A couple weeks ago, I told you about the Lego knockoff - I mean compatible - Stargate SG-1 sets, available only from Sears Canada, for reasons that remain their own. I also promised that I would buy these sets, and review them for the curious audience. And boy... was that money spent. The mixture of curiosity and excitement over the absurdity of the sets quickly abated over the weekend, as the sets arrived and I set about building them.
Let me be clear: I have bought a lot of stuff over the years, whose purchase could reasonably be called questionable. But these sets are clear winners. I felt I had to, if only to confirm that they did in fact exist, and weren't some elaborate, grossly misinterpreted joke on both Stargate fans, and Sears customers. But now, I'm left with a pile of subpar building bricks I don't want mingling with my real Lego, wondering if it was all worth it.
Hit the jump for my complete review, complete with pictures taken by me. Please excuse the general crappiness of the pictures, as I loath photography, and as such have an extraordinarily terrible camera.
First, let me clear up a few things. As I said before, there were four sets available. Called Earth, SG-1 vs Jaffa, Glider Attack and a scale model of the Daedalus. I purchased Earth and SG-1 vs Jaffa, assuming that one would be the embarkation room from SG Command, and one would be an Egyptian themed planet. I had to assume this, since the Sears website gave no picture for one of these sets. Now I know why.
The two photos at the top of this page are the box covers for both of these sets. Can you spot the difference? Not really, huh? That is because, with the exception of two constructed objects, and the words "Battle Over", they are identical sets. Earth, as it is described on the Sears page, is actually Abydos, and clearly the loosest description of Earth ever. SG-1 vs Jaffa is in reality Battle Over Abydos. The full difference between the sets was Abydos was larger, featuring an Anubis statue, a pillar, and different, more generic mini figures. Upon discovering this, I promptly returned my Abydos set, got my money back, and set about constructing Battle Over Abydos. My choice between the two was strictly based on Battle clearly having SG-1 character inspired minifigs.
Battle consisted of five constructed objects, and nine figures. A sphinx, a pyramid, a Jaffa glider, an X-303, the stargate and DHD, and several Jaffa and the SG-1 team. At first, I thought all was well, as each object seemed to have all of it's pieces bagged separately. This, for the most part was true. You could easily get through 95% of a build before having to rip open every other bag, looking for an inverted side tile, or a smooth surfaced square.
When construction began, on the sphinx (seen above, without the final stickers applied), I could tell I was in trouble immediately. The blocks are poorly formed, many having defects, or simply unfinished. Some top pegs are not full sized, meaning they don't lock with an attached piece, making for loose bricks. Nearly every flat piece larger then six rows had a curl to it, like the plastic had constricted as it cooled. Because of this, anything with a large enough base has a tendency to want to disassemble itself as the curl makes the blocks unlock.
The objects weren't well designed either, the worst offender being the pyramid. As you can see here, the opening to the hollow pyramid isn't large enough for the minifig to fit. Which shouldn't be a problem, just add another block under each side of the the door frame. Except, the pyramid being hollow makes it structurally unsound. It is constructed of angle sides square blocks, only two holes of which are locked in at any one time. The entire build is like a deck of cards. Apply too much pressure when putting on the next row and...
After the third time that happened, I quit. I didn't matter though, because I never could have finished. The top piece sits on the corners of four square pieces. I had three, and a nub. The fourth piece was unfinished, and I thought at first it was a bit of spare plastic left over from the mold. In a way, I was right. You can see the unfinished piece in the centre of the picture above, significantly smaller, and 100% more useless then the surrounding pieces.
The X-303 is actually pretty cool. The cockpit window raises and lowers, and inside there are joysticks and a seat for the minifig. However, as I built it, I discovered even more ways these Best-Lock pieces are inferior. First, anything not a standard brick had serious manufacturing problems. Bars and grips had excess plastic on them, which I had to cut off. Still, it meant they didn't fit together just right, which was a problem as grips are how the wings stay on.
You'll notice that the rear engine is missing on the left. That is because it was a peg and hole set up, and the hole in the left engine didn't exist. Or, was too big. The plastic piece was unfinished, meaning the ship is unfinished. Finally, anything that is expected to move, like the cockpit window, or the fins on the back, either do so begrudgingly, and are more opt to simply unlock and fall off, or do so too loosely, and just hang, in accordance with gravity.
A problem with both the X-303 and the Jaffa guilder, but more obvious in this picture, was the randomly coloured pieces that were in the set. Despite the 303 being solid grey, and the glider being solid black, there were pieces in both piles of other, unrelated colours. You can see here, the two green squares that were included, and that I placed for maximum symmetry. A red piece, a couple white pieces and a different shade of grey are all hidden inside the ships, out of sight.
The minifigs were something else. Nine figures in all, with eight weapons. The Jaffa sticks were actually well detailed, even if one did come folded like a pretzel, and snapped in half as I tried to straighten it. The guns were almost perfectly flat, so to fit the very tiny hands of the figures.
None of the SG-1 team actually looks like their TV counterparts, nor do they look that human. They all seem to be grimacing in some sort of pain, possibly from the fact that they all, inexplicably, have protruding noses. Or that many of their faces have been applied slightly too far to the side, so none of their facial features match up with those odd little noses.
Every body was the same, a light weight, hollow and featureless version of the standard non Lego minifig body. Their heads and hair come off, and are the only removable part, and I use the word 'removeable' in the most optimistic sense. It's virtually impossible to get them off without harming coming to one, or the both of you. That is, unless it was already loose, in the case of the Daniel figure, in which case, good luck getting it to stay on. The only detail I found cool was that Tealc had the little gold Jaffa symbol on his forehead.
The SG-1 team also came with the fifth Beatle, an anonymous figure I've alternated between calling 'Sarge' and 'Patton' His helmet appears to be part of his head, as no attempts to remove it have been successful. Granted, I did give up easily.
The Jaffa figures are much better. Each comes with armour, and a Horus helmet, and when helmeted, would work well in any traditional Lego set. A couple have taken up in the service of a Dalek in my Character Building display. Under the helmet, they are all the Tealc head, minus oddly, the Jaffa mark. Which also means all the Jaffa are black, which comes across a tiny bit racist. Not all the Jaffa on the show were black, were they? That can't be right...
At this point, you might be wondering, is there no redeeming features to this set at all. To which I say, yes. Yes there is. And if you had waited, I might have told you about it, but no, you had to be impatient and a little bit snippy, so off you go while I explain it to these others, quieter folks. Yes, there is a shiny apple in this turd salad (that metaphor might not have turned out how I expected). The DHD and stargate themselves are fantastic, and possibly worth the cost of the rest. Wait, no they aren't. But considering this was the cheapest set with them in it, it'll have to be. And, keep in mind that for these two pieces, everything was perfectly formed, and worked. Yours may well not be. The DHD was basically just a flat circle with a sticker on it.
|Again with the randomly coloured pieces|
Final verdict: it's not great. It's barely even good. I love the gate, and it has a spot on a shelf now, but the rest will probably end up disassembled and put in a box. If there were a smaller set that included a gate, I'd say go for that, but there isn't, so if you really want a Lego stargate, it's either this, or build your own. I'm sure you could, with the right pieces. I'm sure someone has. The figures aren't worth it, as they don't look like the characters, and aren't good Lego-like figures anyway. The whole set appears cheaply made, and I extend that to the enitre set. The box and instruction manuels are cover in stickers, rather then having the information printed on them. In some cases, this appears to cover up printing errors, or incorrect type-face. Everything about this set smacks of a company trying to get a quick buck off of what must have been either an old license ready to expire, or a new licese they picked up super cheap.
I wouldn't suggest buying this, or any of the sets, unless you are a super big fan of the Stargate franchise. Like, obsessive about it. In which case, I can tell you there is at least one Abydos set still available.