I like Lego. And I like Batman. So hooray for these new DC Superhero sets which trott out Lego's spin on Batman again. Batman originally popped up in Lego form back in 2007 in a range of sets not too dissimilar to those that are out now. As with all of Lego's revisitations to a familiar theme, there's an attempt to refresh familiar sets and introduce some new ones, like this fun playset.
The Joker finds a suitable home in this rather deadly funhouse, a recurrent home from home for the clown prince of crime. The funhouse itself is reminisicent of one of those flat pack, slightly unsafe travelling funfair attractions. Its wide and long, but doesn't have much depth. To the side, a flight of steps lead to the landing. Pulling a lever causes a trapdoor to open plummeting any hapless heroes to the ground. If you make it across there, there's a wobbly floor to make your way across - but beware the huge hammer! These clever little lever operated features are great, but my favourite has to be launching the small cart down the run of track and through the pannelled gates. The Joker is adided in his capture of Robin - whom is handcuffed and dangled from a crane (that works!)above an excitable fish - by the deluded and obssessed Harley Quinn as well as The Riddler - whom has his own Riddle Booth (yeah, i couldn't think of a better name for that). Riding to Robin's rescue is Batman, with a costume derived from the comic books of the 1970s. Batman comes with his trusty Batarang and rides a bulky looking bike.
The minifigures themselves are one of the strongest selling points of the set, super cute renditions of familiar icons with some great detailing. From Robin's panicked face (reversable with a more determined looking grimmace) to the Riddler's question mark apparel, the designers have really nailed batman and his rogues gallery. This set is also very colourful and features some clever build patterns. There's also a free comic book included, which isn't as exciting as it sounds, being simply a photoshopped picture adventure lacking any dialogue. A proper free Batman comic would have been a better bet, or even a proper strip like in the Lego Club Magazine, but as a bonus feature it works well enough to inspire young minds with their own adventures.
Are there any down sides to the set? Well, yes. This being a licensed product, there is a premium to pay and there is a slightly underwhelming feeling of 'is that it?' once you've assembled it, but frankly even at these prices this latest run of Lego Batman are going to be cheaper than trying to track down the original sets on the secondary market. The other thing to consider with Lego these days is that unlike most (all?) other toy manufacturers, you can purchase these products knowing that the workers whom produce these kits in more deprived areas of the world are getting a fair deal, thanks to Lego opening their own factories in areas such as China and Mexico, allowing them greater control over pay and conditions, something for which I commend Lego group on doing. Now, if only everyone else would follow suit...