Set Name: 8637 Volcano Base
Piece Count: 738
Price: $AUD99.99; 49.99 GBP; EUR 69.99
Dr Inferno is a supervillain on the move. So far this year he's had a plethora of vehicles released but nowhere to call home. Thankfully with the advent of 8637 he finally has a lair to call his own. Featuring built-in thermal heating, the Volcano Base is warm and cosy all year round! It's also a tastefully themed pad in shades of trans orange, dark brown, orange and lime, although the interior decoration is a little lacking. For security reasons, the architect had to be thrown into the built-in firepit so as not to reveal the base's secrets, but join us on our leisure tour of the must-see anti-hero holiday house of 2008 - viva the Volcano Base!
Part 1: From out of the box
Random instruction page:
2 x DSSs:
Parts unveiled! I love to swirl everything together in one big mess, it reminds me of how I built as a kid.
BURPy-LURPy goodness - 5 large red brown ones and 4 of the smaller trans-orange ones. This set is a bonanza for landscaping .
Part 2: Minifigs and Agents Jet
Nothing new with the Agents and their confusing rhyming names - Agents Chase and Trace are obviously destined to be together and have several kids called Lace, Case and Mace. Agent Fuse sends most of his time in this set indulging in a little light bondage - see handcuffs - which is a nice change after the sexist Mission 4 had Agent Trace chained to the shark buoy. Good to see gender equality, TLC!
Three villians - two new ones - the deadly Claw-Dette and Fire-Arm.
It's always good to have another Dr Inferno, although compulsory arm-replacement seems to be a mark of loyalty to the great man, as all three figs here have the modified cyber-hands. Fire-Arm is a bit of a waste as the giant gun just looks ludicrous - but what do I know, after weeks of knowing about this fig, I only just got the pun 'fire-arm' = 'firearm' . Claw-Dette is a vision of loveliness, the Irina hair fits perfectly, and how wonderful that TLC has given us *another* female torso for this line. That's 2 female minifigs in a non S@H exclusive set! Worlds may implode! The new face is nice, with just a hint of lime green eyeshadow - now that's scary .
I didn't like the jet from the pics, but the build is a fun one and it looks good. The technic axle, when pushed, releases a net. This function works better than I thought it would. On the box art they show this net dropping onto the villain controlling the fire-pit, but how tangling someone in a web is going to stop Agent Fuse from turning into Agent Flambe is beyond me. This is one of those rare situations when one of those Fire helicopters so beloved of the City designers would actually be useful!
Underside showing net in position:
Part 3: Volcano Day!
This set has been one of the most anticipated of the year for me, mainly because of the great concept, well-executed design and wonderful landscaping. It is also a treasure trove for parts enthusiasts. Apart from the BURPs, there's 43 large dark brown slopes, 23 smaller dark brown slopes, 19 1x1 trans orange bricks, 45 small orange slopes, 13 trans orange cheese pieces and a smattering of metallic silver . The colours all work well together to form the rocky mountain sides and give a real depth and play of light to the set - I'm glad they released this in a year where we now have dark brown, as it wouldn't look nearly as good in all red-brown or with black instead. The colours are really textured, and the intricate cascading lava slopes add a real MOC feel to the set.
It's hard to tell from the pics, but the lava flows that start in the midsection actually match up with the left and right 'wings' of the volcano when the base is closed up (see further below for pic). Indeed, this is one of those sets that actually looks good when photographed with an overbright flash as the trans-orange flares into life! (The rest of this review uses natural light though.)
Closer view of the midsection:
The front door is really well designed with metallic silver teeth (as seen on the box art for Turbocar Chase). They click neatly into place when closed.
Behold above, the throne of Dr Inferno! Yes, it's in a bit of a weird spot. They could have at least elevated it so he could gloat *over* intruders. The interior is the weakest part of this set, as we shall see.
Choc-orange lava goodness atop the midsection - so pretty:
Behold, Dr Inferno's enormous.... laser cannon, naturally. He rides this baby like a pro . The lime green is an unusual colour choice but the bright, cartoony feel really adds to the set as a whole and is much better than a standard bley/ black type superweapon. Next season's look in devastating WMDs: hot pink! (Maybe.)
And yes, it rotates 360 degrees:
And because Batbrick wondered about it in another thread, here's a pic with the laser folded down. Hardly discreet. Maybe you don't notice it what with all the magma and steam and flames etc.
View of the firepit side of the mountain.
The part selection is really nice, notice the silver radar dish. The sticker control panel display has a countdown from 12 seconds.
This connects to the firepit, with a little gliding platform to travel between the two:
Notice the decals on the chairs - a classy touch. Kudos to Dr Inferno's upholsterer.
There's some great detail in this set which I really appreciate. For example, the chairs are built on the base, which has 2 1x3 orange plates assymetrically arranged. You wouldn't even notice this, and there's no reason for it, it's just a quirly little design touch which adds to the build - see below. Note also, there's a 1x1 round lime green plate on the firepit mechanism - nowhere else does this element appear in the set, and they could have easily used some other colour, but it adds a nice touch that says the designers have really put in as much originality as they can.
The right-hand side of the mountain (looking front on):
Close-up of the oddly protruding giant flatscreen monitor. Maybe Dr Inferno has really bad eyesight but for vanity's sake won't wear glasses, hence the need for a giant plasma screen to help aim his laser cannon . Again, the lime green and orange works well.
They don't show this on the box or instructions, but the 'wings' of the volcano can fold in for a more defensive, mountainous look:
Part 4: Interior decorating
Sadly, the interior is the weakest part of the set, with a sparse selection of goodies. What's there is also mostly stickered. Compared to the bright, light facade, the whole of this section is very industrial and dark. Over all view:
Middle section, with throne and stickered display screens:
The laser section does have 2 cool power cone type things, with trans neon green, dark blue and metallic silver detailing. Very retro sci-fi.
The section behind the firepit has a control panel - with elevated chair! - and stickered screen:
The other section doesn't have anything apart from a red tank. More spare room for dead bodies, I guess. Or treasure. Or back issues of 'Supervillain Monthly'. I don't know, TLC, couldn't you have put some empty new Indy crates back there, or something?
The interiors are a bit sparse, but maybe it's just because the place is brand spanking new and Dr Inferno has only just moved in. To be honest, I don't mind this really as it gives you a lot of chance to customise in whatever way you want. I am already planning to transfer the interior section of my Seabase MOCsomewhere to the Volcano Base, so Dr Inferno can chill out in style.
Really, it looks as if the designers spent all the money on the exterior facade, but I have no real problem with that. The Mobile Command Center has a wonderfully detailed interior, but the whole set is based around the truck whereas this is really just a cool looking base with a stonking great laser on top and a firetrap. For $AUD99.99 ($30 less than the Mobile Command Center) I'd rather pay less and buy another copy of this set to do some serious volcano landscaping anyway. On that score, the Volcano Base can not be beat!
Part 5: In Conclusion
This is a great set. Buy it! Buy several! For a retail release not aimed at AFOLs, the level of landscaping could not be nicer. This means that the Volcano Base midsection may look a little low, but it does add opportunity for clever MOCers to build astounding, enormous creations which dwarf the original. The whole volcano wall design is really a template for people to build bigger and better volcanoes! As a playset, it is let down by the lack of detailed interior, but at this pricepoint I don't mind. The figs are good, Claw-Dette especially is great and the part selection is amazing.
Thank you and enjoy!
Edited by svelte_corps, 08 July 2008 - 04:18 AM.