Sunday, January 9th, 2011 at 7:11pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
It is time once again, friends, for another 2011 Hero Factory review. Today the ever-quirky Arpy takes a look at Jetbug, I mean, the Jetbug. How does this fiery flea stack up and make use of the new Hero Factory pieces? Read on and find out!
Hero Factory fans and detractors alike, scuttlebutt has it that a certain bug with jets has been spotted at some manner of refueling station. But, you may ask, what sort of bug is he? Dear readers, comparisons fail. A boldly flaming, insanely fast, and vaguely anthropomorphic insectoid such as this is unique among bugs and might best be defined by his fiery jets. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... the Jetbug!*
*The Jetbug is like the Batman in that he instantly becomes cooler with an article adjective appended before his name. He's not just a Jetbug - he is the one and only. Accept no substitutes!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
In a remarkable lack of foresight that will no doubt cost them many sales, Lego has left the 'the' off the stated name for this set. Other than that faux pas, the box is a finely honed selling machine, every facet of which is tuned to ensure that you will purchase this set, whether as part of a long-term plan or in a fit of consumerism. On the front is the Jetbug jetting along above a refueling refinery station in flames, and on the back, he is shooting a lava sphere at our good friend William Furno, who raises his shield to block.
A glow has been added to the Jetbug's eyes in a move sure to break the hearts of many children who, upon opening the box, will find to their dismay that there are no pieces to produce such a glow. Even the 'actual size' image on one end of the box has this nefarious glow. Yes, Virginia, Lego has a CGI division, and it lies to us. They've done a decent job positioning the Jetbug in such a way so as to mask what might be perceived as structural defects, though the hollowness of his famed jets is relatively easy to espy. The back is a little more honest and gives an inkling of his stunted forearms and his dual-sided head (more on those later). It also shows how the lava sphere can be shot by bringing its launcher into close proximity to two fat yellow arrows.
Also noteworthy is what appears to be the Jetbug's Spanish name, Coleóptero, on the top or side of the box, depending on its orientation. Since it translates simply to Coleoptera, the taxonomic order for the hundreds of thousands of species of beetle, it is probable that this is simply indicative of the order to which the Jetbug also belongs.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
As has been noted, the new system of balls and sockets provides a novel and fairly speedy experience. A decade-plus of pin and axle construction is largely done away with to bring the savings directly to you, the builder. It is fun to build this set inasmuch as the pieces used are completely new, and it's interesting to see how they fit together. Other than that, the building process is fairly familiar: Torso, legs, arms, and head, in that order. The only bits that really depart from the norm are the head and the jetpacks.
Presumably to avoid confusion between the different lengths available among these new sets, the ball and socket limbs are portrayed at their actual sizes in the instructions. The instructions also have a parts inventory, shots of the Jetbug doing battle with his foes, some stuff about online content, and, on the back cover, the usual insanely raging kid urging you to WIN!
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Here are all of the pieces in the set. For some ineffable reason (I suspect it's to toy with us), the sockets in this set are not the new sockets pictured on the box and instructions, but the older ones from 2008 or so.
One of the main reasons I purchased this set was for the respectable and most welcome quantities of pieces in transparent orange and gunmetal, the latter of which is alternatively known as iron gray, dark pearl gray, or 'the hue of flame-borne villainy.' The Jetbug has nine pieces in this color, seven of which are new molds and two of which - the launcher bits - are recolors.
Unique to the villain sets thus far, the bladed weapons alternately function as poky bits and mandibles here. Now one of the two main ways of connecting things in the updated building system, these pegs are compatible with Lego System bars, and they correspond to the spacing of two Lego studs. The pieces used for Jetbug's jetpack are really neat and mechanical and whatnot. They're connected by sockets underneath, but they also have holes for System bars.
One spectacularly underrated piece here is the one that tops off the Jetbug's chest. Though rather small, it boggles the mind that this piece should be passed over by anyone anywhere. In addition to resembling a microscale version of the USS Defiant, it looks almost as though it has a hatch in its center that is bolted down and resting on a single hinge, perhaps containing the fiery energies of this
As for transparent orange... well, there are only two pieces in this color, but that's still a sight more than in many recent Bionicle and Hero Factory sets. Besides, they're both new molds, and they do an excellent job of evoking the aforementioned fiery energies, as if the printed armor, flame pieces, and lava sphere weren't enough.
Like the heroes, this wave's villains all come with a printed armor piece. Unlike the identification plates of the heroes, this piece has a fiery motif and a mysterious silvery symbol. What is its significance? Only time will tell.
Another piece suggestive of fire is the lava sphere, which is of course the same projectile that we have come to know and alternatively love, hate, get sick of, or grow apathetic toward since 2006, just under a different name. This is noteworthy here in that half of it is taken up by a swirled pattern of red and yellow, which makes it look, I quote, 'cool.' The other half is solid red, and considerably less remarkable.
The two-toned flames almost seem like they would be better as crests on a reptile or feathers on a headdress of some sort. I think it's the symmetry and detail, but they just don't look like bursts of fire to me. Still, they make the jetpacks recognizable as such, so they work all right.
Seven of the Jetbug's pieces are the yellow-orange color first seen in Keetongu way back when. While I might have liked another color, I suppose this provides a nice intermediate point between the colors of heroes Nex and Evo. In fact, now that I look at it, it reminds me of cheese. A lot of cheese. Hmmm.
One of these pieces deserves special note: The head, which, given some red paint, a Barraki eyebulb, and a 180-degree turn, could work in a pinch for Nitroblast. It doesn't stick out much owing to the extra ball/socket in the Jetbug's neck, but it's still a little distracting, if only due to the asymmetry of the Nitroblast side. On the Jetbug's side, there are slits for eyes, but no transparent glowy bits to fit the slits. You might find that this soulless stare suits your villain; however, enterprising oculophiles should have no problem finding pieces to attach to the mandibles beneath the Jetbug's head.
As anyone glancing at images of this set will have noticed, the Jetbug has a veritable plethora of red spikes - fourteen, to be exact. Large quantities of a new or recolored part are generally good, and unlike the lonely spikes in some smaller Hero Factory sets, these spikes are everywhere. They actually make it a bit tricky to hold onto him if you're accustomed to picking this sort of fellow up by his legs or arms, but they also liven up the color scheme and maybe even give him some character.
Indeed, the overall color scheme is really nice and uniform. It positively screams 'evil heated cheese villain.' The light grey axle joiners that attach his mandibles to his head are the only spoilers in the batch of fondue that is this flaming, at least partially cheese-colored set.
It appears that many of these pieces were designed more with the smaller hero sets in mind, and so their aesthetics kind of break down when it comes to their use in the larger sets. This is especially notable in Fire Lord, but the principle shows here too. Like his fellow minions, the Jetbug's torso is too short for his limbs and makes him look rather squished. When your head is longer than your body, you know something's up. The upper arms' armor, more often used for the torso in the heroes, can sometimes get in the way of the arms' posability, and it does not provide close coverage to the shoulders, which can look rather scrawny and bereft of protection.
This particular bit of armor also seems rather loose compared to the other armor pieces, but its segmented look does do a rather good job of evoking an insect's shell, in my opinion. Speaking of scrawny and bereft of protection, the Jetbug's forearms are pretty short and skinny. An extra stud's length plus a small piece of armor might have helped here. Something like this:
As an example of how this new system can work, though, I'd like to call attention to the Jetbug's legs. The armor on his lower legs goes right up to the knee joint, and I initially worried that it might interfere with the thigh armor when the legs were bent. However, it turned out that the lower armor simply slides underneath the upper armor. The smooth shapes of these armor bits may seem arbitrary, but instances such as this show the thought that has gone into their design.
Unlike some other sets, this fellow really does not look too shabby viewed from the back, mainly owing to the jetpacks which can be positioned to cover his backside, perhaps to protect it from undue scorching.
Anyway, he is supposed to be buglike (and made of cheese?), so in the end I think the oddities of his design aren't all that bad.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
I would, in fact, argue that playing with the set is more than half the fun - possibly as much as three fourths!
For me, the Jetbug's jetpacks are one of the best parts of the completed set. They can be positioned in a wide variety of ways, and, viewed from the top, at least, they look quite good. They can even be flipped around over his shoulders, allowing him to use them offensively or to bring his weapons up to either jet to heat them up. Those lava spheres have to come from somewhere, so why not his own flames? Pick up a chunk of rock, melt it with a blast of fire, and you've got magma, which can presumably be fired from the launcher despite being rather liquid. Problem solved. A similar approach works for toasted cheese.
Speaking of the launcher, it provides the same old kind of firing action we've had for the last couple years, and the sphere is prone to falling out when the Jetbug is subjected to sharp shock. However, its new colors are a plus, so I'm not particularly put out by its inclusion.
One thing I noticed is that the Jetbug can be put into a quadrupedal configuration that makes him look even buggier. The jetpacks' wide range of motion helps here. The jetpacks plus the shoulder armor form a protective shell, and most of his spikes are pointing up top, making him doubly unapproachable.
Also, his mandibles move enough that they can be clicked together in a softly menacing... click. Here he is using those mandibles and other appurtenances to threaten Nex 2.0:
Ultimately, how enjoyable the set is to play with is determined by your imagination, though it can certainly be helped along by the Jetbug's unique construction and neat appearance.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- The posable jetpacks are, as they say, the bomb-diggity
- Some exceptionally nice pieces are contained herein
- Along with a consistent flame motif
- So basically, he looks pretty cool
- He's the gosh-darn Jetbug
What's not to like?
- Yellow-orange may not be to everyone's liking (but think of cheese and it'll all be good)
- Dual-sided head may create the impression that you are being watched
- Plus it's a bit long
- The eyes are open, but nobody's home
- Arms are a bit peculiar
As a member of the first wave of a new building system, the Jetbug has an unusually good price-to-new-piece ratio, so I had no qualms about paying $13 for him. His jetpacks add a lot to the playability of the set, and he's nicely spiky and fiery and cheese-colored and everything. Out of the fire villains, he's probably my favorite, in part because as wonky as his construction is, it's nowhere near as awkward as that of his fellow minions.
It's a fact that your collection will benefit from an infusion of new pieces with whichever new Hero Factory sets you pick up, but the villains have many pieces you won't find in the smaller heroes, and their fire theme offers an altogether different aesthetic. Given this, why not make one of your next sets... the Jetbug?
And so concludes our Jetbug review - be sure to thank Arpy in the Talkback and leave any questions or comments you may have there as well. More reviews are incoming, so keep your eyes on the front page for them and more Bionicle, Hero Factory, and LEGO news!
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