LEGO Marvel 76281 X-Men X-Jet; is it too X-Pensive? [Review]

Let’s just deal with the major issue right away. When the official reveal for set 76281 hit, you could practically hear the collective gasp from LEGO fans around the world. An average of ten cents per piece tends to be the benchmark for judging the value of a set, but the X-Men’s aerial transport clocks in at nearly twenty-five cents per piece. I saw a lot of comments online from people writing the set off because of the price alone. So, exactly what is it that’s commanding such a lofty price tag? Back in the 90s, superhero cartoons were all the rage, and one of the most popular was X-Men. And Disney+ is about to debut a new animated series called X-Men ’97, a direct sequel to that previous animated adventure. And a new series means new merchandise, including a LEGO tie-in set featuring four of the most popular mutants as well as the X-Men’s main mode of transportation, the X-Jet (aka The Blackbird). We got our hands on a copy and we’re determined to give it a fair shake. So, for now, put thoughts of price out of your head and let’s find out if the X-Jet can soar or if a crash landing is inevitable. 76281 X-Men X-Jet comes with 359 pieces and will be available on January 1st for US $84.99 | CAN $109.99 | UK £74.99

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, instructions, and stickers

The X-Jet comes packaged in the familiar mainline Marvel tie-in packaging, with the set prominently displayed in action, the minifigures highlighted at the bottom, and a shot of animated Wolverine with the show’s logo along the side.

On the back you get an alternate action shot, with the jet landed and Magneto using his powers of magnetism to raid the jet’s ammunition supply. Several various inset images show off the cockpit and demonstrate the set’s weapon firing features.

Inside, you’ll find four numbered bags, as well as some loose hull pieces, a sticker sheet, and instruction book.

The stickers are nicely designed, with lots of cockpit detail and various X-logos for the ship exterior.

While the set doesn’t feature any entirely new pieces, there are several pieces that are appearing in dark blue for the first time. The most notable of these are the six 5 x 1 x 1 1/3 with 4 x 1 Base Wedges, which as far as I can tell have so far have only appeared in a single other set, 76918 McLaren Solus GT & McLaren F1 LM. You get three each of the left and right variety here, and they do a lot to get the shaping of the jet just right.

The final model

The completed jet is a sturdy and swoopable aircraft. The jet’s design is based on the actual Lockheed SR-71, with the long center section capped by two large engines and the main wings situated at the rear of the craft. The color is primarily dark blue, in keeping with several of its appearances across X-Men media, and the cockpit is trans-red (possibly the same material as team leader Cyclops’ visor).

The main cockpit section holds two minifigures and features a yoke and lots of various screens and buttons. A Nexo Knights slope brings the front of the jet to a perfect sharp point.

Facing the other direction is a secondary cockpit section, that holds two more minifigures and features just as many bits of tech detail.

Directly behind this secondary cockpit section are two cargo bays which are removable. One of them hold extra ammo for the plane, while the other holds Wolverine’s claws when not in use. These cargo units simply slide in and out with no direct connection point to lock them down, however when the secondary cockpit section is closed, with will overlap with the top of the cargo units, effectively locking them into place.

The rear of the craft features some angled grill slopes meant to offer more thrusters than just the two large engines. This section is my least favorite part, aesthetically. The exposed studs of the technic brick that’s holding the engines makes the set feel unfinished. There’s no shortage of 1×8 tiles in dark blue, and a couple here to cover those studs would have helped the overall look of the plane a lot.

On the bottom of the front of the craft, you’ll find the first set of weapons, two stud shooters that are marked with caution lines.

And at the back of the craft, beneath the wings, are a set of longer projectile launchers.

The minifigures

The set contains four minifigures – Magneto, the master of magnetism; X-Men founding member and team leader Cyclops; Rogue, the southern belle with the ability to temporarily steal other mutants’ powers; and, of course, you can’t have an X-Men set without James Howlett, aka Logan, aka Weapon X, aka Wolverine.

All of the figures feature dual facial expressions and front and back torso printing, although after the strong showing the X-Men had in the latest Marvel CMF set, I do think they leave a little to be desired here.

Magneto has had three previous minifigures, but he’s never looked quite like this before. This is the outfit that he briefly wore during his time as headmaster of Charels Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. And it’s fitting that this is his headmaster’s uniform, as younger fans are likely to mistake him for Dumbledore in his magenta and purple clothes with the long white hair. He also comes with a round metal plate that he can ride, using his magnetic powers to hurl the disc through the air with him atop it. While the packaging for this set does depict Magneto as the villain, I wonder if this isn’t a hint to a more heroic function that he’ll serve in the new series.

Team leader Cyclops gets his second minifigure sporting a head and torso that features what is, to me, his all-time greatest costume. I love the asymmetrical chest harness and the exposed hair rather than the full skull cap. Unfortunately, his plain blue legs are kind of underwhelming. This costume should have yellow trunks and boots. Again, this is an instance of the set leaving me feel like it isn’t quite finished.

Rogue is, hands down, the best minifigure in the set. She’s got plenty of printing on her torso and legs, as well as her headband and the trademark streak of white in her hair. Her jumpsuit’s design might have been better served by dual-molded green and yellow legs, but you can only ask so much from a mainline set. That considered, this is an incredibly strong figure.

Wolverine is a great example of the difference between mainline minifigures and their Collectible Minifigure counterparts, as we just had this same iteration of Wolvie show up in the last Marvel CMF wave. Logan’s unprinted arms and all blue legs with printing might feel like a strong effort…

…but when compared to the CMF, with its printed arms and dual-molded legs, Wolverine joins Cyclops in feeling a touch unfinished.

One thing I do give LEGO credit for is that this is a different head from the CMF version. While that head sported two snarling expressions, this Wolverine seems a tad happier overall. One side of his head has goggles to help give his mask the white lenses, while the other side features his regular eyes for going maskless. The problem with this is there’s no included hair piece like the CMF version had, so you can’t really let Wolverine go maskless, and like the aforementioned blue tiles for the technic bricks on the jet, there is no shortage of hair pieces suitable for Wolverine that could have been included.

Conclusion and recommendation

I previously reviewed set 76232 The Hoopty, which is another set that suffers from what some fans call “The Marvel Tax.” I found that set to be an incredibly satisfying and charming build that, while priced frustratingly high, was still a solid offering from LEGO with a lot of play value and really strong minifigures. I wish I could say the same about the X-Jet. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s good; a well-engineered design with some interesting pieces. But there are just a few little missing details that make it feel like not as strong an effort as the Hoopty. I’ve probably got the parts on hand to fix any of my gripes with the X-Jet. But at nearly a quarter per piece, I shouldn’t have to dig into my own collection to fix anything.

That said, I know there are X-Men fans that will still be tempted by this set and, if that’s you, watch for a sale or take advantage of a double VIP points offering. After all, with the potential for more X-Men ’97 sets in our future, you’ll likely want the whole team. And, I will say, Rogue looks great with the X-Men ’97 CMF roster. (And, if you have the parts on hand to upgrade Cyclops’s legs like I have here, he’s no slouch in that department either.)

76281 X-Men X-Jet comes with 359 pieces and will be available on January 1st for US $84.99 | CAN $109.99 | UK £74.99. It may also be available from third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

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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