Mando Unknown – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, August 2022

The current weather conditions really make it hard to even get some simple things done as one just wants to be a lazy slob in that summer heat. That’s why I’m three days late with my review of the latest LEGO Star Wars magazine for August 2022. Had it floating around, but just wasn’t in any way feeling energized enough to actually cobble together an article. Anyway, on to the good stuff.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2022, Cover

The main comic is once again one of those odd ones with otherwise stern characters clowning around. This time it’s Palpatine making a scene. Whether that’s up your alley is entirely up to you, but at least it’s drawn well enough. No real poster bait panels that stand out, though.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2022, Comic

The second comic ties in with the extra as usual and has some Mandalorians dukeing it out in mid-air powered by their jet packs. I wonder what that could mean? ­čśë

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2022, Comic

The poster has Boba Fett sit on the throne at formerly Jabba‘s palace as is apparently part of The Book of Boba Fett mini series’s story arc. The back has C3PO and R2-D2 running from some Jawas and escaping their Sandcrawler.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2022, Poster

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2022, MinifigureAs you would have guessed from my tongue-in-cheek comment earlier, of course we’re getting a minifigure. That makes two in a row after Darth Maul in the last issue. The figure is simply called Mandalorian Loyalist and it’s from the Mandalorian Starfighter (75316) set. This was introduced last year to mixed reception and apparently hasn’t been selling that well, not least of all due to limited distribution, so it’s earmarked to be EOL‘d. That makes it even better to be able to get the minifig on the cheap in this magazine and not having to resort to buying an expensive, yet unattracticve package. How generic the little guy is meant to be can be gleaned from the fact that he doesn’t even have a face, just an unprinted black head under the helmet. The Uzi style blasters seem to have a bit of a renaissance lately and have been in several sets, but it’s always good to have more.

Overall this is an okay issue, but as someone who isn’t collecting minifigures the value is of course limited. That’s why I’m already looking forward to the next issue that will have a buildable vessel from the vast selection of space ships in the Star Wars universe again…

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 ÔÇ×CarboniteÔÇť 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

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

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

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2022, Cover

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

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2022, Comic

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

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2022, Comic

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

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2022, Poster

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

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