Time to take a Stand – 75532 – Custom Display Stand MOC

When I wrote my review of the Star Wars speeder bike, aside from the brown color my second biggest gripe was the ugly stand it is mounted on. This has been on my mind quite a bit and I’ve been doodling around with various ideas for a while until I settled on a design.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Clean Underside

First you need to get rid of the old support struts, which is easy enough. The only real caveat is the beam for the megaphone-like auxiliary intake on the right, which requires you to use two 6L beams with half width. I also cheated by removing the bushings used as spacers, but that’s nothing anyone would really notice. I also removed the arrow shooter gun and mechanism since I plan on adding a more correct looking small gun later. I just haven’t got that parts yet. This also requires to use some 4L half width liftarms and replace some pins, but isn’t really anything convoluted.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Custom Stand Detail

I built the stand from transparent liftarms that I scraped together from various sources. They are rare and I was under the illusion they would look good, but as it turns out, there is a glaring issue with them in the truest sense. Since the areas between the pin holes are also hollowed out (in contrast to conventional liftarms, that are solid/ fully formed in these regions), depending on how light hits these regions you get a glittery mess that doesn’t looks transparent at all. I was pretty disappointed to say the least.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Custom Stand Detail

As they are, the current transparent liftarms look okay on a dark shelf where the shadows can seep through and obscure them a bit, but my thinking is that LEGO should start producing better solid versions, ideally even with a slight greyish tint and polarizing effect. The pins would of course also need to be made from the same materials. I’d even buy a dedicated “display stand” set with such parts if only they offered it.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Custom Stand Fixation Points

Interestingly enough the stand can be easily integrated into the existing construction because basically after removing the old supports and the arrow gun you get access to some pre-existing nooks and crannies where the “fingers” of the stand can slide in. They are far enough apart, so they don’t affect the balance of the model in a negative way and at the same time this is stable enough to rest the model on.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Custom Stand

Construction of the stand itself is straightforward. Since you can only get the double-elbow and 15L liftarms in transparent, your options are limited, anyway. therefore it essentially boils down to plugging the parts together where they can possibly overlap and adding a few extra axles, pins and connectors here and there to make the construction more rigid plus some bushings to get the correct 4L width of the aft prongs.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Custom Stand

Of course this can be spun any way you like and if you’re not getting strung up on a specific color and have a wide selection of different liftarms and connectors, you sure could easily come up with alternative designs. Regardless, perhaps this can be useful in some way. If you have questions fire away in the comments.

 

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Brown giant little Thing – 75532

If I was terribly wealthy, collecting scale figures could easily be one of my hobbies. In my youth I was quite a bit into doing little maquettes and figurines using colored clay/ plasticine and even today it fascinates me how those artists go out of their way to scale reality and capture tiny details. There are of course some excellent collectibles from companies like Sideshow, but since they are financially far out of my league, I have to settle for smaller, more attainable options, whether that be cheaper toy store products or alternatives like the LEGO Star Wars Buildable Figures. One would at least think that way, but it’s not that simple, either.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Box

Like with so many things LEGO these days, there’s literally a dark side to these figures just as well. The blatantly obvious answer could be that they are merely another way of milking the Star Wars license. There’s per se nothing wrong with that, but in order to do deliver, they better be good and unfortunately that is not the case a lot of times.

Of course it comes down to those figures using skeletons similar to the old Bionicle, Hero Factory etc., which by their nature are very robotic. In turn they really only work for similar characters in the Star Wars universe – Droids, Stormtroopers, Jango Fett and a few others. Basically everything that disguises their human form with harnesses and armor plates. For the rest – not so much. I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or weep when looking at Chewbacca, Rey, Finn and Poe in this format.

What makes this even worse is that despite the pricing being relatively reasonable (again given the current state of affairs with LEGO, not in absolute terms), they don’t offer much incentive to actually buy them by providing additional details. Many of those figures could easily look twice as attractive with some extra parts or a custom pedestal made from bricks reflecting their environment. Imagine Chewy standing in a hallway section of the Millenium Falcon, Rey being strapped to Kylo‘s torture chair and so on. You get my drift. The one exception that already plays on that idea therefore is the Stormtrooper on the Speeder Bike for the time being.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Left

Before we even get into the details, let’s talk about the most contentious issue here: color. Of all the possible choices, the Reddish Brown (or poop brown as I like to call it) seems the most undesirable one, Yes, those speeders are some sort of dull, dark-ish brown in The Empire Strikes Back, but just not this exact color.

In addition you could argue that there would be specifically camouflaged versions for every environment and this opens it up to any color from White for snow environments to Tan for deserts to Sand Blue for more generic city patrol duties. What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that they could have aimed for something a bit more fresh.

Even if you stick with the brown color, you could have thrown in a few elements in Dark Orange, Dark Tan or other colors to add a bit more variety to simulate field repairs with quickly swapped parts or wear from usage. In fact I would have even accepted a bronze/ copper metallic color. That’s what it looked like to me on the box art for a long time, anyway, until I actually researched the contents.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Left

Why is that so important to me? Of course I’m always thinking ahead. If I ever disassemble this piece, what am I going to do with quite a bunch of brown Technic panels, liftarms and connectors? Of course I won’t exactly know until I cross that bridge, but it seems to me that unless you intend to build e.g. a military aircraft from the 1930s with a Bakelite seat there would be limited use for those elements unless you hide them under other stuff. That said, life tends to give you unexpected surprises, so I’m reasonably optimistic that I would find some good use for them, no matter what.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Right

As it is, there’s quite a few of those panels and as you would expect, they are mostly used to simulate the hoods and covers, but also the air guiding panels at the front. Many of them are attached a bit flimsily with often only one pin/ axle holding them, but for something that most of the time presumably will end up as a static exhibit in a showcase, it seems okay. You just have to take care to readjust everything after you handled the model and may inadvertently have whacked the panels out.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Aft

The overall proportions are okay, though it seems the model would have to be even longer for a perfect rendition. I guess there’s simply no longer crane arm/ mast in LEGO‘s portfolio. That’s not a big thing, though. The whole set already is pretty huge once assembled, something I always underestimate. You’re going to need quite some shelf real estate for a good presentation.

Most technical details on the bike are represented adequately – within the limitations of the Technic line. The foot supports on the real thing for instance appear to be partially arched/ curved/ at an angle, here they are mostly straight. Minor stuff. Other items are a bit *meh*. An example for this are the thee Tan colored small liftarms in the aft. Unless you investigate, you probably never figure out that they are supposed to represent the rolled up tarp those bikes carry around. I’m pretty sure they could have represented it easily with an actual piece of cloth and some Minifigure belts/ head bands repurposed as straps. Or perhaps there is even some rolled up sack or something in the pirates-centric series. That is to say it could have been just that bit better and it seems they didn’t go the full mile.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Underside Aft

Similar things could probably be said about the two engine exhausts. With some printed-on fan blade imitations being readily available at the right size in the Jakku Quad Jumper and other models would it have been too difficult to include them here as well? It’s one of those things that riles up people so much about LEGO – inconsistent design and leaving out Cents worth of elements for no good reason. Apparently they have no issue with throwing in their arrow shooters in every kit on the other hand, which is another of those questionable things.

While we’re there – the supports/ stand aren’t/ isn’t that great. For one they are fully integrated into the actual structure of the bike, which is pretty evil. I get that they want kids to hold the thing like a pistol and fire the shooter, but it’s probably safe to say that everyone else doesn’t care for this feature. In the interest of clean looks and satisfying collectors, it should be a separate piece that can be plugged on and off with some pins.

I’m definitely going to give this a makeover because the balance is also a bit wonky. Someone didn’t consider that despite its length the front section is lighter than the aft with its larger number of parts and thus greater weight, so the model is always prone to tipping over backwards. The black parts also make everything look very dark and give a wrong impression about how the thing works, so as a third point it would have made perfect sense to have transparent elements for the stand. After all, this is a hover bike with “magic levitation” that when under power never actually rest on the ground.

As an alternative, and that brings me back to my hubbub from the introductory paragraph, they could have included some piece of ground made from bricks. Granted, it would have had to be quite a lot of bricks for a stable connection and decent representation, but it might have looked cool to see this resting on a hidden liftarm in a fern bush, a rock or some toppled over tree trunk. If I were more into traditional stub-based LEGO, and had the parts, I’d definitely already be at work on something like that.

Lego Star Wars, Speeder Bike (75532), Underside Front

Regardless of all my niggles, this is actually a nifty little model. As a Star Wars fan you get one of the better Buildable Figures, as a Technic aficionado you get some good parts that you may not yet have (and in a not so common color to boot). This makes even more sense when you consider how cheaply it is being sold in some places. Even if you splice out and write off the figure, this could be totally worth it, assuming you have a project where those brown elements can be used to good effect.

In any case, I believe it illustrates my initial point. Those figures are so much nicer when presented in some context. So while it’s pretty likely that LEGO will axe this series at some point (sales seem not so great here in Germany, judging on how overcrowded with last year’s leftovers store shelves always are compared to other series), adding more collector value might actually be a way of turning this around.

A better Surprise – 42057 MOC

A few weeks ago I was quite surprised by a random lucky find after having padded out an Amazon order without much further thought beforehand and ever since it has been on my mind to improve on some of the quirks the model also had. I dabbled around on and off on some evenings and tried many things until I arrived at something that satisfied me.

Note: I was oblivious to the limited capabilities of my old photo camera and for aesthetical reasons used a lot of elements in black, so things may be difficult to recognize. You should be able to determine the types of pins and axles used based on their colors and I’ve added call-outs for some critical elements to make things a bit easier, but if you have specific questions just fire away in the comments. I’m also considering building a model in LEGO Digital Designer and generate a building instruction, but this is still way off in the more distant future.

Objectives

First and foremost of course I wanted to get rid of the ugly motor and that shall be the primary focus of this article. Other things like replacing/ improving the rotor blades are left for a later date, as I haven’t yet really looked into alternatives, which presumably are going to be some sort of the City line stub-based helicopter rotor blades.

To make things not too complicated my goal was too retain as much of the original model as possible. This in particular meant to keep the overall proportions and appearance by re-using sub-assemblies that already exist. Thankfully, since the model out of the box is already designed to resemble a lightweight helicopter/ gyrocopter many sections are already constructed in a way to simply plug on to a central body like you would on the real thing.

E.g. for transportation purposes the aft tail would indeed be just a simple tube or scaffolding structure that can be transported side-by-side with the main fuselage in the same car trailer and then easily be bolted on at the airstrip’s preflight pad. Same for the main rotor or the various covers.

With that in mind I kept the overall logic of the groupings intact. You just have to be careful then to always move the entire group like for instance the seat assembly to retain functionality. On occasion it means however that you may have to move a few pins around or change their type so they plug into different holes and connectors.

Additionally I wanted to avoid the use of too many extra parts. I knew I would need some parts from my own inventory simply because they are not contained in the set and I also knew that I would need quite some pieces to create a custom engine rendition, but otherwise I tried to restrain myself and not go overboard. This is an affordable set, after all, an there seems no point in making it too difficult and too expensive for other people to customize it.

The clunky motor being the big stinker, it represented a few challenges to get rid of. Because it is used as a structural element, once it would be gone the model would lose a lot of its stability, so I had to come up with a way to compensate. On a similar note I also wanted to free the cockpit parts from their use as anchors for the elements that stabilize the main rotor’s bearing and shaft. This may seem unnecessary, but if I ever decided to customize the model ever further, it would facilitate things like replacing the panels

With all this it only seems natural that one would also want to improve other details also while at it. One simple thing is for instance adding all sorts of little lights to make things more lively and at least retain the illusion of the air vehicle complying with FAA regulations. 😉

Lego 42057 MOC, Overview

Basic Idea

To achieve what I wanted I knew I was going to need a lot more room or more specifically longer arms and more pin holes. Initially I thought it would be as simple as replacing the small L-shaped liftarm with the bigger version and then plug everything else onto it, so this acts as some kind of central girder/ bulkhead, but no such luck.

To even come close to that I first had to extend the length of the model while at the same time not actually making it longer. This contradictory requirement stems from the fact that in order to keep the functionality of the rotor gear you have to keep it as a compact unit, but at the same time sneak in those two or three extra pin holes. The bottom view illustrates this best.

Lego 42057 MOC, Bottom

The front beams are 11L instead of the kit’s 9L and likewise the original 5L side rocker bars made from two 0.5L thick elements have been superseded by a conventional 7L arm. To account for the increased length, the front wheel was moved one hole aft and the 7L liftarm equally has one more hole of overlap. The large L-shaped elements now fit in-between the rest without a gap. You just need a lot more pins and also move the connectors on the cockpit side panels.

Onto the top of the large L liftarms the smaller ones were attached horizontally and pointing forward, which would later serve to hold the gear shaft for the main rotor. With that in place, we can start thinking about the actual motor.

Motor Design

In the process of coming up with an alternate engine I must have tried  at least ten different designs. Ultimately I wanted this to be more representative of a small V-shaped four or six cylinder dual row engine as it very likely would be on a real aircraft of this kind – small, not too powerful, high rev engines that make a lot of noise, but run smoothly and reliably, avoiding vibrations and providing some safety margin in case of emergencies.

Unfortunately this turned out to be more complicated than I had anticipated. Since there are basically no wedge type/ angled lift arms that can be plugged together directly it all ends up being a mess. Any connector that you insert to produce a specifically add to the width, which has the potential of making things look way too bulky, even more so on a model that for a large part is only 5L wide or even narrower. Also the angled constructs lacked stability and it was difficult to add the axles for the transmission gear.

Lego 42057 MOC, Detail Aft

In the end I settled on something a lot simpler. I used an H shaped 5 x 3 liftarm (or “bone”, as I like to call them) as the base. At the bottom I added two pins with holes that would later act as the bearings for the big cog’s axle. On the sides I added two 5L liftarms onto which I built the “cylinders” using lots of grey bushings, axle pins, and 3L and 4L axles to fill in the open spaces. Two of the cylinder heads are again connectors with holes for the propeller axle. This is a straightforward construction that is robust and stable.

Lego 42057 MOC, Detail Engine, Top

The engine block then was fixated with a short T-type connector that is anchored between the two smaller L shapes on the main frame with a simple 3D axle. This has the advantage that as long as the bottom part is not locked down, you can swivel up the whole affair, which makes working on the lower parts easier. With this you also get an exchangeable modular platform onto which you can build other drive units like a small gas turbine or other engine variants. I fancied up mine by also adding exhaust pipes, which e.g. could be found in another small set like the speed racing boat (42045) and the red top light on a black pin, the latter of which plugs into the remaining free hole of the hinge mechanism.

Lego 42057 MOC, Detail Engine, Bottom

To properly work the bottom of the engine needs to be pinned down as well. I re-used the lower section of the original engine holder yellow axle, but modified things to make use of the now elsewhere redundant 0.5L thick liftarms. This made sure the delicate overall appearance was retained and provided just enough room to accommodate all those little axles and pins. So in essence the engine at the bottom is held up by a 3L pin going through one element affixed on the engine itself and the other two connectors on the frame clamping it in, as it were.

Lego 42057 MOC, Engine

Offsetting the connector for the aft beam by one unit also made for a more realistic look with the small propeller having a little more room. Sadly enough there’s no rivet-like pin with a flat or hemispheric stopper head, so I used the freed up ball-headed pins. This looks a bit odd, though. An alternative might be using stud adaptor pins and cover them with a red and green transparency, so this could double as board/ starboard formation lights.

Main Rotor

On the original model the main rotor is held by a somewhat awkward, yet at the same time almost ingenious construction that involves the two white sidewall panels. It plays on the tension of the two tubes used for the canopy frames and is built as a self-stabilizing block that really only works once you have flipped up the two connectors (page 46 of the building instructions). As I wrote in the first paragraph I wanted to come up with something simpler that would allow to remove the panels without affecting the rest, so I had to turn this on its head.

Lego 42057 MOC, Detail Left

Here’s where we revisit our two small L-shaped elements from earlier, as there’s still three empty holes to cover. In goes another connector, which is locked in place with a 3L axle in the front and a black axle pin in the rear. The protruding pin (and its matching counterpart ordinary black pin on the opposite side) then serve as a holder for two connectors in-between which a no. 2 axle-to-axle connector with pin hole is placed. Said pin hole is then occupied by yet another pin with hole and once you add the rotor axle into the mix – voilà, you get a pretty stable construct that holds the rotor firmly straight in place. Don’t worry! It sounds more complicated than it is and you’ll figure it out.

Lego 42057 MOC, Detail Engine

Details

After all the trouble all that is left is taking care of some details. I added yet more connectors to re-attach the small shields that cover the engine. Depending on what your preference in the matter is, you could leave them out or with a bit of creativity leave out the exhaust pipes and use just the shields.

Another considerable change/ improvement I made with the steering linkages for the rudder. Say what you will, not even the aft section running parallel to the beam looks just sloppy plus using the clunky 3L 40th anniversary white liftarm annoyed me. With the 4L lever type liftarm from the original motor holder no longer used anywhere, it came in handy here. The only caveat is that the direction is inverted and the freedom of movement is not as large, but I consider this a minor thing.

Due to using the longer liftarm on the base frame I also had a pin hole to spare to directly plug in the “stick”, allowing to omit the extra pins on the white panel. See the recurring theme here? with no obstructions in the way you can literally swap the panel for a different one in a minute and turn your little chopper into a police vehicle or fire surveillance plane using blue/ green or red panels, respectively.

Final Words

When building my models I do small changes all the time, but sitting down and making a dedicated effort to completely change someone else’s work is a whole different matter. It reveals that the logic applied to LEGO models is not necessarily in line with “how stuff works in the real world” and it also illustrates that different ways of thinking can result in completely different methods of approaching (engineering) problems in order to solve them. This isn’t always fun, but an interesting challenge no less.

With the engine part now being almost 100% foolproof I might indeed try and come up with some other methods of emulating drive units. There’s already ideas rummaging around in my head on how to do a jet turbine. Other things I’m contemplating is some work to build an elastic, damped and fully steerable undercarriage system and of course one could go crazy on detailing everything to your heart’s content. Even a bubble canopy now seems easy enough by just replacing the front section. and yes, that main rotor thing, too… 😉

LEGO going broke?

Well, not that fast, but their financial report for 2017 paints an interesting picture. The press announcement is of course full of the usual colorful corporate bullshit like “continued growth” and “healthy results”, but if you read between the lines, they totally don’t seem to understand what they are doing wrong and what is causing their decline in revenue. In case anyone of their board of directors reads this, here’s some thoughts for you:

  • Really shitty models. As primarily a Technic builder I can only say that the current range of models is disappointing, to say the least. Most of the time it’s like you wait for the semi-annual new releases with bated breath only to find out that out of ten models only two are actually reasonably interesting.
  • Similar observations to the previous point apply to other series like Star Wars or City even where I often find myself thinking that models are only half-good and not that terribly interesting.
  • Another big issue is repetitiveness. Just like every new thematic set in City appears to be the same like last year’s, only in a different predominant color, every other Technic model is some sort of car. Even with Star Wars you often find yourself in a situation where, just like the new movies recycle designs from older ones, LEGO seems to be milking it and models end up being considerably similar.
  • A pet peeve of mine is the huge variances in complexity and quality of kits. It often seems they just can’t make up their minds which target demographic and focus groups to address with which product line. Do we really need super-simple Technic sets for kindergarten kids? Is there any sense in spreading out Star Wars from super-simple micro kits to highly complex and expensive collector’s sets?
  • The abundance of licensed products is also another issue. As much as I love Star Wars, the whole notion of creating tie-in kits for movies, video games and comics remains on some level questionable, including LEGO‘s own series like Ninjago. Not only does it result in an even more confusing flood of different products, but it also detracts from what I consider the core of LEGO – original products for the creatively and technically minded. Developing all those licensed products in my view just ties up too many resources and, which is the bad thing, if e.g. a movie fails miserably, results in predictable losses when nobody buys the kits.
  • Of course we can’t go without mentioning what I consider failed products or ventures, respectively – LEGO video games, Mindstorms, LEGO Boost or even on some rudimentary level Power Functions. I can’t help but feel that they a) have no clue on how to do it “right” and b) when they do lack commitment. As a result it always seems we only get half of what we were promised and are stuck with underdeveloped products, in which the company unnecessarily has sunk a lot of money.
  • Finally – yes, prices. We seem to have arrived at a point where LEGO constantly fails to find the middle ground on that. As the few articles here so far show, you can get good models for a reasonable price and unexpectedly cool models for quite low prices, but at the same time you can buy pretty rubbish models like the 6 x 6 All Terrain Tow Truck (42070) for a lot of cash. I’m not going to debate the merits of things like the Millenium Falcon Ultimate Collector’s Series (75192), but yes, even that could probably be called insane, though at a whole different level. The point here is that it’s not about absolute prices, but a predictable “bang for the buck”, which at the moment is not the case. You never know what you get. I would even go so far as to say that at times the prices appear totally arbitrary to make it more difficult to compare sets.

This list (and similar ones) could naturally go on forever and result in endless discussions, but as far as I’m concerned, these are the most critical issues that jump to my mind immediately. There’s no easy and quick fixes to the situation as a whole, but if at least some of them were tackled in a predictable timeframe, that might actually help to get sales pumping. I could for instance imagine that a more proactive, more flexible and more adaptive pricing policy with more discounts and promotions might help. Just saying….

Why or Y? – 75172 Y-Wing Starfighter

After the Jakku Jumper (75178) hat whetted my appetite, it wasn’t much of a stretch to see where this would be going and I quickly made plans to get the next model. Sticking with my 50 Euros limit out of financial necessity and only looking for some reasonably large and complex thing I quickly set my sights on the Y-Wing (75172).

Lego Star Wars Y-Wing 75172, Box

Ironically, despite its interesting looks, this particular fighter only has mostly “blink and you’ll miss it” appearances in any of the Star Wars movies. It’s standing around in hangars or quickly sweeping by in some shots of the Death Star destruction sequences for instance. That irony doesn’t seem to have been lost on anyone, so a lot of images you can dig up as references are actually photos of other models in different flavors, making it even more difficult to gauge how technically accurate the representation may be. To add to the mess, LEGO themselves have released versions of this, big and small, including of course the gorgeously looking collectors edition 10134.

Lego Star Wars Y-Wing 75172, Overview

This current set is based around the version seen (or barely seen) in Rogue One, but to me feels mostly like an amalgamation of all the versions and sub-types that we ever got to see, with further simplifications imposed by the scale. Again, the actual details are hard to verify, but I guess as a whole it’s a valid representation of the real thing.

Lego Star Wars Y-Wing 75172, Left

The distinct feature is of course the stripped away panels and housings, exposing all the inner wiring and tubes. Whether or not this makes any sense is debatable endlessly, even if it looks cool. My thinking is that you would still want to protect your electronics and fuel lines, as even far out in space microscopic debris and dust float around and can do damage, not to speak of larger items in proximity of planets.

Also in strict terms in my view this is not a fighter, but rather a close air support (CAS) vessel, meaning it’s to a good extend aimed at “ground” attacks (as indicated by its weapons outfit) and in turn taking hits from ground defense forces, so it would likely be better protected. not meaning to be nit-picky, just saying.

Lego Star Wars Y-Wing 75172, Right

The construction of the set is pretty straightforward and logical, with the separate sections packaged into numbered bags. You start out with the cockpit region and then work your way backward to the fuselage and engine pods.

The front has some clever engineering with e.g. hinges being used to attach the curved panels on the side at an ever so slight angle, mimicking the tapered appearance of the actual design, but overall this section is strangely barren. The cockpit doesn’t even pretend to have a seat (imitation), much less any other details. At least the main canopy part is pre-painted, so you don’t have to put up with getting some stickers on there

I also think that using more curved bricks/ tiles would have helped because on images the surfaces look curved and the edges rounded, regardless.

Lego Star Wars Y-Wing 75172, Front

The mid section with the engine pylons is a whole different thing and covered with lots of those small hinges and snap latches this takes up a good chunk of your building time and is at times extremely finicky. Unfortunately, since because of the chosen size/ scale many elements end up being only 1 x 1 stub they are not necessarily particularly stable and easy to accidentally snap of while you handle the model. Similarly, some larger elements end up only being fixated on two stubs of another element, so up to a certain point this doesn’t feel particularly robust

Lego Star Wars Y-Wing 75172, Aft

The engine pods thankfully are to be built separately and are later only plugged on to the main body using pin connectors. This also makes it possible to transport the model easily or stow it away partially assembled without taking up too much room (which for me is always a concern, too). The size of the rounded parts matches that of the Jakku Jumper, so I now have enough of them to put together a “pencil” rocked by just stacking them.

Assembly of the engines themselves is a bit repetitive and to some extent also quite fiddly. For instance the blades/ fins in the dark aft section are ice skating blades from minifigures that must be plugged into 1 x 1 hinges and then attached. Conversely, plugging together the beams from a ton of axles and then inserting those small clamps to attach them to the round sections is perhaps not the most exciting thing, either. You need to plan to spend some time here and be patient. Once it’s put together, it’s rewarding to see, though.

Lego Star Wars Y-Wing 75172, Bottom

I don’t ruin my models by using stickers, so the engine nacelles look a bit *meh*. Arguably, though, it wouldn’t have hurt to use smaller parts and kit-bash some tubes and protrusions onto them. The same could be said for the underside in its entirety. A few more details wouldn’t hurt and it wouldn’t look as barren. There’s definitely some fuel lines visible in some pictures and some versions of this fighter also seem to have a distinct bulge under the cockpit which would not have been too difficult to replicate. I would have much preferred that to the toyish arrow shooters.

Lego Star Wars Y-Wing 75172, Bomb Bay

In the play department, like most Star Wars models, the kit hasn’t actually that much to offer. The bomb bay shown in the above image with its rotating bomb rack is a nice gimmick, but you can’t even full load it with four rockets – one is always bound to drop out. Likewise, the arrow shooters always have me going “So what?”.

In this package this lack of functionality isn’t made up by the minifigures and ancillary details, either. The figures look by all means generic. If they had at least included options for different squadrons (some with orange/ red suits like in the original movies, you know) and alternative color schemes by ways of including differently colored bricks it might have had some more charme.

My niggles notwithstanding, this is still a nice model and quite okay for the price. It’s an interesting showcase model and if you have the parts and spend some time it would probably not be too difficult to improve and fancy it up a bit. I’m not in that category (yet), but for the time being I’ll keep it around in its assembled form.

One day I’m pretty sure I’ll disassemble it and then those many tiny parts might also come in handy for detailing other projects, annoying as they may occasionally be during the build. Interestingly enough, this set also has a ton of 9 L and 11 L axles and for me as a Technic builder this is a good thing. They are not that common and here you get a whole bunch of them plus a matching supply of connectors.

Failed Jump – 75178

While I’ll always be a mostly Technic LEGO guy, it gets boring at times, especially in light of the recent run of rather mediocre Technic sets. That’s why it’s nice to deviate and explore other branches from time to time for a bit of variety.

Now I’m a Star Wars fan as much as the next guy, but don’t consider myself one of those über-nerds. I appreciate the original movies, but never got fully hooked, just like I consider the prequel trilogy a guilty pleasure for some of its ideas and I even found myself watching Clone Wars and Rebels occasionally on TV. Still, none of that was ever so important to me that I couldn’t have lived without it. Only the recent movies under Disney‘s reign have invigorated my interest in Star Wars as a whole and while you could endlessly debate their Pros and Cons, you have to at least give props to that.

Inevitably of course LEGO always follows suit and churns out kits for every new movie or series to the point where the ideas are so paper-thin and repetitive, it gets in itself boring. That makes it difficult for occasional builders like me to find some good affordable models that are not based on just lumping together a ton of angled black or grey panels. For me being ever conscious about cost out of necessity it’s also an important point that the sets contain parts that could possibly be re-used for later projects and add something new to the collection.

In this case the many cylindrical parts, the fins and several silvery parts fitted the bill and thus I opted for the Jakku Quadjumper (75178) from The Force Awakens.

This particular spacecraft is of course barely seen in the movie itself – it only stands around in the background at Unkar Plutt‘s scrapyard and then is immediately is shot down as Finn and Rey try to reach it as a means of escape. This makes it difficult to judge who realistic it is, but some concept art seems to confirm that within the expected limitations it is a fair rendition. It of course makes almost no sense engineering-wise – those four engines would be real fuel-guzzlers, yet the ship is way too small to hold any notable quantities of propellant – but that’s a different matter entirely.

The set contains the aforementioned movie characters as minifigures plus some generic baddie only described as Unkar‘s henchman, a Stormtrooper and of course BB-8. I don’t have too much use for them, but who knows? If I wait long enough they might be worth a few pennies one of these days.

Construction of the model is pretty straightforward since you essentially build all sub-assemblies separately and then just plug them on to the central cabin part via simple pin connections that match the holes in the cylindrical parts. The center piece is intentionally scruffy looking with parts in multiple colors, but in my opinion it could have looked better had they opted to build the model at a larger scale. It’s also very crammed, furthering the impression that this thing could never actually fly.

The glass canopy and doors/ lids in the front and rear can be opened, though personally I don’t think it makes much sense in terms of realism nor am I friends with those ratcheted mini-hinges. Same as before – if it were larger it would have looked more believable. this theme also continues on the undercarriage, which is just an affair of flat bricks and tiles instead of at least being a bit on stilts/ hydraulic pistons.

My pet peeve is the ugly ball knob that drives a lever as a means of pushing off the upper two engines. Sort of an emergency jettison system, if you get the idea. It works okay, but isn’t particularly convincing. It probably should be spring-loaded and then you could use a simple tap release to have the parts jump away in a snazzy fashion. Yet another of those things that might be worth some re-engineering effort one day.

The engine nacelles are really just a bunch of different cylindrical parts stacked together and then capped off with the silver wheel hubs. The details are again attached via pins, micro-hinges and some SNOT converters, which is sufficient, but not very sturdy. You can even see this in part on the photos – just accidentally touching some parts will misalign them.

This being my first Star Wars-ian model, after all, I’m not as dissatisfied as it may sound, just not perfectly happy, either. This is a nice compact model that can be assembled, handled and stowed away easily, which my LEGO side likes a lot, I just don’t feel that my Star Wars side would see it the same way if I were a “pure” collector.

Most notably the scale is too small to really capture the proportions and allow for a more robust construction, which in turn also might have made for some increased play value by ways of a larger aft bay and cockpit. Not that it’s particularly critical, given that the spacecraft doesn’t even have any significant role in the movie. It’s just that one can’t help but feel that at least for enthusiasts that wanted a good replica of the genuine article it could have been approached differently…

LEGO is car-wet-dreaming again

It looks like this year’s Technic offerings due in August are going to be as boring as the ones from last year, though presumably at least the Bugatti Chiron just confirmed via some inept “Let’s make it ominously obvious!” marketing video on Facebook will cause some car fetishists wet stains in their undies. I get it – the Porsche (42056) still sells like crazy and LEGO would be foolish to not follow-up with something similar, but to me it’s a boring and predictable cash grab. It only furthers my impression that their focus these days seems to be on expensive collectibles rather than truly playable sets. Of course in the wake of this news came some more discussions on the other new models, but that is a discussion for another time…