LEGO TMNT Review: Turtle Lair Attack #79103

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As a kid, there were three playsets everyone wanted to own: Castle Grayskrull, the Technodrome and the Sewer! While a LEGO Castle Grayskull isn’t a reality yet, getting a LEGO Sewer is awesome. Then again, the idea that another generation will find the idea of living in the sewer appealing probably will be an issue down the road.

It’s an intense day of training in the Turtles’ Lair. Instruct Leonardo in the ninja arts with Master Splinter and the rotating training dummy. Then experiment in Donnie’s lab. When the explosion function is triggered by the Dark Ninja and his Foot Soldier minion, it’s time for a turtle-powered ninja battle! Fight in all 3 stories of the Turtles’ Lair with 10 weapons and a pizza shooting oven! Make those villains pay for trespassing into Turtle territory! When the battle’s over, fire up the pizza oven and hang in the video game station with its flat screen TV. Or climb up to the street with a skateboard and shred the mini ramp!

Turtle Lair Attack is the second largest set in the LEGO TMNT line. Containing five (six technically) minifigures and 488 pieces, it feels right for a $50 set – especially since two figures are exclusive to this set (and two more variants are included too). It is right on the edge of the 10 cents a brick price point, but the minifigures really help push this a step further in the value department.

Raphael is back and not much has changed since the last two versions of him. His decals are the same with the cracked shell, but the facial expression is new. He’s now gritting his teeth in anger and looking upwards. It’s a good look, but not one that makes him a must-have. Raphael comes with a pair of sais as well.

The final turtle is the leader – Leonardo! Like all the other turtles, Leonardo shares the same general designs as the other three. The head is the same sculpt, but the paint sets him apart. His face is a serious frown with his blue eyes looking ahead. It doesn’t have the confidence I usually associate with Leo, but works well.

Leo’s shell is the same as Donatello’s, with a strap across the shell, but his skin tone is the same as Raphael’s. It’s a small distinction but helps set the four of them apart. Leonardo comes with a pair of katanas but I wish he could store them on his back.

Exclusive to this set is Master Splinter. The adoptive father of the turtles and ninja sensei, Splinter made the transition to LEGO better than expected. Historically, Splinter toys have been subpar, but the kimono look works well… or maybe he just borrows from the Kimono Girl a little too much.

Splinter’s head is a brand new rubber piece that is well painted and matches with the new cartoon. His robes are dark red with minimal designs, but sadly he’s lacking a tail on the back. He does have a stylized star painted on his back though. For a weapon, Splinter comes with a katana as well, but is lacking his walking stick which is a real shame.

Invading the Turtles’ lair is two of Shredder’s ninja – which probably means Donatello failed his mission! The first is the same Foot Ninja that appear in almost every set. There isn’t much more to say about him other than he looks good and is a perfect troop builder. Plus, if you buy all the sets, you end up with one for each turtle! For weapons, this Foot ninja comes with a golden throwing star and a scythe.

The other figure is one of Shredder’s Elites – and I don’t mean a Foot Elite. Leader of the Foot when Shredder isn’t around, the Dark Ninja wears the same colors are Splinter, which makes me think there is a connection. His design evokes a Shredder-lite feel with spiked shoulder pads.

Once you remove the mask, the identity of the ninja is revealed – Chuck Norris! I mean, Chris Bradford! A martial arts master and local celebrity, Bradford somehow is also able to serve the Foot Clan and was befriended by Mikey at one point. Of course, he later got muted into the monstrous and unstable Dogpound. For weapons, the Dark Ninja comes with two black katanas.

Building the set is interesting because it is a bunch of smaller builds that connect into each other. But like many of LEGO’s sets now, it also has an open play area. To facilitate this, a quarter-pipe ramp is included along with skateboards for Raphael and Leonardo.

Next is the television set with four color-coded pads for the turtles to sit down and watch. A sticker is included to make the screen show the alley above them, so it probably doubles as a security system. It’s simple but works well.

As a final open area piece, a catapult is included which can launch figures into the air with ease. It’s a simple mechanism, but uses a new piece that perfectly holds a LEGO figure’s legs with just the right amount of tension for easy launching, but stable display.

The first half of the lair is dedicated to training and gardening. A large tree (which still hasn’t been explained as to how Splinter grows it in a sewer) is on one side, but the main focus is the practice dummy – shaped like Shredder! All brown and with short legs, the dummy is a nice little touch to the set. On the back wall hang weapons, like additional katanas and all the extra ones included in the set.

But the real feature is the gear in the front spins Shredder around so he can “attack” any nearby figures standing on the single peg plates. It’s a neat idea and reminds me a lot of the 2k3 sewer playset. To get across the idea this this is in the sewer, neon yellow-green rods “drip” from the walls.

The bigger build is three stories tall! The bottle floor looks like Donatello’s work area. A shelf holds two small ooze canisters and some color-coded bottles, while the opposite side is a computer console with a desk lamp and a vise on a set of drawers.

In the background, three stickers add some depth. First is a pipe filled tunnel, then a drawing board showing off designs for the Turtle Blimp (which makes me think it will be showing up later on), a shell-cell, and the Shell Raiser – along with some math because Donny’s a nerd. The last sticker is boarded up. Off to the side is a staircase leading up to the second floor.

The second level seems to be more Donatello stuff. A crane and workstation are just kind of there, while a stone oven baking a pizza is in the middle. The oven hides an action feature and can launch the pizza out into the air. The last small build is a skateboard rack that seems like a great idea… but can only hold two skateboards at once. Leonardo’s skateboard is included too.

The top story is the ground level and it is pretty sparse. Gray plates give the alley some color, while a lone fire hydrant just sits there. The wall is horribly inconspicuous with the giant words “MUTANTS RULE” painted. The lamppost is nice though. On the ground, the manhole cover is a trap door that moves by turning the giant wheel. Attached to the wall is also a small rod which figures can spin on if you want.

Sadly, this LEGO set is very clearly only meant to be viewed from one side. The back is bland and oddly symmetrical. It also shows how most of the action features work, so you can’t even display it directly against the wall. One final action feature is the dynamite on the bottom level. Turning the level blasts open the wall in Don’s workshop, allowing the Foot to sneak in!

If you only care about getting the turtles, you can get all four of them by only buy this set and two others – which also get you Shredder and a few more Foot Ninja! This set by itself though is pretty solid. As a playset, it is great. There are action features everywhere and work well, but as a LEGO build I really like all the little touches in this set. The vise is perfectly executed, and the rods being used to show dripping sewage is great. Plus this set is a full battle in a box, so if you like the LEGO Ninja Turtle line, you owe it to yourself to get this.

LEGO Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Reviews

Kraang Lab Escape #79100
with Michelangelo, Foot Ninja & Kraang 

Stealth Shell in Pursuit #79102
with Raphael, Foot Ninja and Fishface

Shredder’s Dragon Bike #79101
with Donatello, the Shredder and Foot Ninja

Baxter Robot Rampage #79105
with Donatello, Raphael, April O’Neil, Baxter Stockman and a Mouser 

Turtle Lair Attack #79103
with Raphael, Leonardo, Master Splinter, Dark Ninja & Foot Ninja 

Written by jestergoblin

January 21st, 2013 at 12:00 am

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