I’m going to preface this review with a small disclaimer – this is not going to be a full-on review of this set, but rather a detailed analysis of the minifigures of the set to uncover the differences between the old and new Iron Man and Loki Minifigures.
2016 seems like it’s going to be the year of LEGO reissues. The Chicken Suit Guy minifigure isn’t the only one that’s being resurrected from LEGO’s archives – LEGO have seemingly re-released two minifigures from 2012, Iron Man and Loki, in the most unlikely of sets – an AU$16 LEGO Juniors set 10721 Iron Man vs Loki.
I’ve read a few discussions online debating on whether the minifigures in this Junior set are exactly the same as the ones from 2012, so I figured I’d throw my hat in the ring and analyse them both as best I can to form some sort of conclusion. Fair warning – you may or may not agree with my conclusion at the end.
Before we get into the minifigures, let’s take a quick look at the contents of the set. For the uninitiated, LEGO Juniors is a line of products that serve to bridge the gap between DUPLO and LEGO. They’re designed to introduce younger builders to LEGO and are suitable for kids who have progressed from DUPLO but are not quite ready to tackle regular LEGO sets.
The Juniors sets all have one thing in common – relatively simple builds and basic building techniques so that younger builders don’t get overwhelmed by tricky placement of bricks or complicated instructions.
What’s in it for adults? The LEGO Juniors theme typically include some really awesome minifigures (Venom and unique versions of Batman & Robin) as well as unique printed elements. That’s right, no stickers, as I would imagine that applying stickers are a challenging task for younger builders.
The main build in 10721 Iron Man vs Loki is Iron Man’s super-fast car. The car’s chassis (frame) is a large singular element, and builders just have to snap on a few bricks here and there to give it some details. It’s a decent-sized build, and there’s not much to be excited about as an adult. I do like the overall shape and the two laser beams clipped to the sides.
The colours are great as well, a nice mix of red, dark red and gold accents that are Iron Man’s signature colours.
The most interesting parts in the car are the printed bonnet (or hood for you North americans) which is powered by an Arc Reactor, as well as the printed 1 x 4 tile with Iron Man inspired headlights and a custom STARK license plate. These are fairly specialised parts, but I really like the bonnet, as I can totally see it being used for an Iron Man mecha. Upgrading your Hulkbuster Suit? Yes please.
There’s also a small holder for the Cosmic Cube, which is what Iron Man and Loki are fighting over. Again, nothing too complex here, though I do like getting 4 red lightsaber blades and the transparent blue 1 x 1 brick.
Okay now that the builds are out of the way, let’s get to the main draw of the set – the minifigures. When the 10721 Iron Man vs Loki set was revealed, keen-eyed LEGO fans immediately honed in to what was seemingly a re-issue of 2 Marvel Super Heroes minifigures from 2012 – very costly (on the secondary market) ones too!
Iron Man was particularly surprising, as this was a fairly rare variant that only appeared in one set – 6869 Quinjet Aerial Battle. The Iron MK 7 armour (Bricklink code sh036) once commanded average prices of about AU$35 (see also: Bricklink Price Guide) on Bricklink and was considered relatively rare.
Loki has been a bit more promiscuous, appearing in 3 sets in 2012: 6869 Quinjet Aerial Battle, 6868 Hulk Helicarrier Breakout and 6867 Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape. The Loki Minifigure (the only one that LEGO have ever produced) has also been relatively pricey, commanding average prices of about AU$20 (see also: Bricklink Price Guide) on Bricklink.
Add the average market price for those minifigs up (about AU$ 55) and you can see why this Juniors set has made a lot of Minifigure Collectors nervous. LEGO have just dumped 2 previously pricey and relatively uncommon minifigures in a AU$16 set aimed at kids not quite ready to play with normal LEGO sets!
Minifigure Collectors and Adult Fans have a tendency to be very proud of their collections (for good reason) and often find joy in tracking the prices of their collections (see those awful LEGO is a better investment than gold articles), watching old minifigures slowly skyrocket in value. The fact that LEGO would re-release “rare” minifigures (Chicken Suit Guy is next) is a fascinating paradigm shift from the toy company. I’ll get into that a bit later.
Anyway, Bricklink (the world’s LEGO resource/catalog/bible) have made the distinction that the minifigures in 10721 Iron Man vs Loki are NOT reissues and are in fact different variants. They’ve classified Iron Man as sh231 and Loki as sh033a, which I kind of disagree with. Loki’s classification as sh033a is kinda justified as the “a” after its code means a slight variant (IIRC), but Iron Man’s new minifig code makes me slightly uncomfortable.
Then again, I am often perplexed by stuff that the Adult LEGO community does.
This has intrigued me to no end, so I decided to do a deep dive and analyse what is it that separates the Iron Man and Loki from 10721 from their 2012 counterparts. I have a sealed copy of 6869 Quinjet Aerial Battle that I opened to grab a brand new Iron Man MK 7 minifigure and also grabbed Loki from 6867 Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape to ensure the comparisons were “new” minifigures.
It was kinda painful busting open the seals of my sealed 6869 but hey, this is for science and I figured I needed to build a good case for my argument. I also took extra careful with photography, and spent a bit too much time just staring at the minifigures under optimal lighting conditions and also consulted my wife on the differences.
My wife is a dentist and she deals with having to colour match crowns all day at work, and she was able to point out slight colour differences and variations between the minifigs which was a lot of help to me.
I’m not a professional photographer, but I’ve tried to take as many good shots to make a proper comparison of the Iron Man and Loki minifigures to highlight some of the differences between the 2016 and 2012 ones.
Let’s start with the Iron Man MK 7 Armour. Here’s the front view of Iron Man minifigure from 10721 Iron Man vs Loki, and the one from 6869 Quinjet Aerial Battle. At first glance, they look identical but after staring at them awhile, you’ll start to notice subtle differences.
I do have to stress that the design of both minifigures are exactly identical. In fact, they were so identical that I had to use different minifigure base plates to differentiate them and was super paranoid of accidentally mixing them up during photography!
The most subtle difference between these two minifigures is the printing on the torso and legs. The older version has a slightly darker and duller hue which is especially noticeable in the golden accents. It has an almost orangey tint to it, compared to the newer version which is slightly brighter.
This is also apparent when you look at the back printing – again, the older version has slightly darker printing in both the golden and grey areas. Not sure if it’s just me, but the lines printed on the older versions are slightly finer as well.
The most noticeable difference between the old and new Iron Man minifigures are their helmets. The golden coloured mask are two completely different shades and you can easily tell them apart. The older version has a dirtier, duller gold, whereas the new 2016 version has a lighter, yellower and shinier gold paint.
The second major difference in the helmet is the angle in which Iron Man’s mask swivels upwards. The older one seems to swivel up at a much larger angle than the newer one.
Apart from that, everything else seems to be similar. Both Iron Men (?) have the same dual sided face printing, with the exact same expressions.
So yeah, apart from one very minor difference in the torso and leg gold printing shades, and one major difference in the shades of gold for Iron Man’s helmet… the new Iron Man MK 7 armour in 10721 Iron Man vs Loki seems to be an exact copy of the one in 6869 Quinjet Aerial Battle.
On to the next comparison, the Loki minifigure. Like Iron Man, there are some subtle and major differences between the variants from 2012 and 2016. Loki gets an upgraded magic staff in 10721 which has a blue jewel embedded in between the prongs, whereas Loki from 2012 has a golden sai accessory.
Disregard the staff and just like Iron Man, at first glance you’ll be hard pressed to notice any major differences between both versions of Loki.
The most obvious difference between both Lokis are their capes. The older one has a slightly darker (more bluish) shade of green, while the newer one has a slightly brighter variant. They’re both made of the papery starchy material that capes used to be made out of instead of the newer fabric versions.
Bricklink makes a distinction between the old and new Lokis by labeling the old one as Traditional Starched Fabric Cape (sh033) vs Shiny Starched Fabric Cape (sh033a) for the new one. Not too sure why the new one is classified as “shiny” as mine sure doesn’t seem shinier.
My wife also picked up on a very subtle difference between their helmets. The older helmet seems to have a more orange and warmer tone to the pearl gold, whereas the new one looks slightly more metallic and has a bit more of brighter a sheen to it.
Another obvious difference is the printing on their torsos. Just like Iron Man, the designs are pretty much identical to each other, but the older Loki seems to have brighter and more reflective gold accents and thus look shinier when you look at it up close.
Here’s a closer look at the differences in the torso, where you can really make out the variance in printing. I also noticed that the older Loki (just like Iron Man) has a lot finer lines printed on his torso.
Apart from those very subtle colour differences, Loki from 10721 seems to be the exact same version and design as the one from 2012.
Are they re-issues or completely different minifigures?
So here’s where I make my conclusion that may not sit well with some parties – I consider them to be the same minifigures and are re-releases of the one that came out in 2012.
Now, I don’t expect you to take my word as gospel – I’m just one guy and I’m drawing this conclusion on how I feel and upon a thorough assessment of both minifigures.
Sure, there are very subtle differences between both editions, especially with the colours but the essence and overall designs of these minifigures remain the same. Both the Iron Man MK 7 Armours and Loki are the same minifigures in my book.
In fact, I disagree with Bricklink’s classification of sh036 being a completely different minifigure purely because of the two 1 x 1 transparent blue round bricks attached to his legs. To me, a minifigure needs to be looked at on its own, without taking into consideration the accessories included. The two 1 x 1 repulsor bricks are ubiquitous and therefore do not factor into the MK 7’s unique identity.
In fact on Bricklink, you’ll notice a sudden deluge of sh036 listings, in numbers that just don’t make sense. 20 copies all of a sudden for a minifigure that only appeared in one 2012 set? For half the average historical price? Suspicious. Clearly, people are adding Iron Man minifigures from 10721 into this listing, possibly by just adding the two 1 x 1 transparent light blue bricks to flog them off for more than the cost of the entire 10721. Very enterprising.
While I do concede that there are slight differences between the 2012 and 2016 versions of Iron Man and Loki, I don’t believe that they’re significant enough to warrant differentiating them as unique minifigs. I think the only people who that will really care are hardcore collectors who tend to be pedantic to the point of it being silly and impractical.
You have also got to understand the process of mixing colours when it comes to manufacturing is really complicated business. It’s clear that the minifigures from 10721 were produced recently and were not from the same batch as 6869, 6868 and 6867. This would result in sourcing slightly different paints, pigments and ABS (the plastic LEGO is made of) pellets which have no doubt resulted in the very minor variances. Advancements in LEGO’s printing technology also need to be taken into account.
For the majority of LEGO fans, I really doubt that these small differences matter. It’s incredibly difficult to tell them apart with the naked eye and I highly doubt that fans are going to describe their Iron Man MK 7s as being the variant with the slightly shinier gold paint or Loki with the slightly greener cape? See how silly that sounds like?
I personally love that LEGO has reissued the Iron Man MK 7 and Loki minifigs in such an affordable set, giving new LEGO fans or those who missed out on the first wave of Avengers sets a second chance at adding these to their minifig collections without having to spend a small fortune.
In the end, I ultimately believe that it’s up to the individual to determine whether they consider the LEGO Juniors Iron Man MK 7 and Loki minifigures as completely new editions or re-releases.
If you’re the kind of fan who obsesses about these minute details, they will be completely different versions. If you’re like me who assesses minifigures as a whole, you’re probably going to consider them the same.
What this means for LEGO collectors
I believe that 2016 is going to be a defining year for LEGO. In the last 3 years, The LEGO Movie has propelled LEGO and this wonderful hobby into the mainstream, creating legions of new fans and welcoming home those that were in their Dark Ages.
Building on 3 years of significant growth, I predict that this trend of reissuing minifigures (Iron Man MK 7, Loki, Chicken Suit Guy) is only going to increase and that we’ll hear about a lot more re-issues this year. From my perspective, I feel that LEGO is taking active yet calculated steps to slow the commodification of their product. Obviously this doesn’t apply to ALL their lines.
For example, I don’t think that they will start pumping out Classic Space sets, or UCS Millennium Falcons or Cafe Corners but the key takeaway here is that nothing is safe. Using vehicles like polybags, seasonal promos and even LEGO Dimensions, LEGO have plenty of channels in their arsenal to reissue rare/highly coveted minifigures.
Imagine if LEGO announce a whole new Dimensions Level Pack that features the world of Animal Suit Minifigures. Add Team Packs and Fun Packs to the mix and you have the perfect opportunity to re-release Bunny Suit Guy, Bumblebee Girl or Lizard Suit Guy in a product that LEGO makes massive margins on. Doesn’t sound too far fetched now, eh?
Dear collectors, nothing is safe, nothing is sacred any more.
Anyway, that’s my very lengthy 2 cents on this. Would love to know your thoughts, take this poll or let me know in your comments about how you feel about both versions.
Thanks for reading! I’ll close off this review in my usual fashion.
What I liked:
- Two previously uncommon minifigs reissued
- Really affordable set
What I didn’t like:
- Printed elements aren’t very versatile
Final thoughts: The debate about the classification of Iron Man and Loki aside, I really liked the set for the minifigures. At AU$16, getting these great versions of Iron Man and Loki is an amazing deal, and you also get a few extra bricks thrown in for good measure too.
Both Loki and Iron Man feature very crisp designs, and to me, I really liked seeing Loki again in a LEGO set after a 4 year absence. Personally, I would’ve liked an updated Loki minifigure as I already have like 4 of him, but I can understand the appeal for new LEGO Marvel Super Heroes fans who missed out on him previously and refuse to be held to ransom on the secondary market.
For most adult fans, there’s honestly not going to be much joy building and putting this set together. After all, it’s meant for kids aged 4 to 7, so don’t expect an enjoyable or memorable build experience.
What you should get out of 10721 Iron Man vs Loki are 2 spectacular Marvel minifigures at a very attractive price. Great buy, great minifigures and one that won’t hurt your wallet much.
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