review: BanBao World Defence Force M2 Helicopter (8243)

bb-8243-coverFollowing the military theme of my previous post, we’ll be taking a look at a set from Chinese brand BanBao. The set has 90 pieces and is suitable for ages… 4+? Really? The official website says it’s suitable for “chilrdren from the age of 5.” Get a load of the soldiers on the box. Don’t they look happy to be firing on what I’m sure are enemy military assets?

box-backHere’s the back of the box. Those figures… More on that in a bit.

box-sloganThe BanBao slogan. What if your dream involves building with a different brick system? Let’s crack open the box.

contentsYou get three bags of parts, a sticker sheet, an instruction sheet to build the helicopter, and an instruction sheet / catalog of “ToBees,” what BanBao calls their rendition of the building block minifigure. We may as well get a gander at those ToBees right now…

tobee-01Oh. Oh, my.

The reason why these figures are more neck post than body is that the post runs through the figure’s head like a skewer and is capped by the headgear. You’ll never see a bald ToBee for that reason.

tobee-02

Here’s our chopper crew. The “chibi” proportions of these ToBees wouldn’t bother me so much, except that these characters are supposed to be soldiers. Take a look at the one on the left. Are those scars on its face? How is that cute?

tobee-03In spite of its enormous melon, the ToBee stands just a hair shorter than the standard Lego minifigure. The lack of legs means the ToBee has no leg articulation, but it does have a swivel at the waist. The oversized feet also means the ToBee has a “footprint” of four studs instead of the standard two.

partsHere’s a look at the more specialized parts of the set. It’s interesting to note that the landing skid and tail are both one piece. There are two of each pictured firearm, which look like some sort of .50 caliber rifle and CAR-15 variant. The lack of definition suggests the firearms are recasts of another brand’s designs.gun

The .50 caliber rifle scales decently with Lego minifigures – better than the ToBees, at least.

8243Here’s the assembled helicopter. Based on its silhouette, I would guess the design is inspired by military choppers like the MH-6 Little Bird. The bubble canopy is made from a cloudy plastic. It sort of reminds me of the cap on a detergent bottle. The clutch of the parts is looser than I would like. The gray cones at the front of helicopter, in particular, have some trouble staying on the model. Due to the lack of legs, the pilot is actually standing in the seat. Even standing in the seat requires special feet for the pilot that are contoured to the chair.

sparesSpare parts. The cheese slopes are slightly taller than the standard Lego slope. The levers are incredibly floppy and of no practical use.

Conclusion

The BanBao World Defence Force M2 Helicopter is a decent set with a few problems. The proprietary minifigures seem somewhat inappropriate for the military theme. The quality of the parts just misses being on par with the major brands. However, the helicopter design is sturdy (if  a little primitive). It is ultimately a set aimed at younger builders (Those wanting a more involved build might want to look into acquiring the Call of Duty Chopper Strike set from Mega Bloks). If I hadn’t purchased this set at clearance prices, I might be a little more critical.

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