LEGO Atlantis Review: Portal of Atlantis (8078)

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This is the set it has all been building to in the LEGO Atlantis Storyline – the way to open up the portal that leads to Atlantis. Of course that means all this other stuff hasn’t actually been part of Atlantis at all, just weird things around the portal.

The portal to the lost city of Atlantis has been discovered! Getting through it will be the diver’s greatest challenge yet! The divers must get past hidden traps, shark guardian statues that come alive, Squid and Shark Warriors, and the Portal Emperor before unlocking the portal with the five Atlantis treasure keys.

Three of the divers are present in this set: Captain Ace Speedman, Professor Sam Rhodes and Axel Storm. Like always, all three of them have identical gray and lime green suits with fantastic paint work. All of them have the same heads with two faces like last time as well. But the differences are in the accessories – except for Sam, she’s identical and comes with her spear gun and that’s it.

Axel has clearly been working on modifying his suit. He comes with a black camera for reconnaissance. He’s also added two search lights to his helmet that are poseable and remind me a lot of the old Hydronauts. Captain Speedman comes with a spear gun and a propeller attached to the base of his air tank that makes a lot more sense than the giant “mini-sub” he came with before.

On the side of Atlantis, a Shark Warrior is present again with his golden trident. He looks just as good as he did last time, but he’s a straight repack so there isn’t anything new to say. If you don’t have him though, he’s a fantastic figure.

The Squid Warrior is back again as well and he continues to look absolutely incredible. But like Shark Warrior, there isn’t anything new. But if you were just looking to get all the figures, I’d get this set over the Temple of the Squid to get this fantastically demonic and aquatic monster. The Squid Warrior also comes with a trident. These guys need new weapons.

The newest addition to the Atlantis side is their leader, the Portal Emperor. Wearing armor that looks vaguely Greek inspired, the Emperor doesn’t look the fishiest of the team. Without his armor on, the Emperor looks a lot like Mer-Man from MOTU. His leather harness (how does that work underwater…?) has the golden Atlantis symbol. His sand green skin looks great and is covered in little scales. The face has large blue eyes and gills; it reminds me a lot of the Stingrays of the Aquazone, like one of them stayed down there way too long.

The Emperor also comes with a golden trident. His helmet and chest plate are amazingly painted. They are golden, but look weathered because the pieces are actually black. He’s a fine figure.

The last figure is the standard LEGO skeleton with the exceptionally loose arms. In a flash of genius, LEGO has started including an extra arm with each skeleton! But the real genius comes from the helmet the skeleton is wearing. The mask has a snorkel on it, but the black helmet has the blue trident symbol of the Aqua Raiders. Now that’s some continuity I never expected from LEGO.

The entrance to the portal is a massive shark head with huge red eyes. When it is lifted, the lower jaw splits apart and allows a figure to ascend up the crimson staircase. In what must have been an oversight, when the top jaw is lifted all the way up, it blocks the staircase. Poor design or a red herring? But that’s about all there is for the entrance way besides some seaweed and two columns.

The east and west wings of the fortress are near identical mirrors of each other. Both have golden gates and an exterior that feels oddly Asian inspired. The twin windows look like mouths with large fangs coming from the sill and a squished looking face above it. The railing runs along the second floor which leads to a staircase. Above each entrance is a giant shark made of LEGO bricks. The sharks are heavily articulated and have bright red eyes. They both have the Atlantean symbol on their heads. The sharks also have stands allowing them to easily be displayed.

The insides of each wing are slight different. The east wing is mostly bare with a single weapon rack on the ground level that holds a pair of handcuffs and a whip. For prisoners obviously. The west wing has a weapons rack containing another trident (that’s the seventh one in the set) and a giant sword. On the opposite end is a table with a frog under a glass jar and what look to be two potions, using gems as stoppers. It’s a neat idea visually.

The last piece is the portal tower. Three stories tall, the tower is the center point of the set. The ground story has a single bed in an otherwise empty room. I guess the Emperor likes to nap. The second story is empty except a single table with only a map and a golden chalice on it. Both stories look great and use some fantastic LEGO archway pieces.

The top is the portal itself. Using several hidden Technic gears underneath, the inner workings of the portal are kept well hidden. The large archway is maroon with golden accents. Evenly placed upon it are four of the Atlantean Keys: Crab (orange), Stingray (green), Sea Turtle (yellow) and Squid (blue). In the center of the tower is the final place for the Shark (red) key. When that one is in place, it can all be turned to make the translucent blue portal pieces move.

When closed, the portal hides the golden chest filled with gems. When given a turn, it opens wide allowing figures to pass through it. Sure, it’s underwater so in theory they’d be able to swim up behind it. But that ruins the magic, doesn’t it?

With each section being its own build, all four pieces can be combined to form the Portal Fortress. It’s a grand looking build that’s mostly black and red. The symmetry makes it look planned, like someone meant for this to be built. The wings are hinged allowing the fortress to be either folded up or spread wide. It makes this really feel like a playset, much like the old Castle Grayskull.

But when everything is attached, you realize the whip and handcuff rack is right next to the bed. It’s within reaching distance! Between this and the showering Santa Claus, I think LEGO is having far more fun with people than we’d initially guess.

This is the giant set for Atlantis, and I mean giant since it clocks in at 1007 pieces. Like most Atlantis sets, I was able to get this for 50% and at that price, it’s an absolute steal. The build was fun and innovative at times and getting the portal assembled was a blast. The minifigures are great. Sure, the absence of a vehicle for the explorers seems odd and not including the Manta Warrior makes him feel left out, but this is so much fun. I never expected Easter eggs in my LEGO sets, but that’s just icing on a delicious cake.

LEGO Atlantis

Manta Warrior | Monster Crab Clash | Wreck Raider
Gateway of the Squid | Portal of Atlantis
Seabed Strider | Angler Attack

Written by jestergoblin

January 12th, 2011 at 12:00 am

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