When the Monster Fighter pictures hit the net, one set screamed 'Eat me CloneyO!' Or maybe it was buy me. I can't recall. Anyhow, lo and behold I purchased that set, which is…
Set Name: The Vampyre Hearse
Set #: 9464
Theme: Monster Fighters
Year of Release: 2012
Price at Release: USD 35, GBP 25, CAD 45, AUD 50, EUR 30
Buy it? Inventory? Bricklink LEGO
Just browse the pictures? Flickr set
Why did this set above the rest creepily call my name in the night? A few things. First of all it's an unusual vehicle, and CloneyO loves unusual vehicles (regular old fire and garbage trucks, not so much). Then there's the camp factor. Going along with that, it's just so silly. A hot rod hearse? Love it!
But do I love it quite as much now that it's out of the box, under the caressing strokes of my fingers? Let's find out!
I kept going on and on in my HP reviews about how the boxes are dark and that's unusual (despite older themes like Fright Knights, so really it's not that unusual). Anyway, we get another dark theme here. All the darks and the eery glowing mist are great. Of course the art is ludicrous; Rodney is driving his bike with no hands and about to plummet to his death, but since the realism factor isn't exactly ginormous here anyway, it's ok.
The back shows the features, which include launching Lord Vamps, glowing in the dark, and putting the coffin in the back. God that last one's just the greatest! There's also a little comic up top which makes no sense because it appears that LV just has to go downstairs to get his moonstone or something, no Hearse involved. The epic fighting picture on the bottom right is great though.
The top shows the figures in a silly little chase, Rodney making off with the Moonstone of battiness. I dig the eerie glowing all around.
The instructions are big and square; plenty of room to see that lovely (and ridiculous) art!
The steps are painfully slow, as always. The build is split over two bags just to make it easier, not because you build different whole things with the bags. That's how it goes now, so I'll try not to mention it again. Colors are good now that black is outlined, yaddy yadda. The background has some lovely faint mist and a moon.
In the back there is this page with a special code to use in the online Monster Fighters game. I haven't tested what it does because I'm too cool for any video game that's not firstpersontetris, but maybe one of you will try it out or have already done so.
Here are links to the parts lineup (at a crappy angle so it's not that easy to see) and a page showing all the not-graveyard sets.
Honestly I hate talking about parts. Parts are parts. That said, there are some good parts. New SNOT plates that go up. Dark red teeth. Those new-ish slope things. Nothing really too remarkable, but there are a nice amount of pieces here. 314 for $35 is perfectly fine.
These minifigures are fantastic! The Zombie Driver's vacant eyes are frightening and his outfit is nicely done and weathered. Lord Vamps looks a little silly with his mouth closed, but I like the slight cute-factor. The one thing I'm not so sure about on him is how useful the pants will be without the torso, but I bet they'd work. Dr. Rodney Rathbone looks great too; I love the torso and face, and the leg is very well-designed. The bowler is the one thing that's a wee bit plain; black or some other color printing on the strap would've made it a bit more exciting.
Great back printings too. You do see LV's second head under his hair, but it doesn't bother me. It happens, and it's not too noticeable.
Showing off that second face and the side of ol' Rod's special leg. They've matched the leg to a regular one very well; I love the detailing on it. I don't like LV's angry face as much as his other one, but that's just because it's not cute. It does the trick, though.
Something I really appreciate is how LEGO designed Rod's mug so that it'd show with the bowler on. The eyes seem just a little lower down than usual, which means they aren't obscured by the hat (as the top of Riddler's mask is, for example). Great forethought there. I thought I'd show the Zombie's head revealed in all it's spooky glory as well.
Seeing as there was a big bad Vampire back in the Studio sets, it's time for a classic CloneyO comparison round!
First for the heads I shall term 'calm.' They look like they're getting ready to kill you, but they're still chill about it for now. Clearly the old one is a bit less detailed, but he's still a great, spooky figure. The old one seems to have a bit more crazy flare overall with all the brass buttons and the pointy hair, while the new LV keeps it more sedate.
Things get more interesting when we turn the heads. New LV looks like somebody stole his cookie; ya know, pretty pissed. The old guy, on the other hand, screams 'I just bit you in the neck and now I shall commence feasting on your offspring.' I was never a fan of this face because it's so twisted, and I still feel about the same way now.
LV gets one of those lovely new swords. You know how I feel about it? Lovely, duh. I already said so. Jeez. Rodney gets a fencing sword and a humdrum pistol, plus a stick of dynamite. He has to pick and choose which one to use, since he only has two hands #monsterfighterproblems. I gave the Zombie a bone since he looked a little left out without a toy (of course I could've given him the moonstone, but shut up. We'll see it later, ok?).
There's also the sarcophagus with newly moulded lid. Love the smooth surface and printing, although it does show off that LEGO vampires in fact do have reflections (as do shiny twilighty vampires, as far as I remember).
The old vampire's digs had a big moulded relief of him and brass handle stickers. LEGO probably did the lid that way to make it similar to the Adventurers Mummy coffins, and the brass is there because the vampire likes saying 'yeah I'm rich!'
SET - Motorcycle
Here's the bike without accessories or minifigure attached. It's the excellent mould featured in this exact color scheme in Pharaoh's Quest, black with dark red trim in Indiana Jones, and in solid light bley in the Wolverine set. I love the added thrusters on here; they fit perfectly with the color scheme and the Monster Fighters vibe.
You (or some kid who of course is not you) could even pretend that the fronts of the megaphone thrusters are rocket launchers. Or perhaps stake launchers. Just Imagine…
Besides for being slightly too large as I mentioned in the Wolverine review, this bike mould is superb. And so shiny!
Here it is with all the stuff! Rodney really has too much to carry on one puny bike, and deciding to carry his sword while driving doesn't seem like the smartest choice. How's he supposed to stop the Hearse with a sword? Of course, we know from the box that Rod can drive with now hands, so he should be ok.
LEGO actually has you put the gun in the stud; I can't recall seeing them tell you to do this before, although I'm sure it's happened in a few instances.
I just hope those exposed flames don't turn upwards and ignite the dynamite. Rodney wouldn't be such a happy camper if that happened.
He sure looks ready to take on adversaries that are on foot!
But how would he fair against…
SET - Hearse
We've made it to the main attraction (at least I have anyway, maybe you're asleep): the Hearse! It's just… wow. Terrific. It's a campy hot-rod crossed with a hearse. That already makes it terrific. Luckily, I've got a lot of pictures, so let me talk details.
So this thing tilts down. I'll talk about that more in a side view, but from a more front view it looks really fantastic and menacing. Clearly red is a stupid color for headlights, but the reasonable turned into a bat and flew out the window quite a while ago.
It's got kind of a vampire face on the front, what with the red eyes and the fangs. Very spooky. The moonstone fits in so well with this set; it looks quite like a hood ornament, or perhaps it's powering the engine. Either way, it doesn't look just tacked-on.
The engine itself is cool too; the bones are hilarious, and it's just so tall (compensating for something? No! LV doesn't need to compensate for anything!).
I was worried that with the height of the engine, the people inside wouldn't be able to see out. Luckily, since the Hearse tilts down so much, they can! Of course, they have terrible eye-lines, but I'm not sure the Zombie would care about running people over or even hitting trees.
Just how much the thing tilts surprised me. It's not very clear from the box. Personally, it's a little too much for me. It's an easy MOD, so no problem, but that's my one little quibble with the design. I do understand the look they were going for, though, since hot rods do that. It also makes the function work better, putting the coffin higher up and tilted forward.
Here's a higher view so you can't see the high tilt anyway! Perspective, hah! There are so many details to love: the big lamps by the windshields, the curtain made of dark red teeth, the huge exhaust pipes, the big side windows in general. Nowhere looks unloved.
The back is a little strange, being wide open, but it had to be like that so that the roof has enough room to swing down and so that you can put the coffin in. The fence piece is used nicely here for a tiny bit of protection. Again an easy MOD if you want a close-back.
Time for some interiors! The cab isn't exactly luxurious, but it has plenty of room for the Zombie and LV, so it gets the job done. That's the upside of 8-wide (nice rhyme!), plenty of room for side-by-side figures!
The back has less useable room. Because of the play feature and the exposed wheels, there isn't a whole lot of space back there. Without the coffin and with no MODs I could still fit four figures, but you could of course remove the play feature and lay down a plate for a lot more party space!
That finishes the model, so here's one more pic of it! Really, it's a huge, beautiful vehicle. Eight-wide is huge, yes, but perfect for this set. I imagine LV's flipping everybody else on the road the bat with his monstrous coffin-carrier.
You probably know about the play features already. They're on the box, no surprises. But of course I'll talk about them anyway!
The LV-launching feature is incredibly frill-less. There are teeth on either side of the Hearse that, with an ounce of technic, flip up the thing inside like so:
I thought there might be something special that pops up the roof, but nah. It's just the coffin hitting it. For that reason, you can't just lightly flip those teeth. You have to mean it!
The duration of LV's flight depends, obviously, on how hard you commit to pounding those teeth. A weak attempt will cause him to tumble over the roof of his ride. A more vigorous thump will make him really go far! With the right amount of force this play feature works swimmingly!
I could take a video. If somebody really wants one I'll do it. But I think it suffices to say what I already said: works well, you just have to give it enough oomph.
The second Play(ish) feature is the glow-in-the-dark. I love the new glow in the dark plastic color, since it's nearly white and thus doesn't look so odd with the white hand color. It also glows beautifully! The glowing sticker is nice too. The sticker would look cool anyway, so the glow-in-the-dark seems like a 'why not' type decision. (Absolutely no photo-editing used on this photo)
But about GITD, does it really matter? It's the type of thing where little Billy builds his set, and says 'Hey look mommy!' then goes and turns off the lights. Mommy says 'That's nice Billy,' lights come back on, and Billy forgets about it. It's also cool to have in your room at night, when you lay awake and see stuff glowing, so I guess that's neat. Really, since the new GITD color is so good, I'm very happy to have it. Back when it was Snape and Voldemort, not so much.
WHOLE SET and CONCLUSION
If you hadn't picked up on it by now, I'm fond of this set. Nice cycle, nice minifigures, nice coffin, wicked-awesome hearse. I've got an affinity for cool or unique LEGO vehicles, and this fits the bill to the cent (pretty sure I might've made up the second part of that expression). The function works really well and is fun to do over and over, plus there are no extraneous play features like flick-fires. It's mostly about the vehicle itself, with the function well-embedded.
Does it make me want to run out and get all of the other Monster Fighter sets? Not so much. I do like the theme, and I might pick up a couple other sets, but personally I think they each stand completely alone. Don't take that to be a negative, though. Getting distinctive sets and figures is great, and doesn't happen in a lot of LEGO original themes (maybe 50-50, but I'm not sure).
Parts: 9/10 - Nothing revolutionary, but plenty here and some useful things.
Build: 10/10 - Very slow, but it doesn't get stale. Constructing vehicles tends to be fun.
Design: 9/10 - Overall, amazing. The tilt is a little extreme, but necessary for the feature. The back is also sacrificed for the feature.
Minifigures: 10/10 - Great stuff all around.
Price: 8.5/10 - This could be $30. Really $35 is fine and I don't mind it. The $5 doesn't make much difference, but if LEGO starts adding it all over the place, that will add up.
Playability: 10/10 - Great feature, and it rolls. Everybody loves to play with rolly things!
Overall: 9.4/10 - That's a high score, since I think highly of this set. It's a really fun one. Go get it if you're so inclined!
Lord Vampyre realizes he shouldn't have eaten that barber, since it appears there were a lot of high-power clients…
Til next time!