- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2012

Lego teams up with Marvel Entertainment to offer block-based dioramas modeled on the “Avengers” movie. Under its Super Heroes line — also tied to comic book legends such as X-Men and Batman — young builders construct minifigures, vehicles and structures to bring cinema and sequential art moments to three-dimensional life.

For the Earth’s Mightiest Superheroes, the selection includes Captain America’s Avenging Cycle (72 pieces, $12.99), Quinjet Aerial Battle (735 pieces, $69.99) and Hulk’s Helicarrier Breakout — a set starring a Green Goliath and showcasing his battles with a couple of Nordic gods that takes new meaning to the team’s battle cry “Avengers Assemble.”

Figure profile (paraphrased from the product description): Help the heroes stop bad guy Loki from breaking out of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Avengers Hulk and Thor have the evil villain captured on-board the massive ship, but an exploding containment cell by Hawkeye (under Loki’s spell) allows for his escape. Can the heroes, with help from Hawkeye back aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. jet fighter, recapture the god of mischief and stop his nefarious shenanigans?

Building process: Expect an ambitious tween (the set’s age range is 7 to 14 years old) to take about two hours to assemble the 389 pieces. Add extra time (with a possible parental tip in) to evenly apply the 14 stickers.

Accessories: The set offers a laboratory base combining three platforms — a section to analyze Loki’s staff, a center section to contain the villain (highlighted by a glass case that breaks open) and a section displaying the Hulk (at least I think that’s what it is, it’s a bit sparse). It’s a pretty slick facility that mixes translucent plastic panels, monitors, seats and a pair of launchable fuel canisters. The standalone 7-inch-long blue jet is more impressive with four firing missile (an owner taps each to propel) a hinged canopy and blow-out cockpit (triggered by pulling a lever).

Now, let’s break down the four included minifigures:

Hulk: The green-skinned brute’s design and facial features reminded me of his appearances in animated series “Superhero Squad.” The 3-inch figure is enormous when standing next to its 1-inch counterparts. However, with only hands to twist and arms that raise, the lack of articulation makes him more a statue than role-playing powerhouse.

Hawkeye: He won’t be mistaken for Jeremy Renner, but kudos for his bow/arrow assembly and painted-on sunglasses.

Thor: My builder’s favorite, the god of thunder gets a red papery plastic cape, hammer, bright yellow hair piece, two facial expressions and ornate front and back torso decorations.

Loki: My favorite of the set, the baddie has a rubbery ram-style horned, removable headdress, a pair of staffs (pull off the top part of one to use it as a dagger), a green papery plastic cape and decorated torso.

A Nick Fury figure would have taken the set to new heights, but as my young builder offered, “Ya can’t have it all.”

In comparison, I was a big fan of Mega Bloks (Mega Brand) minifigures tied to the Marvel universe. The company lost the license to Lego this year. The designs were often stunning (look for the Iron Man variants, Venom, the Thing, Whiplash and Red Skull to name a few) and less about blockiness and offered more of a micro-action-figure experience.

Price: $49.99

Read all about it:Marvel Entertainment has published Avengers comic books since 1963. Let’s go retro here. I recommend the Avengers Omnibus: Volume One ($99.99) compiling the first 30 issues of the silver age series and starring the prose of the mighty Stan Lee and art from the King, Jack Kirby and Don Heck.

What’s it worth? Even though Lego’s line is a bit light in product (even with the addition of its Bionicle-style Captain America, Iron Man and Hulk) it’s a solid start for the license. Although, with Marvel’s large stable of characters that have been or are members of the Avengers, it’s time to ramp up production of those minifigures. Let me know when Hellcat is ready.

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