While the previous range of LEGO Super Mario sets was starting to feel a bit same-old and refresh, despite the addition of the 2-player mechanic, Unlike previous waves of LEGO Super Mario, this wave does not feature any new Power-Up suits for Mario to wear. However, it introduces a vehicle mechanic in the form of 71401 Bowser Jr,’s Clown Car Expansion Set. This inexpensive set provides a new way for Mario to take on enemies and earn coins, all for the same price as an Power-up Pack.
Traditionally flown by Bowser Junior, this vehicle can be co-opted by LEGO Super Mario.
The build is deceptively clever, starting with a platform, and an incomplete tube. The platform features a scannable tile, and has a propellor on the underside. Once installed into the tube, it has limited mobility – so it cannot be removed -but can slide up slightly when placed on the ground, retracting the propellor and ensuring stability. The clown car is essentially white, except for an upper bright yellowish green rim. The car also wears boxing gloves, which can be manually raised and lowered. On the front panel are two printed 2×4 tiles: one featuring the eyes, another featuring the bright orange mouth, with a slight smile.
The set also comes with a Bob-omb. We have seen this figure several times before: scan him once to light the fuse, and mash -scan as much as you can over the next few seconds, aiming to not be actively scanning when the bobomb goes off. If you are scanning when the Bob-omb explodes, you get no coins for your efforts. After the Bob-omb has exploded, each subsequent scan will yield one coin, but there is a limit as to how quickly you can rescan for a coin. The Bob-omb is dark blue, and features a small flame/fuse on top, as well as a medium nougat coloured key on the back.
We have encountered Bob-omb previously in 71361 Buildable characters S1; 71362 Guarded Fortress Expansion pack (also 1st Wave) and 71380 Master your Adventure (2nd wave). There was even a parachuting variant present in the 3rd series of buildable characters. Each series features a different barcode, allowing 4 Bob-ombs to be used to full effect in a given timed game (the 2 Bob-ombs from the first series have the same bar code, and as such only one can be used for full scoring in any timed game).
Unlike the various suits for Mario, the play features of the Junior Clown car are extremely easy to access. No Awkward dressing and undressing: Mario simply jumps in and scans the printed tile on the base. The music changes to that we hear when playing Lakitu’s Skyworld Expansion. As you lift Mario up, there is a sound of the propellor turning, and coins being scored. Coins appear to be awarded for changes in direction, but it is not an overly efficient way to earn coins.
I wonder if Mario earns more coins in the clown car with a twisting motion, rather than upwards or lateral movement: I adjusted my play to imagine he was punching an enemy with the Clown car’s Boxing Gloves, and this seemed to yield a higher score. Overall, I found the yield limited: only gaining around 25-40 coins if I played using only this expansion set.
Unlike a costume/Power-up set, the benfits are only present while flying in the car, not for the entirity of the level.
This is of course another way that kids might choose to move Mario from one part of the room to another, to play a spread out course, without resorting to using the cloud. This is certainly more fun than that. It also provides a potential place to have Bowser Jr waiting for Mario as part of a Boss Battle!
Overall, I found this small expansion set offered more to me than one of the Power-Up Packs, where I must admit, the overall benefit to the game play often felt a little dubious. By adding a proper building experience, as well as an additional enemy (even if it is one we have seen several times before), I feel this is a refreshing addition to the range, as well as providing some relief from the Power-Up packs which, while cute, were starting to feel as though they were not adding much extra functionality compared to the previous releases. The coin yield is not overly high, but the build and play value is, I feel, better than the Power Up sets have been, while maintaining a similar price point. Overall, I give it 3.5 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise Units.
71396 Bowser Jr.’s Cloud car will go on sale January 1st, 2022, and has 84 pieces. It gives us a buildable vehicle and associated game mechanic as well as Bob-omb for the price of a Power-up Pack. I hope we see this format continue from time to time, as a break from the onslaught of Suits.
I wonder if we will see more vehicles for Mario and Luigi in the future?What would you like to see? why not leave your comment s below, and until next time:
This set was provided by the LEGO group for review Purposes. All opinions are my own.