Review: 80022 Spider Queen’s Arachnoid Base

Posted by benbacardi, 26 Feb 2021 16:30

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Monkie Kid was LEGO’s newest in-house theme for 2020, and it’s continuing into 2021 with a fairly wide variety of different sized sets.

Whilst the stand-out set of the wave would appear to be the visually stunning 80024 The Legendary Flower Fruit Mountain, 80022 Spider Queen’s Arachnoid Base has a decent 1,170 pieces and is the third largest in the wave.

The large eight-legged creature could be off-putting for fans who suffer from arachnophobia, but let’s take a closer look and see if there’s more to the set than meets the eyes (all eight of them!)


Instructions and Stickers

The box contains two thick instruction manuals, featuring LEGO’s new, more fun, instruction design. Completed sections are shown superimposed upon a faded-out render of the model as a whole, starburst-patterned backgrounds call out various milestones, and Monkie Kid marches along the bottom of the page to provide an indication of your progress. The added whimsy is something I quite enjoy, and I wish LEGO would bring it to more of their instruction manuals!

As the children and I have recently been helping my wife with the 18+ flower bouquet set, having the instructions printed on something other than black was a welcome change.

To be expected with a set of this size, a fairly substantial sticker sheet is included. They add a significant amount of detail to the final set, and unlike most AFOLs I don’t dislike applying them. There were rather a lot of green and black stripes, however!


Minifigures

Spider Queen’s Arachnoid Base includes six minifigures, each called out by name on the box. Our first two heroes are Monkie Kid and Monkey King, both of whom have very detailed prints on both their torsos and legs. Monkie Kid is dressed in his usual colours, with an open jacket featuring a monkey print over a blue and white hoodie; a departure from his single previous outfit. A large Chinese symbol adorns the back of the jacket (please let me know in the comments if it has any significance) and he’s wearing the trademark red headband with gold detailing; a dual-moulded part unique to the theme that looks fantastic.

Monkey King also features a new torso, a black and yellow wrap with a turquoise scarf tied about his neck; matching the colours of Monkie Kid perfectly. The wrap extends onto the dual-moulded legs, tied with a white belt, although white printing on darker LEGO parts is always less than ideal. The black and red legs, however, look fantastic; and are another new print.

Both feature dual expressions; Monkey King’s matches that of his only previous appearance, 80012 Monkey King Warrior Mech—an angry snarl on one side and more wide-mouthed surprise on the other. Monkie Kid’s head is new, with a choice of a determined golden-eyed stare or an open-mouthed shocked expression. Together they make quite a pair.

Also on the side of our heroes is Pigsy, the owner of the noodle shop where Monkie Kid works, and Jia, who is literally identical to his previous appearance in 80012. Pigsy, however, despite the same scowling expression as before, is sporting a brand new outfit: a red vest over a white jacket, with an array of sausages, chopsticks, and other items stuffed into a blue harness. It’s a very detailed print.

The printing on Pigsy’s torso continues onto the rear, and as usual, he features the relatively new medium-sized legs, this time in plain black.

The final two minifigures are the antagonists of the set; the titular Spider Queen and her henchman Syntax. This is the Spider Queen’s second appearance in a set (her previous being last year’s 80014 Sandy’s Speedboat), and she’s attired in a brand-new dress, with striking purple and green highlights and a silver spider and web extending from the torso down to the floor. Imposing though it is, her arachnid-inspired headgear is not new, but her cape certainly is. It was packaged along with the instruction booklets and sticker sheet, and is made of a stiff but flexible plastic that holds its shape well.

Syntax is a character we haven’t met before, and as such every part of him is brand new. His outfit matches his boss’ colour scheme of black, green, and purple; colours that are also used liberally throughout their arachnoid base. Once again the printing is very detailed, with a long black jacket hanging open to reveal a lanyard with an ID card around his neck. His headgear is impressive, dual-moulded lime green hair and black goggles with multiple spider-like green eyes.

Both feature double green-eyed expressions on their purple heads; wicked smiles on one side, and metal spider mandible-like masks covering their mouths on the other. One of Syntax’s eyes has been replaced with a purple one, and he has three more green eyes in his forehead. He’s clearly a creature with a history!

With the exception of Jia, the minifigures each come with various accessories. Pigsy is equipped with his usual red pitchfork, and Monkie Kid is carrying the fabled magical staff from the legend of the Monkey King. Syntax is wearing a contraption on his back that holds various things in front of him, such as a mug (of course?) and a pointed spear tip. The Spider Queen holds aloft a blue staff with a large circular spider emblem on the end.

The photo below also shows the detailed side printing on Monkie Kid’s legs, and Snytax’s expression that is usually covered by his goggles.


New Parts

There are a couple of new parts in the set; both a variety of recolours, and brand new moulds. You can see the two new moulds below. The 3×3 corner roof piece compliments the new 1 x 3 inverted arch that was introduced earlier this year, and the right-angled bar holder with a clip seems like it could be useful in a wide variety of situations. It’s available in black and medium lavender in this set.


The Model

Besides the main spider base, there are a couple of small builds to complement the set. The first is Monkie Kid’s small plane, his only defence against the gargantuan arachnoid base. It comes together quickly, and has room in the cockpit for a single minifigure. The wings look to me as if they’re fixed on backwards, but it lends a certain uniqueness to the look of the craft. I like the use of the cloud part extending out the rear as exhaust.

The other separate build is a small six-legged arachnid creature (although, with only six legs, it can’t really be called a spider.) This makes good use of the new right-angled bar holder and clip for the legs, each ending in a venomous-looking lime green talon. Affixed to the rear of the spider is a container of some kind luminous liquid topped by a 1×1 round tile printed with a spider emblem similar to that on the Spider Queen’s chest. There are four others of these unique tiles included in the set.

The rest of the build is taken up with the single, large, spider—the base of the Spider Queen. The first few bags are dedicated to building a sturdy Technic framework around which the rest of the spider is constructed.

Technic beams with wheels on the end hold up the front part of the structure, which will later become the spider’s thorax, and the rear consists primarily of a cage in which the Spider Queen can imprison her enemies, which will later be encased in the spider’s large abdomen. Four of the wheels are perpendicular to the other two, so they’re clearly not intended to provide motion for the completed model; rather, they reduce the friction between the model and the ground, allowing it to slide easily in any direction.

A mechanism is built into the front of the structure, which allows an axle inserted into the centre to independently move two axle holes on either side of the head. These are connected later to the two front legs of the spider, allowing them to be raised and lowered rather menacingly.

The combination of a Technic inner structure covered, for the most part, by system parts, has become very common in larger sets over the last few years. While many people dislike the use of system parts in a Technic set, this way round allows for a very rigid internal model, incorporating play functions such as above, whilst maintaining the overall look of a standard system set.

Once the rest of the spider is constructed, it’s a very imposing model, significantly larger than I was expecting at 46cm/18” wide. There are eight legs (as you would expect!), six of which are identical, with the front two being slightly smaller, and attached to the two axles that can be raised independently by the mechanism shown above. Flexible hoses, presumably intended to represent pneumatics or hydraulics of some kind, give a clear indication that this spider is mechanical rather than alive, if the vivid purple, grey, and green colour scheme had not already given that away!

From the front, the spider’s menacing pose is quite evident, with six large red eyes staring ahead. There’s even a long drip of something luminous and green oozing from the spider’s jaws.

Just behind the head, there is an octagonal platform from which protrudes a pennant with the spider emblem. This part of the model looks a little empty, but it does allow room for both the Spider Queen and Syntax to stand. The pennant is attached to the mechanism for the front legs; moving it backwards will raise both front legs, and moving it left or right will raise just one or the other.

The rear of the spider is primarily a huge, round, abdomen, constructed in four sections. The two nearest the front of the spider are fixed to the body, and the two at the rear are hinged so that they can swing open and reveal the inside of the spider base.

Opening the rear of the spider reveals the cage that was constructed previously, as well as various bottles and containers clipped to the walls on either side.

Three of the containers are the same as that found attached to the small spider droid built earlier, this time in purple, red, and clear. Each is capped by the printed spider tile, which you can see more clearly below. I can only imagine what horrifying potions are contained with them.

Various posters or screens are visible around the interior. One appears to be a picture of some food, and another a game of tetris! There’s also the acronym “WYMM?” below a targeting scope, which I have to admit I’m unfamiliar with. Please enlighten me in the comments if you can!

A hinged plate above the cage reveals access to the interior of the top level of the spider’s abdomen, where there are a couple more containers filled with the ominous green liquid, although larger and not printed with the spider logo at all. The other side of this compartment is open, leading out onto the arachnoid’s control deck.

The hinged plate also provides storage for the mini spider droid, although it has to be disassembled first! The six legs clip onto a bar at the entrance to the chamber, and the body of the spider can be placed on the plate itself, and flipped up out of the way.

Above the spider’s abdomen, there’s a platform on which the Spider Queen can parade her trophy capture, Monkey King himself. He’s supplied with a pair of white handcuffs, which, unless I’m mistaken, haven’t appeared in this colour before. He’s perched rather precariously right on the top, between a pair of black pincers and in front of a web. There’s also a small platform behind him, shown in the rear photo of the spider above, which has a couple of stickers indicating the Monkey King’s health, sadly deteriorating, compared to the spider’s health. Hopefully Monkie Kid can rectify the situation!

The photos above and below also show the new 3×3 corner roof tiles in place at either end of a row of 1×3 inverted arches. I can see these cropping up in quite a few sets in future, and they’d fit in particularly well with the Ninjago or Chinese New Year themes.

In a compartment beneath the Monkey King, and also shown below, is a purple treasure chest containing the bones of a previous enemy of the Spider Queen. I wonder why she’s kept them, and is this where Monkey King’s body is destined if our hero is unsuccessful in his rescue?


Conclusion

The Monkie Kid theme is only just starting its second year, and has so far proven to be an interesting mix of Chinese legend and wacky ideas. That seems to be continuing into 2021, as a giant mechanical spider certainly isn’t what I was expecting!

Although the set doesn’t command the highest piece count of those in the wave, the completed spider is impressively large, both in height and the span of its legs. It has a fantastically bright and suitably sinister colour scheme, just as you’d expect from an evil villain, and plenty of play features for the targeted age range of 9+.

Spiders aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, however; I’ve had to keep this particular set well away from my wife while building and photographing it, and it definitely isn’t one I’ll be allowed to keep out on display!

The selection of minifigures is great, with plenty of new prints out to good use; and it’s also good to see a second appearance of the Monkey King himself.

It will be available from LEGO on the 1st of March, along with the rest of this year’s Monkie Kid sets.


Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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