14 March 2021

LEGO® review: 80023 Monkie Kid's Team Dronecopter

Aron Gerencsér (@_pohaturon) resumes our 2021 LEGO® Monkie Kid reviews today with 80023 Monkie Kid's Team Dronecopter. Buying this set? Consider using our affiliate links: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'. New Elementary may get a commission. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this.


80023 Monkie Kid's Team Dronecopter was the first of the 2021 Monkie Kid sets to be officially revealed, and gave us a bit of a preview of what to expect in terms of villains, designs and new moulds. With the wave now available, it’s time to judge just how emblematic this 1462-piece set, retailing for €129,99/£119.99 / $149.99/ 1099 HKD/ 12980 JPY/ 179900 KRW/ 599.9 MYR/ 199.9 SGD/ 4799 TWD really is! 

The Parts

New Elements 

For a set this large, 80023 is pretty light on new moulds that we haven't already covered in previous Monkie Kid reviews. We have the new minifigure hairpieces (covered later) and that 90° bend bar holder piece, shown below in black - which we now know is called 3.2 Holder W/ 3.2 Hole, 90 Deg. by TLG. Monkie Kid's Team Dronecopter contains the highest quantity of it in Black (6338384 | 72869) with 16 of the element included! 

So let’s instead focus on the other new-for-2021 mould present. 


Four instances of Plate Special 2 x 2 x 2/3 with Axle Hole and Grille on Sides in Brick Yellow/ Tan (6330903 | 71752) appear in 80023. Called Design Plate 2X2X2/3 No. 1 by TLG, this mould is new for 2021, appearing across five LEGO City sets – two in Tan and three in Black. Its tan appearance in 60287 Tractor, coupled with the ridged texture, has earned it the nickname “the hay bale” already. The piece is only 2 plates tall and covers a 2x2 footprint, with an axle hole going through it vertically. 

Rendered with Mecabricks.

The ridges follow the dimensions of the horizontal ridges on one side of Brick 1x2 with Grille (2877), and we imagine they will often be used in unison as detail work on buildings. By stacking three of them you can match the height of two grille bricks, although you get a slight gap where the two kinds of ridged brick meet. 

For structural purposes, it does little that a pair of 2x2 Round Plates with Axle Hole couldn’t - that said, I’m curious to explore what unusual purposes I can find for the ridges. 

Recolours

While not really outstanding in the new mould department, 80023 Monkie Kid's Team Dronecopter is an absolute goldmine of recoloured pieces (as well as rare ones, but more on that later) with 14 parts appearing in new colours - and the best thing is that most of these appear in force! 

80023 includes the following recolours:

  • 4x Pro. Ø47.79 W.Ø4.85 Snap Hole in Black (6325578 | 87751)
  • 3x Flat Tile 1X1, Round with Spider print (6334604 | 35381)
  • 6x Tooth Ø3.2 Shaft in Bright Yellowish Green/ Lime (6311215 | 87747)
  • 1x Hood in Bright Bluish Green/ Dark Turquoise (6337294 | 15428)
  • 12x Wall 1X6X5 Container in Dark Turquoise (6337306 | 23405)
  • 4x Wall 1X6X5 Container in Medium Lilac/ Dark Purple (6337304 | 23405)
  • 1x Mini Collar No. 3 in Dark Stone Grey/ Dark Bluish Grey (6338387 | 26066)
  • 1x Handle No. 1 in Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Grey (6326748 | 65578) - this also appears in a Series 21 Collectible Minifigure, but is a new colour for 2021
  • 2x Plate 1X3 W/ 2 Knobs in Flame Yellowish Orange/ Bright Light Orange (6307254 | 34103)
  • 4x Right Plate 4X6, Deg. 27 in Bright Yellow/ Yellow (6337302 | 48205)
  • 4x Left Plate 4X6, Deg. 27 in Yellow (6337303 | 48208)
  • 4x Right Plate W. Angle 3X12 in Yellow (6325577 | 47398)
  • 4x Left Plate W. Angle 3X12 in Yellow (6325576 | 47397)

I was surprised to learn that the propeller piece hasn’t appeared in black before - as one of the most widespread and ubiquitous colours, it's always interesting to see black recolours. Personally, the light grey Handle No. 1 is the recolour that I see myself getting the most use out of, however with just one appearing in the set I will need to source some more. 

Rare and notable elements

80023 also features a decent crop of less common elements, one in a particularly high quantity too. 

  • 2x Handle No. 2 in Dark Bluish Grey (6296951 | 66909) - mistakenly photographed with the Recolours!
  • 4x Tile 4X4, W/ Bow in Dark Purple (6199904 | 27507) appearing in just 3 other sets
  • 4x Cockpit 6X6X2 in Yellow (6293859 | 35332) appearing in 3 other sets. It appears with stickers applied on the photo, but comes plain in box. 
  • 1x Design Brick 4X1, W/ Bow in Bright Red/ Red (6301367 | 66955) appearing in 2 other sets
  • 1x Pyramid Ridged Tile in Bright Green (6299946 | 35344) appearing in one other set
  • 1x Weapon, No. 18 in White (6301803 | 36017) appearing in 5 other sets
  • 1x Beam 1X1 in Dark Turquoise (6295149 | 18654) appearing in 3 other sets
  • 16x 1/4 Arch Brick 5X5 W/ Cutout in Dark Turquoise (6213792 | 24599) appearing in 3 other sets in vastly smaller quantities of just 1or 2

Minifigures

80023 Monkie Kid's Team Dronecopter comes with a selection of 8 traditional minifigures, one bigfig and an animal. 


Interestingly this, as opposed to 80022 Spider Queen's Arachnoid Base, is the set which includes the full set of Spider villains. Red Son appears too, as does Mei who has her helmet this time around, unlike in 80020 White Dragon Horse Jet


Sandy appears together with his adorable blue punk cat, Mo. 

Among these figures we find two new moulds, both of which are hairpieces. Huntsman sports Mini Wig, No. 230 in Dark Bluish Grey (6338388 | 75512) while Syntax wears Mini Wig, W/ Accessory, No. 21. dual molded in Dark Bluish Grey and Lime (6341483 | 76860). We’ve shown these off in previous reviews where these characters appeared, but are including some new angles this time around:


I can see the braided design being used for Viking minifigures in the future when it starts appearing in more colours. 

The Build

80023 continues the trend set by previous entries in this Monkie Kid wave of having some fantastic side builds as appetisers for the main course. The set includes 14 numbered bags, and we don’t get started on the large Dronecopter itself until bag 7. We start off by building the container-based “rooms”. It’s nice to see this callback to the container ship from last year’s 80013 Monkie Kid’s Team Secret HQ. 


All of the container builds open up in different ways, allowing the interior to be accessed, and have clips on the outside which will allow them to be attached to the Dronecopter. These side builds are fun but straightforward, without any particularly interesting techniques to discuss - though I like how the bunk beds are attached upside down to the ceiling of the first container. 


Sprinkled in between the three container builds are two small vehicles - a flying board for Red Son, and my personal favorite; a flying pet carrier for Mo. These are small and, again, do not feature any interesting building techniques but are fun little diversions. That said, there isn’t any monotony to break up, as all three containers are vastly different. 


I’d have to say my favourite of the three is Mei’s room, which opens up to the greatest degree and has the most character in my opinion. The various sections of her room include a television, an arcade machine - which, owing to its compactness, does not function unlike the one in Ninjago City Gardens - what I can only assume is a weapon recharge station, a comfy armchair with a drink holder and a little utility corner with a fire extinguisher and a place to store her helmet. 


The villain’s container unfolds to reveal a large cannon with a pair of spring loaded launchers, some terminals and a large radar dish. The way this particular build mimics the handles on actual shipping containers paired with the cannon gave me a strong sense that I’ve seen a similar design appear in the back of a truck in Knight Rider. We also build two of Syntax’s spider drones that have appeared in droves throughout the wave already. 


With the side builds complete, we move onto the Dronecopter itself, starting with the cockpit section. This little portion of the vehicle can detach and function independently as a sort of submarine, so we build the whole module in one go. The way the designer achieved the curved angle in the front section using a white minifig shield piece (30166) attached to the clip is rather intuitive. This piece is proving popular with LEGO designers, as Thomas Jenkins discussed with Bonsai designer Nick Vas recently.


Moving on to the structure of the Dronecopter, there is quite a bit of repetition going on. We mirror two sets of angled armatures which will carry the four identical engines, and start to construct the gear mechanism that will control the rotating turret. The four steering wheels attached to Technic connectors act as feet for the vehicle, and I was initially concerned about stability as they were mounted on Technic bricks flopping to and fro on pins, but later on the engine sections helped make them sturdier. For the sake of convenience, the instructions don’t have us attach the cockpit section yet.


Next up, we build the four engine modules, each of which are identical. These engine units are pretty standard, built studs-up and slot onto the exposed Technic axles jutting out of the armatures we built earlier. 


Once the engines are attached we move onto the turret section. A platform slots onto the large geared turntable, and is fixed in place with some Technic pins. The orange Technic ball interfaces with the trigger mechanism we built earlier which will allow us to fire the spring-loaded missiles to be added later.


Finally, we add finishing touches to the turret section, including a control interface and seat for Sandy, as well as two large non-firing cannons. The spring loaded launchers are embedded inside the turret structure, and are thus quite discreet, adding play value without compromising the design. 

The Completed Model 


Initially I was partially expecting to have a similar take on 80023 as I did for 80021 Monkie Kid’s Lion Guardian, in so far as the side builds being much more fun than the main attraction. While ultimately I do enjoy the container builds a tad more than the Dronecopter, I ended up liking the large vehicle a great deal more than I expected. In hand, it possesses a great deal of heft and presence that are lost on the stock photos, and possibly my own pictures as well. 


The colours really pop, and the shape of the Dronecopter evokes that of a butterfly - albeit a heavily armed one. The handle hanging out from the rear section initially felt like it would be too weak to support the weight of the vehicle reliably but performed well under duress, and incorporates both a trigger mechanism for the spring loaded launchers as well as a gear mechanism for rotating the turret section, meaning we can hold onto the whole build, and manipulate its functions with just one hand. 


I quite like the way the trigger mechanism works despite the turret rotating while the handle remains fixed in place, and one can fire the launchers regardless of the turret’s position. This is achieved by having the trigger manipulate a vertical loose Technic axle trapped inside the structure, which when pushed up will collide with the ends of the projectiles. Since these are located near the center of the structure, they will always be in the way of the axle regardless of the turret’s rotation. 


The turret itself is a highlight of the build, as it is fun to see a portion of the set scaled for use by a bigfig when the rest is all scaled to minifigs. The control panel and the seat is sized appropriately for Sandy, and the gun emplacement is completed with a neat little protective screen. 


The detaching cockpit section has two little propellers that can flip out when separated from the main vehicle section, allowing it to travel independently. It seems to be more of a submarine or an escape pod than a proper flying machine on its own, though. 


The gimmick with the closed containers attaching to either side of the Dronecopter is fun enough, but when loaded the added weight really does start to strain the handle structure. I appreciate the mirrored patterns on the Monkie Kid Team’s containers, but am confused why the spider villains made theirs so obviously… villainous in colour. If this is part of some infiltration scheme, I imagine Monkie Kid will notice that he’s flying around with a container painted with his enemy’s colours. 

Conclusion

While 80023 Monkie Kid's Team Dronecopter ultimately doesn’t bring any upsets to my current ranking of Monkie Kid sets from the first 2021 wave, it neatly slots into third place behind 80022 and 80020, and I ended up enjoying it a great deal more than I had expected. This is a fantastic source of recolours and rare parts in decent quantities as well as containing a few new-for-2021 moulds. Even though it is a fairly expensive set, I have to rate it high as a parts pack.

There’s a lot here that both older fans and children can enjoy. The build process is fun, if not particularly challenging or complex, and only the Dronecopter itself features any repetition while the side builds are fantastic as always. The opening containers and multitude of minifigures - including much of the main cast - offer a great deal of play potential, and the main vehicle itself offers plenty of features and functions too. Being as large, imposing and vibrant as it is, the Dronecopter makes for a fantastic display piece as well. Whether you’re looking for parts, looking to play or looking to display, 80023 Monkie Kid's Team Dronecopter caters to all of these pursuits. 

Buying this €129,99/£119.99 / $149.99/ 1099 HKD/ 12980 JPY/ 179900 KRW/ 599.9 MYR/ 199.9 SGD/ 4799 TWD set? Consider using our affiliate links: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'. New Elementary may get a commission. 

READ MORE: Lee (cityson) creates charming alternate builds using LEGO® 75551 Brick-Built Minions and Their Lair

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8 comments:

  1. The 2-plate height of the hay bale brick...er, plate really surprised me. Why not just make it a full brick height? Maybe something to do with the axle hole?

    I'm trying to think of other examples of 2-plate thick bricks and can only come up with a couple of brackets, but even those are stepped in shape, not nearly so brick-like as the hay bale.

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    1. I think I saw an explanation of that from the designer somewhere (don't remember where), that explained that the two-plate height was as much a reason for the part's existence as the textured exterior. It's not uncommon for a set to require two similarly-sized plates to be stacked to fill space in a model, but sometimes separating those plates can be a source of frustration, especially in sets for younger builders or smaller sets that don't include brick separators. So this part offers an alternative. The Technic axle hole will also probably prove useful for connecting 2x2 bricks with pin together so that a Technic beam or brick can be attached to the pins vertically, while still allowing a Technic axle hole to run through the center of the bricks. Again, a pair of 2x2 round plates could have served this purpose before, but this new brick offers a slightly more convenient alternative.

      Other two-plate high bricks that come to mind are the 2x2 and 2x3 curved slopes with studs that originated on the Knights Kingdom action figures. Those have also been used as "space filler" before in builds where something needs to be raised by two plates instead of a full brick.

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    2. I found where I'd read about the reasons for introducing the new grill brick—it's in the bricklist of the designer of the new City tractor: https://brickset.com/sets/designer-Robert-Heim/page-2

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    3. Fascinating! Great find Andrew, thanks for sharing.
      For ease, here's that link again as an active link: Sets designed by Robert Heim

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    4. I went and read all of the designer's comments on various models, there are some wonderful tidbits in there. A couple of comments about having to alter designs so they could be built by 5y olds, a comment about a new way of building a tractor-trailer cab, stuff like that. It just shows how even the most mundane sets can have interesting details to them.

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  2. Also and I don't know how to put this, but that brick is really satisfying in the hand. Like it's got a great weight and texture and the slightly different proportions and subtly softened edges are really pleasing, and you've gotta hold them not just see in pics. Maybe it's just me.

    Thanks for the review!

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  3. Good review!

    One part you didn't mention in this set that might be of interest to some people is Mr. Tang's printed "Journey to the West" book! Both the book cover and the inside page (a 1x2 tile with a picture of a spider demon) are printed. I kind of hope that future sets include that same book but with different printed pages depicting other characters and scenes from the classic story, sort of like the variety of printed pages in the 2016 Elves and Nexo Knights sets.

    Mo's little cat carrier surprised me delightfully with how effective a build it is. Not only is it snug enough that Mo will never tumble over even if you invert it, but if you tilt it forward Mo will often slide forward to poke his wittle nose right between the bars! Adorable!

    I also really like the spider container here. It's certainly not subtle, but I love features like the Technic "flaps" on the rear that allow the spring missiles to poke through (serving as triggers when it's loaded but folding flat when it isn't), and the classic radar dish that folds down snug over the 6x6 hole in the roof when the container is closed up, adding some visual interest that evokes a spiderweb!

    The heft of the set's main build is indeed impressive. With all four "wings" attached it's practically the size of a 48x48 baseplate, and it's amazing how despite that size and considerable weight, they managed to make the set's main functions operable with one hand. I like the way the rubber Technic piece introduced with the old Technic hockey figures is used in the trigger mechanism to give it a satisfying springiness without any actual springs or rubber bands.

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