Take to the Skies with Bowser’s Airship Expansion Set [71391 Hands-On Review]

Bowser’s Airship plays a major role in a number of the Super Mario Games, and the LEGO form has been long awaited by many fans. I should not be surprised by its popularity, we saw a couple of versions of the airship submitted in our What Next for LEGO Super Mario?’ Competition. The ‘Bowser’s Airship expansion’ is the largest expansion set seen to date with LEGO Super Mario sets, with over 1100 pieces. It will be officially on sale on August 1st 2021.

This set was sent over by the LEGO Group for review purposes, and its certainly quite a different experience to the other sets I have built and played with for this wave. It will be prices at $USD 99.99/€99.99, £89.99 and AUD149.99

We will take a look at the parts, the enemies, and some of the ‘action aspects’ of the set, as well as a playthrough video.

The Elements

Looking at the elements, there are a number of things that immediately strike you: one is the boat hull elements in medium nougat (these are not in the numbered bags). Much lighter than the previously see reddish brown, dark brown, black, and classic brown. There are a significant number of elements across the build in this colour, including 8×8 square plates with rounded corners; and several 4×8 half square plates, which are able to be extended using the other plates present in this set. We see some 2×2 round elements in warm gold, including the done, and the curved ‘macaroni/megaroni’ element.

The ‘obvious’ new element is the warp pip to start the level, which appears in black for the first time.

Thile the boat is predominantly medium nougat, there are also a number of dark orange and dark tan elements. Warm gold Technic connectors, with a stopper on the end are plentiful, and integral to building the fold out mechanism that makes this set an intriguing construction. We see a number of 4c4 curved tiles, in reddish brown and dark grey. Macaroni bricks are present in tan as well as medium nougat.

As the build progresses, we encounter some smaller tan elements, many grey SNOT brackets, as well as click hinges – with grey and earth green components. Rare tan elements include 3×3 tiles, teeth, as well as left and right 1×2 curved sloped wedges, amongst others.We also have a selection of round black tiles printed with Bowser’s logo. This set also sees the debut of the arched window in reddish brown, which will be great for use in various buildings.

The instructions were simple enough to follow, using the app, but the booklet can also be downloaded as pdf from LEGO.com

The Layout

While the ship makes up the majority of the layout, and it can shift from a compact to opened up form. The masts are able to be removed to facilitate game play.

The ship is around 35 cm long, and 17cm wide in the ‘shortened’ form. There are 3 yellow cannons on either side, with green hatch covers above them. There are 2 masts, both of which are removable. They feature propellors, as well as small crow’s nests.

At the rear of the boat, a ‘POW brick’ is built into the stairs leading to the poop deck. When a Pow brick is activated, you have a couple of seconds to scan a ‘multi-strike’ enemy to be able to gain maximum coins with that single scan. You only have a second or two with the ‘Pow’ on Mario’s screen, in which to take advantage of it

At the front and rear of the ship, we find brick built Bowser heads, essentially SNOT built:

I love the detail around the aft end of the boat, with many lanterns hanging down, some decoration around the sides of the ship, as well as the angulation of the side walls. There are also a couple of propellors, taking advantage of the shape of the 1×1 tile with half circle.

Enemies

This set comes with 3 enemies for Mario or Luigi to defeat:

Goomba:

This is a basic Goomba, requiring 1 scan to defeat, awarding one coin. however, you need to knock his hat off first to reveal the barcode beneath. I love the use of inverted elements to create his hat. This is the first appearance of the ‘stepping foot’ element, in reddish brown. It certainly gives this Goomba a feeling of greater life than those who have come before.

Rocky Wrench

Appearing a little like Monty Mole, Rocky Wrench wears goggles, and has a wrench under his arm. a medium stone grey 4×4 plate allows him to hide under the deck of the ship.

He requires 3 scans to defeat, awarding 4 coins.

He hides under the poopdeck, and is revealed when Mario stomps on the Pow Brick. If you stamp ard enough, Rocky flies out, leaving room for Mario to explore…

Mario reveals Rocky Wrench.

Kamek

Kamek is a Magikoopa, and rides on a broomstick while carrying his staff. (note that the rear of the broomstick is made with a barrel in medium nougat.) Kamek’s goggles are printed black round tiles, attached to a . He is otherwise made of yellow and dark azur elements, with red feet. His barcode is in the underside of an inverse white tile, at the bottom of the figure, which can only bee accessed when he has been knocked over.

It take 5 scans to defeat Kamek, and this results in being awarded 10 coins. There is a magical chime, as well as a flashing star on Mario’s screen when he defeats Kamek.

After knocking Kamek from the broom, Mario can ride on it, gaining coins for flying, and changing direction. The Magical chime and animation also sounds when Mario gets on the broom.

Action Tiles/ Obstacles

Mario launches from the Black cannon pipe. this gives you 90 seconds to play the level. this is the same, whether you are playing single or double player games.

There are several action bricks hidden throughout the airship.

One we have already discussed: above the sculpture of Bowser on the transom

Another under the base of the small, front mast – which can be dislodged when Mario lands on a lever

The final is underneath Bowser’s Hand

Each of these requires 8 scans, for 6 points, each= 18 points in single player mode. If taking it in turns to scan each of these in 2 player mode, we get 3x18x2+ Cooperation bonus: so 42+ coins for the same task.

But how do we access the bottom of the hand? I’m glad you asked.

When you set up the game, the hand is attached to a lift ark, connected to a target on the taller mast:

Mario rides on the broomstick, and lands on a pivoting cloud. Mario must crash the broomstick into the target to knock the hand down. You can either bump mario directly, or make him swing by spinning the mast. Eventually, the hand will drop.

There is one other opportunity for Mario in this level: Once Rocky Wrench is evicted, an action tile is revealed on the floor of his hideaway. If you place Mario or luigi in there, a steering wheel appears. Mario plays the Skyland theme music if placed in this socket, while Luigi just plays sound effects (this feels a little like a bug in the firmware, and may well change with time.)

There are no points for taking control of the ship like this, but it certainly raises a smile.

POW Brick

We have already spoken about the effect of the POW Brick: the ability to destroy a foe/target in one scan, so long as it is done rapidly after scanning the ‘POW’. The POW Brick can be reused during a game.

Game Play:

In order to play this level, you need the contents of this set, and a starter set: Mario or Luigi, and a finish post are the bare minimum.

Overall, I enjoyed this expansion. There is a satisfying amount of building included, so be ready to help out any younglings in its construction. I love the design of the boat, and there are some great recolours amongst the elements.

There are some interesting play challenges to be met in this level, including some unique enemies, and hidden goals. I especially enjoyed the broomstick mechanism for Mario to use to dislodge the hand, as well as the ‘popout’ nature of Bowser sculpt mounted on the aft end of the ship.

I was surprised at the way that the 90 seconds was about right to complete the level, but surprised that it was no longer for the 2 player version.

That said, sometimes, when moving from the closed to open formation, the model felt a little flimsy, BUT this did not seel to cause any particular issues. There were also some inconsistancies when using the App in game play. At ppresent, I recommend using the App for downloading Firmware, as well as using the building instructions. I have found inconsistencies in the score given by the App, compared with Mario’s internal calculation. The developers are aware of this, and other bugs. Hopefully things will be essentially ironed out in time for release.

I give this set four out of five (4/5) Arbitrary Praise Units. The set goes on sale August 1st through LEGO.com, and retailers just about everywhere! This expansion is sure to be a best seller, based on comments on line from people looking forward to picking it up, or pre-ordering it.

Be sure to checkout my reviews of other LEGO Super Mario sets, and until next time,

Play Well!

This set was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

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