Thursday, February 14, 2013

REVIEW: Lego Galaxy Squad Space Swarmer

Produced by Lego | Released January 2013

Galaxy Squad
Galaxy Squad is one of two new original sub-lines introduced most recently by Lego (the other being, of course, Legends of Chima.) This space-based line sees four color-coded teams of astronauts battling against evil space insects, with the human's calling upon advanced, multi-functional vehicles and robotic sidekicks to assist in this ongoing war.

We've already seen the rather excellent Swarm Interceptor but today is the turn of the second Blue Team kit, the bug-centric Space Swarmer.

70700 Space Swarmer 
The Swarm Interceptor is the entry-level kit in the line, retailing at $11.99 and featuring 86 pieces. The set features a one-man (or one-bug) Space Swarmer vehicle, the Blue Team robot and a Buggoid Minifigure.

Packaging & Contents
The set comes in a relatively small box. If you've looked at any of the Lego kits at around the same price point then you'll know what to expect. Unfortunately in my eagerness to assemble the kit I neglected to take a photo of the contents but within the box you'll find a sealed bag of pieces and an instruction manual.

Construction is fairly simple, given the relatively low number of pieces, so getting the kit up and running is a very simple process. And unlike the other Galaxy Squad kits we've seen so far, the pack does not include a lot of transfers or stickers that need to be applied (the ''mouth'' being the only one), which also speeds up build time.

The Blue Team Robot
Let's begin by taking a look at the Blue Team Robot. Sadly, none of the robot sidekicks appear to have names, so I'm going to simply refer to him as ''BlueBot'' in this Review.
BlueBot uses the core Lego Minifigure body, augmented with a brand new head sculpt (that completely replaces the original head and is not a mask/helmet) and some futuristic tampo work. There's a really cool asymmetry to the decidedly non-human head sculpt and some surprising little details present, including the side ''ear'' swoops and a mechanical cable running across the head.

BlueBot comes equipped with a jet pack (a clever re-use of the space blaster) and a huge space cannon/sniper rifle. It's a really meaty, BFG-style weapon that looks great but can cause BlueBot to be a little top-heavy. Still though, it looks very cool and should you elect to remove his jet pack, the gun fits neatly into the back port on his tabard for ''slung over the shoulder''-style storage.

The Buggoid
The Swarm Interceptor included a Mosquitoid alien for Solomon Blaze to battle but the Space Swarmer set introduces the other major alien species from the line, The Buggoids.
Like BlueBot the Buggoid uses the core Minifigure buck but sports a brand-new head sculpt. In this case the head is also a back piece, extending around halfway down the figure's body and although it reduces head movement to a minimum it's a very cool-looking piece that totally alters the appearance of the figure.
The head sculpt is great, sporting some mean-looking mandibles, bulbous, double-bulge fly eyes and some very icky-looking ridges, which extend across the crown and down the figure's back. The look is finished-off with a suitably insectoid/alien tampo transfer on the front and rear that echoes the chitin ridge effect very nicely.

The Buggoid also comes with a Sonic Blaster, which can be stored on the rear of the Space Swarmer.

The Space Swarmer
Now onto the centerpiece of the kit, The Space Swarmer.
Taking its cues from the housefly (and probably a few other bugs along the way) the Space Swarmer features a design aesthetic that will immediately resonate with fans of the Micronauts' Hornetroid. Whether it's coincidental or not, the Galaxy Squad certainly reminds me a lot of Mego's classic 3.75'' figure line, so that's most definitely a Good Thing in my book.
The Space Swarmer features a number of moving parts/play features. The wings can be lowered and elevated to produce a flapping motion and also rotated/re-angled, although only on a single plane (so you cannot extend them out to the side, for example.) There's also a cockpit canopy that opens to reveal the Buggoid pilot at the controls, plus adjustable legs and mandibles that can be both opened and rotated to catch and hold the Galaxy Squad members.
Overall the moving parts work well although the weight of the vehicle does tend to force the legs to flatten and the craft to bottom-out but if you're smart with the way in which you angle the legs - which include a ''hip'' joint at the top and a rotating ''knee'' joint around halfway down - it's possible to display the vehicle in an upright/elevated position. The legs can also be tucked under the body when the vehicle is in flight in a very fly-like manner.

The pincer/mandible pieces also feature somewhat ''soft'' joints, so you may find getting a figure to stay in there is a little more involved than at first imagined. But this is a very minor point.
What's particularly cool about the Space Swarmer is the way the designers have managed to evoke that nasty, creepy-crawly feeling of revulsion we feel when we see bugs. It's a beautifully ugly-looking thing that manages to make you feel genuinely creeped out when you pose and play with it - which means, of course, kids will love it.
It's also a surprisingly substantial toy, given how few parts are featured and how quick the construction time is, making it an ideal ''foot in the door'' toy for anybody considering buying some of this new line.

Final Thoughts
When summarizing a toy's features, I always try to take into account a few other aspects of the toy, chief among them being the price. At $11.99 the Space Swarmer isn't the cheapest Lego kit out there, although it is the least-expensive of the Galaxy Squad kits and so, as such, will probably be the one a lot of kids go for to try out the line. And whilst it's not as whizzy-zap-pew-pew fun as the slightly more expensive Swarm Interceptor it's still a really fun kit, especially if you're into unusual alien designs or creepy-looking monsters. And when you factor in the lower price and what you get for that - two minifigures and a neat vehicle - then there's really no reason why you shouldn't pick this set up.

As a long-time Micronauts fan, the Space Swarmer has a second layer of appeal thanks to the fact that it reminds me so much of the classic Hornetroid vehicle. That's not to take anything away from the good people at Lego but if you ever owned the Micronauts insect-inspired craft then you'll also, I'm sure, have a similar layer of nostalgic goodness in your appreciation of this toy.

But does that mean it's only good if you were old enough to remember the Hornetroid? Absolutely not. From the new head sculpts (on both figures) to the poseable vehicle (and keep in mind, it's a vehicle you build yourself!) the Space Swarmer is a super-fun, very unusual-looking set that not only represents great value for money but is also a toy that kids will love both building and playing with. Hell, I'm actually tempted myself to Army Build an entire swarm of the little buggers!

A superbly-constructed, fun, very creepy-looking vehicle complete with a couple of unique Minifigures, all at a great price.

Final Score: A-

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