Back in Time: LEGO Ultra Agents
23rd April 2022
In an age where most of the LEGO sets currently on the market tend to be associated with some kind of film or TV franchise, we take a look back at the Ultra Agents theme, which came to us fresh from the imagination of the LEGO set designers in 2014. It only hung around for 2 years, but in that time there were 14 sets across three waves. Before we dive into these and their minifigures, we first explain how this theme came to be.
Ultra Agents was not the first theme centred around special agents fighting evil adversaries, as Alpha Team and Agents had been released in 2005 and 2008 respectively. However, as their name suggests, Ultra Agents represented a superior group of agents and were a notable upgrade over what had come before. The theme was a natural progression, fulfilling the need to be bigger and better. Ultra Agents also has a storyline that connected with two previous themes: Monster Fighters and Galaxy Squad, which is something that we don’t often see from LEGO.
In a nutshell, the Monster Fighters story sees a swarm of bugs summoned, which then leads the events played out by the Galaxy Squad sets, where a group of humans and robotic sidekicks battle the galactic invasion of alien bugs. There were four human/robot teams fighting to save the galaxy, each with different strengths. The Blue Team, renowned for their strategy and technology, is headed up by Blaze Solomon who later comes back to Earth and is chosen to lead the Ultra Agents.
Back from a successful campaign in space, and having recruited four fellow agents to make up the supreme crime fighting team, Blaze Solomon needs another nemesis to battle. Luckily Morgan Lux, a former Ultra Agent himself, has been busy building an AntiMatter staff to try and contain the evil within Astor City, a coastal city where the theme is set. However, as is often the way, he is corrupted by the staff’s power and transforms himself into the supervillian AntiMatter. He then goes on a corruption spree, converting various citizens from different parts of the city into their evil aliases. The belief behind this was that being evil would make them stronger and allow them to bring AntiMatter the materials he needed to build a giant device that would corrupt the whole city. And it seems the Ultra Agents are the only one who can stop him...
The Ultra Agents rely on a range of technologically advanced vehicles that act as bases for their various missions and weapons for battling the range of supervillains AntiMatter has created. The sets focus on these vehicles, and each depict a showdown with one of the supervillains, who also have their own sophisticated mobile weaponry. The headline acts of each of the three waves were the Ultra Agents Mission HQ, the UltraCopter vs. AntiMatter, and the Ultra Agents Ocean HQ, which showcase the Agents main presence on land, on the water, and in the air.
Ultra Agents Mission HQ (70165)
The centrepiece of this set is an imposing black articulated truck, which when you consider that its minifigure scale, is positively gigantic. So if you’re thinking about introducing an elite crime fighting unit to your LEGO city, they may find it a little difficult to turn corners, let alone chase down any rogue criminals. However, its size is somewhat impressive, and it’s needed to house all the technological wonders that are contained within the truck’s trailer. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Starting with the front of the vehicle, the cab has a modern stealthy feel from the sharp angles and black and transparent blue colour scheme, which is a theme that is repeated across all the sets. The back section is nicely sloped and the front firing missiles, which you could easily mistake for headlights, along with the hidden drone behind the cabin, are both cool touches. If we were nit-picking, we’d say that it’s a shame that the cabin can only house a single minifigure, especially given the truck’s overall size.
What’s really impressive is the mechanism that attaches the trailer to the cab. When you disconnect the trailer, which you operate from a lever on the side of the cabin, it deploys a stand which prevents the trailer from tipping forwards and sending the inhabitants inside flying. It’s something that’s very simple but very satisfying, and its details like this that give the set a polished feel.
Moving onto the trailer, it’s essentially a large black box with some textures and lights on the outside to give it detail. However, not is all as it seems, as the panels can be folded out in seconds to reveal a fully-fledged headquarters, equipped with screens, gadgets, laboratory, imprisonment chamber, and even a propelled buggy. The whole trailer feels very packed with stuff that offers endless playability and makes for a very fun built.
Terabyte’s mech is an accessory to the main build, which looks good and is sufficiently equipped to act as challenging adversary. Each of the two pincer type weapons give the impression they could deal some serious damage and cause the Agents a big headache.
The only downside to this set is the whopping number of stickers you will need to apply – 34 of the blighters in total. Stickers make my heart race, and I always look at them thinking I could have done better. So if you’re anything like me, this set will feel you with terror. Get them right though, and they’ll look fantastic.
UltraCopter vs AntiMatter (70170)
The UltraCopter is another substantial build and looks very different from other LEGO helicopters. Kind of like a military helicopter on steroids. It’s packed with huge firepower, including four blasters that can shoot eight projectiles between them. The front gun turrets can also rotate, allowing the direction of fire to be controlled. There are also three jet engines which give the impressions that this helicopter could outrun any other, and the black and translucent blue colour scheme of the Ultra Agents again makes this vehicle look very stealthy and technologically advanced. Overall, the design is very unique and interesting, and we would go so far to say that it’s the coolest LEGO helicopter out there.
There are two design features that really stand out. The first is the counter rotating blades that can be spun using a gear piece on the underside of the vehicle. The rotor blades are much studier than most we have seen, and as a result can be spun to a high speed without them feeling unstable. The second is the mechanism on the tail of the helicopter that pushes two of the engine wings forward, allowing more space for the missiles to be fired. This creates a much more aggressive looking helicopter that’s ready for an ensuing dogfight. We also like the inclusion of a second cockpit above the pilots to accommodate a navigator / gunner. The only criticism we have of the design is that the internal storage space is very limited as most is taken up with the structure of the helicopter. Like the other large sets in this theme, there is also another big sticker ordeal to go through.
AntiMatter is the villain in this set, and he is accompanied by his antigravity flyer, which although small, is nice enough. However, in this case, the enemy number 1’s ride feels like a distraction to the main build, being somewhat undersized compared to the UltraCopter.
Overall, this set is another strong showing from the Ultra Agents theme. Of the three flagship sets, it’s the smallest and it packs slightly less playability than the other two, although it still has a ton of moving parts. However, its still worth picking up to give your secret agent team some significant aerial firepower.
Ultra Agents Ocean HQ (70173)
This is largest set of the Ultra Agents theme containing over 1,200 pieces and measuring over half a metre long. As well as being the biggest, it’s also the best set in our opinion. The build doesn’t rely on the large per-fabricated hull pieces that we see in so many other boats, and this helps create a very stylish set that looks good from all sides. The boat contains a lot of interesting angles created by use of various hinged bricks and plates and sloped pieces, and there is a lot of detail throughout. Like the other Ultra Agent vehicles, this one too is packed to the rafters with weaponry.
The main piece of arsenal is a retracting doubled barrelled gatling gun that’s mounted to the deck. Each barrel contains six shooters that can all be fired at once by twisting a cog piece on the back of the gun. We also see this construction used well in the Ultrasonic Showdown set of this theme that was released alongside the Ocean HQ. At the front of the ship is a harpoon launcher where the harpoon is helpfully tied to the shooter with a piece of string. Several other non-functioning weapons line the boat and can be rotated to direct fire to wherever it is needed.
The command deck is another well designed aspect of the ship, which features a lot of translucent blue pieces that look great, and it has the bonus element of being able to be rotated a full 360 degrees. The main deck also contains a hatch concealing a futuristic chamber for imprisoning any rogue supervillains. The side panels of the boat can be opened to give access to the interior and they act as a mounting point for a neat looking speedboat, Agent Caila Pheonix’s jetpack, and yet more guns! It all feels very James Bond-ish which we love. Although maybe even Q would have been hard pushed to come up with this boat. This feature also acts as a handy way to store the set’s accessories when you’re not playing with it. The final part to mention is the stern of the ship which is very nicely angled inwards to give a sleek look and houses a sophisticated looking console system.
The main villain in this set is Electrolyzer who has a flyer with two snazzy propellors. His main weapon is an EMP bomb designed to try and embolise the electronics of the Ocean HQ and rescue the captive Terabyte who’s place is in the boat’s hi-tech imprisonment chamber. The bomb is held in place with a couple of hinged pieces which you need to be careful not to dislodge when picking the flyer up as they’re a little flimsy. That said, it’s a cool little vehicle. Terabyte is a bonus minifigure that features a hair piece instead of his helmet.
This is a set we really like as it has huge playability, appeals to old and young LEGO fans, and looks incredible on display.
While the bigger sets are the most striking and eye catching, there are some real gems amongst the smaller sets. Infearno Interception and Invizable Gold Getaway are the picks of the bunch. Both feature Tron style bikes, and both can transform into hovering vehicles! With one you get the leader of the Ultra Agents, which arguably any Ultra Agents collection is lost without, and with the other you get the classiest baddie out there.
When it comes to the supervillains in the Ultra Agents theme, LEGO have been very creative, and this is shown with some incredibly detailed and unique minifigures. Some of the characters are slightly more comical in how they are depicted, while some are more serious. Throughout them all though it feels like the set designers let their imaginations run wild, which we think is no bad thing. Villains, especially supervillains, should be a little ludicrous and crazy. They’re certainly more fun than the well-known adversaries of the Marvel and DC franchises that LEGO have focused on so much in the last few years.
We’re big fans of transparent heads, or heads with a different finish than is customary, and they are used to good effect here. We have Adam Acid who features a translucent green head that is part normal and part acid damaged, Retox who also has a transparent green head used to depict slime, and he have Invizible who has a transparent clear head with gold sunglasses printed on it. The arch villain AntiMatter and Electrolyzer also have glow in the dark heads, which always look cool. All the supervillain minifigures are certainly worth collecting, but our personal favourites are Spyklops, Invizible, Tremor, and Psyclone.
While the supervillains take the spotlight, the Agent minifigures shouldn’t be ignored as several contain some noteworthy detailing. For example, we get an aged Solomon Blaze with a robotic style leg, suggesting that defending humanity has taken its toll, and we have Curtis Bolt with a personal headpiece that houses all manner of technological wonders. Several of the Agents are also equipped with a field helmet, which contains a seamless fusion of clear and opaque plastics that is incredibly impressive from a technical and aesthetic perspective.
The Unique Parts
One of our favourite things about building a set is when we come across a part we haven’t seen before. They showcase the constant development of LEGO and can make a set very desirable, as well as being very useful for MOC builders. Although the last of the Ultra Agent sets came out nearly 7 years ago, they still contain a variety of one-off bricks. These include some metallic silver and titanium pieces and several different coloured transparent parts. Other rare pieces include a silver metallic Technic pin connector and some silver metallic mini lances which serve as handrails on the Ocean HQ.
Whilst not strictly a LEGO part, the robotic shark (a.k.a. the Sharkanator) is a one-off we have never seen repeated since. You can consider this a big fig version of the sharks we are used to getting in the pirate themed sets, as its scale is such that you can fit a minifigure inside. The metallic colouring, the rivet printing on the head, and the gold teeth make this a brilliant accessory. This, combined with the limited availability of the AntiMatter’s Portal Hideout set, means it’s now one of the most expensive LEGO ‘animal’ figures.
While most Ultra Agents can still be purchased for very reasonable sums, the three sets that made up wave 3, namely the Ocean HQ, AntiMatter’s Portal Hideout, and Ultrasonic Showdown, will leave a small hole in your wallet. This is because they were only available to buy in North America and had a short shelf-life in LEGO stores, meaning there are significantly less of them out there. Scrolling through Ebay listings, you will be hard pressed to find any of these for sale, and Bricklink also has a limited number for sale. If you’re a committed collector or fan of the Ultra Agents you’ll likely already have them in your collection, but we think it’s a shame more of us don’t have that opportunity.
Below you can find the price ranges for new and sealed sets, based on current Bricklink listings
|Set||RRP When Released||Current Price|
|70170 - UltraCopter vs. AntiMatter||£59.99||£70 - £80|
|70171 - Ultrasonic Showdown||$19.99||£100 - 115|
|70160 - Riverside Raid||£9.99||£7 - £10|
|70161 - Tremor Track Infiltration||£17.99||£27 - £37|
|70162 - Infearno Interception||£24.99||£30 - £35|
|70163 - Toxikita's Toxic Meltdown||£34.99||£24 - £30|
|70164 - Hurricane Heist||£49.99||£30 - £40|
|70165 - Ultra Agents Mission HQ||£79.99||£135 - £145|
|70166 - Spyclops Infiltration||£9.99||£15 – £20|
|70167 - Invizable Gold Getaway||£17.99||£35 - £40|
|70168 - Drillex Diamond Job||£24.99||£23 - £30|
|70169 - Agent Stealth Patrol||£39.99||£35 - £50|
|70170 - UltraCopter vs. AntiMatter||£59.99||£70 - £80|
|70171 - Ultrasonic Showdown||$19.99||£100 - 115|
|70172 - AntiMatter's Portal Hideout||$69.99||£90 - 120|
|70173 - Ultra Agents Ocean HQ||$99.99||£250 - £300|
Ultra Agents is one of the best original themes LEGO have created and it reminds us of a better time when LEGO had less focus on pursuing licensed theme after licensed theme and releasing one-off sets with limited playability. Each set feels like it has been carefully thought out. They include a nice level of detail, have a range of good action features, and are coordinated with the stylish black and transparent blue colour scheme. The sets also have high play value, but their ultra-modern aesthetic means they are of interest to older generations of builders and could be displayed alongside any collection. The theme is also helped by the wide appeal that the idea of a technologically advanced team of secret agents has. The characters are compelling, have well founded back stories, and are intricately detailed in minifigure form.
With three waves of sets, the theme feels like it ran its course. However, with all the vehicles we think it would have benefited from a large building, such as a stationary headquarters. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t welcome a new spy and super villain theme and I for one would much rather see this then have another wave of Marvel sets.
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