LEGO Bowser’s Airship Expansion Set
I’m not shy about stating my early opinions of LEGO Super Mario – the entire concept looked really uninteresting, and I saw this being one of LEGO’s very rare flops. I didn’t want a chunky Mario who played sounds and collected coins. I wanted regular sized Mario minifigures, with other characters like Bowser or the Kooplings built on the same minifig base as Hagrid from Harry Potter or the Hulk from the Avengers. Then I watched my kids play, and I knew I was so very wrong. The latest addition to our LEGO Super Mario collection, Bowser’s Airship, is the best set in the entire series! Let’s dig in.
Every LEGO Super Mario set we’ve purchased for our kids prior to receiving this one for review has been built entirely by my son Lochlan, age 7. And he’s put together a few of the bigger sets in the series, including the Toad Houses set, and even Bowsers Castle. Lochlan was incredibly excited to put together Bowsers Airship but was quickly frustrated by the plethora of Technic pieces that need to be put together in a very specific way.
And that’s not a negative for this set at all – in fact, the use of Technic LEGO here is outstanding, which we will get into a bit later. I like to categorize LEGO sets into two different styles: straight forward builds, where each piece is constructed in a very logical way; and complex builds, where LEGO is used unconventionally to create smooth corners, rounded tops, etc. This set is full of unconventional builds. So often I would be putting together part of the ship and would have NO idea what I was doing, until the final product displayed a beautifully created Bowser Mast-Head! It was brilliant!
And that’s what makes a LEGO build exciting for me. While there was some challenging aspects to this set, it’s not the challenge that keeps me building, but rather the unique use of the LEGO bricks to create something outstanding. Not only does it get my mind thinking for when I do custom builds in the future, but it’s also a tutorial of sorts that walks me through the steps up building with more complexities.
Ultimately, if this set is for a younger child in your family, they are going to need help putting it together. While the majority of the build is somewhat straightforward, putting the Technic pins into the right holes can be a frustrating experience, so an extra set of older hands might be what your young child needs.
While the figures in the LEGO Super Mario Series are great for displaying on a shelf, the most of the sets themselves are meant almost entirely for play. The entire concept of LEGO Super Mario is that you are building courses for you and friends to play through, so they are not contained LEGO sets, but rather sprawling sections of small LEGO builds strung together by 2x? plates. With Bowsers Airship, LEGO has prefected a very playable LEGO set with one that will look fantastic on the shelf, and it all comes down to the Technic pieces.
Bowsers Airship can be a very contained ship that will look great on the shelf (and easy for kids to fly through the air while playing) or can be pulled apart on Technic hinges to create a larger play area full of traps and enemies. In terms of sets that both play and display well, this is one of LEGO’s finest.
There are a ton of different interactive elements as well, not all limited to baddies. While the set does come with a Pirate Goomba (adorable, by the way), Kamec, and a Rocky Wrench, there also interactive elements under one of the ships masts, on the rear Bowser head, and more. And like true Super Mario Bros 3 fashion, there is even a cannon that will fire you onto the ship! The thought and detail that went into Bowsers Airship is amazing, and I can only hope Nintendo and LEGO develop more sets in this style.
Even if you aren’t a huge Super Mario LEGO fan, purchasing Bowsers Airship to put on display in your home is highly recommended. The detail on this set is outstanding, and when pushed together to be stored away, it looks like a typical, contained LEGO set. While other Super Mario LEGO sets don’t really display well – despite some folks best efforts – the Airship bucks that trend and creates something that is equally as fun to play with, as it is to look at on the shelf.
This aesthetically pleasing set is actually one of my favorite LEGO sets of all time, and I will constantly battle my kids for control.