Monday, 9 January 2012

Review: Kre-O Optimus Prime (the big one!)

Over Christmas, while my son was busy making his little Prime set, I was working on this guy:

He's be far the biggest (aka most expensive) Kre-O set produced. But does that mean he's the best?

While there are a number of annoying things about Kre-O, which I shall come to in a moment, I'll start with some of the great things. Possibly the single best thing has nothing to do with the model itself, but the packaging. Whenever you're putting together lego-like toys there's always a good chance that some of the pieces will disappear off the table and never be seen again. To combat this, I always insist that the children build lego on a tray. True, some of it still ends up on the floor, but it's an improvement of having nothing.

Kre-O comes complete with its own tray, in the form of the box:

This is fantastic. You can rip open all the little bags and empty them into the box, safe in the knowledge that the pieces are all going to stay put. Excellent.

Talking of pieces, there are quite a few in the set and all of very similar colours - a mix of greys, black and dark blue. To make your life a thousand times easier, it's well worth doing at least some sorting out of colours & sizes before you begin construction. But even then there are problems...

Showing black pieces as completely black in the instructions is difficult as you then can't see the shape outline. Instead the black pieces are shown in dark grey. This has a knock-on effect that then the dark grey pieces are shown as light grey, the light grey as lighter grey... Add to this the silver pieces, the white pieces and some pieces not being coloured properly in the instruction book and you have Problems. You'll also need decent lighting when building as the blue pieces are very dark and easily confused with the black pieces.

As a result I'm not entirely sure I've built Prime correctly. I'm fairly sure, but not sure enough to place any money on it.

The instruction book mistakes are something I've come across a lot while building the Kre-O sets. There really is no excuse for not having these perfect. You don't want little Jimmy to be stumped for hours while making the set because he can't find the light grey piece mentioned in the instructions when it's really supposed to be black.

The Prime set has a sticker mistake. According to the lorry instructions (and the box picture) there are supposed to be 2 Autobot logos stuck on the front. Only one comes in the set. However, when you build the robot it states that there should only be sticker. This type of issue should simply not occur and is a result of poor checking of the product before it was sent to the manufacturer.

The cab is very solid and nice and uses by far most of the pieces. The 'hut' (probably has a proper name - I have no idea what it is) on the back of the cab comes off to be...something. It's pictured on the back of the box and features another picture in the instructions with it next to a kreon, but I have absolutely no idea what it's supposed to be.

The trailer isn't so great. It's a bit flimsy and likely to fall apart when you clip it onto the cab section.

Robot mode... Well, like all the Kre-O sets the robot mode isn't brilliant, but it's definitely not the worst and it is recognisably Prime. Unlike a lot of the sets, it's based on the movie version of the toy (though with a G1 head, which looks a little odd on the movie body). There's also no missile launcher on the arm, despite what the picture on the box shows. It does come with a launcher, but there's nothing in the instructions as to how/where it's supposed to attach.

There are quite a number of pieces left over when you've built the robot. Things would be improved greatly if Hasbro had thought of a way to ensure all the pieces were included on both the models.

The set comes with a bunch of kreons, which are all lovely. Apart from the regular men who, as always, aren't  going to receive much love from anyone. Pity them.

Overall, if I'd paid full price for this I think I would have been a little disappointed. With most of the sets I've been surprised about how much you got for your money but Prime... well, I suppose it's that trailer which adds a big chunk to the price. I can't say it being there is worth the additional cost.

Prime certainly isn't bad, but I'd definitely hunt around for a good price before purchasing.

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