Friday, February 24th, 2023 at 5:08am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
Last month, I asked what final 2022 set people would like to see a review of, and there were many requests for Avatar. As such, today I am doing a quick look at 75573 Floating Mountains: Site 26 & RDA Samson, featuring characters, vehicles, and locations from the original Avatar movie. Read on for the full review, or check it out on Instagram!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The box is quite large, but it is for a $99.99 USD set. The builds are all present with the Pandora backdrop and some fig artwork on the side. The back shows the set with a less artsy backdrop, as well as a few close up detail shots. I'll be honest, I haven't seen the original film since it came out, so I'm not 100% on all the details and easter eggs here. This set is a bit disappointing because, out of all the colorful animals and scenery and futuristic vehicles, the main focus of this set is a plain gray bunker. Still, it came with the rotorwing copter RDA Samson, one of the more iconic vehicles I remember from the movie, so it can't be all bad!
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The build is simply enough. (This set is aimed for 9+ years.) You build the various sub models and such. One neat feature; scenes from the movie are included in the instruction booklets based off what you're currently building. This is cool, because a lot of other movie-based sets haven't done this in the past. (And have also been very different from the movies.) This also serves as a reminder of what was actually in the movies, because again I don't recall all the details!
What kinds of interesting pieces are included with the set? What are the minifigures like?
This set comes with 887 parts for $99.99, which is. . . not a great deal, but it's to be expected with licensing costs. Plus, a few big, specialized molds are here and they're probably upping the cost. Pictured are some of the more interesting elements, like the new door with a window piece and a fancy new wheelchair design. The gray technic ring is also exclusive to this set, the clear stand provides good stability, and the glow in the dark crown piece makes for cool plant life. I wouldn't necessarily buy this set for the parts, but it still has an okay selection.
Your three human figs are Jake Sully, Trudy Chacon, and Dr. Grace Augustine. Spoiler: none of them make it out of the first movie (as humans anyway) so this throwback set was the only way we'd get them. (Is this set worth it for a Michelle Rodriguez? Let's throw in Sigourney Weaver and seal the deal.) The two ladies have some nice printing to represent their characters, while Jake mostly sports the new wheelchair. (Which has cool designs that now allow him to grip the wheels himself.) I did think it was kind of odd how Jake had a big sweat stain on his shirt, but a closer look reveals that it's actually the shape of the rotorwing copter. Nice printing idea. Jake and Grace also have gas mask prints, because there's the whole deal that they can't breathe the air on Pandora. Trudy doesn't get a full gas mask; just a head set.
We get two Na'vi buddies, or Human Avatar folk, in Jake Sully (again) and Norm Spellman. By now I'm sure people are aware of the design choices LEGO took by Woody-fying these characters with longer legs and arms. The custom head molds are also a bit much; maybe they would've looked worse as plain minifig heads, and it may have been harder to incorporate the nose and ears. But there's so much changed about these two that they do start to look a little off-brand. I'm usually one for fun fig designs, but just not quite feeling it with these two. But considering the Na'vi children figs from the second movie use regular legs and arms, I guess their big size was to ensure there was an obvious height difference between the adults and adolescents.
I honestly forgot about these Pa'li Direhorses from the movie; they aren't the wildlife I immediately picture when I think of Avatar and Pandora. But this set has one all the same. It also has the new whip elements that allow them to "connect" to the Na'vi while riding. Personally, I could've done without em and allowed the set to be a bit cheaper, but I'm sure they provide an important play factor, and give some addition fauna to the sets.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
All the Avatar sets have small scenery builds to depict the crazy landscape of Pandora (and to also mount the various creatures of vehicles) and this set is no exception. The base is fairly small, but the clear support help sells the concept of floating mountains by lifting one chunk up into the air. And it's plenty sturdy too. There's a few fun plant designs sprinkled in, with the main ones being the magenta dishes with the glow in the dark crowns. This design is more mountainous than jungle-like, so sparser vegetation is fine.
Site 26 is the mobile link station that the human characters used to jump into their Avatar bodies and hang out with the Na'vi. It's a gray bunker with sand blue and yellow highlights. It's not super interesting, but it is fairly movie accurate, so we gotta accept the boring. It does have interesting paneling along the side using some good SNOT techniques. It has stands that keep it off the ground, and even a wheelchair access ramp up to the door. And guess what; the wheelchair can actually fit through the door! I couldn't find my older wheelchair piece, but that one was wider and would not have fit in. But now Jake can roll inside with the slimmer model. That's great for accessibility.
The inside is pretty basic. On one side, there's a computer system for the scientists to monitor stuff. On the other side is the link chamber, where Jake can be placed to go into Avatar sleep or whatever it was called. They even have a sticker showing his current condition. For the constrained space, they did a good job of fitting in these details, so I have to give the designers that. The roof also lifts off for easy access while playing. What that doesn't work well for; the rotorwing copter can't actually lift the thing and transport it around, because then the roof will just pop off. That design flaw wasn't in the movie!
The RDA Samson aircraft is the fancy vehicle I remember most from the movies, and this is the one that went rouge and attacked the human military when they tried to fight the Na'vi. Yay for anti-imperialism or whatever message the movie was sending! The basic shape of the craft was caught, but let's be fair, LEGO knows how to build helicopters, so this isn't too far out. They do have some interesting panels along the top that angle nicely, and a few good stickers to recreate the designs from the movie. The biggest draw is the circular copter blades, which make good use of the technic ring. It's a very simple answer to the design, but you know what, it works! What doesn't work; the sloppy technic landing skids, which look unfinished compared to the rest of the design. Unfortunate.
The center of the copter is open to allow passenger figs to hang out and store gear and such. But there's a direct opening to the cockpit there too, which means it isn't pressurized against the bad Pandora air. Unfortunately for Trudy, she doesn't get a gas mask, so she's going to be in trouble when she tries to fly this thing.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
The main aspect of this is role play, as you get a lot of elements to recreate plenty of scenes from the movie, or come up with your own adventures. So yeah, there's a lot of value just in that for younger builders. The scenery base does have an attachment for the rotorcraft copter to keep it in the air like it's flying, so that's a good display element. And the landscape piece also has clips on the edges, allowing you to link it up to the landscape bits from the other Avatar sets. As for action features; the RDA Samson has a stud shooter on the side. And it's somewhat swooshable. That's a win.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Good figs, especially Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver
- Fun pieces, like the technic ring, new wheelchair, clear support element, ext.
- RDA Samson is a decent vehicle recreated from the movie
- Landscape offers decent vehicle display
- Lots of details from the movie are here
What's not to like?
- Avatar figs are a bit funky
- The direhorse thing? Not feeling it
- The gray bunker is a boring design compared to the other Avatar offerings
- Rotorwing Copter's landing skids are bad
- $99.99 is a bit steep for the price
I have somewhat mixed feelings about the set. The RDA Samson is good, the human figs are nice, and more than a few useful parts are included. But the overall concept with the bunker is just boring, especially for the high cost. This set certainly increases in value when you include other Avatar sets with it, like the tree or AMP Suit, but you shouldn't need that for a set of this value. If you're a big fan of the movie, then you'll appreciate the scenes it recreates. In this case, I think the parts are better than the whole. If you can find it on sale, I'd consider it. Otherwise, you need to have a really clear reason why you want this.
(Is Michelle Rodriguez a good enough reason? At least until they start giving us more Fast and Furious figs, it'll have to be.)
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned to BZPower for more reviews. I bought a bunch of different sets to get another copy of Tahu and Takua, so I have an interesting selection to highlight here.
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