Review by EVA_Unit_4A
-- WARNING --
According to the manufacturer, this product is not recommended for children under the age of 7 years as it contains many small parts which a child could potentially choke on.
On the Sentai Mountain, humans work side-by-side with intelligent robots in mines. They use large excavation machines to dig out, gather, and transport mined rock to the surface. Unfortunately, an error occurred in one of the machines, and it sparked a vicious rebellion. Robots turned on their human masters, and through the fighting a series of mysterious explosions blasted the mountain into two halves. The robots were eventually driven deep into the newly-formed canyon far below. Years later, the robots returned, having quietly converted their mining machines into combat-hardened Battle Machines. In a surprise attack, the robots were able to conquer half of Sentai Mountain, additionally taking hostage thousands of human workers and their families. Anticipating their return beforehand, the wise and noble Keiken-sensei gathered together all the people, technology, and resources that he could and created Exo-Force- a defense screen of hardened battlements with tall gates, powerful weapon turrets, advanced research and development laboratories, and their own designs of brand new Battle Machines piloted by elite teams trained under his leadership.
At first, the first Sentai Fortress proved quite a challenge to the robots and their megalomaniacal leader, Meca One. But with access to greater resources and with more ruthlessness, the robots were able to make a heavy strike on Sentai Fortress enough to break it, forcing the inhabitants and survivors to flee higher up the mountainside. The robots limped back to their own side of the mountain…
Fortunately, Keiken-sensei was aware of a legend about the ancient Golden City where the first inhabitants of Sentai Mountain made their base of operations. After successfully retreating there, it was discovered that it was indeed a pinnacle of high technology, and its central computer systems gave them access to powerful new technologies and Battle Machines to replace their war-torn ones. While this did not grant them room for expansion enough to attempt an assault on the robots’ side of the mountain, the lessons learned there allowed for new Battle Machines and technologies to be developed. Desperate to get it’s claws on this technology as well, Meca One launched another heavy assault. But this time, it was able to use one of it’s many copies to kidnap and then impersonate Keiken-sensei in order to expose the city to attack! While Exo-Force was once more fortunate to drive the robots back and keep the Golden City secure, the disappearance of their leader left a large gap in their hearts which could not easily be filled…
The gold-plated leader of the robot army, Meca One, is known for its ruthlessness, its cunning, its intelligence, and its superiority complex. It was the first to rebel, and lead all of the robots into conflict with their creators, so it has been there from the start and has seen it all. The first thing it realized was that when together, humans are very resourceful. So when Meca One led its new army of Battle Machines against the Sentai Mountain, it was not only able to take the more-plentiful resources, but also rob them of their fighting spirit by abducting their family, friends, and co-workers. Knowing that a counter-attack might upset that advantage, it ordered thousands of prison cells be constructed at the base of the mountain before the invasion began, and then moved all of the prisoners there… except for the ones it forced into working in the mines without robot help. But this new Exo-Force human resistance had proved more difficult to overcome than initially expected. With the discovery that Sensei Keiken was leading them, Meca One realized that he might be the only one capable of bringing it and its army down. But Exo-Force’s resistance was also due to its access to the superior technology in the Golden City. So Meca One sent one of his many copies covertly to the city fortress, and had it abduct Keiken-sensei so that they could now gain access to that same information.
The base of Sentai Mountain is very large; far larger than the narrowing slopes higher up the halved mountain. Thus the patrols needed to keep the humans from invading need to be able to maneuver easily through the thick and intimidating forests, and water drainage zones. While the original Sentry was sufficient, it was not well-adapted to the rugged terrain; this doubled with the fact that they were operated by Iron Drones, and they were pretty limited in where they could patrol. The Battle Arachnoid is one of the smaller Battle Machines designed to move in through the very tall and powerful-looking trees. Using a unique turret beneath the center of its body, it can squirt fine streams of slush metal to create strong webs that it can support its weight between the branches, or act as near-invisible barriers against invading Battle Machines. Sharp, hard claws on each of its six legs guarantee an excellent grip while climbing the trees or tall rock faces. For weapons, the front two legs are equipped with both up-scaled chainsaws and cutting lasers- which also double as tools while maneuvering through the forest. The ‘head’ is also equipped with a pair of fang pincers which can penetrate most types of armor to inject a corrosive acid which eats away at the inside of a Battle Machine. To allow it to battle against infantry forces or make quick short-range scouting trips, the cockpit section can separate from the rest of the Battle Arachnoid and take flight with its own single forward-fixed laser; the rest of the Battle Machine can then be operated under limited remote control.
Though its army of Devastator and Iron Drone robots are superior in many ways to humans, Meca One was reluctant to admit to itself that they, too, were not well-equipped to move in among the vines, branches, sharp rocks, and the foothills of the mountain. So a new type of mini-robot was designed to act as a scout for the Battle Arachnoid. Equipped with four pointed legs of its own, it can also float over short distances. An extra set of mandibles between the legs allows it to chew through anything. Though more limited in its intelligence to prevent Exo-Force from capturing one and learning anything from them, it is still smart enough to avoid being detected by hiding in radar shadows, or hack into and disable enemy Battle Machines.
The Battle Arachnoid (back) continues the trend of non-humanoid-shaped Battle Machines, this time drawing more heavily on the animal world for inspiration (as most of the robot army's Battle Machines will for 2008...) From the details in its online profile at Exo-Force.com, it is a next-generation design based on data from the successful Shadow Crawler from the previous year, which means that- in the story’s continuity- this is a rather recent model to be built by the robots. As with most Lego insects or animal sets with more than four legs, the Battle Arachnoid has only six legs instead of the [implied] eight of a spider. No big deal. The middle and back four are identical except for the similar decals applied to them, while the front two incorporate dark gray minifig chainsaw blades on the inside edges. Also with decals, the jagged edges of the front legs’ claws appear, since trying to recreate them with additional pieces might not be very strong. Each leg has two snapping joints at the ‘hip’ and knee, and that is the limit of the set’s poseability (aside from the two black and orange pincers on the head). Unfortunately, they can only swing up and down, but not side-to-side or twist, so you only have a limited range of motion before it scrapes its belly on the ground. The cockpit section in back (where a real spider’s opisthosoma would be) is appropriately large, but is mostly an open control seat with a forward windshield that pivots, and two transparent-orange flame parts. The cockpit section can be separated from the body, and the small wings folded down to become a small self-propelled flyer.
Lego Set #8112 comes with a traditional silver Devastator minifig with a red #2 Technic rod placed in the back of its head to make red eyes. No accessories are provided.
Normally, when a Lego set needs specific details on a part, such as a control panel or flag, the image is printed or painted directly onto specific parts. Exo-Force continues for its third year by using stick-on decals; something that is becoming more commonplace in other lines of the Lego System. There is a small sticker sheet which provides allegiance markings, warning symbols & notices, and names- some of them written in Japanese text! Translations of the Japanese text are given on the sticker sheet, but do not go on the parts. This allows for a wider range of piece marking without Lego having to create a completely different piece each time, and merges the Exo-Force and Japanese toy influence closer together. Whereas in the debut 2006 line some sets had a few conflicts where decals would cover more than one part and would make it impossible to separate again unless they were cut (or not applied to begin with), this has not been a problem with since and was not present in the 2007 line. And so there are no conflicts in Set#8112 from the 2008 line.
The new common gimmick for all of the 2008 line is these new mini-robots. Each one attaches to a Battle Machine. These are not new minifigs, but small Lego parts put together to make unique designs for each set that stands roughly as tall as a minifig. On the human-operated Battle Machines, there is a decal showing the forward profile of its mini-robot as well as the term “Spy Drone”. (Yes, this term is in conflict with all promotional materials- where they are called “mini-robots” instead.) When attaching them to their parent Battle Machine, they fold up and collapse down into a smaller form, though nothing is removed to accomplish this. Be aware that the connection between mini-robot and Battle Machine is not always perfect compared to the instructions, so you’ll have to tinker around until you find an appropriate position for everything, though you won’t have to remove any parts to do so. (It’s really no big deal, and you’ll get used to it quickly enough.)
For Set #8112, the mini-robot (back) forms a clawed turret mounted on top of the Battle Arachnoid’s head. For some strange reason a minifig skeleton’s skull head is placed inside the transparent-neon green jar/dome. (Why? I have no idea…) Four more yellow pincer claws are attached to four black Exo-Force robot minifig arms; a dark gray claw from a robot minifig occupies the space between the four legs. These legs can flip up and down quite easily, while the claw can twist with some careful effort. (If you wanna twist the jar/head around, that’s your choice…) When posing it, you can really only make it balance on three legs while raising the fourth… carefully or else it falls over! The Battle Arachnoid neither loses nor gains any extra function(s) when the mini-robot is removed; unlike the one on the similar-sized River Dragon set, which loses half of an arm and a weapon feature to utilize its own mini-robot. But when removed, you can get to the pincers on the Battle Arachnoid’s head easier.
For 2007, Exo-Force’s official website was upgraded with a new Code Brick Central section to accept specially-designated Exo-Codes which would be found in each set released. These alphanumeric Exo-Codes would grant access to special information and online goodies- wallpaper, screensavers, decals for your personal Lego profile, etc.- related to that one set from which the code had come. Apparently it was successful enough because the Exo-Codes are back for 2008. (Alas, they didn’t make new mini-movies of the Battle Machine’s in action like they did last year!) However, unlike the codes that were pre-printed onto flat 1x2 bricks in 2007, the new Exo-Codes are now printed onto decals which are then applied to the cockpit canopy of each set. Be aware that you must be signed up with a free Lego online profile in order to access the new information (of which they will also remind you).
Something that a lot of people noticed was when none of the 2007 sets were used to make alternate and combined models on the box art and website like they were in the breakout 2006 line. Well, you asked for them, and you got them back! While the singular alternate models have not come back, each 2008 set has instructions which can be found in the somewhat-elusive Build It! section of the website to combine two or three Exo-Force sets into one!
Set #8112- Battle Arachnoid can combine with Set #8115- Dark Panther to form a scorpion-like Battle Machine.
This set is actually a bit on the disappointing side. While its color scheme closely reflects that of the Claw Crusher from the second-year 2007 line, it fits in well with the machine-that-looks-like-an-animal theme that’s running in 2008. The biggest complaints I have are actually about its strong points. The legs look nice and articulated ‘n all, but you really can’t do anything with them since there so much stuff hanging from the undercarriage, and the joints are not nearly as flexible as they were in past small sets, even the Sentry from the debut line in 2006. To top that off, the middle set of legs are even less flexible because of how they normally rest, and posing them is even more restricted because they won’t support weight very easily beyond a certain point. Perhaps if they had used ball-and-socket joints (which I am rather wary of nowadays), it might have worked, but I also know that doing so would have bulked it up significantly and raised the MSRP beyond $10, which perhaps would have been worse. Which leads to my second problem with it, which is more of a personal taste-thing: why- after including a new mini-robot- did they feel it necessary to make the cockpit detachable as well? It just feels too out-of-place in this set, and somehow feels like a Star Wars-like speeder. (Remember Darth Maul’s ride from “Episode-I”…?) It is a nice idea to have small flying sentries, but just... not here. The pincers on the head were a nice touch, as was putting those minifig chainsaw tools on the front legs. The mini-robot is… ehh, it’s okay; nothing special; I suppose I should be thankful that it didn’t replace the entire head instead of just sitting on top of it. (Why was a skeleton-minifig head provided? I just don’t get that one…) Overall, I give it a mild “Pass”. It fits the theme, but I just feel there’s something lacking from the Battle Arachnoid to give it that little extra boost that I love about the Exo-Force series.
|Posted 4 February, 2008 - 03:35 by EVA_Unit_4A|