Recently I had cause to dig out the two Galidor sets I have from storage because DK wanted to photograph one of them, 8312 Jens, for a forthcoming book.
The twenty Galidor sets LEGO produced in 2002, in case you need reminding, are generally considered to be the worst sets that the company has ever made. Officially, they were not sold outside of the USA, because the TV show wasn't aired anywhere else. However, because US sales were so low, many of the sets were parallel imported into the UK and elsewhere so could be picked up in the likes of Pound$tretcher a year or so later for a few pounds each. Even at that price they were not appealing although I did buy Jens, the subject of this review, and 8318 Ooni. Parts of that model are made from a rubbery plastic which has perished badly in the intervening years so it's not fit to photograph.
So, are Galidor sets unfairly maligned, or are they in fact complete and utter rubbish?
While researching for this review, I found an article published a couple of years ago at Wired.co.uk entitled Building success: how thinking 'inside the brick' saved Lego that provides background information about the theme:
"A third example of how LEGO lost its way is Galidor. Galidor was one of the company's attempts to develop a full spectrum of innovation -- a family of complementary new products that reinforce and support each other. It featured a Power Rangers-like line of action figures that came with its own ecosystem of branded accompaniments. The toys themselves were intended to take LEGO into new aisles of the toy store; a risky journey, as only one in five action figures ends up a success. But the toys were only the beginning of Galidor's intended cross-pollination. There would also be Galidor Happy Meals at McDonalds, Galidor video games and Galidor DVDs. To cap it all, there would be that ultimate in toy marketing: a TV show serving as an extended commercial for the Galidor line.
"But when trying to fill an entire spectrum, it doesn't help if there's a gaping hole in the middle. The TV show that was supposed to be the foundation of the line's appeal turned out to be so bad that, in the words of Niels Milan Pedersen, one of Galidor's designers, top executives were "gobsmacked with disgust." Lacking an effective vehicle to publicise the toys, LEGO watched as sales essentially went nowhere. Less than a year after it was launched, Galidor was gone."
It would appear then that LEGO invested heavily but the TV show producers let them down badly.
Jens is some sort of 4-armed robotic character who stands about 23cm tall. His parts are moulded from old dark and light grey, with orange accents and spray-painted silver areas on the torso and head.
The arms and legs have elbow and knee joints as well as shoulder and hip joints which allows for a high degree of articulation although I found it difficult to pose him naturally.
Jens' second pair of arms, which sprout from his rib cage can be rotated and twisted but are otherwise fixed.
There's a good level of detail on most of the parts although none of them are recogisable as LEGO elements and none of them provide any possibility to connect to other LEGO parts other than at the joints which I will discuss later.
Perhaps surprisingly, Jens is not provided with a weapon. However he does have an interchangeable right arm which, from what I can tell from the packaging, is a flame thrower.
His head can be tilted and twisted enabling him to look left, right, up and down
The joints are the only aspect of the parts that are recognisable as LEGO although at the time, these rotatable click hinges were new. They were reused in 2004 in the buildable Knights' Kingdom knights and a similar mechanism has been used in more versatile pieces since.
Here are all 13-parts of the set, mostly deconstructed.The feet are on ball joints and can't be detached from the leg.
One selling point of the sets was that the limbs were interchangeable so if you had more than one set, you could come up with some weird and whacky creatures but that, as far as versatility and reuse goes, was it.
As action figures go I guess it is pretty good given its made from a high quality plastic and is infinitely posable, but as LEGO, well, I have to agree with the majority, it's rubbish.
The only redeeming feature is the joint system which formed the basis of future action figure parts but even they have been superseded now by the ball-and-socket system of the Creature and Character Building System (CCBS).
Unsurprisingly a MISB Jens can be purchased on BrickLink for less than it cost in 2002; there can't be many 14-year old LEGO sets that can claim that accolade :)