Review: 31008 Thunder Wings
There’s fifteen or so Creator sets released or due to be released in 2013, and with this year’s modular, the magnificent Palace Cinema and train offering, the Horizon Express now included in this theme (albeit badged as Creator – Expert sets), there is some serious competition to stand out amongst the crowd.
LEGO and jets, what’s not to love? This is the third jet (not including polybags) to be released in the Creator theme: in 2007 we had 4953: Fast Flyers and in 2010 LEGO gave us the slightly larger and excellent 5892: Sonic Boom.
Seems like LEGO doesn’t want us to go more than three years without a jet fix, because in 2013 we have 31008: Thunder Wings, a Creator 3 in 1 set and one of the medium sized offerings from the 2013 Creator line-up, weighing in at 235 pieces and costing £14.99/$19.99.
I have a feeling that these sort of vehicle-based Creator sets often get overlooked in favour of the flashier Creator houses, certainly something I’ve been guilty of in the past, so it’s great to get to spend some quality time exploring this one in more detail.
Box and Contents
It’s a box! It has a front and a back. Most importantly it has pictures showing what you can build and it opens, what more could you possibly want from a box? Honestly, I’m not sure what else I can say about it, I’d rather get on with describing the models you can build with the contents.
Four bags, none of which are numbered, but then that isn’t really necessary in a medium-sized Creator set like this. Parts-wise, there’s nothing really that stands out here, it’s all very standard fare and common parts, albeit useful ones. In terms of colours, you’re looking at nice mix of bright orange, bright blue, dark stone grey, medium stone grey, black and white.
As is customary with 3-in-1 Creator sets, we get three instruction booklets included, one for each model that you can build: Thunder Wings, a Robot, and Futuristic Car. Let’s start with the main attraction, the jet.
The Jet, or “Thunder Wings” as LEGO would have us call it, is the main model in this set and it’s certainly very striking with its bright blue, white and bright orange colour scheme. I have to admit, I’m no aviation expert, and a couple of trips to Fairford Air Tattoo certainly doesn’t make me one, so I’m not certain if this is based on a real life aircraft or not, it looks pretty generic to me. I’m sure some of you out there will be able to set me straight.
The wings are angled via the use of four hinge-plate 1 x 2s and the gaps very neatly filled with sloped plates, it’s a well-used, but never the less clever technique.
The Jet is very solid and it will easily stand up to vigorous play. It is also ridiculously swooshable, as evidenced by me taking it into the office and running around with it (my work colleagues are well aware of my addiction to the brick, so this barely raised an eyebrow). I think it’s a great looking jet with lots of playability, my four year old son certainly thought so, but is it the best model you can build with this set?
Which brings us on to the robot. It’s a strange one this, I was utterly unimpressed whilst building it and wasn’t exactly blown away when I’d finished either. So I put it down for the night and took it into work the next day for a photo session (big white desks make photographing a little easier), placing him on my desk intent on photographing it during my lunch break. Throughout the morning I must have posed and re-posed this little fellow five or six times, ‘it’ quickly became a ‘him’, and my opinion did a complete u-turn.
Despite initial appearances, he actually has quite a few articulation points and that really helps to give him character and adds great playability. In fact, the only articulation point I feel is really missing is a knee joint, but even so, you can pose him into some pretty cool positions.
Sometimes first impressions are wrong, and this is one of those times for me. The robot was a real grower, his initially vacant and annoying stare became ‘cute’, and his flexibility helps to add character. In fact, I took to him so much that I even gave him a present, his very own pet turtle (I should point out that Mikey doesn’t actually come with this set, but then you already knew that right?).
The last of the three models is a car, or to be specific, a futuristic concept car (according to LEGO). Of the three, this model uses the least pieces and as a result is definitely the smallest, and for me, the least interesting. My 4-year old son however said it was the best one, so what do I know. Still, it is the only one of the three that's considerate enough to make room for a minifig.
...or perhaps with a small modification, Dog Pound (who has clearly had enough of the driver in front). Oh, and remember what I said about Mikey earlier, same applies to Dog Pound.
So, having seen all three of the models, is anyone thinking what I’m thinking? If you’re thinking “Transformers”, then spot on, we think alike. I mean, a jet that transforms into a robot and a car, it all looks very familiar doesn’t it? Probably wishful thinking on my part, but then again, it’s not the only set of this nature that LEGO have released in 2013.
As I said at the top of the review, I often overlook sets like this, and were it not for being kindly supplied one to review by LEGO, I’m fairly confident I would have passed on this one. Well that might be about to change, I was thoroughly impressed with this set and really enjoyed both building it and... cough... playing with it.
From now on, I’m going to give these mid-sized Creator sets a lot more attention in the future, starting by picking up 31007: Power Mech.
To sum up, I’d really recommend you pick it up, it’s good value for money, has great playability, and two of the models are great. Me? I’m off to build the robot again, I’m missing my pal.