This article is the result of a recent unexpected convergence: I’ve had this year’s first drop of Ninjago sets on my desk for a little while. I’ve put a couple together, but I have been trying to work out how to stretch it from ‘Just Another Review’ – something I used to do back in the early days of the blog, but less so in recent times.
I have found myself developing an increasingly soft spot for Ninjago and Monkie Kid: It has become apparent to me that they serve as the natural creative extensions of both Classic Space and Castle Themes: Fantasy, and Science Fiction, with their emphasis shifting in either direction from season to season.
In the past, I have predominantly observed the builds in Ninjago from a distance without feeling the need to understand them in the show’s context. As time passed, it became apparent that I was unlikely to fully catch up and appreciate the lore any time soon. As such, I was actually immensely grateful last year when we saw our first round of Ninjago CORE sets: These sets provide us with the opportunity to engage with the traditional subjects of Ninjago sets: Mechs, Dragons, Vehicles and Temples, without needing to be concerned with the 10 or more years of established Lore and Back Catalogue: just get in there and play, with models aimed at a variety of ages.
So far we have looked at the three smallest Overwatch sets- Tracer vs Widowmaker; Hanzo vs Genji and Dorado Showdown. Today’s set does not appear to be loaded with the intrinsic antagonism that the three previously reviewed playsets were. From what I can gather from Harry, the Gamer in our house, these two characters do not have an intrinsic rivalry, but rather exist independently of each other in Overwatch Lore. There is a linking thread however: Both characters are Mech Pilots.
From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the Universe comes a Legend: The Legend of Voltron, Defender of the Universe! A mighty robot, loved by Good, feared by Evil. As Voltron’s legend grew, peace settled across the galaxy….
During this review, we will build the lions, form Voltron, consider the lessons learned and finally , compare it with a prebuilt Voltron toy…
I was excited to be offered the opportunity to review LEGO Ideas 21311 – Voltron . As I previously confessed, Voltron was not a major part of my upbringing. However, I have been catching up in recent days with the 1980’s cartoon series ( which in turn was based on the Japanese Anime ‘Beast King GoLion’). Others may prefer to take in the current Dream Works Series, Voltron: Legendary Defender, for a more contemporary tale, with a reduced serving of cheese.
After a quick revision of a parallel childhood, I felt qualified to look at the box.
It is a good sized box: similar in size to that which contained the Saturn V Ideas set, released just over twelve months ago. This box, however, contains 2321 elements, waiting to give a hefty dose of nostalgia to any child of the 80’s. In fact, you don’t have to wait to open the box for that feeling: the box art cries out 1984, with the background artwork shading from red to purple to the blue of a startled, with an underlying grid drawn in for good measure. Voltron, the giant, compound super robot almost fills the cover. In fact, it is printed slightly smaller than actual size. The back of the box shows how Voltron is made up of the individual Lion elements, as well as highlight the sword and shield. The process of the LEGO Ideas program is also outlined.
On opening this set, I had a pleasant surprise. Many sets that I have opened this year seemed to have had their ‘contents settle during transport,’ with many boxes being barely half full of LEGO Bricks. This box appeared to be almost 80% full. Excitedly, I emptied the box over the floor revealing the bags inside: all 16 of them! These came with six manuals: One detailing the construction of each lion, and the final one showing how to build the shield and sword, transform the five robot lions into Voltron, and provides some background information on the television series as well as some notes from the design team and the fan designer. The manuals came in a sealed plastic bag with a sticker sheet. This sheet however, only had five stickers, for numbering the lions (as occurred occasionally in Voltron: Defender of the Universe, but not the original Japanese series). For the purposes of the review, I did not apply them. You could argue in favour of using printed elements here, but I suspect many will prefer the look without stickers.
In the cartoon, each of the lions is piloted by a human, and it is a little disappointing not seeing the pilots represented here. However given a variable crew roster, and uniforms not matching up to the colours of the lions, not to mention the relative scale of the lions to a human, a minifigure representation might not be entirely appropriate. Indeed, there is not even space inside the heads of the lions to contain a microfigure. I’m sure someone out there will develop a creative solution.
Back in 1984, a Tuesday if I recall correctly (lets be honest, some of these facts are lost to the mists of time), I was starting to get a little grown up. Or at least imagine that I was. Playing with LEGO® Bricks was not holding the appeal that it once did, and cartoons were starting to feel a little childish. I was on the edge of a slippery slope. As such, Voltron – Defender of the Universe passed me by. Well, not entirely: I knew it was there, but I didn’t feel compelled to dash home after school to watch it.
Fast forward to 2016, and my son sits me down in front of Netflix, and introduces me to Voltron- Legendary Defender. No longer compelled to be a cool 16 year old, I find it quite engaging, with occasional random cows.
A a couple of months before the new series debuted, Leandro Teyag (len_d69) submitted his version of the classic Voltron LEGO Ideas. Continue reading →