As a big fan of the original Agents theme I was intrigued when I heard that LEGO was going to be giving us an Agents reboot under the Ultra Agents banner. My first hands-on Ultra Agents experience came in the form of Set 70162 Infearno Interception which I reviewed over at Gimme LEGO about a year ago; although my overall impression of the set was positive, I still felt at that time that the jury was out on the theme as a whole. Having since aquired all of the first wave sets, however, I guess you could say that I ended up coming off the fence.... Even so, a relative lack of bigger first wave sets along the lines of the Agents Volcano Base and Aerial Defence Unit meant that for me the Ultra Agents theme was still a bit lacking, and I was therefore really pleased to discover that we’d be getting a second wave of Ultra Agents sets this year which I hoped would rectify the situation. Of the 2015 Ultra Agents sets, I quickly homed in on Set 70173 Ultra Agents Ocean HQ as the standout offering, and I’m pleased to bring you a review of the set here on Brickset.
Box & Contents
The Ultra Agents theme branding has been slightly tweaked with the arrival of the second wave - the word “Agents” is now printed in black and the shade of grey used on the box looks marginally lighter - but overall the changes are pretty minimal. What is obviously new is the yellow panel in the bottom left corner announcing the inclusion of App Bricks; having read about these I was looking forward to taking a closer look and trying them out.
As usual the back of the box does a good job of showcasing some of the set’s numerous play-features via the main image and a bunch of smaller panels. We also get some clarification of the purpose of the App Bricks, which we learn are incorporated into an App Brick Gadget and can unlock digital content via an Apple or Android device.
The box contains 12 numbered bags of elements. There are also a few larger elements loose in the box, namely four black 6 x 16 tiles with studs on three sides which haven’t been seen since the late 1990’s, and a couple of trans-light blue 6 x 10 x 4 windscreens which I hadn’t previously seen. There’s a single instruction booklet and a single sticker sheet, both of which are sealed inside a clear bag. The compact sticker sheet (below) manages to accommodate a total of 21 stickers.
The single instruction booklet is a weighty 180-page tome. In addition to the building guide which is in landscape format, two pages are taken up with advertising for the App Bricks which doesn’t really provide any additional information of note over and above what’s on the back of the box. There’s also a page of advertising for the second wave of Ultra Agents sets (below) and two pages of advertising for the first wave of 2015 Technic sets. The now-obligatory set inventory is shoehorned into just two pages, no mean feat given that the set includes 1,204 pieces.
The set contains a total of six minifigures – four Ultra Agents and two villains. You can see the first two Ultra Agents, Steve Zeal and Trey Swift, below left and below right respectively. Swift appears in a total of three sets including this one, while Zeal can only be found in one other set. According to LEGO’s U.S. Ultra Agents microsite, Steve Zeal is slow and methodical, while Trey Swift is physically and mentally quick off the mark.
Zeal and Swift have identical printed dark blue torsos and legs which are unique to the 2015 Ultra Agents sets. Their torsos are backprinted as you can see below. Their headprints are different and unique to the respective characters, although both feature cool shades; in contrast to the clean-shaven Swift, Zeal has stubble and an alternate expression.
The other two Ultra Agents who appear in this set are Jack Fury and Caila Phoenix. Daredevil Jack Fury (below, left) is apparently a self-confident jack-of-all-trades who takes on any task with indomitable courage, while fiery Caila Phoenix (below, right) has a flair for explosives and hard-hitting combat techniques. The Jack Fury minifigure in this set also appears in Set 70169 Agent Stealth Patrol; the other versions of Jack Fury lack body armour and can be found in a couple of the 2014 Ultra Agents sets including Set 70161 Tremor Track Infiltration. Fury’s backprinted torso with its bulletproof vest print is also utilised by Ultra Agent Max Burns who appears in Set 70172 AntiMatter's Portal Hideout. The torso print is of course partially obscured by Fury’s trans-light blue armour which is also printed. The version of Caila Phoenix that you can see below is unique to the set; a version of the Caila Phoenix minifigure with dark azure hair rather than a helmet appears in Set 70170 UltraCopter vs. AntiMatter’s torso. Like Fury, Phoenix’s torso features a bulletproof vest print; I suspect that the pink highlights which embellish her torso print might not go down well with the anti-Friends lobby….
Both Fury and Phoenix have the same legs featuring a grey and medium azure belt and knee pad print on black ABS, and they also the same helmets. I think the helmets, with their integrated trans-light blue visors and ear protectors, look superb. The helmets can only be found in a total of four sets at present, all of which are 2015 Ultra Agents sets. Fury’s single-sided head print is unique to this version of the minifigure, while Phoenix’s head print, again single-sided, appears in both versions of the Caila Phoenix minifigure; Caila’s head print features orange sunglasses, making it an odd choice for this minifigure which as previously described wears a helmet complete with visor. Phoenix has a black backback which I removed prior to taking the picture below so her backprint would be visible.
The two villains are Terabyte and Electrolyzer. Terabyte (below, left) is a former IT specialist turned tech-savvy rascal who has hacked the city’s computer systems. There are two versions of the Terabyte minifigure, each of which appears in just one set. Electrolyzer (below, right) is exclusive to this set. For some reason he doesn’t appear on either the UK or the US version of the Ultra Agents microsite, which is in fact also the case for the Ocean HQ set as a whole.
I absolutely love Terabyte’s green pixellated ‘Space Invader’ torso print; his torso is backprinted with the message “Bad to the Code”. Terabyte also has a groovy pixellated visor and lime green leg print. The other version of Terabyte, which only appears in Set 70165 Ultra Agents Mission HQ, shares the same torso, legs and head but has a black helmet rather than the dark orange mid-length hair which appears in this version. Electrolyzer has an excellent and exclusive torso print which is vaguely reminiscent of the Whiplash armour sported by Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko character from Iron Man 2. The torso print extends onto his legs, which are also unique to this minifigure, and around the back of the torso. Electrolyzer’s spectacular blue and trans-yellow helmet is predictably also unique to this minifigure, as is his glow-in-the-dark head with its Scarecrow-esque head print.
Electrolyzer packs a pretty spectacular weapon consisting of a pair of what LEGO describes as electric whips attached via flexible tubing to a backback. In some ways it’s not dissimilar to the kit carried by the Ghostbusters, although obviously features two wands rather than just the one. You can see Electrolyzer getting down to some dual-wielding below; I’ve posed him on a minifigure stand for his photo opportunity, but if you bend him backwards slightly at the hips he’ll stand up unaided.
Before we embark upon construction of the ship there are a number of accessory models to build, the parts for which can be found in Bag 1. First up is Caila Phoenix’s jetpack which attaches to the base of her backpack. The jetpack has a hinged retaining bar which folds down over her head. There’s a stickered trans-light blue 1 x 2 tile at the front of the retaining bar which is presumably supposed to be a control panel, and jet thrusters on each side. The jetpack makes Caila quite back-heavy, but you can stop her toppling backwards by attaching her to a minifigure stand as I did for the photograph below.
Next to be built is Electrolyzer’s Electro Flyer, a slightly bizarre conveyance featuring sawblade rotors, a pair of flick missiles and an EMP bomb. Moving swiftly on we have Terabyte’s prison cell which looks more like a cryotube than a prison cell to me; the lid consists of a stickered trans-light blue half cylinder which is hinged on one side so you can open it up. Finally we get a neat little speedboat with a stud shooter at the front. The shooter is mounted on a white round 2 x 2 tile with open stud which is new for 2015.
From here onwards it’s all about the ship. There are a pair of bags numbered with a ‘2’ and these contain the parts to get us started on the Ocean HQ vessel. The build begins with construction of a sturdy Technic frame. As the frame takes shape it quickly becomes evident that the finished model will be sizeable. The Technic frame is covered with a layer of dark bley plates which forms the lower deck.
Once the lower deck is in place work begins on a control room towards the rear. This consists of a couple of printed white 2 x 2 45 degree slopes which form a control panel, and a white space seat flanked by a pair of tool racks which hold a pair of heavy weapons and various accessories including a radio, handcuffs, binoculars and a torch made out of a black light saber hilt. The four-pronged black structure you can see above the printed control panel in the picture below will provide storage for the App Brick Gadget, of which more later.
Focus now shifts to the ship’s bow and forward gun which are constructed from the parts contained within the two bags marked with a ‘3’. The taper of the bow is created via the use of various hinge bricks and plates. A few rare elements make an appearance at this stage of the build, including a silver metallic Technic pin connector, some silver metallic mini lances which serve as hand rails, and a couple of white Technic driving ring connectors which are used for the gun barrels; all of these elements have previously appeared in fewer than 10 sets in their respective colours. Terabyte’s prison tube slides into position inside the bow as you can just about see in the picture below.
The contents of Bag 4 are used to make a start on the midsection of the ship; upper deck sections underpinned by black Technic beams bridge the gap between the bow and stern, and a couple of brick-built black panels are attached to either side of the ship. The forward-most panels provide an attachment point for a pair of side-mounted guns which can be independently angled, while the rearmost panels are textured with black vehicle spoilers which create an interesting venetian blind effect.
The next couple of stages require the contents of Bags 5 and 6 plus the four loose black 6 x 16 tiles with studs on three sides. Firstly, twin ladders are attached at the rear providing a means for the crew to move between the lower and upper decks, after which more hand rails are installed on the upper deck and a hatch is constructed to cover the void in the bow containing Terabyte’s prison cell. This hatch, which utilises uncommon black 10 x 3 left and right wedges in its construction, lifts up to provide access to the prison compartment. A large, deck-mounted cannon featuring twin white weapon rapid shooter six barrels only otherwise available in Set 70171 Ultrasonic Showdown is then assembled. Turning a knob at the back of the cannon rotates a cog which in turn spins a rapid shooter trigger in the centre of each barrel; the reason for this mechanism will become clear shortly. The entire cannon can be retracted below deck.
Now it’s time to cover over the gaps in the sides of the hull using the black 6 x 16 tiles with studs on three sides. Each of the tiles is stickered and then decorated with trans-light blue 1 x 4 tiles along its lower edge. I had expected the ship sides to attach to the hull by way of hinges, but instead they’re each attached by way of a pair of small ball and socket joints; the use of this technique allows the ship sides to be opened and closed with ease while still generating sufficient friction to hold them securely closed or partially opened as desired. With the ship sides now in place, the next job is to build the compartment into which the ship’s main deck-mounted cannon retracts. Once retracted the cannon is completely hidden by a cover which slides over the top of it. The cover is made from nine trans-light blue garage roller door sections which slide backwards and forwards on a pair of light bley modified 1 x 14 bricks with groove which have only previously appeared in three sets in this colour. The area behind this compartment is then built up and prepped for the installation of the command deck which will be constructed and attached during the next stage of the build. A pair of uncommon 1 x 1 x 3 1/3 black brick arches form a nice curve at the rear of the superstructure.
The ship is completed using the contents of the bags marked with a ‘7’ along with the pair of trans-light blue 6 x 10 x 4 windscreens which were loose in the box. The main outstanding task is the construction of the command deck. This has a light bley 10 x 10 octagonal plate, only previously seen in one set, at its base and contains seating for three minifigures. The interior features a number of stickered control panels, notably a couple of stickered trans-light blue oval shields which represent video screens and look really neat. Some interesting SNOT-work is utilised in the construction of the command deck, not least in the forward control panel and the use of the previously-mentioned trans-light blue 6 x 10 x 4 windscreens to wrap around the sides of the command deck. The command deck attaches to the top of the vessel near the stern and can rotate through 360 degrees. I think the command deck looks great, although it does admittedly somewhat spoil the smooth, menacing lines of the ship.
A trans-orange harpoon with a black tip, mysteriously described by LEGO as Weapon No. 7, fits into the spring shooter mounted on the gun at the front of the ship. The harpoon is connected to the gun by a length of string, presumably to stop it flying off into the distance and getting lost under the sofa when the spring shooter is activated. When the harpoon is loaded and ready to fire the string can be wrapped around the twin gun barrels to keep it out of the way. The final job is to “load” the twin six-shooter barrels of the main deck-mounted cannon with 12 trans-orange 1 x 1 plates; these ping off when the cog at the rear of the cannon is turned.
The completed model is a veritable playground, and many of the play features, including the firing harpoon, the main deck cannon (part retracted in the picture below) with sliding cover, the rotating command deck, and the various accessory builds, have been described previously. A key feature is the ability to open the sides of the ship to provide access to the interior. Furthermore, as you can see in the pictures below, the inner surface of the ship sides offer a mounting point for various items of equipment, notably the speedboat and Caila Phoenix’s jetpack, as well as a couple of heavy weapons. As is the case for many of the larger play sets, it’s very easy for the accessories to get separated from the main build over time; providing storage for the various bits and pieces as part of the main model is therefore an inspired design decision in my opinion. It’s certainly something I wish LEGO had done with other recent sets, particularly some of the larger City Deep Sea Explorers sets. White Battle Droid torsos, which have only previously appeared in seven sets, make an appearance here as mountings for safe stowage of Ultra Agent heavy weapons.
There’s one final thing to build once the ship is completed and that’s the App Brick Gadget. This includes four black conductive App Bricks which from the front look like regular 1 x 1 bricks with a stud on one side but feature the embossed pattern you can see in the picture below on the reverse. Each 2015 Ultra Agents set includes the parts needed to build a set-specific App Brick Gadget.
The App Brick Gadgets are designed to be used with a free Ultra Agents app so I downloaded the app onto my iPad and had a bit of a play with it. The app is basically an interactive comic book featuring the characters and sets from the 2015 Ultra Agents line-up. The App Brick Gadgets (termed App Brick Tools in the app) are used by touching them against the screen of the device at various points during the story, making it possible to look for clues (‘intel’) or play minigames. Prior to trying out the app I’d assumed that each App Brick Gadget would unlock its own exclusive content, thus providing an additional incentive for people to buy the actual sets. It appears, however, that you don’t even need to own the App Brick Gadgets at all to access the special features – you can just place two fingers on the screen instead. This makes the whole App Brick thing seem a bit pointless as far as I can see, particularly as I also found using the Gadget to be decidedly temperamental. It’s a real shame – the App Bricks seemed like such a great idea when I first heard about them, but unless I’m completely missing something the implementation seems flawed.
In this set the App Brick Gadget takes the form of a stickered trans-light blue 1 x 6 x 3 windscreen embedded in a frame (above). As previously mentioned, when you’re not using the tool there’s a place to store it in the command centre at the rear of the lower deck (picture below) where it doubles as a big computer screen.
I was impressed with this set from the moment that I saw it at London Toy Fair earlier this year, and in the main it didn’t disappoint. The ship is big – over half a metre long – and it looks sleek and mean as an Ultra Agents Ocean HQ surely should. Furthermore, unlike many of the larger ships in the LEGO portfolio past and present this model lacks the big, specialised, pre-fab hull elements that are so often a feature of such models, managing instead to be brick (and plate) built and looking all the better for it. It’s also packed with a ton of cool play features as described previously. On the downside, while the design allows extensive access to the interior of the vessel, pretty much all there is inside the ship is empty space; an interior, even a token one, would have been welcome. Overall, however, this is definitely the big, brash, larger-than-life Ultra Agents set I’d been waiting for, and it gets a big thumbs up from me.
Set 70173 Ultra Agents Ocean HQ contains 1204 elements and is available now in the U.S. at an RRP of $99.99. I can’t however see it listed at any of the European [email protected] sites that I checked, nor have I seen it anywhere at UK retail, and rumour has it that neither this set nor the other two Summer Ultra Agents releases will be coming to the region. It’d be a real shame if Europeans were denied access to this cracking set, so let’s just hope that it’ll be rolled out to stores over here later in the year.
Thanks as always to LEGO’s Community Engagement & Events Team for providing us with a copy of the set to review.