REVIEW: 4746 Mobile Command Center
Posted 23 April 2011 - 06:23 AM
"Good morning ladies and gentlemen! Today's forecast is -12 degrees F along with a foot of snow-"
"Dangnabbit what cuckoo brick-for-brains is causing this blasted snow??"
"That'd be me, the evil Ogel!"
"Forget the LEGO City plows, time to call in the Alpha Team!"
Name: 4746 Mobile Command Center
Theme: Alpha Team (Deep Freeze)
Price: USD 49.99, GBP 39.99
Further References: Brickset.com, Bricklink.com, Peeron.com, flickr
Note that this set should not be confused with set 8635 from the Agents line, which bears the same name as this set.
In the real world, we often associate the term "mobile command center" with law enforcement vehicles. LEGO has certainly done their own models of such vehicles, a good example being 6676 Mobile Command Unit. However, in several points over the course of time, LEGO has deviated from the expected city-esque mobile command center and deviated onto other themes, like Space, Agents, and now Alpha Team. It's always neat to see different perspectives of real life vehicles, and how they can be altered in many different ways to fit in pretty much any kind of theme.
The Box: Front
Danke to Peeron for the image. Characteristic of most 2004 sets, the box sports a curved blue border along with the image of the set itself. It's also pretty narrow when compared to other sets in the same price range, but from what I can remember in terms of volume it's the same as most other fifty dollar sets. Consumers will surely be enticed by all the neat features the box shows off!
The Instructions: Front
I think out of the three Alpha Team renditions, this logo is my particular favorite. It fits in real nicely with the frozen tundra in the background, and the As have a clever design.
The Instructions: Comic
Just like a lot of action themes, the instructions have some cute comics for kids to entertain themselves with. The action words are always a kick to read - "Booom! Zaap! Pluf! ?! Uakk...uakk?"
The Instructions: Random Page
Unfortunately, the color differentiation is horrendous. The dark grey looks like black and the light grey looks like white in some instances. Even worse, the light grey shade tends to variate a lot, darkening to almost a dark grey in some steps while returning to a whitish hue in the very next step. Not good, especially for people who aren't aware about this major problem in many instruction booklets.
The Instructions: Transformation Sequence
Mission: Deep Freeze sets were unique in that they had a really neat ability to transform. For example, 4742 Chill Speeder could turn into a walker, while 4743 Ice Blade was able to transform into a helicopter. The Mobile Command Center doesn't have all that interesting of such a feature (it just opens up as opposed to turning into a completely different vehicle), but the fun play features inside makes up for that.
The Instructions: Red Lens Activity
Introducing the latest and state-of-the-art equipment to be utilized by the Alpha Team...the red lens! This was a clever concept that simply used a trans-red screen as some sort of decoder that could be used here to find the agent that know the path to the theme's primary antagonist and the antithesis of LEGO, the evil Ogel. You don't actually need the lens as it's pretty easy without it But if you were curious, the agent who can lead everyone to Ogel is in the upper right, Agent Diamond.
Not many stickers here, so that's a relief. Luckily most of the pieces here are printed!
What's the secret formula to LEGO sets? A liberal distribution of bricks, plates, slopes, modified pieces, and the occasional strange piece like the red magnifying glass.
By now you can probably see that this set has a lot of awesome printed pieces to swoon over!
The dark and sand blue pieces are probably of most interest. Even though they make up the primary color scheme of the set, it's always weird how colors that contribute the most to the set's appearance are usually found in the smallest concentrations. Just for clarification, the dark blue small wedges do have stickers on them, but the sand blue large wedges are printed (yes!).
Whoa, now all of a sudden we get all sorts of strange and uncommon pieces in all these neat-o colors! Hang on tight, because we'll take a close up on some of them very briefly.
I'm sure one could accumulate a very impressive Technic collection just by purchasing System sets! Some pieces of interest here are the missile and its launcher as well as the blue Bionicle eye pieces.
Well, here they are - the little jewels found in the Mobile Command Center. The printed control panel pieces are really reminiscent of a lot of Space sets from decades ago, and some of the more contemporary pieces include the oversized wheel and wedge pieces. Exclusive to this line however, are the red lens (both the ones on the windscreen and magnifying lens), and the ice orb minifig head. These are involved with the red lens play feature that I covered earlier, and will showcase again later on.
The Minifigures: Front
Ready to serve and defend! Here we've got from left to right agents Radia, Charge, Arrow, an android, and an Ogel minion. It's cool how the right arm is colored differently in each minifigure, which I presume was carried over from the very first Alpha Team incarnation (like in Alpha Team ATV, which I reviewed a while back here). I suppose this corresponds to the different rank or position each agent holds, which can be left up to one's imagination to determine. The android may be an upgraded version of Tee Vee, the robot character in the first Alpha Team. The Ogel drone isn't that much of a deviation from the second incarnation (Mission: Deep Sea), but you can see the progress from the previous two Alpha Team lines here: Alpha Team, Deep Sea. I always wished the skeleton drones were found in more abundance in the Alpha Team sets, as opposed to getting doubles or even triples of the same Alpha Team agent from all the sets combined.
The Minifigures: Back
No back printing. I wish the android had some back printing on its head, like some wires or flashing LED lights.
The Minifigures: Head
If it weren't for those headsets, these minifig heads would look very punkish. And then there's the skeleton who seems to find the living world perpetually funny, seeing as his smile is permanent.
The Ice Prison, Steps 3, 6
The build commences with the ice orbs and the ice prison, guarded by skelly for the time being.
The Snowmobiles, Steps 4, 8
The snowmobiles are built next for Arrow and Charge. Great use for the helicopter rotor pieces!
The Mobile Command Center, Steps 10, 20, 30, 40
And now it's time for the Mobile Command Center. As to be expected, it starts off with building the Technic chassis, and then transitioning into System for the rest of the build. It seems like a mess even when you get to the end of the building phase, but it all comes together once the doors and wheels are added.
Right Door Assembly, Sub-steps 8, 16
This thick door is well built to insulate the inside from the bitter cold.
Left Door Assembly, Sub-steps 8, 16
Basically a mirror build of the other door. The fun part is adding both doors to the vehicle...
Now we're talking.
An extra ice pick should the other one get lost, and more bushes and 1x1 round studs to add to that gargantuan pile of extra pieces of yours.
Design and Playability
MHQ: 46 is reporting for duty. Ogel's minions won't be able to stand up to this! The largest Alpha Team vehicle and second to largest set in the franchise, the MHQ is essentially a mobile base for the Alpha Team.
This vehicle looks really nice from the sides. It has a bulky build that makes it look complete and robust, and the snowmobiles are carried by the MHQ without interfering with the design. The big honking gun on top finishes it all off.
The width is quite significant too. The wedge pieces on the front wheels and the pointed cockpit make it look sleek and streamlined.
Not as exciting from the back. There are some Technic holes available from the chassis, which could potentially be modded so that some kind of trailer could be attached to the rear of the vehicle.
From these vantage points, the printed wedges look excellent! Although the MHQ looks boxy from up above and not as interesting as some of the other Alpha Team vehicles, I think this characteristic fits the armored base classification of the vehicle.
The red lens is located on the cockpit HUD for the agent inside to use. They're used for decoding cryptic messages in Ogel's ice orbs:
Aha! There's one! I think this was an ingenious way for LEGO to take advantage of colors and printed pieces and integrate them into a play function. Certainly much better than the flick fire missiles we have today.
It can spin a full 360 degrees, although the doors get in the way of the missile's firing range. This was before all the missiles were hollowed out - personally I like the missiles with the solid heads better.
Underneath the cockpit, there are two levers that can be decompressed to release the snowmobiles, like so.
Unless you jam the lever real hard, the snowmobiles don't go flying out as they should. Regrettably, it's one of those play features that look good on paper but not so well in execution.
The levers push the Bionicle eyes up, which then knock the snowmobile up so the tension on the rubber band will cause the snowmobile to eject.
The real fun lies within the interior of the MHQ!
Although it wasn't evident from the exterior, the interior is a wild splash of colors. Uniformity of color would have made the base seem a lot better and much less cluttered looking.
Despite that setback, there's still a lot to do inside the MHQ. Here, we have some complex looking controls for the crane. Or perhaps the android is slacking off and playing some Atari Star Wars game
Ice Orb Analyzer
Upon locating ice orbs, they are confiscated by the crane and placed in this examination area for study and research.
Activate the red lens to discover the mark of the evil Ogel on it! The rack can hold two of these orbs at a time.
Side Control Panels
Generic controls are also located on the doors, perhaps to open and close the doors and to analyze the ice orbs.
Interior View, II
Another view of the interior. There is a lot of activity going on here, and when combined with the other Alpha Team sets there are many possibilities for re-enacting adventures and missions.
Ice Prison Breakout
Agents who get too close to an ice orb will be frozen solid with no hope of getting out. Has Ogel won the day by capturing Radia?
Blasphemy! One shot from the MHQ is enough to free our fellow agent! Or at least it should be enough...
From the minifig's perspective, it must be terrifying being frozen solid and seeing a missile headed right toward you
Alpha Team is my favorite action theme, so naturally I tend to be biased towards it. I loved all three versions when I was younger, but in retrospect I think Deep Freeze was my favorite one since all the vehicles could transform, essentially providing us with two vehicles in one set.
Pieces: 9/10 - The glazed, trans-blue ice pieces are wonderful in their own respect, and the red lens pieces are unique. Aside from them, there are a bunch of printed pieces that can be used for all sorts of action and science fiction themed MOCs. It doesn't just stop there - dark blue and sand blue pieces are relatively abundant in this set, and are quite hard to come by elsewhere.
Minifigures: 8/10 - It's great how the designs hearken back to the early days of Alpha Team, while still having appropriate uniforms for the new tundra environment. They all have nice facial expressions and hair, save for the bald android The skeleton drone makes a final comeback as the loathed villains of the Alpha Team, also sporting a uniform akin to its first and second incarnations but still suitable for the frozen landscape.
Build: 7/10 - Not many interesting techniques to note, and for a fifty dollar set it was actually a pretty quick and easy build even with interruptions for taking photographs.
Design: 8/10 - The external design is very well done. It's robust, solid, and cool - perfect for any Alpha Team vehicle. The interior, even though it's messy with the colors, has many cool details that furnish it and even contribute to the playability of the set.
Playability: 7/10 - All action themes are more fun with more sets, but as a stand alone this set really embraces the hi-tech aspect of Alpha Team that kids might find enjoyable to explore. Weapon features aren't that extensive on this set, but still are welcome to have.
Price: 8/10 - An acceptable price-to-piece ratio.
I've always been curious as to why the Alpha Team never got their own stationary base like Ogel did with each line that came out. On the other hand, it was the Alpha Team that always got the sweet vehicles with tons of play features on them. The Mobile Command Center serves a dual purpose of being a base and a vehicle in one set. It was disappointing for me to see that Alpha Team wasn't going to be revived for a fourth time, but all good things must come to an end I suppose. But even so, they shall be honored for their heroic deeds against the evil Ogel, and for saving the LEGO world three times from a terrible man who hates the plastic bricks we all love dearly.
"We salute you!"
Thanks for reading
Posted 23 April 2011 - 06:43 AM
Excellent work, the RA is proud.
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Posted 23 April 2011 - 11:24 AM
Convicted on Day 5 playing as Town member Geert Rotterdam in Sandy's Escape from Isla Paradisa
Posted 23 April 2011 - 02:51 PM
In retrospect, the third iteration of Alpha Team had some beautiful minifigures-- much better than in Mission Deep Sea, when LEGO had the bright idea of using colored eyes on minifigures. This ended up causing many minifigure eyes to show up poorly, like Dash's bizarre light gray eyes. I like the colorful Alpha Team agents in this iteration, and it should be noted that (as my twin brother noticed when building sets on LDD) each Alpha Team Vehicle had a 1x2 grille plate on it in the color of the arm from one of the agents in the set. It's a subtle touch but a nice one. If only one of the sets had had that grille plate in Medium Lilac (BL's Dark Purple), the color of Radia's right arm!
The "red lens" gimmick actually dates back to the Exploriens theme in 1997, which featured both red and blue lenses. The sets came with black 2x2 tiles decorated with odd red, blue, and white stickers (before you complain about stickers, let me point out that these ones had to be stickers because they were also magnetic). Looking at a certain one under the two different filters would show you either an alien egg with an alien fetus inside, or a somewhat cartoony alien fetus. Exploriens had some weird sets and a lot of juniorized pieces, but overall it had some really amazing gimmicks. In particular, I wish 3-D holograms like on this piece were still done today.
Posted 23 April 2011 - 04:23 PM
Posted 24 April 2011 - 07:58 AM
Posted 11 June 2011 - 11:25 PM
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