Toy Review: LEGO Venomized Groot (Baby Groot)

Due to split-studio rights, this version of Groot probably won’t show up on I Am Groot any time soon. This particular Venomized Groot, which is to say a Venomized version of the MCU Baby Groot, exists mostly to sell toys based on two of Marvel‘s most evergreen — pun intended — fan favorites. If you have several hundred bucks to spare, there’s a very nice Hot Toys version. If fifty bucks sounds a lot more reasonable, LEGO’s got you covered.

Half Bite, Half Bark

Venomized Groot represents the duality of many fans — he may seem dark and threatening, but there’s a cute, capable, evergreen pal underneath it all. His aesthetic also works well for couples who compromise, with one liking huggable smiley pals and the other favoring monsters with fangs. The LEGO figure lets you get both in one, though, to be fair, there are two ways to build this set. For those who like the mix less cute, a fully Venomized version can be constructed. Appropriately, that one’s a little bit tougher to build, mainly because the instructions can only be found in a downloadable app and are only viewable one step at a time. They’re also from scratch, so if you’ve already built duality Groot, it doesn’t just tell you which bits to replace but rather forces you to take the whole thing apart and begin again.

Fortunately, LEGO is actually fun to build. That’s one of the points many of its imitators miss. LEGO likes to hide details in the build itself, surprise you with the way things come together, and in this case, make you ask exactly how printed plank pieces and buggy whips are going to get repurposed. (SPOILER: the planks go inside his head, and the whips become tendrils of both vine and symbiote.) Since Groot is totally asymmetrical, there’s no tedious repetition, though his legs are mostly the same build as one another.

Clicking Into Place

LEGO’s directions can also get very specific, with an icon to demonstrate how some pieces should make an audible click when put together, for example. Competitors are not so good at doing this. As a result, Groot is fun and easy to put together, at least in his combined form. Very minimal finger-sprain or fingertip pain involved. He does not come with a brick separator, however, so try not to make any mistakes that would require one. Don’t trim those fingernails too closely. Five bags comprise the set, and the fifth is only needed for the all-Venom version.

Groot’s articulation is perhaps more than on any Groot figure ever, if we’re counting points of articulation. A limited ball-jointed head, cut neck, and ball shoulders and disc-pin hips are just the start. There are ball-jointed knees, elbows and wrists, and the three piranha tentacles. His fingers all move independently, as do the tendrils on his head and the tongue, and all the tendril mouths open and close (his main mouth barely does). His toes have hinges too. The neck ball joint is a bit loose due to the top-heavy head, so be careful with that.

Even his eyes have some side-to-side movement. In both forms.

We Can Rebuild Him

Building him a second time is less fun (you can keep the carnivorous tentacles intact, but that’s about it) though using the app is a new experience. Mercifully, it maintains constant-yet-slight image movement to keep your phone from shutting down while in use. Another nice feature is the ability to rotate the onscreen image any way you like, seeing where the next piece goes on a 3D model from every angle, rather than relying on a drawing. The hybrid version of the figure can also use the app instructions, if that’s easier. Whichever version you build second, the numbered bags no longer help, and the job must be done old school, as in the days when LEGO bags were not sequential and you had to open them all up anyway.

The full Venom looks appropriately sinister, though it lacks either a Venom logo or the movie-style white veins, which would probably just have bene achieved by sticker anyway. The fangs are properly printed — stickers feature here solely for the Groot parts with oozing symbiote on them. Even on this version there are small hints of the plant underneath, with a handful of earthy pieces.

Fear Factor

In either form, Groot isn’t especially scaled to anything else, except perhaps you, the builder…a real baby Groot would be about this size. Next to brick minifigs, however, he can play the role of a large scary monster. By LEGO standards, he’s terrifying. According to representatives from LEGO, the Marvel and Star Wars brands let them push the envelope a little further than the overall PG-level branding of everything else. Running across the fully Venomized version in the dark might scare a little kid.

For adult collectors, however, it’s one of the coolest-looking things the company has ever done. Just one question on pronouns, however: is it “We are Venom,” or “I am Groot”?

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