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…
Keiken-sensei knew that the only way to win the war and beat back the robots for good would be to first rescue the untold thousands of humans being held prisoner on the robot-controlled side of the mountain. Where they were now, he could only guess. But an expedition would need to be sent to find the massed prison cells. And so, to ensure that Meca One would not learn this, he secretly used Golden City technology to build new Battle Machines specially designed and customized to the talents of Exo-Force’s finest pilots, which he would then personally lead down into the lowlands of Sentai Mountain. The responsibility of keeping the Golden City safe and Exo-Force functional in his absence would fall to his granddaughter, Hitomi- who had become an experienced and courageous pilot in her own right recently. But what hadn’t been expected was the treachery of the robots. Upon Hitomi taking command of the human resistance, the new Battle Machines were discovered, and a new mission drawn up: Hikari, Takeshi, Ryo, and Hayato would go alone into the deepening jungles and waterfalls of Sentai Mountain to find their leader and make sure that he is not harmed and interrogated by the robots!
Thick armor, powerful weapons, brute strength, light on its feet- these are all likable qualities in the Assault Tiger Battle Machine. Thus, Takeshi also likes the Assault Tiger, and so he was most pleased when he learned that Keiken-sensei had built it just for him. The unusually-strong striped yellow armor ensured that it would be able to take one heck of a beating and still be functional enough to return the favor. The heavy servo motors and hydraulic pistons in the legs and shoulders, however, and the power plant in the torso (and cooling vents throughout) needed to move it quickly in a very rugged terrain and high tree branches means that it also lacks some of the heavier firepower of some of the other Battle Machines that Takeshi piloted in the past. The Assault Tiger’s primary weapon is a very large diamond-reinforced circular buzz saw taking up its entire lower left arm- it is capable of halving some of the larger trees in the forests at the foot of Sentai Mountain in minutes. The left arm, however, carries the only energy weapon- a refined plasma burst cannon that can be dropped if need-be in favor of the three-fingered manipulator hand. As a bonus to compensate for the lack of offensive systems, a unique “Tiger’s Roar” sonic disrupter is built into the chest which- when activated- projects specially-tuned sound waves in a narrow beam towards any target ahead of it. This can both shake trees and rocks, and disorient Battle Machine systems enough for Takeshi to get an upper hand in a fight. (Talk about a ghetto-blaster-!) Or sometimes he’ll set it off just for fun, to remind the robots to beware that this big cat is on the prowl…
To expand its detection range, Keiken-sensei equipped the large yellow & maroon Battle Machine with a new spy drone robot. Being that he was the one who created the robots before they all turned to evil (and for which he is ever-grieved and guilt-ridden nowadays), Keiken-sensei took the lessons learned from his mistakes, and created these new human-sized mini-robots with a simpler artificial intelligence (“AI”) and less-independent thinking capabilities, making them more dependable in a fight and less-prone to corruption while in a hazardous encounter with their enemies. The one attached to the Assault Tiger is equipped with two human-sized chainsaw blades for cutting through wood and underbrush as easily as they do solid metal. It is also equipped with two small-but-powerful thruster arrays in its shoulders that can allow it to boost high into the air for long-range jumping, though it’s not really made for sustained flights. To ensure that it is always fully charged and refueled, the mini-robot is stored on the left arm and takes its power directly from the same transfer conduit that the Assault Tiger’s own plasma burst cannon does; though if the larger weapon is discarded, it will have nowhere else to attach.
The Assault Tiger (back) very much depends on- and owes its very existence to- the anime industry of Japan. (And, to a certain degree, manga books & magazines as well.) While most Battle Machines of the past have had minor influences that contributed to the overall look of each successive Exo-Force line (the human minifigs being the most consistent), this one has perhaps the heaviest style influence yet. This will lead to both traits and flaws in the Assault Tiger set. Perhaps the biggest step in shaking things up is the radical redesign of the torso section. No longer is everything built upon a central spinal structure which frequently led to Battle Machines tipping over from being too front- or top-heavy. Instead, a squat and shorter torso has been designed, with things like the shoulder armor overlapping the new ball-and-socket joints, and wide fender-like armor on the chest. It also balances out better by centering the middle of the torso over the legs better than previous designs have. This redesign also has the added advantage of providing Takeshi with almost 360-degrees of protection as opposed to a typically-open cockpit- something that many have complained about in Exo-Force sets over the years. Some of the new parts designed for and first used in the Exo-Force line are these dark gray, solid, four-sided complex 6x6 brick parts which form both the bottom of the torso/cockpit and the back half of the lower legs. (Three are included in the set. I suspect that they may be used as the bases for air traffic control towers in City sets.) Also new are these dark gray sloped 1x2 vent bricks which fit onto the chest. (Two are included.) The big, bulky shoulders with small arms can be considered one of those anime traits I was talking about earlier. However, it wasn’t executed to the same standard that previous Exo-Force sets have been. Specifically, the traditional snap-twist shoulder joints have been replaced with ball-and-socket joints. To add to that, the elbows- for the first time on a set larger than $10.00- cannot be adjusted or posed (the exception being the white human-built Battle Machine from the Bridge Walker and White Lightning set). At the elbows, the arms incorporate different weapon features, and are built differently. The left arm features a long thin pulse cannon, which can be removed to reveal a hand with poseable fingers. The right arm, however, carries a very large buzz saw blade, which can be spun very easily with a red knob on the underside. A thin dark gray panel hangs over part of the blade- seeming to indicate that it is a support or part of the saw’s motor. But beneath, it’s rather weak-looking, with just a long Technic shaft connecting the blade to the elbow. This next part always makes me laugh: the red warning text on the black decal on the blade says- and I’m not kidding here- “Warning: Heavy Duty Deforester – Local Environmental Logging Hazard”. (I’m sorry- that is just awesome! If you’re a fan of savin' the trees, don’t even bother…) The legs are the same traditional size at the thighs, but then feature huge bulky lower legs & feet (which also prevent them from being angled straight down). The hips and knees are the traditional snap-joints for posing, but the ankles now use ball-and-socket joints, previously only used in the smaller sets from 2008. But, despite my reservations about Lego ball-and-socket joints, the ankles seems to keep it upright easily enough and they haven’t worn themselves out… yet
Lego Set #8113 comes with a new version of the Takeshi minifig. While he still has his green spiky hairdo and double-sided head (one face frowning, one a battle-cry expression), the chest print has been redesigned to incorporate new designs- including a camouflaged shirt beneath the techy fittings!
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#8113 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 #8113, the mini-robot (back) forms a pod which attaches to the top of the pulse cannon assembly. A long bar sticks out behind, but the legs and center body are heavy enough to comfortably keep it upright on a flat surface; plus, the feet are individually jointed and can be adjusted as well, much like its larger brethren can! The dark-red arms (taken from the robot minifigs) can flip all the way around; though they way they are built they can pitch up and down a little at the shoulder, but these other ‘joints’ are rather tight, so I would not recommend doing this too much. It grips two dark gray minifig chainsaws in its black claws. The legs, however, are more flexible in this regard; the feet can actually swing back and fourth a bit at the ankles! It’s small and fragile, but it works! As mentioned earlier, if the pulse cannon is removed, the mounting assembly for the mini-robot will also be removed and it won’t be able to attach anymore.
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).
(I don’t know how common this is, but I encountered a problem when I entered in the Assault Tiger’s code- it did not give me access any new information. I was forced to contact Lego’s online tech support to get a different code. I suspect that this may be an error on the website, since I did not encounter problems with any of the 2007 sets, but did with a different 2008 set as well- the River Dragon.)
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 #8113- Assault Tiger can combine with Set #8114- Chameleon Hunter to form a tall two-legged Battle Machine with a new larger mini-robot.
I don’t know why, but I’m something of a fan of the whole cuddly/chubby and super-deformed (aka “SD”) look for robots. The mini-robots seen thus far follow that trend, but this particular Battle Machine takes that and makes it its own. Big shoulders with small lower arms, bulky upper torso, and huge honkin’ lower legs & feet. (Actually, it kinda reminds me of a head-less Dom from the UC “Gundam” continuity...) That is probably its biggest endearing quality to me. Oh, and the near- fully-enclosed cockpit for Takeshi, too! I still love the ratcheting snap-joints in the hips and knees; that is always something that I think makes it superior to the more action figure-oriented Bionicle series which uses almost nothing but ball-and-sockets for their joints. The Exo-Force line is more about the brick-side of Lego gettin’ some giant robot lovin’ as opposed to the advanced/mechanical Technic-side that Bionicle caters to. That being said, I can’t understand why the shoulders and ankles sacrificed those much more stable ratcheting joints for ball-and-sockets. (Boooo!) While, yes, they do provide a little more flexibility, you just can’t depend on them to hold up large and heavy parts over a long period of time in your hands or on the shelf. Same goes for the elbows- why sacrifice their movement? I can understand from a style point of view, but as for posing, it just makes things more difficult than needed. (Booooo!) While the buzz saw is a nice feature to have, the way it is attached to the shoulder is completely unexpected and poorly though out. (double Booooo!) Again, while the long, thin pulse cannon attachment is a nice touch, I thought it looked a little too weak as well (as have many others online). However, I do give Lego credit for having the cannon separate to reveal the smallish hand even if it wasn’t executed smoothly. I am beginning to see the trend in construction for the mini-robots- that four-sided gear being impaled by the arms and legs as well as a long pole to attach them to the companion Battle Machine. For this one, they bulked it up a bit, particularly on the legs and feet, which is good. The chainsaws are also a nice touch. The antennae and radar dish on the torso also match that of the River Dragon. All-in-all, this one is hit-and-miss, but I still think it’s strong enough to recommend getting the Assault Tiger, and may actually be one of the better sets for this year.
|Posted 9 February, 2008 - 04:02 by EVA_Unit_4A|