Wednesday, August 5th, 2020 at 6:33am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
Rising from the depths of the earth, the presence of a power from the long past rises and makes itself known again. Yes, that's right, it's a set review by BZPower Reporter Xccj. Today's set is 80010 Demon Bull King from the new Monkey Kid theme. Is this set worth unleashing an ancient evil to get, or should it remained buried in its underground tomb? Read on to find out!
So full disclosure; while I am somewhat aware of the Journey to the West Chinese story, I am far from the target audience that celebrates the narrative and characters as part of their childhood. I will be interested to see how the Monkey Kid theme is received by the Chinese audience, but I am glad it's getting a worldwide release because the sets look quite spectacular. I'll look at the set based on its design merits, but I acknowledge that it will be far more appealing to kids who grew up with stories about the Monkey King and are delighted to play out the story in a LEGO medium.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The box is suitably large for a set of this size. The front shows off the Demon Bull King in full rampage in the city; Monkey Kid and Pigsy are attempting to stop him, but they are so outclassed. The back only shows off one alternative image of the Demon Bull King, but does highlight the light up feature as well as the shoulder cannons. Inside the box are nine bags of pieces plus the instruction booklet. An interesting bit from the instructions is that there's a little Monkey Kid progress bar at the bottom of each page, and M.K. also shows up every time you need to rotate the model while building. I've noticed these additional character artwork in some of the 2020 Ninjago instructions too; it's a neat way to make the build more engaging for a younger audience.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
It's a fun build; you start off with the head, make the torso, build up the legs, put together the arms, and then add a few additional accessories at the end. The construction is not complicated, but it does take a while to piece everything together. There is a significant amount of SNOT designs all over the place, and although the math is not overly complicated, there are some nice flowing structures that seem to wrap around the full core of the beast.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
This set comes with 1051 pieces for $89.99 USD, which is a very reasonable selection. I didn't get a full shot of all the pieces, but here's a collage of some of the more interesting parts I found while constructing him. This set does come with more than a few unique pieces, such as the gunmetal spikes, gold mammoth trunks, trans orange windscreens, and trans orange rounded wall panels. Lots of the magenta and gunmetal pieces are also suitably rare. Unfortunately, a couple of these parts (orange windscreens and magenta 2x4 slopes) have stickers added to them, which decreases their reusability. (I mean, you could just not apply them, but the stickers do add nice details to the full model, so I did it for the review. The loss of the pristine pieces will be hard, but I will persevere.)
The set comes with three minifigures: Monkey Kid, Pigsy, and Princess Iron Fan. Monkey Kid, the theme's namesake, shows up in a lot of sets, but he's a nice addition here. He comes with a new hairpiece with a bandana mold built in, as well as a new headphone accessory to fit around his neck. The legs are dual molded with lots of interesting prints, and he wears an orange jacket with some other cool insignias, one of which looks very reminiscent of the classic space logo. His accessory is Monkey King's staff, which includes a new bar element in a new gold color. Very fancy.
Pigsy is an anthropomorphic noodle chef with neat medium length legs with pockets printed on them, a blue vest with his restaurant's logo on the back, and a pitchfork weapon that looks like it shoots sausages. The pig head is a new mold, but it's designed to fit around the old chef's hat. Meanwhile, the villain fig is Princess Iron Fan, who sports a red and gold dress design with lots of Bull insignia. Her weapon is similar to the banners from recent Ninjago sets, as the bull design is a cutout of this plastic that fits loosely on the spear. Her hairpiece is also brand new, with lots of details in the horn and bun.
The full build of this set is entirely of the Demon Bull King, and he is quite large; he measures just about a foot tall (30 cm) and is quite intimidating. The most detailed part of the design is the head, which includes the two horns made out of mammoth trunks, the fancy nose ring, and the rugged jaw that utilizes the Metalbeard piece. The eye elements are printed on curved slopes and are very visible and striking, giving him a menacing gaze. The torso is adequately large, with a fancy rib cage built around a trans orange core, which reminds me a lot of the 2008 Makuta Phantoka. One neat design is some angled macaroni pieces on the back that form a sort of forge and use some interesting connection points. While the official artwork does show Princess Iron Fan riding up on his shoulder, there's actually very little room for her up there; Demon Bull King was clearly not designs for passengers. (Nor is he meant to be viewed from behind; there're a lot of exposed bricks and studs from that angle.)
The legs are suitably large, with a built in knee bend and some fancy designs around the knee. The rounded dishes and angles shield elements do a good job at making it look like a joint even those the brickwork is solid. The feet themselves have a lot more expose studs than the rest of the set, but they also have the Metalbeard pieces as toes / hooves, so they work out. The upper arms have some beefy armor with trans orange windscreens build in. The left arm end in a simple hand with three fingers and connection points for his axe. The fingers are just clips and do have a tendency to fall off, but they allow for limited posability to adjust his grip. The axe itself is built atop a mast piece, and while the blade does look quite menacing, it's a bit thin and full of gaps. The right arm ends with a flamethrower, but I particularly like the webbed structure using the Exo Force arms and the lantern piece further up. The flame itself is a mix of trans orange and trans black, which is a new color design.
The colors are a bit much on this guy. His "skin" appears to be a mix of dark purple, magenta, and dark red, while his armor consists of black, grays, and gunmetal, with trans orange highlights. It's a lot of colors. On the head and torso, in particular, the skin colors seem kind of random; however, there is a neat layering effect used on the upper arms and legs, which gives the effect of exposed muscles or something. It is nice to get a mech with purple / magenta colors on it, and overall he has a very distinct look that sets him apart from the other protagonists in the theme. But up close, it still feels like a little too much was used. On the other hand, it does give him a more chaotic, underworld style, so it might be one of those times where a messy scheme just works.
Overall, the Demon Bull King has quite an intimidating appearance, and I think the set designers did an excellent job of crafting this monster. The proportions feel about right, and the head is suitably bull-like. (Even if it is a little top heavy; it can't be posed looking up because the connection will just drop it back down.) He makes for a very threatening villain for the theme; Monkey Kid is going to need to pull out all the stops to beat him!
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?
LEGO had made a lot of mechs before, but only a few of this size. When it gets this large and this heavy, there's always an important question to ask: will it stand? Some designs are more versatile than others and allow for more poses. For what it's worth, Demon Bull King has a pretty solid stance. He has two forms of click hinges on the hips, which are restricted but quite sturdy. The ankle connection is actually fairly loose, but the feet are still large enough to adequately support the beast. (Per usual, there is no knee articulation; most system mechs don't utilize knee articulation due to their weight, which would make it difficult to stand upright.) You do have a small range of articulation for the legs, but it doesn't take much to make him lose his balance; this set will not allow you to pose him on one leg.
Another neat feature is the rubber technic piece built into the heel. The rubber hangs down a little bit below the bottom of the foot, which means that it's compressed when the Demon Bull King is standing. However, this gives the feet additional traction so they don't slide back, which words adequately on my hard table surface as well as carpet. I have a feeling that without this design, his feet would constantly slip out from under him.
The arms are a bit more articulate, with shoulder and elbow joints. The shoulders are built into a turntable that is stabilized by a ball joint connection, which allows it to hold the weight nicely. There are some click hinges built into the shoulder too, which offer a wider range of motion, but not nearly as much as we'd expect from a ball joint. Still, the arms can be positioned in a few stances, allowing for some interesting and menacing poses.
There are two basic play features built into the Demon Bull King. The first is the light in the torso; the button is easily assessable on the back, and it lights up the trans orange pieces built into the chest in a very satisfactory way. The rocky wedge piece underneath the windscreen gives the light a neat texture, and adds to the character. The second feature is a bit less interesting; the two cannons mounted on the shoulder have a plunger action that can shoot out studs. It's a brick built function not dissimilar to the many flick fire missile functions of older sets. I mostly dislike this feature because the studs are just resting loosely inside, which means they fall out easily if I try to pose the beast. I'm not very impressed with their addition to the set.
Once you get into mechs this large, there is always a tradeoff between posability and stability. For the Demon Bull King, I think they found a decent middle ground. He reminds me of some of the Ninjago Movie mechs, where were similar in size and price, and he holds his own as one of the larger LEGO mechs released. Granted, he's still not even the largest mech in the theme, but unfortunately I wasn't able to get ahold of the Monkey King mech to compare him too. However, I do like that the theme has two massive mechs in it that you can pit against one another in a massive kaiju-style battle (even if the cost of getting them puts you back more than $200.) I'm looking forward to that when I do eventually get the Monkey King mech. (Maybe... this year hasn't been kind to my wallet.)
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
Very large and intimidating
The head has an intricate bull design
Light up chest feature works great
Lots of good parts
Three detailed figs
What's not to like?
A few too many colors
Limited posability (but that's kind of to be expected for a set this size)
Lackluster shoulder cannon functions
It's crazy that in almost any other theme, this could be the flagship set, but there are still three larger sets than this in the Monkey Kid theme. Still, the Demon Bull King stands out on his own as a very daunting character and looks to be excellent when paired up with the Monkey King mech. He could easily be sent rampaging through your LEGO City. Even so, he is at quite a high price, which could be the limiting factor on how many people pick him up for their kids. Even for a Western audience, I think he's quite impressive, and I hope that the Chinese builders who grew up with Monkey King stories will greatly appreciate the theme; I look forward to see where they take it from here.