The sets represent the "big three" of DC Comics: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. They're going up against some fierce enemies: Bizarro, Killer Moth, and Doomsday. Bizarro is well-known as the backwards duplicate of Superman; Killer Moth a somewhat ridiculous villain who's most famous as the first villain that Batgirl defeated; Doomsday is famous for killing Superman in 1992. ...he got better. LEGO loses points for not having Wonder Woman go up against her own supervillains -- ideally I would have pitted her against Cheetah, but I would also accept Ares, a major villain from the movie (coming in two weeks!)
The charm of these sets is in the modified minifigures and their vehicles. The minifigures are smaller than standard LEGO people, with stubby legs that aren't jointed and cartoony faces. In the first series I didn't like the aesthetic, but the more characters I see in that style, the more I dig it. Their costumes are less detailed than regular minifigures, and their faces are over the top. Perfect for the Mario Kart/Wacky Races that could ensue from the vehicles themselves.
The vehicles are a lot of fun -- Wonder Woman's is a tiny version of her Invisible Jet, and her rival Doomsday has what I'll politely call a "bone-mobile" even though I taught junior high and I know exactly what I'm saying there. Doomsday himself has grotesque bone spurs growing out of his shoulders and arms and face, so his car does too. Batman's in a Batcopter that owes a lot to the domed version in the 1966 Batman movie (with the Bat-Shark Repellent!), and Killer Moth's car has a proboscis and a stinger...do moths even have stingers? Wow, I hope not. Killer Moth just got a lot scarier.
My favorite of the vehicle pairs are Superman and Bizarro. Superman's is based on the Supermobile, a vehicle that was in a few issues of a comic book in 1978. Superman lost his powers and needed some transportation, so got a little spaceship that flies, but also had robot fists on the front of it that could extend out and pop a villain in the face. It was an excuse to sell toys, and both Corgi and Kenner came out with versions of it at some point. Now LEGO is commemorating that ridiculous vehicle with one of its own, complete with tiny silver fists. The part that makes me love this more? Bizarro's car is exactly the same as the Supermobile, but built backwards and in darker colors. Because...Bizarro.
In the Classroom
I do see possibilities for the mindset behind these vehicles. The personality that goes into the cars--especially the villains, with the moth details, the backwards-driving, and the bony protrusions--are similar to the Hot Wheels strategies that I talk about in Play Like a Pirate. The LEGO vehicles are very small, built out of about 40 pieces each. That makes them easy enough to build in a short amount of time. Students could also sketch out the cars (although building them is more fun) and explain the features of the cars. Have the cars represent something from a unit you're teaching; a key concept, a character, an event.
The wheel base of the LEGO cars is too wide for an orange Hot Wheels track, but designing a track with obstacles for the characters to overcome would be another good activity -- having students explain what the obstacles represent for the character, and then see if they can overcome it.
When it comes down to it, it's May. These are fun. Have fun with your students.
Congratulations to Toby Price -- you won the May LEGO Sets of the Month!!
I knew you were wondering. There are three ways to enter:
1. Comment on this post. You do that below at the very end of this post. Lower...lower...there.
2. Subscribe to the monthly Play Like a PIRATE newsletter. It comes out once a month, with ideas for the classroom, a graphic novel review, and a review and chance to win the new LEGO Set of the Month. No spamming (beyond once a month), no selling your emails to anyone. I don't even know who I would sell them to. It may be worth investigating.
3. Follow @jedikermit on Twitter and retweet this tweet If you're not on The Twitter, you really should be. Sign up just for this entry. And follow me. So worth it. You can follow the #PlayLAP hashtag to see what other people are doing with Play Like a PIRATE. A book you should totally buy.
So you can enter up to three times. Don't try and cheat. Teachers always know.
Some fine print: the LEGO Set of the Month will only be available to U.S. residents. Even though I love everyone on the planet, international shipping is beyond my reach right now. The drawing for the April LEGO Set of the Month will be at 10 AM MST on Friday, April 28. The drawing will be taken from all eligible entries with a random generator. So hopefully you win. Yeah, you.