks, no, pull the tree trunks out of your rear ends.

I only read reviews on this site, because everyone else is too clinical and they don't have fun with it. If you don't like the reviews, then don't read them. Go pony up the dough to make your own website where you can write your own boring reviews so I don't have to read your posts complaining about stupid things.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby dWhisper » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:34 am

Drock wrote:Feels like LEGO was going for: "Pick the one set that best suits your price range" with the Man of Steel line. That's why Kal and Dru are in every set.

...


That might be an accurate assessment on how they targeted the sets, but I'd say Black Zero Escape is the best set to get to go that route, since you get Lois Lane. It almost feels like there are two different teams at LEGO who decide how you mix up the sets. We see the same figures repeated on the Super Heroes sets over and over, often with no variation.

But then you get stuff like the LotR, Hobbit, and TMNT sets, where figures are spread out in a way to encourage you to buy more than one set in the line. I know there are sets from all of those I would have never purchased if I didn't want an assortment of characters... like say Mines of Moria, a set I personally felt was terrible, but it had Pippin, Boromir, and Legolas so I went for it. I don't feel any of that draw in the Man of Steel (or Iron Man 3, for that matter) sets.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby Trooper10 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:34 am

Tor An + 2 1x1 black plates (ie make him taller) even go for 4 plates if needed = Nam-Ek.
Hardy figure + buzz cut hair....oh wait there isn't any (as previous reviews have highlighted).
Sell your 3rd Zod. Minifig problems partially solved.

Personally I have no problems with Superman and Zod being in each MoS set - it certainly means I don't need to spend $12 on getting a little yellow car and a power pole, and I think any set won't appeal to the kiddies unless it at least has Supes in it.

The dropship is great in this set (btw I can walk to the local shops but I choose to take the car cos I'm lazy - so I think our Kryptonians can be excused for using motorized transport) - I doubt a bottom ramp would have kept it in the price point, and personally I'm happy to get a jeep (just swap the FFs for a 50cal) over a chopper....sooo many helicopters....soooo many....

Re TLG's gun policy: It is inconsistent*.
(*My guess is that having had a couple of World Wars fought in their back yard, the Danes are a little more sensitive to modern (ie 20th Century military) weapons - 'Wild West" revolvers, pirate era flintlock pistols, rifles, Tommy guns, SW lasers, Space theme full of laser type guns, canons that can actually blind small children if used incorrectly are all ok, not to mention the vast array of bladed weapons)
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby dWhisper » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:48 am

I think you'd have to put Zod's armor on Tor An to make the Nam-Ek figure correctly, but the face wouldn't look right. Nam-Ek had a far more stylized visor (being all CGI), and it looked more like a helmet than the dome of Zod and Faora...

Image

I'm more accepting of Superman being in the set (though I think Black Zero could have been improved, like I said in the review, but dropping him and Zod for Tor-An and Jor-El).

I also agree with the weapon policy. They've obviously broken it many times, with the revolvers, rifles, tommy guns, etc, but still no proper handgun or things like a chainguns or rocket launchers, which would obviously improve the look of some sets (like the attack chopper in the Mansion set for IM3). It was part of their corporate policy through 2011, but it looks like it was dropped in the 2012 version...

Weapons and violence Boys’ interest in weapons between the ages of four and nine is considered by academics to be a phase in their development. Learning about how to handle conflicts, aggression and weapons is often part of a LEGO play experience, but only as a means to achieve the goal, whether it is rescuing citizens, finding treasure or saving the universe. We have strict rules for the use of weapons and violence in our products. The LEGO play experience must never be related to real world modern warfare, killing, torture or cruelty to animals.

In 2011 we expanded the LEGO brand guidelines with regard to use, expression and form of violence and weapons. The standard consists of guidelines already known to our employees, but now these guidelines serve as an explicit basis for product development and communication.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby gomek » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:00 pm

Well, I'll second the dWhisers criticism over the redundant figures, and lack of new ones. This has been an issue with Lego sets for years though, so I wasn't expecting a change with this series. I know there has to be a slight savings on production cost, but I have to figure the loss in sales and excitement take it's toll.

Also I have been informed that the movie is a dud. I know this a review for the toy, but the fact that I now won't end up seeing the movie for quite a while tempers my excitement quite a bit.

Really my hope is that the super hero sets based on the classic characters sell much better than the ones from the one-off movie perversions. I think if and when Lego moves more to the classic properties/designs and away from the fly by night stuff, they will find the shelf life of these sets increase, and appeal for collectors longer lasting.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby rushiosan » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:24 pm

dWhisper wrote:I take it you just went the tl;dr route, rushed to the bottom, and didn't read the paragraph about who I would have rather seen in the set?


I've read the full thing to be honest. I should have stopped at pointless lines and went straight to the bottom, but I didn't. I was expecting some pictures with a close-up on the cockpit or different parts of the ship itself, some interesting building technique (if the set actually has any) or highlight some aspect of piece count/inventory (with extra ones), but seems it's just a pointless part of a review for you. Let's take pictures, make jokes and curse everything - at the end your reviews are all about that.

Jedifireman wrote:Seriously? "The only good thing to come out of Kansas is the Interstate to somewhere else." And "a little destruction would upgrade any place in Kansas" I've lived in Kansas all my life and I resent those comments. You'd do well to remove them as they are very rude. I've followed your site for years and your pitiful attempt at spicing up your review only serves to make you look ignorant.


EDIT: Oh, and I totally second that.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby dWhisper » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:05 pm

gomek wrote:Also I have been informed that the movie is a dud. I know this a review for the toy, but the fact that I now won't end up seeing the movie for quite a while tempers my excitement quite a bit.

Really my hope is that the super hero sets based on the classic characters sell much better than the ones from the one-off movie perversions. I think if and when Lego moves more to the classic properties/designs and away from the fly by night stuff, they will find the shelf life of these sets increase, and appeal for collectors longer lasting.


I wouldn't call it a dud, but would say that I can understand people who liked it as well as the people who hated it. The only group I can't really understand is the ones who felt it was the greatest Superman movie ever. It was in a lot of ways a summer action movie, somewhat vapid and heavy on explosions.

The issue that I took with it was that it dropped away some of the best parts of the Superman mythos, and made him a "damaged" character. That worked well for Batman, because that character was always somewhat damaged, but really didn't for Superman. That and you had to ignore some Krypton-sized plot-holes (like an untrained kid that'd never been in a real fight taking on a general that had been bred for warfare and battle, and standing toe-to-toe with him).

I honestly don't know how much the Man of Steel stuff is selling, but from what I've seen in the toy aisles, the stuff isn't exactly flying off the shelf. While there were a lot of toys, capes, and action figures, I never saw it sold out, or flying away with the speed of, say, the Avengers sets. To be fair, the Iron Man 3 sets were always in stock at any of the places I visited as well, though that could have something to do with the sets having nothing to do with the movie.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby Sinestro27 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:46 pm

The Kryptonians couldn't fly, only Kal because he had absorbed our suns energy and trained himself to do so, and later Zod sid the same after removing his armor. The power of flight was not known to the Kryptonians, that's why they needed a ship.

Didn't you say you watched the movie?
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby buriedbybricks » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:53 pm

Jedifireman wrote:Seriously? "The only good thing to come out of Kansas is the Interstate to somewhere else." And "a little destruction would upgrade any place in Kansas" I've lived in Kansas all my life and I resent those comments.


I was surprised by this too. I always thought Kansas was just a made up place somewhere between Oz and Metropolis and that only an endless barrage of super villain attacks or rabid flying monkeys could make you want to go back there.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby dWhisper » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:07 pm

Sinestro27 wrote:Didn't you say you watched the movie?


I said their suits could fly. Or really jump quite fast / far. And given how fast and far they moved, the line was easy enough to blur. Even Kal had to "learn" how to fly, after the big-time comic nerd nod of only having him jump (thus the "leap tall buildings in a single bound). It was never especially clear that the suits couldn't have taken them the distance from the Kent farm to the town, which is why the ship moving them struck me as odd.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby Barbarroja » Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:04 am

First of all, tanks for all your opinionated reviews. They are a refreshing change for all those boring videos made by fanboys.

I always find amazing the cultural differences about what is considered child-safe in USA and Europe.
In the Sail Barge review, you were surprised about too much "flesh" in the old Leia slave figure. And in this review you complain about the strict gun policy in Lego.
Both things are right from this side of the Atlantic :-)

I personally never understood the sick puritanism protecting children from anything pleasurable but not from violence.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby dWhisper » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:34 am

I know my reviews are divisive (opinions are like that), and I always try to offend someone in a review (currently compiling a list of insults for the 49 other states... a sneak preview is "Arkansas! 49th in the US in education... suck it Mississippi!"). But that's sort of the point... reviews should have opinions, they should be like a blog post, and they're framed from the point-of-view of adult collectors like us that have been collecting for years.

There are reasons we don't cover certain things in the reviews, like part inventories (those are available on Bricklink, Brickset, Brickowl, and a number of other places). When something is cool, I talk about it, but honestly, after 14 years of adult collecting, not all that many building practices in system sets surprise me. We're not consumer reports for LEGO, and opinions vary wildly (even among the staff). We've always taken the stance of "don't like a review, don't read it... or better yet, write your own."

Also, I didn't say much in the review on the Slave Leia figure, other than it was more stylized compared to the last one. I hadn't given any thought to it until someone else posted on the review, and even now, I just consider the figure as part of a setting. The only reason I called out Padme's figure in the RGS review is not because it was suggestive, but because it didn't look right.

I wouldn't call it sick puritanism either, simply because that's a misunderstanding of puritans in general (who both quite enjoyed party and were not above killing those who disagreed with them), but because the people doing it, generally, have their hearts in the write place. The US is certainly messed up when it comes to things like this, but no more than anywhere else. I think the Europe just gets away with more because people like Stephen Fry are there, and he's awesome.

Also, I wouldn't call my gun comment a complaint... much more of calling out what is a big double-standard on LEGO's part. The gun actually played a role in Hardy's battle with Faora, so it would be nice to see it represented a bit better. However, in an upcoming review for the Malibu Mansion Attack, I make a much bigger deal about it, since it affects the quality of part of the model (specifically, the helicopter). Once-upon-a-time, I would have called that out as a cultural difference, but LEGO has obviously changed their tune on things like that, but still keeps some toe-hold on certain elements. I'd rather see them stick to their guns, so to speak, or just discard the policy. Otherwise, it's just making inconsistency.
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Re: Review: 76003 Superman - Battle of Smallville

Postby wegj » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:38 pm

The worst thing about this set is you can't have the armor on the figure and have the hair at the same time without bending the neck armor. This look in coincidentally the look that Faora and Zod had for 80% of the movie. The worst part of that is that it's just poor design, it would have been easy to either make the neck part either larger, or have the helmet extend lower in the back instead of the neck portion being part of the shoulders.
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