Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mega Bloks Spider-Man & Friends Training Camp

One of my favorite things about doing this site over the years is the joy that comes when I randomly stumble upon something I deem worthy of review.  Usually when I go out to dollar stores I’m actually aiming on stocking up on cheap crap to write about.  However, sometimes I’ll be out and about, completely oblivious and contentedly so, and end up finding the coolest stuff.  Take the item you see up above, after visiting Kenwood Mall in the Montgomery district of Cincinnati, I decided I’d take the “back way” home, diverting and meandering through random towns, side streets, etc.  Along the way we saw an interesting strip mall in a town I’d only ever passed through a couple times, Deer Park, OH.  I checked out the pet store, not enough exotics for my tastes, of course I stopped in for a visit at their dollar store, definitely didn’t leave empty-handed, but my real treasure awaited me at… T.J. Maxx?  My wife wanted to stop in for some random reason, and if you haven’t ever been in one of these stores, I don’t know if I can really set the scene for you; they specialize in ladies’ clothing, jewelry, handbags, etc.  However, in the corner of their stores is usually a toy aisle, not an extravagant one, but at least something for me to kill my time at.  So, on this particular impromptu visit, that’s where I found the gem above, and here’s the real bonus, it was marked down for the low price of $3!

There’s been a new trend of “cute” toys based upon popular pop culture characters, ranging from comic book and movie heroes, everyone from Colossus to Luke Skywalker now have their own little, adorable, rubber counterpart.  One of the first lines to successfully capitalize on this fad was Spider-Man & Friends, creating child-friendly versions of popular preexisting characters like Captain America and Spider-Girl.

Above is the back of the box, showing both all the individual pieces you’ll get, plus a rough diagram of the playset.

Here are most of the pieces scattered about after I dumped them on my patio.  They’re bright and bulky, and frankly, I couldn’t wait to start building.  I don’t have a lot of prior experience with Mega Bloks.  I’m aware they’ve been embittered in lawsuit hell against LEGO for quite some time now.  Now, say what you will, and I’m certainly a LEGO fan myself, but Mega Bloks do have some awesome license agreements with properties like TMNT, Gundam, Harley-Davidson, and The Walt Disney Company.

Now, before we start building, and there were no proper instructions included mind you, let me first take a moment to introduce you to our pals for the remainder of this article:

Thor: Thanketh for thee opportunity thine Lord of thine Spiders.  It will be a privilege to workith on my skills at your new “Training Camp.”

Spider-Man: Umm, yeah, about that… don’t mention it.  Reed Richards was too busy tinkering in his lab on some new particle generator stabilizer or decoding an alien language to accept my invite.  So, knock yourself out helmet hair.

Here’s my crudely constructed Training Camp based off the visual on the back of the back.  Admittedly, mine wasn’t quite up to par, the platform leaned to left and I must have not been pushing in my pieces hard enough as they’d easily fall apart upon touch.  Still, I think it looks pretty cool, I was a sucker for playsets as a kid, and albeit simple, even this one has some neat playability options.  The rock climbing wall, spider web trampoline, and zip glider are all irredeemably awesome.

Here’s a shot showcasing the toys being used as they’re intended to, and that’s simply to have fun with!   I think it’s a great little set, and especially a value at the sales markdown price I scored it at.  I plan on dropping it off for my nephew the next time I visit my brother.  Although, I wonder if it’s weak construction will hold up and withstand the punishment of a reckless toddler?  It might actually be a good idea to permanently glue your pieces in the formation of your choosing, as I had trouble getting my edifice to stay together.

Thor: Woohoo!  Now this is fun!  The only thing I can think of I’d rather be doing would be hitting your girl Mary Jane with my mighty hammer… and I’m not talking about Mjolnir!

Spider-Man: “Oh, look at me, I’m Thor, a God of Asgard and big jerk.  I’ve been fighting Loki for 50 years and still haven’t gotten the job done.  I’ve got wings on my stupid helmet because I’m a big dummy.”

Watch the video above to see the thrilling conclusion of a day at Training Camp with Thor and Spider-Man.

Overall Grade: A- 

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