Tuesday, February 5, 2013

REVIEW: Lego Legends of Chima Crawley's Claw Ripper

Produced by Lego | Released 2012

Lego Legends of Chima
Legends of Chima is Lego's latest sub-line of character-themed kits, play sets and vehicles. Set in the fictional realm of Chima (or so the tie-in animated show tells us) the story follows the exploits of Laval, Prince of the Lions and protector of the sacred CHI. When a group of rogue Crocodiles attempt to steal the CHI for themselves, the Land of Chima is plunged into chaos, as former allies face each other in a battle for the most powerful energy source on the planet - CHI!
Aimed at a slightly younger audience (and yes, I know I'm talking about Lego like it's for us grown-ups) Legends of Chima focuses on a mix of anthropomorphic minifigures (including the aforementioned Lions and Crocodiles, plus Eagles, Wolves and Ravens), many of which pilot animal-themed vehicles. And it's one such vehicle we're taking a look at today...

70001 Crawley's Claw Ripper
Crawley's Claw Ripper is the second kit available in the line, retailing at the $14.99 mark (thus putting it slightly above entry level kit, Razcal's Glider.) The set includes the Claw Ripper plus two minifigures - Crawley himself and the bumbling Lion warrior, Leonidas (sporting his rather cool sword) and comprises of 139 pieces in total.

Packaging & Contents
Crawley's Claw Ripper comes in a moderately sized box, measuring in at around 10'' by 5'' and is opened in the now-standard Lego manner of simply applying pressure to pop the flap open.
Within the box you'll find a couple of bags of pieces, some loose, larger parts, the construction guide and a transfer, which can be applied to the nose of the Claw Ripper.

Construction
The vehicle - despite having some pretty neat engineering/play features - is very easy to assemble, although I did find at one point I'd connected the front's ''eyebrows'' in the wrong position. Of course now I've seen the final build I can see where they're supposed to go (and obviously I fixed it) but at the time I was left a little confused. But that aside, all is fine and although it may take a little time to build, that's due to the amount of construction required, rather than due to any complications or misleading instructions.

Crawley
Let's start with a look at the Claw Ripper's pilot, Crawley.
Crawley is, as is fairly obvious from the above picture, a Crocodile. And considering that he's basically a standard Lego minifigure with a new tampo and ''mask'' the designers have done a good job of giving him not only crocodile-esque features but also some semblance of character. There's a wicked, almost naughty look to him - rather than a scary, outright evil look - which fits well with the show's themes and audience. As I said earlier, Legends of Chima is definitely aimed at the younger Lego fan. And that's fine, as it means the designers can be a little more playful with their designs.

The tampo is cool with some great scale and clothing detail and, as now seems almost to be a standard feature with Lego minifigures, Crawly's face beneath his ''mask'' (although in reality it's his head, I'm simply calling it that to differentiate it as a separate piece) has two (albeit very similar) expressions, one on either side of his head, meaning you can display him with his eyes wide or narrowed into slits. It's a simple but nice touch.

Leonidas
The second enclosed figure is Lion-O - I mean, Leonidas.
Like Crawley, Leonidas sports a really neat tampo job, with his muscular definition and even knee-pad armor being especially cool touches. Again, he also includes a reversible head print that allows for a choice of eye expression. The ''mask'' here is particularly nice, with Leonidas' mane billowing from his head, Anime-style and although it's a little goofy, the facial expression is again filled with character (in case you're wondering, Leonidas is a little on the not-so-bright side.)
Unlike Crawley, Leonidas comes with an accessory in the form of his power sword. It's a simple enough matter to slide the clear tube into place but the effect is surprisingly good, especially if you can catch the light just right to make it ''glow.''

The Claw Ripper
Fun as the figures are though, the real meat of this set comes in the form of Crawley's Claw Ripper.
The mutant offspring of a dune buggy and a reptile, The Claw Ripper is a pretty impressive, fairly sturdy vehicle. Although initially it may seem a little light - due primarily I think to the exposed cockpit - it's a durable, very chunky feeling toy once you actually get it rolling.

The dominating rear wheels have a fantastically ''clacky'' sound to them as they roll which, when combined with the rolling tracks and spinning front claws, give the vehicle an immediate presence. I could imagine kids gleefully demolishing other Lego sets with this toy, cackling manically as I did so. Wait, I mean, ''as they do so.'' Ahem.
The front tracks are linked, meaning as one turns so the other turns. It's a cool feature in its own right but when you put the Claw Ripper into reverse, the tracks flip backward in a manner that reminds me of the GI Joe Cobra Ice Cutter. For a toy you construct yourself to include such a bit of engineering is pretty impressive.
There are also a few other neat play features in the form of additional moving parts. As you can see from the above image, the cockpit's roll cage can be elevated to allow Crawley to climb in and out of the vehicle, there's a snap-shut trunk to the rear (in which he stores his stolen CHI crystal) and, perhaps the most fun of all, the vehicles jaws can be opened and closed to snap at passing Lions. It's a shame the designers couldn't figure out a way to make the jaws snap as the vehicle moved, as that would have been amazing, but even without this feature it's still a lot of fun.
One thing I do find slightly puzzling though is the way Lego toys seem to be designed to almost ''hide'' their brick-built nature. I understand that the red panels in the mouth represent the reptile's tongue but I'd have preferred to see them without the ''slippy/shiny'' tiles, as this would have made it easier to stand a figure or other Lego block in there, rather than rely on the closed maw holding it in place. Similarly there's only one spot (just behind the reptile ''head'') that features exposed pegs - thus limiting where you can stand your minifigures or add extra parts to the Claw Ripper. It's a minor point I know but it seems an odd move, given that construction and assembly is so big a part of the Lego philosophy.

Still though this is a very minor point and does little to mar what is an otherwise very fun build and finished toy.

Final Thoughts
What I'm about to say is going to sound odd but Legends of Chima - despite the recommended age on the packaging - feels a little more ''toy like'' or dare I even say it, ''childish'' when compared to the other Lego kits I've looked at recently. That's in no way a criticism and I'm sure I'll be buying more of these toys, as they really are a lot of fun to build, pose and play with, but if you're somebody coming back to Lego after an absence and you're looking for something you won't be embarrassed to buy, you may want to look elsewhere. It's not really the fault of the kit (although the goofy - but fun - facial expressions of both Crawley and Leonidas don't help) and is probably more to do with the animated series, which seems to be aimed at a very young audience.

Minor maturity-related concerns aside though, this is a really great play set. The build is fun, especially given how much ''engineering'' is present in such elements as the tracked wheels and there's an abundance of adjustable/moving parts that give it a great sense of tactile, playful fun. Although nowhere near as complex, I could imagine this being a good gateway kit for kids considering some of the more complex kits in the line. And as I mentioned above, the noise it makes on a hard surface is great and it's most definitely a toy I could see kids enjoying playing with - something I would have no qualms about allowing them to do, as this is a very solid, well constructed vehicle.

A great, kid-friendly set with some neat features and fun - but goofy - minifigures.

Final Score: B+


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