Following on from Huw's assessment of the unlicensed themes I will be taking a look at the licensed sets that were on display this year at the London Toy Fair. Overall I am a little disappointed to be honest, although there are some outstanding sets and minifigures to make up for others that are lacking.
I noted down prices and the minifigures included in most sets as well as some features that stood out to me of the models themselves. If I don't say much about a particular set, that is probably because I wasn't very keen on it so didn't take much time to pore over the details!
Please note that all prices are provisional and subject to change prior to release.
I don't know a great deal about Minecraft but the four new sets looked to be much the same as those that have gone before. They represent different biomes but the structure of each one is very similar and the unfinished edges invite expansion as in the first wave. These are all said to be out in August:
21119 The Dungeon (£19.99) - I was quite impressed with this set in terms of value for money although the subject matter is of little interest to me. It consists of a fairly substantial area of uneven terrain with some cell bars built into one side of a hill and includes three minifigures: Steve and two Zombies.
21120 The Snow Hideout (£39.99) - This set included a cave with some terrain surrounding it and was mainly white, with hints of light bluish grey. Steve, Creeper and a Snowman are included.
21121 The Desert Outpost (£59.99) - A number of printed trans-clear 1x2 tiles caught my eye more than anything else in this set, which seems to be some kind of shelter hidden among the dunes. I am not entirely sure what these tiles represent, only that they are covered in tiny black and red squares. Steve and three bow-armed Skeletons are included along with a Wolf.
21122 The Nether Fortress (£69.99) - This lava based set was the most eye catching of the lot in my opinion and featured multiple levels, not unlike 21118 The Mine. It also included the most interesting minifigures in my opinion as in addition to Steve and Alex we find a new Zombie, which was very well detailed and a Blaze represented by a single blocky head piece.
Jurassic World (May)
My feelings on these are mixed. Although several of the sets looked rather nice the prices were off-putting for me. This is no doubt a result of the dinosaur moulds, which have apparently undergone some slight changes since their last appearance (though I can't say I noticed the updates). There are six sets to be released in May:
75915 Pteranodon Capture (£19.99) - This set includes a fairly simple helicopter (complete with side-mounted net launcher) and a dark red Pteranodon which looked great.
75916 Dilophosaurus Ambush (£29.99) - This dinosaur does have a new mould as it featured a head crest I do not recall seeing before. The set consisted mainly of a fairly large Jeep, reminiscent of the Ford Explorers from the original movie, but this time in blue. A Gyrosphere is also included.
75917 Raptor Rampage (£49.99) - This model was my favourite of the selection. It includes two Velociraptors which are named (one was called Charlie) and are different colours. A motorcycle for Chris Pratt's character is included but far more interesting was the large blue and white vet truck, which reminded me of the truck in 7726 Coast Guard Truck with Speed Boat. Unlike that truck however this one has a substantial rear section which included some internal details.
75918 T-Rex Tracker (£59.99) - The T-Rex looked much the same as 5885 Triceratops Trapper from the previous Dino series. Other than that I couldn't really see what was included as there were a number of small models on the display and the sets were overlapping a bit.
75919 Ultra Dino (£99.99) - I suspect 'Ultra Dino' is not the official name for this set which focused on some kind of headquarters for the heroes. The shape of the fort was much like 5887 Dino Defense HQ and it came with the white and grey Indominus Rex (I-Rex). Dr Wu was included I noticed and the fly trapped in amber is captured as a printed orange moonstone. Most exciting of all in my opinion is the inclusion of a Gyrosphere from the trailer. These are formed a bit like a LEGO bauble and there is a seat inside each one for a minifigure which will rotate with the ball to keep them level. A launching mechanism accompanies them.
75920 Raptor Escape (£39.99) - Two more Velociraptors were included in this set and they were different colours to those in the Raptor Rampage set which was good to see. These too were named so presumably are part of Chris Pratt's army of tame Velociraptors. The set itself was simply an enclosure for the Raptors which looked pretty impressive, although it was only just big enough to contain both dinosaurs.
DC Super Heroes (June)
Probably the biggest surprise of the entire Toy Fair for me was the news that the Killer Croc bigfig was nothing more than a rumour. I asked the staff member about it and he commented that he was aware of the rumour but didn't know where it had come from as there was no truth in it. Unusually it is the minifigures that disappoint in these sets (although I am looking forward to Deathstroke) while the sets looked pretty good.
76034 Harbour Pursuit (£29.99) - This set includes three minifigures: Batman, Robin and Deathstroke. The image of Deathstroke on the card was still blank but I am delighted to see we are getting a Deathstroke minifigure as I love the character. I believe Batman now has leg printing but is otherwise the same as his most recent incarnation and Robin was wearing his New 52 garb. The Batboat has dual cockpits and Deathstroke comes with a jetski used to tow the safe he has stolen.
76035 Jokerland (£89.99) - This set was very impressive in every regard except for the minifigures. The Joker, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Batman, Robin, Beast Boy and Starfire are all included and each villain comes with their own twisted fairground ride. Joker has a large brick-built version of his face which is over the entranceway to the park while Harley Quinn rides a motorcycle across a highwire. It was unclear whether the villains were the same as the previous versions but since the minifigures in the packaging were not completed, I suspect these are new variants. Poison Ivy has a plant-themed ride while Penguin looks to have spruced up 'hook-a-duck' to make it rather more deadly. A 1989 Batman style Batmobile is included with a large air intake at the front. I like the set itself but would have preferred to see a couple of new villains. Beast Boy and Starfire were represented by blank minifigures in images.
Marvel Super Heroes (June)
These two sets were very nice in my opinion and it is great to see so many new characters included, particularly given the modest sizes of the sets!
76036 Carnage's Shield Sky Attack (£11.99) - This set includes some great minifigures: Miles Morales' Spider-Man, a SHIELD Agent and Carnage, all three of whom looked superb. The model of a mini jet was not bad, but obviously it is not the focus of a set this size.
76037 Rhino and Sandman Supervillain Team (£44.99) - I am not sure what to make of this set. Iron Spider, Spider-Man, Sandman and Rhino are all included and Rhino's brick-built mech looked great, with features not unlike those in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. A building site is the setting for the action and a large hand, belonging to Sandman, rises out of the ground. This part of the set looked rather poor in my opinion, although it likely has a lot of play features so will appeal in that regard.
76039 Marvel's Ant-Man (£19.99) - The only confirmed details given for this set are the price as it was not on show, although under interrogation the man on the stand suggested that three minifigures will be included, including the eponymous hero and the main villain of the upcoming movie.
Update: I forgot to mention before now that I also spotted a new Green Goblin minifigure included in one of the Juniors sets. I didn't catch the set number, but I did notice that the set included a small flyer for Green Goblin and at least one pumpkin bomb. It looked very faithful to the comic book version and was a definite improvement over the bigfig included in 76016 Spider-Helicopter Rescue in my opinion.
Star Wars (June)
Overall I thought the Star Wars selection was pretty good, although like the DC Super Heroes sets it might be the models themselves which appeal more than the minifigures! There were seven Episode VII sets although they were hidden away and the staff member could not even give me a release date, let alone confirm any set names. Otherwise it is a mixture of Episode I, Episode VI and Star Wars Rebels.
75091 Flash Speeder (£34.99) - This set actually seemed like pretty good value for money as it included five minifigures: two Battle Droids, two Naboo Security Guards and a Gungan Warrior. The Flash Speeder itself is probably a little oversized although it had the shape absolutely right and looked superb to me with seating for at least two minifigures and a large gun turret on the back.
75092 Naboo Starfighter (£54.99) - The Naboo Starfighter was the 'worst in show' in my opinion. It looked very much like previous versions other than having a little more bulk underneath on this occasion, and the price was greatly inflated by the inclusion of a couple of ground vehicles for maintenance. The minifigures have all been seen before, although some were new variants: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Naboo Pilot, R2-D2, two Battle Droids and two Droidekas. I must admit that the new Droidekas looked pretty good, although they felt tacked on in an attempt to justify the price.
75093 Death Star Final Duel (£69.99) - I have little doubt that this will stand out among the Star Wars sets for many. This is obviously a playset but actually looked quite impressive with some nice details and three large round windows like in the film. It includes a sliding door much like 9526 Palpatine's Arrest and has some room for dueling in front of the Emperor's throne. Two Royal Guards, Emperor Palpatine, Luke Skywalker and, most excitingly, a new Darth Vader are included! The new helmet and upper torso pieces were only visible in images but looked great. It is a bit of a shame that the change is being made as the current helmet has been around since the beginning of LEGO Star Wars, but the new version looked like an improvement to me.
75094 Imperial Shuttle Tydirium (£79.99) - This model was visible from the back when we entered the Star Wars area and immediately I was impressed. The engines and wings looked simply like scaled down versions of those on 10212 Imperial Shuttle and the minifigure selection is not bad either with Chewbacca, Han Solo (in Endor garb at last), Leia and two Rebel Commandos included. However, the cockpit area looks awful. The general shape has been lost and although I appreciate an attempt at a brick-built version rather than a large windscreen with a sticker, the result was not very impressive.
75097 Star Wars Advent Calendar (£24.99) - The general theme of the Advent Calendar was the same as usual with a selection of mini models and minifigures. The mini models were actually pretty impressive I thought and included a Sandcrawler, Probe Droid, Sarlacc Pit and Jabba's Sail Barge. I doubt the box artwork was completed as the two seasonal minifigures, R2-D2 as a reindeer and C-3PO as Santa Claus, looked fairly crude. I would hope that new prints will be added prior to release. Assuming they are, this looks to be the best Advent Calendar yet!
75106 Imperial Assault Carrier (£99.99) - As many people guessed this set is in fact a Gozanti-Class Cruiser as seen in Star Wars Rebels. The external silhouette looked pretty much perfect but the inside was disappointing, with only a single seat cockpit and a computer console. Four mini TIE fighters hang from underneath the ship and looked to be a little bigger than polybag versions. The ship was very much in the same style as 7964 Republic Frigate, with decent detail on the outside but almost nothing on the inside. The minifigures include Agent Kallus, and Astromech Droid, an Imperial Officer, two TIE Fighter Pilots and Sabine Wren with a helmet!
Scooby Doo (August)
For me these were probably the pick of the bunch. They are exactly what I was hoping for in a Scooby Doo theme and had the tone just right, with lots of bright colours on the Mystery Incorporated vehicles and some creepy, but fun, villains. The majority were based on characters from the earliest episodes of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? including the Black Knight Ghost and Zombie.
The human members of the Mystery Gang are all represented using standard minifigure parts but for their hairpieces, which are all new. Scooby Doo appears standing up and sitting down depending on which set you buy and is a new piece.
75900 Mummy Museum Mystery (£11.99) - This set includes a small shrine with a sarcophagus upright against the wall. The sarcophagus was the same as that in a few Pharaoh's Quest sets, as was the Mummy included. Scooby Doo and Shaggy are also featured.
75901 Mystery Plane Adventures (£19.99) - The Headless Horseman included in this set, who comes complete with a pumpkin helmet which can be taken off for the villain's reveal at the end, was my favourite villain of all. He rides a horse unsurprisingly, while Scooby and Shaggy have a lime green and blue biplane and some Scooby Snax. I don't recall the biplane in the show, but it looked like a nice model, very reminiscent of that in 7307 Flying Mummy Attack.
75902 The Mystery Machine (£29.99) - As the flagship vehicle of the entire brand, I had high hopes for the Mystery Machine, and I was not disappointed! The vehicle looked pretty accurate on the box as the finished model was not there, with gaps filled in by 3D printed pieces I think. The windscreen is a new piece which perfectly recreates the one seen in the TV show and there is space for some crime-fighting equipment inside as well as a kitchen area. Scooby, Shaggy and Fred are included along with a pale-skinned zombie based on this character.
75903 Haunted Lighthouse (£39.99) - A dark red and white striped lighthouse dominates this set, which also features a hidden cave and small rowing boat. Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne, a ghostly Lighthouse Keeper and a Swamp Monster are included, all of which looked great.
75904 Mystery Mansion (£79.99) - This set was a real highlight in my opinion and was everything that I had hoped for. It vaguely resembles 9468 Vampyre Castle from the Monster Fighters theme, although this model was far more detailed inside and out than that one. It included a large central tower topped with a clock face, a nicely constructed green house on the left (complete with man-eating plant) and a smaller, rickety looking section of the building on the right which conceals a coffin. Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, a Vampire, a Ghost and, best of all, The Black Knight are all included in this set. This means you will have to buy this and The Mystery Machine to get the entire gang, although I suspect most buyers will want to do that anyway as they are the two best sets I think.
There were no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Lord of the Rings sets.
Honestly, I think the unlicensed themes stole the show this year. Although there are some licensed sets I am looking forward to I was disappointed with a few of them, while the City, Creator and Technic sets all far surpassed my expectations.
The Scooby Doo Mystery Mansion wins my 'best in show' award although I have to agree with Huw that the Technic Mercedes Benz Arocs 3245 looked incredible too.
Please feel free to ask any questions; Huw, Dave and I will do our best to answer them.