Sunday 12 February 2017

Toybox REVIEW: The LEGO Batman Movie Set 70900 The Joker Balloon Escape

Release Date: January 2017
RRP: £14.99/$14.99

The LEGO Batman Movie has just been released in cinemas worldwide and it comes highly recommended, whether you're a LEGO fan, a Batman fan or someone with just a passing interest in either (or someone who's just into really good films). Of course being a LEGO movie there's also plenty of kits coming out to go with it, making 2017 truly the year of the bat. With the whole minifigure wave under my belt, I'm now turning my attention towards some of the larger construction kits - starting with set 70900 The Joker Balloon Escape. Like most of the sets released so far this appears at the very beginning of the film, and has featured rather heavily in the trailers and promotional material so even if you haven't had a chance to catch it yet.

The Joker Balloon Escape comes in standard LEGO cardboard packaging, with a perforated semicircle on the back to push and open the spine. The box features some nice photography of the set with various backgrounds, as well as a closer look at the included minifigures. Inside you'll find the 124 piece set spread across three plastic bags, along with the 47-page instruction booklet.

The nicely detailed instruction booklet features a simple step-by-step guide to building everything included in the box, split into three neat sections - the minifigures, the balloon pack and the Gotham Power Plant tank. The back of the booklet also reveals that this set can also be combined with the "Mr Freeze Ice Attack" (70901) and "Scarecrow Special Delivery" (70910) sets to create a bigger Gotham Power Plant display.

The set comes with two minifigures, the first of which is the standard black-suited version of the LEGO Movie universe Batman. While the general design of the character remains largely unchanged from the first LEGO Movie, there are two key differences between this and the original minifigure. The first is more detailed torso paint apps, which better show off Batman's self-proclaimed nine-pack (he's got abs within abs!). The second is the addition of a rather nifty utility belt piece, which fits comfortably over the leg connector plugs before attaching the body. The minifigure has two facial expressions printed on the headpiece, which could probably be best described as "broody" and "broodier". Finally as is the case with all caped LEGO figure Batman comes with a soft black fabric cape with hooks onto the neck plug.

This Batman also includes an accessory in the form of a grappling gun, which has the hook piece deployed with a string connecting the two together. A second string is also included in the set, which Batman is able to hold thanks to the one stud pieces at either end. So while you can't have Batman wielding two guns like in the movie, you can set up a similar looking scene with a bit of cheating.

The second minifigure is of course the Joker, whose movie design is relatively faithful to the original version but arguably has far more personality. The green hairpiece is larger and wilder, and the wide shark-toothed grin really fits the Clown Prince of Crime perfectly. The final unique addition to this minifigure is an oversized set of purple fabric coattails, which hook over the leg connector plugs and hang down about twice as long as Joker's legs. Like Batman the Joker also has two difference facial expressions printed on his head - a sinister grin and a toothy laugh. Two great faces that will nicely compliment the sad ones featured on the Arkham Joker blindbag minifigure or any of the other Jokers included in the range. Joker's body is his traditional purple suit, which features a lot of nice detailing on the torso section as well as a belt, pockets and chain printed on the legs.

The first part of the set is the Joker's Balloon backpack, which he uses to make his getaway in the opening sequence of the film. Despite being a relatively simple build it has a lot of parts and features, including five hinged balloon pieces that can be moved forwards and backwards. As well as the balloons the pack is powered by two flamethrowers jutting out of the sides, made from the generic LEGO alien ray gun pieces and classic translucent orange fire pieces. It's a unique little kit that feels very Joker-like in design and build, so works perfectly in that regard.

The Joker connects to the balloon backpack via a clear plastic adapter piece which fits onto the minifigure between the head and torso. Connecting this allows the Joker to clip directly onto the build, and then his hands can clip onto the handlebars protruding from either side. Although the Joker is able to stand perfectly fine while the balloons are attached, arguably the set only truly shines when elevated in the air as it should be. Sadly a stand of sort isn't included in the set itself (and since it would have probably driven the price up, I don't count that as a huge loss), but any sort of articulated figure stand should do the trick fine. Alternatively you could also just build some sort of stand yourself if you have enough spare pieces lying around.

The second half of the set is another section of Gotham Power Plant, which in this case is a tank of explosive liquid with a time bomb connected to it. The section is mostly made up of green, grey and beige pieces, but there is a dash of red and white to break the monotony up along with some funky translucent pieces in various colours. While it isn't quite as exciting as the Joker's balloons, it is however a fun little build that adds a dash more play value to the set.

The section also requires the two stickers included in the set - a hazard symbol for one side of the barrel and a computer display that fits comfortably on a standard 2x2 tile piece. Their application isn't particularly difficult and the stickers attach nice and firmly, so hopefully there shouldn't be any worry of them peeling after a long period of time.

Finally the Power Plant section also has its own little action feature, as pressing down on the lever on the side will cause the cylinder to "explode" - launching up into the air while breaking in two. It's a nice little feature, but the way it works unfortunately means that the cylinder itself doesn't attach to the build particularly securely and falls off very easily if mildly provoked. Thankfully it isn't exactly complicated to just reattach the cylinder, so the easiest thing to do is just avoid handling the section around the cylinder if you're really worried about it.

For those planning to go all in on the LEGO Batman Movie sets The Joker Balloon Escape might not seem all that important, but for those looking to pick up the most important characters the cheapest way possible then this is an essential set. Not only is it an extremely affordable way to pick up both Batman and the Joker in one fell swoop (and for many, those will be the most important characters to get), it's also a fun little build based around one of the most memorable bits of the movie itself. So on reflection, maybe it is worth your time even if you do have the funds to go LEGO Batman Movie crazy in 2017.

No comments: