Today's review has been written by guest reviewer Jeremy Williams:
41238 Lena Luthor Kryptomite Factory is one of the flagship sets in the new DC Super Hero Girls playtheme, running to 432 pieces and two figures. The backstory is that Lena Luthor has kidnapped Krypto, Supergirl’s faithful hound, and taken him to her evil laboratory to drain him of his powers and create ‘kryptomites’, tiny jagged malevolent rascals that create havoc. Supergirl needs to swoop in and rescue the caged canine before it’s too late.
Inside the box are the parts in four numbered bags, a couple of 8x16 baseplates, a lime green flexible hose and a sticker sheet.
Let’s start by looking at the figures that come with the set. There are two Super Hero Girl figures (Supergirl herself and of course Lena Luthor, her nemesis). The figures are based on Friends proportions and are represented nicely, although the lack of accessories is a little disappointing (no snazzy utility belt or other personal gadgets). There’s also Krypto, sporting the famous ’S’ on his chest (is that a tattoo, then?). Supergirl is only found in this set (with this print, though she also appears with a red skirt in the 41232 Super Hero High School set from the same theme) while Lena appears in one other set and Krypto in two others.
There are also three tiny kryptomites (each created using a white 1x1 ’davros’ element (stud on all sides) with four transparent wedges (either cheeses or the Nexo Knight pyramids) and a single 1x1 ‘face’ tile.
According to the Super Hero Girls webpage, the purple mite uses hypnosis to control the minds of innocent Kryptonians, while the green mite weakens them and the blue mite simply creates confusion - which seems a bit lacklustre compared to the other two, I must say, although I’m beginning to suspect that a blue mite appears whenever I try to reprogram my boiler at home. In other sets the kryptomites also get 1x1 plates with clips to enable them to grasp tools and weapons, but since these are freshly formed from the Kryptomite factory I assume that they’re juveniles who still need to progress to this next phase.
On with the build. The set is not complex to construct, and there were no challenging build stages although I nonetheless forgot to add an element here or there through failing to read the instructions carefully (I should have learned my lesson by now). Along with the single instruction book, the box contains four numbered bags, plus the large plates that serve as the watery base for the laboratory and the flexible pipe that will convey Krypto’s powers to create the mites.
Bag one contains the elements to build the two speedboats - Lena’s being somewhat outclassed by Supergirl’s bigger craft which is armed by rotating stud-shooters. These are OK, although they both look slightly unfinished - there are two 1x2 plates under Lena’s hands that would have looked much better as tiles, and there are two orange jumper plates behind Supergirl that could have used further decoration - even a grill tile would look better. The underside of Lena’s boat is nicely smooth, using inverted tiles, for a good reason - as we’ll see shortly.
Bags two to four build the laboratory. The lower floor consists of a jail cell (never a promising facility to find on a visit to a laboratory, I find) and a dock for Lena’s speedboat behind a seemingly impenetrable wall. When Lena’s boat is docked behind the wall, a sharp press of a plunger (a 2x2 tile attached via plates to a Technic axle terminating in a ball joint) shoves the boat through the wall and out into the bay. The wall is attached at its base to jumper plates, and topped with cheese slopes, which allow it to be levered into place. It’s a neat bit of building and clearly gives Lena the element of surprise, though I’d imagine it’s a one-off escape solution and is going to ruin the décor.
The first-storey floor contains an office (sporting a nice ‘no entry’ sign on the door via a sticker) with an armchair and analysis machine, both built very attractively. A 2x3 tile contains a display screen (again via a sticker; there are no printed parts other than the figures and the action tiles - see below) showing the extraction in progress. A nice decorative touch is the window, which is a harlequin pattern of clear and pink, and twin arches and a chain guardrail add further sophistication.
The upper storey is the business end of the lab - a containment tube holding the hapless Krypto (which opens on hinge plates) and a receptacle for the kryptomites above which lightning crackles on a transparent sticker. The showpiece feature of the lab is the purple chute which conveys the mites into a crate on the dock, ready to be towed away by Lena’s speedboat. The receptacle on the top floor hinges upwards (in the photo, I’ve wedged it with a spare Technic pin to show this) to send the mite hurtling down the chute through a hatchway. It’s a fun touch and I’m sure that either Lena or Supergirl would also end up sliding down the chute to make a quick exit.
The roof sports the aforementioned pipe and a large LexCorp billboard, which looks great but again would look still better with a couple of tiles along each side. Finally, there’s a side dock (attached by a clip) from which one of the mites can man a rotating double-shooter cannon.
The set isn’t oozing with playability but its main features are the speedboat launch and the chute. Pleasingly, both come with ‘action tiles’ with cartoon graphics (the speedboat launch tile says ‘POW!’ and the chute launch lever has an exclamation mark), which add to the enjoyment. The opening doors and containment tube allow for some extra interaction, and there are four stud-shooters in all that are always fun to use, although they’re a good way to use up one’s supply of trans 1x1 round tiles…
The set has some surprisingly rare elements - for instance, it’s the only set with a Black 2x6 45 degree slope brick and 1x4x4 frame. It also has some useful parts in rare colours, notably the lattice support wall (in Bright Purple) and the newish corrugated 1x6x5 panel in Black - which is otherwise found only in the mammoth Ghostbusters Firehouse HQ. The slide elements were introduced in 2017 and are uniquely here in Medium Lilac.
This is a reasonable set for its theme and the bright colour scheme and zany features add some interest, but you’d have to be either a big fan of the theme or enough of its rarer elements to buy it. The build isn’t particularly ingenious and it’s for a specific event rather than a general backdrop allowing broader play (for which my money would be on the High School set). As for me, I’m saving up my pennies towards a full-size chute to get me out of bed and down into the kitchen, though whether it will be lilac in colour remains to be decided…