Sunday, June 15th, 2014 at 9:09pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
BZPower was lucky enough to get our hands on some of the summer Hero Factory sets, courtesy of LEGO, and it's time to share our thoughts on them. Up today we've got 44028 SURGE & ROCKA Combat Machine, the largest hero set this year. Will these two heroes be enough to fend off the invasion from below, or is it doomed to warm the shelves? Read and watch on to find out!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
Unlike the majority of the 2014 Hero Factory sets, the Combat Machine comes in a box instead of a bag. Despite that, we get a very similar design, with some nice stylized artwork in the top right corner, an image indicating the herofigs and invaders that come in the set, and of course the vehicle itself, using flickfires and Zamor launchers to take out the incoming invaders. On the back we have callouts to the many play features the set contains, as well as a 1:1 illustration of the Surge and Rocka herofigs. There's definitely quite a bit that this set can do!
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Building this set was quite fun. The legged-machine is a primarily constraction-based build, utilizing a wide variety of pieces and some interesting techniques to create the main body. The flying-machine, on the other hand, makes heavy use of Technic elements - this mixes up the build considerably and is a bit refreshing in the world of Hero Factory. It took a good sixteen minutes to get everything done, which is pretty long for a constraction set. One of the more fun builds I've had in a while.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Compared to the winter 2014 Hero Factory sets, there are very few new pieces here. The main one is the new 'egg' part, which has a hard black plastic base and a flexible translucent red top. We also get two size 5 armor shells with a new printing pattern on them and two of the smaller invader feet from earlier this year. Rounding out the standouts, we have minifig heads in solid red and lime green, Rocka's helmet, and Surge's helmet - the second brand new piece in this set.
Overall, there's a lot of variety here, with many different sizes of Hero Factory limbs, armor shells, and Technic pieces. I don't believe any of them were new or recolors though, so while the selection is nice and would be a good addition to any collection, there's not a lot of draw in the set from that perspective.
The final product is, well it's a machine that can likely do combat. It has a rather ungainly appearance that I suppose puts function over form. The orange cockpits clash with the blue and gunmetal and make me wish they were some other color, but aside from that the color scheme looks pretty good. There's just something about it though - I think the best comparison I can make is that it reminds me of that character in that animated movie that's really clumsy and trips over its own legs all the time - the Combat Machine just looks awkward.
Things don't get much better when you take off the flying-machine. The back of the legged-machine suddenly looks very empty and has four exposed and unused balljoints that make it look rather unfinished. It becomes clear that there's not really a lot of bulk to the walker and it's just four long legs attached to a couple of torso pieces.
The flying-machine fares a little better once removed. The cockpit is still an eyesore, and personally I think it looks better if you remove it and treat the top as an un-heroed aerial vehicle. Still, it has a cool-looking shape with those forward-swept wings and canards on the front. I'm not sure what the trans-light-blue piece on the back is supposed to be, if it's an engine or what, but I guess it looks neat too.
The herofigs are essentially the same as the ones we saw at the beginning of the year. Surge is new, obviously, which means we get blue arms, legs, and a new helmet in blue as well. Surge also wears the darker gunmetal armor while Rocka wears the lighter shade. Underneath they both have blank minifig heads, one in lime green and the other in red. The figs are still cool - no complaints here.
The little invaders are the same as the first-half sets as well. It could have been nice to get some new colors for these guys, but that's a relatively minor quibble. They still remind me of the Visorak and they still jump pretty well.
What the invaders didn't have in the first part of the year was the eggs. The eggs use a tri-axle connector so the three parts can form a whole. I like the attention to detail with the teeth along the sides of the egg interlocking. Connection points are limited, but there is a pin-hole you could use to attach it to the side of a wall or something. They'd also look perfect in a diorama of that one scene in Alien.
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?
So many play features, so little time! Starting out we have the launchers - ten flick-fires all told with six on the walker and four on the flyer along with the Zamor launcher on the walker as well. They are what they are, and while I'm not a big fan they make sense for the set and are certainly not the worst implementation of them I've seen.
Of course one of the main play features is that the flyer disconnects from the walker and you get two vehicles! One cool thing the back of the instructions told me is that 44025 BULK Drill Machine and 44027 BREEZ Flea Machine use a similar connection technique for their drill and claw launcher, so you can swap them all around depending on the mission. While the flyer coming off adds some nice playability in its own right, this interchangeability makes them even more fun to play with! In theory, you could make your own tools or weapons and throw them into the mix as well!
On its own, the flyer has a cool little feature. The two wings are connected with a flex-axle, and when you move it back and forth, the wings go from folded to deployed. It's simple but effective. The blue piece that may be the engine can also rotate, and of course there's the flick-fires.
The walker is actually surprisingly hard to pose. Each leg has four points of articulation and they're meant to give it an inverted look you see on many quadruped animals. This means you have to keep track of one more joint than usual when moving the legs, and it's hard to find poses that look 'correct.' Also, the hips all use the friction connectors, which provide so much resistance that the legs seem to pop off more often than they move to whatever complex position you're trying to arrange them into. You can see this happen a couple times in the video. I feel like this hurts the play value a bit, and while it does help the set hold poses like the above, it makes it difficult to get the machine into said poses.
I missed demonstrating this in the video, since I didn't notice it in the back of the instructions until after I recorded. The sides of the egg can fold down and will stay folded, looking like spiky flower petals and allowing the invader within to hatch and hop out. This is really awesome and I love the effect it provides.
Of course, even if you don't have the Drill Machine or Flea Machine to swap parts with, the Combat Machine still can provide a ton of role-playing fun. You've got two heroes and two invaders - sure the heroes have a giant vehicle that's armed to the teeth, but the invaders still have a chance... Right? (Hint: nope, no chance.)
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Fun and engaging build with both constraction and Technic techniques
- Cool new egg parts that allow the invaders to hatch
- Herofigs and invaders are still awesome
- Good selection of pieces
- Lots of play features
- Interchangeability with other sets
What's not to like?
- Final model looks awkward
- Difficult to pose
- Lots of gaps in the torso
- Orange cockpits still jarring
I think that while this set has a lot going for it on paper, the final model just doesn't do it for me. I had fun building it and I like all the play features, but I'm just not a fan of the looks of the Combat Machine. If you think it looks cool then you'll have a lot of fun with this set, otherwise, it's not bad to see the interesting build and to supplement your parts collection, but I'd look towards other summer sets first before I decided on this one.
Thank you all for reading and watching! I hope you found my thoughts on the set useful and perhaps insightful. Our summer Hero Factory reviews have only just begun, so keep checking back for more, along with all the latest LEGO news, here on BZPower!
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