LEGO Sonic the Hedgehog 76996: Knuckles’ Guardian Mech [Review]

The new LEGO Sonic the Hedgehog theme (launched earlier this year) has the potential to give Mario a run for his money when it comes to video game-inspired LEGO sets. With lots of unique molded minifigures and brightly-colored scenes and vehicles, fans of the franchise have a lot to get excited about. Knuckles’ Guardian Mech joins the line-up in January. The set features a mech for Knuckles, including his iconic pointed boxing gloves, as well as another character: Rouge. The latter is a bat-girl with a fancy flier intent on stealing the giant green gem that Knuckles is defending. LEGO Sonic the Hedgehog 76996: Knuckles’ Guardian Mech comes with 276 pieces, and will be available on January 1st from the LEGO website for US $34.99 | CAN $44.99 | UK £29.99

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.

Unboxing the parts and instructions

The set comes in a square box with thumb-punch tabs. The front of the box has the LEGO Sonic the Hedgehog branding, including a graphic of Sonic running through a gold ring. The mech and Rouge’s bat flyer are shown against an illustrated background setting for a large green gem on a stand.

The back of the box shows another scene with Rouge stealing the gem, and Knuckles in pursuit. There are also 2 inset images of play features, and an image of the two minifigures facing off on either side of the green gem.

Inside the box we find three numbered bags and an instruction booklet. There are no stickers in the set, but there are two printed elements for the mech’s rocket launchers.

The build

The build starts with Rouge, who has a cute purple molded batwing element. Then the very simple gem and a stand for it. And finally, a neat bat-themed flyer made up of a central section which can attach to the top of the gem for easy acquisition, and two hinged wing assemblies (including a classic space element in light magenta).

Rouge attaches to the bat flier using handlebars, and the two wings are attached using ball socket points, so between that and the hinged wing it is a pretty neat and poseable vehicle for a secondary build.

Next is Knuckles’ mech, which starts with a simple torso assembly with lots of ball joints of various sizes for attaching robot limbs. The sides of the torso use a 1×1 brick with studs on 2 sides and some white slopes to create a nice angled look under each shoulder. Here is where we see the two printed elements in the 5-sided shield in red, printed with 6 dots (that I assume are rockets).

Moving on to the legs, these are duplicates using the new-ish angled element that has become very common with mechs of this size and price range. But personally, they feel more appropriate for a more basic 4+ set, as they have no articulation. As a result, the mech that use them are limited in their poseability.

Once the legs are done, they attach to the large balls on the hip section of the torso. Something about the fact that they are completely identical on both ends makes them feel a bit strange to me. Most mechs have upper and lower leg details that are unique, and it makes this mech feel a bit rushed in design.

Two feet, completely symmetrical and designed to look like sneakers, are next. I don’t know if this is a detail that fits the source material but the front hinge being left unadorned also feels strange to me, but more on that later.

With the feet attached, the mech is starting to look a bit more balanced.

Now we move on to two mirror-built arms that include the iconic knuckles that give this character his name. More of the angled elements are used here, further restricting the movement range of the finished model.

With the arms attached, there are only a few details left to build before the mech is ready for Knuckles to guard the green gem and prevent Rouge from escaping with her prize.

First, three sloped elements attached with small ball joints fan out across the mech’s shoulders. Then, a simple pilot section attaches to the front of the mech and includes 2 stud shooter elements and a pair of handlebars that Knuckles can only pretend to hold unless he ditches his attached knuckle hands.

Finally, the mech is done and ready for action. Of all the parts of the finished model I actually like the bat flier the most. The mech, while it fits the character well and has some decent details, feels stiff and awkward. As I said before, using that particular single-molded part for all four limbs leaves the finished mech looking and feeling very stiff. There have been plenty of mechs from LEGO Ninjago and LEGO Monkie Kid that do more with less parts as far as posable joints goes.

Oh, and if the front hinges of those sneakers bother you as much as they bother me, you can easily add a tile or plate of your choosing from your collection.

The minifigs

The set comes with 2 minifigures, Knuckles, with detachable boxing gloves, and Rouge, with a purple wings element. Both minifigures come with multi-colored leg printing, and torso front and back printing. Similar to Disney collectible minifigures, each head in the Sonic theme is a unique molded head rather than a standard minifig head with a separate molded accessory. The facial expressions and other details are printed on the dual-molded heads.

Conclusions and recommendations

So, is this set worth picking up? That depends on whether you are a fan of the Sonic franchise, or just looking to score mech parts. The custom minifigures in the set are great, and despite my criticisms of the mech design, as a display set the mech is pretty decent. At $35 USD for 276 pieces, it is a bit harder to swallow. The other Sonic sets, like many themes, do have a wide range of prices and sizes, but most have a better part per price ratio. There are no particularly unique or hard-to-find parts in the mech itself, aside from the minifigures. But if you feel compelled to pick it up, LEGO Sonic the Hedgehog 76996: Knuckles’ Guardian Mech will be available on January 1st from LEGO’s website for US $34.99 | CAN $44.99 | UK £29.99

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.

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