Thursday, March 28, 2013

REVIEW: Lego Galaxy Squad Vermin Vaporizer

Produced by Lego | Released January 2013

Lego Galaxy Squad
If you've been keeping up with happenings at That Figures then you'll know we've recently rediscovered Lego after a long absence. One of the most influential reasons for our conversion was the new Galaxy Squad line of space-themed vehicles and alien invaders, a series of play sets and accessories that are not only awesome in their own right but also have a fantastic retro Lego Space (and indeed to some extent, Micronauts) vibe to them.

We've already seen the excellent Swarm Interceptor and Space Swarmer sets but today it's the turn of one of the more expensive kits, the Vermin Vaporizer. At $60 it's a little on the pricier side but does that price reflect the toy's quality? Read on and find out.

70704 Vermin Vaporizer
The Vermin Vamporizer set includes three minifigures (including the currently-exclusive Green Team members Green Robot and Chuck Stonebreaker), a scorpion-style Buggoid vehicle plus the Vermin Vaporizer itself - a vehicle that holds a few surprises of its own. 

The Vermin Vaporizer kit includes just over 500 pieces, spread over four sequential parts bags, so construction is a fairly involved process. Thankfully it's also very straightforward and although a little time consuming (I'd put aside around an hour if you want to complete it in one sitting) there were no problems completing the build.
Let's take a look first at the minifigures, starting with Chuck Rockbreaker.

Chuck Rockbreaker
Chuck Rockbreaker is the leader of the Galaxy Squad's Green Team (specialists in heavy armor and brute force, according to this video.) As a human, he's probably the most generic of the three included figures. Not that there's anything wrong with Chuck being a fairly normal guy, but when compared to the other figures in the set he's the one you'll find most familiar. 
Chuck sports the same space helmet accessory as seen in the other Galaxy Squad figures and a tampo that's in-keeping with those applied to the other Galaxy Squad members - with the obvious exception of it being upon a green background.

Green Robot
Chuck's companion and co-pilot is the Green Robot - or GreeBo as I've taken to calling him. Like the Blue Squadron, we again see humans and androids working together to combat the alien threat.
Like the Blue Squadron Robot (who I've now named BluBo), GreeBo is a standard minifigure augmented with a new head sculpt and backpack, although it's interesting to note that this is a different set of accessories  to those used to create BluBo (and indeed the Red Team's ReBo.) It's neat to see Lego differentiating each Squadron's mechanoids, as it would have been an easy process to simply produce color variants of a standard robot figure.
GreeBo also comes with a powered shield and blaster rifle. The former is an interesting accessory, as it, along with the head sculpt, for some reason remind me of the Super Joe character, Shield. I'm sure this is purely coincidental, but it's a nice little coincidence. (And for those wondering, the chest piece also features a pair of what I assume are rocket engines on the rear, presumably allowing GreeBo to fly when not within the Vermin Vaporizer.)

The Buggoid
The Buggoid is identical to the figure featured in the Space Swarm set, so I'd direct you to check that Review for my comments.
Overall it's a pretty neat collection of figures that showcases how, with a few new accessories/pieces and some tampo/color changes, you can produce a pretty good variety of characters from the core figure.
I like that Lego created a character-specific head for Chuck Rockbreaker, which - like Solomon Blaze's head - is reversible. As more Galaxy Squad kits are released, so we'll see duplicates of each named character, so having the option to ''disguise'' your second Chuck Rockbreaker using the alternate face is a neat touch.
 So what about the vehicles? Let's start with the aliens' scorpion craft.

The Scorpion
The Scorpion is a four-legged attack and capture craft, piloted by a Buggoid.
As you can see, each limb can be moved individually, with a ''hip'' joint (where the leg connects to the body) allowing for lateral movement and a ''knee'' joint that allows the leg to rise or ''fold'' beneath the body. For such a simple design it's a very elegant solution and allows for a wide range of poses, with each ''knee'' being sturdy enough to also support the vehicle when it's in a raised/walking position.
The scorpion ''tail'' is also articulated, using a series of hinged pieces that allow the entire piece to flex straight or bend into a curled position so the ''sting'' at the tip can be used. However, rather than be a physical, piercing barb, here the ''sting'' is a ''goo projector'' that is used to cocoon humans! At least, that's my interpretation of the piece, which makes sense to me given that the tip of the stinger and the included cocoon/egg are of the same purple semi-transparent plastic...
Although I'd have preferred to see some kind of windshield/driver protection in place of the turbo charger (maybe it's a net launcher or something?) I do really dig the look of the Scorpion. The flick-firing missiles are a neat touch, the flexible tail and surprisingly effective legs make it a fun toy to pose and I could see kids loving the weird, alien-ness of the whole thing, especially when it's being used to cocoon innocent passers-by!

The Battle Buggy
Up next is Chuck Rockbreaker's personal transport, the Battle Buggy.
A simple, four-wheeled ATV, the Battle Buggy sports a couple of gun ports, resilient front armor and enough speed and maneuverability to make it a fairly formidable vehicle. It's not the most exciting of vehicles, though, feeling more like a polybag-style mini-kit than a vehicle in its own right. However, the Battle Buggy is really more of a ''bonus vehicle'' than something designed to be sold (or indeed operate) as a single unit, as its chief role is to give Chuck Rockbreaker a driving position from which to pilot the Vermin Vaporizer proper.
As you can see here, the front section of the Vermin Vaporizer features a pivoting canopy and drop-down front, allowing Chuck to take the Battle Buggy out on scouting missions, or use as an escape craft should the tank-like mothership... mothertank suffer too much damage. And as such, the Battle Buggy fulfills its role perfectly.

The Battle Mech
Yes, that's right - there's another vehicle to look at, this time in the form of the Battle Mech.
You see, that turret mounted on the rear of the Vermin Vaporizer has a little more to it than you might first suspect. The cannons, complete with rotating drum and super-poseable mounts are a neat touch and the cockpit gives a great view but with a twist and a click, the entire unit can detach and reconfigure itself into a walking Battle Mech.
As well as the aforementioned moving gun ''arms'' the Mech also includes a swivel waist, rotating hip, knee and ankle joints and even a split-toe function for added stability. As you can see from these images, it's an incredible pose-able bit of design that works just as well as an individual vehicle as it does as part of the Vermin Vaporizer.
The Battle Mech connects to the Vermin Vaporizer by means of a simple 2x2 tile-topped pillar, set at the rear of the vehicle, upon which the Battle Mech then ''sits'' and is thus secured in place. Folding the ''toes'' into the feet and then a bend of the knee/hip sees both feet also help to keep the Mech in place (although in this case there's no Lego pin connection - the size and shape of the feet are enough to keep it from moving around too much.) Then it's just a quick twist of the ''waist'' and the gun turret is back in place. It's a simple but fantastic piece of design that works far better then you'd expect it to, providing not only a great play element on the Vermin Vaporizer itself but also a superb, stand-alone toy in the form of the Battle Mech.

The Vermin Vaporizer
Finally we come to the Vermin Vaporizer itself!
As you can see from the above image, the core body itself is pretty substantial, doubly so when the Battle Mech/gun turret is in place.
Apologies for the use of a flash but my camera had trouble focusing on the micro/macro details.
The design is robust and sturdy. I was surprised when assembling the vehicle just how tough it felt and having played with it for some time I can say I'd be more than happy to allow a child to play with this vehicle and have little worry about any pieces coming loose. OK, so it may not survive a head-first trip down the stairs but it's more than capable of withstanding a vigorous ''general'' play session.
Seriously, just look at that thing. I'm not even going to comment on how awesome it looks or how well it handles, or about how cool the armament and armor looks on it. Because I don't need to - you can see all of that for yourself and at this point I think I've pretty much told you just about everything you need to know...

Except for the fact that when the Mech is removed, the space beneath its mount doubles as a mobile analysis lab.
If you're a fan of the Micronauts line of toys you'll probably - like me - get an immediate Astrostation vibe from this. It's a superb little extra and a fantastically creative way to use the ''spare'' space beneath the Mech, which illustrates just how well thought-out this vehicle's design is. For kids (and indeed adults prone to this sort of thing) this is yet another play element that will fire the imagination and allow for all kinds of scenarios beyond simply exploring and fighting. All that from a dozen or so Lego bricks...

There's really little else to say, so instead of pointing out all the awesome little details I'm just going to post some more photos.

Final Thoughts
The Vermin Vaporizer was one of the first Galaxy Squad sets I saw but - as I'd already spent most of my toy budget for the month - I had to ''settle'' with the Swarm Interceptor as my first purchase from the line. Given the high standard of that toy I was eager to see if the Vermin Vaporizer matched that same level of quality. But it doesn't. It surpasses it.

It's been difficult to write this Review and convey to you just how incredible this toy is. Seriously, if you like Lego then this is a must-have. If you like space toys, you need to buy this. If you don't like Lego or space-themed toys, buy this anyway, as it will convert you. It's one of those toys that makes you happy, that fills you with the childhood joy you experienced playing with your toys and there's an amazing sense of fun about the entire thing. The fact that the engineering and construction is near-perfect is a huge help, too.

I've actually had this set not only in my possession but also built and on display for some time, as I wanted to see if my initial joy at finding this toy would diminish. But after owning it for over a month - and getting it out to look at/pose/play with most every day - I have to say that if anything my appreciation for it has grown. And so with that in mind I'm going to award this toy a score I never thought I'd give.

Final Score: A+

Image Gallery
(As this is a very image-heavy gallery, the Gallery below only features a few highlights. See the above Review text for the entire range of images.) 


  1. I've just recently rekindled my love of Legos with the galaxy squad sets. What started out as gifts for my nephews has quickly turned into a walk-down-memory-lane obsession. I just purchased the vermin vaporizer a few days ago and I have to completely agree with your assessment, this galaxy squad piece is awesome, best one I have purchased yet. But before I go and spend a couple more hundred dollars on the much lager sets, I was hoping you would be doing some more reviews of those sets. Please tell me that it's in the works!

    1. Thanks for sharing that story, Andre - it's pretty much how I was (minus the nephew!)

      My recent Lego purchases have tended more toward the Monster Fighters sets (as they're about to be discontinued) but I am looking forward to getting my hands on some of the larger Galaxy Squad kits in the very near future. I heard a rumor that some Target stores had a special deal going on with the Bug Obliterator but I've not been able to confirm that (and had I been able to do so, I'd have bought it!)

      The second Wave of GS kits is also hitting retail as we speak, so hopefully we'll have some more of them to share with you soon!


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