REVIEW: 4182 The Cannibal Escape
Posted 24 April 2011 - 09:25 PM
When I read that the Pirates sets had been spotted in stores, I frantically became eager to get my hands all over them. Unfortunately, I had to make the long haul to my nearest LEGO store to find any at all, and the only one that they had that I wanted was…
Set Title: The Cannibal Escape
Set #: 4182
Theme: Pirates of the Caribbean
Film: Dead Man's Chest
Year of Release: 2011
Price at Release: USD 30, GBP 27
Buy it? Inventory? Bricklink LEGO
Browse the pics? Flickr
I wouldn't say that the news of Pirates sets made me giddy as a schoolgirl, but it did make me giddy. I really don't like the Pirates films very much, but I love Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp (pretty well) so the idea of getting them in minifigure form was a pleasing prospect. When the pictures came out, I wasn't enthralled by any of the sets themselves, but the minifigures looked lovely and I set my eyes on Captain's Cabin (because it is cheap), Isla de la Muerta (two Barbossas!) and The Cannibal Escape (parentheses are fun, aren't they?).
Well, as I said I've only been able to find this one in person so far, so let's see what it''s like…
The front of the box features some lovely art and a little bit of action. The colors are enticingly deep and rich, although I'm not loving the windswept look of human Captain Jack up there in the corner. It's a little creepy.
Now would be a good time to show you just how small the box really is. Obviously, my decision to buy a set isn't based on the size of the box; I'd buy it if it came in a ziploc bad with crappily printed piece of paper for artwork. But, for those know-nothing parents out there, are they going to want to shell out 30 smackers for a box this small? Just look at it compared to the similarly priced PoP Fight for the Dagger box to note the difference:
Well, whatever, small box, moving on. The back reminds me of Indiana Jones boxes; plain presentation with a few features. It's really quite appealing (despite the box being small).
On the top is the typical 1:1 figures picture, which still fits despite the box size (ok, I'll shut up about the small box now). Mmmm… delicious figures!
To my ghastly horror, the instructions weren't packaged in their own bag with cardboard. What is this nonsense! I might've said I wouldn't mention the box size again, but since it's so small the instructions were completely smashed! Thank goodness there is no sticker sheet in this set; that would've been a disaster.
The build limps along as usual, but the color differentiation is good and there isn't anything repetitive (besides for the cage). A fine booklet.
One point of interest is that, despite this set being from Dead Man's Chest, the instructions have a little Aqua de Vida pic on each page. This is actually faintly visible on the back of the box as well. It just means that LEGO is using the same instructions design for all PotC sets.
There are also pages showing all of the collectible posters, and an ad for Alien Conquest sets. I suspect that by the time the PotC sets are available everywhere internationally, Alien Conquest sets will be popping up as well (they are already available in the U.S. from TRU upon this writing).
My pictures for the poster came out quite badly, colorwise. In any case, the set-specific side of the poster is quite lovely. It's interesting that it features Will as the main focus instead of Jack, but I guess Will needs to shine every once and a while despite being the straight man of the films and playing second fiddle to just about everybody else.
The back is probably the same for all of the posters, and it features the map from At World's End and On Stranger Tides with some PotC figures mixed in to whet your minifigure appetite. I don't know what the code does, I haven't tried it.
Now then, onto the plastic!
Since the figures were the biggest draw of this set to me, this section is going to be lengthy. So let's go!
This set comes with four figures: a young fit cannibal, an older pudgy cannibal, Jack Sparrow in tribal chief-thingy make-up, and Will Turner being himself. Will is the only figure that is available looking exactly the same in another set (the Mill). The look of these figures is fantastic; so fantastic that they each get many pictures so that I can talk about them more specifically. The first and most obvious thing that I love about this minifigure assortment is that the two cannibals are not the same. LEGO could've gone the route of those IJ Natives in the IJ Cemetery Duel, but the company went the extra mile (or kilometer) and gave us two very distinct cannibals!
I've removed the hair pieces so that you can see the face prints in their full glory, besides for Will whose (lovely) hair doesn't cover anything up. Those cannibal prints are so nice, but I don't know if that brown line on the white-makeup guy is supposed to be there or if it's a misprint. Still, it isn't too bad. I for one do not like Jack's face so much. It's good enough to be the character, but it doesn't remind me of Johnny Depp in the slightest. The painted eyes are good details, but since LEGO heads are so small the eyes are pushed to Jack's cheeks, instead of being under his real eyes like they are in the film. The effect is a bit odd. As for Will, I will get to him separately.
Oh man, back prints too! I love the detailing on the cannibals, and the other two have nice back-of-shirt prints as well. I'm not fond of the alternate expressions for Cannibal Jack and Will though; Jack looks more like he ate something spicy than scared, and Will just looks kind of… not very Will-ish. Besides, when does Jack actually get scared? His swagger never wears off…
While I'm back here, let me take a look at the backs of the hair pieces as well. Jack's hairpiece is neat all around, though a bit too large and lumpy for me to want to use on custom figures. The ponytail piece, though, is so great! LEGO has just been showering us with new hairpieces lately, and I'm reveling in it. This piece would be supreme for a Princess Bride Wesley figure!
Forget about the set, I'm ready to play around with these figures right now! Jolly good fun!
Now it's time for a few subheadings…
Holding the ultra-detailed and iconic Captain Jack in my hand got me thinking about the other protagonists of licensed themes of late. So here we are: Indy, Dastan, Harry Potter, and Captain Jack. All of these figures are nice in there way (except Harry, he pales in comparison but continues to grin stupidly), but Jack really stands out because of his rock star Keith Richards (Captain Teague, daddio) look. Still, each of these Licensed protagonists (besides Harry, he sucks) have brought us new head-covering moulds, new accessory moulds, and new versatile prints that are good for fleshing up City, Castle, Action, and Pirate themes (here Harry finally does ok with his plain civilian clothes).
Last time there were island natives, they looked a bit… different. King Kahuka looks like he's been partying stoned at a Marti Gras compared to these savages.
I've saved my favorite of the bunch for last. Will Turner, with such an ornate shirt, subtle smile, beautiful hair… and he looks like Orlando Bloom to boot! Why, this reminds me of the last time I went crazy over a new minifigure… here it is, CloneyO's favorite dream team minifigure couple (ah, how could I have let Ginny get so dusty!?):
*Slap* Stop in CloneyO, you're starting to go overboard. *Slap* They're just little pieces of plastic, gosh!
What would a set be without weapons, animal friends, boxes, and other stuff? Here's the lot: multi-colored parrot, read and green snakes, printed compass, three cutlasses, two spear, one backpack thingy (hailing from recent city sets), wine bottle, cutlass holder, and… a black cylinder with metallic silver 1x1 round on top. Some medicine thing confiscated from our heroes perhaps? I don't know. Anyway, one thing that makes me really like the cutlass holder accessory is that it is in the same style as the Indy bag; it's nice that they go together like that. It's also just cool in and of itself, and I've heard it's been desired fro quite sometime. Though I didn't illustrate it, the holder can take your katanas and other swords as well, but be gentle now.
First to build (coming in Bag 1 with the figures) is this rotating spit, or, as I've called it, the Party Roaster. After all, the Cannibals are roasting some humans up for a party, are they not? The firey bits are nice, but I don't know why jumper plates were used in there. It doesn't make a difference though.
While it looks good on its own, the Party Roaster really has a flawed design. When you attach a minifigure, gravity quickly brings the minifigure down to face the embers. Ok fine. The real problem is that you can't set the Roaster up on display with a Cannibal roasting Jack, because a figure's feet can't touch the ground. Additionally, how much fun is spinning a figure round and round (like a record)? Not that much fun I'd say. With a minifigure trying to do it for you, you end up with a comical scene like this:
THRONE & BONE CAGE
Bag 2 brings us the parts for the throne and bone cage, so I've displayed them here together. First, let me say that love seeing the older skellie heads, as opposed to the creepier redo that is still around as well (not the zombie-fied Castle one). The throne looks quite good with its Piraka spines and lovely printed 2x4 tile. It's also a very good representation of the source material (not superb, but good). The bone cage, while a tedious build, is quite a pretty model once completed, and a nice way for people not into Ninjago to snag some of those bone parts. I really like that cage a lot.
The sides don't look like much, but it's a fine place to note that there are skulls all around the cage. I'll admit that the older skull looks cartoony and silly as opposed to frightening, but I prefer it anyway. Not everything has to be creepy; those cannibals are creepy enough themselves.
The throne really falls down on the backside, where there is no detailing and the click hinges are prominent. Solution: don't look at it from the backside (there's really no reason to). The bone cage is still nice and boney.
The cage and throne also look great once populated by our little plastic friends. Note that the bone cage is tall enough for Will to stand up, which is a very nice touch.
Also, the cutlass holder is made in such a way that a minifigure can sit down while wearing it, which is great (and the ponytail is made so that it doesn't interfere with the strap). Will looks happy, maybe because the Cannibals forgot to take his cutlass away.
So, I've said that both the throne and the cage look nice, but are they cool? Are they neat? Are they fun? The truth is that the throne does what it is supposed to do: be a throne, and a nice one to boot. As for the cage, it has to be my favorite built part of this set; it just looks so organic and really made from bone. The answers to my three previous questions are 'yes,' 'yes,' and 'well… define fun.' I'd say they're fun display pieces, and the cage rolls… (sorry about my piss-filtered camera)
The third and final bag contains parts for the hut/shack/Cannibal house place thingy. Right off the bat, that is one heck of a nicely-designed hut. The BURPs used for tree parts is kind of weird, but it works. What I really like are the large dark tan leaves; they seem plucked straight from the tree, and then sun dried over time. The effect of the blending of dark tan, red-brown, and dark red-brown (with a hint of green) is magnificent and highly realistic.
The hut continues to shine from the sides, with a little window on the left side. The only design issue is that the tree seems awfully flat from the side and back, but it isn't too glaring. The chain for the cage is also incorporated nicely.
I'm not crazy about the cylinders used in the tree; for them I would coin the term NNPU, standing for Not Nice Part Usage. It's not typical for LEGO to use two BURPS back to back; usually they use the hollow insides to some effect. Still, I don't think a tree completely built out of normal bricks would've been better, so the BURP use is just fine by me. The designer clearly didn't zone out on the back side, which is much appreciated.
Here's a closer shot of the interior, showing where the cannibals have stashed the cutlasses and wine bottle in a barrel, and the mystery cylinder in the tan satchel. It's quite cramped, but you could always take out the accessories and then have more room for the cannibalistic goodness.
The roof doesn't suffer the same cramped problem as the interior; even with the chain-winding contraption there is ample room for two (or more!) cannibals. I wasn't expecting so much room up here, so I am really quite pleased by it.
Before I go onto the whole set, here's a picture of the hut with the bone cage attached. While the bone cage really looks nice with the hut, it has a terrible time staying with Will looking forward, and likes to swing around incessantly. You will not that the cage seems just a bit blurry in this and the next picture; it was swinging.
WHOLE SET & CONCLUSION
So here it is; the Party Roaster, throne, bone cage, and hut have all come together to form the entire set. Besides for the Roaster, which is too large, everything is well-designed and looks good with the figures.
But… and it really is a big 'but,' does just looking good make it a good set? Am I satisfied looking at these various constructions before me, knowing that I have bought them with 30 of my dollars?
The best answer is 'um.' I'm not anal about the stupid 10-cent-per-piece crap, and I'm happy about my four minifigures and my parts, but at the same time this set is just not all that satisfying. Honestly, this set feels like a simple but pleasing MOC, and in a strange way I'd rather I had built it myself from my own parts. I'm not one to say that a set should've been cheaper, because $30 is certainly the correct and fair price for this one, but that doesn't make it a great set. I think the problem lies in the fact that LEGO is primarily good at making sets that are either vehicles or distinctive buildings, not organic, realistic things made of mud and sticks and bones. There's nothing wrong with the set per se, but at the same time it isn't all that satisfying. I'm not sorry with my purchase, but then I didn't truly expect it to be so wonderful; I wanted the minifigures, and I suppose the parts as well. That's the way you have to go into buying a set like this.
Parts: 8/10 - Some good colors, nice bones, printed design. Good stuff, but nothing to go gaga about.
Minifigures: 9/10 - Four different ones, and some great designs. I docked a point because I don't like Jack's face; I really don't.
Design: 8/10 - Stuff looks good for the most part, but the cage does not stop swinging and the Roaster is a FAIL.
Price: 8/10 - It's the right price, but there's an odd feeling of not getting your money's worth even though you did. Strange.
Playability: 6/10 - This set is devoid of features, and in this case I think it could've benefited from some. I suppose I wouldn't have liked sacrificing the design of the hut for features, but a set with no good gimmicks at all is a teensy bit of a let down.
Overall: 7.8/10 - Where I come from, that is a high 'C,' meaning a normal, average passing grade. It's hard for me to exactly reflect in numbers how I feel about this set, but I think I've done so in words. Some of you will probably like this set much more than I did, and some less, but in the end I think we could probably agree that it's a set that has its goods and its bads, but in the end is really nothing special.
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Posted 24 April 2011 - 10:51 PM
There's something about this set that I find oddly appealing. Perhaps it's because this set reminds me of something from the Islanders subtheme which I love so much. I also love Lego structures. While I'm one of those people that misses having baseplates in their sets, I think this one works pretty well without the inclusion of one - if only for ease of display purposes. The minifigures and accessories are my favorite part of the PotC line and this set delivers.
I find this is the case for many modern sets. My explanation is that new sets have a large portion of their piece count taken up my small parts that are used for detailing. This results in a physically smaller yet more detailed set than something of equal piece count from say 5+ years ago. Or perhaps I'm just crazy...
Shame that your set didn't get the full protective treatment for the instructions et al. Is this going to be a trend for certain regions or are some early batches just missing it?
Anyways, once again, great review.
Posted 24 April 2011 - 11:04 PM
Posted 29 April 2011 - 03:03 AM
Posted 30 April 2011 - 06:26 PM
There's also not much of a pull-factor for the minifgures for me, since I already have Will, the other two versions of Jack, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't spend 30 USD for the cannibals (although they are nice).
Definitely an average rating. Not horrible, but still lacking.
Currently playing JimButcher in Eurobricks Mafia
Posted 01 May 2011 - 11:03 AM
I have yet to get hold of any of these PotC sets, but this'll be one of the first I buy.
Posted 01 May 2011 - 05:38 PM
Well, as I say I myself don't mind the smaller box size. I know (or at least think I know) what I'm getting when I buy a set, and the box size doesn't factor into my decision at all.
But is the small box size really a good thing for overall sales? I am not well-versed in marketing issues and strategies, but I have seen numerous parents in toy isles balk at the high price of LEGO as it is; will they really feel a box of this size is worth $30? As I illustrate, it really is drastically smaller than a $30 box was last year, and I just don't know if that will sit well with parents. LEGO has made marketing mistakes before, and I wouldn't be all that surprised if we see larger boxes again next year, if not as large as they were last year.
So, from an environmentalist point of view, then yes it is a good thing. But it seems a bit iffy to me on the sales side of things.
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