Friday, 22 June 2012

Zombies, Vampires and Werewolves in Monster Fighters

Recently LEGO released the news that a new exclusive set, Haunted House (10228), will round out the Monster Fighters range later this year. With the Monster Fighters range now officially available worldwide it seems a great time to look at this theme.

For those who have paid little attention to Monster Fighters so far, each set includes a vehicle or hide out for a classic creepy character. These include Zombies, Ghosts and Vampires. Each set also includes one of the heroes – or monster fighters – with some sort of vehicle to help them track down the creatures of the night. There were rumblings out of LEGO that Scooby Doo was being eyed for a licenced range around three years ago, and it would be interesting to see how much the Monster Fighters range shares concepts developed for that possibility. A lot like the Dino range, the storyline feels rather familiar.

The design of the sets is a little similar to Ninjago, in that a very traditional looking icon – here, the monsters and hunters, in Ninjago the Ninjas – are juxtaposed with modern looking vehicles. Funky colours and lots of stylization characterise these sets. The Zombies (9465) is a good example of a traditional creepy crypt about to be under attack from a chunky, tricked up truck. The current desire of LEGO to focus on story-telling play patterns is well demonstrated in this theme, as each set has a mini-conflict in it, with the hero and villain of each set able to compete for victory. The many creepy accessories LEGO have developed over the years – such as rats, skeleton heads and spiders – are all well utilised to give the sets a sense of atmosphere.
Although Monster Fighters, as a slightly ‘wackier’ theme seems squarely targeted at children (whereas a theme like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings is aimed at both children and adult collectors), the upcoming Haunted House clearly has the adult fan in mind. The problem LEGO have with releasing a nice, large set like the Haunted House is that they seem to prefer to have it attached to a current theme. Monster Fighters clearly provided the opportunity to get the Haunted House out there, in the same way that Pirates did for the Imperial Flagship (10210). The Haunted House includes a few mini-figures in the Monster Fighters style, but the set as a whole doesn’t follow the conflict based structure of the smaller sets, as this would not appeal to the discerning AFOL. The price tag is also beyond what many parents would pay for a LEGO set, but very much in line with what those of us who haven’t grown up regularly pay for large sets. 
Monster Fighters will be well received by fans who enjoy the horror genre, but in all likelihood many adult collectors will re-purposing the sets to design their own creepy settings and enjoying the mini-figures. The Haunted House, however, is a nice treat that will look great overlooking the other sets, displayed on its own on a shelf, or even on the outskirts of a LEGO City set up. Whether Monster Fighters as a theme is your preferred building experience, at least it has meant we have another well scaled, nicely executed set for collectors.

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