14 May 2013

REVIEW: LEGO Man of Steel: Battle of Smallville (#76003)

He wears his pants on the inside now

When we've review LEGO sets in the past it has always been in conjunction with a film or TV show we have seen. There weren't any surprises that way. That's why we were super excited (which is three higher than just normal excited) to get our hands on LEGO set number 76003.

You have to be living under a rock not to know that this month sees the release of Zack '300' Snyder's foray into the world of Superman with Man of Steel. Apart from reading some rumours about the plot, and seeing press shots of Supe's new pants-less outfit, we know nothing about what to expect from the movie. Until now.

Battle of Smallville is a good sized LEGO set containing 418 pieces and five mini figures. The image on the front of the box is action packed and hugely intriguing: a Humvee-like Jeep battles with a very ominous looking alien hover craft complete with launching missiles and a massive gun. We see a LEGO Superman and a bunch of other cool looking characters. Argh, now we are mega excited (four higher)!

Who and what this all is, we can't be sure. But what we can be sure of is the usual LEGO instruction booklet (or two for this set) and five bags of pieces, blocks and minifigs. We set to the building.

There are two main things to build with Battle of Smallville; the Jeep and the alien craft. We found that building the car, which features 'flick-fire' missiles, took about 15-20 minutes and was a real joy. The vehicle itself isn't massively different to similar Jeeps we've seen before in other, non-Man of Steel, sets. Regardless of that the addition of the rotating missile launcher on the back and bald minifigure named Colonel Hardy makes for a neat little model.

Pew pew!
Once the human side of this Smallville-based conflict was finished we started on what we perceive to be the alien's efforts. The floating craft looks very impressive on the box, so we delved in to see how it looked in our hands.

This element of the set took around an hour to complete and only looked anything like the actual ship at the very end when all the sections came together. It was a real joy to assemble with lots of nice detail and green transparent parts which add a suitably alien feel. There are lots of moving parts including three opening canopies, two rotating wing-like structures, a swivelling laser cannon underneath and spring loaded missiles that actually shoot quite far.

Driving this menacing vehicle is Tor-An, a plain looking chap in a black uniform. We bet Colonel Hardy is jealous of not just his big spaceship but also his hair. Joining Tor-An is General Zod and Faora, two sinister looking figures who come with lovely armour and helmet pieces, as well as capes and hair. The hair is in case they fancy having a day off from destroying Smallville and decide to peruse the town's shopping mall.

All three of the alien minifigures, and also Colonel Hardy, are brand new and worthy inclusions to any collector's set, but the Superman minifigure is just perfect. Yes, he doesn't have red y-fronts on anymore but still the wee fellow looks great. A flapping red cape and a hair piece that includes the classic Superman curl fringe makes for a spot-on representation of the classic super hero.

So, judging by the name of the set we can only assume that in the film Smallville is attacked by Kryptonians and Superman and Hardy do battle with them. During our own battles we found both vehicles could take quite a pounding as they tried to annihilate each other. With bits of plastic. So it is both a great build and a superb play set; appeal across the board from children to adults.

Building, and of course playing with, Battle of Smallville has really wet our appetite for the forthcoming movie. We also can't wait to see what other sets LEGO produce inspired by the adventures of Clark Kent. Who, lets face it, is fooling nobody with those glasses.

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