New Sets

Toy Fair ’11 has come and gone, and my reaction can be summed up in two words. Alien Conquest! I’ve long waited for LEGO to make a worthy successor to the wonderful space sets of the old days, and they’ve finally come through. Unlike the uninspired Space Police, this new theme really builds off its predecessors. Classic Space, Ice Planet 2002, Exploriens, UFO – the parts and styles are all evident here. How long has it been since trans-lime and trans-orange antennas ruled supreme? Too long in my opinion. They even brought back the old idea of combining small fighters into larger craft.

For once I am excited for the ground-based vehicle, the Earth Defense HQ, as good-looking build and all-around badass truck. The alien and sleek (Vic Viper?) defense fighter round out a very complete and well-priced set. Other highlights include the Tripod Invader straight out of War of the Worlds and the Jet-Copter Encounter with its twin combining ships. Sadly, the Alien Mothership is nowhere near as great as the name suggests. I personally love the cheesy sound effect when it spins, but the old UFO motherships were far superior. Besides, shouldn’t the mothership fit more than one alien?

The minifigs are quite good, especially the alien commander figures. I’m not a big fan of the big jaws on the grunts, but the humans get snazzy outfits and a really nice new gun piece.

One thing the strikes me as odd are the clear cockpits of the alien fighters – with their otherwise green color it would be perfect to have some trans-lime windshields too. Perhaps LEGO will change up the color scheme later, as they did with the latest Atlantis sets, but only time will tell.

As for everyone’s other favorite “space” theme, I was mostly unimpressed with the new Star Wars sets. Too many remakes, while simultaneously reducing accuracy. I should be excited about a new Millennium Falcon, but I’m too disappointed that the designers didn’t get the proportions right. You’d think that a ship already produced three times would be easy, but this version’s front projections are far too small, while the cockpit is too big. At least it isn’t all bad, since podracers are back! Anakin’s is just ok, but Sebulba’s is a must-have. The minifig is far more detailed than what I would have guessed – apparently LEGO has a vendetta against printed bricks yet goes nuts making super-detailed printed figs.

Oh yes, and one more thing: a Star Wars Advent Calendar! Barring the unlikely introduction of an Alien calendar, this is hands-down my holiday present of choice. I know the parts are limited for the price, but this year’s City calendar was a lot of fun, and I’d love to repeat it with even better sets. Gotta love that exclusive minifig in there too.

– photos via the FBTB photostream

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