Spontaneous impulse buys can be a dangerous thing and despite my tight budget I’m not completely immune to making those spur-of-the moment decisions, especially when the vividly colored shelf labels in a store prominently announce a discount on LEGO stuff. Of course I’m still being quite rational on some level, as I spend a minute or two almost every day checking prices and weighing my options on what to get next, so my purchase of the LEGO Minecraft Skeleton with Magma Cube (21150) set wasn’t entirely unprepared.
One of the main considerations is of course the price and while the value for money ratio in the Minecraft sets is quite terrible in general, I figured I would be a bit forgiving this time. I definitely wanted to check out the set because it uses a different building technique than the one with Alex and the chicken and even if it wouldn’t turn out super-exciting, at least the parts would be useful.
For instance the Light Bluish Grey 3 x 2 tiles aren’t used as widely as one tends to think when looking at the tons of Star Wars vehicles and other technically-oriented sets out there, so having a bunch of them along with their 4 x 2 counterparts in a single set isn’t really that bad a thing. Similar observations can be made for other parts – they are and will be useful in custom builds, but really not that special on their own, though i would argue that somehow one can never have enough 2 x 1 tiles in Dark Medium Flesh.
What really got me jazzed even more were the Dark Brown 2 x 1 plates used in the Magma Cube along with the Dark Red tiles. It surprises me again and again how LEGO use them in such mundane sets as filler, often completely invisible, while at the same time aggravating people with extremely colorful similar elements used for the same purpose even in expensive sets where you would expect consistent color usage. Go, figure!
The skeleton itself is constructed in the simplest way imaginable – white plates and tiles, some joints a few brackets and it’s all stacked together in the most straightforward manner. Once again of “Your kid could have invented it, would it have had the parts at hand.” That’s in itself not a bad thing, but it kinda furthers my point about those Minecraft sets perhaps being a bit all too obviously overpriced to begin with. They could at least have made the joint parts all white, to provide some unique incentive for getting this set.
Arguably the latter point at least applies to the bow element. Similar to the sword in the Alex set it has studs on both sides, which shows that LEGO know how to do that stuff, they just refuse to give us regular two-sided adapter plates for bi-directional building, however they may rationalize that decision. Anyway, the bow also is in Dark Brown and has a more or less obtuse triangular form, which makes me think you could very successfully use this creatively for e.g. building roofs on little country houses and the like.
The spring-loaded shooter arrows coming in Reddish Brown is also nice and could likely be exploited as extra long bar elements when needed like with all sorts of high-stem bushes and young, small trees, a flag pole or just as a long faux “axle”.
Looking at the backside doesn’t really reveal any surprises. There is some minimal effort to cover the calves by ways of the Unikitty style 3 x 1 inverted tiles and I sure do not object to having the new T-style brackets in white, but other than that there’s really nothing exciting to see. Unfortunately the model once again doesn’t take the opportunity of expanding and refining the original Minecraft in-game creature design with additional joints, so you can’t really pose anything – at least not without it looking rather ridiculous for a “collectible figure”.
As written further up, the Magma Cube/ Lava Monster keeps most of its secrets hidden inside, which in addition to the cool Dark Brown plates is a simple mechanism with a Technic axle that allows the upper half to be lifted and dropped back as if the creature was chomping onto someone. There’s no friction and it can’t be fixated in a (semi-)open position, so it’s ultimately not that useful, after all. It’s a nice touch, regardless.
Overall this is an okay set, but really not much more than that. Somehow the Minecraft theme just doesn’t click with me despite my best intentions and everything feels somehow a tad off. The figures are really too small to impress and can be built so quickly, it’s just unsatisfying. It seems I really would much prefer a more liberal, slightly more realworld-ish interpretation with much more pieces instead of just re-creating the in-game items so simply. Perhaps I should simply focus on my other stuff.
That said, if you are a fan of the game or the characters, this set represents them faithfully as far as I can judge. Then you actually might appreciate the quick and simple build, too.