This review will be on the 8971 Aerial Defense Unit.
Direct quote from Lego.com said:
Red alert for Agents Chase, Charge and Swift! Dr. Inferno’s hot-headed henchman Magma Commander is unleashing his magma-drones on the City. Your Mission: to destroy his satellite broadcaster and neutralize the drones! To do it, you’ll need the newest Agents aerial defense vehicle, the enormous, gadget-packed twin-propeller Agent Chopper!
•Includes 7 minifigures: Agents Chase, Trace &Charge, Magma Commander & 3 Magma Drones!
•Twin-propeller activates by pulling trigger on handle!
•Zip lines take Agents into action!
•Open the side doors to play inside Agents’ command center with computers and added gadgets!
•Aerial Defense helicopter measures over 17 inches (43.2cm) long!
Set Name: Agents: 8971 Aerial Defense Unit
Price: $109.99/78.50EUR/69.12GBP (Just a little note: Lego sells it for $79.99, TRU online is $89.99, my local TRU was a whopping $109.99, which is where I got the price from.)
Here are some quicklinks lego.com, brickset
Wanna see some pictures? Let's start with the normal box arts and manuals!
Now here's something most people didn't see untill now. The back of the box. It shows you the entire cast and what other tricks the helicopter can do!
The side of the box
The two instruction books
Some inside pages of the manual
Meet the cast of this set
Front. Three Magma-drones, Magma Commander and the Agents team-Chase, Charge(wearing the new armor) & Swift(holding the new armor.)
Rear photo. On Agent Charge, you can see the stud that would attach himself to the zip-line.
New body armor/zip line attachment
Here you can see a close up of Agent Swift holding the new, printed body armor. The armor has one stud in the back that would allow it to be attached to the zip line for a quick drop on the enemy. I think Lego did a good job with it by not using a sticker on it. At least it's not as non-detailed as some of the add-ons for some Clone troopers. As for Agent Swift, she's different from Agent Trace, in that she went with a "Irina Spalko" wanna be haircut, instead of long brown hair like Agent Trace. Btw, You know, Irina Spalko is that lady from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. With a bowl cut, haircut.
Front and rear photo. About 10 pieces are used to build it. I think this is a bit out of place, but Lego wanted a interesting gadget for the back of the helicopter. You can't sit a Agent in the seat and have him come popping out of the rear of the copter. For one thing, it's loaded in forward and another is, this helicopter isn't a water capable. So dropping out the rear blind really wouldn't be in the best of care for the Agent.
The enemy base
Here are some all around shots of the base of Dr. Inferno. While there are some rare pieces like the brown rock wall, I didn't think there was enough to call it a base. I supposed if you let your imagination run wild, you can picture this as the entrance only and you're supposed to make up the rest of the layer. Anyways, in the photo of the back of the entrance, you can see how things work. At the top, you have the huge radar dish. You can rotate it by turning that black knob in the back. It uses some gears to turn 90 degrees to pivot the dish. Also, you can see what appears to be a docking station for the magma-drone. Above the station, you have a lookout area with a large screen to show what coming. In this case, the Agent's Helicopter. How the bad guys get up to the look out I don't know. No ladder. In the front, you have the handle to open and close the "mouth" entrance gate. Of course, there's a gun/camera to shoot whoever maybe standing there trying to get in.
The Agents Command Helicopter
The main reason why I got this set is for this great looking vehicle! Twin-rotors. Very original! You don't really need to have a tail rotor if you have the dual-counter rotating main blades. But I guess TLC didn't want it to look too strange for the kid buyer in all of us. Although, I don't know what kid had $100 to throw at this set.
Here is the front view. Here you can see dual cannons on either side that can be rotated but not raised or lowered. The cockpit canopy can be opened. Not something people could see in the box art, but there is a co-pilot seat. This set cries out for more than 3 Agents. Let's see how many Agents would be needed... A pilot and a co-pilot/gunner.
Here is a rear shot. Again, nicely detailed. I like the small black engines used. You don't see to many of those. Using a little red stud for effect comes off nice. Multiple locations on this helicopter, you will find a left/red and right/green light bricks. Not lighted bricks, but what would be signal lights on a real helicopter. Again, good attention to detail.
Here is a top view. Can't really tell the twin rotors are at an angle, but now you can see how smooth and contoured the top is.
The underside. I personally think they used a bit too much yellow. But then again, the Agents "colors" are for the most parts, Dark blue, Yellow, and silver. Another misplaced color is the red.
Here is the cockpit with the canopy opened. You see Agent Chase in the pilot seat. The red behind him is the co-pilot/gunner seat, and behind that, you can see two rather large spools that hold the zip lines for the left and right drop lines. The grey hubs on either side of the helicopter you see in the picture is what you use to wind up the zip lines. The yellow peg holds on a the black gear the zip line so it doesn't unwind when not needed.
Another view with Agent Chase getting into the cockpit. And now you can get a closeup view of the copilot seat. Also in better view is the grey hub and yellow lever just to the back of the co-pilot seat.
Here is a direct rear-view of the helicopter. A bit hard to tell, but that red square is the back of the seat for the Jet-ski.
Here I made Agent Chase pull double duty and load in the Jet-ski. This photo took the longest to shoot. Lol! On a smooth table and trying to get the jet-ski to stay at an angle with a Agent standing behind it took about 5 minutes of fussing. I was one minute away of just using tape and Photoshoping the tape out.
And here's where you finally get to see the side doors open. I bet you didn't know both front and back opens, huh? Anyways, I took this shot so you can see the jet-ski loaded in the back.
Here is photo with the single rear door open. Notice the computer and yellow standing pad. A Agent could be standing here doing computer work. If you're playing our game of how many Agents are needed, this is #3.
And here is the front door open with Agent Charge on the zip line! That zip line holds extra gear for him when he is lowered. As you can see, that would be his gun and walkie-talkie. Agent Charge makes #4. If you look inside still, that round grey disk is the backside of Agent's Swift zip-pac. LOL! If you're from Hawaii, you'll catch the joke about "Zip pac". Ahem. That make Agent #5, and of course the back rear of the helicopter also hold another computer terminal on the door, so that's #6. And Agent #7 would be for the Jet-ski. Wow. Wouldn't it have been cool to have a command center with the actual amount of minifigs?
Here is both door swung away differently. This is one of the few shots if you view the "bigger" photo of it, you can see the inside well. There's a column in the middle that houses four extra gear.
Another front view with all four doors open. In this shot I focused on the "gears" for the helicopter blades to show you some detail.
And for your enjoyment, an example of the twin-blades at work!
Here is the combined photo of the set. Same one I used for the title picture. First time I did a title photo, I hope it came out well enough. With a white background, it's a bit hard to tell that the helicopter is really in the air. It is. I just cleaned it up a little so you couldn't see what held it up.
This set does rank up there as the #2 set to get for the Agent series just behind the real 8635: Lego Agent: Mobile Command Center. They do give "only" three Agents and four bad guys. Many accessories for the gadget oriented Agent. Everything from binoculars, guns, Walkie-Talkies, etc. The Helicopter is great! Many parts that move including a working dual-blade main rotor. A so-called base for the baddies that you can blow the cra.. I mean blow up.
Playability: 5 out of 5. Nice! This set seems very playable! Nothing seems very fragile, except that the "base" seems very sparse.
Design: 4 out of 5. The helicopter is the reason why I bought this set. It's very well designed. The only real gripe is that the helicopter really doesn't need a tail rotor because it uses two main blades to counter act the rotational effect a single main rotor would produce. And again, I still think the base was a afterthought. Not enough pieces to be really good, and yet, if thy left it out, this set would be missing something for the helicopter to attack.
Build experience: 4 out of 5. Comparing to other Agent sets. I think only the Mobile Command Center is harder. Only thing I think some people may have an issue is with putting on the stickers straight, and tying the string used for lowering the agents.
Overall: 4 out of 5. I love the set! Is it worth the $79.99 that Lego wants for it? Yes! Is it worth the $100+ that I paid from the local TRU for? No. I would say it's one of the more original designs that Lego has come up with. I don't remember Lego ever making a dual rotor helicopter.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!
All photos are click able for larger, bigger-than-life picture sizes! You can see all photos used here: Agents: 8971 Aerial Defense Unit