thrift store finds: kre-o battleship – chopper combat

This week, we’re looking at another deeply discounted modern toy I found for a pittance, Hasbro’s Kre-O Battleship Combat Chopper.

I promise I’ll get back to the thrift store shoppin’ real soon. In the meantime, let’s check this thing out!

Hasbro is one of the largest toy companies in the world, cornering the market with popular brands as Star Wars, Transformers, GI Joe, and My Little Pony. If you’re a thirty year old today, a sizable part of your childhood probably dealt with Hasbro toys. That being said, while Hasbro has MANY popular brands under their collective umbrella, one thing they don’t boast is a successful construction toy line. The leaders in this market are without question, Lego. I imagine it likely annoys the accountants at Hasbro to see Lego clean up with THEIR version of Star Wars.

The Kre-O line of construction toys seems to be designed to be direct competition for Lego. Right out of the gate, Hasbro used their big guns on this line- Kre-O Transformers. From there it was a natural progression to try to take advantage of some synergistic opportunities by creating a Kre-O line for the presumptive big-budget cinematic blockbuster of the summer, Battleship. Hasbro owns the board game on which the movie is based, why not take the opportunity to immortalize this great film in a line of construction toys?

Well, by now you can see the problem. Battleship was one of the biggest flops of Summer 2012. I guess no one was interested in seeing Rhianna and Tim Riggins fight alien robots… or whatever that movie was about, I didn’t see it and I’m not planning to see it. The trailers made it look like an aural nightmare. The movie made no money in America and the toys have been clogging up toy shelves since April. I picked this set up at our local Wal-Mart… on Clearance, and then 50% off of the closeout price. In total, I paid $6.50 for a $20 dollar toy.

The packaging is inventive. It’s a sturdy box with colorful graphics depicting the toy line.

The top of the box features a fun handle. I gotta say, this is clearly a better packaging set-up than Lego has. One of the problems I remember with Lego toys were the boxes couldn’t be reused. There was no way to seal them once you opened them. This always bothered me as a kid; Legos were SO easy to lose, I always wanted to keep the whole set in the box it came with… but that always proved impossible. Here, Hasbro has designed a box with good reuse value. Once you’re done with your Kre-O, you can disassemble them and leave them in the box. The handle acts as a kind of lock, holding the top and bottom pieces of the box together. I have to give Hasbro props for that innovation.

The Combat Chopper set comes with four small sealed baggies of Kre-O building blocks, a page of decals, and a set of instructions. I sort of wish the baggies were resealable, but understand the inherent problems a choice like that might make for Hasbro. It’s a minor quibble.

Now would be a good time to mention: like most Lego knockoffs, Kre-O building blocks are compatible with Lego. The interlocking blocks feature the same raised round pegs and tubes which distinguish Legos. I would imagine this is important when you’re starting up a new line in direct competition with an already established property. I know this is something MegaBloks  does and I’ve collected a few Lego-like toys (Art Asylum/Play Along‘s C3 Construction sets, Character Building‘s Doctor Who sets) have done. Apparently Lego holds the trademark on this style of bricks, but not the patent… which means toy companies can have at it and make as many Lego-like toys as they wish without getting sued.

The build is pretty standard. You follow the instruction booklet’s very carefully laid out pictures depicting the size and kind of block you need. The booklet illustrates the position of the bricks. This is a 174 piece building set, which puts it at a lower level of difficulty than perhaps the USS Missouri set. Putting this together took me about 15-20 minutes.

(This is my obsessive/compulsive method for building sets like this.)

It’s a nicely built set with a couple of cool features. Two of the rockets on the helicopter fire, and there’s a specially built block which connects to the chopper blades. Press the button and the chopper blades spin. I have to say, I bought this set with some doubts, but it’s a nice build.

Now… one of the things that people love about Legos are the Lego people, the small minimally designed characters who inhabit the Lego sets.  The Kre-O sets are no different. The figures included with the Kre-O set are called Kreons. No, I’m not kidding. That’s what they’re called.

The human… Kreon doesn’t seem to be based on any character from the Battleship movie I can see. I guess he’s just a generic soldier.

Although he’s of a similar size and shape to the Lego mini-figures, the Kreon has ball-jointed shoulders and hips, giving him a better range of motion. He’s not super-posable, but it’s a different take on this kind of toy.

Here he is compared to a Lego mini-figure, a Character Building mini-figure, and a Minimate from the C3 line.

The other Kreon included is some kind of robot alien thing and it’s safe to say it’s a goddamn mess. Oh, it’s jointed up the wazoo and comes with all sorts of lasers and guns… but just look at this thing!

Yuck!

This was a good building toy with some goofy mini-figures. The Kre-O line seems to be a bit of a misfire for Hasbro; the Transformers and Battleship sets are clogging up toy shelves nationwide. You can probably find this set and several others for rock bottom prices right now if you’re so inclined. Based on my experience with this one, I’d recommend it.

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