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Who let the wolves out? Were they ever in? These questions and more will get no follow-up in this new-fangled review of… Set Name: Worriz' Combat Lair Set #: 70009 Theme: Legends of Chima Pieces: 664 Minifigures: 6 Year of Release: 2013 Price at Release: USD 70, GBP 60, EUR 70 Bricklink it! Flickr album! INTRODUCTION Full frontal disclosure: I was never very excited about Chima and I'm not sad that it will no longer be with us. I like the minifigures for their parts, especially the feline faces which look great in a number of custom minifigure applications, but I never cared for the sets. The whole animal-look thing was an interesting concept, but more often than not it seemed to me that the animal-head ate up a ton of parts, leaving the rest of a model to be a bony, technic jumble. I'm mostly a playset kind of guy anyway; if I'm going to like a vehicle, it better have some meat on its bones. How, then, am I here right now, reviewing one of the largest purely-vehicular sets of this entire theme? Easy: sales. I'm a sucker for sales. I've since learned to curb my wallet a bit, but at 40% off the old me would've bought just about anything. Since I own the set, I thought I might as well go through in a detailed review and see if it meets my 'all Chima sets are a crappy bunch of technic with an animal head' expectations. INSTRUCTIONS Usually set artwork ranges from 'inoffensive' to 'quite good,' but I must say they were stretching here to make this set look exciting. They've placed most of the minifigures in physically impossible positions, including a couple of the wolves 'standing' on the truck. Do you see how, on the front booklet, one of the rotors on the helicopter is awkwardly behind those old gun-like pieces? It's like that on the box too. There's really nothing about this artwork that would make me want this set. Even though there are six complete sub models, the instruction booklets still break smack-dab in the middle. Right, makes sense. Remember the old days when LEGO would make awesome displays of whole themes placed together on built landscapes, and then photograph the setups for promotional materials? Actually they still do for City, so that's something, but not for their 'big bang tons of tie-in merchandise' theme Legends of Chima. Instead, we get this supremely cruddy photoshop job of a few sets together. My favorite thing (besides for the magically reversed image of the Lair) is Grizzam (the white gorilla) now swinging off to nowhere. In my head he's saying "F*** this battle, I'm out of here." LEGO's 2D backdrop artists are doing a great job, though. STICKERS Since I bought this set on-the-cheap and will surely break it down for parts, I did not apply stickers. These stickers do actually look pretty cool, and I'm sure would work well in a variety of sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, or other type of grungy setting. I didn't think they'd make or break the look of the set; pretty sure I can give it a fair review without them. INTERESTING PARTS This set does include a fair number of rare, interesting, or otherwise useful parts (for anyone that doesn't exclusively build bright fairy princess castles with studs purely on top). I went through and picked these out based on a combination of personal preference and what I thought other people like. There are a ton of SNOT pieces and tiles, which are always great, as well as a bunch of varieties of slopes. The dark red is in there just because it's cool and I like it. All-in-all, even at full price this set makes a decent parts pack provided you like this type of part. MINIFIGURES Finally, my favorite section!!!!!!!!!1 Like I said in the intro, I do like the Chimafigs. They are absolutely covered in finely detailed prints which inevitably get covered up by other things, so first I'll look at them all decked-out before closing in on the details. These minifigs get some pretty cool weapons - did you know that the trans-red serrated thingies the wolves have only come in this set (in that color)? That's pretty cool! The gun build for Windra, the wolf matriarch, looks great and its main component is quite rare in flat silver to boot! The good guy weapons look great too. I should also mention that the white, jagged cape on the wovles only comes in two sets (and on the SDCC exclusive Collector minifig). For those that cared about collecting the minifigures or cared about the characters, this set was a great way to get most of the wolf tribe. From left to right, you get Worriz (the young leader or something), Wilhurt (the brute-force muscle-man?), Windra (exclusive to this set and the real brains behind the tribe?), and Wakz (the old wizened military commander?). I've added the fifth member, Winzar, on the far right. I happened to have him from a polybag. I do appreciate how much the members of the wolf tribe vary. They fit together, for sure, but they all have distinct differences in their prints down to things like different sizes of teeth on their 'face-helmets.' They're a fun, rugged bunch. Back to just the minifigs in this set… they all have cool back prints too, though I don't think the fur-and-tail detail on Wakz is very successful. The armor plating on Worriz looks simply wonderful, and so useful for castle/fantasy. The daggers on Windra stand out as a fun detail too, making her seem very dangerous. I like the Chima 'face-helmets' for what they are, but what I really love about the Chimafigures is their head-prints. I was so surprised when the theme launched that LEGO had gone all-out on the head prints when the figs were intended to wear their helmets, but I love it. You might not think it, but the more humanoid faces look fantastic in a variety of headgear like hoods, helmets, and the like. My lion-headed green spacemen always bring a smile to my face. I don't care for the bird ones, so Eris' head does nothing for me. Worriz also looks a bit… strange. The other wolves and Grizzam could be quite useful, though. Truly surprising was the fact that not only did the Chimafigs have head prints, most of them had two! You don't want to mess with these wolves when they're angry - they look liable to literally bite your head off. Grizzam looks more like you made a bad play-on-words pun. Eris I screwed up, and put her 'angry' face in the previous picture and her 'happy' face in this picture. If you can tell the difference between the two, you win eternal happiness. THE SET - By Parts Though the set artwork might lead you to believe that the set contains just two models (big truck and copter), the box assures you that it splits into five. I count six. … Obi-Wan: From a certain point of view. … In any case, I'll go through them now in build order before looking at the result of their combination. Athletic Wheelchairs The build starts weak with these two, er, things, that are supposed to evoke wolf paws but to me evoke athletic wheelchairs. No matter their name, they don't look good. Had these been packaged as a set on their own, I believe they would have joined the 'awful tiny set' ranks occupied by the Spider-Trike and Mandarin's Flame-Thrower Lawn-Mower. You will notice the pieces usually used to attach wheels sticking out conspicuously on the back. These hint at a play feature that actually works quite well and is really fun. Bottom line: even though these models tend toward the 'garbage' side of things, they turn out ok in the context of the larger set. Wolficopter After a poor first showing, the build progresses into one of the best models: the copter. The overall shaping looks nice, with a touch of wolf nose on the front. It's not intended to have its rotor folded down when not on the truck, so I had to prop it up with a wolfy friend. Though the set uses a very limited color palette of just light bley, dark bley, black, and dark red (with smatterings of white and red), it still comes off looking a bit jumbled and colorful. I get that LEGO doesn't go for monochrome much, and it might make a set harder to build for the childrens, but eliminating black or one of the bleys would make this thing look much sleeker. Regular red really comes off as unnecessary here against the dark red, and the model would look much better with only the darker shade. What really makes the copter is the fact that the rotor incorporates well folded up and unfolds wonderfully with quite an impressive wingspan. Plus, wolfy is no longer needed with the rotor unfolded - the redistributed weight keeps it from falling back. I guess it's worth noting that in fantasy Chima land there's no need for such physics-necessitated things as tail rotors. But really I don't mind. I'll admit I've been making you wait for it - what REALLY sells the copter is that the rotor spins really, really well. Maybe it's the excessive wingspan, the way it's attached, or something else, but whatever it is this things spins amazingly and is therefore a ton of fun. Truck Flying swiftly along, we come to the beginnings of a larger part of the model: namely, the Wolfy truck part. This isn't the sort of build I enjoy. There's a lot of Technic, a strange slidey mechanism locked down by Technic and SNOT stuff, and a general sense of 'where the hell is this thing going.' The end of booklet 2 (and bag 3) leaves me with this: I wrongly believed that those black Technic beams will become some sort of play feature. They won't. Next comes the head. As usual with Chima, the head displays the wonders of modern, imaginative LEGO set design. Also as usual, there's a crap-ton of parts crammed into a relatively small space that do nothing for the model but look nice. So far, this truck meets my 'bunch of technic with a part-eating head' expectations. As far as the build goes, the instructions next have you make the little side equipment compartments, and then you move on to the prison attachment. However, I photographed the truck with the Wheelchairs already attached to the front, since it really looks a bit terrible without them (yes, I actually did the set a favor). With the Wheelchairs attached, the Wolf Truck really looks quite nice and menacing. Mean-looking head, big rough wheels, some kind of attack paws in the front - nice. You would not want to have this beast coming at you, staring you down. It looks really menacing and ready to flatten you into a road-kill pancake (presuming you're an animal, since everybody is an animal in Chimaland). It also looks fairly decent when viewed from the side, though it becomes apparent that the truck is pickup-style, given that there's not much of anything besides the head. Still, it works. I like the use of the Chi crystals as a sort of super-charged jet exhaust. Even though the whole truck gives off a 'big n tough' vibe, which would usually make it seem not so fast, these engines get you thinking about this thing tearing up some pristine landscapes and leaving them in dire need of new vegetation. But now we come to some issues. Let me pose the question - what does one want out of a truck? I'd say two things: rolling well and space to put minifigures to engage in roll-play. The wolf tribe gets only this as their base, after all, so they better get some room to have tactical meetings and strategize their hits against the meddling Lions, Eagles, Gorillas, and whoever else. ALAS, this truck is just a bunch of gappy technic and other structural stuff. There's no real place to pose minifigs at all. I understand that the helicopter needs a place to rest here (which I will show later on the completed set), but couldn't LEGO have achieved both? Couldn't the designer have filled in some of these spaces with a few plates and added some consoles at which the wolves could work? As it is, Worriz might fall through the cracks and end up roadkill himself. Onto more lameness, we get these storage units on each side that look nice but have very little function. The one that's left empty can't fit any of the weapons included in this set, and the other one has two saws, which I suppose are meant to be repair tools? "Oh hey, the engine broke." "Eh, just give it the ol' saw." Right. Despite its flaws, the wolf truck still makes it into my good book due to its very awesome playfeature (and its general good looks, which I've already mentioned). Seriously, shooting off those wheelchairs and knocking over minifigures doesn't get old. Plus, unlike with most of LEGO's shooters, these projectiles won't be lost very easily since they're so large. This one's a winner. Prison Pod We get a significant down-grade in build size with the next section: this prison pod. The parts use here veers into 'extravagant' territory - it really has more tiles and detailing than a prison pod needs. All those tiles certainly make it look quite nice, but with respect to the set I think the parts could have been better used making the truck less gappy. From a parts pack perspective… whatever, I'll be grateful for the tiles. Unlike the near-useless storage containers on the truck, this prison has plenty of room to do what it needs to do - namely, house prisoners. I even managed to fit Eris in there. Overall - job well done on the prison, LEGO. Cycle What? - you say! Cycles have their wheels facing the same direction as the driver! - Aha! Fooled you again, did I. This cycle can both incorporate into the larger vehicle, and pop off, having its wheels rotate to turn it into a cycle! Vehicles that can fold and be functional always get me. That's part of why I love the copter in this set, and why I loved that Shield car set. For you see, the wheels fold out to make a functional cycle. Just position the gun out a little bit for balance, and it even rolls fairly well and stays standing due to the width of the heavy-duty wheels. Simply put, I dig the look of this thing all around. The asymmetry really works for it; even the side with the technic parts exposed looks alright and I appreciate the tiling. The gun might be ridiculously huge and impractical, but the whole thing is fantastical, so I don't mind. The gun being attached by ball-joint gives it a superb range of motion and makes for fun scenarios like this - 'Ha, thought I couldn't shoot you over there? Guess again!' WHOLE SET Now that I've gone through everything separately, it's time to click everything together and see how the thing stacks up as a huge 'Combat Lair,' whatever the heck that means. I must start off by saying that in person I really don't care for it. All together, it looks like a big bland jumble that's too large and ugly. Some of my photographs make it look much better than it is - looking over my Flickr set, even I kind of like it. But I'll start with a picture that illustrates what you'd be looking at in real life: See? It's quite large, but has no substance. The colors all blend together and almost negate any detail, making even the good sections fade away into the mass. The engines that look cool on the truck part now presumably spit Chi exhaust right on the prison, and there are no additional engines on the back since that's where the cycle goes. The copter just sits on the thing with no attachment points, and it doesn't really integrate into the model. It looks much better on its own. Take the copter off, and the issues become even more apparent. There's just no substance here at all: no place to pose figures, no place for our wolf friends to relax on their ride, no meeting center. What kind of a mobile base is this? LEGO got 'mobile' down, but it seems they forgot the 'base.' Here's my best attempt at getting some roleplay going. I'm really reaching here. I know what some readers may be thinking. Essentially it's a big truck for kids. Isn't it awesome enough that the set makes one huge truck and splits into a bunch of vehicles? Can't kids roleplay with the minifigures on the floor next to the truck anyway? What's CloneyO griping about? Let me explain. Firstly I'm griping about the plain fact that the huge combined vehicle looks ugly. It's drab, it's full of holes. I appreciate aesthetics and have a feel for how I'd relate to a set were I a child, and this set would turn me off. It doesn't scream 'fun and excitement.' Further, even as a child I liked sets that have some interior. I liked trucks, but I wanted to put minifigures in them. The City line has a new Mobile Police Center all the time, and the fun there is having a full truck that also has a fun interior. What I expected out of a big, mobile base was some interior, and that's not what I got here. I got the Chima design brief of awesome animal head attached to gap-filled nonsense. But hey, these low-angle pictures make the thing look pretty decent: CONCLUSION The above picture shows what I like about the set (minus Grizzam - I like him too). Buuuuut wait, isn't that everything in the set? Yes, yes it is. Everything separately has merit. The Wolf Truck looks beastly and has a super-awesome play feature in the launching of the front claw wheelchairs. The copter has a rotor that spins like ace. The prison does what you want a prison to do and gets covered in lovely tiles. The cycle has a wonderful folding feature and an overall fun design. I indeed went about slamming the set as a whole; as one huge vehicle, it's a mess, no way to sugar coat that in my eyes. The basic Chima design principle of 'all look and no substance' gets put on display here in full effect. What's more, the color scheme involves too many colors and still results in a set that's drab and ugly. Yet I like the different components on their own, and the minifigures are a cool bunch for both collectors and customizers. They have neat weapons to boot. Ultimately, I don't much care for this set, but I enjoyed the experience of thinking about it. Chima's over, dead and gone, but with sets like this I can't help feeling that LEGO brought Chima's less-than-Ninjago performance on itself with sets like this. I simply can't see how this set would really appeal to children, being drab and lacking interior as it does. For adults, it's a reasonable parts pack, but not much else.