As a special treat for constraction  fans (I'm looking at you Aanchir :-) ), I've pulled out all the stops to bring you a review of one of the latest batch of HERO Factory sets.
Since HERO Factory was launched in 2010 the sets have been rehash after rehash with little evidence of any real innovation. That has all changed this year with the launch of the new range, 'Invasion From Below' which feature minifig-sized versions of the heroes piloting various mechas and doing battle with beasts from undergound.
Whilst at the Brighton store yesterday (where I met up with CapnRex101) I found myself right at the back, where, languishing unloved on the bottom shelf, I found them. Being a sucker for red constraction sets, I bought this one mainly to see what the minifig was like and whether there had been any significant changes in the parts and construction techniques since the last one I bought in 2010.
 Constraction = construction + action, a term used internally in LEGO.
First, let's look a the minifig. It's actually a skeleton rather than a minifig and has new leg, arm, head and armour pieces. The H is a rather nice printed 1x1 round tile.
There's a pin at the back, the reason for which will become apparent below.
Here it is without helmet and armour. Those who endeavour to build monochome minifigures will no doubt welcome the un-printed Chima-eagle-blue head.
I have no idea what these bugs are called but apparently you're supposed to be able to press down on the back and make it 'hop' but my attempts to do so have not so far been successful. LEGO names the base of it a 'Hopping Grabber Base'
Unlike HERO Factory sets released until now, this is a mecha rather than an autonomous robot/creature. The mini-HERO sits on this seat where the pin on his back mates with the hole in it.
He fits in it snugly and can hold the controls, which are slightly angled, comfortably.
The completed mecha looks suitably sturdy, solid and menacing. The windsheild doesn't quite cover the figure's feet, which is a shame, and although they can be folded downwards slightly further than I have them here I don't think it's possible to get them to be positioned beneath the groin armour plate as shown in the official set images.
At the back there's a huge appendage, hinged on one side so it can be opened to put the green creature in.
I'm not entirely convinced by the hands, the weapons are cool but their attachment to the hands looks a bit feeble, particularly compared to the rest of the model. Note the minifig-accessories attached to the hips: a blaster and what is presumably a fire extinguisher.
Unlike many HERO Factory and Bionicle models, it looks 'chunky' from the side.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this set. It was an interesting build, perhaps because I hadn't built a HF set for so long, and the end result, with the exception of the 'hands', is much better looking and substantial than most HF sets which tend to look a bit feeble when viewed normally, rather than at the angle used to illustrate the packaging. That could be because, at £12.99, it's a price-point up from most of them.
Parts, wide, looking at the inventory, with the exception of the minifig parts and the container on the back, there are not many new elements in it. Most of the parts were introduced in 2011. If you're a seasoned HF fan you might be disappointed by this.
LEGO's constraction team has certainly introduced some much-needed innovation into the theme and it will be interesting to see the direction they take in future. Personally I think mecha are more interesting than autonomous creatures and I'm sure the inclusion of a minifig will help them sell.
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