Hybrid Rescue Tank
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Keiken-sensei knew that the only way to win the war and beat back the robots for good would be to first rescue the untold thousands of humans being held prisoner on the robot-controlled side of the mountain. Where they were now, he could only guess. But an expedition would need to be sent to find the massed prison cells. And so, to ensure that Meca One would not learn this, he secretly used Golden City technology to build new Battle Machines specially designed and customized to the talents of Exo-Force’s finest pilots, which he would then personally lead down into the lowlands of Sentai Mountain. The responsibility of keeping the Golden City safe and Exo-Force functional in his absence would fall to his granddaughter, Hitomi- who had become an experienced and courageous pilot in her own right recently. But what hadn’t been expected was the treachery of the robots. Upon Hitomi taking command of the human resistance, the new Battle Machines were discovered, and a new mission drawn up: Hikari, Takeshi, Ryo, and Hayato would go alone into the deepening jungles and waterfalls of Sentai Mountain to find their leader and make sure that he is not harmed and interrogated by the robots!
When the founders of the colony that would become the mines of Sentai Mountain first explored the region, and then began to move in the heavy equipment, they build long roads which were used later to haul away useful minerals. Surely there must be some left over from the base of the mountain after the robots rebelled? But even if there weren’t roads already there, the Hybrid Rescue Tank would make new roads. Ryo was no less than absolutely stunned at Keiken-sensei’s ambition and ingenuity when he learned about the vehicle’s existence, and that he had been assigned to it. It was designed to be the command vessel from which Keiken-sensei would lead the expedition down the mountainside, but it would not sit idle while the other Battle Machines ventured out alone into combat. No. The HRT is built around moving through dense and rough terrain with a unique tractor system which puts it almost on par with most Battle Machines, and providing the heavy support needed for assaults on fixed robot positions. The entire chassis is molded around a heavy mining laser much like the ones used before the rebellion, and the powerful mobile generator needed to run it. But Keiken-sensei upgraded it into a six-barrel rail blaster- if the mining tool could eat away at solid rock, then this weapon was guaranteed to punch clean through Battle Machine armor given half a chance. The drive section of the HRT is backed up by two swiveling cutting laser turrets on either side of the large drive wheel in back which provide near 135-degrees of cover to either side. But that is only half of its potential… The large turret above the drive section- which generously shields the gunner from all directions- mounts no less than six separate rapid-fire plasma-burst cannons! But what amazed Ryo so much was that, not only did the turret section have its own Battle Machine-type power generator, but it was capable of actually separating from the drive section and flying on its own! The drive section would retain two of the plasma-burst cannons in a smaller turret, but to compensate the fighter section carried two air-to-air/air-to-ground homing missiles. Overwhelmed at the sheer technical genius and awe-inspiring power, Ryo wondered how he could even think the old Mobile Defense Tank that he designed was a good idea… To expand its detection range, Keiken-sensei equipped the large green Battle Machine with a new spy drone robot. Being that he was the one who created the robots before they all turned to evil (and for which he is ever-grieved and guilt-ridden nowadays), Keiken-sensei took the lessons learned from his mistakes, and created these new human-sized mini-robots with a simpler artificial intelligence (“AI”) and less-independent thinking capabilities, making them more dependable in a fight and less-prone to corruption while in a hazardous encounter with their enemies. The one attached to the flying turret of the Hybrid Rescue Tank is equipped to be a long-range sensor drone that can fly at near supersonic speeds both in and out of the deep jungle. When attached to the HRT, the mini-robot’s hand-held cannon can tap directly into the main generator, which increases its output significantly enough to make an additional seventh plasma-burst cannon for the heavy assault vehicle to utilize. The Hybrid Rescue Tank- I must admit- is pretty damn impressive. This thing is gonna be loads of fun for me-- uhh, kids. Kids! I meant to say “kids”! The HRT is clearly the successor to the Mobile Defense Tank from the debut 2006 line; which seems to have skipped a generation in 2007, but looks almost nothing like it. (I’ll try not to draw too many parallels between them. For short, I referred to the Mobile Defense Tank as the “MDT”, so try to keep them separated in your head!)
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Ahhhh- where to start… It’s kinda hard to describe details when they’re together, so I’m gonna cover the two halves separately. There seem to be no official names for the two halves of the HRT, so I’ll just call them the Fighter Section and Drive Section. Sound good? “No”? Too bad!
----Fighter Section (back)----
Cockpit and Fuselage
This is the second time that Ryo gets to control the turret of a tank, but fortunately he gets a whole lot more cover than he did with the Mobile Defense Tank. A very wide and long tinted canopy cover provides the minifig within a panoramic view. For the first time in Exo-Force, the canopy/windscreen cannot simply rotate out of the way; it is directly fixed to the rest of it just like any other Lego part is by snapping it over studs beneath the part. So you have to pry it off, but there are gaps on either side which make this near-effortless. Inside the cockpit- like Hikaru before him in the Chameleon Hunter- Ryo has no seat to rest on, planning his hollow legs right on the floor of the vehicle. He hangs onto an extended handlebar which is connected to the nose via a single Battle Droid minifig arm seen in many Star Wars sets since 1999. Getting him to grab on to the handlebars, and then setting him in is surprisingly harder than it looks to be. On either side of the canopy are two of these plasma-burst cannons. The black shafts used for almost all of the cannons in the set are the same ones that run through the center of all of the human-made mini-robots in the line (including the one for this set). Underneath the long streamlined tail is the engine for the fighter- a single decal attached to a cylindrical brick and flat plate. Because of what parts are used, the engine nozzle can easily twist around.
Both wings are identical, and are attached to the body via ratcheting joints which are used later. The long smooth blue parts used for the wings are the same ones used for the fighter’s tail. Each also features a thin extended-barrel plasma-burst cannon, both of which have their own identical ratcheting joints as well. Mounted above each wing on a ball-and-socket joint is a single missile launcher. Each red & gray missile can be easily detached and replaced on their holders. When in vehicle mode, the missile launchers can be pointed around, but when flying they are always shown point forward. (Makes sense, right?) Another pair of those new neon-green slanted 1x2 vent plates sit on either wing right below the launchers.
----Drive Section (back)----
The HRT uses two different forms of wheeled propulsion, as opposed to the MDT which had only one. The common type between them are rubber tractor treads of which the HRT has only two, one on either side of the front of the vehicle’s body; though they lack the movable suspension system of the MDT. Each tread uses three black rim parts to keep their shape and tension. The back of the HRT, however, uses a single big-ass 3” hollow black rubber tire with inner ABS rim! (The inner wheel is almost completely covered by those white radar dish pieces, which is why it’s hard to see in any pictures.) Both the tractor treads and the big wheel freely spin.
Any parts that have to do with the framework are dark gray unless they are related to the tractor/big wheel assemblies or special features. From most angles, the tractors and big wheel cover up the fact that the HRT is actually very hollow; this is most evident when you look at it from either a back angle or from below. This is perhaps the only real downside to the entire set- the armor is just a façade to hide the fact that this powerful vehicle doesn’t have any guts! The structure of the drive section is built around the tractors/big wheel, turret mount, and forward cannon mount, and anything else is filling. Even the off-center cockpit is as sparse as you can get, allowing the driver- Keiken-sensei- nothing in the form of creature comforts other than a half-cylindrical canopy and a forward blue ‘bumper’ with some light decals on it.
To either side of the big wheel is another kind of laser cannon turret. These also are mounted to ball-and-socket joints, but they’re hidden right behind the forward tractor treads. So the only way to ‘shoot’ them is to turn them to either side. Unfortunately, because of the angle that the ball-and-socket joints hang from above, the Y-shaped female connector part in the turret itself bumps into them, and they can’t completely turn horizontally unless you tilt them upwards a bit. There is a smaller turret sitting on top of the Drive Section with two more of those plasma-burst cannons; these are built almost identically to the ones on the fuselage of the Fighter Section. One minor detail is the inclusion of some transparent-green parts that look like sensor eyes between the cannon barrels. On the right side above the tractor tread is a small black Technic gear. Now, here’s the cool part- when that gear is turned by hand, the turret on top can be twisted all the way around through 360-degrees! The large rail blaster is dominating too, mounted directly opposite the cockpit. Now, here’s the cool part- when you roll the HRT forward, the rail blaster spins around too! Two different twisting cannon features in one set… how cool is that!?
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Combining the two vehicles is very easy, and pretty much involves just the Fighter Section. The wing-mounted cannons and missiles point away from the fuselage, and then the wings themselves swing forward so that everything lines up parallel against the main body again. (It’s a bummer that they didn’t incorporate some kind of mechanism that allows the cannons to twist automatically as you slide the wings around. I bought it thinking they did do exactly that! Oh, well…) Then the Fighter Section slips directly over that dark gray rod in the middle of the rotating turret on the Drive Section... only just missing running poor Ryo through inside! (It might push off his purple minifig-toupee, though, since it’s that close…) The completed Hybrid Rescue Tank (back) is a rather imposing presence, the striking blue and white coloring immediately grabbing your attention, and then all those pointed cannons keep you focused. The spinning rail blaster is unaffected by the combination, but the Fighter Section suddenly bulks up that tiny turret on the Drive Section. As such, when that Technic gear is twisted around, the whole honkin’ thing twists around now.
Lego Set #8118 comes with a new version of the Ryo minifig. While he still has his purple spiky hairdo and double-sided head (one face serious, one a battle-cry expression), the chest print has been redesigned to incorporate new designs- including a camouflaged shirt beneath the techy fittings! But the set also included a Sensei Keiken minifig as well, unchanged since his first (and- so far- only) appearance in the Sentai Fortress (#7709) set from 2006. He, too, has both a calm expression on one side of his head, and he's gritting his teeth on the other, both faces marred by a long red scar crossing the left side. (I guess this means they rescued him, huh…?)
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Normally, when a Lego set needs specific details on a part, such as a control panel or flag, the image is printed or painted directly onto specific parts. Exo-Force continues for its third year by using stick-on decals; something that is becoming more commonplace in other lines of the Lego System. There is a small sticker sheet which provides allegiance markings, warning symbols & notices, and names- some of them written in Japanese text! Translations of the Japanese text are given on the sticker sheet, but do not go on the parts. This allows for a wider range of piece marking without Lego having to create a completely different piece each time, and merges the Exo-Force and Japanese toy influence closer together. Whereas in the debut 2006 line some sets had a few conflicts where decals would cover more than one part and would make it impossible to separate again unless they were cut (or not applied to begin with), this has not been a problem with since and was not present in the 2007 line. And so there are no conflicts in Set#8118 from the 2008 line. I noticed something that I wanna nitpick about here real quick… And it may be absolutely nothing, but I thought it might be worth a footnote if nothing else. On the nose of the Fighter Section above the Exo-Code (see belowExo-Force sets all the time- even the robot ones- but this it the first extraneous mark I’ve seen. And you can barely see the silver letters since they’re on a white background; I can’t even photograph it! Call me paranoid if you wish, but…
The new common gimmick for all of the 2008 line is these new mini-robots. Each one attaches to a Battle Machine. These are not new minifigs, but small Lego parts put together to make unique designs for each set that stands roughly as tall as a minifig. On the human-operated Battle Machines, there is a decal showing the forward profile of its mini-robot as well as the term “Spy Drone”. (Yes, this term is in conflict with all promotional materials- where they are called “mini-robots” instead.) When attaching them to their parent Battle Machine, they fold up and collapse down into a smaller form, though nothing is removed to accomplish this. Be aware that the connection between mini-robot and Battle Machine is not always perfect compared to the instructions, so you’ll have to tinker around until you find an appropriate position for everything, though you won’t have to remove any parts to do so. (It’s really no big deal, and you’ll get used to it quickly enough.) For Set #8118, the mini-robot (back) forms a pod which attaches to the top of the Fighter Section. A long bar sticks out behind, but the legs and center body are heavy enough to comfortably keep it upright on a flat surface; plus, the feet are individually jointed and can be adjusted as well. The white arms (taken from the Devastator robot minifigs) can flip most the way around; though they way they are built they can pitch up and down a little at the shoulder, but these other ‘joints’ are rather tight, so I would not recommend doing this too much. It grips a single blaster composed of a black minifig-sized space sensor and another trans-neon green barrel. The unique thing about the mini-robot for the Hybrid Rescue Tank is that it can transform into a flight mode- the legs swing up horizontally, the arms swing forward (actually, I swing them backwards), and the blaster fits on the post on its chest. It’s small and fragile, but it works! Because of where it attaches on the Fighter Section of the HRT, you cannot get to Ryo in the cockpit without removing the mini-robot first. (Getting the mini-robot off there is a pain in itself compared to the others in all the other sets released up to this point…)
For 2007, Exo-Force’s official website was upgraded with a new Code Brick Central section to accept specially-designated Exo-Codes which would be found in each set released. These alphanumeric Exo-Codes would grant access to special information and online goodies- wallpaper, screensavers, decals for your personal Lego profile, etc.- related to that one set from which the code had come. Apparently it was successful enough because the Exo-Codes are back for 2008. (Alas, they didn’t make new mini-movies of the Battle Machine’s in action like they did last year!) However, unlike the codes that were pre-printed onto flat 1x2 bricks in 2007, the new Exo-Codes are now printed onto decals which are then applied to the cockpit canopy of each set. Be aware that you must be signed up with a free Lego online profile in order to access the new information (of which they will also remind you).
Something that a lot of people noticed was when none of the 2007 sets were used to make alternate and combined models on the box art and website like they were in the breakout 2006 line. Well, you asked for them, and you got them back! While the singular alternate models have not come back, each 2008 set has instructions which can be found in the somewhat-elusive Build It! section of the website to combine two or three Exo-Force sets into one! Oddly, the Hybrid Rescue Tank has no official combination with any of the other Exo-Force sets, or an alternate mode to itself. Now here’s what I don’t like:
- You expect from the price of this that it would have a bit more substance to the body of the Drive Section; the MDT actually surpasses in this regard. Fewer parts, but less substance at the same price is not a good trade-off here. It’s all hollow! Even the rail blaster suffers from this- the base of the cannon is basically a two-sided box with no structure stability whatsoever even though the spinning feature works well. Where are these powerful generators that Lego keeps advertising about in this set???
- This whole year, all of the Exo-Force sets are based on animals- either in features or in general shape. But, unless this set is based on a bear, I don’t see it, and I haven’t found any reference linking it to nature in any of the official materials. It just makes a mess of the surrounding world rather than taking inspiration from it. It doesn’t really need it, but- I mean- what happened? Why break the trend?
- Unlike all of the other mini-robots released up to this point on both sides of the battle, this one causes me the most grief. The main body (with the red sensor eye and green balls) doesn’t stay attached to that rod worth a crap! Yeah, it’s nice to have it transform, but after having three previous human-sided mini-robots that all function the same while all of the robots’ are very flexible and quite different from each other, you’d expect some variety or certainly something more stable. While all the others share similar construction and design, this one is built almost backwards. The only thing I found interesting was how the blaster mounts to the chest when in flight mode; that actually works compared to them always just holding their own weapons all the time. (BTW, what are those green balls on its back supposed to be???)
- This last one is more of a nitpick, but I though hiding those cannons behind the tractor treads wasn’t very clean. They make for good cover for the hollow interior, but I thought they might have worked out better if they has been on the outside of the tractor treads and then be able to swing around 180-degrees.
I feel that this is indeed a worthy successor to the Mobile Defense Tank from 2006. It’s not quite as big (347pcs versus 365pcs), but it’s also not as awkward. It features a rotating cannon which was only implied on the MDT, and you can actually roll it around on a hard surface without the suspension system collapsing all the time if you push too hard. While they both use ball-and-socket joints, this one makes sure that they are not used for heavy sections- only tiny laser cannons and missile launchers here. (Yay! That’s how it’s supposed to be with those kinds of joints, IMO.) I don’t know why- that big wheel in back is unorthodox for something like this, but in a weird way, it’s just cool; like Keiken-sensei’s just gonna rip it up and do wheelies with this thing or somethin’. (Pimp it out with hydraulic shocks maybe…) This whole giant turret set-up is pretty sweet; the inner gear mechanism is what really makes it work. (BTW, right after everything’s folded up on the Fighter Section, doesn’t it remind you of that speeder that that Zam Wessell drove around in “Star Wars Ep.II”? Kinda does to me...) It may be too gimmicky for its own good, but I thought the detachable fighter was a nice touch, as were the extending wings and cannons. (As for that tiny engine nozzle… eh, I don’t care either way.) But other than those four gripes above, I think this is a really cool set to have. Both halves have a special feature instead of just one of them hogging all the fun away from the other. I like that the Drive Section retains a twisting turret even when the Fighter isn’t in place. It also has a nice presence, absolutely covered in weapons and soft angular contours, and- despite the hollow interior of the Drive Section- it looks tough. So despite its flaws (which in the long run aren’t all that bad, except for that mini-robot) I recommend getting the Hybrid Rescue Tank. It’s quite fun! Watch out, Meca One: the HuRT's a-comin'...
This is the half-way point of the 2008 line for Exo-Force until summer. So, what do you think so far? Hey- does anyone even care if I cover these Lego sets or not!? Do they influence you to get or avoid them? People, please give me feedback!
|Posted 6 March, 2008 - 04:02 by EVA_Unit_4A|