2012 – The dawn of LEGO Marvel as a theme. These were some of the first modern-day types of superhero sets. The minifigures and builds differ significantly from the older LEGO Studios Spider-Man line. I’m so excited to take a deep dive into this era and possibly less enthusiastic to revisit the sets I don’t own (which in my case is all of them). So, let’s get into this!
These buildable figures were… something. It was the start of the Marvel theme so they had the opportunity to do essentially whatever they wanted. Out of that arose this short-lived $15 USD line. They follow similarly to some of the older Ben 10 construction figure sets – in which they were made of ball joint Technic pieces with a large use of specialised parts.
I don’t have much to say about these. The Iron Man (4529) figure was average for a buildable figure. The specialised pieces were cool but looked quite off – especially in the shoulder blade area and cannon. If I’m correct, War Machine is the one with the cannon – not Iron Man. However, this design could’ve been based on an obscure comic.
Same goes for Hulk (4530). The face looked off. Why did he have blue pants? I don’t know. He had a lime green colour scheme which had been used for some of the Hulk minifigures. Finally, why was there grey on his shoulders and arms? I do not understand this design choice at all. So why? Maybe it could’ve been armour detail, but why does the Hulk need armour? I just do not know.
Captain America (4597) is also quite confusing to me. I loved the shield print, and the colour scheme was quite comic-accurate. But why did he have grey on his shoulders? I must be missing something. The face was also quite comic-looking. But again, for me it’s a miss. The bright side of this line was that it paved the way for the superior Star Wars buildable figures.
Captain America’s Avenging Cycle (6865)
Shortly after the release of the buildable figures in 2012, LEGO released its first Marvel minifigure based sets – The Avengers line. The smallest was the $13 USD battle pack type set. Firstly, that name is just silly to call a bike. Anyways, we received our first wide-released Captain America minifigure. It captures the movie outfit from the first Avengers movie so well, however, I wish we received red printing on his legs for boots (duel-moulded legs/arms weren’t a thing then). The Chitauri figures were uniquely detailed on the torso and legs and were definitely a great army builder. I do wish we got a fourth minifigure in the set though.
The build is nothing special. Captain America’s bike mould doesn’t usually come in nowadays sets as much so it was a cool inclusion. The Chitauri vehicle and turret build with flick-fire missiles as playability were also nothing too out of the ordinary.
Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape (6867)
This $20 USD set was based on the opening scene of The Avengers. We got our first wide-released Iron Man minifigure with, what was then, a revolutionary mould for his helmet which could flip up; with a cool Tony Stark face and a really nice torso and leg printing. We also received our first Hawkeye minifigure, with an inaccurate hairpiece in an inaccurate colour – but the rest of the figure was cool. Finally, we got the first Loki minifigure which actually had leg printing, unlike the 2020 one. He came with a newly, very accurate helmet and sceptre mould.
The build was a decent-looking 4×4 truck, which is quite movie-accurate to the actual vehicle Loki escapes in. It had flick-fire missiles on its sides and looked quite beefy. Although I am tired of these types of builds nowadays in sets, this was quite a solid build.
Hulk’s Helicarrier Breakout (6868)
This was our first Marvel playset, and it was such a cool $50 USD one. We did get a repeat of Loki and Hawkeye from the previous set, but we received our first Hulk big-figure. WOW! He was probably the main draw to the set. We got a new mould specific to him, with hair, pants and toe moulded detail. Sadly, he was the wrong colour – instead of lime, he should’ve been olive green. The set gave us our first Thor, too. He was quite simple, but had a cool mould for his hammer, Mjölnir.
The set itself was also quite a fun one. Before that, let’s talk about the jet. It’s quite rough-looking, with flick-fire missiles and an opening cockpit as play-features. But overall, it’s not amazing. Anyways, starting in the middle, Loki could be broken out of his containment cell, through the press of the translucent red, 1×1 round tile on top – which has become the norm for most Marvel playlets these days. On top, there’s a control area with seating. To the right, Hulk could smash a plate down which would launch two oil canisters across the Helicarrier. And to the left, there’s a holding place for Loki’s sceptre with more computer detailing. So, there wasn’t too much to the set. What you saw is what you got.
Quinjet Aerial Battle (6869)
The Quinjet Aerial Battle was our largest Marvel set at the time, being a $70 USD behemoth. We got the same Loki as the previous two versions which was fitting, as he was in the same outfit throughout the entirety of the film. We also got a repeat of Thor, which I wish had leg printing. However, we got another Iron Man suit in this set. It can be distinguished by the previous variant as this one has a circle in his chest rather than the triangle, let alone the other smaller changes in printing. We finally received our first Black Widow with simple torso and leg printing. Her face-print was a bit off as it didn’t look like Scarlett Johansson – the actress portraying the character. The Chitauri was also a great inclusion, as it was a good army building minifigure.
The Chitauri carriage build was cool and based off when Loki was in one during the final battle in the first Avenger’s movie. The Quinjet was, until 2019, the largest, and most spacious Quinjet made. The cockpit, however, only seated one minifigure. The second hatch behind the cockpit could be opened to fit two minifigures in seats, so you could fit all three Avengers from this set in the ship. The wingtips could rotate as they were on ball joints. Also, just to note, the SHIELD logo on the wings were stickers, sadly.
The back hatch could be opened to reveal extra cargo space, which could also be revealed from a top hatch. The back winglets were built up quite well, and I really love how they look. The primary play feature of the set involved pushing a red, circular tile on top of the set, which deployed a drone from the bottom of the Quinjet – quite similar to the 2015 Quinjet function. Finally, we received flick-fire missiles to shoot at the Chitauri carriage. But that’s it for this set. It was quite cool for its time, but the Quinjet build has been significantly improved on since then.
Spider-Man’s Doc Ock Ambush (6873)
2012 also saw the release of our first LEGO Marvel Ultimate Spider-Man set. There were Spider-Man sets before but as part of the LEGO Studios theme. This was our first modern Spider-Man set. And it was a playset! We received a new Spider-Man with a great head and torso print and Iron Fist, which was such a cool character to get in LEGO form. It’s especially cool that we got him as I doubt we will get another version, considering he got quite an adult TV show in 2017. On the villain side, we obtained an improved Doc Ock with arm attachments. Each character was based on their Ultimate Spider-Man TV Show appearance – and I wish we received leg printing.
The lab was great for a $30 USD build. As it was on hinges, it could be contracted or expanded. The light blue and black colour scheme was very unique – not many LEGO builds to date consist of this combination of colours. To the left, there was a capsule to trap Iron Fist in. It could be hinged downward to remove and place the minifigure. Towards the centre of the build, there was a lab table with restraints made of droid arms from the Star Wars line to hold Iron Fist down. A hinged light could be bent forward, towards the lab table, so that Doc Ock could analyse him. To the right, there was a tower build, with a rotating fan on top, which Spider-Man could slip into, to get into the lab.
The Doc Ock vehicle was an under-average build, which was more of a throw-in. It had the ability to shoot flick-fire missiles. This set was a great set, and I really hope LEGO Marvel begins to release more playsets in the future instead of vehicles.
Wolverine’s Chopper Showdown (6866)
Our first of only three X-Men sets. This is probably one of the most sought-after LEGO Marvel sets of all time. Why? Deadpool. When the set released, Deadpool was not as well-known, but it was cool to get this cool anti-hero in a set. Following the success of the R-Rated Deadpool movie, every LEGO Marvel fan wanted this minifigure, elevating the price of this set to obnoxious levels. In addition, we got our first Wolverine minifigure with simple torso and leg printing. Finally, Magneto was also included in the set. He had a new mould for his helmet. These X-Men figures were so cool to get and were a cool differentiation from the Avengers characters that dominated the theme.
The Chopper is an average build. It hits all the boxes of what a LEGO Helicopter should be. Notable play features include spinning propellers and flick-fire missiles.
2012 LEGO Marvel Exclusives/Promotions
Quinjet (30162), is a mini-build of the larger, play-scale Quinjet Aerial Battle (6869). It was a cool miniaturised build, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Thor and the Cosmic Cube (30163), is a cheap way to get the Thor minifigure from the Avengers sets. It had a play feature where you could knock over some of the rock builds.
Hawkeye with equipment (30165) is another cheaper alternative way to obtain the Hawkeye minifigure. The equipment stand is a cool bonus for pieces.
The Hulk (5000022) gave us our first Hulk minifigure. We received a cool face, torso and leg print with purple pants. The side of the legs look weird as the purple print didn’t carry on. This figure would’ve benefited from dual moulded legs if they had that option at the time.
We also received the Phoenix which was our first LEGO Marvel San Diego Comic-Con exclusive minifigure. She had an exclusive face, torso, and leg printing. She’s the rarest X-Men minifigure right now.
LEGO released the Spider-Man in Black Symbiote Costume minifigure. It had an exclusive face and torso print, although the torso was re-used in the next year’s Venom minifigure.
Finally, we received the Iron Man & Captain America from the 2012 Collector’s Preview. The Iron Man doesn’t have his specialised helmet mould – rather its pirated on him. Captain America uses a 2×2 circular tile for his shield instead of the special mould for him. Both figures were vastly different from their set counterparts, and as it turns out, they are two of the most expensive Marvel minifigures ever.
And that’s it for 2012, the first year of LEGO Marvel! It’s been a real nostalgia trip down memory lane. I feel like I’ve missed out on getting all these sets. But I thank you for sticking with me through this article. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some online shopping to do for 2012 LEGO Marvel sets!
All images from Brickset