To take a break from official front page reviews, I’m going to do a couple of blog review. Mostly these were sets that I was planning to review, but for one reason or another they didn’t end up making it to the front page. So here are some thoughts but without all the super details and pictures and video. (I mean, some pictures, but they’re not great quality cause I already had this on display and I wasn’t going to move it just for a photo shoot.)
The priciest Batman set last summer was Jokerland, which weighed in at $119.99 USD. It did have 1037 pieces to it, in a bunch of colors (I think all the primary colors were covered, and not just as filler either.) It came with eight figs, four models of various amusement park rides, and a Batmobile, plus a few smaller models as well. There’s a lot to it, but it is pricey, so is it worth the cost?
The big draw should be the minifigures. You get four good guys and four bad guys, so an even lineup. However, right away there are some drawbacks, as only two of these characters are actually new in minifig form, and some don’t even have new designs. Specifically, Poison Ivy and Penguin are reused characters. The Joker’s technically new, but it’s a similar design that’s been used before, and although Batman and Robin have some updates (new cowl, duel molded legs and arms) they’re not exactly breaking ground either. Harley Quinn probably goes the farthest for a new outfit design, but it’s easy to see why there was disappointment for the others.
Still, there are two figs that are a major drawl. Beast Boy and Starfire are brand new, with recolored hair pieces. (BB reuses the elf / werewolf design with the pointy ears) Fans of the Teen Titans will surely want these two. (And bemoaning the fact that Raven hasn’t gotten a fig yet.) And they are two excellent figs... but they alone don’t make the lineup super appealing. But it worked out for me, because I didn’t have any of the other villain characters yet (given that they were previously only available in expensive sets too) so I didn’t mind the repetition. But I can see why it bothered folks.
The first model you build is the Batmobile. This is easily the star of the set. Great use of various slopes and such give it a classic shape, and it even has a decent missile launcher mechanism. (Although, to be fair, the missiles don’t always load in properly, so that can take some extra effort.) I mean, this alone would’ve made for a great $30 set or something. It has the look and play features down; they didn’t phone in this vehicle.
Now, the rest of the amusement park rides… those are certainly weaker. On their own, I think they would’ve made for some decent cheaper sets, so this model could’ve easily been split up into five parts. But for what this set is worth, it just seems a bit underwhelming. A lot of effort went in to making these pieces tall and functional, but also sort of hollow looking. I would expect this from cheaper sets, but I think they could’ve gotten rid of a ride or two and make the others more substantial.
The funhouse mirrors is the biggest set piece, with a decent joker head on the top. The hat spins, you can rotate the eyes, and when you throw somebody through the mouth, they go down the purple slide and into the vat of spare parts. (First time I’ve actually picked up one of these new Lego slides… they work, I’ll give it that.) There’s a little room at the base for funhouse mirrors, where they use the reflective stickers nicely. (The various signs also have stickers, but they were all lame so I didn’t apply them.) There’s also a functioning cannon (which doesn’t function very well), and a brick built jokerbot, which is nice enough for its size. Still, the model looks impressive from the front, but not from the side or back. It’s like they wasted all their time designing the (admittedly cool) Batmobile.
The next three rides feature the other villains messing with the Teen Titans. Harley Quinn can ride down a ramp and drag Robin into some fire. The design holding the cycle to the ramp works, and it even has a lever at the top to kickstart the bike and send it down the ramp. The function works, but... this thing is fragile. If you try to move it, to reposition the bike or something, the ramp (connected just via a clip) slides around or breaks off. It’s long and tall, but too flimsy.
The Free Fall ride has been taken over by Poison Ivy. The ride has some nice green pieces to it, and the stands and shell pieces in green are exclusive to this set, I believe. I do like the carnivorous plant design, probably my favorite after the Batmobile. But the seats on the ride are also well done, and while they don’t have studs, a standard minifigure will be held in place by the handlebars. The mechanism is if you hit the plant, the seats crash down to the ground, presumably without the breaking system the normal ride would have. Not sure what Poison Ivy gains from this, as she’s shown hanging from the same seats that are going to drop. All in all, with a little bulking up, this probably could’ve been its own $20-$30 set.
Finally, you have the Duckies ride. Of all the rides, this is probably the most fleshed out. It has a decent background, detailed duck cars, and a fun mechanism to spin it. (It would’ve done well as its own set... I know this because they have released a similar ride as a SpongeBob set.) Although the Penguin threw in some dynamite and some shark fins underneath it, the biggest danger for the riders is probably getting queasy as the duckies spin around.
Overall, it’s an interesting set, but quite a lot of faults that make it undesirable. A few great figs, but repeats will only appeal to those who (like me) didn’t get the originals. (I’m sure this still applies to plenty of folks, tho.) The Batmobile is excellent, and the rides all have various functions that offer plenty of play value. But I think they tried to squeeze in too many rides, and a few of them are severely lacking in heft. A lot of good parts in a lot of colors, but besides maybe the green shell / plant pieces, nothing I’d go out of my way for. This set has a few perks, and if there are enough to entice you (How much do you want Starfire and Beast Boy?), then pick it up, but otherwise, it’s still a safe one to skip.