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.

Space Wedge – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, December 2022

The LEGO Star Wars magazine remains one of the staples of that whole LEGO magazine business and while not always outstanding, it usually has at least something interesting to show. Let’s see if the December 2022 issue lives up to that.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, December 2022, Cover

I’m not a friend of those “Palpatine behaves like a teenager” as you know, so the main comic doesn’t really go down well with me. Too much implausible nonsense and too way off the mainstream canon even if you take a liberal approach and allow for some wackiness.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, December 2022, Comic

The secondary comic isn’t doing much better, in particular since the vehicle it is supposed to promote as the extra, the Imperial Light Destroyer, isn’t really shown that much.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, December 2022, Comic

The poster on the front features Captain Vaughn from the Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283) set in all his glory. Stylistically it is similar to the one in the last issue, so they would look nice next to each other. The backside has an X-Wing zooming toward the Death Star, but it’s not nearly as interesting.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, December 2022, Poster

The extra is the Imperial Light Destroyer mentioned earlier. It was introduced in Rebels and recently played a bigger role in The Mandalorian. As you would expect the model is pieced together from a few wedge plates, which is sufficient to match the contour, but does not really provide the necessary volume for the ship’s body. In terms of pieces there isn’t too much special here. There’s a pair of triangular tiles in Light Bluish Grey, which are always nice to have, but the rest is standard fare – with one exception: Inside there’s a Black 1 x 5 plate (!) for the central spine, which I think is the first time ever this element has ever been used in one of those foil packs on any of the LEGO magazines. If you never encountered it up close and personal in a set (since it’s still being used rather sparingly) here’s your chance to get acquainted with this marvel of modern engineering. 😉

This edition of the magazine holds very few surprises, but is overall a solid affair. The posters are decent and the comics are serviceable, though I’d prefer them to be a bit more serious and in line with the rest of Star Wars. Though personally I prefer buildable models, fans of minifigures will be pleased that next month there will be another one in the form if a Hoth Luke Skywalker with snow goggles, vest and all.

Insignificant Helmet – LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker (Red Five) Helmet (75327)

Before we dive into the details of the Luke Skywalker (Red Five) Helmet (75327) from the LEGO Star Wars theme series, let me clarify a few things.

The collectible “Helmets” series has been around for two years now and this (unofficial) moniker not only covers various Star Wars headgear but also some notable Super Heroes stuff like Batman‘s cowl, Iron Man‘s helmet or Venom‘s entire head for instance. Again, there is no “Helmets” series per se, as they’re all filed under their respective other themes, but people habitually call it that because of the undeniable similarities and commonalities they all share with regards to scale, overall style etc..

When the first one was announced, which of course had to be a Stormtrooper Helmet (75276), I was mildly enthused, but not over the moon. The idea had merit and it could be cool to have some iconic helmets lined up on the shelf. Still, even back then I already feared that LEGO would milk this and the pricing would be outrageous, so I remained slightly skeptical. And wouldn’t you know it, what I suspected indeed came to pass, so my reservations were warranted (more on pricing considerations in the next chapter below as usual).

What made this even worse is that the actual results looked rather naff and by that I simply mean way too many visible studs, gaps and recognizable building techniques. That may get some fans drooling, but I decided it’s not for me and basically swore to myself to never buy any of these things. I just want my collectibles to look nice and in case of these helmets that would have meant much more of an effort to make them smooth and rounded and solid without resorting to cheap tricks, which badly enough also includes having to use stickers because even with these expensive items LEGO can’t be bothered to just print everything.

So how did I end up buying the Red Five helmet, after all? I’m not going to pretend otherwise, but the core motivation was simply a number of distinct and unique parts I could add to my collection just by buying this set. Some are also in other sets, but still rare, some are exclusive to this one for the time being. I also of course wanted to check if my own prejudice against these helmets was justified and if a positive build experience could not sway me and convince me otherwise (hint: It didn’t!). So let’s see how things went…

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker (Red Five) Helmet (75327), Box

Pricing and Contents

As already mentioned, I find these sets shamelessly overpriced. That’s nothing new in the LEGO universe and you’re probably tired of me complaining about it, but it still stings/ stinks. Worse yet, they don’t even pretend that this is in any way related to the parts count or other factors. The smallest set, the Classic TV Series Batman Cowl (76238) with its meager 372 pieces costs just as much as the others – 60 Euro. There are a few exceptions with the Darth Vader Helmet (75304) at 834 pieces even costing 70 Euro, but at the same time the Scout Trooper Helmet (75305) with 471 pieces costing only 50 Euro. Does that make sense to anyone? There’s just no rhyme or reason to it and it seems totally arbitrary.

Luke‘s helmet is somewhere in the middle with 675 pieces and on paper when applying the old formula of 10 Cent * piece count the math turns out just fine. However, as you would expect many of the elements are just 1 x 1 and 1 x 2, so this is not necessarily a good price. All things considered, what’s there really feels more like it should have cost you 40 Euro from the outset. Of course you can get this price with discounts at many retailers, but ultimately this is not a sustainable model in the long run. While LEGO keep raising MSRPs and wholesale prices, those vendors barely make a cut. When their businesses crumble, everyone may feel the repercussions.

Anyway, for now I’m a beneficiary of this policy and even if I don’t feel good about it (Wouldn’t it be fantastic, if those products were simply sold for reasonable prices from the get-go and we all could afford that?), in my situation I’ll take whatever discounts I can get. I bought the package for 36 Euro and only recently I saw a special promo for 32 Euro. So keep your eyes peeled! There’s always a chance to get this for a better price if you’re not in a rush.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker (Red Five) Helmet (75327), Front Left View

The Helmet

As mentioned in my intro, I’m not that terribly enthralled by these helmets due to the designers not even attempting to make them more rounded and smooth. This becomes extremely apparent on this particular example due to the stark contrast between the center ridge, the ear covers and the rest. It is even more noticeable when you compare the overall shape to images of the original or other replicas and it just feels wrong on so many levels. Even if you allow some room for the usual limitations that come with brick-built designs it just feels inadequate.

On top of it, the build is of course quite tedious and repetitive. By that I don’t just mean the inevitable symmetrical building, but also some decisions in how elements are laid out and which items are used. For instance there are several locations where the 1 x 5 plate introduced late last year could have been used favorably, but instead you are forced to piece together several sections using 1 x 1 plates in conjunction with a 1 x 4 or a 1 x 6. It is highly questionable why nobody gave this a last minute polish and substituted the elements, even if you consider the potential delays in production due to additional lead-in time. It really would have helped to minimize some frustration.

In a similar vein I found it quite annoying to piece together stacks of plates that barely overlap or are only held together by tiles. Typically you end up building three or four plate high sub-assemblies that are very wobbly and only stabilize once they connect to the various SNOT bricks and brackets on the central block. That can be really annoying if you don’t have a large flat table to built your stuff on and like me prefer to “freestyle” holding them in your hand.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker (Red Five) Helmet (75327), Detail StandThe socket/ stand is more or less the same standard type as used on the other helmets and heads, but has been extended quite a bit towards the top to allow for the hollow construction and disguising the attachment points. in the upper dome and rear. This works, but naturally only by creating a “black hole” illusion where you can’t discern any of the interior details because it’s all dark.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker (Red Five) Helmet (75327), Detail Print DamageThe prints in this set are a pain, which really doesn’t surprise me anymore, given how LEGO have dialed down the thickness of their paint application (faster drying = more throughput = larger quantities in the same time). The white stripes on the central ridge are rather faint and thus look pink-ish plus they appear oddly frizzled and uneven. The prints on the various dishes are actually okay, but leave it to LEGO to even screw that up. Yupp, there’s some damage on one of the dishes with the Rebel Alliance insignia where clearly the paint has been peeled of by the stencil or shortly thereafter. This should have been caught at the factory. The irony here is of course that this would actually be cool in a way if the helmet had been designed to represent a worn out version that has seen battle many times.

Now I’m gonna sound like a hypocrite when I tell you that I didn’t request replacements despite my complaining about it. Yes, LEGO would have probably sent them without much fuss, but I just didn’t wanna go through the steps, knowing that the bust would not have a long shelf life and after disassembling it I would just stash the printed pieces somewhere until I may one day have an idea on how to use them for something else.

One thing that is causing me outright agony is the simulated pin stripe on the central ridge. This uses a yellow “rigid hose”, which despite the fact that you can pre-bend it to mimic the curvature is still an element that has tension. Even more critically it is only affixed at two points at the start and end, respectively, which does not bode well once you consider that the elements used are 1 x 1 modified plates with a bar holder on one and a C-clamp on the other. Here’s the thing: This isn’t much of an issue for the few weeks and months I usually have my models around, but in the long run you may end up with a damaged model.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker (Red Five) Helmet (75327), Detail Strip, Lower Back AreaAs the plastic ages and gets more brittle there’s a good chance that in particular the C-clamps are going to go *kerplang*. The forces here are simply too strong and I find it incomprehensible how this could pass quality control (QC). It’s just one bad decision on top of another. There would have needed to be two more fixation points along the perimeter of the tube. Not only would that have relieved the tension and stress on the material, but it also would have helped to lock the whole thing in place and better retain its shape.

The inside of the helmet emulates the real thing by having the typical earmuffs to isolate the radio voice from exterior sounds. I’m not too sure about the color, as most images suggest that inside it’s actually clad in sheer pig’s leather, but of course anything is possible and I’m not that deep into Star Wars that I would nerd out about it. For all I know, across multiple films there could have been different props with different coloring. The way the inner headphone padding is constructed is interesting, but I honestly felt that the designers really had to stretch their imagination to make it work for the simple truth that to this day LEGO does not have direction inverter plates. If they had, this would have been a walk in the park and they could even have made it more elaborate using different pieces.

On that note – the rounded corner pieces used here were one of the reasons I committed to this set. They appear useful and currently there is no other package that has them in Dark Bluish Grey. That may of course change at any point. The situation is pretty much the same for the 3 x 3 round tiles in Yellow that in large part are hidden under the rounded bulges on the side to again create the illusion of some decorative pin striping.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker (Red Five) Helmet (75327), Detail GlassesFinally there’s the Trans Orange curved brick/ slope that premiered in the Porsche 911 (10295) last year put to good use on the glasses/ protective goggles/ anti-glare shield, complemented by some other elements. Personally I’m inclined to think that this might also have looked good in Dark Orange with the 3 x 3 pancake piece and some extra slopes and in fact the extra curvature might have produced more convincing highlights and reflections on the shelf. It’s up for debate, though, and the way it is is just fine.


Concluding Thoughts

The short summary of my review could be: “This sucks!”, but that wouldn’t be useful. So who is this actually for? I can basically only see two groups of buyers for this – people who buy all the helmets because they want a full line-up on their shelf and on the other hand Star Wars die-hards who would be interested to at least add the relevant sub-set of the helmets to their collection. None of that does preclude the random anomalies where people just pick it up for other reasons and enjoy it, but those two core demographics probably make up the biggest chunk.

Outside that I cannot see the appeal. As a pure LEGO set it is simply too boring and even for casual Star Wars fans there are enough alternate options to get a helmet in their home from expensive premium collector’s replicas to moderately priced smaller toys. Funny enough, even some cheap toys beat this model hands down in the accuracy department be that with better proportions or proper prints. At least the latter should be a non issue, but no, LEGO once more chose to annoy their customers with stickers, which of course I haven’t applied anywhere.

Combined with the outrageous pricing the many shortcomings make it a hard sell and I wouldn’t really recommend this. You get a relatively small model the size of an adult man’s hand that has notable issues and won’t stand scrutiny from up close. Given the small price gap to some alternate offerings you may forever wonder if those 60 Euro couldn’t have been spent better. I guess the real point is that i get what they were going for, they just weren’t terribly successful. A lot of that clearly has to do with their usual half-assed-ness and cutting corners and it’s all too apparent…

Shrunk Slave 1 – LEGO Star Wars, Boba Fett’s Starship (75312)

In this consumerist world we live in I’m usually not bending over backwards to catch special promotions on those “special” days made up by the industry trying to sell you stuff, but then again I enjoy getting a good discount as much as the next guy and not just because of my budget constraints. The very least one can do is keep an eye peeled and hope to make a good catch. I got sort of half-lucky with Boba Fett’s Starship (75312) on this year’s May the 4th event, so let’s see how things turned out.

LEGO Star Wars, Boba Fett's Starship (75312), Box

Pricing and Contents

I’ve had this set on my wishlist for a while, but regrettably it never entered a price range that I found acceptable. After all, I’m not a die-hard Star Wars fan who would pay anything and it really comes down to how much I like a certain vehicle from the show and how affordable it is.

The crux of course is that of course Boba Fett’s Spaceship or Slave 1 as it was known in the good old days (and I’ll keep calling it that because I honestly think it’s kinda stupid that they are trying to be overly correct here and avoiding the word slave entirely even if it doesn’t bear any relationship to current day politics) has always been a popular ship due to its unique and distinct appearance. Because it basically sold itself and everybody wanted it, anyway, retailers could ask for relatively high prices. That and of course the The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett series have boosted that demand even further. In fact this really thwarted my plans to purchase the 20th Anniversary Edition Slave 1 (75243) because it was equally coveted by fans the world all over and prices never dropped to a level I would consider sensible (me missing out on a few special promotions I just didn’t catch notwithstanding). Arguably a case of bad timing, even if just coincidental.

LEGO Star Wars, Boba Fett's Starship (75312), Overview

With all that in mind I was actually glad I was able to obtain this package for 35 Euro down from a recommended price of 50 Euro. As mentioned already I consider myself only half-lucky because there was a slightly better price that day at only 32 Euro. I was just going back and forth way too long and my inner struggle prevented me from clicking that button. Come back an hour later and the price was higher again already. You really can’t flinch with Amazon‘s fluctuating prices and them adapting to competitor’s pricing almost in realtime.

Was it worth it? The answer may not surprise you: While I’m okay with those 35 Euro, I still feel the set is seriously overpriced. The model turns out tiny and one really has a hard time believing it actually uses the 593 pieces as advertised. From the exterior it feels more like there are only 250 elements, with the real point once again being that many other parts used are 1 x 1 and 1 x 2 items hidden underneath what’s actually visible. Not just that, but also many of the bits constituting the surface and the underside structure are equally small. With only a few exceptions you barely build any volume and just don’t get this satisfaction of working on what should be a relatively bulky model and making notable progress with each building step.

That being said, I can’t help but feel that this is a 30 Euro model, after all, even if you perhaps had to throw on a 5 Euro premium because it’s licensed Star Wars. The original 50 Euro are simply beyond any reason and LEGO just exploit the fans’ hunger for these products. If worse came to worse I’d really not have bothered and simply foregone buying it at all. It’s just not worth it.

The Minifigures

With the vessel being more or less exclusively inhabited by a single occupant it’s only natural that there wouldn’t be too many minifigures bar the occasional person hitching a ride when an opportunity presents itself. That is of course not counting the poor people travelling as frozen Carbonite blocks below decks. Not having seen the series due to not having a Disney+ subscription I have no idea if and when Boba Fett and Din Djarin (The Mandalorian) cross paths, I only know that it happens eventually.

The Mando figure is just the standard version with the cape you find in several other sets. Boba was an exclusive new version for this set when it came out last year but has since made a second appearance in Boba Fett’s Throne Room (75326). It’s considerably different from older versions not just because it uses a black torso as the base, but being ignorant of the actual story I can’t tell you much about the specific whys and hows. That said, both figures are overall pretty nice with lavish prints and certainly have some collector value as well.

The Model

The actual model is based on the simpler design of the Slave 1 from the ill-fated and ill-conceived Betrayal at Cloud City (75222) in the now deceased Master Builder Series. Back then I found the whole concept of a play-oriented yet expensive set in the vein of a dumbed-down and simplified UCS series more than a bit perplexing (or more to the point just another of those LEGO brain farts where you wonder what they were smoking when approving this), but the way this vehicle was built struck me as efficient and desirable as a separate affordable set. Of course things often take a while and I’d almost given up hope of ever seeing this come to fruition, but alas here we are. even better, they really took the time to refine and enhance the concept, including using a few newer and different parts. That way they also made sure that the one in the Cloud City retains its exclusivity and people who bought this expensive mess aren’t too upset.

An iconic shape such as this is of course immediately recognizable in any form and that is pretty much the case here as well. However, and this seems to be a general rule with this ship, the smaller the scale the less compact it looks. Where the original version in the movies was pretty smooth and the various surfaces blended, the smaller models tend to look more separated, not just because of the limitations of brick-built designs. This is also apparent here with the “handle” (upper hull) feeling plugged on to the bottom rather than transitioning elegantly. In particular the front section and the housings for the wing mechanisms feel a bit too small and not voluminous enough. It’s not the end of the world, but worth mentioning.

The tail/ aft boom overall appears just a bit too short and could have benefited from being extended one or two rows of studs. It’s not that the proportions aren’t correct or LEGO somehow got it wrong, it’s more a visual thing where the “scale effect” makes it look a bit too stubby. This is also owing to the overall small size that makes it look more like a toy than the imposing ship it otherwise is. Let’s not forget, that it just has around 24 studs overall length, not even fully covering a 32 x 32 base plate.

There are a handful of functional details like the cargo ramp under which you could actually place the “Carbonite” block as represented by a 1 x 2 x 6 brick and of course you can open the cockpit to place Boba inside, but neither does offer much details beyond that. The wings use a similar approach as their counterparts on the larger variants of this spacecraft, meaning they’re built from a bunch of balanced out round corner plates and wedge plates attached to a Technic axle so they swivel automatically and stay horizontal in every position. To represent the slightly rusty mechanism LEGO even produced this piece in Dark Orange exclusively for this set.

The singular side build in this set is a little push tractor/ servicing vehicle with a ladder and it also doubles as a stand to present the model in a upright position. I was hugely skeptical about this solution, mostly because the tractor is very lightweight but much to my surprise this works quite decently. Of course you still should not try to intentionally tip over the model, but it’s more than serviceable for presentation on the shelf and easy to handle for kids as well. It does not use any pins or such and rather just some simple slide-in trickery so you basically can’t do anything wrong. Also note the „Carbonite“ block – without stickers, of course.

The upright position looks a bit odd, mostly because it exposes the hollowness of the interior unfavorably. In this position also even the slightest misalignment of the guns, which are rather flimsily constructed from black light saber hilts and some other pieces, immediately becomes noticeable. You should be careful with them, anyway, as they use a less than ideal way of being attached. Instead of a proper axle or bar they’re plugged onto this “hook” style plate‘s bar element. While it kind of works it’s one of those things that I would try to avoid and look for other solutions.

The undersides have some nice texture and even some pieces to emulate thruster outlets, but once you look at it, you also see the most annoying problem of this whole set: The various small plates and how everything is pieced together. This isn’t so much of an issue once it’s finished, but it really tries your patience during assembly. There’s basically only a single layer of plates and the bricks for the shaping are almost immediately on top, however often in such a fashion that they often only connect by two or even single studs. I found this a massive source of frustration that only gets better once you have finished the red socket.

One final thing: The set is apparently (also) aimed at children and to that effect it has a handle based on an L-shaped Technic liftarm so the model can be swooshed around and held easily without risking breaking anything off when grabbing it elsewhere. The caveat here is that the handle tends to get stuck in the recess on occasion and is difficult to push out even when tipping on the opposite end as intended. You may want to have an eye on that and show your children how to do it right or else they may constantly bug you about it. If you are not interested in this functionality you could just leave it out and shim over the hole, but this would require some major changes (using larger/ different plates to close the gaps) early on in the construction process.


Concluding Thoughts

The model isn’t bad by any means and in an odd way quite appealing. It hits the right balance between looking realistic enough, but also being playable. Still, the out-of-this-world pricing is really what puts me off. LEGO seem bent on deterring a certain part of their customers while raking in the big bucks from the other half of the Star Wars fan crowd with UCS sets and all that and that is on some level sad. Sets like this one clearly prove that the designers have the will and abilities to produce more than acceptable models, it just always seems they’re being sidelined by overriding managerial decisions in favor of squeezing out every last penny from customers.

This dichotomy also makes it hard to really recommend this set from the bottom of my heart. As already written, if there wouldn’t have been a good price I’d just passed on this. You can bet that due to the popularity there will be another Slave 1 in the not too distant future and it might even be an updated re-issue of the UCS version from 2015 or at least something more in line with the 20th anniversary version which will be more attractive to serious collectors and adults. You can save your money for the day when they come out. Completists on the other hand will no doubt want to add this to their line-up no matter what and it should also work well for children.

For me as so often it likely will end up being a short journey where soon enough I’ll dismantle the model and scalp the parts, of which it has quite a few unique ones and that’s just fine. At the same time I can think of other ways to spend those 35 Euro and unfortunate as it is, this set also has not done anything to change my mind about LEGO Star Wars being one big scam, so this will likely be my only such review for quite a while again until the next good opportunity may arise come Amazon‘s Prime Day in November

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…

Stubby X-Wing? – LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing Fighter (75301)

I’ve always wanted a LEGO X-Wing, but like for so many others there were a few things getting in the way. I never could quite make up my mind which of the different models I preferred and than all too often the exorbitant prices got in the way. some of these circumstances have changed with the latest wave, so I finally took the plunge and got myself Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing Fighter (75301) even though there are still several caveats as you will see.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Box

The Non-Solution to a Problem

Before digging into the actual specifics of the set we have to address the elephant in the room – the reason why this model even exists in this particular form.

It used to be that LEGO Star Wars sets always were expensive, but still affordable within reasonable limits. That is notwithstanding that they still exploited the goodwill of the fans, but it wasn’t terrible, especially when the sets were good. In recent years this, however, has drastically changed for the worse. Not only have prices risen in general, but you’re getting less bang for the buck. The average price-per-part ratio these days regularly exceeds that magical 10 Cent a piece and in most sets you only get a minimum of the highly coveted minifigures. Now one could go on endlessly and speculate what aside from general inflation and rising manufacturing cost may be at play here, but certainly Disney and LEGO milking the cow is factoring in, too.

The downside of course is that this policy has made it much harder for many people to either buy this stuff at all or at least keep up with ever new releases. This realization must have dawned on the people in charge at LEGO as well at some point, and so they decided to act upon it and do a bit of course correction. As you might imagine, I don’t really agree on how they are trying to mitigate the issue or else I wouldn’t be writing this. There are inf act even some bullshit “designer videos” on YouTube trying to rationalize their decision, which riles me up even more. Point in case: The have the gall on blaming it on the customer as in “You all want detailed models, but you don’t want to pay enough.”

Now on an idealistic level I’m not even opposed to some of the changes as indeed it has become questionable why you should pay 100 Euro for something like Poe Dameron’s X-Wing Fighter (75273). However, their “solution” of reducing the complexity of the models and simplifying details does not fix the underlying problem at all. You still pay more than that magical average per part and get a lesser model for it. Which I guess is the point. One would instead assume they adjust their pricing or haggle out a new licensing deal to bring down external cost, if that really were the driving factor. That not being the case they chose to put all the burden on you as the buyer.

Pricing and Contents

Regardless of my overall gripes I’m always on the lookout to get my stuff as cheap as possible out of pure necessity, so let’s see how things look here. Officially the set retails for 50 Euro in these parts. That is okay-ish, all things considered, but my previous point is proven once again. Once you figure in the typical discounts from big outlets things are getting better. I picked up my set for 37 Euro and in fact was a bit upset at myself because two days later it was on Amazon for 34 Euro. That’s just my bad luck striking again! This brings things down to a sensible level.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Overview

Still, the model still does not look like it would even contain the number of parts to justify this lower price, which is the crux of it. For all intents and purposes it feels crude compared to most of its more detailed (but also more costly) predecessors. This is only slightly offset by the box containing four minifigures, something you have to be thankful for, I guess. It would not in any way have been surprising had there been only one or two minifigs.

The Minifigures

As you would expect from a set called Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing Fighter the eponymous hero is present in minifig form as is his trusted sidekick R2-D2. I have tons of Lukes in different versions, but this is actually my first pilot one, so I’m not complaining. Since all of these figures in flying gear appear to be different, they generally seem to fetch a good price with collectors. That also goes for the version of Leia with the skirt piece in this set, as so far this combination has only been seen in the Tantive IV (75244), a model that due to its undecidedness on whether to be a toy or a collectible didn’t appeal to many fans.

Finally there’s General Dodonna. I actually had to look him up, but it appears he’s only to be seen in a few shots leading up to the attack on the Death Star as a supporting character. Since it’s the first time he’s been translated into this format, he’s also reasonably valuable in case you want to sell the figs. The white hair is also nice (and not that common) and to boot he comes with one of the rarer Flat Silver blasters. With all that being the case, the value of the minifigures is considerable and if you share them with a collector that alone could help to partially refinance the purchase.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Minifigures

The X-Wing

By its nature as Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing of course the X-Wing is the classic T-65 model that has been done a million times already even in LEGO, so there would be plenty of room for comparison. Not owning any of the previous models I have to relay on photos, naturally, but the first thing that stands out is that the model looks and feels more compact than the others.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Front Left View

It’s technically not that much shorter than others, but I guess the lack of details in some areas just makes it look more stubby. You could even browse through the digital instructions and you would find that the front section uses the same building techniques as older versions, it just lacks all the extra slopes and tiles used for additional shaping and making things a bit more elegant. This trend continues throughout and is one area where they started saving on the parts count.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Aft Left View

It becomes particularly apparent on the wings, or more correctly the X-foils (since they have no aerodynamic lift, they aren’t exactly wings). On previous models these tended to be more detailed up with smaller tiles and plates to represent some of the stripes and insignia, whereas here this is left to your imagination or some large-ish stickers if you elect to use them. Interestingly, they again did not do anything to fix the wingspan, which would need to be noticeably wider. This has been bothering fans for forever. I think it is forgivable here, though, given that they aimed for simplification, but they really should get around to it one day.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Aft Right View

The engines fall into the “Let’s count number of ways we can creatively stack round elements.” category. It’s not really terrible, but one wishes they would come up with some more specific pieces for this after having tried all those round bricks, wheel hubs and barrels and settle on one style. On the bright side, they introduced a new piece for the front intakes, a 3 x 3 cylinder. While it’s nice to have a new element and it certainly will come in handy in the future, I feel it’s a step down from what they did in the 2018 X-Wing Starfighter (75218). This really begs for a printed tile to at least hint at the input lips and incidentally also make thinks look more deep.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Front Right View

Another victim of the “optimization” process is the cockpit. Granted, there wasn’t much going on in this section in the other versions as well, but one can’t help but feel that if they could save on even one more brick they would have done it just to prove a point.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Detail Cockpit

The tail section looks okay, though the attempt to mimic the purple-ish red glow of the engine blast looks feeblish. Similar to the front intakes I would have preferred if it was just a deeper dark hole. Or perhaps they could have done something to amp up the “glow” like inserting a white bar. dunno. It just doesn’t look hot, not even against sun light.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Detail Engines

Of course the X-foils can be spread and this is basically the area where the most savings have been implemented be using a completely different mechanism compared to older editions. On the positive side this may be the first time we actually get a mechanism that is able to fully close and at the same time allow for the thinnest possible wings. This not least of all also has to do with this new Technic brick (also see my review of the City Tractor (60284), where it was first introduced) allowing for some space-saving, yet stable construction and how it connects to the central hinge construction. This is particularly important after the much derided “only half a wing” implementation in Poe Dameron’s X-Wing Fighter (75273)

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Wings spread, Aft View

The downside to all of that is that now not only do the wings move, but the fuselage actually splits. Clever as the mechanism is, and I really have to say that as someone who did Technic for a while and also obsesses about mechanical engineering, it kind of ruins the look. The point here is of course that you have no way of attaching conventional bricks to shim over everything to disguise the internal stuff and it also makes the ship look like its twisting and warping in that area.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Wings spread, Front View

Interestingly, the whole thing does not use any rubber bands or blocking elements and the wings are solely held apart by the cumulative friction of the pins and liftarms in the compact block. It also is constructed in such a way that the wings move smoothly and symmetrically when you push the central nub on the top. On the other hand it’s not that strong that the wings would stay opened when you put down the model on its skids. Then the models own weight will take care of automatically closing the X-foils. That is more or less correct technically, but it would be nice if the user had full control. Would have made taking some of the photos a lot easier as well. 😉

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Detail Wing Mechanism

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Detail Wing Space

The mechanism is pretty much visible all around the circumference of the aft fuselage section, even from the underside. The interesting observation here is that it is basically all held together by long axles rather than bricks and the single long plate on the bottom is pretty much only one last element to counter rotational movements. Again, pretty smart, just not looking that good.

LEGO Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter (75301), Underside

Speaking of which… The wave emitters on the wingtips really annoyed me. They look okay, but where connecting stuff through axles succeeds on the wing fold mechanism it doesn’t really work here.This stuff rattles around a lot because the wheel hubs and connectors of course have pin holes, not axles holes and thus spin around happily. It’s really odd that LEGO haven’t come up with something better in all those years to avoid this. Perhaps it’s really time for a 8 L pin/ bar or something like that?


Concluding Thoughts

At the end of the day this is a somewhat odd product. I can’t quite see who it is supposed to appeal to. For more seriously minded Star Wars fans it simply lacks too many details that would make it worthwhile as a display piece to put on a shelf. As a toy for kids it would be serviceable and in fact the new wing section makes it very “swooshable” and playable while offering a lot of robustness, but then it would still be on the slightly expensive side. The old “Just buy your kid a Ninjago set!” would certainly apply as most of the models there offer more transformation features for play and you often get more figures.

Funny enough, however, the latter could still be considered the saving grace for this model as well, again more for the connoisseur rather than children. With four minifigures (or three if you count out the repetitive R2-D2) and each one of them being unique there is some decent value here. It’s just that the main sensation, the X-Wing, is not on that same level and its lackluster overall appearance leaves you unsatisfied. The most annoying thing for me is that this set simply does not rectify any of the actual issues with the Star Wars products. LEGO simply seem unwilling to fix construction problems and compromise on their cash cow.

If you have the money for it I would recommend you rather get one of the more expensive “big” X-Wing sets while they still can be found relatively easy even if they have their own flaws and quirks and then only consider this as a complementary addition to your collection later on. I feel there’s just too much left to be desired and unless you are a minifigure collector even at the lower price it doesn’t feel like money well spent. This odd empty feeling of “If only…” lingers on for a while and when you look at the model you always find new areas that feel incomplete or could be improved and then you begin to begrudge the absence of this and that extra piece that would have made things look so much nicer…

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.

V is Victory? – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, April 2021

WordPress are driving me crazy with their forced transition to the Blocks editor, so bear with me if some things look a bit wonky. As an old school WP user I’m still too much used to working within a theme’s design rules and this new-fangled stuff takes some getting used to. Anyway, here we go again with the LEGO Star Wars magazine, this time for April 2021.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2021, Cover

Unlike the wildly fictional concoctions in the last few issues, the comic is a bit more relatable again this time, depicting several encounters Yoda had/ has while roaming the forests of Dagobah. This is very akin to Luke‘s training in The Empire Strikes Back with all sorts of dangerous creatures and a force representation of Darth Vader also making an appearance. Of course there are some liberties here, but at least I like to believe that’s how it could have happened. I’m not an advocate of strict canon, but familiarity and adherence to existing the lore and rules of the Star Wars universe is always a bonus.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2021, Comic

The posters deserve praise this month. Not only are they stylistically similar to the Storm Trooper chart from last month, but also both of them are actually good. To top it off, they even tell a story with Luke and Vader facing each other as exploded minifigures. Of course the downside to that is that you will actually have to buy two magazines if you want to put up both posters in the way depicted here.

The extra is a V-Wing fighter. Don’t ask me too much, as I have yet to manage to actually consistently watch The Clone Wars and catch up with its story and details, but apparently these fighters appear quite a lot there and are kind of important. Otherwise LEGO might have glossed over them and not done several models, obviously. as far as I know this is the first time it has been done as such a mini-model, though, so it’s something new.

The build is not particularly elaborate, but seems to capture the shapes well enough. The highlight are of course the Dark Red shield tiles, which so far only have appeared in the UCS A-Wing Starfighter (75275) and the smaller LEGO Super Heroes Hulkbuster (76164) set, making them a bit of a rarity item. The same goes for the curved slope, though it isn’t quite as scarce. On top of it you get five (!) full left/ right pairs of the 2 x 4 wedge tiles in Light Bluish Grey. Not a bad yield for such a small model!

On a funny side note, I was immediately reminded of Nintendo‘s Starfox games when I accidentally whacked the vertical air foils out of alignment. The details would need some refinement, naturally, but it’s surprising how similar the fighters look.

On the whole this is a fantastic issue providing some good value. A decent comic, some superb posters and a model that despite its simplicity looks cool. what more can you ask for? The only thing where it falls short is the activities/ puzzles, which are few and far inbetween…

Ol’ Black Eye is here – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, November 2020

The November issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine has been awaited by many fans with a mixture of child-like giddiness and at the same time almost unhealthy obsessiveness. the reason? Of course the minifigure! So lets see what the fuss is all about.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, November 2020, Cover

As someone who doesn’t proactively collect minifigs I’m always half surprised, half glad that this insanity passes me by. I may occasionally get lucky and have a rare figure from a set whose value I only find out after the fact, but otherwise I don’t care much. One thing I did notice, however, is that the Betrayal at Cloud City (75222) was quite rubbish, yet contained a bunch of the little dudes and dudettes that people were keen on. One of them is what people simply call “Bespin Luke”, a.k.a. a slightly beaten up Luke Skywalker ready to face off with Darth Vader. As you might have guessed, the combination of a shitty, but expensive set and few people actually buying it made this figure a scarce and costly, yet highly coveted thing.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, November 2020, MinifigureNow suddenly none of this matters anymore, as indeed the exact same minifigure is what you get with the magazine. A move to screw over collectors who had previously bought it for a lot of money? Likely not, as the figure is also included in the exclusive Bespin Duel (75294) set specifically made for Star Wars Celebration. After that went only virtual due to this year’s pandemic, said package was shortly available through Amazon US only. That caused a lot of people from other regions to go into a frenzy to at least re-brick this set if they couldn’t import an original one from the limited edition (good luck with sourcing the grey fork, though).

See how everything comes full circle? Clearly LEGO have recently producing a ton of those little Lukes. To some this will be tragic, devaluing their collection, for others, and I dare say the majority of fans, this is and extremely lucky thing. Of course inevitably some people have already been overdoing it, buying up whole stacks of the magazine and hoarding it, but that’s part of the insanity. In any case the figure is done well enough and even I was surprised how much of a difference it makes among the other versions I have with blond hair and white clothes.

The rest of the magazine doesn’t offer anything extraordinary, though. The Han-Solo-centric comic is okay, but otherwise this is one of those issues that feel oddly “light” in the content department. the puzzles are ridiculously simple and they kinda ruined the one poster that would have been acceptable, the one with the Mandalorian and The Child, with too fat and ugly type work. So really not much to see and it’s indeed all about the minifigure, after all…

October Triangle – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, October 2020

Blue Ocean‘s release scheduling this year has really taken a hit, if not to say it sucks. they were still advertising September 12th as the release date in their other magazines when it was past that already and it became clear that the LEGO Star Wars magazine would be out only one week later.

Now these things happen – a print run may go wrong, distribution logistics may get stuck somewhere and all that – but this hasn’t been the first time. Worse yet, in a day and age where there’s Facebook and other social media and they have their own web site, too, they can’t manage to keep them updated in a timely fashion to inform customers. I certainly don’t need the unnecessary excitement and uncertainty of going to the news agent every other day and coming back empty-handed. Now that it’s here, though, let’s have a look at the October issue.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Cover

The main comic is weird. Aside from being utterly non-canonical, would anyone actually believe that Vader could not be recognized posing as an imperial officer? It’s not bad from a technical or stylistic viewpoint, mind you, just not a great story. The second, shorter comic is somehow of lesser quality and displays Luke‘s original X-Wing that isn’t even available as a LEGO model currently, while on another “info” page Poe Dameron‘s fighter is shown. Confuses me!

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Comic

There is extremely little in the mag in the way of activities and puzzles, with all of them being mazes/ labyrinths of sorts to find your way. It took me under three minutes to solve them in my head without even tracing the lines. Definitely underwhelming even if you account for a kid’s less developed spatial awareness and acuity.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Poster

The posters aren’t good, either. the one on the back has this weird Yoda silhouette with the characters peeking through and the front one, as displayed here, fails because someone went crazy with Photoshop‘s lightning filter. Kylo Ren‘s kintsugy-style repaired mask is of course iconic and I get what they were aiming for, but this once again looks like a sloppy intern job.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Extra LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Extra

The highlight of the issue and its saving grace is once more the buildable model, this time a Sith Eternal TIE Dagger. Fancy names aside, it is basically the TIE Fighter that never really was, because, as I wrote in my film review back then, it isn’t even that important or prominently featured in the The Rise of Skywalker movie. Further indication of its limited relevance is that there isn’t even a concept drawing/ cutaway in one of the The Art of Star Wars… books. It really feels like an afterthought with no rhyme or reason simply because they wanted something in their movie nobody had seen before, only to then relegate it to the background.

For comparison I took a snapshot of the small version with the bigger model from set 75272 that I won in this building contest a few months ago. The value of the small model lies in the new 4 x 2 and 6 x 4 wedge plates only recently introduced. I had the Medium Azure version of the smaller plates in this Speed Champion set already, but getting a bunch of black ones may turn out much more useful. I could see them being used as spires for towers or similar pointy, sharp stuff already.

Anyway, you get eight of the smaller plates (four left, four right) and two each of the larger ones, so this is a good basis and a simple way to obtain some examples just in case you might need them if like me you are not privy to having the big set (where there’s a ton of those plates, including the red versions of course).

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Comparison

This issue is not great by any stretch of the imagination. It leaves a lot to be desired and even the model would be just the umpteenth micro scale TIE Fighter if it weren’t for the new parts. Perhaps I’m really getting too old and jaded, but it seems to me that they need to shake up the formula a little, even more so considering how many adults actually read the mag. The insistence on pretending this was primarily still for kids feels more and more out of alignment with reality to me…