For me Star Wars at best remains a peripheral interest and most LEGO sets of that series therefore don’t interest me that much, but every now and then there comes one along that you just can’t pass on. The Escape Pod vs. Dewback (75228) set, in the Microfighters sub-line no less is exactly that, so let’s explore the reasons.
Apparently the Microfighters are limited by their scale, so the models are pretty hit & miss and their attractiveness depends hugely on the chosen subject and how well it can be represented with the limited number of parts available. Some of them are actually quite good, others not so much. This particular set falls most definitely in the first category, as it’s genuinely well-executed.
A strong argument to that effect can already be made since it’s a dual set. Those usually are a bit more generous in terms of parts allotment, so the models tend to look slightly more realistic to begin with. Here this is further helped by the choice of subjects – a small escape pod and an equally relatively small animal. Unlike sets where e.g. huge Star Destroyers are represented with only a bunch of elements and all the finer details are mostly left to your imagination, here you actually get something you can recognize and work with.
The minifigures in this set are not really that noteworthy except for the Stormtrooper. C3PO and R2D2 are just the plain garden variety you may have seen a hundred times over the years and which are and have been included in so many sets, magazines and books that you may already have a storage box full of them, assuming you bought other LEGO Star Wars stuff ever. The Stormtrooper/ Sandtrooper, aside from the fact that you can never have enough of them, stands out in that it uses the latest version of the helmet and has a unique print of sand/ dirt patterns, distinguishing it from other troopers.
The escape pod is – shall we say – a very loose and liberal interpretation of the genuine article from the Star Wars – A new Hope movie, but a far cry from an exact replica. The funny thing is, to me at least the much bigger-looking engine exhausts look way better than they would if this were a more realistic rendition. The front section on the other hand somehow just doesn’t feel right. As a minor I would have hoped they use a larger cone for the nose so it doesn’t look as stubby.
The construction of the pod uses a conventional “rocket” style method where the round plates and other elements are simply stacked and then tilted on the side pretty much as you would expect. This keeps the overall build simple and quick, taking only a few minutes. The downside is that you basically have to completely create your own design from scratch for anything else. There’s just no built-in flexibility where you could do trivial things as just leaving off a brick to expand the available space the lady would just fall apart. The kids won’t mind, though. There are also a few parts highlights like the silver roller skates that should be useful.
The highlight of the set and no doubt the main reason for many buyers is the Dewback that comes as a fully buildable figure instead of a solid custom mold. this provides an interesting challenge and extends the building fun. Additional incentive is provided by the many Sand Green parts, some of which haven’t been available in this color until last year (the wedge plate with cut corner) or not been re-released in a long time in this same color (the inverted slopes). Especially if you are into buildings, creating patinated roofs, sculptures and the like or just generally like to use this color this will be super useful. I also love the 3 x 2 jumper plates in Reddish Brown.
The one thing that is amiss with the Dewback is its size. It very much looks like a baby version of the creature. This isn’t so much an issue of the scale not hitting that magic minifigure threshold nor is it that the Sandtrooper would look excessively oversized in relation to the beast, it’s more a case of the whole thing just looking way too cute due to its compact proportions and large eyes. I genuinely think it therefore should have been about one-third larger to at least somewhat mitigate that perception. In particular the body should look more bulky and be longer while the small head is probably okay.
In its entirety the set is lovely, though. It’s fun to build and when you are done, you actually feel like you have something nice to play with or put on the shelf. Personally I would have preferred a bit of a different spin with the escape pod being half-buried in sand and a group of troopers standing around with two of the Dewbacks, which probably also would have made more sense story-wise (as in the movie the robots and the search party never meet). It might also have better justified the MSRP of around 20 Euro, as at least to me R2D2 and C3PO simply don’t count because they have been so over-used. More Sandtroopers would simply have been cooler and more useful. Luckily you can get this set for around 14 Euro in many online shops and that’s absolutely okay, so this is a definite recommendation.