REVIEW: Indiana Jones 7199 The Temple of Doom
Posted 09 May 2009 - 01:39 AM
Name: The Temple of Doom
Theme: Indiana Jones
Subtheme: The Temple of Doom
Price: $US89.99 (according to Toy Fair), $AUD149.99 (according to an attendee at Melbourne Toy Fair) yet to be confirmed elsewhere
This set brings me full circle in my Eurobricks reviewing career! *Cue flashback music* Was it only just over a year ago that I posted my first review in the licensed forums for the just-released Indiana Jones set 7627 Temple of the Crystal Skull? (Answer: yes!). Those were the days when my studio was the outside balcony, and my cat used to wander in the backdrop (KimT would not approve! ). So it seems appropriate that 12 months later I'm back to cast my eyes over this year's flagship Indy set - 7199 The Temple of Doom.
7199 ambitiously combines two key areas from the second Indy film - the Temple of the revived Thuggee cult and the mining works where local children are being forced to search for another Sankara stone. Does it succeed in capturing the feel of either? Find out as as we journey into the sulfuric depths of the terrifying 7199 Temple of Doom!
Part 1: Box, Instructions & Parts
The front of the box - it's the same size as the 7637 Farm set but not as wide:
The back of the box, showing various set functions:
This diagram illustrating the different track systems is a bit confusing. I think it is supposed to alert the buyer to the fact that the track in this set is 6-wide and incompatible with the 2006 RC 8-wide version, but at a casual glance it gives the opposite impression - that the new track is adjustable and works together with its wider cousin. Well, it doesn't. This diagram doesn't appear anywhere inside the instructions so perhaps this was a last-minute marketing addendum:
The minifigure artwork on the box side. Mola Ram even gets top billing, before Indy!
There are two instruction manuals:
Inside, there is a lovely piece of artwork for the early 2009 releases which I haven't seen anywhere else. Here the Lego Group is still promising us brown-mustached German mechanics! Boo!
Click here for a random instructions page showing the build of the Temple.
There are two pages of parts. Click here for page 1, and here for page 2.
The contents of the box include numbered polybags and 6 pieces of loose track:
There are four pieces of curved track - enough to make a semi-circle. MOCers may need to get an extra set just to fully explore the potential of the new system and to make a self-enclosed circular track.
Here are the two 'hilly' track parts. They are six bricks high:
I assume a mould exists for simple straight 6-wide track made and it will appear in a future set. It would be great in other mining contexts or as part of a rollercoaster to complement the new 10196 Carousel.
Part 2 - The Build - Bag 1
In a departure from my usual method of reviewing - which is just to rip open all the bags and mix all the parts together! - I followed the instructions and progressed bag by crinkly bag. Here are the contents of Bag 1, which contains everything you need for the minifigs, two mine carts and some flaming lava:
Apart from the minifigs and track, there is very little that is original or interesting parts-wise in this set - as you'd expect, it's largely a collection of bley and brown with a splash of dark tan. One exception is the new flame piece. I didn't like it from the early picts, but having held it and examined it more closely, it does catch the light nicely and the colour-mixing is subtle and infuses the piece with a fiery glow. I wouldn't like to see it overused, but it is more impressive than the old flame piece for use in large sets and much better than the soft Bionicle version we've seen creep into System sets such as Exo-Force or 7884 Batman's Buggy: The Escape of Mr Freeze. We get two of these new pieces in this set:
One of the most appealing aspects of this set for collectors is the minifigs. The Indiana line is exceptional in producing bountiful new moulds and torso prints, and 7199 is no exception. For the heroes, we get Short Round, Indy and Willie Scott. To mix things up, Indy has the new face also found in 7196 Chauchilla Cemetery Battle and a one-sleeved variation of the torso from 7195 Ambush in Cairo, so this version is in fact exclusive to this set. Dressed in a sari earlier in the film, by this point a bedraggled Willie has lost her embroidered wrap and is wearing a mid-riff bearing choli and a salvar. Nice abs, Willie! (I don't think she had those on screen ):
Willie's legs are printed and her torso is double-printed. She also completes her makeover with new buttercup-coloured Princess hair:
I think the Lego designers have improved at designing female torsos that differ from the broader male versions without being too caricaturish. The pinched waist looks quite accomplished:
From the movie, an angry Indy shows off his gun (singular!):
I tried to get a screencap of Willie with less cleavage but it was near impossible This is before she rips off her sari later during the mine cart chase:
If the hero figs are very good, the villains are outstanding. Many an AFOL spent time squinting at the rough mould of Mola's headpiece as shown in the US February Toy Fair pics, but now we see the final factory product. The new headpiece gets its own bag - as it deserves! (Actually I assume this is just because these painted minifig specialty parts and things like the cows and large trolls are manufactured in China):
Debagged, the headpiece comes with 2 cow horns in tan (it's nice we have to do a bit of assembly ):
The complete headpiece. It's freaky! And bone-coloured! The indentations of the eye sockets at the front are creeping me out, and Lego has even added toothy bumps for the jaws which frame Mola's face . One of Lego's spookiest pieces ever!
For the villains, we get *three* new head prints, and *three* new torsoes! That guy on the right looks like he has been drugged with Mola's will-sapping 'Blood of Kali' potion. Look at the bags under his eyes - whatever that potion is, it needs more coffee!
The torsoes are printed on the back! So is Mola's head! That guy on the left has freaky lats! There must be a gym down in the bowels of the Temple mines, it's probably part of the employee health plan. And it's good to see Year of the Shirtless Minifig isn't over yet :
The figures with headgear and accessories.
From the movie, I am pretty sure the fig on the left is the mine foreman:
The original Mola Ram, looking as if he is unsure whether he left the iron on:
Minions in the Black Sleep of Kali Ma with the distinctive red facial paint markings:
Here's the full cast altogether. Brilliant! I hereby declare Indy the best minifig line ever Last year's sets were a mixed bag, with too much repetition in the KOTCS subtheme, but this year has been spectacular, with only 7197 Fighter Plane Attack riffing directly off a previously released set. All of the dark flesh pieces released across the range mean that a variety of villains can be made - you can beef up your Ambush in Cairo display or stock up on Thuggee cult members as you wish! (And that isn't to even consider all the great female pieces we've seen, new hair, the new fez piece, Indy in dinner jacket... the list goes on!)
Mola by himself is so beloved of Indy fans that several companies approached him for commercial endorsements :
Indeed, even civilian Lego figs can find a use for the scarifying new headpiece:
Also in Bag 1 are two minecarts and two pools of flaming lava. The minecarts are a small half-cylinder piece rimmed by the new window in dark bley and attached via frictionless Technic pins to the wheel assembly so the carts can veer from side to side. Don't believe the box art though, there's no way that our three heroes can all fit in just one cart (see how they've Photoshopped Short Round *between* the cylinder and end of the cart? ):
The design matches the movie pretty accurately in terms of shape:
We get two carts:
Once the carts are assembled, the urge to start playing with them and the new track is irresistible! Picture here also are the small lava jets:
Part 3: The build - Bag 2
The second bag, combined with the loose track pieces, builds up the mine track and the booby-trapped mining cart mid-way down the track. Here's the bag contents, containing 8 black support pieces and a wealth of brown 2x2 round bricks:
The abandoned mine cart submodel takes shape. The supports are given extra strength through Technic axles:
There is an empty space at the top to allow debris to drop through the bottom of the mine cart :
The completed submodel:
Pulling the handle allows 5 *deadly* dark bley 1x1 round bricks to drop through as a mine cart whistles below underneath (mine cart not pictured ). This does replicate a scene from the film where Indy sabotages an overhead cart to drop debris on the heads of the Thuggee pursuers:
The twisting curve of mine tracks is supported by the little shelf a quarter of the way up the abandoned mine cart construction. The track, because it curves both horizontally and vertically, is very difficult to photograph well. I did take zillions of pictures from lots of different angles but you will see in more detail how it works when the set is finished:
Where the track pieces connect to each other, the designers have included a buttress feature. This one on the right is the shortest, just a collection of bricks and plates at the right height:
At the very end of the track is this barrier with lamp and spider, to stop the carts spinning off into the blank white void of my photo studio setup:
It also has a little play function, which Mola kindly demonstrates. The whole mine track shakes as he approaches the terminus! (That is just an excuse accounting for the slight blurriness of this pic ):
Wham! He arrives, and the barrier snaps back! "Ouch - my head," says the shrunken head on the headress of Mola's own head.
The next section to be added is this curve, which will complete the track, along with the supports which go under each join. These support pieces add height but not really stability, as they tend to come off. I think this is just the way the mould is, as brick-built supports seem stronger:
It was at this point I threw up my hands and thought 'How long is thing?' My already quite large photo-studio area could barely accomodate the length of the track! I had to add that third wall on the right just to take the next lot of photos. Usually Lego is quite proud of how massive its huge sets are, and this set is no exception - according to the box art and instructions the length of the full set is 37 inches or 94 cm Anyone purchasing this set is going to need a large area to display it in full!
Here is another play function. The bley technic axle with round brick spins as the first mine cart hurtles past, and the brown planks swing into position to block the pursuers! Again, this shows a scene from the movie where Indy throws a plank onto the track to thwart the Thuggee chasers.
As Indy passes, the axle moves into position:
The planks *would* stop anyone following the first mine cart, if the passage of the second cart itself just didn't spin the whole apparatus back to its original position again Also, as Indy's cart passes, the planks don't turn that far and 'Hand of God' assistance is required. However this is a simple and fun additional play feature:
A more annoying issue is that weapons such as the Thuggee's scimitar are too high to pass under the abandoned mine cart. "Murderous assailants, please remember to stow your weapons below your feet as you pass through the tunnels. Thankyou for travelling Mola Mine Cart." This is a little disruptive to the play experience - will kids have the patience to adjust all the figs weapons before setting the chase in motion?
Posted 09 May 2009 - 02:02 AM
Having built the mine track, the final part of the set is the Temple of Doom itself. Bag 3 makes up the lower two rocky sections which support the central altar (which is constructed from Bag 4).
The parts from Bag 3:
Again, nothing too dazzling, but we do get 2 of the trans-neon orange rocks, a rare trans-pink gem, some 1x2 dark tan bricks, a dark green tooth and - tah-dah! - the return of the original bug-eyed skele head! I wonder why it has come back at this point in time? (It's also available on Pick-a-Brick these days.) I do like it, it has more of a classic appearance than the red-eyed 2007 Castle skellie or even the smirking evil skellie that appears in 7196 Chauchilla Cemetery Battle. This version looks friendly! Glad to know that he or she was a happy chap before being brutally murdered by the Thuggee cult!
These column pieces are new in reddish-brown; I'm not particularly fond of these pieces and already have too many in black so this isn't a selling point for me, parts-wise . The usage of dark brown slopes also feels like Lego is using up excess parts produced for last year's Castle sets.
Building up the first rocky support:
This scimitar swings up and down:
The top is tiled with just a few 1x1 plates to make for easy assembly and disassembly of the altar area:
Rear view - the gear controls the scimitar:
The other support is similar in construction, but not identical. It contains this crate with a few mining tools and gems:
The two submodels shown together - the altar will sit on top:
Thoughts on this stage of the build:
These little submodels are OK, but I felt when building that they were less than the sum of their parts. Their construction reminded me of the criticism often aimed at the early Harry Potter sets - a mess of different colours thrown together to no real purpose. There's a mix in 7199 of of dark bley, brown and a bit of dark tan, but no sense of unifying aesthetic. Compared to the detailed and integrated build of the similar lava-coated rockscaping of 8637 Volcano Base, which featured molten flows that connected logically to produce a beautifully detailed effect, this feels like a quick assembly of filler bricks that were cheap and handy. The final effect is reasonable, but not beautiful or impressive.
The lack of detail apart from a scimitar and a crate is also a bit disappointing. In the movie, the children are being kidnapped to mine for the missing Sankara stones hidden in the depths below Pankot Palace; would it have been so hard to throw in one of those trans-orange Bionicle eye parts and put them down here, just as a nod to fans?
Next up is the Temple itself. Could it possibly live up to the smoky chamber hovering over a lava pit as featured in the movie?
The contents of Bag 4 - again, another mix of bley, brown and tan:
The trapdoor piece is new in dark tan, but all the other dark tan pieces are retreads from other sets. There are three more classic skulls, and some animal tail parts in tan:
Behold the true face of Kali! Actually, no, it's just further odd parts choices which feel like leftovers from the production inventory of AquaRaiders II - more dark green teeth and glow in the dark animal tail ends:
More rocky sections. The knob will support the central trapdoor:
In the centre, the skull which holds the mysterious and powerful Sankara stones takes shape:
There is a fun play feature built into the skull whereby the Sankara stones can move forward or recede into the altar. This is the tiled tray which slides back and forth:
The top part of the Temple is complete, with the Sankara tray in the hidden position:
And the precious stones are revealed! I really admire this play feature, it adds a great touch to this part of the set:
And as you can see, the setup is true to what is seen in the movie:
Now we can put all three parts together to complete the Temple!
Mola wanted to celebrate the renovation of his new lair by sacrificing a virgin to Kali. Sadly, he had to make do with Willie
Thoughts on this stage of the build:
This, for me, is the main weakness of the set - not so much the build or design, but the odd placement of the Temple over the minecart. Extended sequences within the film show in great - and gory! - detail the usage of the Temple for sacrifice to Kali, with Mola's heart-less victims eventually being strapped in a cage and dropped into the fiery depths of lava below Instead, in 7199, the trapdoor opens and the sacrifical victim drops down... to a minecart escape route instead It doesn't make much sense. I can understand why Lego chose to combine the scenes in this way - a standalone minecart chase might look too bare, and an individual Temple set might not be exciting enough for kids - but it just doesn't feel quite right. At least more effort should have gone into adding more fiery detail at the bottom of the Temple pit rather than just a few 1x2 orange plates Still, that's what MOCing is for - since the mine cart section takes up so much space I am most likely to dismantle that part but build up a *real* Temple of Doom for display in its place!
Part 5: The complete set
Finally we have the complete set in all its glory! Unfortunately it is sooooo very long that it is very difficult to photograph well and looks kind of underwhelming stretched out against a white void as shown here. You'll note that even the Lego box art designers had trouble making the set look appealing and resorted to disassembling the end part of the track and pointing it back in the opposite direction so it looks more condensed!
A slightly more angular view. Nope, still hard to photograph!
A low-angle view from the front of the set looking back:
The way the track curves and twists does replicate the chaotic feel of the minecart sequence:
Looking back at the fearsome temple over the brim of the minecart:
Indy drops through the trapdoor to escape Mola and the Thuggees!
Fleeing the Temple with the Sankara stone. Short Round is attached to the jumper plate at the back! The minecarts do have lots of hand-holds to reenact various action/ clutching/ fighting poses:
Willie screams: "INDIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!""
Thoughts on this part of the set
The big question is, since this whole set is oriented around the concept of a minecart chase, how well does it work? Do the carts move quickly? Do they stay on the rails? Is the mystical 'Hand of God' required to keep things moving? Do the minifigs stay inside the carts? In short: OK, no, sort of, yes, yes In further detail: the minecart chase system is OK. There's quite a bit of friction between the wheels and the track, so you do have to push the carts along - they do not race along by themselves. The exception is the incline pieces. The pic below shows how much momentum you get when the cart runs free on the slope. Where the Thuggee is positioned is just before where the cart runs loose by itself. Where Indy rests is where the cart stops again by itself on the track:
For a play feature predicated on speed and movement, the system used is a bit sticky for my taste Repeated play usage may wear down the friction though so everything runs a lot more briskly!
Part 6: Overall Rating
Minifigs: 10/10. The pictures speak for themselves. And my nightmares speak for the effectiveness of the Mola headdress with exposed skull eye sockets and mandibles I've already outlined everything new in the review itself; just as an example, the level of detail in even changing the Indy torso so one arm is exposed shows the love the designers have for this franchise.
Parts: 7/10. I'm not a Train aficionado, but I do like the potential of the new track. I think you'd need 4x more curved pieces to make a complete circle to really have fun with this smaller system. Before the 10196 Carousel was revealed, I suspected we'd see this narrower track in usage in a fairground theme or rollercoaster; how wrong was I! Maybe we'll start seeing midi-scale Trains now to go with the new track? Or MOCs featuring a haunted Wild Western mine theme? This is Lego, the possibilities are endless
Apart from that, this set is fairly average parts-wise, but good for those seeking basic bricks in reddish-brown/ dark bley. I did feel that the parts palette relied a little on seeming production leftovers - dark brown slopes from last year, dark tan plates from last year's Indy sets, dark green teeth (!) and the luminescent animal tails. The Sankara stone popsicle/ Bionicle eye pieces are innately sucky - I hate the way they don't quite sit in a jumper plate or clips properly - but they do match with the film very well.
The build: 7.5/10. The build doesn't really feel like it comes together as a unified whole until the Temple nears completion. The various submodels aren't unique in themselves; it's the overall impressive effect of finishing up with a 94cm length of booby-trapped track headed with a tall Temple edifice that provides the thrill! I do like the look of the completed set - despite its length it doesn't look sparse or empty - it's just the odd choice of having the Temple trapdoor drop onto the mine track which I question a little.
Playability: 8/10. As you'd expect for a set this size, there are many play functions. Some work better than others and the track is a bit sticky - you can't get much speed up in the cart as it doesn't travel under its own momentum - but perhaps it flows more freely when repeated play wears down the friction of wheel and track. Still, it's a lot of fun and the play functions are generally faithful to the movie - it's very enjoyable to reenact your favourite scenes.
Price: The piece count is lower than last year's 7627 Temple of Akator, but the set doesn't 'feel' smaller - in fact, it feels bigger! It doesn't particularly bother me that Lego isn't inflating piece counts by including 100 Technic pins, 1x1 round plates or tiles if the quality of the minifigsis so high and the overall part selection is well-chosen. I imagine the new track was also an expensive part of this set to produce, so I think this set is reasonable value (and moreso if you grab it on sale ) Mola and the Thuggee figs alone will fetch a high price individually - unless Lego goes mad and releases them all as a magnet set
Conclusion: If the final rating was based solely on figs, this would be 10/10, no question! Taking into account all the other factors, I give 7199 The Temple of Doom a very complimentary 8/10 - definitely above average, but not outstanding.
The final word must of course go to Mola Ram himself - possibly an ancestor of Apu from The Simpsons?
Posted 09 May 2009 - 10:15 AM
I'll be getting this, no doubt.
The figs are awesome, and the whole thing just looks so cool !
Keep up the good work,
Love LEGO ? Visit my blog at http://www.gimmelego.blogspot.com
Posted 09 May 2009 - 10:32 AM
I agree with your conclusion of this set, it's the minifigs that are the real deal. I really hope I will be able to get this set but with my current economy I'm not sure... There are just too many great sets this year!
My vote for this set will be a "Above Average" - the set itself isn't more than Average but the minifigs takes it to the next level
Posted 09 May 2009 - 11:12 AM
Posted 09 May 2009 - 11:15 AM
Thanks for the tip, birdie100. I will certainly try it out
Posted 09 May 2009 - 11:55 AM
This is my favourite looking set, and your review has justified the value of it so much. I am going to get a couple of these sets together, to form a massive railway mine cart actions. Svelte, did you try and use it with those mine carts together from the Dwarves Mine together? This tracks could matched well with those in Dwarves Mine. Amazing realistic torsos, with your movie referencing. There are just so wonderful. It provides so much playabilitly and action. I love it!
My name is Wilhalm Bloodaxe and I am back to be part of the Ragnarök Now Redux.
Lord Kenneth Valise, Level 1 Knight, 28yrs old human
Power: 4 Health: 10/10 Gold: 10
Inventory: One potion, a Greatsword (WP: 3) and a Shield (SP: 2)
Posted 09 May 2009 - 12:14 PM
But I've tryed the Kali Cart transportation system, but all it took me to was out of the mines, and I told them SPECIFICALLY to take me to Chicago, and you know what, they try to kill me.
(Comic Book Guy Voice) Worst Ride EVER!
Edited by RoflWafls, 09 May 2009 - 12:15 PM.
Posted 09 May 2009 - 01:36 PM
This was a lovely review. The set looks quite nice, especially those fantastic minifigs. Mola's headpiece is one of the most interesting LEGO hats ever.
I love all of the detail that was put into the minifigs.
The rest of the set is also pretty good, but I feel they missed a chance to include a bit more detail. Some sections just feel "under appreciated".
But, that definitely doesn't make this a bad set, and I'll certainly get one.
Thanks for all of the great Indy reviews!
Posted 09 May 2009 - 02:21 PM
Loads of must-have parts and figures, though at first glance I have a few minor issues with certain things:
- Too bad the dark flesh figures have those weird painted faces. Hard to use them for different persons in MOCs.
- Will there also be straight bits of track for the new system? It would be excellent track for miniscale trains. lightrail, peoplemovers and whatnot but with only curves and ramps we'll end up building rollercoasters only.
Posted 09 May 2009 - 03:22 PM
Any chance we'll see this in America in the next month or so, or is it the looonnnnngggggg wait to August for me?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 79103 - Turtle Lair Attack; 79104 - The Shellraiser Street Chase;
Legend of Chima: 70003 - Eri's Eagle Jet; 70006 - Craggers Croc-Boat;
The Hobbit: 79003 - An Unexpected Gathering;
Star Wars: 75005 - Rancor Pit; 75006 - Jedi Starfigher & Planet Kamino;
Posted 09 May 2009 - 05:33 PM
~Now playing as Ellaria Arbour the Druid in Heroica RPG!~
Posted 09 May 2009 - 06:17 PM
My name is Wilhalm Bloodaxe and I am back to be part of the Ragnarök Now Redux.
Lord Kenneth Valise, Level 1 Knight, 28yrs old human
Power: 4 Health: 10/10 Gold: 10
Inventory: One potion, a Greatsword (WP: 3) and a Shield (SP: 2)
Posted 09 May 2009 - 07:34 PM
That's what she said.
Another great review of another fantastic Indy set! I think I am more excited for the Indys than the Star Wars sets! Thanks for the awesome review!
Posted 09 May 2009 - 07:39 PM
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Posted 09 May 2009 - 09:07 PM
I did want to test this, but my carts are packed away. I'll try and dig them out later today Looking at the Brickset pic of Dwarves Mine though, I think you wouldn't have any problems as both carts are 2 wide in the centre and the wheels are identical.
Yes, that's what I plan to do as well
Posted 09 May 2009 - 10:36 PM
thanks for another wounderful review!
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Posted 10 May 2009 - 11:49 AM
i noticed on the box it depicts a straight piece of track for mine use and train use AND there dosent seem to be any straight track in the set its self or can i just not see it? , anyway does this mean that lego may release a mine cart expansion kit ?
would you risk not just your own lifestyle (9-5 dayjob, pretty l'il housewife, 2.4 kids, Ford Mondeo),For just one oppertunity to say "i was there" or "that was me!". To leave a Legacy of pride and Honour,
At the risk of a "normal life" ?
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