Thursday, June 25th, 2015 at 9:36pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron may not be on the top of the box office charts anymore, but it's still currently the highest-grossing movie of the year. With all those people seeing it, the LEGO sets have certainly been popular, which is why today we're looking at 76031 The Hulk Buster Smash, which is based off a pretty memorable scene in the film. Is this a set you should purchase, or should you turn your attention to other sets from the film (or sets based on other box office smashes)? Read on to check out our video and text reviews to find out!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
One look at the box and you know what theme this set is for. 'Marvel Superheroes' is in the top center, and our heroic Avengers are immediately to the right. Along the bottom we see the Avengers: Age of Ultron logo as well as the characters who are included in the set. Most of the box though is taken up by the Iron Man Mark XLIV 'Hulkbuster' armor, as he battles Ultron Prime, Scarlett Witch, and The Hulk. The back shows off the play features, like how the armor opens up and can even hold a minifig, the Super Jumper feature, and the fact that a comic book is included. It's all pretty par for the course.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Since this isn't a house or a car or a spaceship, the build is pretty unique as far as sets go. It's a bit like the cross between building a Bionicle set and a Chima or Ninjago set, with the System aspects giving it some very solid shapes but also a lot of poseability thanks to various ball joints. The main armor is quite engaging, although being almost perfectly symmetric, can be a bit repetitive. The Hulk Cage on the other hand, is rather straightforward and basic.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Let's start with the pieces that are exclusive to this set or that are fairly uncommon:
- Transparent 1x2 Plate with 12M Shaft (available in 7 other sets)
- Medium Stone Grey 5x6 flag (4 other sets)
- Transparent Light Blue Galaxy Squad Weapon (10 other sets)
- Sand Yellow (Dark Tan) 1x2 Jumper plate (3 other sets)
- Black Stud Shooter on a 1x2 plate (pretty common but awesome)
- Dark Red 2x2 Curved Slope Brick (4 other sets)
- Dark Stone Grey 2x2 Inverted Tile (can't get enough of these!)
- Dark Red 2x2 Curved Slope (exclusive)
- Transparent Light Blue 2x2 Inverted Curved Tile (Boat Bottom) (3 other sets)
- Dark Red 1x2 Cheese Slope (exclusive)
- Dark Red 4x4x1-2/3 Domed Cockpit with Iron Man print (exclusive)
- Dark Red 5M Constraction Shell (1 other set)
- Dark Red 2x2 Inverted Slope (4 other sets)
- Transparent Super Jumper (new for 2015)
- Warm Gold Clip with Bar Holder (3 other sets)
- Dark Stone Grey 3x3 Curved Half-beam (1 other set)
- Dark Red Angled Banner (1 other set)
- Transparent Light Blue Skeleton Arm (exclusive)
In general, there's a lot of nice dark red pieces here, as well as quite a few pieces useful to constraction builders. It's quite a good variety, and even though it's only 248 pieces, the set might be worth it just for them.
The creator and his creation. Tony Stark in his Iron Man Mk. 43 armor is available in two of the other Age of Ultron sets, but if you have some of the older versions it's pretty similar - just a new paint job. Ultron Prime, however, is exclusive to this set. Both figs have very detailed printing on the front and back and the legs, capturing the look of the characters in the movie pretty well. Ultron has printing on the front and back of his head, which is a cool robot design, and Tony Stark has a pretty standard double-sided head. Of note, Ultron's neck piece is also unique here and I can see it being used in a variety of sci-fi settings.
The Scarlett Witch minifig is also pretty great (and exclusive to this set), with a printed skirt on her legs and a nice dark red leather jacket. She has a two-sided head that reflects a 'normal' look and another of her using her powers, with eyes flaring red. Interestingly, the Galaxy Squad pieces used to represent her powers are trans-light-blue, while a trans-red would have matched her eyes and been more accurate. It's been a while since I've seen the movie, so I can't recall how good of an approximation the hair is, but I think it's fine.
This version of The Hulk, with olive green skin and a new hairdo, is available in one other Avengers set, and I feel like they do a good job of capturing the big green guy. I'll always lament the limited poseability of these maxifigs, but Hulk here certainly looks the part.
This is supposed to be the Hulk Cage launched from the Veronica satellite to trap the Hulk while Iron Man dons the Hulkbuster armor. The model is pretty sad-looking and doesn't even fully enclose our green friend, or have a back. It's really basic and kind of gives you the 'idea' of a containment cell, but doesn't really meet that goal. This has 'parts bin fodder' written all over it.
The majority of the set is the Hulkbuster armor, or the Mark 44, as it's officially called. The model does a great job in capturing the feel of the armor from the movie, and thanks to the printed cockpit dome, looks fairly accurate. My complaints with the model are few and as follows: the exposed axles on the hips look sloppy and I don't know why a single, shorter axle couldn't have been used. Speaking of the hips, the tan gears stand out and don't mesh well with the color scheme - normal light grey half bushings would have been better. Finally, I love the trans-light-blue skeleton arms as pieces, but they look silly holding the cockpit on.
That may have seemed like a lot, but it really isn't because overall the set is fantastic. It's got a lot of poseability, including shoulders, elbows, fingers, hips and knees. All the major joints are ball joints instead of click-hinges or something else, giving the armor a wide range of motion. There's a lot of great details too, like the arc reactor in the chest and the repulsers on the back, hands, and even the feet! The color scheme, while not 100% accurate, works really well, consisting of dark red with gold accents and black and dark grey filling in the rest. It looks solid from all angles and is definitely sturdy enough to stand up to some serious play.
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?
Story time! NOTE: Avengers: Age of Ultron spoilers to follow in this paragraph. Skip to the next one if you haven't seen the movie yet. The choice of characters in this set is confusing, as all four do not appear on screen at the same time. Iron Man and the other Avengers (except for Hulk) are on the ship fighting Ultron Prime, Quicksilver, and Scarlett Witch. Then Scarlett Witch sneaks up on Bruce Banner in the Quinjet and uses her powers to make him rage out and go berserk. But neither she nor Ultron are present when Tony calls in the Hulkbuster armor to take the Hulk on. So while I like having the Ultron and Scarlett Witch minifigs and am glad LEGO made them, their inclusion in this set is a little odd.
Story accuracy out of the way, there's certainly a lot of play value in the set. While not shown in the pictures, there's a transparent bar attached to the Hulk Cage that Scarlett Witch can connect to. Then you can use the Super Jumper to try to knock her down. It's a little tricky to do, but it technically works. I'm not a fan of the Super Jumpers though, especially with the reports that they can damage minifigs, so I'll pass. Aside from that, Iron Man has two of the new stud launchers on his right wrist to shoot at the Hulk ineffectively. (Not that the launchers aren't effective, they are, it's just that Hulk is too cool to care.) And of course, with these four characters, you can recreate scenes from the movie or come up with your own scenarios for the characters to play out. It's definitely a strong set from that perspective.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Hulkbuster armor is awesome
- Two exclusive minifigs
- Hulk smash!
- Hulkbuster smash harder!
- Great piece selection including some exclusive elements
- Lots of roleplay value
What's not to like?
- Hulk Cage is pretty lame
- Character selection doesn't make sense from a movie perspective
- A couple nit-picks in the armor design
I'm pretty sure I've never owned a LEGO superhero set before this one, and it's definitely a great one to buy if you're a fan of Marvel or just like cool LEGO sets. $30 for 248 pieces might seem high, but the sum of the parts is absolutely worth it. I'm glad I pick this up and if there's only one LEGO superheroes set you buy this year, you should make it this one!
Thank you all for reading and watching - hopefully you found the review informative. As per usual, your comments, questions, and feedback are encouraged in the Talkback topic. And keep coming back to BZPower for more set reviews and all the latest LEGO news!
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