Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 at 8:14pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Today brings another BZPower set review to the front page, this time one of the LEGO Ideas sets - 21109 Exo-Suit! One of the first ideas not based on a licensed theme, the Exo-Suit was greatly anticipated by a lot of AFOLs. Now that it's on shelves (or was, since it seems to be sold out in many places), how does it stack up? You'll have to continue on to read and watch our review to find out!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The box definitely recalls the Classic Space themes this model is based on, with a CG alien landscape and mysterious structure in the background. The suit has its own logo that was designed by fans and features the Classic Space logo as the 'O' of 'Exo.' I did think that having the exo-suit all the way off to the right side leaves the left half of the box looking a bit empty, but overall it's a good presentation.
The back of the box brings us inside the structure from the front, where we see the exo-suit being used to move barrels of whoknowswhatium around. There's also a graphic indicating how the Ideas process works for the uninitiated. On the bottom, we see the minifigs are named Pete and Yve after Pete Reid, the creator of the original model, and Yve, his girlfriend. It must be pretty cool to have a minifig version of yourself in a LEGO set!
While it's not pictured here, the instruction manual has a very premium feel with a nice binding and thick pages. It also features some background information on Pete Reid as well as Mark Stafford, the LEGO Designer who turned the idea into a set, background on the idea and how it became a reality, and more information on the Ideas process. Furthermore, as you go through the building instructions, you'll see little callouts to different details of the set explaining what they are from a fictional perspective.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The biggest piece in this set (aside from the included brick separator) is a 2x6 plate. Everything here is composed of fairly small parts and has a lot of 'greebling,' or the addition of pieces to add detail and texture but not necessarily structure or function. As such, it's a pretty intricate build that's going to take longer than you'd expect from a $35 set. There's a reason the box says ages 12 and up. I was quite surprised by some of the techniques used, thinking LEGO would consider them 'illegal connections,' but perhaps due to the target audience Mark Stafford was able to get them through the review process. Building the exo-suit definitely felt more like reassembling someone's MOC than it did building a LEGO set. That can be good or bad depending on your point of view, but personally I enjoyed it.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Unfortunately one of the piece pictures I took didn't come out well, but I don't think you're missing too much since there don't appear to be any new elements in this set. There are a lot of recolors though, especially in silver. We get a smaller dish, a 1x1 cone, a 1x1 round plate, a 1x2 grill tile and more in silver, and it's pretty awesome. Apart from silver, just about everything else is light grey or dark grey, with some black and transparent colors to round things out. There's also a 2x2 inverted tile with a printed design on it that I really like, but you hardly see it in the finished model unfortunately.
The result of the simple color palette is an almost-bland MOC that looks like something that a future version of NASA might come up with. What it lacks in color it makes up for in detail though, with all the greebling paying off. The exo-suit looks like it has all the bits and doo-dads that would make it mechanically viable if it were to really exist. It does look a bit busy to me, but that's more personal taste - I can definitely see the look Pete and Mark were going for and I think they succeeded. Personally though, I would have liked some more color, like some blue to make it fit in even better with the Classic Space theme.
While it's not a spaceship, I would not consider the exo-suit very swooshable. All those small parts and AFOL-influenced techniques means that some parts of the set are very fragile. I had a difficult time placing the minifig in the cockpit and removing it without popping pieces off or breaking it. This is especially true of the shoulder and lower-leg armor. Because of the audience for this set, I would consider this acceptable though.
Also included in the set is a cute little robotic turtle. It has some laser blasters on the top of its shell and eyes that remind you of Cylons - very friendly! It's pretty sturdy and has a nice, cohesive look that definitely evokes turtle.
The final element of the set is a little platform with a couple of yellow barrels of whoknowswhatium. The floor looks like it could fit in a moonbase or spaceship and helps add a little bit of scenery. It's nothing too complex, but unlike in some other sets, you don't feel like getting rid of it would have made the main set better, so it's all good.
There are two minifigs in this set - Pete and Yve. This is the first time we've seen Classic Space minifigs in green and I believe only the second time we've seen them without a basic smiley face (after Benny). The only printing is the classic space logo and the one-sided face. It's classic and retro and it just works. Personally, as someone who grew up with 1980s and 90s space sets, I wouldn't have it and other way. They're new and old at the same time, and I'm sure Classic Space fans will love them.
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?
Once it's all built, you realize you get quite a bit for your $35 - the exo-suit, turtle, platform, and two minifigs. Most of the playability comes from the exo-suit, which has twenty-four points of articulation by my count. That results in a lot of different poses that you can put the suit in, as long as you're careful of the fragile areas. Each hand has five moveable fingers which means it can easily pick up and hold the included barrels (or a minifig, if you'd like). There's no action features like flick-fire missiles or gears, but for the target audience that is probably preferred.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Love letter to Classic Space fans
- Lots and lots of details
- Non-licensed LEGO Ideas set
- Classic Space minifigs in new colors
- High degree of poseability
- Interesting build
- Nice recolors in silver
What's not to like?
- Boring color palette
- Fragile construction
- Waste of a printed part
Overall, I'm quite pleased with the exo-suit. It looks great and was a really fun and interesting build. If you're a LEGO fan born before 1990 and enjoyed playing with some of the early space themes, this set is right up your alley. Anyone who likes mecha and robots will enjoy it too. Keep your eyes peeled at your local LEGO Store and Shop@Home for when this comes back in stock so you can pick it up!
Thank you all for reading and watching - I hope you enjoyed this review. If you have any questions or comments, you can leave them in the Talkback topic. Until our next review, keep checking back on BZPower for all your latest LEGO news!
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