The Iron Man Malibu Mansion Attack set (otherwise known as the one that doesn't look like junk at first glance) stands out in the line of Super Hero sets, since it includes Pepper Potts (her first figure) and gives us a full Tony Stark figure, instead of just his face and his body. Of course, we also get to see what only could have been the ultimate battle in the movie, between Iron Man and the Mandarin that led to his house getting blown up, right?
At $40, this set is the top of the Iron Man line (and mid-range to low compared to other sets). You can read up on the reviews of the other two sets, the Mandarin Ultimate Showdown and the Extremis Sea-Port battle, and see how these stack up in comparison. While I didn't write them, I can tell you that I was fairly underwhelmed with those two but excited for this one before I saw the movie.
After seeing the movie, how did this one stack up? Read on to find out. And obviously, there will be spoilers in here. I used up all of my snarky spoiler comments in the Man of Steel set reviews, so I welcome you to make up your own and put them in the comments section!
So why am I reviewing this set a couple of months after the movie has come to and exited theaters? I actually purchased it as soon as they hit the shelves of one of my local Walmarts, but disliked how the first two sets turned out that I decided to wait for the movie. And I loved the movie, it was probably the best "3rd" comic book movie that I've seen.
But seeing the movie made me just hate the sets that have pretty much nothing at all to do with it. These sets are apparently based on what someone assumed the movie would be about based on Taco Bell glasses and a 15-second trailer. It'd be kind of like making an iRobot movie except instead of basing it on the Asimov classic, you just use the name and an unrelated movie about a luddite 80s rap star going against skynet for murdering the bad guy from L.A. Confidential. And then releasing a stuffed animal line of iRobot happy fun-time pals based on the Wikipedia synopsis of the original book.
First up, minifigures. This set is actually a pretty nifty lineup for a $40 set, with a unique Mandarin, an Extremis Soldier, Tony Star, Pepper Potts, and a brick-built DUM-E robot. Sure, LEGO and Brickset doesn't call it a minifigure, but someone needs to show that poor little guy some love. And he was a "character" in the movie, so I'll put him here.
First up, Mandarin. And remember my comment about spoilers? Seriously, go away if you don't want them. Scroll down to the part where I tell you that the set is worth $40 and click on the link to buy it.
Remember how I kept commenting in the Man of Steel reviews for Black Zero Escape and The Battle for Smallville how the character makeup didn't make any sense? It doesn't hold a candle to the inclusion of the Mandarin here. Not only was he not in this scene, or in the scene leading up to it... but ultimately, in one of the greatest fake-outs to ever hit nerd culture (something that gave me endless joy in reading the rantings of nerds around)... he wasn't even the bad guy of the film!
Sure, at this point in the movie, you thought he was the bad guy, but he wasn't on the chopper with everyone. Eric Savin, the guy we'd seen skeeving up the Stark Industries offices and trying to kill Happy was on one of the choppers, along with some unnamed soldiers.
By itself, the Mandarin figure isn't bad, with a lot more detailed printing than the one that came in the Lawn Care Showdown set, where he was wearing the military vest seen in an early movie clip (I think). Here, he's in full regalia and has a cape. The hair is kinda hacked, given how elaborate Trevor's hair was, it just seems a bit lazy. Or should at least be streaked with grey. That and he needs a can of Budweiser (and so did I after building these sets).
In the set descriptions, this guy is called Extremis Soldier, and given that he has hair, I'll assume it's not the second-in-command for Killian. Not a bad figure, though basically he's just a glow-in-the-dark version of any number of random figures we've had. The alternate face is far more elaborate, with the full enrage for being Extremis here. That in itself is strange, since we didn't even know what Extremis really was at that point (except that people blew up when they used it).
His head does glow, which is a nice play feature, but extremis was red and orange. A minor point, you work with the glowy stuff and that's typically green... but somehow, I wish this was orange and didn't glow more than white/green and did.
It's kind of surprising that we went this long without a true Tony Stark figure, given that he spent as much time out of the armor as in it during The Avengers. Part of me also really hopes they go back and create some sets from the previous movies (I'd like a good Wiplash figure), but still nice to have a proper figure with the reactor on his chest.
Overall, a good figure that certainly looks like Robert Downey Jr. He's one of those rare actors that did a performance so well that he effectively ended it for anyone else. From now on, Tony Stark = Robert Downy Jr, so it's nice to have him in figure form. The alt face is a bit strange, given that I don't recall ever even see him look scared, but you can't have a figure these days without an alt face, I guess.
Pepper Potts makes her LEGO debut here as well. The face is unique to her, and the "scared" face fits quite well, especially given the scene. Apparently the 15 seconds of footage they got to base the set on included her with the place being blown up around her. The torso works, though is a bit more generic than Gwyneth Paltrow is (and the Futurama fan in me wants to make a joke about her not having a flask of human blood).
We also get a (mostly) new version of the Iron Man armor, the Mark 42 "beta" armor that Tony wore most of the time. The same armor is included in the Lawn Care set, so you can get it cheaper if you really want it.
It's designed to let you swap out Tony or Pepper's face, which fits with the scene quite nicely. It's weird, but the helmet doesn't really bug me all that much anymore. I guess I've just had it long enough to be used to it (and it still looks better than Batman's cowl and the new Flash headpiece). That or I looked up the prices for the Toy Fair exclusive one and realized I won't ever own it.
I like the evolution of the armor over time, and it isn't until you put them side-by-side that you realize exactly how far it's come. There are some good MOCs to be had in the whole mansion and workshop.
We do get some brick-built DUM-E, complete with briefcase armor from Iron Man 2. More than that, at long last, there was a reason for Marvel to put a fire extinguisher on a Marvel set! Seriously, why were there so many extinguishers in the Avengers stuff? I like this little guy, but I'm a sucker for a brick-built droid. I know a few other people around here that are too...
At least they include the helicopter in this, and didn't throw in something like a tank or the like, given what we saw with The Battle for Smallville. The bad guys actually do attack Stark's mansion in choppers. Of course, those were Bell 429's that had been painted three different colors (and as I remember... none of them were green).
There's not all that much in the way of flashy with this thing, it's just a "typical LEGO heli" sort of thing. It has a side opening, that fits the movie, and adds some flick-fires, because of course it does. okay, to be fair, the attack choppers did have missiles that were fired into the mountain, but also had chain-guns, which did the bulk of the damage. It would have been nice if they actually did something to put those guns on this. I know, I know, inconsistent weapon policy and all, but it really hurts sets like this to not have the weapons of war available.
Looking at the underside... you can just sort of tell that this is in the set because it had to be an "attack" and not just a mansion playhouse. I think my fellow writer's, burriedbybricks, description of this fits well: "It's like they took everything good in the Wolverine Chopper and left it out."
The "mansion" in question is actually just the windowed part of Tony's lab. Doesn't a mansion usually have to have a few more rooms? This place is more like a villa or a really retro-ish 70s house. We're obviously not building a whole mansion, this part deals with the place where most of the fighting happens in the movie.
Kind of. Pepper is currently upstairs with Tony's one-night-stand from 2000 when the attack happens, along with Tony, before running off to get some Iron Man bracelets. If I remember right (and that's always an iffy proposition), Tony didn't end up downstairs until upstairs and downstairs quite literally "ran into each other" when it was shot out by the helicopter.
The design here is based loosely on the production teasers that showed off the different armors and scenes from Iron Man 2 where Tony is downstairs drinking smoothies to keep the arc reactor from poisoning him (well, poisoning him faster. The little kitchenette area is a nice touch (though wasn't that in Iron Man 2?) and you have spots for two armors. I love that smoothie blender, and can always use more cabinets, but if that was the difference between two spots and four, I would have rather had the four.
Obviously, the real setup had, what, a dozen armor displays? Obviously we're not going to get that in a $40 set, but I know what I really would have loved was paying $10 more and getting a couple of more slots along with the Hulkbuster armor.
The building has some of the "damage" playset features that are common in a lot of sets (such as Helm's Deep or Battle of Metropolis), that does fit with the scene this is depicting... to the point that damage is caused, not so much on the level of damage. This level of damage is mostly "Tony had a few too many cocktails" damage, not "they're trying to kill me" damage.
That sort of is the tricky thing with this set. We see this area when it's perfectly peaceful. During the actual attack on his house, Tony is upstairs, and the floor gets shot out from under him and the place wrecked while he's trying to get to the armor. We see this place in shambles when it's destroyed.
The playset features are... interesting (if ugly), even if they are kind of simple. Like almost any set trying to capture a movie, it feels too small. I understand that LEGO tries to match sets to a price point, but I really do wish that this set could have come in a little more expensive and included a little more in the way of stuff. Seeing some Hulkbuster armor, which figured into the marketing materials, as well as the final battle, would have made this set go from good to awesome.
In the end, the problem with the set isn't the set itself. If I remove my frustration on the Iron Man sets basically ignoring the movie, and rate it on the merits of the set itself, this is a fine set. But it is an Iron Man 3 set, and to that end, it ends up a little small and incomplete. Do I think they should have done the full display with twelve armors? Of course not.
But three or four doesn't seem terribly unreasonable, even if that makes this a $50 or $60 set. Especially since one of the best sets of the Avengers line, the Quinjet, was $70 and still did quite well. It just feels like this set is lacking a little, in part because it's trying to capture two different scenes in the same set. Add to that the fact that The Mandarin is in the set, and it's just annoying.
Remove Iron Man 3 from this set, and you have a good set that's a bit too small, but otherwise has a very nice parts selection. Add IM3 and you have an average set that doesn't fit the movie well. There was a lot of potential to it, and it was relatively fun to build, but the devil is in the details. And the details don't fit. It's a good parts-pack type set, but that's about it.
What I liked:
- DUM-E, Mark 42, Tony Stark, and Pepper Potts are all great figures that belong in the set
- Good parts selection, and plenty of MOC-able parts
- Price is fairly reasonable for the size of the set
What I didn't like:
- The Mandarin doesn't belong in the set. He should have been Eric Savin, who had just as prominent of a role in the film
- Helicopter is basic, underwhelming, wasn't green, and could have been far better
- Scene is cobbled together from different movie scenes, or marketing materials. It really doesn't fit the battle at all when you look at it
- Should have been a bigger, better, and a more expensive set
Verdict: Pick it up during a decent sale, then promptly take the figures, grab some extra parts, and build a better version of the set. You can pick up Malibu Mansion Attack on Amazon right now.