-Review and photos by Scott Rubin
Welcome back, spaceship fans of all ages! We’re here today to revisit our love of Snap Ships, this year’s hottest constructible spaceship toys from PlayMonster. To recap briefly, we got to preview these toys way back at New York Toy Fair, and then when the line launched, I reviewed two products in the first wave (see it HERE). While PlayMonster is best known for its family-friendly board games, it’s definitely created a splash in the sci-fi community with the Snap Ships. What are they? Well, the line combines cool buildable spaceships with a rich story and lore, plus an innovative app with gameplay and Augmented Reality content. They hooked me with the rad ship designs, but I have just as much fun playing with the app as I do with the toys. Okay, let’s take a look at the Target exclusive Trident ST-33 Gunship as well as the smaller Lance SV-51 Scout and Locust K.L.A.W. Stealth Craft!
Just as we saw in the previous review, all of the Snap Ships come in standardized packaging that just various in size. The majority are single ship releases (there is one two-pack) and come in thin, tall cardboard boxes with hard plastic tops that serve as the bottom of the display bases. The graphics and info on these packages are fantastic, with big and bright text, cool action shots of the ships on the front panels, and more. Wireframe renders on the front give you alternate ship builds, while the sides and back panels give you instructions and show you how the parts fit together.
As far as in-universe info, the front panels also tell you the name of the ship with its class and designation and its pilot/pilots, and the back panel explains UJU tech (bonus parts with projectile launchers, bright colors, etc.) and even gives you statistical data for Speed, Weapons, Armor, and Maneuverability!
What’s inside those boxes? Tightly packed in there is a sturdy plastic tray molded to hold all of the set’s parts, with different compartments for the pilot/pilots, specific pieces, and of course the UJU tech slot at the top-left corner that’s taped closed. At the bottom of the tray is always a plastic bag containing the bulk of the parts; sometimes all the parts are in there. Tucked in behind the tray are some paper items: a checklist/action poster which is pretty cool, and detailed, full-color instructions. That booklet gives you even more info on the ship along with step by step guides to build the main version and at least one alternate form, more for the larger ships.
Utilizing those detailed instructions, I find constructing my Snap Ships to be quite straightforward, though not necessarily super quick. The full color is great, as are the multiple views of the same step so you can make sure everything is lined up perfectly. Basically, these are on par with Legos, and in some cases better when it comes to color differentiation on the parts. The ships are all assembled around a stable central core of cubic parts, with all the cool and fiddly bits surrounding that section. There are always plenty of multi-point connectors to reinforce that stability, too. And possibly best of all, those connection points can be mounted straight on or at an angle for offset parts (hard to explain but you can see in the photos). There’s also a very solid connection made on Snap Ships pieces, so much so that disconnecting them require the included Separation Tool.
Every ship has opening cockpits in which you can place the included pilots, teeny tiny two-part figures articulated at the waist. Even these vary greatly in sculpt from standard humans to various alien designs! Then there are all sorts of cool tech bits from circuitry boards to thrusters, sensor pallets to fins and so much more. Of course, the two different factions have very different styles, with a generally sleek and high-tech look to the heroic Forge and a vicious, bladed overall appearance to the villainous Komplex. Those add on articulated weapon turrets, slashing blades, gatling cannons, missiles, energy cannons, and more. There are even optional projectile-launching parts and the unique UJU tech pieces, and ALL of this is interchangeable so you can make your own designs, even mixing and matching parts from the two factions!
The small Forge SV-51 Lance is classified as a Scout, and as such it packs substantial Speed and Maneuverability while skimping on Weapons and Armor (sounds like a fun ship to play in a video game). The vessel’s shape is immediately recognizable as a classic sci-fi fighter with a long nosecone, top-mounted cockpit, wings, and rear-mounted engines. The instructions call for the dual-barreled cannon weapon to be mounted under the main fuselage pointing forward, but in order to mount it on the base I moved it to face backwards underneath the engine; of course, with the snap connections you can build these ships as you like.
As with all Forge vessels, the Lance comes in multiple shades of gray, light blue, black, and pale green. According to the instructions its special components are the Stage 2 Burst Drive, Spinning Fuselage, and Scar-4 Pulse Laser, its UJU tech is a UX-SLS 35 Hyper Drive, and the Lance is piloted by the four-armed Atam.
Lastly, instructions are included to build the SAC-30 Attack Craft with its forward-mounted cannon and retro thruster and elongated wingspan.
One of the two new Snap Ships hitting stores now is the Komplex Locust K.L.A.W. Stealth Craft, small but vicious. According to its stats it has excellent Maneuverability, decent Speed and Weapons, and minimal Armor to protect it on its missions behind enemy lines. Like all of the Komplex fleet the Locust is primarily dark red, black, and gray in a really unique shape, almost insectile and with spikes, blades, and other dangerous-looking protrusions; I really like the head-like pilot’s compartment complete with mandibles at the very front!
According to specs the ship is equipped with anti-sensor CL-ARM Rockets, a unique Locust Stealth Drive, and a CL-23 Railgun, along with the UJU tech UX-38 TSM Cloak System. That last piece takes the form of a pod structure you can mount on the top, and the included gate pieces can cover it and then open when it’s deployed. The Locust set comes with a generic Komplex pilot figure, and can be reconfigured into a Close Support Fighter with a more traditional spacefighter layout.
Last but not least is one of the biggest vessels in the Snap Ships fleet, the brand new Target exclusive Forge Trident ST-33 Gunship! This thing is a beast, and you can tell right off the bat with its extra tall packaging dwarfing those holding smaller ships. The Trident comes with three pilots, instructions to build three different vessels, and a massive 100 components. With drones, salvage equipment, and more, the “gunship” is statted out with good Weapons and Armor, average Maneuverability, and low Speed for loitering in enemy zones.
The Trident’s basic form is a flying brick bristling with weapons and with outboard hover engines for salvage operations. There’s a large cockpit at the very front for the alien pilot 2Bells, while the crew Dee La and Klik operate turrets on the dorsal surface. Among the Trident’s components are Rotating Engines, Modular Deployment Drones, and real working Power Winch, while its UJU tech is the UX-MC Deflector Mortar shield generator. This many parts gives you a massive canvass for experimentation and building fun, with great examples from PlayMonster you can build off of or go your own way.
The main Trident build includes the two Drones, attachable mini ships with their own engines and blasters. Meanwhile, you can build the alternate long and narrow T-14 Rescue/Recovery ship or the unique AT-43 Assault Craft with a forward pilot compartment and two long nacelles containing weapons, engines, piloted turrets, and more.
So, what’s this app I mentioned at the top? Well, the Snap Ships app (available on all major devices) is pretty darn fun. It’s part storyline and introduction to the universe, part counterpart to the toys with new designs you can build with your parts, and part Augmented Reality so you can zoom the ships around your house and play games with them! The hangar bay comes stocked with a few ships, with LOTS more you unlock by playing the game. Here you can see products you can purchase as well as models that require multiple kits to create, and the full instructions to build all of them.
The Battle Map presents different ships as their own territories; in each of these you’ll learn about the vessels and what they can do, then see them in action in full Augmented Reality!
For those who haven’t played around with AR yet, it’s super fun and this app does a great job. You bring fully animated Snap Ships into your living room with you and proceed to investigate all of their weapons and equipment and test out those systems. It was super neat the first time I realized I could shoot missiles at a nearby wall and see them explode on contact! Once you’ve learned about a ship, you’ll get to fly it in a (simple) mission, shooting down enemies. There’s more, too, like unlockable avatars as you do more in the app, a checklist to update so the app will tell you which unique designs you can make, and links to videos. I really like playing with the AR and ship-building, and it’s even more fun doing it with my two young kids (6 and 2). Best of all, PlayMonster updates the app with new ships, and links to the Youtube series of Snap Ships short videos!
Truly, I could talk all day about Snap Ships. I’m a huge fan of spaceships and toys, so this is a great combination for me. And of course, as a dad with energetic little ones who are also into space stuff and constructible toys, I love to share in the fun of Snap Ships with them. We build, we play, we use the Augmented Reality to bring the ships into our living room, and we go on missions together. Now, you don’t need kids to enjoy Snap Ships; there’s lots to appreciate with the complex designs, unique aesthetics, and cool weapons, not to mention that you can create your very own by mixing and matching parts. Building is fun, the ships stay together pretty well, and they’re very displayable on the included bases. Snap Ships are available wherever you buy toys, while the new Trident ($20) is only at Target, so make sure to head there for your gunship/hovering salvage platform operations.
For more information, download the Snap Ships app or head over to play around on the PlayMonster website!
Review and photos by Scott Rubin
Review samples courtesy of PlayMonster