Tuesday, January 20, 2015

REVIEW: LEGO Ultra Agents - Tremor Track Infiltration

LEGO Ultra Agents
Released at the end of 2014 (and continuing into 2015), LEGO's Ultra Agents is a quasi-revival of the classic Agents line (but now with MOAR ULTRA!) and, thanks to the inclusion of an older, battle-worn version of Solomon Blaze, is also a sequel to the excellent Galaxy Squad line. Which is fine by me!

Combining futuristic science and super-spies, the line sits comfortably as both a sequel/companion to the Galaxy Squad range but could easily be combined with your Marvel and DC superhero sets, so if want a few extra villains and allies for Spidey and Batman, then this range could be just what you're looking for...

Anyway, let's move on to the subject of today's Review, the Tremor Track Infiltration!

70161 - Tremor Track Infiltration
At around $20, the Tremor Track Infiltration set is the first of the ''larger'' sets in the Ultra Agents range, clocking in just above the $12 Riverside Raid set. For your $20, you get a pretty good deal, with the set including Ultra Agent Jack Fury, the villainous Tremor, a Mainframe (with removable Ultra Chip) and Tremor's tracked vehicle, all coming in at a grand total of 241 pieces.

Let's begin by taking a look at the characters, starting with Jack Fury.

Ultra Agent Jack Fury
There are no real surprised with Fury's construction. He uses the standard LEGO minifigure buck, augmented with a few (rather cool) accessories, so if you're familiar with LEGO figures you'll know what to expect here.
The hairpiece is a neat touch, giving him that roguish ''I didn't even bother to brush my hair, because I'm hip'' look, which, along with his stubble tampo detail, makes him look like a maverick, devil may care badass.
As you can see, he comes with a reversible head, featuring two expressions: a ''just bring it'' grin and a more serious, somber ''playtime is over'' look. The tampo transfer work is, as we've come to expect from LEGO, neatly applied and surprisingly detailed. I love how he's wearing a protective vest but you can still see his tie (because he's a sharp dresser...) It's a neat look that fits well with the futuristic agent concept.
Accessory-wise, Ultra Agent Jack Fury comes with a blaster and protective shield. The shield is a fairly simple piece (but you do have to apply the sticker yourself) and although a little cumbersome is a nice addition to his arsenal and I've not seen this part before, so that's always a bonus. Similarly, he comes with the new ''pop stud'' blaster, which - at the press of a button on the blaster's top - will launch an ''energy blast'' (i.e. a stud.) It's a pretty cool idea and I think one I much prefer over the flick missiles. It's compact and surprisingly effective, and whilst it's not prone to launching accidentally, it doesn't take a great deal of pressure to fire. Nicely done, LEGO!

Tremor
One thing I always enjoy about LEGO's ''action'' sets is they usually include a pair (or more) of rivals, meaning you can create some great play scenarios and battles with just one set. The Tremor Track Infiltration set is no exception, featuring both Ultra Agent Fury and the supervillain Tremor!
Tremor is definitely the more striking of the two minifigures, thanks to some great, bespoke pieces being included in his design.
Here's the figure stripped of all its additional pieces. Even without them, he's a great-looking figure, with some fantastically detailed tampo work really selling him as a cross between Robocop and C-3PO!
His oversize claws are a particular favorite feature of mine. The pieces are simply held by his ''regular'' hands but, with a bit of creative posing, it becomes difficult to spot where they end and the figure begins. And his cowl and helmet are especially cool, with a ton of close-up sculpt detail like bolts and heat vents really selling the idea of him wearing cybernetic armor. And that little inverted V in the helmet visor couples perfectly with the face tampo to give him a super-mean expression. I love it!
And as you can see, the back also features some cool tampo work and a second expression. I'm always impressed with how LEGO manage to take such basic figures and transform them with a few accessories and I have to say Tremor is probably one of the coolest minifigures I've seen, both in terms of his overall look and the creative way in which he's been transformed into something totally new.

The Mainframe
The final ''small'' piece of the set is the Mainframe, a piece of backdrop/scenery housing the Ultra Chip. The Ultra Chip contains important data the Ultra Agents are trying to protect (and Tremor is trying to steal) and so this piece forms an important part of the set's scenario.
The rear of the Mainframe features a neat little pull-down feature that reminds me of the night deposit drop boxes used by banks, into which the Ultra Chip (seen above on its white mounting board) can be slid. Unfortunately the chip is prone to falling out and tends to rattle about a little in there, I have to admit, but it's a still cool feature.
And here it is from the front, with Ultra Agent Jack Fury keeping watch! You can just about see the chip behind its protective screen.

Again, there are a few stickers to apply here, but the overall effect is worth it, as it really sells the idea of it being a high-tech mainframe.
Busted!

The Tremor Track
Although not officially referred to as such, I'm going to call Tremor's vehicle the Tremor Track, as it's as good a name as any!
With its massive steel hands (more on those in a moment) and bulky design, there's no mistaking who the Tremor Track belongs to!
 As you can see, it's a fairly (and deliberately) ugly-looking vehicle.
I'd imagine that the central column (as seen above) is some kind of smoke-stack. That sounds odd for a toy in line that's supposed to be all futuristic and shiny but it just strikes me as the kind of thing you'd expect from a mechanical supervillain.
Behold! The claws at work!

Each individual finger can be moved independently to maximize grip. It's a very cool arrangement and I love the design, right down to the way studs are used to simulate knuckles seen on Tremor's oversize hand pieces. Awesome!
Although the claws are great, there's a minor issue with how they work with the Mainframe, as the gap between the two is just large enough to make balancing the piece in there a little precarious. I'd have liked to see some way of physically attaching the Mainframe to the vehicle, just to secure it all together, as you will find the Mainframe falling from the Tremor Track's grip most of the time... A minor point but worth mentioning.
I should also point out that when they're not being used to grab the Mainframe (or Ultra Agent Fury!) the claws can also be used as punching fists. Twist the central column (smokestack?) clockwise to punch with one hand then counterclockwise to punch with the other. It's a cool little feature and a fun bit of engineering. I'm also glad to see this wasn't tied to the movement of the vehicle wheels, as this allows for a lot more opportunities during play.
Speaking of wheels, here's a closer look at the vehicle in profile, showcasing the six-wheeled tracks. They move pretty well, considering they're tracks (which can sometimes be a little ''sticky'') and they help sell the idea of the vehicle as a heavy, tank-like monstrosity. 
And here we see one of the pair of flick missiles (they're on each side of the driver's position), which also come with a spare missile each (complete with storage mounting.) I'm not a huge fan of the flick missiles but I do like that they're pretty difficult to accidentally shoot (unlike some of the Imaginext hair-trigger missiles) and I appreciate the spare missiles, especially as the designers thought to include storage grips for each. 
One thing to note is that the set does include a number of stickers that must be applied. Personally I wish LEGO would just apply tampos to the pieces and be done with it, as I've got a terrible eye when it comes to lining these things up straight but I suppose it keeps costs down...

Final Thoughts
I have a bit of a confession to make: the Tremor Track Infiltration set was a Christmas gift my wonderful wife purchased for me as a surprise. And in all honesty, of the sets available in the Ultra Agents line-up, this was the one I was least interested in. It was the Ultra Agents' super-sleek, black and neon futuristic vehicles I'd found most interesting and this just looked too clunky, too ugly.

But then as I assembled the set I came to understand that the entire point of the Tremor Track is that it's deliberately ungainly and not intended to be sleek and modern. It's a chugging, heavy thing by design, specifically to act as a counterpoint to look of the Ultra Agents and their vehicles. I'd been so obsessed with the Ultra Agents themselves that I'd failed to see that some of the sets - like this one - are centered on the villain, not the Agents themselves. And with that I realized that, yet again, my wife had picked exactly the right thing for me (as she always does...) and that this was actually a superb supervillain vehicle.

The minifigures are great. Ultra Agent Jack Fury has a cool look about him and is every bit the dashing hero, with some great accessories that kids will enjoy playing with and older collectors will appreciate. Tremor, however, is even more awesome, with a superb look that's straight out of a superhero comic. As I mentioned above, if you're looking for some extra villains for your superheroes to battle then you'll love Tremor, as he's straight out of the Iron Man/Spider-Man school of techno-villains. And the Ultra Agents would make great SHIELD-style ''supercops'' to help out when things get a little out of hand...

As for the Tremor Track itself, it's really neat, with its - albeit deliberately - eye-sore design, fantastic engineering (the hands are a lot of fun and the individual finger movement is a superb bit of design, plus the punching motion never gets tired) and is packed with play features kids will love. Sure, it would have been nice if Tremor's seating position had been a little more detailed and yeah, Jack Fury could have benefited from some kind of hoverboard/flying disc/jet pack (as he does in this set)  rather than the riot shield he comes with but there's really very little to complain about here (aside from all the bloody stickers...) I'll definitely be buying more.

Overall, this is great set, packed with cool features and play potential, that's as much at home in its own universe as it is in the world of DC and Marvel.


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2 comments:

  1. tremor face reminds me more of judge dread could do an interesting custom with it

    ReplyDelete

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