Random set of the day: NBA Challenge

Posted by ,
NBA Challenge

NBA Challenge

©2003 LEGO Group

Today's random set is 3432 NBA Challenge, released in 2003. It's one of 52 Sports sets produced that year. It contains 451 pieces and 10 minifigs, and its retail price was US$50/£39.99.

It's owned by 896 Brickset members. If you want to add it to your collection you might find it for sale at BrickLink or eBay.


 

Sponsored content

12 comments on this article

Gravatar
By in United States,

Who’s with me in saying they should bring back the figures with the springs in ‘em?? Huh? Anyone? I guess not...

Gravatar
By in United States,

I have debated chasing down the Karl Malone figure sometimes, but never have (I also am upset that John Stockton never got a figure or else I could have completed the famous duo of my local sports team.)

But then I look at photos of the figures from this line and remember how ugly they were (the play features were fun though with the springs, etc)! I really wish Lego would return to some sports characters now using modern minifigure design. I know the German football team got some, but I would love to see more world wide teams represented. Famous Olympian, football/soccer players, Rugby & American Football, Baseball, NBA etc. I am NOT a sports fan by any means, but I would get a kick out of those figures just because they could add some life to a Lego city display. For some reason out of modern sports stars, Lionel Messi and some other AFA members would be what I would want the most.

Gravatar
By in Canada,

Man! Those are some thug-looking players! Lots of crazy facial hair, lots of unibrows and lots of psychotic killer expressions.

Gravatar
By in Australia,

As bizarre as some of these sets were (and they were a bit out there), I just really loved being able to throw some basketball courts into my City setting. Particularly the street-based b-ball sets, I really liked those, I appreciated them for that.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I would be so confused right now if BrickTsar hadn't done a video on the weird world of LEGO b-ball!

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

Man, what was with Lego's obsession with badly drawn stretched-out caveman faces around this time? It's so awful. The leftmost one in the background barely even looks like a face!

I'm kinda glad I skipped the whole 1998-2004 era.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I remember a friend of mine had this one! The gimmick of figures who could throw basketballs was an interesting idea; but one that never quite seemed to quite work for me. Maybe I just didn't have the technique down, though.

I'm also not sure that figures who stay in one place on the court at all times *quite* capture the spirit of sports like this, or of football... but I also can't quite see how Lego could have improved upon the concept at the time.

Gravatar
By in United States,

@CarolinaOnMyMind: A lot of the figures from the LEGO NBA figures had a boardwalk caricature style. I wasn't fond of it compared to the more standardized design language that earlier and later figures had, though it was at least not as grossly offensive as the racial caricatures that characterized the Native Americans from the Wild West theme.

On a related note, it's interesting in this set and some of the other non-licensed ones to see what a stark difference there is between the figures designed for this theme in particular (with jerseys numbered 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9) and the ones that reused face prints from other themes like Race, Town, and Adventurers (with jerseys numbered 1, 5, 6, and 10).

The older faces still had the varied facial expressions of the late 90s/early naughts, but all except the crazy-eyed player number 5 had the basic black dot eyes that were typical for that time. Some of the faces created specifically for the NBA sets introduced printed hair, which was a pretty neat advance in minifigure printing, since I don't believe the tops of minifigure heads had been printed before. But they also almost universally had unusually wide mouths and eyebrows with exaggerated expressions (the aforementioned "boardwalk caricature" style which was even more obvious on the figures based on real life athletes) as well as detailed eyes with whites/sclerae in addition to the regular black pupil.

While this particular style hasn't made a return, we have seen various figures since then that similarly broke from convention by adding whites/sclerae to the eyes. These include the cartoon- and anime-inspired figures from the Avatar: The Last Airbender, Exo-Force, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars sets, but even more recently we saw printed sclerae return with the figures from the Super Heroes Mighty Micros sets and the Teen Titans Go! figures from LEGO Dimensions.

Overall, though, minifigure face prints in most play themes have kept to a much more consistent standard in recent years, particularly since the revised LEGO minifigure style guide was published in 2010. Even many sets based on cartoons and animated movies like Ultimate Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Avengers Assemble, Star Wars: Rebels, Scooby-Doo, Minifigures - The Disney Series, Yellow Submarine, and The Incredibles 2 now tend to stick to more typical minifigure facial features. Even so, exceptions are still made for figures that use specially molded heads to more closely match their source material (Star Wars alien characters like Yoda, the turtles themselves from TMNT, The Powerpuff Girls, The Simpsons, etc).

Gravatar
By in United States,

As far as the set itself goes, I had a passing interest in LEGO Sports sets for the sheer novelty of them being stuff we hadn't seen in sets before, but overall the play value generally didn't measure up to expectations. Compared to the fast-paced energy that makes sports exciting (or that even makes tabletop sports like foosball or air hockey exciting), playing real-life sports in miniature using minifigures with extremely limited movement, with most players on the field/court having nothing to do wait while an opposing player lined up a shot, was rather slow and tedious.

Mind you, I never got any of the minifigure scale Hockey or Gravity Games sets. Perhaps those might have been a bit more exciting — it certainly seems like most of the athlete figures had a bit more movement due to being on movable handles rather than fixed to the field/rink.

And even if the LEGO Sports sets had been more fun, there's no guarantee they'd have been a lasting passion for me or for kids in general. I was never very athletic or a big fan of sports in general, whereas a lot of my friends who were more interested in sports were also less interested in LEGO.

Gravatar
By in Canada,

I'm a big fan of both sports and LEGO, but I don't feel the need to blend the two. I can enjoy them separately.

Gravatar
By in Portugal,

LEGO should return with the sports theme.

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Aanchir: I can see how the boardwalk caricature style works on the minifigures that are based on real people (in theory, that is; the reality is pretty ugly), but I think that using giant lips to "black-code" a standard minifig is pretty offensive, as well--perhaps even more so than giving noses to the Native American minifigures.

I'm glad that the later standardization of the minifigure face styles got rid of this kind of thing. It could be done tastefully at times, like with Jing Lee in Orient Expedition and her eye shape that suggests an epicanthic fold (compared to Emperor Chang Wu and his guards, which used this same feature in an exaggerated way that's too reminiscent of "Yellow Peril" villains for my tastes). However, even when it was done well, it still presented problems: using nonstandard features like eye shape, lip size, and the appearance of noses to suggest a certain ethnicity would mean that minifigures without those features are by default not that ethnicity.

As for the set itself: my wife's brother and sister had this one. I've played around with it on occasion when I was at their childhood home, but it doesn't seem to work as well as the soccer sets (and even those were kind of iffy). I think this is mainly because of how many more motions are needed for basketball, slowing down the play.

Return to home page »