I've loved LEGOs for a long time. Ever since I was little. I think the first thing I spent my actual money on was a LEGO set. As I've grown, that love has not diminished; in fact, it's grown stronger within the last few years as Marvel and DC have released their own superhero sets and video games. "LEGO superheroes" pretty much puts two of my favorite words together, so how can you go wrong with that? My favorite good guys and bad guys in minifig? Irresistible. Even Doctor Doom looks cute! Over the past year, I've bought or received various superhero sets, which I'll go over in a moment. First, a bit of distinction. So as to not be confusing, I'm placing each minifigure within a class, five in all: There are Hero, Villain, Sidekick Hero, Sidekick Villain, and Minion/Pedestrian. Heroes and Villains are the A-list characters that come with the set, the big-name guys from the comics. The Sidekicks are characters who are more B- or C-list characters, who are cool but are also kinda just "fluff" characters. Minions/Pedestrians are just normal people thrown into the set; characters without any real powers or anything like that but either with the Hero or Villain. With that out of the way, I can begin reviewing sets. I'll do each one in the order I got them.
ARTIC BATMAN VS. MR. FREEZE (76000): The first set I bought, one of two 2013 DC sets I got. As always, I got the set for the minifigures. Know right now that's the only reason I ever buy LEGO. Maybe the vehicles are cool, maybe there's an awesome building, but the minifigure always determines what I get. Anyway, this one came with two minifigs I wanted: Villain Mr. Freeze (who, at the time, was the only Batman villain I didn't have) and Sidekick Aquaman (yeah, he's a founding member of the JLA, but the guy can control fish...so Sidekick status). It also came with Batman (Hero) in a cool, white, Freeze-proof costume, but I mainly wanted the other two. My sister Abby got a Superman and Wonder Woman for Christmas, and I already had, like, three other Batmen, so why not put together a Justice League? Aquaman and Mr. Freeze make for some pretty cool minifigs, and the Bat-boat that came with it isn't anything to sneer at. Plus a cool ice cage to reinact Captain America's being frozen in ice (or a number of other scenarios). A pretty neat set to add to my DC collection.
WOLVERINE'S CHOPPER SHOWDOWN (6866): I'm not a huge X-Men fan, but this was my thinking: I have a Doc Ock, and Abby has a Loki. Why not create a super-Villain team with A-listers? Sounded great, and Magneto fit perfectly. Add in Wolverine (who's been an Avenger) and Deadpool (who, while the box makes him look like a Villain Sidekick, I play with as Wolvie's buddy), and you got three awesome minifigs. It also comes with a helicopter (which I've never had) and a motorcycle (which I needed more of), so cool vehicles to boot. You also have to admit that Wolverine and Deadpool make perfect minfigs. Thanks to their enhanced healing factors, I can blow their arms and legs off no problem! They'll just grow back, no big deal. This is the only X-Men set (so far), but it includes classic characters ripe for collecting.
SUPERMAN'S METROPOLIS SHOWDOWN (76002): My second DC set, and the first non-Batman set I got. This was the smallest "Man of Steel" set, and I didn't want any other figures besides Superman and General Zod. Again, Superman's there to add to my growing Justice League (which got recently topped off after I bought a Flash minifig off of Ebay), and he fortunately looks a lot different and a lot cooler than the Superman my sister has. The figure is a darker blue and very detailed, bringing about a more serious look. Zod looks pretty neat as well, and both have double-sided faces, with normal face on one side and heat vision on the other, which looks pretty cool. The set itself is a signal tower and a car, which may not seem impressive, but both allow the titans to hurl things at each other. And a car is something easily to pretend to have multiples of, which is nice for city adventures and such. All in all, it may be small, but it's pretty decent.
SPIDER-MAN: DAILY BUGLE SHOWDOWN (76005): This is actually the only set I got that comes with all five classes. The playset (sets with buildings as opposed to just vehicles) comes with Spider-Man (Hero), Doctor Doom (Villain), Nova (Hero Sidekick), the Beetle (Villain Sidekick), and J. Jonah Jameson (Pedestrian). I mainly got the set because of Doctor Doom, who's kinda like the ultimate Villain of all the other guys I got. Sure, I could've bought him off of Ebay, but it's the Daily Bugle, man! A landmark of the Spidey comics in LEGO form! While it can be a bit annoying to maneuver figures around it, such an icon is hard to miss out on and is full of fun details. Besides, the other figures are amusing. Nova and Beetle are fun B-list characters to have, and to have JJ rush around and yell at everyone is lots of fun. Plus, a helicopter for Doctor Doom rounds out this set with the ever-present vehicle. Fun to play with, and great minifigures to own, this one's my favorite of the year.
SPIDER-MAN: SPIDER-CYCLE CHASE (76004): This set gave me another Spider-Man (and I don't care if I get a bunch of Spideys; he's got a bunch of clones in the comics, so we're good), another Villain, Venom, plus the Avenger's liaison to the real world, Commander Nick Fury (who should be a Pedestrian, I guess, but he's so ingrained in the hero community I'm bumping him up to Sidekick status). The vehicles are a SHIELD car and a motorcycle. No, sorry, a Spider-cycle. What? What's Spidey need a bike for? Exactly. Hence the reason I left the decals off both, to make the Spider-Man and SHIELD vehicles a little more generic. The cool thing is that both of these things can FLY. Turn up the wheels and you're off, which means that Doom from the last set isn't flying over to Latveria that easily. Cool minifigs, and cool vehicles which are easy to handle because of their size and easy to get minifigs in and out of.
IRON MAN VS. THE MANDARIN: ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN (76008): What's with LEGO and the word "Showdown"? Huh. Anyway, this "Ultimate Showdown" is basically Iron Man battling the Mandarin, the latter zipping around in a souped-up Mario cart. Doesn't seem mind-blowing awesome, but I needed a Mandarin figure (and, no, he's not the Ben Kingsley Mandarin! Not to me at least...guy's the real deal, with rings and everything, the comics version) to add to my supervillain collection, and the Iron Man's wearing his Heartbreaker suit, which makes him stand out from other Iron Men. The Mandarin's buggy (and, yeah, that's what the game calls it, too) seems a little goofy, but it made for a fast build so I could get to the minifigs. Maybe silly, but I got my Mandarin and a nice Iron Man clone to boot.
2013 had some pretty awesome LEGO Superhero sets, and I hope 2014 continues that trend. One word: Minifigures. It's all about the characters and what kinda stories I can make up with them. I hope this trend will continue long into the future, and I hope I'm there to continuing appreciating what LEGO has done and is doing.