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Wicked Witch Fun Pack

Lego Dimensions
by yo go re

In 2011, Activision invented the "toys-to-life" game category with Skylanders (though it was awfully similar to Mattel's 2007 UB Funkeys). In 2013, Disney Infinity horned in on the action. In 2014, the category got more crowded, with both Nintendo's Amiibo and Jakks Pacific's Hero Portal. And now, here comes Lego Dimensions!

In addition to the Starter Pack, Lego Dimensions has Level Packs, with figures and new game content; Team Packs, with four thematically related characters; and Fun Packs, with one character and one buildable accessory. It's that final pricepoint that brings us set #71221, the Wicked Witch Fun Pack.

Yes, the Wicked Witch. As in, THE Wicked Witch. The one from The Wizard of Oz. (And also Wicked, but Lego only licensed the one that matters.) This is clearly based on the MGM movie, not the public domain novel - the 2011 case WB vs AVELA ruled that even if a work is in the public domain, distinctive elements of derivative works are still protected. It's the same way that anybody can publish a version of Frankenstein, but only Universal can do anything with Boris Karloff.

Anyway, MGM's Wicked Witch was played by Margaret Hamilton. She wore all black, and had green skin. The movie costume had a dress, but this minifig eschews the standard "slope brick for legs" trick that most dress-wearing characters use in favor of actual legs - it was probably a choice made for playability reasons. The details painted on the figure are impressive: there's a bodice corset that laces up the front, a pouch hanging against her left leg, and a few pleats to suggest her dress. Those are all taken from the real costume, though it's not likely you'd ever notice them in the actual film. She has one of those typical softgoods Lego capes, and a reused witch hat. She comes with a broom, just like in the movie. It's just a shame MGM went that route, rather than sticking with an umbrella like in the original novel - she's afraid of water, of course she'd carry an umbrella everywhere!

The Wicked Witch's buildable accessory is a very fitting companion, one of her Winged Monkeys. Now, there was a bit of disappointment when these sets were released (being a videogame tie-in means an actual street date, rather than the "eh, whenever it gets there" syndrome most toys suffer from) because there were no instructions included. To build the thing, you have to go online, either into the game or onto Lego's website; I get that they're trying to encourage people to play the game, but "internet access" is not a resource with 100% availability. You want to play with your Legos, but the wifi is acting up? Sorry, you're boned.

Anyway, the Winged Monkey. It's not a minifig, but rather an item built from normal Lego bricks. Every bit of it is something you'd be able to find in a normal set (yes, even the wings - they come from the Legend of Chima eagles). Ignoring the NFC base and some clear bricks for support, the monkey is built from 27 pieces. He ends up with one leg higher than the other, which makes him look like he's hopping.

I was so excited to see these in the store that I bought them without ever looking at the back of the box. So I was surprised to find that the Wicked Witch doesn't just come with a Winged Monkey: because it's built from normal bricks, it can also be re-built like normal bricks. So if you go to the instruction page on Lego's site, there are two more models you can build (and presumably have different abilities in-game, though honestly I don't know how).

Model #2 is the "Battle Monkey." It's all hunched over, and carrying a little weapon of some sort. It's also wearing a golden hat instead of blue. Considering that these are built from generic bricks, it's impressive how well the monkey's face is duplicated: the "head" is a grey 1x1 with studs on all sides; a blue slope forms the face, while those new round tiles act as ears. This monkey's legs are more even, and his one wrist is bent downward, so he can point his spear(?) ahead of him.

Finally we have the Commander Monkey, who not only returns to the blue hat, but also has his feet together. One of his arms stretches out to the front, and he's holding a trumpet up to his mouth. Because of the way the pieces are assembled, all three versions of the monkey end up with articulation in the shoulders, waist and neck, so they have more than one pose. And while most of the body is grey, the area where the wings attach is blue, suggesting the little vests they wore. Their hands and feet are light gray, and are all clips, for gripping purposes. Though not all the bricks are necessary for every mode, all of them are built into the monkey so you don't have to worry about losing them.

Someday you will turn off your Amiibo game, and you will never in your life turn it back on. The same is true for Skylanders and Disney Infinity. And yes, the same is true for Lego Dimensions, too. That's just an unavoidable fact. But on the day that happens, you're still going to have some fun Legos to play with - Legos that don't require internet access or a game network account or electricity, and work with every other Lego ever produced. You won't just have tiny plastic statues that don't move, you'll have actual toys. And that is why, of all the toys-to-life choices available, Lego Dimensions is the best. Which I say confidently, having never played any of them. If you want to dip your toes in, the Wicked Witch Fun Pack is a terrific choice: it's the cheapest pricepoint, and offers a completely unique minifig and an accessory with three fun modes.

-- 10/03/15

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