Release Year: 2014
Build Time: 1 hr
I never had a lot of Space Lego as a kid in comparison to say, Pirates, but I always really liked and admired it. The classic Spaceman is a great, simple design – a great example of less being more in design. They still pop, even in comparison to the incredibly detailed paint apps we get these days. But they actually don’t make many sets that feature these guys anymore. We got a couple of different variations of Benny the Spaceman as part of the Lego Movie theme, but he’s a variation on a theme, rather than being a “true” Spaceman. But then came the subject of today’s review – THE EXO-SUIT!
The Exo-Suit is one of the Ideas sets, which are drawn from user-submitted concepts. These have covered some pretty broad topics, primarily covering licensed sets (Ghostbusters Ecto-1, Dr Who) and Creator-style models (Mars Rover, the Birds). But the Exo-Suit is one that looks like it could fit in with numerous pre-existing Space themes.
This set comes with two minifigures, both in the classic Space style – one guy, one girl. Unusually, both of them have names – Yve and Pete, who are apparently boyfriend and girlfriend. But even more importantly, they’ve been released in green for the first time! Green is my favourite colour, so it’s fantastic to see Lego combine my love of space, green and building toys in one convenient form. Hopefully they eventually release more of these guys in the future via less difficult-to-acquire means, but it’s been almost two years since release and there’s no sign yet.
I have a couple of close friends who are keen Lego builders – one of them picked this set a couple of months before me, and he had spoken about how amazing it was seeing all the little pieces turn into something so large and intricate. He was right, too. When you first open the box, it’s just a mass of grey pieces, and finding the piece you need at any given time is quite a pain. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had with a build, but seeing the finished product is extremely satisfying.
The main downside is that as the suit is made up of about 9483209 different small pieces – and doesn’t really incorporate any larger ones to make up the underlying skeleton, it’s quite fragile. Drop this bad boy and you may be looking at a total rebuild. Even moving it from the lounge room to the spare bedroom was a daunting task; it’s really more of a display piece, as opposed to a toy. This is fine for me, but I can only imagine the frustration this set has caused some parents when they have to help their kids rebuild the whole thing…
Additionally, the set includes a space “turtle” which is a fun little robot companion for the Spacemen. There's also two yellow barrels, which can be held in the hands of the exo-suit. Neither are groundbreaking in and of themselves, but they are nice little extras that the value of the set as a whole.
Good luck finding a brand new one now – my wife’s sister lives in London so she was kind enough to pick it up for me just before she came to visit us early in 2015. You’ll probably be looking at the secondary market these days. I have never seen it in the wild in Australia.
The Exo-Suit was an excellent use of the Ideas product line. While most of the sets released under that theme have been pretty great, this one grabbed me by the throat and insisted that I purchase it. My main disappointment has nothing to do with the build; it’s that Ideas sets tend to be a real pain to get hold of. Some of them have seen release in Australia through Toys R Us, but not all. As mentioned above, I never saw this set in person in Australia; the only reason I was able to get it was because my sister-in-law was able to pick it up for me in the UK.
Additionally, being released under the Ideas banner means that the price is disproportionately expensive for the piece count. If this was a regular set we’d probably be looking at $40-50; I ended up paying about $60AUD after the conversion rate was factored in. This would have otherwise been a great set for army building, but it’s just too tricky to get hold of. But I definitely rate it – it’s a must-own piece for classic Space fans and great-looking as a standalone kid. If you can find it at the right price, go for it!