LEGO Marvel 76187 Venom: when you have an ugly face but a great smile [Review]

LEGO has been expanding their line of collectible helmet models into super-heroic realms. We recently shared an early look at Marvel 76199 Carnage, and today we’ll delve into the eerily similar Marvel 76187 Venom. This 565 piece set will be available April 26th from the LEGO Shop Online for US $59.99 | CAN $79.99 | UK £54.99. Like Venom himself, there are good things and bad things about this set. But will the final verdict be “hero” or “villain”? Read on and see!

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The box and contents

Venom’s box art is based on the 18+ “Adult Collector” theming. It’s an irregular-sized box compared to standard LEGO offerings, but consistent with the other helmet kits. Like the Carnage head, it lacks a direct “this is a Spider-Man set” call-out, instead, going with a minimalist “Assembled from the Spider-Man universe” subtitle. Also lacking are any Sony logos or branding that would directly tie this set into the upcoming Venom: Let There Be Carnage film.

The back of the thumb-punch packaging is also very sparse. There’s a total lack of text beyond the LEGO and marvel logos, with the focus instead on another view of the Venom bust. Along the bottom edge are also three inset images. The center one is a head-on product shot giving the height of the head (19 cm/ 7 inches) and is flanked by two bits of art. The one on the left is from a well-known comic appearance, Venom Lethal Protector #2 with art by Venom co-creator Mark Bagley. To the right is a licensed Marvel poster image by Ryan Brown. Again there aren’t any movie stills, although I suspect the Brown art was chosen as it’s very similar to the theatrical poster for the 2018 Venom movie.

Inside the box are six numbered parts bags and a loose instruction manual.

The 88 page, perfect-bound manual is also very light on the cover text. Other than the info on the bust’s nameplate, there’s no info about the set. Not even the “Venom” logo from the box art. All of these helmet/bust sets have had minimal graphics on the instructions, but it still looks unfinished to me.

Similar to the Carnage set, the first couple of pages of the manual are devoted to LEGO creative lead Jesper C. Nielsen interacting with the head. Seen side-by-side it’s easy to notice that the poses and actions are very similar. Some might even say “identical.” Is this just marketing efficiency or a subtle in-joke about these two sets being virtual clones of each other? Personally, I’m hoping it’s a bit of snark.

It’s also worth mentioning that the actual instructions have a light grey background instead of the black background that plagued many 18+ themed sets. Considering the mostly black elements used in Venom’s construction, the build could have been a lot less fun.

The parts

There are no new molds in this set, but we do get some new colors for existing elements. Of particular note are the black pentagonal clip-flag, dark pink modified plates, and tan claw/horn pieces. There’s also a unique print on the 4×6 plate.  (Probably some very limited re-usability there.)  One thing that did feel wrong, though, was the lack of a brick separator. At this price point, you’d expect to get one, and it seems odd not to provide the tool in a set aimed at least partially at non-LEGO regulars.

The build

When I started this build I was expecting it to be a simple color-swap with 76199 Carnage. Happily, there are some differences that appear from the earliest steps. In particular, there are transparent neon green “slime drops” that show up on the stand. The general construction of the stand remains the same as we’ve seen in similar sets, with Technic beams providing a strong interior structural support to things.

Venom’s head is a hollow core with plenty of SNOT connections on the outside. In another departure from the Carnage build, Venom gets a mount for his tongue in the form of a 2×2 plate with Technic pin. The transparent neon green elements also make a couple more appearances, although the ones higher in the head will be completely hidden in the final model.

Moving beyond the core, the back and top of the head are the next things to be added. Both have nice shaping, with enough exposed studs to remind a viewer that they’re looking at a LEGO model. The shaping is really well done, too, with some very nice curves rendering the shape of the head.

Inside Venom’s mouth, we get a good deal of transparent neon green “drool”.  This ends up being a very subtle detail, though, as the teeth will obscure 99% of these parts. It would have been nice to see the slime built with a half-stud offset to the rest of the build, allowing it to be seen between the teeth instead of being hidden behind them.

Next up are Venom’s eyes. They’re attached a clever angle thanks to two forward-facing hinge bricks.

The text at the beginning of the instructions calls out that Venom’s eyes are asymmetrical “to help with that organic feel.” I think they could probably have pushed that a bit further, though. Venom is meant to be a goopy monster, and having that solid line along the bottom edge doesn’t really speak to that. The black clip-flag forms the underside of Venom’s chin, which hides even more of that neon saliva.

Venom’s forehead is built on its own sub-structure. I took a picture of it for two reasons: 1) It kind of looks like a crab, and crabs are cool.  And 2) it shows off the 2×2 modified plate in dark pink, another newly recolored element.

At this point I found myself wondering “are my hands really greasy or something?” Fresh-from-the-package black LEGO elements are just fingerprint magnets. The sides of Venom’s head are pretty plain looking and might have benefitted from a few more tiles to smooth out the texture a little.

Venom’s jaw uses Mixel ball joints to create an interesting “wrap around” build. The mirrored assembly clips together in the center, forming the signature (and pronounced) underbite.

The final build steps are attaching Venom’s tongue and the display plate. While doing some research for this article I found that someone had documented when Venom’s tongue first started stretching in the comics. (The more you know..!) Anyway, if “French Kiss Venom” isn’t your thing, the build looks pretty good without the tongue. Think of it as an easy-to-accomplish “B-Model.”

The finished model

The completed model is a pretty solid entry into LEGO’s helmet/bust line of mini-statues. As noted above, the black bricks are easy to smudge, so you might want to wipe the completed build down before you put it on whatever shelf you plan to let it dwell on. As you’d expect, it looks the best from the front, with the profile views being a bit weaker.

The views from the top and back are also not very interesting, but they’re not meant to be the focus. The important thing is that they have good shaping and don’t wreck the look if you decide to display Venom “in the round”.

Venom vs. Carnage

At several points in this review I’ve alluded to the fact that the Venom head is, let us say, “similar” to the 76199 Carnage bust. Having just built them back-to-back, I think a more accurate term would be “virtually identical”.  Obliviously the colors are different. Carnage has some stickers while Venom has that tongue and some hard-to-see neon drool. There are a few minor build differences (possibly from some parts not being available in both red and black versions). Despite the similar construction, though, when seen side-by-side they still manage to look like distinctive characters.

I think customizers might want to take the differences a little further, though. I touched on the opportunity to make the eyes more distinctive, and that’s something that could make a side-by-side display more effective. A more substantial tweak would be bulking out the sides of Venom’s head; he’s usually depicted as a much more beefy creature than the thin-and-wiry Carnage.

Read the TBB review of 76199 Carnage here.

Conclusion and recommendation

As part of the 18+ line, the Venom head is designed to appeal to adults who are looking for a LEGO set that ends with a nice display piece, rather than a fun play experience. And, from that perspective, this set does a good job. This is a great likeness of the character, that gets more interesting the closer you look at it. The downsides become apparent when looking for appeal to other LEGO markets. At $60 US for 565 pieces, the cost-per-part comes in just at under 11 cents. This is pretty high even for a licensed set, and very high for those looking for a parts pack. There are, however, some new and rare colored elements, and plenty of useful parts in decent quantities. Venom has proven his endurance as a popular Marvel character, so this set will likely fare well in the longer-term collectible sense, and there will probably be another surge of interest when the movie sequel arrives later this year. Is it worth getting? Well, that depends mostly on how big a fan of Venom you are. If he’s a favorite, then this seems like a reasonable purchase. Personally, I’d wait for a sale, though. Slightly cheaper, this set becomes a solid win for a wide range of interests.

Marvel 76187 Venom will be available April 26th from the LEGO Shop Online for US $59.99 | CAN $79.99 | UK £54.99. It may also available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

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