Horned Killer – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, July 2022

Outside it’s hot like on Tatooine, so it is oddly fitting that this month’s issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine also sort of touches upon this iconic location, if only tangentially in a very “think around five corners” sense. After all Darth Maul only was there rather briefly. ­čśë

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2022, Cover

The first comic once more brings up the question of whether Vader doesn’t have anything better to do all day than coming up with weird ideas and pestering his underlings. I mean, if I was the second most powerful person in The Empire I’d sure know a lot of better ways to spend my time than trying to build something as impossible as an AT-ST and TIE Fighter hybrid…

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2022, Comic

The second comic inevitable loops back to Darth Maul and his adventures ever since they brought him back for The Mandalorian to get entangled in some encounters with the eponymous guy and his brethren. That and of course his presence is teased left and right in other recent Star Wars series just as well, at least from what I can gather.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2022, Comic

I haven’t spotted anything noteworthy in the activities section as the few puzzles and quizzes are just very ordinary standard fare. the posters are okay. I elected to show the back side for its graphical clarity and it actually looks quite good in reality, even though the colors are too bright and technically “wrong”. The front poster could be just as good, had they made an effort to clean it up and do a pit of overpainting on top of the “crusty paint” Photoshop filter cascade. Since they haven’t, it’s a bit of a missed opportunity.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2022, Poster

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2022, ExtraThe “that evil guy” minifigure seems to be exactly the same as in the Duel on Mandalore (75310) set, one of those with barely any substantive parts to speak of and clearly designed to mostly sell the Darth Maul and Ahsoka Tano minifigures to collectors. Therefore this is a good opportunity to just get the red devil if you don’t want to shell out the full money. By LEGO standards the print quality is actually quite good this time, as, despite slightly darkening on the black background, the Red is bright enough. That is something that cannot be taken for granted, unfortunately. So you’re getting some pretty decent value this time around.

Overall this is an okay issue, but if you have no interest in the minifigure it will be of limited value. The rest of the content isn’t worth much and regrettably doesn’t even make for a good distraction while sizzling in the sun…

Kashyyyk Tusken – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, May 2022

Dunno, but lately I’ve become less and less enthused about LEGO Star Wars. The models are becoming more and more expensive, yet oddly also more lackluster (not counting UCS, of course). That’s why I’m glad at least the comic magazine stays in an affordable realm and at least every now and then manages to pull off a pleasant surprise. Let’s see if the May 2022 issue can brighten our day!

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2022, Cover

Say what you will, but jungle-based comics are always automatically at least fifty percent cooler than others just for their visual density intrinsically created by all that greenery. As a graphics guy I can also appreciate how the illustrators and colorists have to put in a lot more work here, so props for that as well. The story of Yoda going through some droid invasion hijinx is okay in that it could totally have happened without breaking the overall consistency of the lore. My only complaint would be that everything is a bit too green. Mixing in some more colorful blossoms and/ or shifting a few of the plant colors towards more turquoise/ cyanide greens would have been nice.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2022, Comic

The secondary comic, which of course hints at the extra (no, it’s not The Manadalorian) is a bit odd. The Bantha is a bit too cute-ified and those plumped up lips just look strange. You know, like a harmless looking giant worm that’s gonna suck you up, anyway. Other than that it’s just fine.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2022, Comic

The posters feature General Grievous and Anakin, respectively. Not nearly as well done as the one with Ahsoka in the last issue, but acceptable. Mostly it’s just that those non-descript dark backgrounds overwhelm the details and swallow too much of the texture. Lighter and friendlier colors would definitely be preferable.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2022, Poster

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2022, ExtraThe extra this time is a Tusken Raider minifigure. It’s been in a number of sets over the last two years and technically is nothing special nor ist it particularly valuable (and having masses of them on the market by way of this magazine will make prices on Bricklink drop even more) , but at least the unique head piece makes it different enough from your standard Stormtrooper, Obi-Wan, Anakin or the many other standard figures that have been included in the mag over and over again. In fact I think they could have made it stand out by including a coat and perhaps a different weapon/ utensil instead of the staff…

All in all this issue isn’t turning anything on its head or makes you drool, but it feels strangely soothing in its slightly boring normal-ness. That sometimes can be a good thing. So if you need a bit of anti-excitement in these crazy times, this edition would at least do that.

Mandalorian AT-AT – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, April 2022

In light of how all over the place some of the LEGO magazines are lately, I appreciate it even more when a reasonably good issue comes out and it seems the LEGO Star Wars mag for April 2022 manages to pull that off.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2022, Cover

The primary comic is based on Boba Fett and presumably somehow ties in with the The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian series, which as usual I don’t know too much about, seeing as I don’t have Disney+ and my information is limited to content snippets and reviews one can find on the internet at large. Anyway, both series heavily rely on revived story arcs, locations and characters from the original Star Wars movies, which also opens up many opportunities to make the comics more interesting with more exotic aliens and unusual vehicles. This is on display here with the lizard-like evil-doer and some Jawas making an appearance.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2022, Comic

The second comic treads more familiar territory with some AT-AT mayhem during the Battle of Hoth. Interspersed between those two bookends are of course a bunch of riddles, puzzles and other activities, but nothing to write home about.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2022, Comic

The posters are quite satisfying this time around and in fact I chose to display the reverse one with Ahsoka here because it’s even better than the one with Darth Maul. I like the friendly and clear color combination and this wouldn’t look bad in most kids’ rooms even if they don’t have one of those dark corners where the other mostly black posters make their mark.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2022, Poster

The extra is an AT-AT mini build. It’s been a while since we had one of those and while personally I wouldn’t have needed yet another version, I don’t mind, either. For understandable reasons the construction is quite similar, but still differing in certain details. Back then they had to bash together the lower sections of the legs from two rounded 1 x 1 hinge plates, but now this has been optimized to use the new solid 1 x 1 piece with opposing bars that was introduced late last year for the Volkswagen T2 Camper Van (10279). This obviously simplifies the build and enhances robustness. My only regret is that they used the Dark Bluish Grey version they had in stock and did not manufacture a new batch in Light Bluish Grey. In addition to this the model comes with some other elements like the 1 x 1 x 2 bracket also introduced in 2021 or the 1 x 2 x 2 SNOT brick, but in the rarer Black color.┬á They are available in droves in Light Bluish Grey from the many Brickheadz┬áproduced over the years, but surprisingly LEGO have only been doing them in some other colors rather recently.

As you might have guessed from my long-winded nerding out about the parts I’m quite happy with this edition and the interesting comic and nice posters certainly help to lift your mood, too. There’s little to complain here and one wished they’d manage to give us such good content every month…

The Not-AAT – LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank [AAT] (75283)

My love-hate relationship with LEGO Star Wars is really getting weirder with every set I buy as I’m realizing that despite new stuff being added e.g. based on the The Mandalorian series I realize I care less and less. I totally blame this on the sets becoming less attractive in terms of construction and how they ultimately look while prices reaching crazy levels. That is at least in the lower price tiers I move around.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Box

The Armored Assault Tank [AAT] (75283) is one such case, unfortunately. The version, or more specifically color variant in this set, can be briefly seen in the Revenge of the Sith Kashyyyk attack sequence in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment and I’m pretty sure it also appears in The Clone Wars and other later materials based on the prequels. The more regular ocre-/ tan-colored version is of course more prominent, be that the final battle in The Phantom Menace or other such occasions. However, despite all this there is surprisingly little information on the vehicle, except for one thing that is certain:

AAT mini Mk. IV e or what?

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Overview

The elephant in the room is of course that this has nothing to do with a “real” AAT as actually present in the movies and series – not by any stretch of the imagination. If at all, this would qualify as a heavily redesigned next version, a smaller side version or simply a newly constructed vehicle based on the same principles. The irony here is that in fact I quite like it to some degree, as the larger turret and less ellipsoid overall appearance give it its own unique and distinct look, but it just bears zero resemblance to the original vehicles. It might still have looked cool next to its bigger brothers, though.

The Minifigures

One of the reasons I got over myself and bought the set are – drumroll – for this rare occasion the minifigures. As you know from other posts I don’t proactively collect them, but if I stumble upon one that I like and may want to use later, I keep them around.

Of course the main appeal here is Ahsoka. she had been done a couple of times in the past, but I feel that this is the first time ever her specific appearance with in particular her striped hood has been captured correctly. Can’t help it, but the figure just is extremely nice. Predictably, its popularity can only grow now that the character has appeared in The Mandalorian and a dedicated Ahsoka series has been announced for Disney+ as well. I’m pretty sure we’ll see lots of different versions from here on, but this is a good basis, no matter what.

In addition to Ahsoka herself we also get her personal bodyguard/ companion clone trooper for the first time, making this even more desirable. I’ve seen people on Facebook buying the set just for that and prices on Bricklink are also pretty crazy already. Finally there are two more Kashyyk droids, which are also kind of rare and fetch a good price. Earlier this year I sold some to someone intent on building a diorama with entire squadrons of them and apparently he had swept clean a lot of the market from the more affordable resellers already. So for all intents and purposes, it could be pretty easy to re-finance the whole set if you find people interested in the figures that you could sell them to.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Minifigures

Parts Cornucopia

In my world figures are nice, but parts that expand my portfolio are better, so let’s have a look at that as well. As you may guess from the sub-headline, the set doesn’t fare badly in this department. Many of the pieces, while not necessarily exclusive to this set, are relatively rare and either appear for the first time at all, have not been available in a long time or only in a handful of sets or are included in more significant numbers than previously in other sets. The individual parts are:

As always the point for me is to get as many of those pieces in one place instead of having to scrape them together from Bricklink or other sources at even greater cost and in that regard this set delivers. For me even more so since it has a few other parts that I didn’t have before like the curved wedges in Light Bluish Grey or the Dark Blue dishes. It’s all good stuff to have around just in case you may need it one day and you can’t go wrong with it.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Front Left View

The Price is still wrong

In light of the previous two chapters one might think that this is good value for money, but sadly it is not. For a bunch of pieces that essentially would fit into the volume of a slightly enlarged Rubik’s Cube, meaning a very small model that without its protruding gun barrels is 15 cm long, 15 cm wide and 15 cm tall, LEGO want you to pony up 40 Euro. That’s a big “No, Sir!” on my part and I can only once more conclude that they are pulling the prices for their sets out of their asses or throwing the dice in a drinking game. It’s just not worth that and seems ridiculous.

So once more I was biding my time until the set was closer to what I wanted it to be. At around 27 Euro I took the plunge, though I would have preferred for it to drop below the 25 Euro threshold. However, in the craziness that the year 2020 that seemed unlikely, given that there are genuine supply problems with LEGO vs. an extraordinarily high demand and so I didn’t put it off too long in order to not lose the advantage. Still, let me make it clear that I think that 25 Euro is actually the “real” price I would like to see this being sold for. Aside from a few larger parts and the minifigures there’s just not enough volume to justify more.

Deceitful Appearances

The reason why the model lacks volume and by extension thus can never be even close to an accurate representation of the real thing quickly becomes apparent when you swivel around it and view it from different angles. What looks okay from the front such as the big curved armored hull quickly falls apart when viewed from its rear side. It lacks all the transitional areas and worst of all exposes the raw underlying construction. This continues throughout the mid section of the turret, which similarly only looks good from the front, but when viewed from behind just looks like they ran out of pieces to cover it up.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Aft Left View

Worse, still, this section is not accessible from the rear because due to the small size of the model they had to use the space for a double-width window frame that acts as the support for the top section.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Aft Right View

As hinted earlier, the turret is way to big, most notably simply too wide. However, you have to give the designers some props for at least trying. The problem here is that on the real thing this is a very complicated shape with complex curvatures situated very far aft on the vehicle. In fact from a “real” military standpoint this probably would not make a lick of sense on an actual tank with it tipping over every time the turret is rotated off-center or from the recoil when it fires a charge. It’s one of those fictional things that would easily be defeated by actual physics.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Front Right View

Anyway, for all intents and purposes the turret should not be any wider than the extended handle it’s situated on and I feel that this is a typical case where the LEGO side of things got too much in the way. I think they were too bent on making the cannon movable and then ran into trouble getting enough stability in there, so they had to make things bigger. See what happened here?

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Left View with elevated Gun

The gun can be elevated and swiveled around 180 degrees, but as I mentioned that probably isn’t realistic to begin with and in the movies I haven’t seen the tanks fire anything but directly forward. It’s a nice play feature for the kids at least, but really not much more than that. On some level that also extends to “those other guns”, which are actually range finders and small lasers for self defense. they look rather crude on the model and the ugly black color doesn’t help. At least I’m glad they didn’t eliminate all antennas because, as you know, all the droids are remotely connected to their control ships in orbit. The silver rapier sticks out a bit too much, though.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Left Top View with elevated Gun

Adding to the play value is the ability to at least place the two droids that come with the set in the interior. Not in the technically correct positions, but let’s be grateful for small things.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Interior Details


Concluding Thoughts

Unfortunately this set fits the recent pattern of overpriced Star Wars sets whose value is primarily driven by the minifigures included while the models at best are adequate, but not great renditions of the originals they represent. This scheme becomes even more devious when figures are scattered across different sets. That is thankfully not the case here at least with no other specific The Clone Wars sets being available and requiring you to take out the purse just to get some company for Ahsoka, but this doesn’t make the situation any less unfulfilling.

As I already wrote, the tank itself is just fine. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the Star Wars universe and even on it’s strict LEGO merits merely comes across as an uninspired run-off-the-mill job more than anything the designers put much effort in. It’s what in the media and graphics design industry we would call an “intern job” hacked together on a lazy afternoon, or in this case a recycled design from a few years ago that wasn’t correct then and isn’t correct now despite minor modifications and updates thanks to new parts.

The irony here is of course that I can neither advise pro or against the set, as it has its merits. Some will love the minifigs, others like me may see this as a good chance to rake in some interesting pieces and all the combinations inbetween. The only thing you really need to wipe from you mind is that the model has anything to do with a Star Wars AAT and in that regard it’s a complete fail.