REVIEW: 8899 Gator Swamp
Posted 20 July 2011 - 04:32 PM
So I noticed that I have a 8899, and nobody's done a review of it yet, so I thought I'd put one together. It's a 2010 set, but I still see it in the shops.
8899 Gator Swamp
Theme: World Racers
Price: USD 39.99
It's pretty big, at 48cm x 28cm x 7cm. It could've been half the size, and everything would still have fit in. And I'm sure there were more expensive sets with smaller boxes at the store.
A tube, a hull piece, 3 bags with smaller baggies inside, two instruction booklets (one with a badly bent cover, but leaving it under a stack of magazines overnight fixed that) and two DDSs (perfect condition). Bag 1 contains the figs and the platform with the crane, bag 2 is Team Extreme's hovercraft, and bag 3 is the Backyard Blasters' swamp rider.
The pieces. The spare bits are not included in this picture.
Something I noticed straight away. I'm sure the victory flags used to be printed pieces back in the day? Now they're stickers. In fact, apart from the minifigs, not a single piece is printed. Not one. I checked twice. I'm not a big fan of the stickers, and I'm still deciding whether to put them on or leave them off, so for this review, the stickers stay off.
Some of the more interesting pieces. Apart from the trophy, there's nothing that we haven't seen before, although the 1x2 cheese slopes were relatively new in 2010, if I'm not mistaken. I was surprised to find 3 tyres in a set featuring boats, but they're used quite cleverly. More on that later. There's also a black 2x4 tile that I only noticed later on, which I think was also pretty new when the set came out.
All 5 heads and torsos have back printing. There's a nice variety of faces and expressions, and some awesome detailing. One of the faces has slight damage, the bottom right hand corner of his mouth has been scraped off somehow (second guy in the bottom pic). The middle guy looks like he's wearing 3d glasses. I also like that there's variation in the team-members' torsos. Lego could easily have given the Team Extreme guys the same torso, ditto for the Backyard Blasters, but they gave us 5 unique torsos. Awesome.
Bag 1 finished. This took about 2 minutes to build. I'm really glad to see the crocodile again, and in dark green too!
Team Extreme's hovercraft
Bag 2, the hovercraft, about halfway done. There's a lot of tiles at the back.
And here's why: There's a simple but effective steering system, controlled by a wheel. It works pretty well. If you turn the craft to the right, the engines turn to the right too, as you'd expect them. But the driver's seat turns to the left, which is counter-intuitive. I can imagine that trying to drive something like that would be seriously weird.
The missile launcher, halfway assembled. The missile goes into the long black section, which gets pushed down onto the rubber piece below it. When you release, the rubber piece pushes the long section up, which throws the missile up and forward.
The instructions explain the action a bit better. I have to point out that the instructions are a bit...optimistic about the missile's trajectory. I tried it a few times. In an average of 10 attempts, I achieved the following results (in order of distance travelled, not in the original order): The missile landed inside the boat once, hit the nose of the boat once, narrowly missed the nose twice, made it to about 15cm five times, and once managed about 25cm. I tried adjusting the length of the missile's tail, different pressures on the launcher, even removing the missile's fins to make it less nose-heavy, but it didn't really make much difference. So the odds of hitting little Timmy against the side of his head are pretty low.
The hovercraft completed. I really like what it looks like, even without the stickers. The steering works equally well on tabletops and carpets. But the steering mechanism is pretty loose (it has to be, otherwise it wouldn't work so well), so if you pick the craft up and shake it slightly, it rattles like there's a loose piece somewhere.
Backyard Blasters' swamp rider
Booklet 2 and Bag 3, the Backyard Blasters' craft. This photo wasn't taken halfway through, it was taken after I'd finished. I removed the cockpit and engines to show the propellor's mechanism. A simple and clever execution. As you push the craft forward, the wheels turn, driving the propellor. Again, it works well on both tables and carpets.
The firing mechanism. It works a little better than the missile launcher. The rubber mine sits in a cradle, you flick the lever, and it pops out. The mine kept on landing inside the boat, but when I moved the launcher 2 studs closer to the edge than the instructions suggested, the mine suddenly cleared the boat. It usually travels about about 5cm through the air, then rolls and bounces a further 10-30cm. In 10 tests, it hit my finger once (the lever is a little too close to the cradle), got about 5cm twice, reached about 15cm four times, rolled to about 30cm twice, and once got out to 5cm and then bounced right back into the boat. I've been able to reproduce that last result, so it wasn't just a freak accident. The mine's spikes makes it more unpredictable than a rugby ball.
Again, the instructions warn that little Timmy is in danger of getting a black eye, but the mine is never higher than 5cm off the ground, so unless little Timmy is really short, his eye should be safe.
All finished. The Backyard Blasters' boat has a whole booklet to itself, and I reckon it has about twice as many pieces as Team Extreme's hovercraft. It also feels much more solid. When you shake it, nothing rattles or moves. I'm not a fan of those buzzsaws on the sides, but they pop off easily enough, without hurting the aesthetics. The flames coming out of the engines is an awesome touch.
Spare bits, from bags 1, 2 and 3. Yes, that's an extra rubber mine. It comes in a different bag than the other one, and the boxart and instructions only ever show one, so this is a spare. But you won't need it to replace the other one, because little Timmy isn't going to accidentally launch one out the window and into Mr Wilson's yard, so you may as well just give the Backyard Blasters a second mine.
Pros: A variety of interesting pieces. Fun vehicles with working and moving parts. Awesome and varied minifigs. And a dark green crocodile!
Cons: There's quite a bit of Technic pieces in there. And no printed pieces.
Posted 20 July 2011 - 04:42 PM
This was never my theme of choice, but I do appreciate LEGO making different themes like this.
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Posted 21 July 2011 - 12:17 AM
I never quite liked the World Racers theme in general, and thought the sets were too expensive in particular, but after reading your review I'm excited, especially about the minifigures.
In Australia these sets have been sold for around 50 % off or more at various retailers for the last few months, and I've picked up almost every set at an agreeable price (and sometimes duplicates to give to the Kmart xmas appeal). I've seen the Gator Swamp for as little as 20 AUD at Target, but by then I had already picked it up from Kmart for 30 AUD
I haven't opened a single one of them yet, but I think now I will have to give the Gator Swamp a go on the weekend.
Posted 21 July 2011 - 08:23 AM
I wonder if Lego has ever produced a missile launcher that actually works...
Posted 17 August 2011 - 02:28 AM
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