This year may not mark a special anniversary for "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the beginning of the Indiana Jones franchise, but with the forthcoming arrival of Indy's fifth big screen outing in the form of "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny," there's no better time to celebrate all of Dr. Jones' adventures. There are plenty of new Funko POPs and Indiana Jones action figures on the way, including the classic movies and the latest sequel, and LEGO is getting in on the fun with a collection of Indiana Jones building brick playsets.
Available now, you can grab a LEGO Indiana Jones Temple of the Golden Idol diorama set that is a must-have for longtime Indy fans. In fact, this is actually a much more impressive remake of a LEGO set that was released in conjunction with the arrival of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." But with all the developments in LEGO design and mechanics over the years, not to mention the presence of three times as many LEGO pieces as the original, the new temple playset stands far above the original in every single way. Let's take a closer look!
Remembering The Original
Before we dig into the new set, let's recall the original. The LEGO Indiana Jones Temple Escape came at a time when there weren't really Expert Creator LEGO sets on shelves. Sure, there were complex LEGO Technic sets, but even in 2008 when this set was released, LEGO sets were still much more simple than they are today. Just a quick glance above shows many exposed studs, and even though there were attempts at little details to make this playset look like the movie's setting, those elements feel much more tacked on rather than being part of a complete build. It's almost like the difference between a game on PlayStation 2 when compared to a game on PlayStation 4. There's an undeniable increase in detail and quality. And that becomes clear when we start breaking down the build of the new LEGO Indiana Jones Temple of the Golden Idol diorama set, even if there's not a plane included with the new set.
Keep On Rollin'
Not unlike the original LEGO Indiana Jones Temple Escape set, the new Temple of the Golden Idol set breaks down into three key areas. However, the new breakdown abandons part of the original set in favor of shining a better light (literally and figuratively) on one of the more prominent setpieces from the opening sequence of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." But we'll get to that later.
The first section of the build is the entrance to the temple. This is also where one of the more iconic moments from the entire Indiana Jones franchise takes place. But before we get to that, let's just appreciate the detail that's already being put into this set.
First of all, the base on which the entire diorama is built serves up both function and style. Each platform on top of which the scene unfolds hides some of the Technic pieces that activate the action elements of the playset. In this particular section, it's the boulder that rolls after Indiana Jones as he attempts escape with the idol. But beyond that, the front of each base has been given some artistic flourishes to make it feel like it blends in with the aesthetic of the temple itself. There are also little brick skulls that stick out of the base, adding to the stylish look of the set. The knob that you twist in order to activate the boulder also has a skull graphic. Each of the three sections has those knobs, as well as pieces with stone patterns that add a nice touch.
Taking a look at the actual diorama set-up in this first section, it's clear that there's a lot of creative use of simple LEGO pieces to create the jagged and curved stone edges within the temple itself. You'll also find a lot of greenery throughout, including various vines, leaves, and plant pieces with different shades of green. These are situated in a way that feels more organic than the original set, like they're growing out of the stone structures as opposed to being slapped onto the rocky surfaces. The same can be said for the stalagmites coming out of the ground. Plus, there are additional stone faces on the side of pillars, not to mention an actual skeleton just hanging out after a failed attempt to retrieve the idol. There are also some spiders creeping about!
Of course, it's the rolling boulder that's the star of this section. The Technic pieces allow the boulder, which you actually build rather than being given a single plastic, gray sphere, to be locked in and propped up towards the top of the set. With a quick turn of that aforementioned skull knob, the boulder enters a rapid, controlled roll down a little gear track until it stops at the bottom. It's a slick little piece of engineering that hides the seams of the mechanics much better than the previous incarnation.
The Pitfalls Of Adventure
The second section brings to life a moment that kinda got the short end of the stick in the original LEGO version of the temple. Previously, the dark pit that Indiana Jones and Satipo had to swing across was represented by an actual hole between two of the diorama bases. It's hard to see in the image of the original set up above, but it's between the boulder and the big gray skull. You can actually see the brown stick piece that juts out from the wall. Thankfully, this entire section has been given much more prominence, and the details within have made it look much cooler, an it's not just because it's the center section with the film's nameplate and a quick exchange of lines between Indy and Satipo.
Rather than letting empty space and a large graphic sticker on the back wall do the heavy lifting of the design space, LEGO has opted to use a smooth, shiny, flat black piece to represent the darkness of the dangerous pit. Surrounding it are new varieties of temple flourishes, including twisted tree trunks and curly vines, as well as the first of several gray, stone, skull faces cleverly created with some of the most simple and smallest LEGO pieces (and there are plenty more to come in the third section).
The Technic element of this set is more simple, but it still enhances the basic concept of the original set. In this case, the brown stick that juts out from the temple wall spins with the turn of another skull knob. This allows minifigures to swing from one side of the pit to the other. Unfortunately, Indiana Jones doesn't come with a whip that allows him to swing across in the same way. Instead, Satipo has a walking stick piece that makes the swinging action possible.
In this section, you'll also find a trap door, which is hidden behind those rocks on the left side. This is another element taken from the original set, but it functions much more smoothly thanks to the upgraded Technic engineering.
Snatch And Run
Finally, we come to the third section of the LEGO Indiana Jones diorama, and it's undoubtedly the most intricate and impressive, both in the building brick design of the movie's setting and the engineering of the moving pieces. This is the area where Indiana Jones snatches the Fertility Idol from its pedestal. Thinking he's just gotten away with it after swapping the idol with a bag of sand, suddenly the temple begins to crumble around him. All of this is brought to life in LEGO form.
First, the back wall of this section is decorated with a mix of flat pieces featuring graphic stickers of beige stone faces, including a cute LEGO minifigure Easter egg on one of them. Also situated on the wall are roughly a half dozen gray, stone faces, each with different features created by a variety of LEGO's smallest pieces. However, it's the big, buildable stone face and the structure surrounding it at the top of this section that takes the cake.
Thanks to some intricate LEGO engineering and conveniently placed plastic chains, the knob on the platform does a few different things. First, it turns on a yellow light-up brick situated within the pieces hanging over the stone block face. If you turn off all the lights in the room, the light-up brick illuminates the pedestal scene in quite a cinematic fashion. But that's not all.
Keep turning the knob, and the pedestal holding the idol will sink into the platform (just like in the movie) and the giant head will fall towards Indy. Thankfully, the chains keep it from falling and making a building brick mess (which is what the previous version of the LEGO set did), and it's very easy to reset.
However, you'll want to pay very close attention to the LEGO manual while putting together the Technic pieces in the back of this section. I accidentally misplaced one of the pieces, and it ruined the mechanics of the pedestal sinking and the stone head falling. Thankfully, after taking some steps backward and removing a few pieces, I was able to follow the steps perfectly and make it work as expected.
The only shortcoming is that there isn't a notch on the knob turns that allows you to easily stop and keep the brick illuminated without activating the falling stone head. While you can slowly and carefully turn the knob until the light turns on, it's hard to find a sweet spot to keep the light on without holding the knob in place with your fingers. But it's not impossible.
How Are The Minifigures?
All right, that's the impressive build for the set. But what about the minifigures? Since the scene mostly focuses on two characters, there aren't a ton of them, but LEGO included a couple of the characters who don't appear until we make it out of the temple.
Of course, there's Indiana Jones, whose hat and hair are one piece that you place on top of the figure's head instead of putting the hat and hair on separately. He also comes with a satchel and a whip, as well as the sandbag that he uses to swap out for the idol. Joining Indy is Satipo, who can hold a flaming torch, as well as the walking stick that allows characters to swing across the deadly pit. Though there aren't any spiders that easily latch onto the minifigure, the back of Satipo's body has some spiders painted on it.
The other two figures can be situated outside of the temple, where they're waiting to ambush Indiana Jones. There's René Belloq in his safari gear, complete with a little pistol to threaten Indy for his prize. And accompanying him is one of the natives who protect the idol, armed with a bow and arrow. Frankly, I wish LEGO would come up with a better bow and arrow for minifigures to hold, because there's no way for them to hold in a way that looks like they're ready to fire it, but that's probably never gonna happen.
Adventure Has A Name
As a longtime Indiana Jones fan, this set was such a satisfying build. Even though it's a remake of an older LEGO set, the advancements in building brick technology and the design style improvements make this much more than a double dip. It feels like an entirely new set that brings one of the most memorable scenes in the entire franchise to life in such a sleek and cool way. And what's even greater about it is all the action setpieces can be activated and reset without making a mess or potentially breaking off any pieces, something that the previous set couldn't do. There's so much creativity and ingenuity in this set, and it will satisfy expert LEGO builders and Indiana Jones fans alike.
The LEGO Indiana Jones Temple of the Golden Idol diorama set is available to order now for $149.99. It's currently out of stock at The LEGO Shop at the time of this writing, but it's in stock at Amazon.
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