Monday, 2 September 2013

Galaxy Squad - Like a Prayer

Well, it appears that my attendance at LEGO's recent Galaxy Squad launch event had the desired effect - not only did I write about the event itself (report here) and give the theme the thumbs up, but on returning home I was even more motivated to dive into the sets and get building than I had been beforehand. The only question was which Galaxy Squad set I should crack open first, and the decision was taken out of my hands when I was presented with Set 70703 Star Slicer by my long-suffering wife as a holiday gift. She said, however, that I could only have it on condition that I open and build it there and then, rather than hoard it away in my LEGO mancave and look lovingly at the sealed box like a pitiful AFOL version of Gollum; I've learned not to argue with she who must be obeyed, so open and build it I did. If you'd have preferred me to build and review a different Galaxy Squad set then you can therefore take it up with her....

The front of the box (above - click to enlarge) features an excellent action shot of the sinister Star Slicer battling against our Galaxy Squad Blue Team heroes on the surface of an unknown moon. The Star Slicer is piloted by an Alien Buggoid; you can also see him trying to escape from the upper right hand corner of the box - a nice humorous touch - while Blue Team pose resolutely in the lower right hand corner. If you enlarge the picture above and look closely at the Galaxy Squad logo you'll see a white and grey ship in the middle which appears to split in two; this has a significance beyond mere decoration as we'll see below.

As is customary, the back of the box (above - click to enlarge) highlights play features of the set, not least Galaxy Squad's much-vaunted split function, whereby vehicles split into separate, self-contained models to enhance the play experience. In this case it's the Blue Team vehicle which splits, into an Attack Flyer and an Armoured Car. Highlighted features of the Star Slicer include the detachable trans-purple cocoon which is designed to trap and imprison members of Blue Team, a Zamor sphere-firing mechanism, and moveable front limbs.

LEGO presumably considers the box too small to justify being closed up with a tape seal so it's thumb tabs instead I'm afraid. As usual, I used a sharp craft knife to carefully slice open the flaps on the left side of the box in order to release the contents. The box contained three large bags of parts numbered 1 to 3, each of which contained at least one smaller unmarked bag of parts, an instruction booklet, and a DSS.

The instruction booklet (front cover above - click to enlarge) is 80 pages from cover to cover; in addition to the 73 pages of building instructions you also get a 2-page inventory of parts and a bunch of advertising including the page below featuring the other first wave Galaxy Squad sets (click to enlarge).

The sticker sheet (below - click to enlarge) is compact but disappointingly extensive, featuring a total of 18 separate stickers. There's obviously always the option just not to apply them, and I know a few builders who don't bother, but for me a model isn't complete without them. They are at least printed on a transparent backing so should last reasonably well.

The set contains a total of 311 parts, and a selection of the more unusual and/or interesting parts can be seen below (click to enlarge). There aren't any completely unique elements but there are a number which have to date only appeared in this set and one other; these include the dark azure blue vehicle mudguard, the dark red 4 x 2 slope, the 10 x 3 lime left and right wedges (only right-hand wedge shown below), the sand green 1 x 2 - 1 x 4 bracket and the trans-purple Zamor sphere. The printed dark bley 2 x 2 tile in the top right of the picture is exclusive to the Galaxy Squad theme (so far at least) as is the trans-purple alien pod/container. A few of the parts, such as the trans-bright green blade with curved tip and the pearl dark grey zamor sphere launcher, haven't previously appeared outside of the Hero Factory theme.

The set contains 3 minifigures. First up is the dark red Alien Buggoid (below - click pics to enlarge) which is unique to this set. The excellent headpiece, with its compound eyes and rear protruberance which overhangs the back of the torso, slips directly on to the top of the torso rather than fitting over a minifigure head. The printing on the torso both front and back does an excellent job of imitating an insect's carapace, and the pattern extends downwards onto the front of the legs.

Blue Team are the Alien Buggoid's adversaries and consist of Solomon Blaze and his Robot Sidekick. Solomon Blaze (pictures below - click to enlarge) appears in a total of three sets including this one; his head features what Bricklink describes as a "Cyborg Eyepiece", and there's alternate printing on the back of the head featuring some kind of breathing apparatus. His dark azure helmet and trans clear visor are pretty standard LEGO Space fare, having previously adorned the ADU soldiers in 2011's Alien Conquest theme. The printing on the torso gives it a suitably armoured appearance front and back, and the legs are also printed, including what look like armoured knee-pads.

Solomon Blaze's Robot Sidekick is unique to this set, although an alternate version which is identical save for a jet pack appears in two other Galaxy Squad sets. The head is a new mould and packs in a lot of interesting detail, both from the perspective of the actual moulding itself and also the printing. There's also interesting detail on the torso and legs, including what looks like some kind of radioactive backpack on the rear of the torso.

Bag 1 contains parts for Solomon Blaze and his Robot Sidekick plus their vehicle (pictures below - click to enlarge), which as previously stated splits into an Attack Flyer and Armoured Car. The build is short, sweet and straightforward, occupying only 16 pages of the instruction booklet.

The Attack Flyer (below - click to enlarge) is essentially a heavily-armoured, weaponised jet pack for the Robot Sidekick. The armour consists of a pair of stickered vehicle mudguards, and in addition to the sizeable twin forward-facing cannons there are exposed studs on the back to attach the Robot Sidekick's weapon. The Attack Flyer attaches to the Armoured car by way of the light bley modified 1 x 2 brick with vertical clip which you can see in the pictures below.

The Armoured Car (below - click to enlarge) is pretty rudimentary; it's armoured in name only, in reality offering Solomon Blaze little protection. It also lacks the firepower of the Attack Flyer, with only a couple of extended pistols to call upon. It features a couple of control sticks in the cockpit but no control console, and Solomon needs to lean backwards in order for the canopy to close.

Bags 2 and 3 contain the parts for the Alien Buggoid and the Star Slicer. The 'torso' and 'abdomen' of the Star Slicer are first to be built (below - click to enlarge); the build is fairly simple, but does require some moderately challenging sticker placement. That being said, the stickers look pretty cool IMHO.

Next up are the limbs and head of the beast. There are 6 limbs, consisting of 4 hind legs and 2 arm-like fore-legs. The hind legs are fixed in position; made up of Hero Factory angled blades, they're joined to the junction of abdomen and torso via technic axles and connectors and look pretty good, although they'd look even better if the connectors were the same colour as the legs. The abdomen actually rests on the ground, meaning that the legs don't have to support any weight and are therefore just for show. The fore-legs are hinged in two places and can be posed to a degree; each one features a trans-bright green blade with a curved tip.

The finished model (above - click to enlarge) clearly takes inspiration from the praying mantis; the designers have borrowed heavily from the basic body morphology and lime green colour scheme of the real thing, not to mention imitating the characteristic fore-legs and large eyes. The LEGO interpretation does however add a few features most definitely not found in nature, not least the the trans-purple alien pod which attaches via a Technic axle pin immediately above the abdomen, and the pair of pearl dark grey Zamor sphere launchers protruding from the front of the head which when squeezed fire the sphere with quite some considerable force; there's even a spare sphere provided should you lose one of them.

You can see the Star Slicer, Blue Team vehicle and all the minifigures below (click picture to enlarge). I've got to say I that really don't fancy Blue team's chances much - probably time for them to call in some reinforcements I reckon....

Overall, it's a decent set. Better than that, it's a good set. OK, so Blue Team's vehicle is a bit underwhelming, although the split function works well and the Attack Flyer is quite neat, but the Star Slicer itself is excellent - a genuinely interesting design IMHO which is fun to build, and suitably creepy and insect-like. As usual I'm compelled to complain about the stickers - 18 of them in this set - but there's no doubt that they enhance the appearance of the models and the Slicer in particular, and despite my all complaining they were in the end still worth the effort it took to neatly apply them.

Set 70703 Star Slicer has an RRP of £34.99 / US$39.99, hardly a bargain for 311 parts, although I suppose that there are a number of larger-than-average elements in the mix. It's surprisingly hard to find the set at retail, in the UK at least - Argos don't carry it, and seemingly neither do John Lewis, TRU, The Entertainer or Boots - and even LEGO's own Galaxy Squad microsite fails to mention the set. The dearth of retail stockists suggests that it's presumably a Retailer Exclusive, although I'm struggling to figure out which retailer it's exclusive to.... My copy was apparently sourced from a LEGO brand store, and the set is also available online from LEGO S@H which is probably your best bet if you want to buy a copy; failing that it's available via Amazon, albeit from a third party seller rather than Amazon itself - click here to buy in the UK.


  1. Great review. I've looked at this set in the past but I have to admit I prefer the human/ship sets. With that said though, having seen it assembled and the extra shots here I'm starting to think it's a set I'd enjoy.

    I've personally only ever seen this set in TRU (US) and - if memory serves - the Lego Shop but rather oddly, the only place it shows up on the Lego site is in the store...

  2. So basically she's demanding you build Lego? Whatever you're doing, it's working.

  3. I appreciate the review. It was very in depth, and ever so helpful. You certainly helped me make up my mind.... so off to the store.