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Speedboat Rescue

Lego Agents
by Artemis

Frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads!

Agent Trace has been captured by Dr. Inferno's henchman Break Jaw... and he's about to feed her to his laser-guided cyborg sharks! As a Lego Agent, it's your mission to save Trace with the help of your gadget-loaded super-spy speedboat. Detach the mini-sub and take Break Jaw by surprise!

You know what, could it not be the girl who needs saving, just this once? Let's make Agent Chase the idiot who can't do his job properly and ends up mewling for mercy on the end of some pathetic death-trap cooked up by a two-bit thug. Okay? Good.

"Agents" is one of those story-themed lines Lego have taken to doing in recent years, where it's not enough to just build something, you have to build a good something and an evil something, so they can blast the crap out of each other; the original property version of Star Wars or Batman Lego, really. "Lego with a plot." In this case, it's kind of Mission Impossible meets Thunderbirds - secret agents battling world-domination-inclined madmen, with a heavy emphasis on tricked-out vehicles that'd have Q wetting his pants. Or if you prefer, it's GI Joe without all that faux-military carrying on.

Let's look at the forces of evil first. The locale for this "mission" (set) is the ocean, so the villain of the piece Break Jaw (a kind of ersatz [Bond-villain] Jaws, by way of Trap-Jaw from He-Man) has a little pontoon to call his own, equipped with a lighthouse tower on which is mounted an Agent-dangling arm. Although since the set-up requires the Agent to be holding onto the end of it, rather than being handcuffed in or something, you wonder why they wouldn't just climb up the chain. Maybe it's electrified or something. The rig is a nice small construct, with panels mounted sideways around the body providing a nice set of angles that captures the look of modern machined buoys quite nicely.

The body of the steel tower is all one piece, though, which is a bit of an irk - maybe it's just a matter of being simple for the presumably young target audience, but I'd rather have built it out of various aerials and clamps. The light on top looks great though, with clear red 2x2 round bricks inside it, and offset supports allowing a four-way symmetrical cage for the light without sacrificing the circular design of the thing.

To make himself scarce sometime prior to his victim having been properly killed, Break Jaw has a little jet-ski kind of contraption hidden away in the body of the pontoon, which is deployed by pressing a rod mounted in the back of it. The mechanism is simple, but rather ingenious - since the jet ski has to shove the front of the pontoon off its mount in order to get out, you need to push the deployment rod quite hard, and thus when it pops the front panel flies off like it's been blown off by explosive bolts, and the jet-ski shoots out dramatically.

Break Jaw also has a pair of the aforementioned cybernetic sharks, with two varieties of laser beams attached to their heads - I don't know anything about this Dr. Inferno guy, but he sure knows what he's doing villaining-wise. Back when I was a youngster there were Lego sharks, as part of the Pirate line, but those were babies compared to these monsters - they can swallow a Lego figure whole. Shark One has a pair of flick-fire missiles (obviously they represent lasers) with a central radio antenna, while Shark Two has a lop-sided design with the antenna on one side, and the laser on the other, mounted on a swivel.

Break Jaw (one of three figures in this set) wears a neon orange wetsuit with a Dr. Inferno patch on his chest, and a larger version on his back - you don't often see Lego figures with detailed backs, so that's a nice touch. Beneath his giant evil jaw helmet he's snarling maniacally, and he has a little unshaven moustache and beard, plus an evil mono-brow. Aside from his pontoon and his sharks, there's a spare Lego radio in the set that might as well be his - the instructions give it to the Agents, but it makes more sense for it to be Break Jaw's remote shark control.

Up against him are Agents Chase and Trace, outfitted in identical dark blue bodysuits with lime green stripes, ID cards on their belts (painted on), and big "A" badges on their chests - I guess none of these people are interested in being secret agents much. Chase is your typical Lego guy, with a serious expression; Trace is more elaborate, with painted contours on her chest to represent boobs, a large hair addition with a long ponytail, and two faces, depending on whether you'd rather have her in stereotypical sexist peril, or enlightened smug ass-kickery.

The unused face is concealed entirely by the hair; oddly, both Traces have a radio mic painted on, which Agent Chase lacks. A neat bit of design with Trace's hair is that (regardless of what some buyers have said on the Lego feedback site) the ponytail doesn't sit flat against her back, so it'll fit over the back of a standard Lego chair if she's seated properly up against the backrest.

The star of the show (well, I bought it for Trace, but for most people) is the speedboat, which the Lego site provides its own description for:

For water-based missions, the Agents have developed a gadget-filled super speedboat equipped with a dura-steel Hornet Shark net launcher, a front-mounted RIFT Flick torpedo launcher, and a retractable Vespida-III weapon for dealing with Dr. Inferno's cybernetic sharks. When the mission requires secrecy beneath the surface, the speedboat can deploy its EC-660 detachable mini-sub for underwater engagement.

It's not a very complex build, but there's some cleverness to it, and despite a few rather specific-purpose pieces like the curved rectangular upper hull panels, there'd be plenty of potential for disassembling it and turning it into something entirely different, though what with all the angles, some kind of streamlined boat or spacecraft would be the obvious options.

Like the pontoon, the boat's decorated with many stickers, some of which are a bit specific for my liking, due to displaying text - I'm not one of those Lego purists who hates any stickers, and most of this set's are generic enough that if you take the stickered part off the boat and attach it to something else it wouldn't matter much, but if you, for instance, used one of the forward hull bits as the nose of a starfighter, it'd look a bit silly for it to have "net storage" still written on it. Likewise the "keep off" signs on two of the pontoon's sides, which'd look a bit dumb if you wanted to use those blocks in another orientation. It's not a huge issue - only four bricks in total have text on them, besides the generic "A" logo on the sub canopy (which is neither here nor there, since the canopy's always going to be a canopy no matter how you use it), but with stickers being a bug for some Lego collectors, it's worth mentioning. And anyway, if I didn't meander off on tangents all the time, these reviews wouldn't be very substantive, would they?

The website text sums up the vehicle's special features pretty succinctly. The "Hornet Shark net launcher" (why capitalize "Shark" - does that mean the model of launcher is called "Hornet Shark," or is it a net launcher intended for use on Hornet Sharks, whatever they are?) is a hollow drum with a rod mounted in the back, and the net stuffed into the front. Push on the rod and a disc moves forward inside the drum, pushing the net out; it's pretty tight in there, and it can take quite a bit of coaxing to get all of the net neatly stowed, but it'll stay in place with a few bits sticking out if you're in a hurry, so it's not frustrating from a play point of view.

The RIFT Flick torpedo launcher is your standard flick missile - the newer ones that don't fall out on their own, thankfully - with a larger than usual warhead built onto the front of it. The Vespida-III is just a grappling hook with a retracting line, which works by the line being clamped between a flat-topped 2x1 bar and a rubber wheel mounted on a hinge, so you can lift it up to let the line play out freely, then clamp it down to retract.

The line, when not extended, goes in the cavity beneath the curved hull plate behind the launcher - it's actually quite well laid out, so all you have to do is retract the line using the wheel, and it'll roll itself up in the cavity without poking out anywhere or getting caught up in knots by itself. The hull plate on the other side conceals a similar recess, but there's nothing in there - both hull plates are mounted on twin swivel joints, so if you want you could use the spare cavity as an equipment locker, or raise one or both of them up as forward shields for the driver and passenger. Speaking of equipment, the boat carries a hand-held zipline wheel, and a little thing which I think used to be a fuel pump head, but is now serving as a handgun, both in clips mounted in front of the tailfins.

The EC-660 sits between the boat's catamaran hulls, and is deployed by a lever disguised as a forward spotlight. It's clamped in securely, so the lever pops it out with a nice bit of force - not so much that anything's going to get damaged, but it's much more satisfying than opening a lock and just letting the sub slide out. It's pretty simple, basically just a cockpit with a propeller engine mounted on the back, and a pair of little blasters on either side, but it's nice and sleek, owing to the hull and canopy being designed to fit over the curved bricks that make up the sides of the vehicle. The only shortcoming is that the circular housing of the propeller is free to spin itself - I'd have rather that be locked in place, which would've only taken a tiny bit of redesigning. (After taking the photos, I did just that on mine, using a couple of spare parts from the Star Wars sets I've been buying recently; added a little 360° turret to the top as well, just on a whim.)

It's not the most inventive set Lego have come up with, but of all their original property stuff, I'm quite fond of this one. The nautical theme ties everything together well, the speedboat and pontoon are well built and really look good in their roles, there's a nice trio of figures (including the all-important [and rather rare in Lego] woman), and of course there's the sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads, which is always a winner.


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