When the first pictures of the sets for the Lego Batman Movie came out towards the end of last year, I wasn’t terribly impressed: The Batmobile looks like an RC racer from the 80s, the Batwing is airliner-sized and the Joker’s car is a mediocre take on the lowrider-look with ridiculously undersized wheels.
But one set immediately won me over: the Penguin’s Arctic Roller! What a daring approach, what a classy look (I think it is inspired by the 1927 Bugatti Royale) – a vehicle to fall in love with! Ok, it isn’t without its issues, and we talk about them in a moment.
Assembling it is – as it should be, and as we are used to – straightforward and easy to follow. Sadly, there are almost no printed parts on the car apart from a round tile that has some turbine blades on it. The rest is stickers. Even the number plates and the dashboard, which are both 2×1 pieces. Things like this should be printed on really.
The finished set as a whole is sturdy and feels nicely solid and well balanced. The detailing is a different story though. The wing mirrors, decorative fishes and indicator lights are pretty easily knocked out of position. Especially the fishes, which are quite exposed and at a spot where I instinctively want to pick the car up.
It features no doors, but a trunk with a little water scooter inside for quick escapes (with diving-fin propulsion, fun detail!) and a double-barrelled springloaded shooter to get pesky law enforcement out of his way.
Apart from these things, the Arctic Roller doesn’t offers terribly much from a play-perspective: there is no additional build. No little army of angry penguins armed with bombs or so. What a pity! Also the 3-axis layout make the vehicle (I refuse to call it car… its more steam locomotive-sized really^^) quite unwilling to turn – or to rephrase it: its directional stability is fantastic!^^
Enough nitpicking. Lets move on to the Minifigures: The Penguin looks really cute with his fur collar piece and some fine printing on his torso and arms. A lovely little turquoise-skinned meanie! His skin colour is actually the same as the Ice Queen’s. Maybe they are related with each other – who knows! The Batman Minifigure features the new yellow utility-belt-piece and a soft cloth cape, which just feels so much nicer and also looks tidier than the old stiff ones. As for the belt, I don’t really see the point of having it: it is visually a pretty dominating piece of equipment and it makes him even taller than he already is with his mask. Also the belt makes his torso slip off much easier from his legs now when you try to get him up from a seat again. Not really ideal.
All in all though the Penguin’s Arctic Roller is, despite some shortcomings, simply an amazing set. The car is truly a beauty which look can easily compete with pure display-models like the Beatles Yellow Submarine. I am very happy that Lego went and made something like that. Looking at the other sets for the Batman Movie, this wasn’t really something I did expect. I have also seen already quite a number of MOCs and MODs inspired by the set, so it really seems to strike some chords amongst people!
Rating: 5/5 (design beats practicability!)