I would assume that anyone who wanted to see The Dark Knight Rises has by now, especially since this set was released about half a year after that movie, but spoilers are very possible. That is if you even read reviews.
I don't find the image of the set itself on the box very appealing. The bat and tumbler are positioned fine, and actually looks like it might have been inspired from a certain scene of the movie. Gordon though, shooting at the tumbler is quite ridiculous. I am also not so found of the background. It looks more like Drab Suburbs, USA rather than Gotham. The top of the box is nice, with a city facade replacing simple dots. Armored Batman is running out of a black ink blot towards it. This is the first cartoon rendering of a LEGO character on a Super Heroes box I actually really like (Spidey's was okay, but just that). There are various other things around the front of the box you can easily see for yourself which I don't want to bother pointing out, like the Minifigure callout and the The Dark Knight Rises logo.
The back of the box has switched from a yellow background to an orange one. Orange and blue, being colorwheel opposites, have a better contrast than blue and yellow, and it looks much nicer, though still not as good as the Marvel boxes. As you could expect, it points out the set's "play features." More on that later, but I'll give you a taste. You can open cockpits and shoot missiles!
There were two instruction booklets, one for each of the vehicles. The inside of the manual has been changed from blue to orange. I don't understand the color change, but it does not bother me either. Superman has been replaced by Aquaman in the corner and Batman and Joker have changed into their movie armor and jumpsuit, respectively. There is nothing else to note about the instruction books, at least in my eyes.
The comic included had mostly nice artwork but made less sense than usual. The cover combined aspects from all three DC sets this wave. It was kind of odd having the bat against the moon and the tumbler exiting Arkham even though characters like Aquaman and Poison Ivy would have no place in Nola's universe because they are "unrealistic" (I disagree with that about Ivy, but no need to go into that).
Anyway, the story is pretty much Harley Quinn and The Penguin causing a breakout at Arkham Asylum. (Harley also seems to have a problem with deciding whether or not to wear make-up and the jester's hat). Joker, Ivy, Scarecrow, and Mr. Freeze are let out, but Batman and Robin arrive. Batman is quickly frozen by Mr. Freeze, so Robin does all of the fighting, but the inmates still escape.
Then, the batsignal shines, and since Batman is frozen Aquaman responds. However, Aquaman is frozen too. Then Batman arrives in a new white suit (how did he escape?), defeats Freeze, and saves Aquaman.
Then Bane is driving through the streets in his tumbler, and Gordon is scared, cowering in the middle of the street between two road barricades. Then, Batman comes and Bane gets out of the tumbler. The bat shoots at Bane, but nothing happens. So, Batman gets out to, punches Bane once, and everyone is happy.
Really not a very good story, and Aquaman's hair looks awful. :P
Inside of the box are supposedly 368 pieces, a sticker sheet, and a little card (more on that later) in addition to the instructions and comic.
The parts were not too exciting. There were a few, but most of them were simple and I am really not interested in going to detail. Not really a parts pack. I mean, there are not too many rare pieces, and the ones that are are not the ones I generally would use.
Batman is Batman. The suit is technically exclusive, but it really isn't too different from the one released in 2008 sets. Sure, I am one of those people who are capable of pointing out difference after difference, but I don't want to bother. For the most part, he is the same. This is kind of disappointing, since it only ends up feeling like an okay representation of Batman's suit from the movies. First of all, the white eyes are too unrealistic. So is dark gray. Very unrealistic. And he has metallic printing. Even more unrealistic. Nolan jabs aside, gray is too light, but I do like the shiny printing. I actually wish that the whole minifigure could be gunmetal (or rather, the torso and legs) if it can't be black. The hips shouldn't be black if the legs and torso are not going to be. I like it for the minifigure, but it isn't true to the source material and is a sorry excuse for no leg printing. The new cowl is nice, but not as different as I thought it would be. It looks nearly the same in the front, it only makes a difference at the sides. Batman comes with no accessories, not even a batarang.
Bane also gets some shiny printing. His torso is nice, and probably has some reuse (since I hate the luchador coverall-thing the mainstream Bane has, I might even give him this). The minifigure is pretty accurate, to pictures of the costume, but in the movie it never looked olive green to me, more black or dark blue. Bane only wore anything like this in one scene too, I would much rather he have the trench coat. The face desperately needs side printing, and the top of the head could really use it too. I would suggest that they print the flesh on an olive green head, but after Captain America's golden tan, they are probably better off not doing it as such. Once again, Bane has no accessories. I can't really think of anything that he used in the movie though....
I actually really like Gordon's face, since it looks enough like other appearances, but otherwise that is the only part which looks like Gordon from the movie. I only ever remember him having his hair swept back and he never wore a SWAT vest. Still both are nice to have. Gordon has a gun, an ADU one. Better than none at all, I guess, but I would like to stock up on old revolvers before they switch to those ugly new ones with The Lone Ranger.
I was expecting to start on the road barricades, but instead you start right on bag 1 with Bane and the Tumbler. The build progresses pretty quickly and other than a bit of SNOT on the sides and minimal TECHNIC was basic and not very interesting.
The Bat is not much better (bats 2 and 3), even though it uses more angling, it is more repetitive and looses points there.
You actually end with the road barricades and those require no experience at all (except maybe applying stickers).
The Completed Model
I would like to take this moment to share some quotes from LEGO designer Mark Strafford who has worked on several LEGO action themes in the past five years or so (you can see some of his work in this Bricklist at Brickset.com).
"Just a word in defense of the Tumbler set - this had to be designed over a year ago based only on concept art, the Designer did not have final images from the movie as they were not done yet, things change during filming and in post production. You all have the luxury of having seen the movie and how it was used, all the plot points were top secret and very few of them are shared with toy companies!
"Also it has to be buildable by kids (and fun to play with), a secondary colour needs to be brought in to differentiate the layers of black and dark grey - blue is very Batman - the original Tumbler had a lot of yellow hidden away inside it, but in a smaller model like this it's not always possible to hide the brighter colour away."
That would explain the olive on Bane's costume, some images from when the movie was being shot (or whatever) do show him not only in olive, but also with the tactical vest.
Yes, I know that the blue in the set is not accurate, but I like it anyway. No, they could not have used dark gray, don't give that argument, dark grey does not give a model the splash of color it needs. Blue however does, and I rather it be blue than yellow or red, both of which are more jarring with black.
The colorscheme is oddly reminiscent of the old TIE fighters which used blue in place of light gray. I honestly liked that. Though the latest TIE fighter is really an amazing model (it takes a lot for me to say that about Star Wars ships) I did like the blue on the originals because it broke up the black. Honestly, black and grey is boring. Sensible (and yes, realistic) but boring. It might help that I never liked the bat in the first place. I mean, what is it? A helicopter? A plane? A hovercraft? Seriously, if I were ever directing a superhero cartoon, I would probably have a UFO modeled after it as an in-joke. The blue makes it cartoony, a place where it actually fits (again, what was it? Certainly not believable in Nolan's augmented reality).
You could also argue that splitting the set into two or raising the price point, but from what I understand, LEGO orders the budget and price point of a set and if the designers want them raised, they have to take that up with LEGO.
Why were they making a set based on a dark movie for a kid anyway? The answer to that is Warner Brothers made them. Why they had it released six months later, I don't know (though maybe it had something to do with their contract with Disney?) Anyway, Mark Strafford says:
"That was a great challenge for the Designer - how to make a cool and desirable Batman toy for 6 year old kids who have not seen the movie and also make a recognizable scene from TDKR. It's a tough one, particularly while trying to get two iconic Batman vehicles in a $40 set, (compare it a a SW $40, it stacks up quite well). I think it's pretty cool, but I have held one, maybe it's better in person!"
Considering the general incompleteness of Star Wars sets in that range, he does have a point, but I don't think that is saying much. Anyway, this done with, I will actually get into what I think of the set.
I actually think that the general design of the tumbler is quite good. Don't let the original set from 2008 fool you, this size is way more accurate, and I can't picture them doing a much better job at both this scale and price. They certainly could though. First of all, the stickers. Two of them are logos for Bane, of his mask, which is unutterably ridiculous. The other four are guns on the sides, which if anything, is just as bad. The orange lights are awful, the flaming exhaust is just as ridiculous, the sides are too smooth, there is a blue plat showing in the back, there is only one windshield, and Bane can only hardly fit inside. Still, the problems that irk me the most are the squareness and the single windshield. What is even worse is that the windshield problem could be solved by a sticker, but they filled up the sheet with giant Bane masks and guns. Still, considering the circumstance (I actually blame WB for this set's size/price problems more than LEGO) this part of the set is not too bad.
Did I mention that I hate the bat? Anyway, I actually do think that LEGO did a good job taking it from the "realistic" Nolan-verse and transforming it into something from a cartoon. Even if it is something I hope crashes, burns, and few remaining parts are sold in scrap yards...(cut off, that could have gotten nasty), again, this is a size-accurate depiction of the Bat and while sleeker and more colorful, still looks like it. Though I have less problems with the bat as a final model than the tumbler, it still has some jarring coloration (some of that yellow and red Mark was talking about is here too and is not hidden) and that string in the back makes no sense to me. I really love that there is room for two in it though. However, being an awful vehicle in the first place, I will probably scrap it.
This leaves the road barricades, right? Usually I wouldn't mention them (what is there to say?) but they are awfully annoying. I think that the stickers in this set are supposed to have transparent backing, but mine had white, so my barricades have white and black stripes on a yellow tile which looks absolutely awful. If this isn't a mistake, that is even worse.
- Gordon (hoping to get his daughter soon)
- Decently designed models for the price point, I suppose
- A new batsuit (for my collection), but it is not very different from the old one. A variation for Bane isn't bad either.
- Oh, there is that card with a free copy of LEGO Batman: The Videogame
- Probably taking up a price point from what could have been a cooler, comic book set (maybe even with a guest star, like Flash).
- Color showing through on the back of the Bat and Tumbler
- Tumbler's stickers and square shape
- Road barricade stickers
The tumbler is something to do, but not very interesting. At first, the bat is better but becomes repetitive and ends up feeling no better than the tumbler
The selection isn't the greatest, but not too bad either. If the parts are rare, it is something simple, but not something I find myself enamored with.
You can shoot missiles, open cockpits, or make Gordon grab onto a string. Fun, fun, fun....
I have a confession to make. I bought this set for one measly part. The reason I didn't mention this above is because it was a minifigure part, Gordon's head. Batman and Bane don't interest me much (not that they are bad figures) and if this set included the Selina the Cat-Burglar instead of Gordon, I would have skipped it gladly. Still, another figure would be nice and help justify the vehicles more. I would be okay with either Selina or Talia, though I would prefer the latter. (Fox too, but he sounds unlikely.) Batman is not must-have and I don't think Bane is either, unless you are a collector, but they are still pretty good. Not nearly as great as some of last year's figures, like Joker or Poison Ivy, however.
Value for Money:
Alright, if you are American, like me, it isn't too bad and the Batman game pass helps (I suppose, it is probably driving the price up), but I still think that the $35 point would be more appropriate. Aside from that, it is inflated really
badly in other countries, who I am taking into account for once.
Other than a few problems with the tumbler and colors showing through on the bat, I really admire what they did. Yes, there are MOCs that are loads better, but I would expect them to be. Not only because of techniques LEGO dare not use, but because they aren't normally hindered by appealing to a child demographic or to make a profit. They took the bat and made it cartoony. The tumbler also feels like a good base for a MOC. All this at that $40 price point.
I had to take a point off not only for the barricade stickers, but also because Gordon's head (that one piece I paid $40 for...) has a smudge. Thankfully it is on the scared side of which I am not planning on using very much.
Overall: This set really is only okay. I mean, I can't find myself recommending it very much, even though it isn't too bad (in all honestly, I am looking at it as a parts pack though, despite the score I gave the design). I would say get this only if you are a big fan of the Nolan trilogy or are collecting. Othewise, Bricklink Gordon('s face) and possibly Bane.