29 September 2014

Roar excitement

Posted by Admin

Our summer of Chima continues into autumn with another review from Scott Barnick (Aanchir), who is well-known for his love of LEGO® colours and constraction... and just to add to his geek credentials, he's also a Brony.

Hi again, readers! I’m very happy to bring you a review of 70144 Laval’s Fire Lion, one of this summer’s new LEGO Legends of Chima sets. This set was carefully selected on account of its great selection of new elements, including a few designs you rarely see in traditional stud-based LEGO themes.

The minifigures in this set are top-notch designs. Laval and Cragger share a new torso pattern with each other and the other returning male protagonists, but have individualized leg patterns with lion and crocodile kneepads (strangely, they are the only two characters to boast this feature — the other returning protagonists, even the Lion Tribe leader LaGravis, all share a generic kneepad design). Their head designs are the same as they’ve always been, except for Laval’s headgear, which now has a printed red crown instead of the printed gold one found in previous sets. They wield the Fire Valious and Vengblaze, which are identical to their earlier Royal Valious and Royal Vengious weapons except for their new fiery energy cores.

Mungus is a “bigfig” like the Hulk from LEGO Super Heroes, the Cave Troll from LEGO Lord of the Rings, or the Giant Trolls from LEGO Castle. His hands and arms are shared with The Hulk, but appear for the first time in Sand Yellow [TLG]/Dark Tan [BL]. The hands are designed so they can not only hold a Ø3.2mm bar like normal minifigure hands, but also grab a normal-sized minifigure by the leg (or anything else that happens to be one module wide). In the set, he is armed with a Tung-tuska (Chima names can be quite silly sometimes!), a club built from fairly common parts.

Mungus’s torso is much more specialized than his other parts, but it still deserves special mention for being the first bigfig torso with a standard minifigure neck stud rather than a specially molded head. This means that Mungus can have dual expressions like the other Legends of Chima characters, as well as share the same new mammoth headgear mold as his mother Maula and brother Mottrot. Speaking of the headgear, its white tusks and bizarrely skeletal trunk are rubbery, and the trunk can grip minifigure accessories. Mungus’s torso also includes a molded belt with three studs — it takes three CHI orbs to power up this behemoth.

Some new parts in this set have already been covered in other reviews of the new Legends of Chima sets here on New Elementary. This set has four each of the Black 2M Single Bushes and Dark Stone Grey [TLG]/Dark Bluish Gray [BL] 2X2 Inverted Plates with Two Snaps mentioned in my 70162 review.

The set also boasts eight of the new Tr. Bright Orange [TLG]/Trans-Orange [BL] Ø3.2mm Holder with Claw covered in Tim Goddard’s review of 70135 Cragger’s Fire Striker, making this the best source so far for that particular element. Tim G. also covered the Tr. Bright Orange 1X1 Round Tile with flame pattern which appears on all this year’s heroes, the Ø3.2mm 4M Shaft With Flame which appears in a blend of Tr. Red and Tr. Yellow in many new Chima weapon designs, and the Double Snaps With Hole. This set includes two of each, plus two extras of the 1X1 round tiles.

What he did not cover, oddly enough, was the Tr. Bright Orange Crystal with Cored Knob (Element ID 6066085 | Design ID 11127), or “Fire CHI” as it’s called in the Legends of Chima story. This is the third color for CHI crystals after Tr. Light Blue and Warm Gold, and appears in several of this summer’s new Legends of Chima sets.

Another new Tr. Bright Orange part in this set is a 3X6 Cockpit with Bow. Even though this windscreen lacks any studs, it’s still very versatile, and a new color could open up even more uses. Also used for the cockpit, and appearing for the first time for over fifteen years in Brick Yellow [TLG]/Tan [BL], is the 3X4 25°/45° Roof Tile (Element ID 6068077 | Design ID 4861). Filling the jaw are four White 1X2 Plates with 2 Vertical Teeth (Element ID 6046384 | Design ID 15209). This piece came out earlier this year, but this marks its first appearance outside the Mixels theme. Beneath the cockpit, the engine is built using a New Dark Red [TLG]/Dark Red [BL] 2X2X1⅓ Motor (Element ID 6035897 | Design ID 50943).

This set contains a bounty of Flame Yellowish Orange [TLG]/Bright Light Orange [BL] elements — a total of 27 parts in 13 different designs. Appearing for the first time in this color are two 3X12 Flaps with Fork (Element ID 6051504 | Design ID 57906), five 2X5 Windscreens (Element ID 6059338 | Design ID 6070), two 4X4/18° Wedge Bricks (Element ID 6015235 | Design ID 50373), and two 5X6 Shell/Hands with Ball Snap.

This last piece excites me the most. I’ve been a die-hard constraction builder ever since the Throwbots/Slizer theme debuted fifteen years ago, and I’m an especially big fan of the Character & Creature Building System (CCBS) introduced in 2011 in the Hero Factory theme. This particular piece not only makes great hands, but also is useful for building shoulders, feet, and torsos. Flame Yellowish Orange is rare in recent constraction sets, so this piece should help constraction builders supplement the existing variety of shells and beams in that color.

Other constraction parts exclusive to this set are the three Reddish Brown 7 Module Claws with Cross Axle (Element ID 6068078 | Design ID 15362). This design is new for this year, and also appears in Black and Warm Gold [TLG]/Pearl Gold [BL] in various Hero Factory and Ninjago sets. System fans might consider it a bit specialized, since it’s a fairly large piece with just a single connection point, but it is fantastic for claws, spikes, and other details such as this set’s energetic mane. Like Flame Yellowish Orange, Reddish Brown is a rare color in constraction and Technic sets, so this piece will probably be greatly appreciated by Hero Factory and BIONICLE fans, especially if it continues to appear in future sets.

This sticker sheet is one that I’m sure really puts the “dread” in “dreaded sticker sheet” for many AFOLs. Seventeen stickers are all printed on transparent sticker film, only two of those stickers (the ones for the rear wheels) have the background color fully printed, and none are numbered (a luxury I remember fondly from the sticker sheets of the Exo-Force theme). I already mentioned in my review of 70162 why I prefer stickers printed on white sticker paper. Beware of bubbles, dust and fingerprints with this set! With that said, the stickers definitely add a great deal of energy to this set (though even a lover of stickers might be hesitant to apply all of them, since many are used on new or rare Flame Yellowish Orange parts). Interestingly, instead of lion iconography (or the decorative crest that appeared on “good guy” vehicles in 2013 and the first half of 2014), the stickers for the shoulders feature phoenix insignias.

The first numbered bag builds Cragger, Mungus, and the Fire Lion’s chassis. The second numbered bag adds the “spinal column”, lower jaw, and both arms. The third numbered bag builds Laval and adds the upper jaw/cockpit and wheels. It’s a build that can be surprising at times — for instance, my brother and I found ourselves wondering why the lower jaw was attached with a non-friction Technic pin that caused it to hang limp. But as the functions came together everything began to make sense.

The final model definitely looks imposing, and seems like overkill even against the massive Mungus! Its color scheme, despite having a LOT of colors, feels cohesive and well organized. It also boasts a lot of cool play features.

The cockpit has seating for both Laval and Cragger, a nice touch that really reinforces their rekindled friendship… or maybe creates additional tension as they fight for the controls. You decide! The center ridge of the mane acts as a divider and has a click hinge you can use to “open” or “close” the cockpit. On a particularly thoughtful note, the designers included unused clips under the flaps on the arms of the Fire Lion that can hold Laval and Cragger’s weapons, since they’re too large to fit inside the cockpit.

The back of the vehicle includes a hatch that reveals a storage container with CHI inside (regular Tr. Light Blue CHI — the precious fire CHI is plugged directly above the hatch in a place that leaves it oddly exposed). The hatch closes snugly and inconspicuously around the storage container. Not the kind of feature that makes or breaks a set, but it does make good use of space that would otherwise be wasted, and adds a point of interest to the model’s back, which is somewhat sparse otherwise.

A launcher armed with four flick missiles is attached to the Fire Lion’s right shoulder with three Technic hinge points, allowing it to aim in various directions, but while it’s an effective design for its simplicity, it feels a bit superfluous once you realize the vehicle’s much more impressive main function.

In its default resting position, the lion’s arms stretch forward and its mouth is shut. However, by entering “Fire CHI Power Mode” with a pull of a handle on its back, the lion rears its head up and spreads its arms up menacingly, its jaw opens with a mighty roar (note: no sound brick, so you have to provide your own sound effects), and the flaps on its arms fold outward. Although it rests quite comfortably in this upright position, it can also lunge forward again, clamping its jaws shut and grabbing or slashing at foes depending on how you have its paws positioned. The flaps on the arms remain folded out, though, perhaps to show that the energy of the fire CHI is still in effect.

Overall, this set is a good buy either as a parts pack for Flame Yellowish Orange, or as the start of or an addition to a dedicated Legends of Chima collection. For constraction builders like me, it not only offers some great parts but brings to mind the elaborate action features of the Rahi from the BIONICLE theme’s debut year. Thanks to this set’s dynamic transforming function, my final impression is that this set is MUCH greater than the sum of its parts. Even without an extensive Chima collection of my own, I’m glad to consider this set a part of it!

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

70144 Laval's Fire Lion retails at US$49.99 / £39.99 / €49.99. Consider using our affiliate links to buy it (or anything) from Amazon; this helps support New Elementary!



  1. Yay, Brony! The hopes for official My Little Pony Lego seems shattered, since Hasbro and Lego are competitors, but hopefully there might at least be MLP Kre-O sets some time...

    1. Hopefully. Hasbro really needs to step up to the plate with a girl-oriented building toy of some kind. Mattel/Mega Brands at least saw the writing on the wall as soon as LEGO Friends proved to be wildly successful (and responded with their own execrable attempt to cash in on that demographic in the form of Mega Bloks Barbie), but Hasbro has yet to make a Kre-O series based on ANY of their girl-oriented brands.

      I know they're at least trying to push My Little Pony into the creative toys sector with the "POP" figures and some upcoming Play-Doh playsets, but it's just not the same...

      I bought some spare LEGO Friends mini-dolls at Brickfair Virginia in hopes of turning them into custom Equestria Girls figures (I'm sure if I could manage it I might even be able to make some money off of that, since quality fan-made MLP merch is a hot commodity), but I don't know when/if I'll ever get around to that since I have no real minifigure customization experience. ^-^'

    2. Mega Bloks Barbie seemed pretty bad, as far as I noticed. Actual building was put at a minimum. Both Halo and Hello Kitty had more solid construction. (Hello Kitty felt somewhat like Fabuland.)

      The problem with MLP MOC:s is that you'd have to refrain to brick-built minifigs, There were some pretty good proposals at Cuusoo for new MLP-minifigs, would the theme have become official.

      Seems Equestria Girls are humanized pretty far. No modding/ cutting might be necessary. If you use some of the elf eared headgear, it might be enough with skillful painting. (Making the experience sound a bit easier than it actually is, I guess...)

    3. Yeah, "skillful painting" is the part that will pose the biggest challenge for me, I think. My hand-eye coordination is not the best, especially with especially tiny tasks like painting a small detail or threading a needle.

      Anybody got anything to say about the actual review? =P

    4. A friend/lugmate did some awesome custom figures using sharpie paint markers, they look fantastic in pictures and now that i've seen them in person, and he was able to do them in a not ridiculous amount of time, something to consider.

      Thanks for the review, i'm really looking forward to this set, as a big fan of Bright Light Orange myself. Not looking forward to that DSS though, but my first copy of every chima set so far has been stickered and I've used some of those parts in my MOCs and been pleased with the results.

      The set that brought me out of my dark ages, 8097 Slave I, has clear backed stickers that are doing horribly on my example, which annoys me to no end.... It seems TLG uses 3 or 4 types of sticker paper at this time, with varying availability (3rd is the waterproof paper used on the boat sets, Mark Stafford pointed it out with Cragger's Command Ship).

  2. The clear stickers are almost unanimously preferred to the white stickers because the white stickers tend to curl and shred within a few years of being applied (and once that starts, simply touching them will cause pieces to break off, like a thousand year old piece of parchment), where the clear stickers last ages. Just don't be eating Cheetos when you're building, keep your hands washed, and _PRESS_ the sticker into the surface of the plastic (which helps obscure even fingerprints) to get a clean application, and maybe you'll switch to the cool team.

    Anyways, as is often the case, I see almost nothing in this set that excites me. I did enjoy the minifig bat wings from the last wave, I've put several of the blue Chi crystals to use, and found a few other pieces here and there that were worth going after, but largely the thing I like most about the Chima sets is that I have zero interest in collecting them, which makes it easier to keep up with the DCS, TMNT, LotR, and Hobbit sets.

    1. I have heard about white stickers curling and shredding before, and I have seen examples of it in sets from the early to mid naughts. So I'm not under any illusion that it's never been a problem. However, I have never experienced or even seen pictures of this phenomenon afflicting any sets in the past six years.

      The only set of mine that has had any trouble with this is the Aero Booster from the 2007 Exo-Force range. And interestingly, only some of the stickers from that set — the white and red stickers from the booster jets are cracking and peeling, while the blue stickers on the small mech are in flawless condition, despite me putting them all on at the exact same time. It's not unexplainable, though. The stickers that look perfect are small and applied to flat surfaces, while the stickers that are cracking and peeling are applied to larger, curved surfaces.

      The other white-backed stickers from my Exo-Force sets that year are perfectly fine, no matter what type of surfaces they were applied to. None of my earlier stickers are peeling either, except those which I deliberately peeled off because I was a kid and I wasn't too good at thinking those kinds of things through. And no stickers of mine from 2008 or later have ever given me any trouble at all. The stickers on my 2008 Exo-Force and Agents sets are still in perfect condition, as are all my stickers from later sets.

      I think many people assume that because it was once a problem, it will always be a problem, ignoring the possibility that the LEGO Group has improved the quality of the glue they use for the underside or the coating they use to protect the paper surface. Of course, perhaps one day my newer sets' white-backed stickers WILL start to crack or peel and I'll realize that the LEGO Group was never able to stop this issue, merely delay it. In the meantime, though, I care more about the convenience of applying the sticker and the appearance after it's applied than about the possibility that after nearly a decade I might have to remove them.

      As for your disinterest in Chima, to each his own. I haven't really collected much from this theme either — just a handful of sets I happen to enjoy, and most of those when they were on sale. In my case, though, it's because my priority is other story-driven action/adventure themes like Hero Factory, Ninjago, and the LEGO Movie. The Legends of Chima storyline failed to grab me like these other themes did, so the sets don't appeal to me on the same level.

      I haven't got a whole lot of interest in licensed themes. As a kid I loved sets based on my favorite movies and books, but as an adult, collecting them feels like too daunting a task because I know there will always be characters I'm missing, and if they go on long enough I know there will be new versions of the sets and characters that make my own feel woefully out-of-date, just like my collection of early Star Wars sets and minifigures. Besides that, I'm not as passionate about the stories in most licensed themes as I was when I was a kid. I used to have a tremendous zeal when it came to things like Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings, whereas now it's just one of many movie series I like.

    2. You could be onto something there, with the white stickers vs curved parts. I can only think of one set of mine that had that problem (that I noticed), which is, I believe, the V-19 Torrent. And it's only on the sticker on the nose of the craft, which is on a curved slope surface. The rest were fine when I noticed them. That said, I've applied stickers from the old Batman line to curved surfaces (for reference, so not attached to LEGO bricks), and in spite of some serious abuse to some of them, they aren't cracking (though one sticker in particular has started to peel up on some of the corners).

      Batman is my thing, though. I believe I have the largest collection of unique (i.e. non-repeating) Batman-related minifigs in the world, at something over 120. And more is always good in my book.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. You're one to talk. I'm not the one so ashamed of my own opinions that I have to anonymously leave hateful messages on a blog about toys. But if you're lucky, one day you'll have more to look back on than a life as an antisocial bigot.

      In any case, thanks for reminding me just why I'm so proud of my interests. Anything that separates me from people like you is a blessing.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I have deleted original comment as it contained profanity. Kids read this blog too.

  4. I have no problem with clear stickers. Looking at my Benny's Spaceship, the interesting texture that you see when the stickers are applied has almost completely disappeared, including on the textured slope bricks and especially on the clear window inside the hatch. Give them time and they will look better.

    1. I'm sure they will. I just get a little bit more anxious about applying them than I get about applying white-backed stickers. With clear stickers I have to take extra special care to keep my hands and building area clean and well-lit, and to line them up correctly on the first go. They're still easy enough to apply correctly but there's more room for error, especially since the edges can be harder to see.

  5. Yeah! LEGO is about fun & so is this website!