In all my years following LEGO or writing for FBTB, I’m not sure there’s been a set that just refused to stay in my memory than the Hydra Fortress Smash. I think I probably picked up this box on three different occasions while I was at the LEGO store and thought “huh, I don’t remember this.” I even remember being slightly annoyed when we learned that Quicksilver was going to be in an exclusive set (and more annoyed when that exclusive retailer was revealed to be TRU, because no one likes shopping there).
Yet the set ended up nearly as forgettable as the scene was in the opening for Avengers: Age of Ultron. Lots of flashy things, little substance, and of little impact to the rest of the film. It was a scene I remember enjoying, but I have to go look up what happened in it just to recall it with this set. Unfortunately, this was going to make reviewing 76041 The Hydra Fortress Smash that much more difficult, because it feels like I’m Dori in Finding Nemo while I’m working on it.
We got some explosions, a Code Green, and lots of explosions, and this set tries to encompass all of that. At $49.99 and only 405 pieces, we’re not starting off well. If you are unfortunate to pay the TRU tax for it, that price climbs to at least $54.99 (online, though I’ve seen it for $59.99 in a couple of stores). We get four minifigs and a Hulk bigfig, and three of the four are unique to this set. So there may be some things going for it… wait, what set was I talking about again?
Okay, amnesia jokes aside, I knew this set was going to be on the iffy-end of things. It carries a 4-brick rating on Shop@Home, and since their rating scale seems to go from about a 3.9 to a 5.0, that’s not a good sign (you can tell they curtail a lot of the ratings on products). It also had some castle parts to it… and while I’m a lover of castle stuff, LEGO’s treatment of the line and those builds in recent years has been lackluster at best when they show up in other themes.
Our four minifigs are a Hydra Soldier, Captain America, Baron Strucker (also known by his stage name Sir Barely Appearing in this film), Quicksilver, and our Hulk Bigfig. Like I said earlier, Quicksilver is the one that annoys me in this lineup, because this is the only set he appears in and he’s one of the new central characters in the film. That being said, of all the Age of Ultron sets, this is the set has a minifigure makeup that makes sense (though it could have used Black Widow driving the tank). Quicksilver was who jumped Captain, Hulk came rushing in, and a lot of Hydra soldiers died.
Our Hydra buddy is apparently a drop-out of the Cobra school of fashion. I know that Hydra is out in the open after the events of Winter Soldier, but I question the choice of coordinated uniforms. I also question the idea of using a gold and purple highlight over a much more sensible winter camo pattern he has under it. Of course, the implication here is that they were wearing Chitauri armor (I think they said something about it while storming), but still, maybe they would have been a bit more hidden without the bling.
We saw a few different outfits in the soldiers during the fight, so I kind of wish we would have gotten a little bit of variety here. The back of the head printing is what’s really weird to me, mostly because I don’t get what it is. There’s a head here that can be really useful in space-type applications, but the hydra logo limits some of what you can do with the torso.
Cap here is identical to the version we got in the Quinjet, so my opinions of the figure are about the same. A fine version of the figure, and the flesh on color printing is one of the best versions I’ve seen in a LEGO set. I like the more classic dark shield, but that’s why I owned four of the original cycle set, so I’d have options.
I know it didn’t really happen in the movie, but I really wish we had a good parachute to mix with this cap figure. Back in his World War II days, he still used those crutches when he jumped out of planes, so maybe I want to mix that in here.
I’m not sure there’s ever been a character who’s gotten a shorter stick in a Marvel movie than Baron Strucker has. In the comics, he’s a character that is an A-list villain for Fury, the Howling Commandos, Captain America, and the Avengers. Winter Soldier set him up as being a key player when they teased the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver for us. We should have probably just watched that teaser on repeat for the fix, though, because he was in that 45-second teaser about as long as he was in this movie, and had more dialog.
We do get another villain that’s infected with the Liefeld virus, causing him to randomly sprout pouches. Hydra scientists sport some serious fashion, with the fitted suits and custom logos, but I seem to recall Strucker more in a lab coat or overcoat sort of thing. I won’t pass up a fleshy head with a monocle though. The world needs the monocle to come back in style.
The real reason most of us are likely to buy this set is to get
Kickass Quicksilver. They did a good job portraying his powers (most of the time… why he suddenly couldn’t move to get out of the way again in the city?), but his character was undeveloped. Kind of funny how much negative press the Quicksilver in Days of Future Past got, and how awesome he was, compared to the opposite here. As a figure, he’s fine, though that shirt was less suit and much more “fancy workout shirt” in the movie. I’m pro stubble-face fleshy though, and we can always use more varieties of white hair.
The alt-face is an angry face, which we did get to see in the movie. This is likely the only version we’ll get of this character (for obvious, spoilery reasons, like getting shot). That’s really a shame, because there was so much stuff to draw on with Quicksilver, especially in the future properties that Marvel has coming up like Inhumans or tying into Agents of SHIELD. No one says that our imaginations have to match the movie designs, and that’s why my Avengers team includes Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman.
Hulk is the same as he is in the Hulkbuster set. I’d also like to say that I left the hand partially connected just to irk some of the more OCD people, but the fact is I wasn’t paying attention to it. Still, purple pants, so there is that.
There’s two parts to this set, the “castle” itself and a tiny little tank mixed with an ATV. I recall there being actual tanks in the scene and a jeep that Hawkeye and Black Widow stole, but nothing like this. Maybe I’m just missing it, but this is a somewhat nifty little vehicle that doesn’t have anything to do with the movie.
As something to roll around, it’s effective, and has a few little play features to it that make… well, very little sense. Most of the bulk on the front goes to making the grill swivel up and down, so you can knock off the turret (which doesn’t like to face forward anyway). It also doesn’t really feel all that natural when you have it set up, since there’s so much bulk to the front.
The look of it with the turret on is okay, but I kind of wish that swivel action would have gone into lifting it up. I get that they’re trying to capture the whole “blowing up all the Hydra stuff” that we saw in that first teaser, but it sort of falls flat here. I like the little exhaust feature, and the stickers have some real utility in other applications (like actual tanks or space ships). Plus the Hydra sticker on the front is just great.
The interior is where they really skimped on this, unfortunately. Tanks are vulnerable to any number of threats, but this one makes it pretty clear that rolling a grenade of any sort under this will turn your pilot into pilot stew. I like the control sticker, but the rest of it is basically not there. There may be some promise here to remake this as a crazy Hydra vehicle from the comics, of which there are many (or just go A.I.M., those guys are even nuttier than the Hydra nuts).
Sometimes it feels that they take the “set” part a bit too literally when designing some stuff, because a lot of these builds feel like it’s only put together to fool a camera from the front. LEGO has had plenty of practice building castles over the year, even in licensed lines thanks to Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Of course, only a handful of the sets they released for those were castles, and of those, only a smaller handful were any good.
This one fits firmly in the “not really all that good” side for me. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot in a $50 set, but it seems like it suffers from lack of focus. They could have made the gate something separate, because it’s probably the best part. They also could have made Struckers lab something better (and given us the cells for the twins or something), but instead it’s just an overly elaborate containment system for Loki’s staff.
It’s not even the panel walls or the BURPs that detract from this, ultimately, it’s just that it completely lacks any substance. There’s not enough here to MOC something better (and that tree is a total waste). The play features to smash it don’t make a whole lot of sense as a whole, since really what you want to do is have an avenger steal a tank and smash through the gates. I assume they want us to use the truck from 76030 Avengers Hydra Showdown, but that set has its own set of problems (I’ll be reviewing it sometime in the future as well). I really do like the design of the sides of the gate, but they also don’t sit well on the launcher pieces, so it doesn’t take much to get them off-kilter (as you can see in the picture of them un-smashed).
Ultimately, this set is about adding a new villain to our lineup, Baron Strucker, and getting us Quicksilver. The rest of the set is fairly forgettable, and the price tag simply isn’t worth it. You might be able to turn that vehicle into something more interesting, but not really in the scope of this set. That makes this thing a two out of five. On a very deep sale, it’d be worth it, but most likely you’re going to want to pick up your Strucker and Quicksilver separately and spend your money on better sets (like the Hulkbuster).
What I liked
- Quicksilver is a good representation of the movie version, and this is the cheapest set you can get a Age of Ultron
HulkCaptain America in
- Nice seeing Strucker and Hydra instead of Ultron in a set
- The tank has some utility in parts and stickers, even if the vehicle itself is rather underwhelming
What I didn’t like
- The castle is bad at pretty much everything, and the whole set is very unfocused, which makes all of the things it has underwhelming
- The playset features are there, but don’t make sense with the setup for the whole set
- Putting Quicksilver in a retailer exclusive set is pretty lame, especially when that exclusive retailer is Toys R’ Us
Verdict: 2 out of 5. Your money is best spent elsewhere unless you find a good sale (unlikely, given the exclusive nature), or really want to complete your Avengers lineup. You can buy 76041 The Hydra Fortress Smash and the rest of the Age of Ultron line at LEGO Shop@Home.