Frosty Luke – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, January 2023

It’s been one of the warmest New Year’s Eves in history, so the title of this article is diametrical to the real conditions, but it is nonetheless appropriate. In the run-up to the end of year celebrations this was supposed to come out a bit earlier, but somehow it only appeared at my newsstand on Friday and I didn’t get around to finishing my review earlier. Now lets see what the LEGO Star Wars magazine has to offer on this exact first day of the new year.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2023, Cover

The first comic takes a page from the original A New Hope movie in that it presents us with a Millenium Falcon chase through an asteroid field, however this time as part of a cosmic race, whose concept somehow immediately reminded me of Star Trek – Voyager‘s “Drive” episode in the seventh season. Someone certainly took some inspiration. It also makes the comic slightly more interesting since we at least get to see some varied spaceships and characters.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2023, Comic

The second comic as usual serves as the means to introduce the extra and features some icy action on Hoth with some Wampas and a certain Luke Skywalker.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2023, Comic

The posters are quite nice this time. One can never have enough Mustafar-themed ones as the fiery, volcanic glows just look mysterious and cool and Vader with his brooding presence adds to that. The composition feels a bit cheap and could have been done better, but it’s really okay. The back side might be even more interesting to some people. It has a close-up of Luke‘s minifigure head with the Red 5 helmet, which would make for an interesting presentation if you put it up next somewhere to the eponymous set of the helmet.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2023, Poster

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2023, ExtraSince for all intents and purposes it’s extremely unlikely LEGO will revive the Wampa mold any time soon, you knew where this was going when I mentioned the second comic and yes, of course we’re getting the Luke minifigure instead. Regrettably, while it’s actually quite nice, it’s also nothing special. It has been available for a long time in a Microfighters set and just was part of the 2022 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar (75340). Chances that you already have it therefore are very high and the minifig as such will drop considerably in value. Therefore its real value is more in using it as a basis for a custom figure with a replaced head.

This edition of the mag on the whole is okay, but unless you really don’t have the minifigure and want it badly, there’s no need to rush to the newsstand. That might be a much more appropriate course of action next month, when we will get a much rarer Bo Katan fig.

Mandalorian Blue – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, September 2022

Being a lazy slob in the summer heat unfortunately doesn’t actually make time flow slower, so here we are again already with another edition of the LEGO Star Wars magazine, this time the September 2022 issue.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, September 2022, Cover

I really like the comic this time around, which is rare enough, as you know. It takes us back to Solo – A Star Wars Story, a film which hasn’t been covered that much in the magazine to begin with, and it’s done in an interesting way. Yes, of course the story has nothing to do with the actual movie, but it’s credible and could be a real side quest. The Corellian Hounds remain ugly, though, and the colorfulness of the drawings can’t make them any more appealing in my eyes. Anyway, the comic as a whole is still pretty to look at.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, September 2022, Comic

The second comic is not nearly as colorful, but that’s inherent in what it depicts. When you come to think about it, the Star Wars universe is oddly monochromatic at times, not just when it comes to the many white Stormtroopers. The denim blue Mandalorian troops are just as unusual once there’s more than one guy.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, September 2022, Comic

It’s not yet quite a standard feature in this particular LEGO mag, but coloring pages are always a good way to beef up the content in that apparently it takes a while to fill them in and thus keeps the kids busy for that much longer. I only wish they’d start making this really good with a full-sized blank page on thicker, more felt pen friendly paper.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, September 2022, Coloring Page

The poster is once more giving us Din Djarin, a.k.a. The Mandalorian and his little fella Grogu, formerly known as The Child. The reverse side isn’t bad, either, with a decent rendition of Darth Maul.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, September 2022, Poster

While in the last issue we got one of its occupants, we now get the actual Mandalorian Starfighter in miniaturized form. Compared to the big version from set 75316 of course the detail level isn’t anywhere near as good with the absence of the longitudinal blue stripes being the most apparent omission. The grate tiles really don’t make up for that. Similarly the tips should actually be sharp and pointed, so I wonder why they didn’t include some of these wedge slopes. On the other hand there’s three pairs of the relatively new 2 x 6 wedge plates, which is nice for people who haven’t bought a set yet where they would be featured. They also implemented a swivel mechanism for the landing position, but the smallness of the model apparently prevented them from also rotating the wings vertically like on the real thing.

Overall this is a nice issue and I really enjoyed it more than usual. It’s definitely worth a look, be it just to get a glimpse at what this magazine can look like if only Blue Ocean put in enough effort.

Blue Trooper – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, March 2022

The craziness of current events makes time fly even faster plus there’s still some slight disarray in Blue Ocean‘s publishing schedule, so it’s little surprise that it feels like the last issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine only came out two weeks ago.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2022, Cover

The comics are really getting a bit stale and weirder by the mile with the March 2022 edition of the mag having yet another spin at Vader engaging in extracurricular activities outside his evil overlord duties. I can hardly believe that anyone finds this truly funny and this can only be excused as being aimed at children who might not know better or don’t care. Still, I wish this would be more connected to the actual goings-ons in the Star Wars universe and have a more serious tone.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2022, Comic

The secondary comic takes a similar spin, but again it’s not really funny.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2022, Comic

The posters are pretty good this time. The first one depicts six of the Knights of Ren in a nicely arranged table. this time, however, the second poster on the reverse side takes the cake, showing a chase scene on Hoth with a Wampa going after our heroes. There’s even a Tauntaun and the power station in the background. With the exception of the Wampa perhaps looking a bit too much like a red-nosed Yeti the poster is very well drawn with a dynamic camera angle and an overall pleasant composition and style.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2022, Poster

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2022, ExtraThe extra is a Storm Trooper minifigure, but not any kind of trooper. It’s one of the more special ones of the 501st Legion. This got a few people’s underwear in a twist when it was previewed in the last issue and while it’s always nice to have a few more of these guys, the 501st Legion Clone Troopers (75280) set is still widely available and with discounts, making this only the second best option to bolster your troops. Unlike with some more exclusive figures from expensive sets (see Palpatine’s grand appearance) there’s no reason to storm the newsstand and buy entire stacks of the magazine just to get enough of the troopers.

The posters and extra are really this issue’s saving grace. Otherwise it devolves a bit too much into cheap comic relief territory, which I think doesn’t really befit Star Wars. not everything needs to be doom & gloom, but at least they should not ridicule central characters so much in my opinion. How do Disney/ Lucasfilm even let them get away with this? *sigh*

Falcon Chase – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, February 2022

January flew by quickly and the jumbled up release schedule of the LEGO magazines certainly contributed to that feeling of “Didn’t I write an article just last week?”. Things should be a bit more predictable from here on out, though, and the cycles become more regular. For now let’s have a look at the February 2022 edition of the Star Wars magazine.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, February 2022, Cover

The main comic is back to utter nonsense with the Knights of Ren having a pie (throwing) contest. I really do not like these settings and I’m sure even younger Star Wars fans may not view them favorably, given that they are too silly to fit with the rest of the universe. The secondary comic is equally odd, though in a different way. just not my cup of tea.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, February 2022, Comic

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, February 2022, Comic

The posters are pretty decent. I still wish they’d forego those obnoxious texts in favor of letting the image speak for itself, but at least they didn’t plaster the slogan all over Vader‘s face and everything can be recognized clearly.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, February 2022, Poster

The extra is another version of the Millenium Falcon. It’s a bit too short, but actually pretty accurate overall in terms of proportions. It being so thin took me a while to adapt to, but yes, this is more correct. One just had gotten so used to LEGO‘s “wrong” thicker interpretations across various scales and on older builds.

An interesting tidbit is the half round 4 x 8 plate used twice in the rear section. This element has been around for forever and I have tons of it in Lime Green and Medium Azure from Friends sets, where it is regularly used for water and lawn, but in fact now is the first time ever we are actually getting it in Light Bluish Grey. It’s part of the UCS AT-AT (75313) and the Boutique Hotel (10297) released end of last year/ January, respectively, and here you get a chance to obtain it without spending a ton of money, should you want it. This will also make buying it from secondary markets like Bricklink much more bearable and less costly. There’s also two 1 x 2 plates with side rail in Dark Red hidden inside the hull. I have a few of them from the Madrigal House (43202), but one can never have enough, I suppose.

Despite the strange comics this issue felt satisfying to me, but of course that may be entirely down to my obsessive proclivities with the parts and some of the graphical design. Still, it’s by all means okay.

Hothian Winter – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, January 2022

Wouldn’t you believe it? We actually had a bit of snow on Christmas this year! Really only a thin layer, but better than nothing. That makes it kind of fitting that the January 2022 issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine takes us back to Hoth and its snow and ice covered regions.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2022, Cover

The first comic starts out on the opposite side of the temperature spectrum, though, taking us to the jungle planet of Quatal after Luke crashes there. Naturally, as he tries to escape and get off the planet, the usual running away from imperial pursuers and dangerous animals ensues. The blue monster seen in the image is a bit funny and really looks to me like the artist had a bit of fun  exploring what a mutated Stitch (from the Lilo & Stitch movies, of course) might look like. The similarities are really striking and I can’t un-see them.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2022, Comic

The second comic references the extra and is based around a group of Snowtroopers getting lost in the endless white void during the Battle of Hoth.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2022, Comic

The posters are a bit of a misfire, unfortunately. The one depicted here with Darth Vader is simply too dark and the overly bright type and light saber completely distract from Vader himself. This clearly would have needed some work to enhance the contrast and balance out the overall appearance. The second with Han Solo and Chewbacca in the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon suffers from being doctored, i.e. the cockpit frame being just a 2D background artwork created after the fact instead of being integrally rendered in 3D with the figures.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, January 2022, Poster

The extra has been causing a bit of a stir and gotten a few people very tizzy due to it being being a female Snowtrooper/ Snowtrooperess minifigure. Not only is the latter an interesting tidbit, with all previous such characters having had the male generic “angry clone” face (or unprinted black heads), but also the fact that this lady otherwise could only be found in the huge UCS AT-AT (75313) only released in November. Considering that this big model has a full 40 seats and only a few of them are covered with minifigures, clearly there is a market to buy more – a lot more. People lucky enough to be able to afford this certainly should make it a point to buy this magazine once at least.

The value of this issue for adults hugely depends on how much you are after the minifigure, but on the bright side at least the comics are pretty decent and can give a bit of enjoyment. the rest isn’t really worth mentioning with a lot of bad Photoshop work hurting my eyes and the activities and puzzles being bland. I would predict, however, that the minifigure alone will be attractive to anyone owning an AT-AT model, big or small, and thus sell stacks and stacks of this issue…

Probing the Snow? – LEGO Star Wars, Imperial Probe Droid (75306)

I had hoped that this little beauty would arrive a bit earlier so I could have written my article on it last week instead of the one I actually did, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. The package got stuck in the warehouse and due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances suffered further delays when it was supposed to be delivered. So only now can I tell you about he LEGO Star Wars Imperial Probe Droid (75306).

LEGO Star Wars, Imperial Probe Droid (75306), Box

Pricing and Contents

The set is part of LEGO‘s new line of collectible items. People have attributed it to fit in the various helmets/ masks/ cowls series found in Star Wars and Super Heroes, but that’s not really an official designation nor is there such a series explicitly named in such a manner. It’s more implied by similarities in building style, identical design solutions and techniques, number of pieces, packaging and price point. Even then this set is by all means an outlier simply because of its different structure and appearance.

LEGO Star Wars, Imperial Probe Droid (75306), Overview, Front

The set officially retails for 70 Euro for 683 pieces, which is quite a chunk of change, especially once you consider that many parts are really just small 1 x 1 or 1 x 2 elements. It really shows that LEGO are betting on fans being willing to pay almost any price. It would not have hurt if they shaved off 10 Euro right from the start, be that just to bring it in line with the usual 60 Euro for the helmets. That in and of itself is of course still a hefty price tag, but let’s save this discussion for another time. However, in contrast to the helmets this model has much more volume and visible details, so at least you feel like you are getting a better deal in contrast to the other sets where many elements are used invisibly inside and are only shimmed over with relatively few other parts for the outward appearance.

Effectively I got this set for 48 Euro, which at the time of writing was/ is the best price, equaling around 33 percent discount. I actually sat down at 6 PM for an Internet-based live flash sale for the first time ever in my life on May the 4th to snatch up a copy. It’s an oddly exciting, but also exhausting and potentially frustrating way to buy stuff, because ultimately you never know if it really worked until you get the final confirmation and the goods are shipped. I had a bad gut feeling for a few days after that (in addition, but totally unrelated to my pre-existing intestinal issues caused by my chronic illness) and really only began to relax when the post mistress handed me over my parcel after all that kerfuffle.

The set has only been released in March and so far is proving to be very popular, so you should not expect any notable discounts beyond that until quite some time later this year. It will take a while before everyone who wanted is gets this set and LEGO‘s ongoing supply issues taper off. On average you can expect to pay around 55 Euro for this set, which is still not a great price-to-value ratio, but acceptable within the crazy world of LEGO Star Wars. Further discounts may of course be possible during special promos, but you should not expect too much.

LEGO Star Wars, Imperial Probe Droid (75306), Overview, Back

From a different perspective one of the questions I can’t get out of my head is of course whether they could have added more content to justify the price and pretty obviously the answer to that would be a resounding “Yes!”. I mean there’s a rather elaborate snow bank already, so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that in place of the plaque it just as well could hold a Tauntaun and/ or Luke and Han minifigures in their winter-y Hoth garments.

There hasn’t been a (molded) Tauntaun in years and even under worst conditions a lot of people would have rejoiced to get one with only minor refinements like a print perhaps. Ideally they would have done a new mold, admittedly, and I’m sure this alone would have amped up hype around this set to crazy levels. LEGO could of sold stacks of this set on that alone.

The Snow Bank

One of the pleasant surprises in this set is the stand. Unlike the helmets’ conventional plinth-like construction it is modeled after a snow bank as already mentioned a few times. It gently slopes from one side to the other. Because of its width it also doubles as a holder for the info plaque. As usual I did not use any stickers, so mine is blank, but I would not consider this an issue. The truth is that I would just leave of the large tile completely and also replace the ratcheted hinge plates it is affixed to, with the real point being that the assembly causes a bit of tension in the base and thus the right hand side bends slightly upwards. This reduces overall stability and simply does not look good.

LEGO Star Wars, Imperial Probe Droid (75306), Plaque

The snow bank consists of around 100 elements, including a considerable number of 1 x 4 slopes and several rounded/ wedge slopes to shape the mound and also give the appearance of a wind-blown pile of snow with its incline indicating the direction. Personally I feel that the whole thing could  have been a bit larger and more parts covered with smooth elements, but of course it’s always easy to ask for more.

LEGO Star Wars, Imperial Probe Droid (75306), Snow Bank, Front Left View

Still, one of the problems can’t be denied and that’s that the plaque gets in the way of the droid arms and vice versa. It should definitely be offset more to the left and leave a sufficient gap so the arms don’t touch it, no matter what position. To me this seems like an unnecessary shortcoming and oversight and I would extend the construction and insert some more elements. While at it I would also add another layer of plates or even bricks underneath the main “ice shelf”. Not only would this help to counter any potential bending issues, but also add more weight which is always helpful for stability.

An interesting detail is the mounting hole for the droid’s pole, which is actually not a plug connection, but really only an insert with the walls surrounding it ensuring it doesn’t topple over.

LEGO Star Wars, Imperial Probe Droid (75306), Snow Bank, Plug Hole

The Probe Droid

Interestingly enough, the droid barely makes an appearance in the Star Wars universe, yet it is one of those iconic designs that you immediately recognize. It can only be seen briefly in The Empire Strikes Back and even less in The Phantom Menace. Beyond that it seems to be in some games as a floating target that can be sliced with the light saber or shot at, but I don’t know much about that, since my gamer days are long over.

There are of course limitation to re-creating such a complex shape with LEGO, but overall this is a successful rendition of the original. It credibly replicates the multi-eyed spider/ insect look for the head and the dangly arms. From a distance it indeed conveys this feeling of a heavy medusa/ jellyfish  and looks the part. However, truth be told I think this model would have benefited from being built at an even larger scale. I haven’t mentioned this in a long time, but yes, this is a perfect example of where my 150% rule would apply.

The arms could and should be longer and would still look more elegant and slim and the head could have more details and better approximations of some curves. Most importantly this would also have fixed the single most critical issue I have with this model: The central ring/ body. It is a bit too thick here and the gaps a bit too wide. Increasing the overall radius and inserting more slopes would have mitigated this problem. It would also improve the model in that it would be harder to see some of the colored pieces on the inside. Those are used for spacial orientation and distinguishing the different sides. Substituting them for consistently grey parts would be easy, though.

Admittedly, when talking about a larger scale we are almost talking UCS levels here and the parts count might easily have increased by 200 or 300 pieces, bringing the price up further. Therefore take this as my personal opinion, not so much a general flaw with the model. I just don’t know. That’s likely one of those compromises you have to live with on a commercial set…

The robotic arms/ tentacles do the trick from afar, but technically are still way too crude once you get up close. It really matters from which angle you are looking at the model or for that matter how everything is posed. Some positions look interesting, others not so much and a commonly shared issue is that just misaligning a single element like one of the prongs of a claw can make a huge difference. Again, the amount of detail is limited by the scale and in addition I found the actual building process a bit tedious and challenging. You have to be extra careful to align things or else things will look like crap.

This also goes for the elements from  the Super Heroes weapons pack which are extensively used in this set to get some effects that otherwise would be nearly impossible like changing angles or attaching symmetrical elements from both sides. one would hope that they used this more often even in regular sets, as it really allows some interesting stuff.

The drone’s head is mounted on a turntable and can rotate a full 360 degrees just like the original so it can point its sensors and sensor arrays in every direction (though funny enough one of them gets easily taken down by Han Solo). Since I bought the model only after the NASA Space Shuttle Discovery (10283) came out, I was immediately reminded that this droid, too, could have made excellent use of the new “pancake” pieces, the 3 x 3 quarter dishes above the cockpit. Mega Construx has had them for years and they really solve so many problems with smooth, gently curved rounded surfaces. It’s about time LEGO finally have them as well.

Parts Galore!

As you well know, obsessing about new and rare parts is a bit of a thing for me, and this model scratches that itch just as well. Aside from the already mentioned weapons pack in Pearl Dark Grey this model provides a plethora of Dark Bluish Grey and Black parts for your pleasure. This is of course out of sheer necessity because everything safe for some structural parts on the inside is pretty much visible. I’m pretty certain LEGO would have loved to throw a colorful mess of their surplus parts stock at us if only there was a way. Well, let’s be grateful for small things and not least because of this set we now get this robot head cone and the rounded corner brick in a new color.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall this is a pretty nice model once it’s finished. getting there is another story, as the build process drags on quite a bit. you have to invest the time to align and orient some elements so they look correct and you also mustn’t underestimate how time-consuming assembly of the arms and other tiny bits is. The result is rewarding and makes up for this trial in patience, though. This is pretty much as good as it gets and until LEGO may come out with a reissue of this set in a few years which uses newer parts this sets an example of what’s possible. The level of detail is really astounding.

That said, there are a few caveats. It’s perfectly clear that this is a display model and therefore some things are a bit flimsy. I in particular really don’t like how loosely the arms dangle around. They don’t fall off or anything, it’s just hard to get them in a stable position that looks nice. There’s also a slight imbalance due to the uneven weight distribution, causing the model to tilt to the side depending on the arm configuration. These are all tiny details that need to be handled carefully or you genuinely fix them with some re-engineering of certain areas.

On the whole, though, I would recommend this model despite it’s high price to anyone who like me likes “visible functions” and technical-looking models with exposed hydraulics,  pneumatics and all sorts of nuts and bolts.

Praetorian May

Despite the overall slowness of the world in the ongoing crisis months fly by quickly and here we are again with the LEGO Star Wars magazine, this time for May 2020.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2020, Cover

People got quite a bit excited about this issue already when it was previewed last month and subscribers who got it a few days earlier were equally jazzed. The reason everyone got pumped is of course the inclusion of the Praetorian Guard from The Last Jedi. Those figures have only ever been included in two sets and at least Snoke’s Throne Room (75216) has been so heavy on the expensive overpriced side, these minifigs fetch crazy prices. It’s only natural people were vying for more, making the magazine highly coveted. The figure is a hybrid of different parts from other Praetorians, making it even more desirable and somewhat unique.

The comic revolves around Han Solo and Captain Rex from The Clone Wars, but since I never have watched the full series I can’t tell you how it fits story wise or if it is in any other way good and valid. The posters are okay. I particularly like the one with Palpatine looming in the background, but that in and of itself is of course a tired trope. When does he not look menacingly cool? 😉 Unfortunately there’s not much in the way of activities like puzzles this time, which would have made for a little distraction and easement of stressed-out parents’ pain.

Next month will feature a buildable model again, which is an A-Wing and it so happens that just this week its big UCS version (75275) was announced. Certainly more than just a coincidence…

Boring Blue Elegance – Han Solo’s Landspeeder from Solo – A Star Wars Story (75209)

It’s been a while since I reviewed Moloch’s Landspeeder (75210) from the Solo – a Star Wars Story movie, so I’m kinda late giving you my opinion on its counterpart, but bear with me.

LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo's Landspeeder (75209), Box

The reason why I’m late to the party is that originally I didn’t plan on ever buying this set. When the tie-in sets for the movie came out fresh last year I pondered the idea for a while without actually having seen the film, but then decided against it.

LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo's Landspeeder (75209), Overview

The reasoning for this may sound ludicrous – the vehicle just looks too slick which not only makes it so stand out compared to the more rugged, used look in Star Wars, but also feels kinda boring. To me at least, since though I can get behind a nice car model and sure would love to buy e.g. the Ford Mustang GT (10265) from the Creator Expert series, I’m anything but a car aficionado. The circumstances under which I may like a vehicle are very specific and they figured into the buying decisions for this set insofar, as somehow that attempt at capturing that feel of 60s and 70s cars like the aforementioned Mustang, a Corvette, an Oldsmobile or whatever you may consider your favorite from that era just didn’t click with me. Not in the movie, not on the LEGO set.

LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo's Landspeeder (75209), Left View

None of that is of course LEGO‘s fault and I’m not going to say that the model is bad. It’s in fact surprisingly good within what the limited design would allow in terms of making things interesting. If anything, this impression of the design being a bit out of place in the given context is most definitely what is impacting its reception the most. If you appreciate a little design exploration then you’ll love it, if it ruins established Star Wars design tropes for you then you’re going to seriously not like it.

My moment of revelation came when lately my need for Dark Blue parts increased due to dabbling with stuff based on the Deep Sea Creatures (31088) and I began to see those tiles etc. in a different light. Apparently many people share reservations similar to mine about the landspeeder, so this set doesn’t appear to sell that well and has dropped noticeably in price. I got my example for a mere 17 Euro, but on average it retails for around 20 Euro now. The original 30 Euro MSRP aren’t that unusual for these types of sets, but especially in this case feel like “the Star Wars tax” , i.e. licensing fees, is/ are making things unnecessarily expensive.

LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo's Landspeeder (75209), Top View

With my expectations being pretty low, I didn’t think I’d be enjoying the build that much because it would be simple and thus short, but it is surprisingly complex and takes just that bit longer that makes it feel like you got your money’s worth in terms of the fun of actually assembly duration. It’s in no way negative and the actual building process has a nice overall flow. There are a few repetitive bits like plugging on a ton of brackets to attach the half-cylindrical shapes on the sides, but it never gets to the point where it would be a nuisance. There’s always enough variation across the individual steps.

LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo's Landspeeder (75209), Front View

The techniques employed aren’t revolutionary, but work very well and retain the elegance of the original. Walls aren’t overly thick, there is a sort of detailed interior and even the airfoil section in the aft is not overly massive. During the build things can be a bit confusing and nerve-wrecking, though, as in many places Lime 1 x 1  studs are inserted that have you wondering whether they will remain visible later on. Thankfully all of them disappear behind or under other elements, making for a very clean impression. Personally I also like the use of Tan for the interior instead of the usual greys, giving the look of fine leather.

LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo's Landspeeder (75209), Right View

People have speculated about the origins of the asymmetrical layout of the exterior, with the left side merely exposing the innards due to the covers having been shredded in an accident or something like that. That has led some of them to rebuild this side in the same fashion as the right one to get a better maintained/ repaired/ factory-fresh version of this speeder. While it’s certainly a valid interpretation of the circumstances, it’s not one I share. Point in case: As soon as you try that, the model loses its optical balance. Therefore I’m inclined to think that this is more a matter of a) conscious film-centric design using the asymmetry to add interest and b) even if they were closed, the left side covers likely could still have been shaped and arranged differently.

LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo's Landspeeder (75209), Aft View

This point could be debated endlessly, naturally, and is very much a matter of personal view, but since the spoiler wing most definitely is intentionally designed with different left and right sides, I would argue that it’s not too far-fetched to assume the left side of the entire vehicle could have looked different once, too. Either way, exposing some of the tubes and wires is still nice. To me it feels like they could have gone even further and really tried to include more of the engine turbine, its fuel lines and electrical cabling.

LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo's Landspeeder (75209), Reactor Insert

The rear section is by and large the weakest part of the model. It looks like nothing in the movie, as it’s basically just the aft of a historic automobile where the round rear lights have been replaced with the jet exhausts and the two large boxes stand in as bumper bulges in order to cover the actual mounting points. Inevitably they couldn’t do much about it, so it looks pretty iffy, even more so since LEGO to this day hasn’t done a proper jet nozzle element and the ever same wheel hub elements are used instead. As a minor, they could have done them in silver at least.

LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo's Landspeeder (75209), Closed Hood

As seen throughout this article, the model can accommodate the two minifigures just fine and the proportions look okay-ish. The model has almost the size of Moloch’s Landspeeder, which depending on what shots from the movie you look at could be about right or too big. It’s hard to judge, but in my opinion it boils down to the fact that LEGO‘s version of the Moloch vehicle is simply too small by comparison, or more to the point not “heavy” enough. Having minifigs furthers this impression even more. Therefore perhaps you should not put both vehicles immediately next to each other on your shelf or showcase.

LEGO Star Wars, Han Solo's Landspeeder (75209), Open Hood

On the whole this is a pretty decent model. It’s just not very exciting. The original was not used well in the movie and in fact that whole chase sequence to me felt forced and unnecessary (it seems they really just crammed it in to pull a cheap joke referencing the mishap later in the film). Inevitably that rubs off on the set as well and limits its attractiveness. It’s just not a must-have when every other vehicle in the Solo movie looks a ton of times cooler.

Failure Explained? – A Look at Solo – A Star Wars Story

Since I’ve already reviewed two sets associated with the Solo – A Star Wars Story movie (see here and here) I figured, now that it’s available on Blu-Ray/ DVD/ Digital, it would be time to take a look at the film itself and possibly find the reasons why it failed to make an impression in cinemas and how that may relate to the LEGO sets.

Solo - A Star Wars Story, DVD, Cover

The movie itself in my view is not as terrible as all those reports about the changes and the turmoil behind the scenes made it sound. What becomes apparent rather quickly, however, is the “Too many cooks…” problem. Even if you are not a Star Wars buff at all you will quickly notice the constant shifts in tonality. There are very dark scenes depicting the evil side of the syndicates and The Empire intermingled with supposedly funny bits and action pieces and you can tell that they all come from different versions of the script right down to the very different shot compositions used by the different directors and production units. It’s highly inconsistent and only underlines that the movie and the people producing it in the end didn’t have much of an idea what they wanted it to be.

Where it totally fails is the interpersonal relations between the different characters. You never buy into that relationship between Han and Kira and neither do you ever feel that the interactions between Han and Beckett or Han and Lando serve any other purpose other than providing a background for exchanging some quips or old-man-wisdom. Even Han‘s relation to Chewie isn’t really explored and comes about very casually as if you could meet any stranger on the street and be life-long best buddies the next day. A lot of that can be blamed on very poor acting. Most of the time it’s simply incredulous and artificial like a B-movie and by that I don’t even mean Alden Ehrenreich‘s failed Harrison Ford impression which he was forced to put on.

Regardless, the whole thing is entertaining in its own way. The Conveyex train heist is easily the best sequence in the movie and if more stuff of that kind would have been included, it would have been quite a ride. Unfortunately the other action scenes don’t live up to it and like many other parts in the movie feel dragged out. E.g. the scene with the Maelstrom beast feels unnecessarily long. You really find yourself thinking “If the gravity well is really that strong, why doesn’t this beast die already?”. Similar observations can be made elsewhere, leading to the simple realisation that excising some of that filler stuff would possibly have made for a better, more exciting movie.

Getting to the LEGO-specific parts, things turned out as I feared. Most vehicles are barely even in the movie and if they are, only very shortly. According to the bonus materials of the Blu-Ray there were plans for a whole story thread involving Han in a TIE Fighter, but this isn’t in the final version, so any you see on-screen are just small renditions used as background filler. The Landspeeders are also only in the first ten minutes and then completely forgotten. For the most part the only vehicle that regularly and consistently appears on-screen throughout the entire duration for better or worse is the Millenium Falcon. This lack of exposition of the individual vehicles clearly isn’t helping sales.

What’s also not helping is the half-baked nature of some models. When you watch the movie, LEGO‘s poor efforts on the Imperial Conveyex Transport (75217) and the Imperial AT-Hauler (75219) really become agonizingly obvious. It’s not just that the train is way too short/ small and incomplete, but the figures and some construction features in the sets make it painfully apparent that the whole scene was initially meant to play out completely differently and LEGO just didn’t have any opportunity to adapt their sets, no doubt based on early concept art, to the later script changes. So by all means this is a bloody mess.

Overall I feel once more vindicated that LEGO perhaps would do better to let Star Wars rest for a while. As this example shows, chasing every buck and hopping onto the bandwagon isn’t doing them any good, least of all when a movie totally bombs just as this one did. I also can’t help the impression that neither side, meaning Disney and LEGO, are committed enough to really care for the products. It feels too much like that Monday morning call: “We need something by Wednesday for presentation on Thursday, so the CEO can sign it off on Friday.” . Everything looks thrown together with the barest minimum of effort while at the same time maxing out the profit margin. Under those conditions it won’t be long before even the most ardent Star Wars fan finally gets fed up for good…

Expensive Brick – Moloch’s Landspeeder from Solo – A Star Wars Story (75210)

The Solo – A Star Wars Story movie is going to be released on Blu-Ray/ DVD/ Digital tomorrow, so it’s fitting to review a model based on a vehicle featured in the film – Moloch’s Landspeeder (75210). Not having seen the piece in its entirety and only relying on the bits and pieces you can find on the Internet like the trailer, I’m not going to obsess about how realistically the set portrays the actual film prop, though, and will judge it on its own merits. From what I hear, the vehicle is barely used in the film and only seen in a few shots, so it shouldn’t really matter that much, anyway.

LEGO Star Wars, Moloch's Landspeeder (75210), Box

First let’s get the big elephant out of the room: once again the price. Yes, if you buy this at full price, LEGO not so kindly ask you to part with 50 Euros, which is outrageous and simply totally bonkers. At around 460 pieces this means a per-piece cost of more than 10 Cents, making this even more insane for such a relatively small model consisting almost completely of smaller standard parts. It’s really like LEGO (and by extension Disney) have gone completely off the rails and lost their marbles, attempting to gouge the customer here. There’s really no way to put it more nicely. So by all means see to it that you get this set as cheaply as possible during a sale/ special promo. Biding your time and waiting patiently can save you a good chunk of money. I did so and got my lucky break unexpectedly one Saturday evening when I was able to order the set for just 30 Euros.

LEGO Star Wars, Moloch's Landspeeder (75210), Overview

Not having seen the movie and being fully aware of the pricing madness, why did I want this model in the first place? Well, as a graphics artist I probably have this odd sensibility of enjoying simple, but perfectly balanced forms and shapes and this strikes me as one of those cases. In a way it’s reminiscent of some design furniture with blocky legs and grand arches and while no doubt you could simply call it a flying brick, it’s an elegant one no less. Additionally, as someone who also was/ is into scale model building to some extent I also like the varied structure of the surface panels for a used, worn look.

LEGO Star Wars, Moloch's Landspeeder (75210), Left Side

Being based on some simple design principles, the build is pretty straightforward. The model rests on wheels and can be rolled around, so you start off with creating a frame from Technic bricks onto which you then stack more bricks and plates to form the walls, capping them off with rounded bricks and arches. That’s classic LEGO for you. There are some oddities in that you need to leave room for the hollows, as a result of which some bricks’ ends hang loosely in the air. Once this would have been considered an “illegal” building technique, but it seems LEGO don’t care much for this anymore and instead have lightened up to a “whatever works” approach.

LEGO Star Wars, Moloch's Landspeeder (75210), Right Side

The stud shooter seems totally superfluous (Then again, aren’t they most of the time?) and totally unnecessary. I can’t quite tell what it actually is on the movie vehicle, but there appears to be a jet intake/ outlet of sorts instead. It would have been perfectly possible to reproduce this with some parts and I think the model would have looked better for it. On the bright side, the mechanism is handled through the old perpendicular gearbox which is only used on few models ever, so now I have one of those as well and it might come in handy one day.

LEGO Star Wars, Moloch's Landspeeder (75210), Aft View with closed Loading Bay

The aft box/ frame uses a sideways building technique, attaching the sidewalls with pins  to more Technic elements to get that inset/ spacing. I was extremely wary of this as it means that almost up to the final point only a few steps before finishing the model those walls will wiggle around a lot, making you wonder if this is meant to be this way. Only when you add the top to bridge the two sides will it stiffen up and stop wobbling around. I feel that this makes the whole affair unnecessarily delicate and it could be disconcerting to less experienced users. Naturally it also increases the risk of inadvertently breaking of those arches while their ends hang loosely in the air.

LEGO Star Wars, Moloch's Landspeeder (75210), Aft View with open Loading Bay

The loading bay is likely used quite differently in the movie, but on the model it holds supplies for the Corellian Hounds. Those are ugly as hell and I don’t feel that LEGO has done anyone except the figure collectors a favor by including them. I certainly wouldn’t play with them if I was a child. The same could be said for Moloch‘s figure. It looks kinda disgusting and unattractive even if it may fit into the lore of the film and be technically correct. Speaking of which – I believe the engine exhausts on the actual vehicle are blue, so LEGO probably got that wrong.

Overall this isn’t the most attractive model and LEGO make it unnecessarily difficult to sneak it in as a casual purchase due to the way too hefty price. On the other hand, if you can take it for what it is, it’s still in a weird way enjoyable. It’s a relaxing build with some interesting techniques, it just quite likely isn’t a model you would keep around forever. It’s simply too forgettable and doesn’t hit the right beats for a collector’s item. For me it’s also once more a nice collection of very reusable bricks in Dark Tan and Dark and Light Bluish Grey, which made this a justifiable purchase, after all. If none of that applies to you, keep your cash and buy something else.