Thursday, October 9, 2014

REVIEW: Mega Bloks Assassin's Creed Pirate Crew Pack

Mega Bloks Assassin's Creed 
Following on the heels of their superb Call of Duty line, Mega Bloks has added a new game franchise to its build-able Micro Action Figures line in the form of the Assassin's Creed figures and construction sets. Like the Call of Duty range, the Assassin's Creed line features the same superb level of articulation and detail (and also, slightly odd, monkey-armed proportions) but here there's a change of setting and feel, with the characters being based on ''historical'' people and events. It's a refreshing change from the real-world military aspects of the Call of Duty figures (and it's also nice to get a little more color in there beyond various shades of green) but is it a change for the better? Read on and find out!

The Pirate Crew Set
Disclaimer: My experience of the Assassin's Creed franchise is limited to a passing familiarity with the concept behind the original game. I am Reviewing these toys as toys, rather than figures from the series and so there may be hugely important mistakes in the design that I will not notice and my comments are based solely upon the figures themselves.

The Pirate Crew set is one of two ''Army Builder'' figure packs currently available and features five Micro Action Figures, plus an assortment of weapons and a small diorama piece along with a few smaller accessories. If you've purchased any of the Call of Duty Troop packs then you'll have a fair idea of what to expect.
Within the pack are five figures: The Assassin himself plus four ''generic'' pirates, all of whom feature interchangeable accessories and components, so it's possible to mix-and-match each character's look to avoid duplication should you purchase more than one figure pack.
As you can see, Mr A. Creed is the most detailed/realized figure in the set, with the remaining pirates being a little on the generic side. That's fine, as these guys are supposed to be Army Builder characters (and as mentioned above, with a bit of chopping and changing you can change their overall look pretty effectively) but they do feel a little uninspired. I'll come back to that in a moment.
The Assassin's design is captured nicely, thanks to some great accessory pieces. His hood and robe are removable, ditto for his sash. They're all cast from a very flexible, soft rubber that allows the figure to move without the pieces impacting on his range of motion. It's a nice touch and definitely the stand-out piece in the set.
Unfortunately, the remaining figure designs are fairly bland, as you can see. With the exception of the ''Captain'' (above and below, top left) the Pirates are a pretty drab bunch. Indeed, minor accessory and palette-swaps aside, they're almost all identical. Which is very disappointing.
Articulation is, as ever, excellent, with each Micro Action Figure sporting a range of movement that puts most 4'' figures to shame. As well as a ball-mounted head there are double-joint shoulders, twist-and-hinge elbow, single-joint wrists, a single-jointed waist, ball-joint hips and single-jointed knees. It's an impressive set-up that allows for some great posing and expressive stances. Unlike the first Call of Duty releases, the figures also come fully-assembled, meaning there's no more straining to pop joints into each other (or indeed the awful feeling that you're going to break the figure before you even assemble it.) Of course, you still have the option to switch parts around, meaning you can add even more customization to your figures.

Paint apps are clean, although most of the figure coloring comes from the plastic they're cast from, rather than any major apps or even tampo transfers. The majority of the app is on the face, with various beards and eyebrows being neatly applied. Interestingly, the eyes are actually ''pin prick'' holes rather than transfers or paint, which works well to avoid the ''boss-eyed'' look many other figures sport.

The Diorama
Like the Call of Duty Trooper sets, this pack also features a piece of diorama to display along with your figures. Unfortunately, the diorama piece included here is around half the size of the ones seen with the military line. I'm assuming that the cost of the new tooling and accessories impacted the budget and so the designers were forced to cut back on the display pieces, and that's a shame, as the smaller ''land'' piece (despite including an awesome water plate) limits your ability to display the Pirates interacting with the diorama without them looking cramped.
What we get is pretty neat, for all its diminutive scale. There's a nice little bit of beach (and the aforementioned, very awesome water tile connected to it), complete with a flag, a few sacks (of flour? Or treasure?), a crate, a few bones and a chest, filled with small gold coins (represented by 1x1 circular tiles, as seen in a variety of LEGO sets.) It all looks nice but it's a shame it's so small, as the moment you have more than two or three of the Micro Action Figures placed upon it, it looks crowded.
It's also a shame - given there's a treasure chest in the set - that there's not a ''dug up'' effect on the beach. I'd have loved to have a little hole (or the impression of one) as part of the set but given how cramped the diorama piece is already, this would have been too much for the single plate.

Extras & Accessories
Those familiar with the Call of Duty figure packs will no doubt expect to find a number of extra weapons and accessories bundled with the Pirate Crew Pack. Unfortunately, that's not the case and it's a little disappointing to see that - yet again - it appears that budgetary constraints have impacted on the roster of gear included in the set.

Essentially each figure has a single weapon (the exception being Mr Creed, who has a cutlass and a wrist-mounted dagger) plus headgear or chest accessories. It's worth noting though that of the five figures, only two (the Assassin and the ''Captain'' figure) have both and in the case of the black guy , the figure has a tiny pouch on his back but no other costume accessories. And that's disappointing, as there's all kinds of scope for shovels, treasure sacks, backpacks, axes, boat hooks, spyglasses and even oars.

What we get is fine for what's here (and where the accessories are fully utilized, namely on the Assassin and the ''Captain,'' they look great) but after the gear-fest of the Call of Duty figures it's disappointing to see that they didn't even include an extra pistol or sword.

Final Thoughts
There's a lot of good here but there's also room for improvement. 

The most obvious difference compared to the previous Micro Action Figure sets we've seen is the diorama piece. It's half the size of the plates used in the Call of Duty line and, as a result, the entire piece suffers. Whilst the figures can stand unaided fairly well, I like having my figures interact with the diorama as well as each other. And here there's simply not enough room to do so. Like I said above, place more than three figures on the plate and it becomes very crowded. Not the ideal way to display five figures effectively.

Then there's the lack of accessories. I loved how the Call of Duty sets gave you options and allowed you to display each soldier with a variety of weapons or with other, non-weapon pieces of equipment to tell a story within your display. Here though the options are exceedingly limited, with there effectively being a 1:1 ratio of figures to weapons. And considering that - color differences aside - four of the six weapons included are pretty identical, it does make for a fairly monotonous experience when posing the figures.

As for the figures themselves, again (and I hate going back to it but it's applicable given they're by the same company) the Call of Duty figures had a sense of individuality that's lacking in this set, where instead we have four figures clad in the same shirt (color changes notwithstanding) and pants, a few of whom have the same sash piece and near-identical hair. Even switching the parts around does little but add a change of color to their wardrobe. And the fact that one figure has virtually no embellishment - and worst of all, a hole in the top of his head! - is pretty unforgivable.

To me it almost feels like buying a five-figure set and getting it home, only to discover that three of the figures are blank, Dunny-like toys. They have their place and people with the parts to enhance and customize them will find them most welcome, but as a straight out of the box experience, it's a little disappointing to see how incomplete some of the figures feel. (It's worth noting I wrote ''characters'' there and then deleted it, as there's a definite lack of character with the three generic figures.)

On the plus side, the Assassin himself and the ''Captain'' are both really cool figures and had the other three been up to this standard, I'd have been much happier with this set. As it is though, I'm not entirely sure I can really recommend the Pirate Crew Pack without the caveat that you're essentially buying two good figures, two average figures (who are almost identical) and one weak figure along with a few accessories and a diorama that's really just too small to be much use.

A refreshing change from the military-themed Mega Bloks figures but it's let down by the lack of accessories and the generic nature of the figures.

Image Gallery


  1. Easily the weakest out of all the initial Assassin's Creed Sets. I personally want a few of the Borgia guard pack (and the French revolution guard pack)

    1. I went with the Pirate Crew because I like pirates but the Borgia Guard pack definitely looks to have a little more in the way of variation (even if they are wearing the same uniform, which is odd.)

    2. I hope they get to do some 18th century army sets, some Red Coats, French in White coats, Spanish and colonial Militia.

    3. That's the kind of Army Building pack I'd hope to see, as I think they'd work much better than the non-uniformed pirates.


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