One of the more sinister (but understandable, from a marketing perspective, I guess) things that LEGO does is spreading characters across multiple sets, so if you want to build an entire group, you need to buy every set in a series. In larger setups like Star Wars, I get that, or even in Super Hero sets… but for stuff like Scooby Doo and the Hobbit, where the group is the central focus of the story, it’s kind of annoying. I’m still not certain that all of the dwarves from the Hobbit were released, but there were like seventeen million different characters in that movie.
At least with Scooby Doo, you really only need to buy two sets to complete the gang, the fantastic Mystery Machine set, and this set. Of course, you’d miss some decent bad guys and you have to buy the most expensive set. I was rather indifferent to this set, initially. It looked interesting, but I didn’t know if it was $89.99 interesting. I figured I could grab Velma and Daphne on the aftermarket and be done with it. That plan was sort of dashed when my daughter went crazy for Halloween stuff last year (she’s three, so holidays are a big thing), and I wanted some decorations. So reviewing 75904 Mystery Mansion was suddenly on the docket.
It weighs in at a respectable 860 pieces and includes 6 (7 if you want to count Scooby) minifigs, which is frankly a lot better than some of the other sets in this price range. There are also a lot of things that stand out just glancing at it, like pumpkin heads, the clock, and plenty of windows and purple parts. So maybe $89.99 for a decoration and completing the Scooby Gang was going to end up as worth it.
I meant to get this review done some time ago, honestly, it just fell by the wayside as I was moving, the holidays, and general laziness. Then, caught up in all of the Force Awakens excitement, it just kept getting bumped and bumped and bumped. Kind of a shame, as it was a pretty fun set when I built it, just a hard one to display outside of Halloween or a strange fascination with run down houses on your shelves…
The minifig lineup is the most impressive part of the set, mixing three villains and four characters. I didn’t really realize until this review that all of the bad guys across these sets had names. I remember seeing them on earlier sets, and commenting on Zeke the Zombie in the Mystery Machine review… but it really didn’t stick with me for some reason.
The Knight is Mr. Wickles, the knight from the very first Scooby Doo episode. I’m honestly not certain I’ve ever seen it, but most of these really blur together after a few decades of sleep and beverages. As a knight figure, he’s fairly basic. The armor and helmet have some reuse, the main “glowy eyes” could be interesting, and that alt-face is a big homage to the original character.
I like that the torso under the armor is wearing a tie and vest under the armor. All well-dressed knights keep a good tie under their plate mail, it’s just sense. I kind of want to go find this episode, because I’m curious what would posses someone to own an ensemble like this. Cosplay?
Our vampire, Bob Oakley, is another first season villain, who dressed up as multiple characters, including said Dracula knock-off. Kind of a shame that he’s in a Mystery Mansion set, since the Franken Castle he was in for the cartoon would have made a pretty fantastic set. As a Vampire, he’s pretty good, though somewhat similar to the Series 2 vampire minifigure. Differences, but a vampire is a vampire.
His alt face is interesting, like an old guy trying to dress up for some paintball or something. I still love the alt-face feature of all of these minifigs, and think it fits the spirit of Scooby Doo very well. The cape is a two-piece affair, and the two-color stiff material.
Shaggy is still Shaggy. He’s in every set. This version is the same as the one that came in the Mystery Machine set, and it’s a shame they felt the need to cram him in everywhere.
Scooby is the same as the one that comes in the cheapest set, Mummy Museum Mystery.
Of course, the reason most of us are going to buy this particular set is because it includes the two women in the Scooby gang, Daphne and Velma. Daphne is also part of 75903 Haunted Lighthouse, but unless you’re trying to get all the bad guys or want an sitting Scooby without having to mix from other sets, there doesn’t seem much reason to get it. The most interesting part of this figure, besides the fantastic version of her hair, is that LEGO printed the miniskirt around the leg connector, not just the legs themselves.
Her alt face is one of terror, and I have to say, I don’t recall a minifig head ever looking so “wrong” without hair. I suppose that’s a credit to capturing the character, because it’s hard to picture these seperately. Also a bit of a quality issue, as the leg printing extended slightly around the legs. You’d think LEGO could figure out how to print the back too, one of these days.
Velma was always a pretty interesting character in the gang, because she was the odd-one out most of the time. Smart, capable, but geeky and awkward… she often just ended up as the butt of all the jokes. A shame, since she (along with Fred) was often the most useful of the bunch. It’s kind of funny how often the characters got defined by stereotypes, yet really Shaggy was the only one that even remotely lived up to his (stoner loser) stereotype.
As a representation of the character, this figure is just fantastic. I love the look of the face, it’s just spot-on. The legs are printed nicely, but again it’d be great if they could get the color to go all the way around it. Her hair is more basic, but the smooth nature of it is just spot-on.
Our last minifig is a ghost, which is always a great figure (though a glow-in-the-dark ghost is available in the Double-Decker couch set, if you can still find them). Really, the star here is the ball and chain accessory. I have no idea what I would use these for, but I want a bunch of them. Maybe to decorate those old Troll bigfigs I got in my castle sets.
Of course, the character behind this is named Bluestone the Great! If you’re going to put “the Great” in your name, you’d better be able to deliver. Of course, he dressed up as a Phantom and was found out by a group of unemployed drifters and their likely smelly van, so perhaps he should tone down the magician name.
The set does expand on the completely unwarranted Mystery branded designs for vehicles. I actually like the vehicle, I’m still just skeptical that they could afford a Batman-esque lineup of different vehicles. Plus, I think this would be better as a scooter and not a motorcycle. It’s also pretty obvious that LEGO is equally un-enthused about this addition, given that they described the feature like this: “Drive to the Mystery Mansion on the motorbike”
Of course, this set is about the mansion itself. Honestly, I wanted to just sort of go “it’s nice, but kind of expensive” and call it good, but turns out that’s not the best way to write a review. So instead I get to pull out a bunch of words and toss things together for a review. Maybe I’ll just copy and paste from other reviews, and replace words like midichlorians with words like jinkies. That would work, right?
It’s actually a fairly interesting, if kind of uneven, build in getting the run-down look. A lot of thought seems to have gone into making everything look broken and askew, and sometimes it works out well, like with the front door (it’s on a technic pin). A lot of the time, however, it’s done by using stickers in the windows, and that feels a bit less impressive.
Where it works really well is with the greenhouse, which does a better mix of the stickers and bricks to get the broken look. Broken glass using cheese slopes feels better than just holes and crooked window panes on stickers. Of course, it’s hard to notice the nice broken windows when your eye is immediately drawn to those wonderful jack-o-lantern heads like we got in the biplane set, or perhaps all the glass-pane windows and the purple door.
There are actually a lot of nice parts in the set when you look a bit closer. Sadly, the clock faces are all stickers, but I suppose that gives the sticker sheet a bit of utility. I’ve never been a huge fan of those castle toppers which Harry Potter sets gave us a kajillion of, but mostly because I have little use for them. It sort of works here, though, and the roof really isn’t the focus of the set.
This is a full playset, with a mechanism that turns the clock hand (only hours, sorry anyone wanting minutes), and also spins a wall that only seems to exist as a wall that spins. I kind of wish they would have done a bit more with that feature, and worked in the coffin as part of it, but sadly, that just sits in the roof section. I guess it’s a good thing Dracula can fly, because he can get up there. I don’t know what Bob is going to do to climb up, though. Or why anyone would build a giant swinging mace to smash people who come in the front door. The ball it more interesting for parts than as a feature, since it’s only on that technic axle, and doesn’t really incorporate a “trap.” Feels like a missed opportunity.
The inside of the greenhouse has a giant carnivore plant. Well, I assume it’s a carnivore, since it has teeth and there are bones around it. It’s removable from it’s little perch, and there’s also a second pumpkin head inside, just adding to the value of the set. I actually love the little plant, even if he’s less Seymour and more Mario Bros (sans red printing, of course).
Perhaps the most disturbing part of the build is what sits behind the house portion. On top, a pretty basic safe with some nice sand green parts and a cool printed padlock tile. The bottom though is the stuff on nightmares, and what I believe is the first “dirty” kitchen ever included in a LEGO set. I like those sandwiches and still want to get the seed boat bottom brick in bulk… but I shudder when I think about Shaggy actually eating that thing. Scooby, sure, he’s a dog. Maybe it’s being enough of a fan of the show that I know Shaggy would totally eat that sandwich, and that’s what bugs me. Or perhaps it’s the roach on the front of the counter. Roaches are gross.
The thing this set has going for it is being the best way to finish up your Scooby gang. If you’re like me, and you knew you wanted the full gang, this set (or aftermarket for figures) was a must, along with buying the Mystery Machine. What I would have loved was the set above. In a perfect world, it would have been more Ideas-sized, with a bit more detail and room along with the whole gang, but instead it got a whole theme.
It’s weird to look back at it, since I purchased all but one set in the lineup, but there’s not much to justify the whole thing. I love Scooby, and there were some really good things in these sets: the Mystery Machine, some great new parts, how all of the Villains had alt-faces or features to show they were just guys in masks. Yet the whole theme feels sort of unnecessary, and because it was spread out across a bunch of sets, may still end up as a failure (anecdotally, as I have no sales numbers, but have never had any issues finding Scooby Doo sets on shelves). A single set could have covered the same ground, even with fewer villains… especially since the whole of the series seems to have been inspired by the opening credits of a cartoon from 47 years ago. I mean, there’s currently a version of it on Cartoon Network (apparently), but I’m not sure anyone is actually aware of it and as far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with these sets.
Really, the best thing going for this set is the ability to complete your collection. It’s hard to justify the cost, even with some very nice parts in the whole thing. It’s an interesting set, but not interesting enough that you’re going to want to leave it displayed on a shelf. If you’re like me, you do the review, grab Velma and Daphne to put in your Mystery Machine, and part out the rest. There are pieces to make a cool haunted house backdrop, but there most certainly are better things out there for that. It’s not a bad set, but one that’s better on sale. Maybe we’ll get more Dimensions packs for Scooby that gives us the rest of the characters (it would be pretty awesome to get them all on there), but otherwise, this is it. That makes this a three out of five in my book. Not bad, better on sale, but not spectacular either.
What I Liked
- Velma and Daphne are great, and all of the villains are solid. The only “meh” figs in the lineup are Shaggy and Scooby, because I really didn’t need so many of them
- A lot of nice parts mixed into the build
- Broken windows design and some of the “run down” features are fun to build. Unfortunately, that’s diminished by all of the stickers that try to convey the same thing
What I Didn’t Like
- Play features in the house feel really tacked on and half-done
- Time to beat the dead horse: the female characters, who are important members of the gang, are locked up in the most expensive sets. The beatings will continue until they are no longer needed
- It’s just unnecessary as a set, too expensive and just not popular enough