(Written by William)
Before we begin, I need to make a few things transparent. First, this set was received as an early review copy sent by LEGO. With that said, I had already pre-ordered the set, so I do have a bit of bias. Second, both the #76199 LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Carnage and the #76187 LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Venom sets state on the box, “Assembled from the Spider-Man Universe”. I’m uncertain if this means it is related to what Sony is doing with the Spider-Man universe or if it is related to characters in the Spider-Man comics, since a distinction has been made in regards to what LEGO creates. Considering the fact that the last Venom movie indicated that Carnage will be the next big villain, LEGO will have a lot of promotion coming their way.
Finally, let’s talk about the most glaring part of all this, which have left many scratching their heads. Why is this set even being made? As I pointed out, there is a movie in which Carnage will be featured prominently. That’s not the issue. Rather, given the fact that the character Carnage is a sociopath seems to conflict with what LEGO often demands from all their models. Case in point, the #60278 LEGO City Crook’s Hideout Raid set got canceled based on the fact it didn’t hold up to LEGO City standards (see: LEGO City Crook’s Hideout Raid Set Canceled). For this reason, I’m going to devote the first section of this article on discussing what might be going on. Then I’ll follow up with talking about the model.
WHY LEGO CARNAGE?
Keep in mind, the thoughts here are entirely my own. This is not an official word from LEGO. I just know it has bugged me in the past when one set does something, only for an official contest or similar event to completely ban building or portraying the same thing. I look forward to hearing what your thoughts are on the matter in the comment section below.
I want to begin by pointing out that when LEGO canceled the #60278 LEGO City Crook’s Hideout Raid set, they mentioned that it does not meet LEGO City standards. This is important. With each and every toy line LEGO creates, they have goals and messaging they want integral in that line. Therefore, this “Assembled in the Spider-Man Universe” tagline is meant to tell us what product line it is being associated with.
This distinction can play a huge role in how sets are developed. Many times, the owner of the Intellectual Property (IP) is not LEGO and therefore has a say in what they want to see. For this reason, we get a bit more wiggle room when IPs are used. On top of this, Carnage is labeled as an 18+ set. As of right now, these 18+ sets or adult oriented sets are still relatively new for LEGO.
Fans have become accustomed to viewing the age rating as the level of difficulty they can expect to encounter. And that still holds true for all sets under 18+ (like the sets labeled as 16+). The thing is, LEGO is trying to capture adults who may have little to know experience with building. Therefore, when you see 18+, you can’t judge it in the same way. What 18+ really is meant to indicate is that these models might suit an adult’s taste. Sometimes this means a complex build. Other times, it could just be the aesthetics of a creation, like the LEGO Art sets.
So how does Carnage fit into all of this? Well, my belief is that LEGO is experimenting with another aspect of 18+, that is, the content of the subject matter. Can LEGO make something edgy? Or maybe they’re just oblivious. After all, I have been surprised how many times we’ve seen Carnage in minifigure form.
In fact, I was stunned when we got a Deadpool minifigure in a set. Of course, then the Deadpool movie came out and we never saw him again. So, it is a toss-up. Either, LEGO is pushing the boundaries of their 18+ sets by providing adult-themed content. Or we may never see Carnage again after the next Venom film is released. I’m hoping for the former, but kind of expect the latter.
CHECKING OUT THE LEGO CARNAGE MODEL
Besides the subject matter, the other feature that surprised me about choosing this character is the fact that it is much more organic in nature than other helmet sets. Helmets are perfect for LEGO bricks. They feature strong geometric shapes that are suited for building. Organics on the other hand are messy and chaotic, plus you have to figure out a way to get around the whole uncanny valley effect. Fortunately, you can turn all of these concerns into strengths with a character like Carnage.
As a character, Carnage is evil. Therefore, anything asymmetric or unnerving works well for the character. In fact, many of the stickers used in the model feature tendrils of black to help break up the smooth curves of the sculpt. Next, Carnage is showing his alien symbiotic side and not the human underneath. The alien appearance doesn’t try to look human so you can avoid the uncanny valley effect. I think I should pause and briefly explain what the uncanny valley is.
Put simply, if you have something artificial and give it human like qualities, people will react to it in certain ways based on how it looks. The less human it looks, the more we find it charming and delightful – think Wall-E or Johnny 5. On the other hand, the more human we try to make a an artificial character look, the more creeped out we get – think wax figures or dolls that make you feel uneasy. What happens is that we want to tell ourselves they look like a person, but our subconscious is telling us there’s something not right about that thing. Carnage lands right in the middle of this valley. He’s a person that’s trying not to look human, so we’re okay with it.
Speaking of odd looks, Carnages eyes are shaped slightly differently from one another. This gives the model personality, but considering his eyes are so large, it’s kind of hard to really be bothered with the inconsistency since it’s hard to see both eyes fully all at the same time. The jaw is also interesting, since helmets don’t feature jaws. It is positioned to be open, but given the various angles of the parts, it is not built to move.
As for other features of the set, the plaque in front is the only printed element. Everything else that features printing are stickers. There are twelve stickers in total and most are meant for adding texture to smooth surfaces. The set features three numbered bags, and is a relatively fast build. In the video below, I will show you the set in more detail.
As a building experience, Carnage is a pretty amazing set. A ton of thought went into figuring out the angles to really reduce and minimize gaps. Additionally, the end product really captures the character very well. I think the only feature I’d want to see more of is more detailing around the eyes. Many of the comics I’m used to had Carnage’s eyes with a bit more of a jagged and crazy feathering. But then again, many artists will draw differently so this version could be based on a rendering I’m less familiar with.
As for collectability and value, given the subject matter, this is an odd one for a LEGO set. Odd can either mean a flop or a highly valued collectible. Carnage feels to me like a high value item I’m not sure if this set was originally meant to be something like a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive, but it definitely feels unique and special. Honestly, the real test will be whether or not you can get your hands on the model. It definitely made me excited for more Super Hero models in the head bust line!
What do you think? How do you like the new LEGO Carnage and Venom busts? And what do you think of LEGO making more adult-oriented sets like these? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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