71411: The Mighty Bowser [Rambling Review]

Almost as consistent as the appearance of a certain Italian Plumber across a series of Nintendo Video Games over the past 30 years has been that of Bowser: ruler of the Koopalings, a fierce, fire breathing, Princess stealing warrior tortoise. We have seen him appear in 2 previous forms over the years: One in several of the LEGO Super Mario Expansion packs (Bowsers Castle, and Princess Peach’s Castle), and a microscale version in last year’s ‘?’ Block.

This is the Super Mario tie-in set to be specifically aimed at adult builders, and it promises an intriguing large scale build, imposing to display, but also incorporating some play features, posability as well as some impressive puppet like movements.

As I write this review, I am almost as far from the model as I can possibly be, on a little holiday before attending the Skaerbaek Fan Weekend. Fortunately, I got the model built and photographed before I left.

So, how does the model stack up with the stated aims? We shall start off with a general look at the finished model, before diving into an in-depth, spoiler-filled look at the build. I’d love to know if you appreciate this style of review, so drop me a line in the comments below, or reach out on social media. I still have some more Mario sets to review, and these will be coming up after we return from holiday.

In summary

The final build took me several evenings, and consists of The Mighty Bowser, standing a little over 30cm tall, standing triumphantly on a platform featuring 2 flaming towers. The model is about the same size as the printed model on the box.

Bowser’s traditional colouring means that the red, white, green and tan used here result in a model that is fairly consistent with the source material.

When you lift the model, his legs drop, while when they are weight bearing, they fall into position, holding the model up. This is an extremely robust mechanism, which sees Bowser standing tall, regardless of how you may position the arms or head.

Indeed, he is able to hold Princess Peach in the palm of his hand.

There are buttons on the side of the body which serve to rotate the his head, while another lever opens his mouth. Open it just a little too far and Bowser starts breathing fire balls, or at least launches a dart which is designed to look like the afore mentioned fireball. I was also impressed by the expressions afforded by the moveable eyebrows.

Bowser stands on a base which takes advantage of the myriad of shapes now available in dark stone grey tiles, providing the appearance of a gravel path with stepping stones.

All in all, this set does what it says on the tin: It brings us a large scale model of the Mighty Bowser, on an appropriate plinth.

As a model, he is quite posable, always sitting firmly on his legs. The arms move up and down, flex at the elbows and also feature rotation at the wrist, as well as the finders/thumb. The final footprint on the stand sees the model around 30 cm high, and 40 cm wide: overall, it takes up less desk space than the NES and Vintage TV

It wasn’t perfect however: in extremes of position, I sometimes had a little difficulty with the shoulder joint disarticulating. The double technic click joint mechanism is quite sturdy, but I had problems with it disconnecting occasionally from its mount. I’ll attach some pictures when I get home. Perhaps I just didn’t click it firmly enough into position.

It is an appropriately grand display model, which has a number of playable features, including the manipulation of the head, both at the neck, and opening and closing the mouth. I wonder if similar mechanisms might be applied in the future in the settings a ventriloquist’s dummy. I could also see the base model design being employed in the construction of a Kaiju type creature, ready for a giant mech to take on.

I am happy to give this set 4 Arbitrary Praise Units out of 5 for these reasons. If you are an adult fan of LEGO looking for a giant Bowser to display it is perfect. If you are a Mech or Monster builder, this set has things to teach you. I built it up over four evenings, but I could have happily savoured it over longer, if not for other pressures.

The set will go on sale October 1st 2022 from LEGO.com and LEGO Branded retail channels. It has 2807 pieces and wil be priced at AUD399.99/229.99GBP/269.99€/USD269.99

If you don’t want to have the building experience spoiled for you, stop reading now.

Seriously, we are going to go into a blow by blow description of the building process, so stop. Unless you want to see how things proceeded from the beginning…

What’s in the Box?

We open the box and have a seemingly endless number of bags drop out. Well, there are 22 numbered bags, an unnumbered bag containing a number of medium stone grey plates, and a cardboard satchel containing the instruction manual. There are no stickers in this set.

We arranged them on the living room floor in numerical order and got something a little like this:

While I have seen the cardboard satchel before, this is the first time that I have seen it with an image of an instruction book on it. It certainly clarifies what you might expect to find inside. As always, I am indebted to Ann, the Knowles in Chief, who has laid out all of the elements to help you to spot the things that I fail to describe to you.

But first, let’s take a quick look at the instruction manual: it is suitably weighty, as you might expect it to be with a set with 2800 elements. The traditional ‘18+’ black cover opens to reveal some thoughts from the design team, along with a history of Bowesr and his helpers over the years – both in Video Game and LEGO form. This is the third version (and fourth appearance) of Bowser in official LEGO Form since 2020.

The actual instructions are printed on a lighter background, and the use of a fairly bright, and minimalistic colour palette made it difficult to get elements confused, even under poor lighting conditions.

It’s all about the Base

The first four bags of the set are dedicated to building the base – a floor in Bowser’s throne room, with two flaming towers. Most of the elements in the unnumbered bag are used here as well.

We start building up the base with lots of old fashioned bricks and plates, initially a narrow strip which makes up the back of the stand. We also put together a POW block, which might normally make it easy to destroy any of Mario’s enemies, however, this one does not come with a scannable code on top.

Over the next bag or two, we build up a frame around the edge of the plinth, with pyramid studs and SNOTed slopes breaking up the texture. We also add in a pull out tray which incorporates a scannable tile, which allows Mario to enter into an attack pattern to defeat the Mighty Bowser. However, at the time of writing, the appropriate update to the LEGO Super Mario App, providing the necessary firmware for Mario to recognise the tile was not available. I expect it should be available before the set’s release on October 1, 2022.

We cover over the base, and then proceed to decorate it: a red carpet affair in the middle while, to the sides, we have a decorated floor. this decoration takes advantage of the myriad of shapes that tiles are available in today: both angled and rounded.

Here we have the fourth and final bag of the base, and the first of the main build. Ignore that part for the moment: focus on the greys and dark reds…

The two flaming towers are identical in structure. They are built up on the 6×6 plates with rounded edges that populate the :LEGO Super MArio Universe – this time in medium stone grey – and we build the towers using half and quarter column elements. At the top of the columns, a hub type element completes the effect, and a cauldron of fire is added to the structure. The POW block is covered over – destined to be obscured from all but the builder for the foreseeable future, unless you knock the relevant column over by accident, as I did.

Pearl gold roof slopes make up over sized studs around the columns, while the dark red 2×6 tiles provide us with suitable tapestries for decoration.

Overall, we have a suitably grand base for Bowser to stand on, matching his overinflated sense of Self importance.

From here, we start work on Bowser Proper.

Building Bowser

Now, we already presented the elements: white 6×6 plates with a curved cutaway; green plates, and lots of yellow elements. As we start work here, I was challenged to work out which part of the model I was working on: front or back; top or bottom. I expect it will become apparent before too long.

Several things intrigued me during this initial building phase: what is the purpose of the Technic lift bars, and why are they mounted on an axle? And why do we have a long groove, lined by 2×4 bright yellow tiles about half way along the build. At one end, there are a few clips visible. But are they for the tail, or the neck/collar? I am still uncertain.

The next tray (and couple of bags) are dominated by yellow elements: bricks brackets, inverses slopes as well as two ‘socket’ elements – I presume they will contribute to the hip joints, while we also have the new (for 2022) double click-hinge rotating joint, which I expect is designed to hold the weight of the arms.

As we start to build up, we see a green tubular structure take shape around what I presume is the bright green neck. An axle with a ball on the end appears, and seems to move from time to time with the flappy orange panel from the earlier steps. It’s full function is not yet apparent, but I am sure it will become obvious going forward.

We also see that the grooves created earlier are for an elongated brick and plate arrangement. This engages with elements at the base of the next, an looks like it will help to rotate the head.

We also see the hip sockets installed at the hind end of the torso. At this stage, the neck rotator mechanism seems incomplete: I presume we will deal with this shortly.

No sooner said than done: In the next step, we fill add the click hinges which will form the shoulders, and strap down the head rotation mechanism (it is now apparent that we are working on the front of Bowser’s body).

Next, we add some sub structure to the base of Bowser’s shell: frames with axle holes, two of which can be rolled outwards. We also start to stack 2×2 round bricks to form the white edging of the shell. We also fill in the remaining yellow elements to give the torso the appropriate appearance.

Next, we use a combination of 2×2 round bricks and macaroni bricks to complete the bottom part of the white rims round bowser’s Shell:

/g

We finalize Bowser’s chest using some sloped tan tiles, including a new multidirectional curved tile, which I think has been created for this set.

We complete this bag by putting together Bowser’s tale. Integral to this is the arch brick initially introduced in the Porsche 911 in 2021 – appearing in yellow for the first time.

A Leg to Stand On.

Our next two bags contain very similar material – which is fair enough: they both build up legs which are essentially identical to each other, albeit mirror images.

The tray on the right here also incorporates the following bag, which will see us start work on Bowser’s head – but for not lest focus on all that yellow: the 3×3 quarter circle curved slope appears in yellow for the first time, and there are no fewer than 20 to be seen in these two bags. And some green ones to follow. These quarter circles continue the line created with 2x3x1 curved slopes. We have plenty of yellow tiles, SNOT Bricks and more. Possibly the other really interesting element is the partial sphere attached to the 4×5 U-shaped Technic frame. It is designed to fit into the ‘hip socket’, but there is very little friction holding this part in position.

So, we build each leg up from the hip: forming a curve using curved slopes and SNOT Bricks. The curved slops just fit on the sides.

There is a technic bracket here which will engage with the lift arms that are incorporated in the lower part of the leg The angled white beams will form the angle of Bowser’s knee, and is fixed in place by an axle placed through the thigh, before applying the outer ‘shell.’ Next we add several ‘shells’ – giving us the toes, as well as the side of the leg.

For the next bag we repeat the process, but in reverse. Attaching both legs, we find that if the model is lifted up, the hang floppy, but when placed on the ground, they provide a firm, steady base for Bowser.

Heading On Up

We continue by setting up the core of the head. We also install a brick which is lifted as the axle/ball mechanism is raised – this will serve to open Bowser’s mouth. Of course, it is no normal brick: it is a spring loaded missle launcher brick, and if it rotates far enough, it will fire. You can see how twisting a technic beam on Bowser’s side will allow him to open his mouth, by lifting the upper part of his head.

Bowser’s eyes are printed half cylinder elements, which can be rotated, do not slip freely.

A mixture of tan and red elements are used to build up the rest of Bowser’s face, including his tousled hair? Fur? Feathers? To be honest, I’m not quite sure.

Again, we have tan 3x3x1 quarter circle curved slopes, as well as 4×4 tan domes to create the shape of his nose. in his face. I am impressed in the way that the shape of the jaw is achieved. After completing the face, we add on the final lengths of the the rim around the shell, and add the studded black collar around his next.

Shell Game

In the next bags, we move onto the back, and set up the overall shape of the shell. We probably also have the first elements used in construction of the arms laid out here: so many car roofs…

But I digress.

The hexagonal facets of Bowser’s shell is achieved through the use of the 2x3x1 oblique slope element. this is a recurrent elements in the shell, along with the 6×6 circular plate and the dark orange 4×4 domes.

We start with the central row of shell facets, joined by hinges. Clips and bars are slightly spaced when the the shell is laid flat, but when we join those elements up, the shell develops its distinctive curve. Detail is added to the surface using 4×4 domes first seen in VIDIYO sets, in combination with a new curved cone: 3×3 at the base, 1×1 at the top and 3 bricks high.

Finally, we attach the row of faceted hexagons to the rear of the model, via some axle holes on the rear central panel.

Next, we move on to the lateral columns on the shell. The angles here are fixed using angled Technic connectors. there are two symmetrical panels created.

Arms Race

And now we are almost done. I would suggest that he looks quite ferocious, were it not for the fact that at this point he is mostly ‘armless…

As we saw in the previous image of parts, there are ten of the 4×4 car bonnet elements in yellow, to say nothing of a mixture of brickets and technic bricks.

The upper arms are identical. There is a technic brick that attaches to the double technic click joint. The elbows are made up using Four adjacent hinges – younges in the upper arms and grooves in the lower. A band of black plates wraps around the arm, and grey round offset plates, in conjunction with the pyramid tiles form a studded arm band.

Our final bags bring the elements for the lower arms and hands. There are many curved slopes, as well as some arches, integrals to the shape of the elbow. At the wrists, small ‘mixed’ ball joints are used to allow the wrists to rotate.

The four hinges at each elbow provide strength: they are easily moved, but maintain a solid connection. We have a studded wristband, similar to that in the upper arm, while the model joint socket is slightly recessed: we shall see the virtues of this in a moment, when the hand firmly attaches to the wrist, with rotation being the only movement possible at that joint.

The thumbs and fingers are built from 2×2 macaroni bricks, capped off by a hemispherical droid head, and a pointy pyramid tile each. The thumb has a degree of articulation, while the fingers are essentially fixed.

Finally, we click the hands into position and our model is almost finished.

I open the mouth and insert the fireball missile in Bowser’s mouth.

I have to admit, the final model is pretty imposing.

Overall I was impressed at the degree of articulation and posability in the model. The leg position is fairly fixed while the model is standing on the ground, but they hang limp when you lift the model up. Bowsers tale can bend a little, and helps to support the standing model.

The arms can abduct and rotate at the shoulder; fleet and extend at the elbow, rotate at the wrist, and flex/extend the thumb. the hands are large enough to support a digital figure, such as Princess peach or Mario. Unfortunately, I sometime found that when I was testing this to extremes, the arm socket simply came apart. I suspect this was not intentional.

The head can rotate from left to right, thanks to the buttons on either side of the torso, while the lever can lift the head up and down. But beware: lift the head too far, and the fireball will fire. The eyes can be manually moved from left to right and back, but they cannot rotate so far back as to hide the pupils. The eyebrows are mounted on

As you can see, he is significantly larger that the version included in previous Super Mario Expansion sets.

Unfortunately, I was unable to test the ‘Mario Smash’ feature, as the app had not been updated to allow installation of the firmware. This has just become available (version 2.5.2 or later). I am a little disappointed that the hidden POW block did not possess any functionality.

However, the model does what it says on the box: gives us an imposing buildable model of the Mighty Bowser to display. And when you wish to pick it up, there is sufficient play value to keep an adult amused for a time.

As I mentioned earlier, I built it up over seversal days, and it certainly kept me guessing as to where the build was going, and how the next part was going to be achieved. There are a number of interesting techniques used that could just as easily be applied to large models – particularly of other monsters or Mechs, particularly if you are aiming for a certain scale.

Is it value for money? If it is something you would be wanting to display, I think you will feel there is value for money. If you are after a yellow parts pack, it might be a little expensive, but not by much. It probably isn’t a set I would buy for my 7 year old nephew to play with. (This is of course a hypothetical construct – all of my nieces and nephews are grown up) I can see it being a graduation present for someone still in love with Mario at the end of their schooling or University journey. Or if you are still in love with Mario entering you 30s to 40s.

It is a satisfying build and the techniques would be interesting to anyone looking to create similar sized, animated models. It might not be for everyone. But if you think it is something you would enjoy, you probably will. But you might want to see if you can get it at a better price that the $400AUD recommended for it.

I’d love to know what you think: Is this set for you? Leave you comments below and until next time…

Play Well!

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

One thought on “71411: The Mighty Bowser [Rambling Review]

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