I’ve had this Lego model for a little while now, but it’s pretty baller so I really have to be effusive about it (I enjoy being effusive, even though being angry tends to get better ratings). I originally intended it to be one for the office, but it’s just too damn bad-ass for that (the office is now dominated by space ninjas and their impractically bladed vehicles).
So this is 5884 Raptor Chase, of the 2012 “Dino” range. It’s composed of three discrete sections: the Hellbender, the Raptor and the Base.
We’ll start with the centre-piece of the set. I know the Lego description just calls it a “big-wheeled off-roader”, but to me it will always be the Hellbender, á la Unreal Tournament 2004 — it’s a big four-by-four with a back-mounted turret. Sure, there’s only one seat in the cockpit and the back turret has a crane and a noose rather than a gun, but allow me my artistic license puhlease.
First off, it’s built like a brick shithouse. This thing is sturdy as they come, with the only dangerous parts being the front spikes (and they’re made of the squishy plastic so they can take it). Something I always worry about when building my own stuff is structural integrity, and some sets seem to be a little light on it these days (though now I think about it, the weaker ones tend to be Star Wars models which are obviously constrained by external designs). No such worries with the Hellbender, though, definitely not.
The turret is mounted on a clicky turntable so there’s no risk of it swinging around while driving (wish they had those when I was a lad, the loose turntables were never good for mech turrets). The bonnet also comes off, revealing a nice sealed cavity to store the loose bits and pieces that might get lost when left in the open-topped crate in the hide. All it’s really missing is proper suspension, since it’s a four-by-four with giant wheels.
The turret comes with those pesky flick firing missiles, which considering the noose (and the syringes) seem a little bit like overkill (especially if you only want to tranquilise the damn lizard). But flick-firing missiles seem to be pretty much a necessity for Lego these days — can’t we just let kids imagine the lasers with their fingers like I used to do?
The raptor, oh, sweet raptor! I think this is the finest Lego animal ever produced (only narrowly beating the cute little piggy, natch).
For starters, it’s perfectly raptor-shaped. It’s the right scale to support a rider, while the physical moulding is sublime (face has a brow ridge an’ aw). Obviously, it’s not one of these new-fangled feathered monsters — this is a truly classic raptor of the Jurrassic Park age.
But its crowning glory is its articulation. I spent my youth with the old dragon model, who had a mobile jaw, flapping wings, a tail and arms — its legs were two dead stumps. Hell, the dragon’s wheelbase was three nodules wide, making it all-round awkward to do anything with.
Not so with the raptor: both legs are seperate pieces and its Deinonychus-shaped claws brilliantly fan out to give it a four-wide wheelbase but a two-wide body in perfect proportion. Both arms are also seperate pieces and recall the classic dragon, while the head is a seperate piece that swivels on the neck by a traditional technic peg.
The downsides? Well, I think I’d rather the back plate was sunk down a bit, like the horse, so it could better support a rider. The jaw also snaps between two positions, open and shut, so you can’t really make it grip anything (and there are no pegs inside it to compensate). The tail also looks like it should rotate a bit, but does not.
I find the base is a little superfluous.
There are two minifigures and two seats on the Hellbender, so we don’t need a dead weight to perch any loose peeps on (much as I adore the little brown crate it comes with). As a set based on the mobility of the raptor and the huge jeep (it even has “chase” in the name), the base seems almost actively detrimental to the spirit of the set.
Why not split it off and flesh it out into a proper hide or supply camp, and reduce this set by a few quid? (And cheaper raptors can be no bad thing — I hope they release some smaller set with a raptor in it at some point because I can’t sustain the big base to get another one.)
Totally recommended. Weighing in at £24.99 for 259 pieces, you’re sitting just a smidge over the golden 1:10 pieces-to-pence ratio. For your money, you get a stonker of a truck and though the hide may be superfluous you can always hand the non-modern-day-specific pieces over to your medieval chaps (brown hinge, I’m looking at you. Chateau del Lion Knights has no door and that’s poor in a defensive structure).
And that raptor. God damn.