Alpha Team is definitely one of the most overlooked Action themes. The line of transforming vehicles seen in the Arctic Wave (or Mission Deep Freeze) just didn't seem to catch on in the adult community. However, it was one of my favorite themes as a kid. Even though it wasn't the largest, the Ice Blade was my favorite set of the line. The transforming feature simply blew me away, and I was always a sucker for contraptions. Now, let me share with you the hidden beauty of this set, frozen yet preserved in the ice of time, in my review of 4743 Ice Blade.
Set Name: Ice Blade
Set Number: 4743
Number of Pieces: 107
Minifigs: 1 (Charge)
Price: $10 USD (Now worth about $20 MISB)
Theme: Alpha Team / Mission Deep Freeze
Year Released: 2004
First up are the instructions, battered by time. The paper is relatively flimsy, so a little bit of careless storage made its mark. On the cover is an exciting scene where the Ice Blade skims across the sunny ice, and appears to miss the evil ice orb lodged in the ice nearby. The cool Alpha Team logo is emblazoned at the top.
Right in the inside cover is a fun comic sequence. I'm not quite sure why it's in the front instead of the back, but it's a very cool touch. Remember, you can click the picture to see it in more detail.
The interior of the booklet is way more flamboyant than today's. There is an intricate ice pattern printed in the background, which actually compliments the set's colors. The colors can be easily told apart, and the process is overall very clear.
Towards the back is a sequence of small pictures showing in-depth how to transform the vehicle. This proves very useful when first attempting to do so.
After a few ads, the booklet ends. The blue Win! logo is so refreshing in these modern times of screaming kids.
Instructions:: Thoughts: A fancy and sleek booklet, that get its job done.
Here are the pieces of the set, meticulously spread for your viewing pleasure. Th set is mainly black, sand and dark blue, gray, and white. The variety is quite incredible, from Bionicle parts to giant cockpit pieces to turntables, bricks, and plates. The pieces are definitely more useful to someone who builds vehicle than to someone who builds castles, for example.
Pieces of interest:
The more interesting pieces of the set- large Bionicle chainsaws, turbines, and printed pieces. Although the set has printed pieces, it also came with a DSS. The printed pieces were used all over the line while the stickers were set-specific. Please note that I didn't apply any of the three stickers. I'll discuss where they should have gone later on.
The turbine is one of the cooler pieces. As I discovered, some Lego turbine pieces spin when you blow direct down them, but this one doesn't.
Pieces:: Thoughts: A great variety for vehicle building, but otherwise, the pieces are cool but not useful.
The one minifig included in this set is the elaborately printed Charge. He has red buckles and zippers all the way down his pants, as well as a shiny silver headset. As an interesting fun fact, every Agent had their corresponding color on their left arm. Even though it's obvious Charge is red, this is still a cool feature. No back printing for him, though this was uncommon back in the day.
Minifig:: Thoughts: One is satisfactory, especially when it has such amazing printing!
The set is constructed in 18 steps, not including the three major submodels: the base, the cockpit, and the helicopter blades. Here, it's shown at steps 5, 10, 12, and 18, with a submodel between 10 and 12 and two submodels between 12 and 18. The process is quite interesting and non-repetitive, and there is only basic Technic used.
Build:: Thoughts: Fairly interesting and yet not too challenging or too "Technic"al.
The Whole Set:
And we have our finished product! The vehicle, the minifig, and the ice orb. I do admit, that gigantic blade looks foreboding! Please note that I have not applied stickers- there's supposed to be on along the center blade and two on either side of the cockpit. Personally, I think it looks fine without them.
Here you can see the cockpit and the two turbines next to it. The windshield has a special red print, which has a use as we'll see later. Also, another fun fact about Alpha Team is that there was a colored grille tile above the windshield of each vehicle that signified which Agent was supposed to drive it. You can see the red grille at the top here.
And the cockpit is open! You can see the nice printed console. There is a very good amount of space for the minifig, and the whole section looks sleek and "agent-like".
Below the cockpit is an awkward gap. You'll see why this is necessary in a bit. Also notice how subtly the Bionicle chainsaw has blended into the vehicle.
The tip of the vehicle is very sleek. Again, the Bionicle blade has blended in nicely. You can also see the orange poles. These are either cannons or simply support for the transformed model.
At the back, you can see the helicopter blades locked in. The blades themselves also help lock the cockpit into place. The blades simply have to swing up, and the cockpit can freely rotate.
The ice orb has two sides, both with a similar design. In one, the central beetle is blue; in the other it's red. When viewed through the red plastic, the red side "disappears" and shows that the ice orb is deactivated. A very clever touch that allows for even more playability throughout the theme.
A brief video shows how quick and dynamic the change is. It blows my mind!
And poof! We have a helicopter. I think it looks very good, and is considerably different. This was probably the most dynamic Alpha Team set. The others only became slightly different. Note that the orange poles I put down in the video aren't necessarily needed for support.
The one problem that occurs when transforming it back is demonstrated here. The helicopter blade doesn't want to detach! Lego forgot to put some sort of partially-tiled surface, so naturally the plates stick. Well, at least the transformation into the helicopter is seamless.
Design: 9/10 It looks a bit strange, especially around the middle, but this is to accommodate the function. Still, it loses a point for the sticking helicopter blades I showed.
Parts: 7/10 A good selection of types and colors, but they're really only useful for building vehicles.
Build: 8/10 Pretty entertaining, not repetitive, but it does have some Technic. It's pretty smooth, but certainly not as impressive as a Modular Building.
Minifigs: 9/10 You only get one minifig of one faction represented, but he is very flashy and special. Lego rarely put this much printing into a minifig back then.
Playability: 7/10 You can deactivate the orb, and transform the vehicle, but that's about it. However, the transformation is captivating.
Price: 10/10 A perfect ration of 107 pieces to $10, especially considering the larger pieces. Very satisfactory to me.
Total: 50/60 Overall, a very solid set. Maybe it goes to show that the Alpha Team line shouldn't be as overlooked as it is. This set is very rare on Bricklink, but if you can grab it for a good price, go for it!
Thanks for reading!
Edited by WhiteFang, 14 April 2010 - 04:17 PM.