Thanks to Eurobricks I have heard about the Avatar cartoons. After seeing the whole first season I really wanted the Avatar Fire Nation Ship, so I had to order it from the US.... I built it and I'm not disappointed, so I'd like to share my experiences!
There are already two other reviews of this set too, here and here.
all images are clickable to enlarge them
This is what the set looks like when everything is taken out of the bags. Not bad, for people who like dark bley...
As you can see in the part list, there's an awesome lot of bricks - especially 2x6 and 1x12 - and 2x4 wedges. There's some black, red and dark red, too - this is the only set apart from the Maersk ship that has 1x10 dark red bricks. Overall there is a lot of bricks and wedges, quite a few round bricks and panels, and not so many technic thingies (only a few to make the catapult).
The manual is 84 pages and it has some nice Avatar symbols on the background. Black and dark gray are often hard to distinguish, but not here - they decided to make black so dark that you almost can't count studs, and it's hard to tell how many plates should be put next to each other sometimes. The solution is to place a really bright lamp over your table:
The first half of the manual makes the boat hull in 45 steps. It's quite an easy build over all, the trickiest part is trying to distuingish the black parts... and there is no indicator of new parts for every step, so you have to carefully look where some stuff is added. Also, in some cases a large number of parts added, sometimes just one or two.
It is a surprising move to have such a large ship - and the thing IS large, you slowly realize it as you are building - entirely brick built. Especialy for what is essentially a playset, a readymade boat hull (good looking and quick play) would be expected. But brick built is more building fun and results in an impressive looking ship, not bad at all.
Aang and Zuko are supervising the building activities:
So, here is the completed hull. It is so high that a minifig can easily walk inside - on the inside it is divided into several compartments with some decoration. The bit with the flags could be the main hall, the bit with the black and trans-neon-orange round plates must be the engine:
Then it's on to the second part of the manual, and the second bag if you have a new set. Here is a surprise - apart from the hull, the ship has a modular structure. There are four seperate pieces that stand on the hull and can be taken off to look and play inside. And there is a little boat that comes out of the big boat in the rear. The four pieces that come off are a hidden cage, a small working catapult, the bridge of the ship (with a chimney) and a chimney:
The bridge is a fantastic build. It has hinges so when it's taken off the ship it hinges open to look inside. The trans red bricks give it that fire nation glow, and the actual bridge with the steering wheel is all the way at the top.
So, the hull with the smal boat inside and the four elements on top make one complete ship. All brick built and very recognizable from the cartoons. And did I say it is BIG?
That leaves us the minifigs - and this is actually the only thing where they could have done better. Tthe minifigs that are included, look awesome. Aang is not really shown in a meditative mood, he's definitely the Aang that is whizzing through the skies with his winged stick - and that brings to a part where they missed out. Why aren't those wings included? Here is a picture of what I'm talking about If this ship is supposed to be a top end Avatar set (well, there are only two sets but they were originaly planning more, I presume) it really needs all relevant figures and their accessories. So, Aang needs his wings, and his flying lemur. And where's Sokka? (well, he's in the Air temple set, like the lemur and the wings...) And a complaint I have heard before - the firebenders have a fire piece, but why aren't there a few water pieces for Katara? Just a few trans light blue waves wouldn't have been too much. I do understand there's no flying bison.. that would have needed to be a separate set.
On the fire nation side, the soldier, firebender and Prince Zuko are alright, but I am dearly missing Zuko's uncle. He should have been there, playing a board game and contemplating...
Oh, but do look at the back of Aang's and Zuko's head... those are nice details.
So, here is my overall verdict: (I'll use a 5 point scale like film reviews over here normally do... please multiply by two if you want a 10 point scale!)
Lots of pieces, and very useful ones, too, for all sorts of purposes. Only things that are less useful would be the Fire Nation Flags (when it comes to Avatar MOCs, the other 3 nations aren't there) and I'm not sure about that one giant light gray roof part either. But lots of long bricks and wedges in dark gray already make this a great parts pack.
Simply awesome. Well, compared to the cartoons, the ship is probably still too small, but in reality it looks very much like the cartoon and it is huge. Where the Harry Potter sets basically had no walls in order to reduce part counts, this is a fully functional (and all brick built!) ship with nothing missing at all.
Apart from the missing figures (see next point) it's all very versatile, you can easily get into all areas, and there's room enough for a big fight on the deck.
Figs and accessories: ***
The figs that are there, look great. But two key players are missing and there are really not enough accessories.
Overall, it's one of the best sets Lego ever made. It looked very promising for the Avatar line and we have to be really sorry that the line was discontinued after only two sets, and that availabilty for these sets was so bad (only in one or two countries and only for a short period!). A missed opportunity - but at least we got this!
Edited by eti, 18 February 2009 - 10:13 PM.