One of the few issues of being comically slow to review LEGO sets is that sometimes in between getting a set and reviewing it something else comes along that changes the story. That is the case with 71395 Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block. I think it’s now been overshadowed by 71411 The Mighty Bowser.
The Mario 64 Question Mark block was exciting when it was first revealed. It looks like the thing from the games! It’s got microscale vignettes! It’s so cool! All of those things are true but now as a Mario fan you also need to look at what else is out.
If you are looking for a Mario related display piece you are now presented with a bit of a choice – do you buy the Question Mark block or do you spend a little extra and get The Mighty Bowser.
If I was picking sets today – I would probably go for Bowser. And that choice is because of the shortcomings of the Question Mark block.
As a display piece the Question Mark block has the issue of having to choose how to display it. Do you display it just as a question mark block, or do you display it open with all of the vignettes visible? You’ll probably want the vignettes to be seen, but then it loses the impact of actually being a question mark block.
I think we also need to acknowledge that a question mark block isn’t actually that exciting. Sure it’s got the context of being an iconic part of the Mario universe but at the end of the day it is just a yellow cube with some “?” on it. There’s also the fact that the Question Mark block as a set has a lot of visible lines between elements that I think take away a little bit of the polish.
I am generally a fan of microscale builds but I find the ones in 71395 a little underwhelming. The scale feels off because of the inclusion of the characters. Mario is much bigger than the warp pipe. Peach doesn’t look like she fits in her castle and Yoshi seems more like Godzilla.
Imagine if this set had another section that opened up to reveal Peach and Mario minifigures? How amazing would that be? Instead of microscale characters do it UCS style where they are separate not integrated into the build.
Let’s talk about price and availability. The Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block is not super widely available across Australian retailers. The best price that I can find is $229 from Toys R Us. This is $70 under RRP. Beyond that most of your buying options are $299.99.
Now let’s talk about the other option. The Mighty Bowser. Unlike the Question Mark block I don’t own this set so everything beyond this point is based purely on images, video and the opinions of friends that have built it.
The Mighty Bowser is cool. It’s big and imposing and visually more exciting than a yellow box. It has some cool play features built in that far might rival the opening mechanism of the question mark block. It also interacts with the interactive Mario figures in a more exciting way.
I also have a feeling that Jack Black is going to steal the show as Bowser in the Super Mario Movie when it comes out next year. I’d put money on Bowser being a must have. Get in now.
The Mighty Bowser is more expensive than the Question Mark Block. RRP difference is a solid $100 but where things get interesting is availability. Bowser is available across a range of retailers including Amazon, Kmart, David Jones, Myer, Big W and Costco. That opens up a lot more opportunities for discounts.
If you hit up a 20% off sale at Big W this comes down to just $287.99, which is pretty close to the best Question Mark block price. 20% off RRP at David Jones and Myer would be $319.99. With Black Friday sales on at Amazon you can grab it for $288.
I think Bowser is impressive enough to justify the price difference. Of the two I really think Bowser is the better buy. What a difference a year makes.
Do you think Bowser has made the Question Mark Block a less appealing set? Let me know what you think in the comments.