Black Panther made an exciting debut in Captain America: Civil War during 2016 and I am looking forward to the hero's imminent solo movie very much. Two sets based upon the film have been released, both of which look great and include an excellent selection of minifigures.
76099 Rhino Face-Off by the Mine is the smaller of those two sets, containing 229 pieces and priced at £19.99 or $19.99. Nevertheless, three exclusive figures are included along with a couple of the new roller coaster track elements and an armoured rhino which looks absolutely fantastic, making brilliant use of the legs introduced for the luggabeast in 75148 Encounter on Jakku from 2016.
Black Panther can be seen wearing a new suit in promotional material for the film and the minifigure has therefore been updated since 76047 Black Panther Pursuit was released a couple of years ago. The ears on top remain the same but lack printing on this occasion. Instead, intricate designs are focused entirely on the front and back of the head which looks great and I am especially keen on the vivid blue eyes.
Official images of this set show the hero's suit with a striking metallic blue trim. In fact, the printing looks closer to metallic silver when viewed from most angles and the blue tint only becomes apparent under certain light conditions. I would rather the blue had been more visible and a darker shade would have been even better as the colour is almost purple in the movie. Moreover, the figure lacks leg printing which is unfortunate as the designs appear to end somewhat abruptly without it, nicely detailed though they are.
T'Challa is protected by the Dora Milaje, a skilled group of bodyguards led by Okoye. This warrior uses a pearl silver spear to deadly effect and wears a dark orange shirt with ornate decoration on both sides. I particularly like her golden necklace and the panther emblem on the armour is a lovely detail, although it is disappointing that this armour plate does not continue onto the legs, which are instead plain black.
Okoye's head is also new and features a wry smile. Remarkably, this is only the fifth black female minifigure to appear in a LEGO set so I am pleased that the Black Panther range offers a greater diversity of characters. The character's hair is worn short in the movie and it might have been nice to see some subtle printing on the back of the head to reflect that, like Zane from The LEGO NINJAGO Movie. Even without it, this is a splendid minifigure.
The second trailer for Black Panther revealed that Killmonger wears his own armoured suit with gold accents in the movie. I find this colour scheme more visually impressive than that of Black Panther himself, particularly on the mask where a beaded texture is printed on the forehead, just below the separate ears component. It is a shame that the printing does not continue onto the ears but it is present on the back of the head.
Killmonger's torso is printed with some muscle definition and more metallic gold highlights. I particularly like those on the back which almost look like claw slashes and the patterned band around the figure's neck looks marvellous. The legs are not printed with any further detail but I think this is less problematic than it is on Black Panther when compared with the source material. Killmonger is shown wielding knives in the trailers so those accessories would have been welcome, although he may discard them before fighting T'Challa in the film.
The Completed Model
Black Panther's home nation of Wakanda is the only known source of Vibranium, a near-indestructable metal from which Captain America's shield is made. The prized material appears to be the focal point of this set as a small section of a Vibranium mine is included, featuring a mine cart, a short length of track and some Vibranium ore. The light bluish grey track pieces look fantastic and are only available in this set at the moment, although longer components of the same colour appear in 60188 Mining Experts Site.
Wakandan technology is very distinctive and this mine cart is similarly unusual, consisting of a trans-light blue half cylinder with chest armour pieces from the NEXO Knights Battle Suits at either end. It looks appropriately futuristic and uses some interesting building techniques as the half cylinder is attached using Technic pins and is then properly secured by the chest armour. However, I would rather the wheels were set slightly further apart.
Small rock formations are situated at either end of the track, stopping the cart from rolling too far. The combination of dark blue, trans-blue and trans-light blue looks good and you could remove some of those pieces to collect more Vibranium, represented by trans-light blue 1x2 plates, if you wish. The larger of the two rocks includes a lever which will knock the mine cart off the track, presumably recreating a moment in the film. This is very simple but it works well, as one would expect.
Many different animals have featured in LEGO sets over the last several decades, from tiny insects to enormous elephants and even a DUPLO whale! However, this set includes the first proper rendition of a rhinoceros and it looks absolutely fantastic, with ideal proportions as well as an interesting grey and dark tan colour scheme. The model measures just over 15cm in length so is vastly oversized in relation to a minifigure, although this increases its appeal from my perspective and it has certainly allowed the designer to include more detail.
This is particularly apparent on the head where light bluish grey pieces cover a dark tan 3x3 wedge plate, seemingly representing the rhino's leathery skin beneath armour. I love the 1x1 quarter circle tiles here and the stickered designs look great, as do the black horns. The head is mounted on a click hinge so it can look up and down and rotate around the longitudinal axis but there is no lateral motion which does limit the display possibilities.
I think the seat on top could also have been improved. The yoke is nicely positioned for a figure but it looks a bit odd without any visible saddle or a backrest in my opinion. Of course, this may be how the rhino appears in the movie and I appreciate having room for more than one minifigure but I still wonder whether the model might have looked even better with a more defined saddle. However, the sticker and stud shooters in front are perfect.
Four stickers are used on either flank, showing a few mechanical details and more armour plating. A car bonnet element forms the curvature of the body very effectively and the legs include some natural curves too so look fairly realistic. These pieces were originally designed for the luggabeast in 75148 Encounter on Jakku but they suit a rhino well and are fully articulated, with ratchet joints at each hip, so you can create some dynamic poses.
The rear of the rhinoceros is relatively plain, with a little tail fitted to a Technic pin so it can move back and forth. This is definitely the least attractive angle as the model looks rather blocky from behind and the loose attachment of the tail bothers me slightly, although I am glad that the colour scheme remains consistent. Furthermore, adding extra curved slopes in this area would leave no room for a tail and that is an important feature of a rhino.
I had high expectations for 76099 Rhino Face-Off by the Mine and am very satisfied with the completed set. The armoured rhinoceros is the highlight for me, including plenty of subtle detail without relying too heavily on stickers. Certain areas of the model could perhaps have been improved but the issues are minor and most relate more to the source material than to the LEGO design, assuming its design is faithful to the movie.
The mine cart track is also quite impressive, exhibiting the new roller coaster pieces very effectively in a smaller set. The colour and shape of the cart feels consistent with Wakandan technology and it uses a few interesting pieces, most notable of which are the exclusive chest armour panels. I am also very pleased with the minifigures, although it is a shame that Black Panther lacks leg printing. Nevertheless, this is a magnificent set on the whole and I think it offers remarkably good value.
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