REVIEW: 4744 Tundra Tracker
Posted 17 July 2011 - 08:42 AM
In the barren tundra devoid of all life, a lone Alpha Team agent remains trapped in a frozen prison. With no fellow team members in sight, all hope is lost...but out of the blue comes roaring a magnificent sight, the Tundra Tracker!
Name: 4744 Tundra Tracker
Theme: Alpha Team
Price: USD 19.99, GBP 17.99
Further References: Brickset.com, BrickLink.com, Peeron.com, flickr
A 2004 release, the box for the Tundra Tracker features the typical blue border that was seen on LEGO boxes at the time. All that blueness goes well with the icy background and the Tundra Tracker's color scheme. Perhaps it's because it's summer at the time of this posting, but the box art is really appealing to me. Although you can't see it all that well from this angle, the side of the box has a series of images that shows the progression of this set's transformation function, a hallmark of the Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze series. We'll get to this later on in the review.
The Instructions: Front Cover
More of the frozen landscape is visible here. The binary code in the top right, also featured on the box, looks really neat and hi-techy.
The Instructions: Comic
Alpha Team instruction booklets were always fun because of these neat comics that they featured, usually in the beginning or end of the booklet. It might serve as some inspiration for adventures to be had while playing with this set.
The Instructions: Random Page
Inside the booklet, you'll find a very cool background (how many groans is that going to get? ) to go along with the clear step-by-step directions.
Alas, the reason for why I don't like stickers. At least you can choose to apply them or not, but if you do apply them, they may face an inevitable fate like this. These particular stickers are even involved with the playability of the set, so in this case, I wish that they were printed on instead.
This is a nice selection of parts that you won't really find elsewhere, such as the elements in dark and sand blue. There's a considerable amount of Technic pieces for a set this size, which are all needed for its rather complex playability function.
Many of the bluish wedge pieces can be found in the other Alpha Team sets, as well as the ice block piece and the ice orb elements. The windscreen piece sports a red lens that shaped like a square; some other sets have a red lens in a circular shape. What I really like this set for is the Bionicle drill piece. Being a Bionicle fan too, and having missed out on a few of the earliest Bionicle sets, the Tundra Tracker was another opportunity for me to get this piece, previously found in 8545 Whenua.
The Minifigures: Front
Two Alpha Team agents are included here, Diamond and Radia. They each have UV protection sunglasses and a headset for communication. Their uniforms sport the same getup, except for the arms which have a different color, indicating their rank or position within the team. I especially like Diamond's look, because of his awesome chinstrap, bandana, and beanie.
Poor Radia really had it in this series of Alpha Team. Not only she was frozen once in this set, but twice in the Mobile Command Center too. Seems like Alpha Team always had a secondary mission to save Radia in addition to saving the world.
The Minifigures: Back
Nothing on the back...
Chassis Assembly, Steps 3, 6
This is a Technic intensive build, which may be a turn-off for some. I don't usually mind Technic in System sets, as long as it's well covered up by System pieces. But I digress. The build immediately calls for the drill piece, which serves as the primary play function of the set.
Chassis Assembly, Sub-steps 4, 7
A separate section of the chassis is created, which will be connected to the section made previously:
Chassis Assembly, Steps 8, 16
All the Technic is cleverly assembled together to accommodate the Tundra Tracker's transformation feature. It's important to make sure that the pins go in the right openings and the correct brick lengths are used; it can be easy to overlook this and make a mistake.
Soon enough the vehicle is finished, and we get to work on the next phase of building!
The Ice Prison
Typically small builds like this are done first, before the main component of a set, but whatever. The prison is constructed in sections, which also highlights the playability feature associated with this.
A bit sadistic imprisoning a minifigure in plastic ice, no?
Design and Playability
This is an ideal 20 dollar set in my opinion, a sizable vehicle that's well designed, along with a self-standing structure that isn't there for the sake of adding a few more bricks to the piece count.
I really like this vehicle, it's nice and compact meaning that it's great for rolling around the floor. The inside is reinforced with the Technic seen before, so it is quite durable as well. I also am a huge fan of the dark/sand blue color scheme. It definitely fits in with the frozen tundra back story.
The wheels are spaced apart at different widths, which give the Tundra Tracker a cool and unique profile.
There is a fair amount of space inside the cockpit for the minifig to sit in comfortably. The sloped cockpit really helps to sleeken the Tracker's overall appearance as well. The vernier scale printed on the cockpit is just beautiful detail.
Now for the fun part, the transformation sequence! Although it seems like a lot of work to simply expose a drill, I think it's neat how all the inner mechanics are exposed when the vehicle is converted to its 'drill mode.'
Most of the sets in Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze came with a set of red lens that could be used to decipher hidden symbols. Here, the red lens can be used to figure out how to free Radia, or otherwise fall into Ogel's trap and freeze for eternity
Pick the right opening to drill in:
And rescue Radia from her otherwise chilling fate. At this point, who knows how many times she's needed to be rescued by her teammates?
But drill in the wrong opening, and an ice orb shall reveal itself...Radia will be cursing in her sleep now (and you will be too)!
I'm not sure why I just so happen to review Alpha Team sets, in my time on Eurobricks I have reviewed a total of three sets from the theme, including this one. But I suppose it's because I really think Alpha Team was one of the LEGO Group's best lines in the 2000s (wow, that sounds like it was so long ago), and better yet it survived 3-4 years on the market as opposed to the typical 1-2. It's a shame it wasn't continued, but I am glad that they ended the theme off in a pleasing way.
Overall, the Tundra Tracker is a neat little set that I think is worth it for 20 bucks. I'm a sucker for any LEGO that's blue and this is no exception. I also love the Alpha Team minifigures, and collecting them was an incentive to get as many of the sets possible. To top it off, Alpha Team sets always score high in the playability department, exhibiting a variety of play features that were vastly superior to most other sets on the market concurrently. Most certainly a theme to remember.
I could have sworn that we forgot to do something before we threw in the towel for Alpha Team...
Posted 17 July 2011 - 02:12 PM
I gave the kit a 5, for the sole purpose of all the new bricks, though I also think Lego would sell more kits if they increased their mini-figure content. I know it would make a difference to me. Just yesterday, when shopping I bought 3 kits, all the same, #8083 Rebel Trooper Battle Pack, 4 figures in each kit.
Outstanding review R8, the pictures were great, thank you
"No, I'm from Toronto, I only work in outer space"
There are two kinds of goals in life, one will give you a point or two when playing, the other is a dream, like being #9
Posted 17 July 2011 - 06:12 PM
Great review, I'd love to see more.
Posted 17 July 2011 - 07:33 PM
Posted 19 July 2011 - 06:07 PM
The play functions in Deep Freeze really were the best. There's nothing as good as an entire vehicle that can morph, and it doesn't even need flick-fire missiles to be fun!
On Diamond, I always thought that what you call a chinstrap was actually a goatee. From the comic, I think it really is supposed to be a goatee, but it could go either way. I always considered him to look the coolest out of the Alpha Team.
Posted 21 July 2011 - 06:50 AM
You know, as I was writing this review, I couldn't help but laugh as I remembered your comment in my Mobile Command Center review during my student days at the RA:
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