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THUNDER WINGS!! Hhuurrr! It's macho. <flex biceps> MEN WILL LIKE THIS. Thunder wings!! Propeller Power ... Sonic Boom ... Street Rebel ... Fierce/Ferocious Creatures ... Roaring Roadster ... The LEGO Co. has often resorted to hyperbole to increase the masculine appeal of these smaller CREATOR sets to their target audience, but THUNDER WINGS!! takes this decidedly to 11. As we shall see, there is a certain logic behind the use of this monicker for this particular 3 in 1 collection. As you will probably have noticed if you've read any of my previous CREATOR reviews, I'm a big fan of planes, and certainly from the looks of the box this latest airborne offering promises an attractively-styled fast jet with what looks at first glance to be quite realistic styling for a relatively low price point. To see how it lives up to first impressions, and to check out the alternative models of this set, read on ... Review: 31008 Thunder Wings Set Information Name: Thunder Wings Number: 31008 Theme: Creator Release: January 2013 Parts: 235 Minifigs: N/A Price: GB £14.99 | US $17.99 | EUR 19.99 | AU $29.99 | CA $24.99 | DKK 179.95 Links ... Shop@Home ... Brickset ... Bricklink ... Peeron The Box Click for a larger frontal image Like the CITY range, I don't think the CREATOR box art has changed since around 2004, although the yellow surround has perhaps receded a little compared to its predecessors. In this 3 in 1 set, the secondary models have been given a surprisingly high billing; usually one would expect small insets at the bottom (compare 6912, 5767, and 5892). The result of this is a somewhat crowded cover; the '3 in 1' logo obscures part of the main model. The back, however, follows the tradition of displaying the secondary builds more prominently, with a rearward view of the plane: Click for a larger picture The rather eclectic mix of models has given the box artist an intersting dilemma in choosing the background design, overcome quite effectively with the use of a blue marbled 'floor' blending into the blue sky at an arbitrary horizon. The floor effect seems to lack perspective, however. Good to see I'm not the only fan of Lens Flare. The customary CREATOR set inventory is once again featured on the box top: Click for a larger picture This allows you to make a shop floor decision on whether to buy the set depending on its contents, and allows the less thrifty to fork out £15 for the one part they need because they can't wait for Bricklink. I never do that, of course. Opening the thumb tabs reveals the following contents: Three manuals and four polybags make this quite a weighty set: 454 grammes (or exactly 1 lb for Americans and metrically-challenged Brits). The Instructions Each build gets its own instruction manual featuring a shot of the model and little else. They're all the same size with slightly varying thicknesses; models 1 (plane) and 2 (robot) have nice shiny covers, but model 3's (car's) booklet cover is lesser quality (the same as the inside pages). Opening the first manual, we find that the 'don't pour the pieces onto the back lawn' instructions have been replaced by a rather endearing cartoon: I really like this! Particularly the minifigure's puzzlement-bordering-on-abject-fear in frame 2 resolving in to supreme joy by frame 3 when he has managed to sort the parts (which, given the scale, are presumably Nanoblocks). Pandora has pointed out that a similar cartoon appears in the latest Friends sets, adjusted appropriately for theme. A plain blue background with yellow CREATOR surround minimises distraction from the instructions: themselves quite simple, with about 2-5 parts per step and piece call-outs for all three models. The build flows smoothly, and is nicely paced; the only slight issue I found was differentiating flat orange 1x1 round plates from their trans-orange equivalents. Towards the rear of the first manual, there's a double-page spread of the many other new CREATOR models this year. 31007 Power Mech gets a whole page to itself opposite this one; that is perhaps because it will appeal to those who bought this set because of the robot secondary model. I will hopefully do a review of the white sports car soon , but the one I'd really love to get my hands on is that rather splendid eagle. Following this is a double-page spread of the inventory, replete with part IDs; see Page 1 here and Page 2 here. Instructions in the other two manuals go right to the back page. Click the thumbnails below for larger images: The Parts The four polybags can be arbitrarily divided into two large and two small. Click for a larger picture A few splashes of orange brighten up the blue-dominated large part selection. There's not a huge amount of interest here; the Bionicle joints will most likely end up in the Useless Parts container unless you're into making Mechas. The four black hinge-plates (bottom right) could be useful, particularly if you're trying to make a round tower in the style of Derfel Cardarn, though you'll need a lot more than four! Wedge-plates and tiles are the highlights of the smaller-part line-up: Click for a larger picture A slightly unusual inclusion for a CREATOR set is the four pearl-dark grey mechanical arms; we'll see their interesting use in one of the models presently. Note the juxtaposition of flat and trans-orange 1x1 round plates, the source of the only (albeit minor) colour-confusion in the build. Model 1 - Thunder Wings!! Thunder Wings!!'s primary model is a twin-engined, twin-tailed, swept-wing jet that is clearly based on a fighter design but, like previous jets in the CREATOR line, given a more 'display team' livery. As you can see, the wing sweep is created not just by the use of wedge plates, but also by mounting the wings onto the body at an angle. This, it turns out, is a major feature of the set, and we'll look more closely at it later. The nose of the plane is quite neatly styled with bows forming blue and white stripes along the side, and creating a nice contour behind the black nose-cones. Like the 5892 Sonic Boom, the engine air intakes comprise SNOT- (Studs Not On Top) mounted wheel arches; the smaller scale of this plane makes them appear relatively larger, but I don't think they are overly large for the model. Behind the air intakes, the lovely smooth stripes are lost, and the colour-scheme starts to get a little fussy; with white, blue, dark and light bluish-grey, black and orange all vying for attention, the wings aren't as clean and streamlined as the sweep would like you to believe. The blue 1x2 plates outboard of the orange tiles aren't strictly necessary, and their removal would go some little way towards tidying them up. This high shot from the rear is quite flattering. I nearly used this for the title picture. You can see here the slight gap between the blue wedge plates behind the wings - which are attached perpendicular to the fuselage - and the bley grille tiles on the wing surfaces; this could be corrected with some clippy-piece trickery to allow an offset and also create working ailerons in the process. The designer has obviously opted for simplicity. Also apparent is the use of levers at the wing-tips to give the impression the wing-tips are parallel to the fuselage, with some success. Noticeably absent on this jet are the green and red port and starboard navigation lights I've come to expect. The 'colourful' wings are all-too obvious when viewed from the front: The trans-clear stand isn't included in the set! The plane has a pleasingly low, sleek forward profile, though from this angle the air intakes do look a little on the large side when compared to the cockpit. Two wide wheel hubs form the engine exhausts at the rear; between them and the tail fins are two of the mechincal arms, the purpose of which here is unclear. The (suggested) upward slant of the horizontal stabilisers is achieved with the help of these 1x2 clip plates, at the expense of making the stabilisers rather thicker than they should be, but it helps to make the rear profile rather more interesting. A nod to realism this isn't: upward-sloping horizontal stabilisers on fighter jets are, to my knowledge, unusual; usually they are flat but some are downsloping (Harrier, Phantom for example) - but this is not possible here. The side profile reveals a number of faults on this plane. Behind the air intakes, the lower white stripe that started so promisingly behind the nose degenerates into a blocky mess. The fuselage itself is a little too deep, and ends with an ugly bley step in front of the exhausts. The tail fins taper quite well, but aren't a patch on the beautifully-styled tail of Sonic Boom; they are about as good as the scale will allow, although I'm not keen on the orange and black stripes. In case you were wondering... no, there is no undercarriage on this plane. It's really rather disappointing, especially since the designer managed to squeeze retractable landing gear into the much smaller 6912 Super Soarer. Instead, large bley and black plates make for a featureless underside: It's a shame that the same colour wasn't used for these plates. Some effort has been made to give contours to the sides of the fuselage, forming a 'waist' level with the trailing edge of the wings. Ideally, I would expect the engine bulge to be maximal under the wings, and to taper gradually toward the exhausts (see for example the underside of the Tornado), but I can live with this. Less forgiveable is the sudden step behind the engine intakes. I don't normally show build pictures of CREATOR sets, but it's worth drawing attention to a couple of points. Firstly, note the rather unusual use of some parts to enable three complete builds with a minimum total part count. Here a Bionicle ball and socket parts are used simply as filler - the joint doesn't move. Behind this are two 2x2 bricks with pin, facing each other. The pins don't do anything and are barely visible on the finished plane. These parts are each vital in one of the alternative builds. Secondly, let's have a closer look at how the swept wings are achieved: The angle is produced by 2x2 hinge plates and 2x4 wedge plates. The point of pivot is between the rear stud of the white 2x4 wedge and the adjacent stud from the white 2x4 plate on the fuselage, enabling a snug fit and a sturdy attachment. This is quite an advanced technique for a smaller CREATOR set; it gives you a glimpse of how Ralph_S achieves his incredible results. I've certainly learned something from building this - moreso than from any other LEGO set I've built in recent memory! It's the highlight of the model, if not the entire set. Click the tumbnails below for some alternative views of the plane. Sadly, the Super Soarer has been parted out, but here's Thunder Wings in company of the flagship jet of the CREATOR range, and my own F-18 Hornet [/shameless plug]. It's not so obvious from the photo, but Thunder Wings is considerably smaller than the F-18, so we probably shouldn't expect too much in the way of features; however, I really would like to have seen landing gear even if it were only detachable rather than retractable. Model 2 - Thunder ... Thighs? The second model of the set is some kind of Mecha, identified as a 'robust robot' on Shop@Home. Now, I have no interest in mechas (they're not called 'meh-cha' for nothing ) so I was expecting to pass over this particular build with alacrity. The robot has a chunky body, nicely rounded and striped at the front but somewhat flat at the back, with freely mobile arms connected via ball joints and legs which, connected via clicky joints, are somewhat less mobile. He looks like an Eric to me. Perhaps Eric's most prominent feature is his two large shoulder-appendages of uncertain purpose. They look suspiciously like wings, even if it's not clear how they could possibly act like wings, and suddenly the choice of the name 'Thunder Wings' for the set starts to make a little sense, even if it remains a little arbitrary. Eric can't turn his head unfortunately - it's attached directly to the chunky upper body, between two stylishly-curved shoulders. I like the use of the wheel-arch pieces to line the shoulder joints here. The right-hand panel shows what would be quite interesting offset SNOT work, were it not for the fact that these studs decidedly are on top - it's the main body that is SNOT here. The 'wings' behind are attached via one stud sandwiched between two plates, which allows a little movement, from their maximum spread here to vertical. It's a perfectly valid technique, but it might make some people uncomfortable. Being essentially a brick-built Action Figure, Eric is of course poseable. [i once admonished a Reviewers Academy student for saying 'poseable'. My spellcheck doesn't like it, but it's used no less than twice on this set's page on Shop@Home, so it must be ok!! I stand corrected. ] Here he is attempting to walk. His ankles flex only laterally, and he has no knees, making this a difficult task; he looks more like he is speedskating. This is about the only 'walking' pose you can get him to balance in. Note that the clicky-hinges at the hip joints have different coloured sections; as these parts exist only in one 'right-hand' orientation, they appear to be different colours when viewed head-on. This is apparent also in the Power Mech set. Eric's arms are very mobile. Here he has clearly found something crotch-ticklingly funny - or else whatever he's doing to his crotch has made him rather ashamed. You decide! You'll note that Eric has only two fingers on each hand - his 'thumbs' are two 1x2 clippy-plates which don't move, making gripping things a little tricky. All that walking and laughing has made him tired, so it's time to sit down: He looks like he's looking at something interesting in the distance, and perhaps massaging his big tired feet. Ahhhhh! He's so tired, now he needs a little lie down: Or perhaps he's doing the backstroke. Note the 'wings' here are in their 'vertical' position. It's a shame that he can't point his feet down and his head up, or you could make him do a great 'Superman' flying pose. The lack of opposable thumbs hasn't prevented Eric from taking his rage out on two nearby sigfigs: He can grip System-Rufus reasonably well, but he could only pick Rufus Rabbit up by the toe between his fingers. Ow. I actually had quite a bit of fun with this build. Its poseability means that there is far more play potential in the robot than in either of the other two builds, and it's quite an attractive model. For some reason I'm reminded of 80's cult animation . The plane, on the other hand, makes me think of .Model 3 - Thunder ... Wheels Model 3 is described on Shop@Home as a 'futuristic concept car' but to me it looks more like a cross between a hot rod and a dragster. The 'wings' here are - I presume - the white rearward-pivoting spoilers; they could also refer to the wedge-slopes over the rear wheels, I suppose. Either way it's a little lame, but it does serve to provide something of a common theme between three very different models. The car tilts dramatically downward towards the front, again in keeping with a hot rod or dragster: The ground clearance at the front it minimal: as you can see in this picture, there is less than a plate-height between the body and the ground, which might cause some difficulties when zooming it along the floor. Like in the plane, the stripes along the side are quite staggered. There's another unusual use of a wheel-arch piece at the front; not entirely successful this time, although this is as much to do with the unsightly orange slopes behind as it is the arch itself; moreover I'm not keen on the blue headlights. As these trans-light blue rounds are only included in the set for Eric's eyes, it's a shame they couldn't be trans-clear. The back of the car is neat, if a little plain; a simple SNOT panel creates some interesting and attractive angles with the blue inverted slopes beneath, and two inverted Technic plates give the appearance of exhausts, though I'm not sure they are necessary ... ... as the engine appears to have upward-pointing open exhaust manifolds created with the pearl-dark bley mechanical arms: I like the use of 1x2 clippy plates to look like pipes between engine and exhausts. In the right-hand frame, two staggered SNOT pieces provide a very secure support for the side panels. The car has a very small area for a driver's seat, denoted by the orange 'cushion'. It seats a minifigure, but only just: A grille tile takes the place of a steering wheel however, so Rufus has to steer by leaning from side to side, or something. Rufus Rabbit has to stand! The car is quite fun to build, and is chunkier than its external appearance might suggest; the bodywork is for the most part nicely styled, and it makes quite a pleasing third model. A slight redesign of the front end and the side panels (losing the topmost blue wedge plates and mounting the SNOT panes a plate higher) could have made for a very attractive car. Conclusion Being a fan of planes, I bought, built, and reviewed this set first out of the whole (extensive) 2013 CREATOR range. The official LEGO pictures and the box art promised an attractive, sleek small-to-medium size jet, and recent set releases have shown that LEGO can produce decent and fairly realistic fighter jets even if their military heritage is heavily disguised. And I find I do like this set, but for very different reasons from what I expected beforehand. The jet itself, when you scratch beneath the surface, is a little disappointing. The styling which looks good on the upper surface is rather tatty and mismatched underneath the wings, and the two-toned plates on the bare underside highlight the lack of undercarriage, which detracts from both play and display. It is, however, eminently shwooshable, and despite my misgivings about the colour scheme of the wings, it is an attractive jet. The best feature by far, though, is the superb demonstration of angled juxtaposition of plate surfaces (there must be a catchier phrase to describe this!). Then come the secondary builds. Had I bought this set just for the plane, and hadn't intended to review it, it's likely I never would have built them, and I'd have lost out. Both are fun in their own ways, and I can see the target consumer getting hours of fun from this little set. I even kinda miss Eric now he's been destroyed. Kudos must be afforded to the designer for providing three very different models from a limited palette of parts in one set. The price is the relatively large number of leftovers from model 1, but it's impressive nonetheless. Design 8 Viewed from the top, the plane is a sleek and attractive fighter-styled jet, and really benefits from the swept-wing configuration. It is let down by the messy construction beneath the wings, and mismatched colours here and there. However, it's still lovely to look at from the most important angles; moreover, the inclusion of two pretty good - and varied - secondary builds serves to bolster the score significantly. Build 9 A mostly brick-on-brick construction of uninteresting parts somehow builds to a surprisingly attractive result in each case; it's enjoyable although a little pedestrian. Major bonus points are awarded here for the swept wing technique. Parts 6 A rather mediocre parts selection lets the set down here - you've probably got most of these parts already, and it's unlikely you'd buy the set for the inventory alone. Playability 7 The plane is eminently swooshable, but the lack of landing gear or any other added feature do restrict the possibilities of bith play and display considerably. The car can be zoomed along a table, but on a carpet or other bumpy surface it'll snag. Eric the Robot saves the day here - he's fun to pose and cute to boot. Value 7 CREATOR sets are always good value on a parts per pound basis; this one perhaps doesn't hold up so well compared to the myriad similarly-priced sets in the current range, but it'll keep you amused for a time, and keep kids quiet for far longer. Overall 74% My Score 7/10 There isn't really that much to recommend this set to your average AFOL, unless they are a die-hard plane fan. I do, however, think this would make a great set for kids. Provided, of course, that they are sufficiently MACHO. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the review. Please let me know what you think! Rufus Resources My other CREATOR jet reviews: 5892 Sonic Boom Jet 6912 Super Soarer Special Themes CREATOR Review Index My flickr set