Do you remember Mixels? Crazy, chaotic pocket money sets that were released a few years ago. With each wave, we got a collection of small, interesting elements in previously unexplored colours: arches, greebly bits and of course ball joints. The characters had their appeal, but many AFOLs typically considered them to be awesome parts packs. And then, they were gone.
Earlier in the year, I reviewed some of the new Marvel Mechs: Thor, Captain America and Miles Morales. From my point of view, they were interesting enough, but not too startling. And, to an extent, the choice of characters in that selection felt a little odd: a Super Solder and a Norse God are characters for whom a mech feels to be more of a hindrance than a help, unless they were acutely robbed of their powers! For Miles Morales, it feels more like an enhancement of his powers. But only just. Overall, they felt like they were missing a bit of excitement and drama.
And now, along comes 76198: Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus Mech Battle. Something has happened in the last few months that left me not only excited, but wanting to explore them more. I am left wondering if these sets are now occupying a segment of the market previously occupied by the Mixels range…
For Spiderman, the Mech is almost similar in construction to that of 76171 Miles Morales Mech – perhaps a little less lanky; less gangly- the teenager was growing up. The Mech features a bright red and dark/earth blue colour scheme, with translucent web elements. This feels like a more mature version of the version released in 2020’s 76146 Spider Man Mech. That version featured a Bright Blue and Bright Red colour scheme, white web elements and feels a bit chunkier. This version features narrow feet, less bulky shoulders, and a few more rounded 1×2 plates. To say nothing of a really cool printed ‘Nexo Shield’ to be mounted on the simplified cockpit cover. The minfigure features the same torso as seen in earlier sets this year, but we FINALLY HAVE DUAL MOLDED LEGS!!
Doctor Octopus actually feels ideally suited to being given a Mech to pilot. This mech has wider feet, and more ‘muscular legs’ than Spider-Man’s, but unfortunately requires a few stickers to be placed for full effect. Doc Ock’s cybernetic arms are attached on the back, and feel quite menacing This technique owes a little to the attachment of Spider Man’s extra arms in 76146. The green and bright yellowish colour scheme takes inspiration from his Classic appearance, while the minifigure is identical to that used more recently. It is in fact the second of three appearances this year – but the only one where there is no need to attach the mechanical arms to the minifigure itself.
Both builds are based on the standard ‘hub core’ that we have seen in all of the Marvel Mechs in the last 18 months. Having both characters in the same set reminds me of what I didnt realise was missing in the Single character mechs this year: Story, and Drama. Having an enemy to tackle adds to the quality of the set no end, and even more so because it is not double the price of a single mech.
I had been trying to see the point of these sets. Why did the LEGO Group invite me to look at them? I mean, kids love super heroes and Mechs, but what appeal might they hold to an AFOL? And finally, the overall appeal of these sets as parts packs becomes apparent.
I find myself drawing parallels with the Mixels packs from a 2014-2016. For years these pocket money sets, consisting of weird collections of parts, hit the shelves with varying appeal. Tying in with a series on Cartoon Network, the LEGO sets were more memorable than the animated series.
Like the Mixels range, these sets are great sources of certain typed of element: not necessarily numerous, but their production means that they at going to be available through other sources. Elements such as small ball joint components: still only in dark stone grey for the elements featuring a ball, 1×2 curved slopes and ‘grater slopes’ 2×2 tiles with cutouts, as well as inverse curved slopes, inverse double slopes and 1×4 x1 arched bricks, to say nothing of the 1×2 curved slope with 45º cutoff. Recently, they have also become a source of 1×2 rounded plates, in various colours. Across the range, we have also seen sockets with clips, frequently used as fingers, as well as ‘droid arms.’ So, I think it is important not to discount the value of these sets as parts packs. If you are into reselling figures, this can offset the cost of these sets significantly. Here is a quick reminder of the elements from the earlier mech suits this year:
Of Mechs and Mixels
While looking at these as parts packs, I thought I’d just make a quick comparison with Mixels: Mixels were released from 2014-2016, with a total of 90 sets released over that period. When averaged out across the 9 series, they have an average of 62 pieces ( using mean, median and mode; range: 45-74). They had a RRP of AUD5.99(2014-15)-6.99(2016) / USD4.99. These characters saw the introduction of the small ball joint, include plenty of small curved slope elements, as well as some really creative ( and in some places, just plain bonkers) parts usage.
These Marvel Mechs have typically around 120-160 pieces each (mean 142, median 150, range 148-153). They retail for AUD 19.99/USD9.99 each. I don’t want to enter into the pricing disparity here, as there are multiple factors affecting US vs Australian prices, including state based sales tax, a factory in Mexico – just over the border, compared with shipping from Europe. Ultimately, with around 2-3x as many elements, including a licensed minifigure, these mechs represent pretty reasonable value as parts pack – if they are parts you can use. The builds might not be quite as crazy, or lovable, but they are relatively predicable in the type of element they might contain.
At the end of the day, like the Mixels before them, these mechs provide a useful collection of tiles and curved slopes, perhaps in the way we saw with older, 6 stud wide Speed champion sets did (with a lower entry cost compared with the 8 stud wide versions). They provided an opportunity for some elements to be produced more widely, such as curved slopes, in ‘non Speed Champions colours.’ But also the teeth elements, clips and finally eyes: printed on tiles, balls and minifigure heads. Some things have not changed since the Mixels era: the ball joints are still grey (the elements with the ball on are always dark stone grey, while the ones with only a socket are all medium stone grey.) I presume this makes it possible to better control the quality of these elements.
I found the latest Marvel Mech offering – 76198 – more appealing than the simple mech offerings we saw earlier in the year. Multiple characters provide us withgreater story telling opportunities. I also feel this set has the best version of the ‘comic’ blue and red Spider-Man minifigure that we have seen this year, with the incorporation of dual molded legs. However, like Mixels, and indeed Speed Champions, these sets should not be overlooked as a source of interesting elements that might allow you to create more flowing shapes in the context of your own creations. (but more on this in the future.)
If you are interested in Spider-Man, this is the cheapest way to get a version with dual molded legs, this year. Otherwise the minifigures are the same as seen in 76174: Spider-Man’s Monster Truck vs. Mysterio earlier this year. Otherwise, its the Daily Bugle! Spider Man vs Doctor Octopus Mech Battle proveds a pretty satisfying building experience, that doesn’t feel totally incongurous with regards to the background mythology. Overall, I give it 3.5 Arbitrary praise units. If you are looking for some red, dark blue, yellowish orange or green elements, you might find it appreciate it more.
So, Are the Marvel Mechs occupying a place in the LEGO range previously occupied by Mixels? Maybe, to a certain extent. These characters aren’t quite as zany, and the parts selection is pretty focussed. But I think they do open up a great possibility for future models if bought in quantity. Or you could just go straight to the Bricks N’ Pieces or Bricklink.
What do you think of this set? Do find these Marvel Mech’s appealing for the model? The Parts? How about just the minifigure? Why dont you leave your comments below, and until next time,
This set was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. All opinions are my own. If you wish to support the Rambling Brick, please consider using the affiliate links below. The Rambling Brick might receive a small commission if you make a purchase.
76198 Spider-Man & Doctor Octopus Mech Battle has 305 pieces and is available now from LEGO.com
The following Marvel Mechs are still for sale at LEGO.com – local availability might vary
- Captain America Mech Armour. $AUD19.99 $USD9.99 $CAN9.99 £8.99
- Thor Mech Armour $AUD19.99 $USD9.99 $CAN9.99 £8.99
- Miles Morales Mech Armour. $AUD19.99 $USD9.99 $CAN9.99 £8.99
- Iron Man Mech $AUD19.99 $USD9.99 $CAN9.99 £8.99
- Thanos Mech $AUD19.99 $USD9.99 $CAN9.99 £8.99
- Spider-Man Mech $AUD19.99 $USD9.99 $CAN9.99 £8.99