Last week was a bit of a mess. I had two days of Internet outage because some construction worker shredded a optic fiber cable and had to make do with my rather limited mobile access and then I head some struggles with my health issues. That’s why I only now got around to actually writing my review for the LEGO Shuri’s Sunbird (76211) set.
Pricing and Contents
As you might have guessed, I don’t particularly care for the Black Panther – Wakanda Forever movie and haven’t seen it yet. It’s nothing I would go to the cinema for and I’ll wait for it to run on TV some day. It also kind of came and went without making much of an impact here in Germany. It’s almost already faded from people’s consciousness again and while it was profitable in the grand scheme of things, it probably wasn’t the hit Disney had hoped it would be. Viewer numbers dropped pretty sharply after the first week. Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with my ponderings and should probably re-open my old blog to do film reviews.
Regardless of my limited interest in these types of flicks, I often get hooked by some of the story concepts and design work and that basically is what happened here. The idea of a black jet just appealed to me and as someone who rarely buys those Star Wars sets with the Imperial shuttles or TIE Fighters containing lots of Black pieces the prospect of adding some notable ones of those to my collection also had some value to me. Of course I didn’t want to overstretch my budget, so I had to wait a bit as the original price of 50 Euro really seems a bit much. It’s not necessarily bad because there are smaller sets for that same price and they don’t even contain as many minifigures, but you have to keep it reasonable.
I picked up my package for 37 Euro and currently prices have gone as low as 34 Euro. That’s still not the best price ratio when you consider that there are only 355 pieces, but at least some of them are quite large, which offsets the cost a bit. There are also some unique parts and within the whole Super Heroes series the price is still okay, which also balances out the equation.
With any big movie the character based minifigures are inevitably a big part of the appeal. the ones you get in this set are (from right to left) Nakia, Ironheart, Shuri and Attuma. The latter apparently is part of the opposing faction and bad guys, Namor‘s army, and it’s easily my favorite one. This has a lot to do with the head piece, which is modeled in part after a hammerhead shark’s skull and it so happens that sharks are some of my favorite animals. The others are okay, but feel a bit generic in the sense that these embroidery like fine patterns of the super hero suits become a bit too common. That’s not LEGO‘s fault, but rather that of the film’s production designers, yet it still feels all to samey. You could put minifigs from different movies in a line and without knowing the finer points you could mistake Nakia‘s body as that of one of the Eternals.
The Plane that never was
One thing we need to get out of the way is how the model does not at all look like what can be seen in the movie. I haven’t seen the whole film, but what can be determined from trailers and freely available snippets on the web this is a major miss. The actual jet is a small light interceptor type plane that accommodates a single person whereas the model makes it look like a stubby small bomber/ ground attack aircraft. Clearly the proportions are completely out of whack and don’t match minifigure scale. Of course this can be explained away with the designers working off concept art that may not have reflected changes later during the actual production of the movie just like it can simply be blamed on the scale.
In the latter case it would probably have made more sense to go even bigger and omit minifigures entirely to not even give people ideas. In the other case this plane would/ should have been part of a different set and used different building techniques. See where the problem is? This set is neither fish nor flesh, as they say, and therefore comes across as an inane attempt at a cash grab in the sense of “We have to have something ready.” just to be part of the game. That’s typical corporate thinking for you and sadly one of the reasons why many people get a bit tired of LEGO hanging their own success too much on licensed IPs.
Since it is nowhere near representative of the genuine article, we have to view the model in isolation from the movie and how it holds up on its own merits strictly as a LEGO creation. As such it is just fine and in its blocky appearance rather reminiscent of some Nexo Knights designs of aerial vehicles. It just lacks the glowy orange and green elements those sets had. The standout feature are of course the two big round “fan” hubs, which are actually “magically” powered hover units. In the film this allows for some interesting visuals as they swivel around with every steering motion. On the model they feel out of place, though, and get in the way of grabbing the model in that area.
The wings are not actual aerodynamic wings, but rather just another kind of engine emitters for forward propulsion. In the film they smoothly transition to the vessel’s main body by ways of some elastic skin/ nanotec coating and that includes when they change their angle. This is of course impossible to represent sufficiently with LEGO, so you’re basically stuck with the default position as the only reasonably “good” one. In the end it might have been better to construct the whole thing with rigid, plate-based connections and just leave it at that. The movable wings really don’t add much otherwise.
The model doesn’t offer too many details with the jet engine being basic and the cockpit rather void. This is another of those things where a more realistic representation of the movie original would have allowed for more finesse. It’s actually an elongated cockpit where the pilot has an backward inclined, almost laying position and there would have been plenty of space to add little bits and bobs to this long cockpit with a curved (!) canopy. so even that part is not correct.
There are a few special pieces in this set, which is of course something that always gets my attention. Most obviously are the rings based on the new element introduced one and a half years ago for the Porsche 911 (10295) in White. They’re exclusive to this set in Black for the time being. That also applies to the roller door slats in Trans Satin Purple and of course the cockpit piece is unique as well. A hidden gem are the two angled wedges/ dumpster tray walls in Black. This long-existing element has seen a resurgence in the Monkie Kid series recently and with only a few of such “studs on slope” elements even existing in LEGO‘s parts catalog, it’s always good to have those options.
As you can see the model is quite compact even if you slick back the wings and you can fold it up to an even smaller package. This facilitates storage or just stowing it away in a box after play.
Ultimately this set is kind of a fail. It does not bear the slightest resemblance to the vehicle in the film and as it stands once more one can only wonder who signed off on this in Disney‘s licensing department. On the other hand, and that’s one of those bittersweet irony things, it would have made for a nice Nexo Knights or Ninjago hover jet on its own with the necessary modifications, namely a different color scheme and some bling-bling. Otherwise it does not deliver on what it promises to be. It’s still okay as a generic play set, but then naturally we’d have to open up an endless discussion about the price being too high and how the minifigures figure into the overall value.
With all that in mind I would only recommend this to people who have a special connection to the film and want to own all the paraphernalia associated with it or if you are a minifigure collector who has a desire for a complete line-up. I’m not in either of those camps, but at least I got something out of with the exclusive parts and I still think the hammerhead shark head piece is genius. That’s about it, though, as the rest feels like a minimum effort on LEGO‘s part that doesn’t live up to expectations.