Lego has been making Star Wars products ever since Episode I came out, and they've been quite well received. But things really hit the big time with the release of Lego Star Wars, the videogame that let you play through the prequels in cute blocky form. The game was a wild fun, and also a wild hit - so big, in fact, that there was an announcement about Lego Indiana Jones as a videogame before there was an announcement of actual Indiana Jones Legos!
If adventure has a name... it must be Indiana Jones! An archaeologist, adventurer, and world traveler, Indy has journeyed across the globe in search of hidden treasures, lost cities and legendary artifacts. Most of what he seeks is priceless - and some possess powers so great the must not fall into the wrong hands!
The big daddy set right now, the hero of the collection, is #7623, the Temple Escape. This is probably the single most iconic scene in the entire Indiana Jones series: the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's built from 554 pieces, mostly grey and beige with a healthy dose of over-grown green, and built in several "sections" - so much so that the set actually takes two instruction booklets to get the whole thing together. There's even a separate vehicle and four minifigs (six if you count the not-so-recently deceased).
The set tries to duplicate the entire underground temple, so fully assembled it measures more than 21" long. Let's walk you through it the way the movie did.
The entryway is a forboding stone maw, with plants growing through the cracks. There are vines and bugs on the ground, and there's even a skull under one of the leaves. Two odd tiki-faces flank the opening to the temple, and a trio of carved skulls loom overhead, warning curious interlopers away. The rough cave walls show evidence of moss, and there are more vines and plants growing in here. Of course, beware of the indigenous giant spiders that have come to call this long-abandoned temple their home.
As we move into the next section,
we find a skeleton pinned to the wall by a row of spikes. Must be Forrestall, Indy's competitor. Guess he forgot to stay out of the sunlight. The tunnel takes a slight bend, here, and there are more plants growing everywhere. Watch out for the large spider's web which is nearly blocking the path. Another skeleton is sitting here, holding a spear. Perhaps this is one of the native Hovitos who ignored the warnings of his people and ventured inside.
Be careful as you step through the archway into the next section: there's no floor! This angular section,
overgrown with vines, features a bottomless chasm and an overhanging branch to swing from. It's just a shame there's no time to stop and admire the Mesoamerican carving on the rear wall: it depicts a priest (probably) wearing a ceremonial mask and brandishing a pair of daggers. In a cute detail, the shrunken heads he has are actually undersized Lego-person heads with X-ed out eyes and their mouths stitched shut. Eww!
The next section seems safe enough, but...
there's just something about the floor. There are tiles of various shades scattered about, and a few gaps. Best to avoid them altogether. A stone skull with a feathered headdress matches the one at the front door, and the wall is stocked with stacked skulls. Six of the suckers. Seriously. The wall in this chamber is lower than the previous cave walls, and more "finished": it's obvious human hands shaped this one, and there are even fewer springs of leafy green hanging about.
At last we come to the main shrine. A bat is perched on the skull that adorns the left side of the entryway. A curved stone dais fills the majority of the room, and a few steps lead up to the higher level. It is here that we find our prize: the golden fertility idol. It sits in front of a stone god, a giant face forever watching over the precious idol. Two large hands flank the platform, with palms upturned to hold human skulls. A fearsome scene, to be sure, but as long as Indy replaces the idol with a properly weighted bag of sand, everything should be okay, right? Right!
So remove the idol from its base and... oh no! No! The entire stone head tips forward, and "rocks" come tumbling down on anyone foolish enough to be standing there(1). Running back through the tiles, darts shoot out of the skulls lining the wall(2). Well, okay, they're spears, but there's no such thing as a Lego dart - this is as close as it gets. Swing back across the chasm(3) (provided someone throws you the whip after you throw them the idol),
and quickly duck under the falling door(4) that threatens to entomb you here forever. Outrun the famous rolling boulder(5), being careful not to be killed by the blades popping out of the wall(6), and you've got a straight shot for the exit(7). Hooray!
Now, okay, the traps aren't in the same order as we see in the film, but unless you just watched it 10 minutes ago, you won't really notice. The "dart" spears launch when you flick them out from behind, and a lever on the back of the set frees the door to drop. At the same time, the dropping door looses the boulder to roll down the clever little track that's been set up for it. It's a feature that works well, but obviously you can't re-create the film exactly with that one: Harrison Ford rolled under the doorway, grabbed his whip, then recovered the idol before being chased by the huge stone - here it's all one action. The blades near the door are activated by gravity: pull out the pin holding them up, and they swing down into the pathway. Still, all the play features are fun, and they work properly.
All that would probably be enough, but Lego gave us one more item. On the run from the Hovitos indians,
Indy beat feet back to the plane that carried him into the jungle. Actually, it's a seaplane - it was floating in a nearby river. The 7" long plane is white with a grey stripe down the side. The engine is black and tan, and the landing gear/pontoons are red. The propeller is a three-bladed model, while the one in the movie was just two blades. Eh, no one is really going to notice. The plane's registration - OB-CPO - not only suggests that it's registered in Peru (leading to the popular [but erroneous] fannon belief that the opening takes place in that country), but is also a sly reference to two of George Lucas' characters: Obi-Wan and C-3P0. The plane's cockpit is open, with seating for two and a control stick in the rear. It's a biplane, and the larger upper wings measure 7" across.
The star minifig in this set is obviously going to be Indiana Jones himself.
Lego has been making Han Solo minifigs for years, so we know they can duplicate that famous smirk on a tiny block head. What's new, however, is the fine brown stubble on his chin. The figure is painted nicely, with plenty of detail on his leather jacket and rumpled white shirt. His holster is painted onto his legs, and of course his trademark fedora plugs onto his head. It's a no-brainer that he has a small gray pistol, but Lego has also given him a separate messenger bag that can be slung over his shoulder. Best of all, though? Check out the coiled whip! It's soft rubber, so it can be stretched out for real whipping fun, or to help Indy swing over a pit. Let it go, and it coils back to normal.
Even with a map, Indy needed two guides to lead him through the jungle. Barranca was chased away after he drew a gun on Dr. Jones, so only Sapito gets a figure in this set. He's sweaty and dirty, wearing a yellow buttoned shirt and gray pants. It would have been awesome if they'd given him one of those flat pieces that would fit against his back and have a peg on it, so you could cover him in spiders, but Lego didn't think of that. His only accessory is the lit torch he's carrying for Indy. Sapito, by the way, was played by Alfred Molina. Which means if you got the Spider-Man Legos, you can now have an Otto Octavius to go with your Norman Osborn.
Escaping the trapped temple, Indiana found himself faced with the Hovitos he'd been trying to avoid, and with them was Rene Belloq. Damn Frenchman! He's a competing archaeologist, but instead of giving things to museums, he keeps them for himself or sells them to the highest bidder, no matter who that may be. He's wearing a khaki suit and a pith helmet, and has a bit of a sneer - the kind that just makes you want to punch his lights out. Of course, he's got a gun handy to keep that from happening.
The final minifigure is the seaplane's pilot, Jock.
He's wearing his blue Air Pirates shirt with his name on the pocket, and black ballcap to keep the sun off. He's a happy guy, content to just hang out on his plane while Indy's off having adventures. He does come with one accessory I've never seen before: a Lego fishing pole. Neat piece, that, with a double-sided stud serving as the reel. Oh, and I nearly forgot Reggie! You remember Reggie - Jock's pet snake. The one that made Indy freak out when it noticed it in the cockpit with him. Of course, the movie version was an anaconda, while this is the standard Lego rattlesnake molded in green.
The Temple Escape set isn't entirely movie accurate, but the designers really did their best
to duplicate everything we saw there. The traps work well, and the design is great. The set's construction is clever, using hinge blocks to create a distinctively natural shape, rather than a straight hallway. Modular flooring means you can even change things around, if you want to. There's probably no more indelibly iconic representation of Indiana Jones as both a character and a film series than his escape from this South American temple, and getting it in Lego form is just cool. Obviously to be more realisitic it would need a wall on both sides, not just the back, but then how would you play? The SRP may be a little high, but if you can get this one on sale, do it.