Review

LEGO and Hollywood have a lot in common – namely that a big part of their business is driven by sequels and remakes. Sequels fill me with a sense of trepidation – they can sometimes be really good (22 Jump Street, The Force Awakens, Toy Story 3) or they can be really awful (Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Spider-Man 3).

The trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 dropped this week and I am beyond excited for it, mostly because GotG is my second favourite Marvel movie of all time (before Captain America Civil War).

I was pretty hesitant about picking up the new 76081 The Milano vs The Abilisk set (not obelisk), but during a recent Myer 20% off sale, I decided to pull the trigger as I really wanted to review it and compare it against the original.

I’ve been receiving a lot of emails and messages about this set from people who own the original and were on the fence about whether the new 2017 Milano is worth a pickup or not, especially since it’s a lot smaller than the original.

So here goes, a review of 76081 The Milano vs The Abilisk! Put on the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack and get your ooga chaka ooga on as we dive into the review! It’s a long review, so strap yourself in for the ride!

Name: The Milano vs. The Abilisk Set Number: 76081 Pieces: 460 Price: AU$79.99 | US$49.99 | £44.99 (Buy from LEGO.com [AUS] [USA] [UK]) Exclusive to: N/A Minifigs: 4 + 1 Baby Groot Theme: Guardians of the Galaxy Year of Release: 2017

Truth be told, I was not looking forward to the fact that LEGO was updating the Milano, Star-Lord’s spaceship from Guardians of the Galaxy. Mostly because the original Milano Spaceship holds a very special place in my collection.

The original Milano Spaceship is one of my favourite sets of all time, and is one of the only Marvel sets that I haven’t disassembled. I also gave the set a very deserving 5/5 rating which I rarely hand out, so you know I mean business.

When the set started going on sale in the US about 2 weeks ago, comparison photos began to surface and most of my biggest fears were confirmed, the 2017 Milano was dwarfed (in many areas) by the original.

There was a bit of an upside – it was also priced a lot cheaper (AU$50/US$25) than its predecessor which made my impulse purchase slightly easier to stomach, but still – I was expecting the worst.

Turns out, even though this set doesn’t reach the lofty heights of the original Milano, it also wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Here’s the sticker sheet for The Milano vs The Abilisk. It’s not too over the top, but there are a few tricky stickers to apply such as the symmetric ones on the Milano’s nose but I didn’t have the hardest time with most of them.

You start to realise that this is going to be a really small set when you pop the medium-sized box open and are greeted by only 4 polybags of parts.

One of the set’s strengths lies within the minifigure department. Sort of.

In terms of main characters, we get the exact same main characters as the previous Milano outing – Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Peter Quill (Star-Lord) and Gamora’s adopted sister, Nebula. Rounding out the gang is the inclusion of GOTG 2’s merchandising darling, Baby Groot!

First up is a look at the updated Star-Lord and Drax minifigures. Star-Lord has an all-new outfit (and hair!), which is mostly grey and black, with some armour plating on the chest area. It’s a little bland and I’m not really a fan of it.

The details are decent and it has that futuristic armour look to it, but it doesn’t really seem to fit Star-Lord’s image much. Maybe it’s a new Guardians uniform, or this is for some sort of training mission, but it isn’t anywhere near as good as the maroon outfits from the previous bunch of sets. Maybe I’ll change my mind when the movie is out.

Star-Lord also has the trademark “Chris Pratt” face which has so far been unchanged since his last outing in 75917 Raptor Rampage. As usual we get two of Star-Lord’s blasters, which are one of the best guns in LEGO’s arsenal.

Drax is also almost identical to his older version, with a new face, new pants but he’s got the same old tattoo-covered torso. The red markings on his body are mostly unchanged, except that they’re a lot darker and the lines a lot bolder.

Drax has a new face with an angry look and he has some new tattoos across his face (side of his eyes and cheekbones) and a new pattern behind his head. (more comparison photos below).

He’s also sporting some new blue pants which strike me as a little odd given that it doesn’t really match Gamora and Star-Lord’s uniforms.

Both minifigures come with very primitive jetpacks built out of the neck bracket and a binocular accessory – you can see the characters making use of the jetpacks to zip around space in the trailer.

Star-Lord’s back printing is actually quite great with the jetpacks printed on the torso itself, rendering the jetpack accessory quite redundant.

Here’s a look at Star-Lord’s new mask which has been given a small update. The design is mostly the same except for the eyes which look like small suns or explosions. 

Here’s a comparison with the older helmet. I think I prefer the older one – the eyes just look a little weird to me. Like he’s shooting lasers out of them or something.

From the trailers, the eyes look mostly red, so I have no idea if this new design is tied to an unrevealed plot point or upgrade.

The next two minifigures are Gamora and Nebula, both of whom are adopted daughters of Thanos. Like Star-Lord, Gamora has a new grey uniform that’s exactly the same torso as Star-Lord’s. The greyish armour looks slightly better on her thanks to the contrast against her green skin.

Gamora’s face has silver markings and we also see the return of the great hairpiece with pink highlights.

Nebula has a bit of a more subtle upgrade. For the most part, she still looks the same with her blue skin and metallic left arm. Her purple torso and legs also rock the same design, except this version has a bit more “battle-damage” across her chest.

Nebula’s face has undergone quite a makeover – for starters, she looks a lot angrier. The most notable but quite subtle change is that the blues on her head have been inverted.

In the older version, her face was predominantly dark blue, with the light blue strip in the middle. This new Nebula has hers the other way around, possibly hinting at some sort of plot device in the movie.

Here’s a comparison of the older Guardians of the Galaxy minifigures against the new ones from The Milano vs The Abilisk. Do note that I got the wrong Star-Lord for the shot but you can clearly see how much better the red uniforms looked on the minifigures.

That said, for Marvel completionists or minifigure collectors, getting 4 main characters in a set that’s relatively affordable makes for a pretty decent deal.

I don’t hate the newer minifigures, but if you already have the old ones, you’ll probably have to ask yourself if you really need the new ones.

I’ve saved the best thing to come out of the new Guardians of the Galaxy 2 LEGO sets for last – the brand new Baby Groot uh.. babyfigure? Baby Groot is going to be an absolute marketing and merchandising juggernaut, and I’m glad that LEGO did him justice.

The LEGO Baby Groot is tiny and adorable, only a little smaller than the baby minifigure. It features pretty sharp printing on the head and body and has his right arm outstretched as if to say hi.

It also has a small recess in between the legs which is a really nice touch.

Not only can he fit on a stud, Baby Groot’s hands can also be grasped by a minifigure, ensuring that it can interact in meaningful ways with the other Guardians.

This Baby Groot is exclusive to The Milano vs The Abilisk which has the more wooden skin… which kinda suggests that this Baby Groot is buck naked.

Baby Groot is a really fun accessory and judging from the trailers, is almost guaranteed to steal the show. If you’re a Guardians fan, you’re definitely going to want to add him to your collection. Thankfully, you don’t have to buy this set as he’s also available in the more affordable Ayesha’s Revenge set.

Here’s a comparison with the original brick-built Groot!

Meet The Abilisk, what seems to be some sort of cosmic inter-dimensional tentacle monster that features quite prominently in the trailer. The build is quite clever and it’s really eye catching thanks to the bright pink elements used, as well as The Abilisk’s gaping maw.

The Abilisk is built on top of a grey platform which has a few stickers to give it the necessary detail. The Abilisk also has two subtle stickers on each jaw, which have some wrinkly lines. The stickers seem a little redundant since they don’t really add much to its overall look.

The Abilisk’s eyes are printed which is quite a nice surprise. With Brickheadz becoming quite a popular theme with LEGO fans, especially those who are creating their own custom designs, new printed 1×1 round tiles with eyes are going to be very useful.

It provides quite a bit of fun interactivity with the set. All the minifigures can interact with The Abilisk in some way or form as you can see above.

The best thing about The Abilisk is the mechanical gears, which allow you to bring The Abilisk to life as the tentacles writhe and move in quite a satisfying manner.

I also recreated this shot from the trailer.

Overall, The Abilisk makes for a fun little accompaniment to the Milano Spaceship. It’s a great prop for you to display the minifigures with if you don’t want to have them in the ship and the abundance of pink elements is pretty nice too.

Also included as accessories are two Annulax batteries which are just trans-yellow studs on black clips. No idea what they do but I imagine they’re tired to summing The Abilisk somehow.

The light blue accessory is meant to be Baby Groot’s boombox speaker – the clips on all these accessories allow Baby Groot to hold them.

Meet the new 2017 Milano from Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and also the source of much contention among LEGO GOTG fans. The most glaring thing about the new Milano is that yes, it’s much, much smaller than the original which has pissed the fan community off.

The new Milano Spaceship also has a new colour scheme, with orange accents instead of yellow, and features a few new design updates such as a new cockpit and wings. This kinda makes sense since the original Milano was destroyed at the end of Guardians 1.

Let’s get into the inevitable comparison with the original Milano.

As you can see here, the size difference is quite staggering, making the new Milano look almost like a baby compared to the original from 2014. The main body has less of a traditional triangular shape and more of a flatter and thinner boomerang-esque shape and also lacks the large Technic wings.

For the most part, the Milano still retains the bird-like look it’s known for, which is still very nice to look at. The “beak” of the Milano is still a very prominent part of the design, and there are a few changes to how the “eyes” look, but for the most part, it stays faithful to the original design.

Just like how Groot got shrunked down into a baby, it too seems like the Milano suffered from the same fate.

I’ll admit, the new Milano does look quite small and sad when placed side by side against the original, which was a revelation in terms of LEGO design. This totally explains why some LEGO fans have been quite mad at the new Milano for being a “poor man’s” Milano Spaceship.

Those claims do have merit, but I do want to review the new Milano as a unique LEGO set, so let’s take a look at the Milano on its own.

If you look at the 2017 Milano Spaceship on its own, it’s actually still quite a gorgeous model. Despite shrinking the size down by about 40%, I don’t believe the designers compromised on the design given the limitations that they had to work with.

We haven’t seen much of the Milano in the trailers, but I’ve grabbed a screenshot and cropped out a a bit from the uber-psychedelic movie poster and it does seem like the LEGO Milano’s shape and colours matches the on-screen version.

I also really like the orange colour, which I think works so much better with the blue than the original’s yellow. The mix of colours, and the vibrant contrasts does a whole lot to elevate how great the new Milano looks.

The orange colour also makes this version of the Milano look a lot more bolder, and fiercer, which is also evident by the new “eyes” which are slanted instead of round. All these things make the Milano look more like a bird of prey that’s no doubt the inspiration for its design.

The stickers on the angled orange piece on the cockpit were a bit of a pain to apply, mostly because you have to be careful to align them as best as you can or it’ll look a little weird.

On the Milano’s right wing, there is also a sticker featuring some stylised text which is pretty cool. The blue sloped wing flap is a little flimsy as its only precariously held together on the inside by clips.

The shape is very pleasing but if you swoosh it around too much, expect it to detach itself every now and then.

On the right wing is also a round red tile with a blue circle within it.

The Milano’s most distinctive and beloved features are the way the tips of its wings spread out, very much like feathers and this also makes it way to this set. Unlike the previous Milano’s use of Technic panels, we get a more brickbuilt appearance achieved via plates.

This design flourish still works and it’s very nice to look at. The ball joints on each plate give you a bit of freedom to customise the exact angle of the feathers.

Here’s a look at the underside of the Milano, where you can see 2 sets of 2 red bombs that you can drop on the Abilisk by pressing down on a button on the wings. It’s not the most interesting play feature and doesn’t really add much to the Milano.

There’s also a “stand” attached to the underbelly, which gives the Milano a bit of stability when you rest it on a flat surface.

Here’s a look at the Milano from behind – I’m not a fan of the gaping holes on the technic bricks.

This is my most-hated part of the new Milano’s design. There is a massive, unsightly gap in the back part of the hull where you can literally see through to the other side.

It’s a big ole empty space as well and although you won’t see it when this set is displayed, it just looks an incomplete design.

Another great thing about this Milano is the updated cockpit glass, which looks a lot closer to the movie version. The cockpit is printed which is a huge win and just looks great.

Here’s a look at the inside of the cockpit. It looks super cramped and at first I was quite doubtful that all four minifigures could fit inside it. There’s also a sticker for Star-Lord’s beloved mixtape at the back, and a few small stickers for control panels.

It’s a REALLY tight fit, but yes, you can squeeze all the minifigures and Baby Groot into the cockpit. It’s not a perfect fit – the characters needs to raise their hands in a very specific range to be seated and there is zero space to store any accessories in a non-messy fashion.

Speaking of the interiors, that’s all we get, a cockpit section. It’s understandable given the size of this Milano. I do have to give credit to the designers for succeeding in fitting everyone in, but the lack of any sort of interior is a bit of a disappointment.

Oh, and if Star-Lord has his mask on, the cockpit doesn’t fully close.

And yes, if you were wondering, the new Milano is still very swooshable. Gripping the underside is relatively easy – I knocked the unsightly gap on the Milano’s hull, but it actually makes for the best place to grip with your fingers, so maybe it’s part of the design.

What I liked:

  • This set’s price-point is unbelievable
  • You get most of the necessary main characters from GOTG
  • Baby Groot!
  • The new Milano’s design looks great and the orange accents look awesome

What I didn’t like: 

  • Minifigure designs are a little bland and don’t feel like much of an update
  • The Milano’s small size when compared with the original

Final thoughts: Judged on its own merits, 76081 The Milano vs The Abilisk is actually a pretty great set, and I think is unfairly maligned due to the inevitable comparisons with the original.

For the most part, the Milano Spaceship is still a sleek and well-designed model. It’s design is mostly screen-accurate and captures a lot of the elements that made the original such a hit, albeit at a smaller scale.

The new orange and blue colour scheme, coupled with the brand new cockpit also work remarkably well – it still makes for a very eye-catching set that wouldn’t look out of place on my LEGO display.

The minifigures are not particularly outstanding, I’m not a fan of the grey uniform designs which are a little drab. The upside is that you get 4 main characters + Baby Groot (with no filler characters) which is fantastic value especially if you’re a minifigure collector.

The Abilisk is also a fun and creative addition to the Milano, the tentacle play feature and opening maw are quite fun and gives you so many more options when it comes creatively displaying this set.

What this set really has going for it, and also why I’m unwilling to slam it unlike most other fans online is the price-point. For a licensed set which contains 5 main characters, AU$80/US$50 is an absolute steal for the amount of value packed into this set. 

Super Heroes sets are often criticised for being overpriced parts packs meant to move coveted minifigures (which has a lot of truth to it), but 70681 The Milano vs The Abilisk completely bucks this stereotype by containing so much value at a very affordable price-point.

For those that missed out on the original Milano, or have restrictive LEGO budgets, this set is a must-buy, especially if you can get it on discount.

The burning question of course is “should I buy this set if I own the original Milano?”. I’ll go a bit about how I feel about this set and how it stacks up against the original.

To that my answer would be, no, it’s absolutely not mandatory unless you have a large LEGO budget. While the new minifigures may be important to collectors, they don’t represent a significant enough update to justify the spend, especially since you can get Baby Groot in a smaller, more affordable set which contains new Guardians characters.

While I don’t hate the smaller Milano, it’s also very difficult to call it an improvement over the original. The overall design feels tighter, and the orange colour scheme is a winner in my books, but as you’ve seen above, it’s really small when you place both sets side by side.

One of the things that made the original Milano Spaceship such an exceptional set was the fact that it elegantly married sophisticated design with a satisfyingly large model.

OG Milano is a behemoth in size and evokes a sense of awe that tends to correspond with the number of bricks a set contains and its overall footprint. It has a “WOW” factor that this new Milano just doesn’t seem to have. The older Milano is just considerably better from nearly every aspect. 

So yeah, unless you’re a Marvel completionist or a hardcore LEGO Guardians of the Galaxy set, you can skip this set out without losing out on much.

You can still get the original Milano Spaceship Rescue at a very affordable price on places like Bricklink (don’t look on eBay) and if you were to choose between the two, I’d say go with the original. 

I have to come back to the 2017 Milano’s price-point and LEGO’s seemingly generous gesture with this set. Because this set is relatively affordable, you can actually pick this up without hurting your wallet too hard.

I also really love that LEGO didn’t force GOTG fans to buy this set by choosing to insert an exclusive new character such as Yondu or Mantis or even the ONLY Baby Groot in this set which would have probably changed my stance on this set to a must-buy. It wouldn’t be out of character for them to do so, but I’m glad they didn’t go down that road.

So yeah, in short, I do like 76081 The Milano vs the Abilisk. Viewed in isolation, this set checks a lot of the right boxes. A very complete cast of minifigures (80% of the core Guardians), a fantastic price and a LEGO set that for all intents and purposes still bears an outstanding design.

It’s a great set and in terms of value, rockets right up the 2017 charts. Just don’t place it side by side with the original, and you’ll be able to enjoy it for what its worth.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks for reading! I hope this review has been helpful in helping you make a decision about this set. The LEGO Guardians of the Galaxy sets should now be available in stores worldwide or you can get them on LEGO.com.

I’ll be reviewing the other 2 Guardians of the Galaxy sets, so keep an eye out for those in the coming days and weeks. To check out some of my other LEGO reviews, head on over to the the Review Hub where you’ll find more of my other Marvel Super Heroes reviews.

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