By Allan Taylor (SAFOLs Member, CapeLUG Member)
As a serious enthusiast of MOC building I am always hesitant to drop large amounts of cash on sets for display purposes only, my thinking being that I have so many projects that require bits and funding that it seems crazy to spend a large amount for parts that will never see the inside of my spares drawers… and then every now and then a set like this comes along and just blows my mind (along with my “budget”)!
Now, as if the heart stopping awesomeness of the larger UCS 1989 Batmobile (set #76139) wasn’t enough, our good friends at LEGO® have added a little extra magic to drive both fans of Batman as well as AFOL’s everywhere into a frenzy!
As part of the celebration of 80 years of Batman (thank you Bob Kane!) and the 30th anniversary of the original Tim Burton reimagining of our beloved Dark Knight for the big screen, LEGO® has released a smaller companion set (#40433) as a free gift when purchasing the afore mentioned budget destroying behemoth.
Being blessed enough to have gotten one of these at launch, let me share my thoughts and findings as I work through the unboxing and building of this great little companion whilst Santa (AKA my long suffering and very understanding wife) keeps a beady eye on the larger box under the Xmas tree. I have specifically avoided any videos or sites which cover the intricacies of this set so that it would be nice and fresh for me, and you, dear reader are invited along for the ride.
Looking firstly at just the box art of both sets, it immediately becomes apparent that LEGO® has hit exactly the right notes to achieve perfection of the “in universe” look of the Batmobile at both scales. Some interesting differences in parts usage is clear (and would be necessary considering the much lower part count of this smaller set) but I am personally quite keen to see how they have gone about recreating this masterpiece… TWICE!
My first impression as I open the box and lay the contents out is that it comes with a standard manual (as opposed to the swish manuals which come with the Ideas sets or other UCS releases for instance), a few numbered bags of mostly black bits and it seems very much like business as usual. The only real unique “piece” in this set is the single large sticker which indicates some stats for the Batmobile, ala UCS style! As I get started with the build I quickly get the impression that this model is intended to be used with a minifig, yet no minifig is supplied with this set (just saying). Glancing back at the larger box and drooling over the three minifigs supplied with THAT set I must admit that they more than make up for the apparently “missing” figure. Possibly this is intentional as the larger build is not minifig scale at all, and those minifigs are in fact meant to be used with the companion vehicle whilst leaving the larger model for display purposes only? Ahh LEGO®, how you amuse us with these distractions.
After the first few steps the genius of the LEGO® designers already becomes apparent, making excellent use of many small plates and brackets. Every single part is positioned to maximize structural integrity for the completed build.
Clearly these brackets exist purely for griebeling! Awesome!!
Bag 2 begins… and right away there is excellent usage of some of the newer parts in the form of black 1x1x2 modified bricks with studs on the side.
By the time I had worked through about half of the bag and had completed what is honestly a fascinating sub assembly for the front end, the true scale of the model is both very evident as well as somewhat surprising. Even though it has been designed at a much smaller scale than its big, black, Batbro, this is no Speed Champion either! Whilst most of the front end is a fairly standard 8 stud wide construction (my preferred width for doing movie cars personally) it does widen out to 10 studs for the back third, but this is balanced out perfectly with the surprisingly lengthy chassis which comes in at over 28 studs long!
Whilst installing the diff to the rear wheel axle, I glanced at the diff and then at the flame shooting out of the exhaust on the box art and realised the intended function. MUCH excitement!
Once bag number two is complete, what you are left with is almost like a detailed cross section of the Batmobile with a lot of complete detailing running all around the thin slice of awesomeness that has been built. At this point I am eagerly awaiting getting stuck into bag number three to start fleshing it out (or rather… up and down).
Spreading the contents of bag number three before myself, I scrutinise the parts and note that only one or two new elements have been used so far. This is great news for anybody planning on building their own Batmobile with sourced parts.
Approaching the midway point of the third bag I am now so enamoured with this build that even thoughts of the future, larger build are temporarily pushed aside… more or less…
Even though there is a lack of a custom print for the 1×4 printed tile representing the dashboard, the standard print used does a fine job. As the cabin is more fully realised it becomes apparent how incredibly robust the structure is whilst achieving flawless angles and detailing.
My excitement mounts as the bonnet comes together with just a few cleverly used curved slope pieces and that legendary and iconic shape starts to reveal itself!
The conclusion of the instructions for bag three leaves an interesting little pile of spares. I’m not sure what exactly is up with the hinge… but I’m not complaining.
With my fingers all atremble, I reach for the fourth and final bag of shiny black bits. Finally! The GOOD stuff! Wheels and fins and bats… oh my! Mid way through bag four all those classic lines start coming together in spectacular fashion.
While building, I mentally review some of the highlights of the construction so far, such as the extremely classy execution of the mechanism driving the rotating flame and the sub assemblies for the wings and…WHEELS! Is this extended rim a new piece?
The completed vehicle looks excellent and feels like it was designed to be played with. It’s a rugged design which is exceptionally close, if not hundred percent, to minifig scale. After a quick inspection Batman approves, and then it’s done… or is it?
Eyeballing the pile of remaining parts I realize that they must be for a stand. The curious little LBG dish which I have been trying to place throughout the build seems to indicate that the stand will have a rotation function. Even more excitement is greeted by confused looks from my wife and cats as I whoop like a mad man and cackle to myself. The construction of the stand is quick and easy. It makes superb use of Nexo Knights shield elements in LBG (Light Bluish Grey) to create an interesting texture and pattern to the underside.
In closing, here are some final thoughts…
Going in to this build I was very excited, assuming that it would be epic but thinking that at the very least I would be getting a little pre Xmas treat to tide me over until the “main event” when I build the larger version. I am however very pleased to report that the mini Batmobile surpassed my expectations. This build was both extremely fun and educational. It certainly makes the perfect launch gift accompanying such an iconic vehicle.
If I had to nit-pick, the only cons would be the “missing” minifig, but really, who doesn’t have a thousand spare Batman minfigs if you’ve collected any Batman LEGO® before?!?
Also, the price point is extremely high and not much of a heads up was given at all to the public, with the reveal and launch being so close together. This gave no time for fans to budget or save for this set. However if you are fortunate enough to claim this bonus set I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed.
If you enjoyed this review, then watch this space! I’ll be documenting my unboxing and build of set #76139 once I’ve been given the all clear to unwrap it on Christmas Eve. It may take several days as I intend savouring every moment, but I assure you the end result will be worth the wait.