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Lapsed Lego Fan Reviews Amy's Animal Rescue Island


Lorekitten

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So admittedly I'm one of those 'lapsed Lego fans' that gave up their childhood hobby when they reached a certain age and made the mistake of giving away their collection, not realizing that the Lego company literally encases its old molds in concrete and buries them to prevent bootleggers from printing their own copies, meaning that there's no way on Sonic's green Mobius that I'm ever getting all of those Bionicle pieces back. I don't consider myself a full-on AFOL (adult fan of Lego) yet because while I've amassed a sizable replacement collection, I haven't really found myself the time and energy to just sit down and build, and I have several purchased sets that I never even unboxed and even an entire half-finished $300 Elsa castle that I started work on years ago and haven't touched in ages. But I had money on me and I knew the new Sonic the Hedgehog sets weren't gonna be for sale forever, so I took a look at what was currently available and since the one I really wanted, Knuckles and the Master Emerald Shrine, hasn't been released yet, I chose Amy's Animal Rescue Island, largely because I liked the colors of the parts and if I didn't like it, I could always rebuild it into something else, right?

Spoiler alert: I love it.

Amy's Animal Rescue Island oozes charm from its very core. Admittedly I'm not thrilled about the decision to make the Mobians into minifigures instead of minidolls; yes, I know the minidolls are reserved for the female-targeted sets (which is a whole discussion I won't get into but I know I'm not the only AFOL that doesn't like the divide), but the longer and skinnier limbs just look a lot more like how actual Sonic characters are built. But while I wouldn't strictly call that a minor quibble, the rest of the set fires on all cylinders. While I'm pretty sure shrinkflation has affected the size of the $50 set, I don't actually remember if I even ever bought a $50 set as a kid, and while the box is smaller than I remember seeing Lego boxes of that price being back in the day, it is deeper than I remember, so some of it is probably the boxes being resized to better fit more individual sets on store shelves.

Okay, let's rip the band-aid off and start with the critique. Amy and Tails. While I definitely like how Amy's hammer is built and the adorable little single-stud heart plate on one end, the plastic skirt piece on the minifigure greatly limits the hammer's poseability, which isn't super great for display. In addition, as I've mentioned before, the minifigure body structure just doesn't really fit the Mobian body shape, and while the molded plastic heads are fine in theory, put them next to a human minifigure and you've got a recipe for the next mascot horror. Heck with it, I'm certain that at least one AFOL has put together a mascot horror MOC (my own creation) with these minifigures and shared it with an unsuspecting world. I will give credit where credit is due on Tails' namesakes being slightly more rubbery plastic than the entire rest of the set; it's a small touch, and it doesn't play into these sets' poseability or have any practical purpose whatsoever, but I think it works to give kids the tactile sensation of Tails' tails being tails and not a lump of plastic. Also, he gets a boogie board, which is pretty decent.

Despite my concerns about the minifigures, there's still plenty to love about the set. Starting with the rest of the characters! Yes, this isn't solely an Amy and Tails affair, as the set comes with three adorable little animals and a Crabmeat model. The critters are a pink Flicky bird, a peach pig, and a rabbit that seems inexplicably... teal? I'm guessing that specific color was chosen to make it more colorful and appealing than a bland gray, and while I'm not complaining, I don't know if there's ever been a rabbit that color in the Sonic franchise. But this is probably the closest thing we'll ever get to a Lego Jazz Jackrabbit (or anything new involving Jazz Jackrabbit, period), so I'll happily take it.

But the Crabmeat... THE CRABMEAT. Before I put this set together, I'd largely felt like badniks were about as threatening as Goombas, the mere cannon fodder thrown out at Sonic to slow him down before he faced the actual threat. Assembling this particular Crabmeat cured me of those delusions for good, because compared to the minifigures, it's HUGE. I don't remember off the top of my head how large a Crabmeat is relative to Sonic in-game, but if it's anything close to this size and wants to remove your face, you're dead. What's scarier than a giant crab? A giant METAL crab, and this one even has fully poseable claw arms on ball joints with pincers that can be opened and shut. One attack from those claws can take your leg off, and I freaking love it. There's even a compartment in the back that's large enough to fit one of the little animals in, although unfortunately it doesn't close or have any stud to properly attach the critter, so it's largely there for play purposes, not for display. But I am very, very happy that it is there. Collectors should be aware that Crabmeat's claws are top-heavy, so if you don't have it stud-attached to anything, you're going to have to pose it carefully to account for this.

When it comes to the model itself... man, things have changed since I was a kid. I'm old enough to remember before Lego pieces came in orange. Orange! And now we've got so many different shades of each color, and can accurately depict the bright and colorful worlds of classic vidja games. It's clear that Amy's Animal Rescue Island is set in either Green Hill Zone, or at least one of its many, many spin-offs; it even has segments of checkered soil, which is admittedly pretty easy to accomplish with plastic blocks, but the effect is tactically employed in certain areas to be neither missable or overbearing. Even the baseplate is more interesting than most large sets were in my day -- instead of being a single rectangular plate, we have one large square sandy plate with the addition of a few curved sea blue plates attached to form the water.

The set itself consists of a waterfall-mountain that opens up to reveal a shiny gem inside (more on that later), a two-level secret hideaway with a palm tree, a canopy, and a waterslide, a bridge between the two sides that can be triggered to collapse by removing a support piece (hehehehehehe), and even a little play area in front with a sand castle, a bucket, and one of those spinning wheel rides you see at playgrounds. Inside the hideaway, you'll find three beds for the three critters, a hairbrush, and a little Lego baby bottle. When did they start making Lego baby bottles? I mean, I know minifigures have to come from somewhere, but I never really thought about, well, Lego baby figures... That raises a number of uncomfortable biological questions.

The best part of this set, at least in my opinion, is the level of detail within. The canopy on top of the hideaway has not only a plate of various tropical snacks, but a tiny drink with a tiny straw and a tiny slice of lime attached, which honestly was not what I'd expected to find in a Lego Sonic set, but it fits so well with the tropical aesthetic and I love it so much. The aforementioned sand castle was a nice surprise, especially how it's set up with just a few pieces and is strategically designed to be set at an angle to look more natural. Obviously there's a yellow ring on display because it's Green Hill Zone and the setting wouldn't look complete without one. And there's even one of those famous Green Hill Zone sunflowers incorporated into the set! Clearly these designers did their homework and set out to make this set as fun as humanly possible, and I'd say they succeeded with flying colors.

Now, I promised to mention the waterfall-mountain side of the set in more detail. See, the Lego Sonic sets thus far seem to each have one or two of the Chaos Emeralds incorporated within, and I'm guessing from the promotional artwork within the manual that if you buy every set you get every emerald. Amy's Animal Rescue Island has two emeralds, a cyan one within the hideaway and a pink one hidden within the waterfall-mountain with a mechanism that opens up the mountain to reveal it. The thing is, as I was slowly piecing together the set without having taken a super close look at the photos on the package, and I realized the mountain was being built around the gemstone within, I didn't think about the Chaos Emeralds. No. I thought of a certain other colorful crystal hidden within a mountain in Green Hill Zone... the Paradox Prism.

Upon further reflection, there's probably no connection here. If Sega wanted Lego to make Lego sets based off of Sonic Prime, they would've done so while the show was still in production, and they would have actually made the Paradox Prism look like the Paradox Prism. Not that that wouldn't have been really cool; sets like New Yoke or Boscage would've been fantastic, and I might fight a life-sized Crabmeat to get a Tails Nine minifigure, but sadly it was never meant to be. Still, it's an interesting obscure connection to draw between the show and the set, and I at least appreciate that it's there.

One thing I really like about this set is that there are no stickers. Stickers are a point of contention for me (and I'm sure I'm not the only AFOL that isn't a fan of them), but my personal gripe with them is that I have OCD and my hands shake sometimes, meaning that I never seem to get the stickers lined up exactly the way that I want them to be, and there are no second chances with applying a sticker to a Lego piece. I'd rather have printed pieces than stickers, no contest. For the Sonic theme, I'm guessing the lack of stickers is largely due to the series aping the original 16-bit video game art, which by definition couldn't be too detailed anyway... which makes it a perfect franchise to represent in Lego, when you really think about it. Why didn't we have this when I was a kid?

As to whether or not I'll keep this set assembled... well, I have mixed feelings. I'll probably keep some of the smaller bits intact, like the sunflower and the little drink, but that square sandy baseplate is just begging me to use it for something, so I'll probably only take the set apart when and if I decide what to actually build on it. I wanna leave my options open. I am absolutely not taking apart the Crabmeat anytime soon, though. That's a magnificent badnik design and I'm gonna keep it as a reminder that crabs are now our robot overlords.

Now to find something productive to do before my ADHD mind bunnies try to convince me to go looking up Sonic Prime MOCs online because this is the internet of COURSE there would be Sonic Prime MOCs online. But if you find any, please let me know!

(I just had a terrifying mental image of a Dr. Starline minifigure. Please no.)

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PSA: Amy Rose and the Restoration are currently working with Team Plasma in an attempt to ascertain whether recently revealed future paradox Pokemon Gardelade is in fact producing its mass-marketed Booster Energy Drinks with Murkrow-derived by-products. When confronted by the press, Gardelade has gone on record insisting that Team Plasma are literal terrorists and their word cannot be trusted. Ghetsis immediately responded by pointing out that Gardelade's statements are an ad hominem attack, to which Gardelade described Ghetsis's response as a fallacy fallacy. Please share this article with your Lego-loving friends to aid in this investigation. And for the love of Arceus, don't buy the drinks.

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