02 February 2014

This'll never fly, it's saloonacy

Posted by Admin
We have a LEGO® Movie set review and alternate build from Rod Gillies today. Under his Flickr pseudonym 2 Much Caffeine, Rod's well known for his steampunk builds and his microscale - in particular his elegant Star Wars microscale. Rod contributed to the recent LEGO Play Book but is also a published author of two steampunk novels.
Rod decided that the bizarrely-named 70812 Creative Ambush looked sufficiently steampunky for him to take on.

Normally if you’re reviewing a LEGO set based on a movie, you’d want to see the film first so you’d have an idea of the scene represented. Not a problem here, as I assume the set is an exact recreation of what will be onscreen in The LEGO Movie.

Let’s be clear on one thing: this set is completely bonkers. It features a steampunk biplane fashioned from bits of a Western-style saloon, being menaced by a sinister robot and a flying kebab van. Yes, really. If this is a sign of what we should expect from the movie when it opens, then we’re in for a hell of an ABS-based ride. Previously I’d been a little meh about the whole idea of the movie, but now I genuinely can’t wait to see what madness LEGO has in store.

On to the build…we’ll start with the robot known as the Micro Manager.

This looks like the simplest thing in the set, but it’s a genuinely fun and surprisingly complex build. I was taken aback at the level of SNOT technique employed in an official set, especially one which I assume to be targeted at a younger audience.

The robot’s feet in particular are a triumph of 'sideways building' – oddly so, as I can think of ways to create the same shape using regular studs-up techniques and pieces. However, I’m not complaining, as the method used means we get more of the recent bracket pieces, and four of the cool new doughnut tiles (Element ID 6055313 | Design ID 15535). The robot also includes a half-dozen 1X1 rounds in the relatively new Flat Silver [BL]/Silver Metallic [TLG] shade, which should get the spacers and steampunks out there excited – other builders’ mileage may vary.

Next up, the flying kebab van.

Let’s just read that again – “the flying kebab van”. Even without the stickers applied, it’s obvious the flying machine is a kebab van. It even has a play feature of a large chunk of kebab meat – the typical “Elephant’s Leg” – rotating in front of a grill. Surreal.

It reminds me of floating food trucks from cyberpunk classics like Blade Runner or Fifth Element. Not having seen the film, it feels strange having something from such a different genre/style in there alongside the biplane. Maybe it will make better sense when the movie comes out.

The build itself results in a good solid creation. There’s a couple of nice touches – frying pans for headlights and the construction of the kebab meat itself – but the techniques employed are tame in comparison with the other vehicles and there are no pieces that stood out for me, although the 3X3X2 truncated cone appears here in Reddish Brown for the first time ever (Element ID 6063444 | Design ID 6233). I got excited for a moment when I thought I spotted a three-long lightsaber blade in Reddish Brown, but it turned out to be a piece of tubing. Still useful maybe, but not as interesting as I initially thought.

The flying machine is eminently swooshable once built, and it’s got some nice moving parts to fiddle with in the wings, engines and 'the meat'. But for me, it’s the weakest part of the set.

On to the main event – the biplane.

Just imagine the design challenge here: “We want you to make a plane which looks like it’s been scavenged from the scraps of a Western saloon.” Not a brief I’d fancy receiving. The designer has pulled it off admirably – it’s recognisably a plane, and a cool one too, yet its 'saloon heritage' is also clear.

I enjoyed putting this together. The use of the Technic connection for the wing attachment makes for a sturdy 'off the grid' angle, one which lines up nicely with the slanted plates, adding a lot to the final look. Also smart was the method used to mount the cannon between the wings, something I will steal for use in steampunk MOCs.

We get some more SNOT building around the tail, and a little honky-tonk piano – one of the details that evokes the 'transformed saloon' feel. It’s fun to build and looks good.

I was disappointed with the biplane’s engine design. The aircraft needs a bigger prop for a start, and other features feel tacked-on. In particular, the pistols as engine greebles and the grey exhaust pipes are poorly-used. They’re easy to knock out of alignment when you’re swooshing the plane, and then the prop won’t turn – irritating.

A couple of the biplane's parts come in new colours: in Dark Brown there's the 2X4X2/3 curved slope (Element ID 6064187 | Design ID 88930) but sadly only one, but there are four 2X2X2 round support stands in Reddish Brown (Element ID 6064182 | Design ID 3940).

There’s some not-new-but-nice elements in the biplane including some Dark Brown 2X2 round plates, and in Dark Tan [BL]/Sand Yellow [TLG] there are palisade bricks and 2X2 plates with pins. Personally, I’ve not seen many of the 1X2 modified plates with a technic hole, so I was pleased to pick up a couple of those.

The minifigs deserve a shout-out here. The kebab guy is okay and if you build City it’s nice to get new occupations in minifig form. I do like his kebab-logo redneck cap.

It’s always good to get more female minifigs, and here you pick up two: a Western saloon mistress who’d also work well in Castle settings, and a modern-day businesswoman.

Without a doubt, the star of the set is the dapper gent with the bowler hat (in Reddish Brown for the first time ever). If you’re into Western or steampunk, this little chap might become your new favourite minifig. I genuinely love this guy.

Another thing worth mentioning is the sticker sheet. Normally I don’t look twice at stickers but there’s some good stuff here, useful in a variety of settings: dart boards, wood effect strips, saloon signs, modern sandwich shop blackboards, and a nice page of sheet music. We’ll turn a blind eye to the “Octan’s Tasty Meat” stickers – the less said about those the better.

In summary, this is a cracking set which I would heartily recommend. It features a nice mix of techniques, some of them quite advanced, and some great pieces. This could be a good set to inspire a 10 or 11 year-old to try out more complex building for themselves.

Alternative Build

Here’s an alternative build I put together using just the pieces which came in the box, hopefully giving some idea of how much fun you can have with this set…

Our thanks to LEGO's Community and Events Engagement Team for providing this set.

70812 Creative Ambush retails at US$39.99/GB£34.99.

Affiliate links:

Lego.com: Creative Ambush


  1. Good review. I don't have a lot to say about it, save for two things.

    One, I love this set. It's colorful, creative, and moderately priced compared to its brother Rescue Reinforcements. Add in the fact that all four minifigures are new and unique and this set is on my shortlist for "Lego Movie sets I want to get".

    Two, I don't really have a problem with the "Octan's Tasty Meat" stickers, and in fact I think that branding could be usable in traditional Lego City in an Octan convenience store. It reminds me of Sheetz, a gas station chain from my neck of the woods, the fuel side of which almost plays second fiddle to its convenience stores and "MTO" (Made to Order) food service stations.

  2. Heh. I hadn't really thought about it before, but the truth is that the micro-managers don't really have that big a role in the movie, so pretty much any set that features them as an enemy is _not_ what you'll see in the movie. The vehicle models, on the other hand, seemed to be exact matches (and several other pre-existing sets from other themes make appearances). I can't remember for sure about the Melting Room, but the Evil Lair is a very scaled down representation of the actual movie set, and two items from the movie look very different when they're not being faked in LEGO form.

    1. You talk as if you've seen the movie...

  3. that alternative build is awesome :)

  4. I love these reviews. Are we going to get one for Rescue Reinforcements?

    Also, has anyone tried to build a saloon using combined parts from Creative Ambush and Getaway Glider?

    1. There's not that many useful parts in the Getaway Glider, it seems, maybe if you'd add the Metalbeard Duel or Rescue Reinforcements, as well...

  5. Awesome review. The alternate build is quite fun. Thanks!!!

  6. I think the wheels in the kebab van are really annoying. They don't really turn.
    --Chaz Fairbanks