It’s all about Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy these few weeks! Following on my review of the Starblaster Showdown, today I’ll check out the middle child of the LEGO Guardians of the Galaxy family – Knowhere Escape Mission.
In the movie, Knowhere is a mining colony housed within the head of a decapitated Celestial (think Marvel Cosmic God) and is a nexus of outlaws and other nasty space-races. James Gunn really brought Knowhere to life on screen and it’s one of the focal points of the plot, playing host to several of the most memorable and action-packed scenes in the movie.
There’s a lot of action going on in Knowhere, so let’s see if the Knowhere Escape Mission set accomplishes its goal to be a must-buy Guardians of the Galaxy LEGO set or if you’re in for a Groot (sorry) awakening.
Name: Knowhere Escape Mission
Set Number: 76020
Price: AU$79.99 (LEGO.com link)
Exclusive to: N/A
Minifigs: 3 + 1 Groot!
Theme: Marvel Superheroes – Guardians of the Galaxy
Year of Release: 2014
If you like minifigures, Knowhere Escape Mission is going to feel like a gold mine, so let’s delve into the stellar lineup of characters in the set.
Introducing Rocket, a genetically modified cybernetic talking raccoon who packs as much sass and spunk as he does heavy artillery. If you’ve watched the movie, I’m willing to bet that you were thoroughly entertained and moved by Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of one of GotG’s most popular characters.
Rocket is a spectacular minifig, with a custom moulded headpiece that captures the raccoon look exceptionally well. His leather epaulets are attached to his head and serves to add an extra dimension to Rocket’s look. The printing on his head is really amazing although he looks a little too grey compared to the big screen version where his fur had a more brownish shade to it.
Spin him around and you’ll discover a tail piece which goes between his short legs and torso. It’s made out of the weird squishy plastic which I hate. He’s attired in an orange suit which has printing on both his front and back. The printing is great, with some really cool detailing, especially on his back.
Despite Rocket Raccoon oozing with quality and impressive workmanship, I absolutely hate that LEGO included this version in this set. Want to know why?
Every other member of the Guardians of the Galaxy has their red leather costume on. Every one of them, except Rocket which means that he stands out like a sore thumb when you line up all the minifigures together.
So, where is the Rocket Raccoon with the Guardians of the Galaxy maroon uniform?
If you guessed tucked away in an exclusive set that was only sold at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con which now retails for close to $200 on eBay, you’re absolutely right! I think it’s a spectacularly stupid move for LEGO to make it almost impossible for your average LEGO Guardians of the Galaxy fan to get this version of Rocket. Honestly, it would have made so much more sense if they had made the alternate costume Rocket available for SDCC attendees instead of this debacle.
It makes me sad, because I will not drop $200 for the Rocket’s Warbird set. It makes me sad because my lineup of Guardians of the Galaxy minifigures won’t match up with their cinematic counterparts.
Up next is another Sakaaran minifigure, which is identical to the one in the Starblaster Showdown. There’s nothing much more to add to my previous thoughts about the Sakaaran – I’m still a fan of the fine little details of the torso and face, and he also comes with the bad ass new blaster which makes this a win.
The Sakaaran is still a decent minifigure, but you know what would’ve made more sense in this set? The Collector, who lives (or works) in Knowhere, but alas, you either had to be very lucky to win it at SDCC, or cough up a stupid amount of money for him on eBay.
The last minifigure (in a conventional sense) is Nebula, the blue skinned, cyborg sister of Gamora and daughter (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) of the Mad Titan, Thanos. I really enjoyed Nebula in the movie, so my fondness for her character extends to the minifigure. Nebula’s badass-ness is off the charts, with her wielding twin black katanas – using one sword is so pedestrian these days.
The printing and details on Nebula’s minifig is all sorts of wicked, with her purple bodysuit perfectly complimenting her blue toned skin. Nebula’s cyborg features, such as her cybernetic implants on her head and her metallic silver arm are brilliant little flourishes.
If only LEGO could get some additional printing onto her arm, her minifig would be flawless. One of my favourite things about her torso printing is the dot pattern on portions of her suit which seamlessly makes it feel as if her torso is textured.
We arrive at the standout inclusion of this set, the big bad walking humanoid tree creature fondly known as Groot! Another perennial fan favourite member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, owning a LEGO Groot will no doubt be one of the main draw cards of this set, alongside his companion Rocket.
Groot is brick built, towering over other minifigures. By my reckoning, he’s approximately 3 and a half minifigures high.
Groot benefits from the use of several ball joints and hinges which gifts him an amazingly high level of articulation, allowing you to easily strike many different poses – one of the indirect but very fun play features baked into Knowhere Escape Mission.
Of note is his upper body, which is a unique moulded piece that snaps on to his body effortlessly. LEGO certainly went out of their way to ensure that the printed details such as his thoughtful face as well as his branchy, leafy and tree-y features are as detailed as possible. This is topped off by the amazing moulding work on his head. It also looks like Groot hits the gym hard, evident by his bulging chest muscles.
Another neat inclusion are two printed curved slope pieces for his shins that bear more leafy and bark-y patterns which is nice, but I wished that LEGO had printed on all the visible slopes used to give him a more organic look.
Groot’s best friend, Rocket can be perched comfortably on Groot’s studded arms so that the slightly odd pair can go about their own possibly illegal adventures. One of the things that I didn’t like about Groot are his flimsy clawed fingers. They look pretty all right from afar, but when you move them about especially if you want Groot to grip or hold on to something, they tend to pop out with the slightest bit of movement.
As a brick built character, Groot generates a considerable amount of controversy, but overall I quite like him. I appreciate the effort that went into the printed curved slopes as well as his unique upper body and head as well as the commendable work undertaken by LEGO designers to replicate his movie look. As I mentioned earlier, more printed curved slopes would’ve made him look a lot better, but I won’t complain with what we’ve been given.
After the characters, we get into the meat and potatoes of this set, a tight mix of platforms, an observation tower of sorts, bridges and chemical pools- elements that seem to be the designer’s interpretation of the Knowhere mining colony in the movie. Having watched the movie, I cannot recall seeing this specific structure on screen – with the closest reference being the chemical pools which contain yellow sludge that Drax gets chucked into.
Despite it being a loose interpretation of Knowhere, as a piece of LEGO construction, the entire play set is decent enough that I don’t hate it.
The first mini play feature built into the raised platform is this trapdoor mechanism right at the top of the tower. It’s not rocket science – you just yank the Technic piece which then causes the flap to swing open, sending anyone foolish enough to stand on top of the tower to fall into the pool of yellow goo.
One of the interactive play features (other than messing around with Groot) is this little contraption here, which when pressed down “blows off” the raised platform, causing it to topple in dramatic fashion. It’s literally a button to press to dismantle a third of the set. Here’s a GIF of it in action.
It’s pretty fun. I’ve always enjoyed play features that allow you to launch things in the air or cause some sort of significant change to the set as a whole.
With the tower out of the way, the yellow pool of mining waste/byproducts at the bottom becomes accessible. You can also send a minifigure that is standing on top of the tower to his or her doom by pulling the lever and activating the trap door.
To put up a fight against Groot and Rocket, the Sakaaran gets a toy of his own – this massive artillery or mounted cannon thingy which sports a powerful spring activated missile launcher, allowing you to shoot a transparent red laser beam. It’s a decent little build, very reminiscent of something you’d find in a Star Wars battle pack.
It’s got the Sakaaran stickers, which attempt to break the monotony of the red and black bricks used but at the end of the day, you could harvest this cannon for parts and the set wouldn’t suffer at all. I do like projectiles that utilize spring systems as they’re always a lot of fun and WAY more satisfying than flick fires. You can practically fire the red laser beam across a room.
The Sakaaran cannon thingy sits comfortably at the top of tower, but you can quickly remove him from his vantage point by jamming the dish and sending the entire structure crashing to the ground.
Finishing the Knowhere Escape Mission Build is this utterly delightful and incredibly accurate rendition of the little mining pods that populate Knowhere. This is hands down, my favourite non-minifigure part of the set. It’s a really tight and interesting build which I really enjoyed putting together. The pod’s cockpit opens up which fits one standard issue Raccoon-sized Rocket.
I really like the pod’s shape and the little robotic arms that stretch out from the front. The light blue, grey and transparent elements really come together seamlessly, giving it a very bright yet futuristic feel to the mining pod. The greys on blue also seems inspired by LEGO’s Classic Space theme.
The back of the mining pod has a transparent hatch, which when opened allows its payload (several 1 X 1 round yellow bricks) to roll out. I don’t recall this feature being included in the movie but it seems like a sensible function that you’d expect to find in a mining craft.
The mining pod is undoubtedly the highlight build of the set and while it may seem greedy, I wish that LEGO had included two of them in the set since the piece count of Knowhere Escape Mission is a little on the lighter side given its high price.
Final Thoughts: The Australian price for Knowhere Escape Mission is outrageously high – $80 at full price. For a set that has only 433 pieces, I really felt short-changed, despite the inclusion of a great cast of main characters – which does little to soften the blow.
If price was something that I could just magically ignore, Knowhere Escape Mission would be a pretty decent set. It has a nice structural build, coveted minifigures like Nebula, Rocket and Groot and it was quite an enjoyable experience putting the set together.
The main structure, while not actually being in the movie apart from the yellow sludge pools is quite appealing given its significant size and towering height. The play features are pretty fun (except for the meh trap door) and there’s also the added bonus of the platforms, bridges and tower being large enough that you can place the minifigures on them to create all sorts of scenes.
The mining pod is a nice little cherry on a very expensive cake. It’s a flawless build and wonderfully designed plus you can also swoosh it around to emulate the “Escape Mission” part of the set’s name.
To be fair, if you’re a fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy, this is a must buy set simply because of Rocket, Groot and Nebula. If you love minifigs, this set is a no brainer but if you’re after a set with decent value, Escape while you can because value is Knowhere to be found.
What I liked:
- AAA Minifigures
- The main structure is pretty fun to build and packed with fun features
- Mining Pod is delightful and shines as the hero of the set
What I didn’t like:
- The price is a huge turn off
- Groot looks more like a robot than a tree
Thanks for reading my Knowhere Escape Mission review! For my review of the smallest GotG set, check out what I thought about Starblaster Showdown here.
To end my review, here’s arguably one of the funniest parts of the Guardians of the Galaxy that I was so happy to be able to recreate. LEGO vines were taken from another set.