As the days count down to the release of The LEGO Batman Movie on 10 Feb 17, we wanted to keep your interest piqued with our latest movie tie-in set review, 70912 Arkham Asylum. Containing 1628 pieces, this is the largest set in The LEGO Batman Movie theme at present with the associated largest price tag of £139.99 / $149.99 / 149.99€, which equates to a price per piece of 8.6p / 9.2c / 9.2c, respectively. This set is rated for ages 12-16.
This is the third LEGO incarnation of Arkham Asylum and the biggest, though only just. The first was back in 2008 with 7785 Arkham Asylum, which has 860 pieces, 7 minifigures and a £59.99 / $79.99 price tag. The second, 10937 Batman: Arkham Asylum Breakout, was a 2012 set with 1,619 pieces, 8 minifigures, and a £129.99 / $159.99 / 159.99€ price tag. Finally, we have this latest release which nudges into the lead with a part count of 1,628, but has no less than 12 minifigures (well 13 if one includes the statue minifigure).
In the Box
This set has only one large 230-page instruction booklet, one sticker sheet, 17 bags of parts, a Brick Separator and a lot of minifigures to build and enjoy.
Of the 17 part bags, the vast majority are the muted colours of Black, Dark Stone Grey, Medium Stone Grey, Reddish Brown, and a splash of White for the main part of the build—Arkham Asylum’s external architecture. There are other colours included in this set but in terms of percentage, I’d say it was only about 15%. The colour splash of the ‘other colours’ makes an aesthetically pleasing image, especially with all the Sand Green parts and those new Spring Yellowish Green window panes. This is not a set for colour fans to buy in the hopes of building a rainbow coloured city (unless you build it in microscale perhaps).
In terms of new parts, this set has a few parts of interest, some are new for 2017 and may appear in another new 2017 releases rather than being exclusive to this set (eg. the Black Bow Window 1X4X1 2/3 also appears in 10255 Assembly Square). Of particular interest are the two minifigure utility belts (Part 27145) in Orange and Yellow; two of each are supplied for Catwoman and Batman respectively. The two Reddish Brown parts are new colours rather than new moulds; Wall 3X3X6, Wry 45 Degr. (Part 87421) and Brick W. Inside Bow 1X6X2 (Part 15254). The new parts can be seen in the image below, which also includes a few other new bits: the Snake (Part 30115) appearing for the first time in Medium Stone Grey and the Camera (Part 30089) in Bright Red. Two 2×3 tiles (Part 26603) are supplied in Light Royal Blue and there are a generous six of the New Dark Red Handle 1X4X2 parts.
Phantom Zone Projector
I excitedly built Batman’s Phantom Zone Projector out-of-sync, and I am only owning up to this as I realised that I missed one of the new parts in this set when I took the photograph of all the new parts. The Black Magnifying Glass with Trans-Clear Lens has been revamped with an awesome Crosshairs Pattern (Part 30931). I have no idea what this weapon does, as I have not seen the movie yet, but I really like the attention to detail here. I get the feeling that it may have some comedy value in the film and certainly seems to offer more accuracy than a Batarang.
There is a small selection of printed parts, which includes a new 2×2 tile in Sand Blue that has an Arkham Asylum-headed piece of paper on a clipboard. Presumably, this has some confidential notes on the criminally insane inmates. The other printed tiles are not particularly unusual, although the 1×1 Medium Stone Grey tile with keypad is new for 2017, so this set may be the first time some builders have seen this particular piece.
Finally, we have the dreaded sticker sheet. It is nowhere near the size of the sticker sheet that came with 76052 Classic Batcave, which was large enough to eat your dinner off. The stickers range from the main Arkham Asylum sign (oh why could this not be printed on a tile!) to TNT and posters for inside the cell walls. I am not a fan of sticker sheets and I do think that some of these could have been printed rather than stickers—I mean there are already 2×2 tiles with TNT printed on them within TLG’s inventory, so why not print this onto a different coloured tile? A few of the stickers have a bit of a comedic side: for example sticker 22 says NO STATIONARY NO GIFTS and is applied to the Joker’s cell door. I assume this is a nod to the infamous pencil “magic trick” provided by Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.
The minifigures included in this set will be a key reason for purchase, and not just for Batman fans—superhero and LEGO minifigure collectors in general will be excited by the 12 minifigures. These 12 minifigures are Batman, Robin, Aaron Cash, Dr. Harleen Quinzel, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, Catwoman, , Two-Face, The Joker, a female GCPD officer, a male GCPD officer and Barbara Gordon. Apart from Batman, the other 11 minifigures are exclusive to this set, making this set great for the minifigure collectors who gotta get them all…
Taking a closer look at our caped crusader reveals that this is sh329:Batman – Utility Belt, Head Type 3, who appears in 4 other sets including 70900: The Joker Balloon Escape. The Robin variant in this set is exclusive due to his double-sided head print, although the rest of the minifigure is not unique. Both of our heroes have double-sided faces and some muscular back printing that is revealed after removal of the cape. Batman’s cape is his usual softer material one and he is sporting the new mould for 2017, a yellow utility belt (2 are supplied with the set). Robin has his ‘googly goggles’ hair piece and a cape of firmer material and a shinier side.
The inmates of an unstable mental state are all wearing the same orange jumpsuits with ARKHAM ASYLUM printed across the back in black. The discerning feature that helps when building the minifigures is the different hand colours for each of the inmates, since all the inmates wear the same jumpsuits. Only Catwoman wears the Orange utility belt, the same design as Batman’s. I’m not sure exactly why Catwoman gets a belt, but the obvious answer is to store her cat treats. Each inmate has double-sided head printing and some nice details, especially in the headwear department. Poison Ivy has an awesome hairpiece, although I’m not too sure about Catwoman’s Medium Lilac motorcycle helmet-esque cowl.
The Arkham Asylum staff are denoted by their white outfits, with a white lab coat over a funky patterned sweater and a red scarf for Dr. Harleen Quinzel, and a white shirt and trousers for Aaron Cash. Dr. Quinzel has a great raised eyebrow look that I would probably call ‘quizzical’, while it seems that Aaron only does some testosterone-fueled looks: angry and stern. There are also two generic Gotham City Police Department (GCPD) officers with their dark blue torsos and unprinted black legs. The female has a double-sided head with a worried look and a stern look, while the poor male minifigure seems destined to yell in surprise for the rest of his minifigure life. He wears a GCPD hat and presumably was only given the one facial expression because his head is visible at the rear. The final figure is Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon’s police officer daughter, who gets to look really cool in her stripy waistcoat and holster ensemble.
The cute police car is the first part of the set to be built and features an opening trunk (or boot, for us Brits) and doors, and I liked the leather seat in the interior. It’s actually a great little build in my opinion. Interestingly, LEGO’s description says “Police car features a removable roof to easily place three minifigures inside, opening doors, an opening trunk and translucent police-light-style elements”. I tested this play feature and I think that fitting two minifigures in leaves them sitting a little bit closer than ‘work colleagues’ would normally sit. GCPD are clearly very friendly officers, since there is apparently room for one more in here (although this couple are not too sure about another minifigure joining in with their fun…).
The Asylum – Central Section
The central section of the Asylum is the next portion to be built, with Gothic columns and a short staircase leading up to the imposing front doors, which swing open. I really like some of the Gothic features, and the inverted use of the Silver Metallic Plate 1X1 W/Tooth to emphasize its arch is a really nice touch. The contrasting Medium Stone Grey is effective, and it is fair to say that the best of the architectural details are in this central section. The statue reminds me of Dr. Who, perhaps simply because that was the first use for that particular receding hairline hairpiece. The statue is holding the Medium Stone Grey snake, perhaps a nod to Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine who held a staff entwined with a snake.
Once inside, it is safety and security first with the easily removable security scanner play feature. A minifigure can be placed on the sliding mechanism and pushed through the scanner with stickers that show the ‘scanned’ image of a skeleton minifigure appearing. It’s an okay play feature, but it is sticker-tastic and it is the only feature within in this grand main entrance hall. The upper section is Aaron’s office and control centre, with videotapes and a computer terminal for him to stand and look at. I feel that the interior of this central section is rather less well thought out than the exterior, unfortunately.
The Gothic architecture style continues with the two wings of the Asylum. The first wing to be built is the left wing, which houses the laundry area. The windows with bars are a great feature and look much better than the option of simply having a glass window part with bars either printed or even worse, stickered! I might as well note at this point the right wing is almost an exact repeat of the left wing, apart from a few very minor details. It’s not the most interesting build, since it mainly involves simply stacking bricks. However, the windows and the repeating Gothic-styled architectural features offer a welcome distraction from the stacking.
The first of two wings contains Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s office area and two cells in addition to the laundry. The second wing contains the ‘cafeteria’, which is more accurately described as a snack bar, as well as a visiting room and another two cells. One of the highlights is the washing machines, which are nicely built. The Sand Green is a perfect colour choice for them. I think I want a Sand Green washing machine for my own home, actually. The laundry area contains a stickered box of washing powder, which I think would have looked better if a simple 1×2 Tan tile had been used to cover the top studs—a tiny detail that would have resulted in a better looking box. The two cells use the 4×6 glass window pane as a diving wall, which appears for the first time in a lovely eerie shade of Spring Yellowish Green. These cells would not meet the UN Human Rights minimum rules for prisoners, as the cells are only 4×4 studs in size and contain absolutely nothing apart from a comedy poster stuck onto the dividing wall. Not even a bed, a chair, or some light entertainment is provided.
In the other wing, the snack bar can be removed and used as a play feature along with the picnic table and chairs. The orange seats are clearly marked, presumably so inmates know that they can sit at this table wearing their orange jumpsuits. The small visiting room has a central room divider, with a glass screen and handsets on each side to allow communication. There are two round spotlights in the centre of each of the wings, but you can see from the photograph that these have a mind of their own and have a tendency to spin on the frictonless Technic pin or flip forward.
The final stage of the build is the watchtower with speakers for blasting out a siren and LOCKDOWN signs to warn about impending lockdowns. There is also a small exercise area with barbells and a chest bench to ensure that the inmates can maintain their fine physiques. The little basketball hoop with backboard is clearly just a decorative feature, for sadly no ball is included in the set. It would need to be a small ball since the hoop used is not the typical LEGO basketball hoop but actually the Lifebuoy With Knob more typically seen as a toilet seat.
The watchtower itself is a rather uninspiring build, and mainly consists of stacking large panels on top of each other to make a structure taller than the Asylum building. The vertical structure is built from just 8 main pieces. There is nothing at the top in terms of a control room or a means to make the sirens blare or warn of an escaped inmate. I would have expected a huge spotlight to form part of the Watchtower, but the poor GCPD officer doesn’t even have a torch to flash.
I haven’t mentioned the white parts yet, as I wasn’t sure how to approach these. I haven’t seen the movie, but I am assuming that Arkham Asylum is located in an area where it is snowing. Throughout the build there are areas where white bricks, slopes or plates are used in place of a black one to depict snow. The problem I have with this is that snow lies on top of a surface rather than displacing the surface, so this technique really does look rather odd in places. The use of the 1×1 cheese slopes and tiles makes more sense as these sit on top of the bricks forming the building and look much more like snow. As an example, in the Watchtower, the roof has two white bricks and a white slope replacing three black elements in the roof structure. I don’t think this conveys the idea of snow lying on the surface as effectively as the use of a tile or slope placed on top of the black (e.g. on the sloping roofs of the two wings).
In summary, this set is the most expensive of the tie-in sets for The LEGO Batman Movie and offers a lot of Black, Reddish Brown and Medium Stone Grey parts for fans who want to use the parts for other builds. While I love the Gothic features, this façade of Arkham Asylum doesn’t look too bad from the outside, but is ultimately a little disappointing inside. I imagine the cost relates more to the 12 minifigures than the size and complexity of the build. The set is rated for 12-16 year-olds, but actually this is a very simple build with no complex sections and a lot of repetitive stacking, especially when building the wings and the watchtower. There are some fun play features, and I can imagine scenes with the inmates exercising, eating, having visitors and generally causing mayhem, but overall the building seems rather austere in terms of size and features. I get the impression that the price point was set and the designers had to match the cost rather than the build being allowed to flourish.
Perhaps the solution is to buy two sets, sell the minifigures for one to recoup some cash and then build a bigger, better Arkham Asylum on a larger scale. Fans of Batman and the related characters will be happy with the whopping 12 minifigures supplied even if the inmates are all wearing the same clothes.
70912 Arkham Asylum is available from the LEGO Shop for £139.99 / $149.99 / 149.99€
If you enjoyed this review, don’t miss our other reviews of LEGO sets from The LEGO Batman Movie:
The LEGO Batman Movie 70903 The Riddler Riddle Racer
The LEGO Batman Movie 70905 The Batmobile
The LEGO Batman Movie 70906 The Joker Notorious Lowrider
The LEGO Batman Movie 70907 Killer Croc Tail-Gator
The LEGO Batman Movie 70909 Batcave Break-in
The LEGO Batman Movie 70911 The Penguin Arctic Roller
The LEGO Batman Movie Collectible Minifigures
The LEGO Batman Movie Collectible Minifigures Feel Guide
The LEGO Batman Movie 30524 Mini Batwing and 30521 Mini Batmobile
The LEGO Batman Movie 30522 Batman in the Phantom Zone & 30523 The Joker Battle Training
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick a copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.