Set: 7627 - Indiana Jones - Temple of the Crystal Skull
Out of all the Indy 4 sets, this one seems to cop the most flak - which may account for the fact that the other 3 were reviewed weeks ago and this one has sat, unloved and alone, waiting for someone to turn their eye upon it (or, y'know, buy it). Luckily I'm a sucker for spooky old temples, filled with devilish traps and hidden treasures, hissing fountains and overgrown foliage, creepy skeletons and crumbling stonework, so here it is: Indiana Jones 7627, Temple of the Crystal Skull.
Part 1: The Figs
First off, the figs - 6 humans and 4 skellies (or should that be skullies? )
Indy, Mutt, Irina, and that sneery Russian guy that's in the 2 smaller sets. Nothing new here.
Aha! What have we here - two natives. I wonder if hair is a sign of power in this culture, since one guy is completely bald and the other one has the most extraordinarily luxurious black mullet. Somehow I doubt the movie will answer this question.
Back view - as you can see, the scalp tattoos are also popular in this tribe. Fashion conscious! (Note in the background the paws of the fearsome black jungle panther, ie my cat, curious as to see what the tribe was up to.) Also, don't ask me why these guys are carrying axes rather than, say, spears.
And what everyone's been waiting for, the skullies - three of 'em and a conquistador skellie - very cute. Note the backs of the crystal head have a plume-sized hole - or maybe that's just where they injected the blue brain-plastic. Spooky! I love these skulls, I wasn't sold from the initial pics but they have a very creepy smile and the head shape is just... weird. With the large eyes, it's kind of Homer Simpson-esque.
And here we have the token vehicle in the set - a weird little tank thing with treads. Kind of looks like a cross between the amphibious boat and a mini-tank. I'm sure there's a military expert around here who can tell us exactly what it is supposed to be. The treads are nice, but the rest of it is a bit thrown together. You can tell they wanted to keep the dark green colour scheme but the budget only allowed them 5 parts to do so .
All in all, a mixed bag with the figs. 4 repeats from the cheaper sets which means we have one new native figure and the crystal skullies. There are heaps of the old-skool skele heads scattered around the sets so those that prefer can replace the skullies with ordinary skellies. Bizarrely, the top of the box which has the line of 1:1 figs pic (you know what I mean) doesn't have names for any of the characters, whereas all the smaller sets do.
Part 2: Box, Parts
Front of box:
Back of box:
Two instruction books:
Parts. This set has come under criticism for being overpriced - myself included - but the official piece count is 900 plus, which is pretty good considering it also contains the baseplate. 6 big bags and 2 of those 12x12 bricks in dark tan. (Note: set does not contain live Black Jungle Panther)
The DSS, helpfully comes pre-scrunched thanks to TLC. Even in a $AUD150 set they can't get that right... sigh.
The dark tan baseplate. Say what you like, I'm in love. I know some people don't like these, but they were such a staple of Castle/ Pirates for so many years that I don't consider them a juniorised piece at all. This one, recycled from the 05 Police HQ and 06 Hospital, is much better in design than the King Leo's Castle one as the different heights and asymmetry make it look much more like a natural piece of ground. Perfect for MOCs. And it's dark tan - how could anyone not love such a huge slab of dark tan? Note this love doesn't extend to applying the stonework stickers which are, frankly, crap.
Random instructions page:
Part 3: Temple of Doom - or just a doomed temple?
The complete set, front view.
First impressions? It's very dark tan, isn't it? And green. And bright green. And dark green. And dark red. And normal tan. And dark bley. And pearl gold! In fact, it's a bit of a mish-mash of colours. I'm of two minds about this. I kind of prefer the palette to be a bit subtler, but I can see that a playset designed for kids isn't going to sell bucketloads all tastefully done in shades of tan with lashings of dark-green foliage. There's a huge amount of dark red in this set, which is always a welcome colour, but I'm not convinced it quite works with the 2 shades of tan on offer here. On the plus side, there's also a huge amount of dark tan in ordinary 2x2 bricks, tiles, plates and 1x1 and 1x2x3 slopes, which is great for anyone wanting to stock up.
Let's take a closer look. I'll do this roughly in order of the build itself:
a) The big scary face.
This is a simple, fun build and very effective at projecting menace at the temple entrance. It actually detaches very easily from the temple (as pictured on the box art) to allow easier access to the inside. The eyes are flick-fire missiles, with Scary Face's hair conveniently providing ammo refills should you run out. All in all, from me.
(b) The Back
Spin the skelly head and stone steps appear - we haven't seen this feature in a while. Nice to get these pieces in dark bley.
A conquistador hides under the stairs - this is a bit useless as the stairs can't fully extend while he's there .
Moving right... a trapdoor - what could possibly be behind it??!!??!!?
Answer: not much, really. A little red stair. I really like these 2 stickers though - very intricate.
The staircase leads to what I like to think of as the Crystal Skull Transmogrification Chamber. Now, I know nothing about the movie except that it's supposed to be have a kind of 50s B-movie plot rumoured to feature (look away, spoiler-haters)..... aliens. These weird, creepy gold chairs look made from the bones of aliens if you ask me, with their strange vertebrae and silver claws. It wouldn't surprise me if bringing these aliens back to life was part of the plot of the movie... hence the crystal skull? I guess we'll find out May 22. In any case, transforming aliens clearly like a disco whirl as when you pull the handle, the whole of this assembly spins giddily around. A very clever and simple trick - it's basically just a wheel under the platform but the effect is great. Also under here is a bottomless pit (stickered)... I would very much expect a villian to be thrown down it at some point.
"So, do you come here often?"
"I don't know who designed this club. These chairs are REALLY uncomfortable."
NB. I am really, really over those pearl gold 1x2 roof corner slopes which started popping up in the 2006 Castle range, infected Exo-Force and have now spread here. Can we please have these in a different colour? Or a different pearl gold piece? Pretty please?
( c) Left tower (looking from the front)
A small tower with a trans clear gem.
(d) Right tower
Waterfall with booby trap. I like the sticker, it's very cartoony, which fits with the set somehow. When you turn the wheel, flick fire missiles spray out and hit whoever is on the stairs.
Both towers have a trap where if you move the skull, another one pops out from the dragon mouth.
(e) Central turret thing
This thing is kind of annoying and doesn't really sit or work well. It's kind of like a laser beam sending messages to space, I guess. As the central dome rises, the two plates peel away. I find it is a little bit tight to work smoothly and the two plates doesn't really sit well together at the top. Maybe I just need to rebuild it. I'm sure this will also be explained in the movie.
(f) Final trap - the stair that isn't there
The final trap is at the front - as Indy goes down the staircase, you can push the red heads and all the 1x8 bley bricks come tumbling down. Simple and works well.
(g) Alternate view
Here's how it looks as pictured on the box with the head removed. As you can see, this allows better access to the centre of the temple. As you can see, sadly there is nothing actually interesting there except a staircase to the turret and 2 dark tan slopes which are just stuck there and look a little out of place. I mean, come on, everything else has a splash of dark red and gold!
Your Destination: Nowhere!
Part 4: In Conclusion
So after all those endless pics, what about the set itself?
CONS:As a playset, 7627 doesn't quite make sense. Admittedly, the traps that are there are well-designed and unobtrusive. On the other hand, there's a great big whopping entrance at the front - but I wasn't sure if the figs are supposed to sneak in through the backdoor and go up the spiral staircase and past the waterfall (as shown in the box art) or if they were meant to end up in the golden skull room. The middle area doesn't really connect with anything, nor does the giant space turret. It may be that some of these questions are answered in the film, but whereas with 7624, 7625 and 7626 I could at least picture a story myself (eg with River Chase is fairly obvious what's happening - a chase down a river with a croc and a communist staking them out)!, the Temple set is a little all over the place. The design feels a little off to me - not really bad but not really great either.
On the plus side, the natives and crystal skulls themselves are great. At 900+ pieces, this is also a great parts pack for dark tan, dark red, plant pieces, gold oddments etc. I especially love the baseplate in that shade. I like the overall shape of the temple - a big staircase with secret nooks and crannies. The build is reasonably interesting and there are some clever tricks with the traps.
But upon reflection I shouldn't have to sell this set - it should be able to sell itself! As I said before, I'm a huge fan of dark, mysterious old temples so for that I have to give it some love. It reminds me of the big old Adventurers sets and the whiff of nostalgia is itself a powerful intoxicant. However, for the price Lego is selling it in Australia/ Europe/ Canada I couldn't recommend it as a must-buy for full price when the smaller sets in this series are themselves so good.
Review done - woo!
Edited by imperialshadows, 01 June 2008 - 11:59 AM.