I've never managed to discern a pattern in the yearly CREATOR releases, but the January wave tend to feature smaller sets, and this year is no exception; the theme is predominantly vehicles, with only a single 'organic' set, 6914 T-Rex; two vehicular sets occupy the £10 price point this year; the attractively-coloured 6913 Blue Roadster, and this one.
I am genuinely pleased to see a smattering of rarer colours entering the CREATOR range; the Blue Roadster featured a little medium blue in the livery, and the Super Soarer has flashes of dark (earth) blue to break the primary colour monopoly. Let's see how well this works as we take a closer look at this little set.
Review: 6912 Super Soarer
Name: Super Soarer
Release: January 2012
Price: GB £9.99 | US $12.99 | EUR 9.99 - 11.99 | DKK 99.95 | CA $15.99 | AU $15.99
Amaze the crowds with this daring stunt jet! Raise the landing gear, and try the most daring maneuvers ever! Deploy the landing gear and hear the crowd roar! Rebuild it into a powerful helicopter with spinning rotors or a super-fast speedboat.
- 3 models in 1: rebuilds into a powerful helicopter or a super-fast speedboat
- Includes a reusable storage can
- Deploy the Super Soarer’s landing gear!
- Spin the helicopter’s powerful rotors!
- Measures over 7” (18cm) long and 7” (17cm) wide
- Helicopter measures over 8” (21cm) long
- Speedboat measures over 5” (14cm) long
Links ... Shop@Home ... Brickset ... Bricklink
Click the pic for a larger full frontal
The smart little box sports a great 'action' shot of the plane soaring through the clouds. The predominant yellow gets a little lost against the standard CREATOR surround; it doesn't stand out on the shelf as well as some of the other sets from this wave (see 6913, for example); also, you'd be forgiven for missing the dark blue at a quick glance - it looks almost black. The usual '3 in 1' logo flanks the two alternate builds, shown here quite helpfully at the same scale as each other.
Round the back, the three models are shown in equal prominence. The box artist has quite cleverly chosen a scene which shows all three in their natural habitat, as it were.
The little inset depicts the single play feature of the primary model: the plane's retractable landing gear. As you can see, the Wiggly Finger makes its appearance and indicates that this box is of the 'thumb tab' variety.
The expected '1:1' scale indicator is located on top of the box. Without minifigures, a part is used to indicate scale. Guess which one??
That's right! It's the trans-black curved slope windscreen piece! How did you guess? Maybe I should have used spoiler tags.
What's in the box? Very little:
Just two polybags and two instruction booklets. No nasty stickers for CREATOR.
The instruction books aren't labelled; there's no indication as to which model should be built first, and I was a little surprised to find no 'Advanced / Intermediate / Quick Build' indication inside either booklet. Only the obligatory warning against building on the lawn, on the inside front cover, gives any clue that this is Book 1.
The instructions are nicely pitched: the build progresses at a steady pace, and sub-builds clearly indicated:
This model stands out against the plain blue background. I'm not sure the piece call-outs are strictly necessary for such a small set, but I'm glad they're there.
The steps in Book 1 go right to the back cover:
You can see that the dark blue and black are easily distinguished (provided you're not building in the dark ), although there aren't any parts that come in both colours.
Somewhat confusingly, Book 2's cover is considerably higher quality than Book 1's - the reverse of the pattern seen in most sets that have more than one manual.
Here the two alternative models sit side-by-side, though I'm pretty sure the source photographs are the same as those of the box back.
Book 2 is further indentified by the presence of the set inventory at the rear:
Click the picture for a close-up! Opposite this is an advertisement for the rest of the January wave. The notorious Gagne Kid lurks at the rear of this book.
Let's see which parts you get for your tenner.
I don't have that much use for the yellow plates and wedges. The dark blue parts are a nice addition for a small set, although owners of the 8086 Droid Tri-Fighter will have a number of the wedges and 1x4 tiles; the 1x8 tiles are also available in dark blue in 12 other sets, but they're still a rare-ish part. There are also a useful number of SNOT bricks and brackets, including the newish 2x4 bracket; I'd only recently ordered a number of 1x4 SNOT bricks in black so this set would have been useful if I'd bought it earlier.
Overall, it's not that useful a parts selection. I'm pleased with the inclusion of dark blue parts, even if there are only eight; I would love to have seen the whole plane in dark blue.
Model One: The Super Soarer
The principle build is this dinky little jet. I'm not going to patronise you with build pictures for this little set - you could almost build it without instructions! But I will highlight any interesting techniques used.
For a small set, it captures the feel of a jet fighter quite well, though with this colour scheme it's more likely to be an air display jet. The engines look a little wide, and the central body could perhaps have been a couple of bricks narrower, but there's a reason for this width, as we shall see.
From the front, the bulkiness of the engines is most apparent:
From this angle, the cockpit looks a little low, but its outline is actually ok, as the other shots will show.
The rear is a little plain, and I'm not so keen on the use of the two 2x2 round bricks with their studs showing to represent the exhaust nozzles. But it does allow the little afterburner flames to be attached:
The rear tailplane is also a little plain, and it might have been nice for the dark blue stripe to continue along the whole width.
The side view makes the jet look a little stunted. I'm not desperately keen on the shape of the tail fin, which could do with a cheese wedge at the front to improve the curve:
You can see here some of the minor SNOT work that makes the build a little more interesting: the sides of the rear fuselage comprise of plates with grille-cheeses and tiles attached to two 1x4 SNOT bricks; the black 2x4 SNOT bracket I mentioned in the Parts section is used to connect the 2x2 rounds of the exhausts. I'm not sure how much the 2x2 SNOT brackets with single grille tile add to the engine sides; they are probably there only because they are used in the second model.
This view also highlights another oddity: with its undercarriage down, the plane site really low on the ground. You can also see how the nosewheel doesn't really live up to its name, sitting as it does behind the cockpit.
However, I shouldn't detract too much from the set's main play feature. For such a small set, it's remarkable that we get landing gear at all, let alone that it is retractable! Here it is in action, first up:
The main gear folds into the niches behind the engines; the nosewheel moves backwards into the rather cavernous central space. This goes some way to show why the plane sits so low on the ground: for the gear to be longer, there would need to be a larger space in which to fold it, which would lessen the available space for the engines (or push them even further forward than they already are).
Here's the gear down:
The main gear comes to rest against the two black technic pins, preventing it collapsing; the yellow 2x2 block at the front of the central cavity does the same job for the nosewheel, and shows to an extent why the nose gear is so far back.
A simple modification would allow the placement of the nosewheel further forward; you can do this with the parts from the set:
It looks better; however, now the wheel sticks on the dark bluish grey 2x3 plate at the front. It would require a 1x1 technic brick instead of the bluish grey 1x2 used to achieve a reasonable compromise.
Some more SNOT is employed to create the engine air intakes:
This seems a surprisingly over-complicated solution - I'd have used the 2x2 SNOT brackets at the sides of the engines facing forward instead - but the 2x2 plates with down-facing pin are used in the alternate builds.
Here's the plane next to its companion set from the January wave, 6913 Blue Roadster:
The Super Soarer might be a little larger in size, but it has fewer pieces, and also lacks the 'buy me!' factor that the Blue Roadster has. The latter might have an ugly rear-end, but its attractive front and snazzy colour scheme stand out from the shelf much better than 6912's yellow (splashes of dark blue notwithstanding). Despite my joy at the inclusion of dark blue in this little set, I'm really not sure how well the colour scheme works. Perhaps it's the proximity of dark blue and black, or maybe dark blue and yellow don't work so well together. And who would build a jet out of dark blue and yellow?
How well has CREATOR maintained its display jet pedigree? Let's ask the Sonic Boom:
2010's awesome 5892 Sonic Boom Jet is perhaps not the best comparator! There's no way anyone could achieve the sleek lines of that jet at this size and price point. But I do think that in 6912 a sacrifice has been made in order to incorporate the folding landing gear: a sleeker look could easily have achieved if the wheels had been left out. But perhaps TLC's target market would rather have the features than the style.
Model Two: Helicopter
One of CREATOR's main selling points is that the range is the last bastion of alternative builds in the entire LEGO catalogue. Let's see what this set has to offer:
Keeping with the 'Super Soarer' theme, the designer has managed to squeeze a helicopter out of the available parts. This required the addition of a 2x2 turntable piece to the parts repertoire; the only extra part (beside spares) above those need for the jet.
Though this helicopter has something of an identity crisis. It seems to have wings and a tailplane, not to mention having no third wheel making it a taildragger like most planes from World War 2 or before:
Actually, something about the wing, engine and cockpit configuration reminds me of an Apache attack helicopter, albeit one having no weapons (not even Surprise, employing as it does the always successful 'Look! I'm here!' tactic of engagement. )
It also seems to lack a tail rotor:
Or perhaps it's spinning so fast we just can't see it. Still, I've seen a 1x3 plate used quite successfully as a tail rotor, so I'm a little disappointed about this.
Once again, the landing gear folds, but in this case I'm not really sure where to fold it to:
I think it might have been better to reverse the positions of the technic handle and the black friction pin, which would have made the wheels lean forward and look more realistic, in my opinion, and allowed them to fold backwards under the 'wings'. Again, an easy modification.
Perhaps they aren't wheels, but pedals:
Or maybe here Heli is waving at is!
When I first joined the Reviewers Academy, I was told that people like to see a picture of the bottoms of things.
There you go. It's interesting that in this and the primary model, the two 1x2 trans-yellow plates are kinda lost at the bottom of the model; in this and the jet, the second pair of dark blue wedge plates are similarly low-profile.
For a helicopter, this is the money shot:
If something spins, it seems I am contractually obliged to show a picture of it spinning. The rotor here spins surprisingly well considering it uses a 2x2 turntable.
I've been a little lighthearted about this build, but it's actually pretty good for a secondary model of such a small set. It's quite playable and even swooshable, and could serve as a template for a mini-military layout ... if you replace the colours. My official stance on helicopters is 'Meh', so it's nice to be pleasantly surprised!
Model 3: Speedboat
Finally, we build a little speedboat. This one starts as an uninspiring 4-wide construction of plates, but is quickly fleshed out to quite good looking:
The colours are used to quite good effect here, and it's nice to see all four of the dark blue wedges featuring prominently in this model.
The two cockpit pieces sit side-by-side to give an wider windscreen:
The arrow-head profile works well, as do the combination of wedge-bricks and SNOT curves to represent the boat hull.
The typically oversized engines dominate the rear:
I'm not sure what use flames will be at the rear of a boat, unless you intend to evade police pursuit by creating a wall of steam.
The side profile is sleek; here's another opportunity to admire the SNOT panels at the sides:
The spoiler here looks quite good, as not nearly as top-heavy as that of the speedboat from the Sonic Boom set.
A minor play feature on this model is that the engines swivel:
This composite image shows them at their limits. The box art would suggest they are meant to point downwards.
Here's the bottom:
Starting as you are instructed with the two bley plates, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this model wouldn't amount to much; however, there's a remarkable amount of detail included for you might expect to be a throw-away tertiary build. Again, it was a pleasant surprise.
From the top, we can see another feature that isn't present on the other two builds:
The white SNOT tile and jumper plates suggest quite strongly that this little boat is designed to seat a minifigure ...
... and so of course I must oblige.
Daredevil Rufus looks quite happy, despite the lack of any controls for the boat.
Unfortunately, Fabu-Rufus's wide body prevents him sitting down:
Neither does his helmet fit, but at least his ear is protected.
I think the designer has done well here to include three very different models in one set. Each has interesting features and can be fun to play with, and they certainly seem less like afterthoughts than some CREATOR alternatives (the Blue Roadster's third model springs to mind). This is probably the best selling point of this set.
The trouble is that main model isn't that great. It's a nice jet, but somewhat lacking in terms of aesthetics. I would rather forego the landing gear for a sleeker look - even though I'm forever extolling the virtues of folding landing gear elsewhere! However, I can see how the retractable wheels will help sell the set to kids, so I mustn't complain.
Probably the biggest selling factor for adults will be the inclusion of dark blue. It might not quite work as a colour scheme, and the number of dark blue parts is small, but for me at least it was huge factor in the decision to buy the set at all. Next time, though, TLG: let the primary colour thing go, and make the whole set dark blue. Pweeease?
Design: 7 I love LEGO planes, but unfortunately this jet isn't one of my favourites. I like the overall shape, but the engines are oversized to make room for the folding wheels, and a lot of the design aesthetic is lost as a result. However, the designer gets kudos for including two very different and interesting alternative builds.
Build: 8 This is more interesting than the small set size would have you believe, with a surprising amount of SNOT work to keep even an adult reasonably involved, and would be a good way for kids to learn some more advanced techniques.
Parts: 6 I always sigh when I find yellow wedge-plates in sets (though I have found a use for a few recently). Still, SNOT bricks and brackets are always useful, and the dark blue is a valued addition to the collection. I'm not sure you'd want to buy this as a parts pack, though.
Playability: 8 This is where this set does best. The jet is swooshable, and the lading gear, though low-set and clunky, does allow take-offs and landings (it's even quite fun to drive around!) However, the biggest play feature is the alternative builds, which are good models with playability in their own right, and I imagine kids would get hours of fun even without minfigures.
Value: 7 CREATOR sets are always good value on a parts for price ratio, though some of that value is lost as the sets get smaller. This one is... ok; it's probably better value for keeping kids quiet for an hour or two rather than for yourself!
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the review. Please let us know what you think of the set!