The Not-X-Wing – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, November 2021

This months LEGO Star Wars magazine brings back memories in that it comes with a small A-Wing in the style of the one from The Rise of Skywalker‘s end battle, but more on that later.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, November 2021, Cover

The primary comic starts out well this time. It’s not Vader making himself look like a fool but rather a ghostly Yoda playing pranks in a number of ways. This nicely fits with his somewhat mischievous nature, which regrettably is totally underplayed in the latest movie trilogy, where he comes across as much too stern. Seeing him be his little trickster self is indeed much more enjoyable. Since he’s merely projecting his Force Ghost, we also get to see a number of different locations, which also helps to make this interesting.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, November 2021, Comic

The second, three pages short comic as usual ties in with the extra, i.e. the A-Wing, but surprisingly enough it depicts the wrong one, that being the version with the Dark Red trim from the original movies and having come out as a large scale UCS model last year.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, November 2021, Comic

The puzzles are once more not much worth of a mention and neither is the first poster, which looks kind of amateurish with the sand not having been properly dusted off the minifigures. At least it proves that it likely is a real photograph with the actual figures from The Bad Batch Attack Shuttle (75314) set. The second poster on the back is more to my taste, taking clues from the character posters from The Force Awakens onward.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, November 2021, Poster

As already mentioned, this edition contains a miniature rendition of the Resistance A-Wing Starfighter (75248) I reviewed last year. The limitations I laid out back then still apply, of course – A-Wings, while slick in appearance don’t make for the most interesting models. This small one isn’t half bad, though, be it just for mixing up the build formula for these things compared to this other one.

This version comes with a few special pieces, if you wanna call it that. One of them is the small 1 x 1 rounded “dome” slope in Dark Bluish Grey, which so far only has appeared in the Story of Nian (80106) and the other are two 1 x 3 tiles in Dark Green. Both these elements aren’t rare, but also not available in abundance, thus a bit more costly on Bricklink, so it never hurts to get a few extra on the cheap just by buying this magazine.

Overall this is a pretty solid issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine and is fun enough even for adults. Definitely a recommendation this time!

Ketchup Trooper – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, August 2021

This month feels like it has passed particularly quickly and so here we are already again with the latest LEGO Star Wars magazine for August.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2021, Cover

The comics are again a bit of an acquired taste as it’s back to weird clownery by the evil guys, this time Kylo Ren and Palpatine, and mixing scenarios from different episodes and eras of Star Wars. It’s a bit odd that they keep doing that, as Blue Ocean actually recently did their own survey which indicated that around 44% of all of their magazines are read by adults. I would bet this number is even higher for this one. So perhaps they really need to “grow up”, shift the target age range towards adolescents and grown-ups and stick to canon?

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2021, Comic

Anyway, the comics are not bad stylistically and the secondary one provides a comical, though rather low-brow and predictable explanation as to why Sith Troopers wear red armor. Sandwiched inbetween the two comics are of course a few other pages with puzzles, games, reader feedback and so on, but really nothing special. The games may occupy two pages at times, but ultimately they are still simple “find the way” puzzles, not demanding trivia quizzes.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2021, Comic

At least one of the posters could have been pretty good, the main one depicted here, but I feel that they went a bit overboard with the vignette/ darkening effect. It very much sucks out the life of everything. Even the lightsabers aren’t really glowing. If I were to put it up I’d likely at least cut off a bit of the dark areas to make it pop a little more.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2021, Poster

The minifigures are a case of old meeting the new with the Finn character being a version included e.g. in the Jakku Quadjumper (75178), one of the first sets I reviewed here on this blog. The Sith Trooper on the other hand is from last year’s eponymous battle pack (75266). As always with these things, the value of these figures to you personally will depend on what you have in mind and how much you are a fan of a given Star Wars film. Since The Rise of Skywalker wasn’t that popular with fans, though, I doubt there’s that much demand for additional red troopers, either.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, August 2021, Minifigures

This issue is a bit of a wild ride again and doesn’t have a recognizable through-line nor does it boast anything extraordinary that you shouldn’t miss. As such it will still provide a bit of diversion on the beach during your summer holiday and the sand may even tempt you into re-playing some Jakku scenes, but overall you’re not missing much. Nothing to lose sleep about if you should be unable to obtain this item while away from home…

November TIE-Up

Nobody likes price hikes, so the November issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine now costing 4.20 Euro instead of the previous 3.99 was not a pleasant surprise at the newsstand. As long as there is some good value attached that 5 percent increase would acceptable, though, so let’s see if that does add up.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, November 2019, Cover

For me this is determined primarily by the parts included in the mini build and I have to say it’s pretty good this time around. There of course have been any number of small scale TIE Fighters already and one would think that this subject has been done to death, but the one included with the mag surprises with yet another novel approach. That is in particular how the large cooling panels (a.k.a. wings) are attached inverted by ways of the new T-style brackets. Logically then on a symmetrical model you get two of those. To somewhat cover up the now exposed undersides of the plates you also get four inverted tiles and it never hurts to have those, either, be it just to make your model undersides scratch-proof to prevent damage while the are standing on your table. all nice stuff to have from a builder’s perspective.

The comics don’t tie in with a specific story line from the movies and thus function independently, with clear references to The Force Awakens and The Empire Strike Back, however. They’re both drawn in the new, more dynamic style and here’s hoping that this will be the new norm. The posters are also pretty good and I’m almost tempted to put up the first order pilots one just for giggles. If you care remember there is a commercial, quite similar poster out there and it could be funny to have them side by side. The games and puzzles feel a bit light in this issue. I admittedly have no idea how long a simplistic dice-based strategy game with only a handful of planets to conquer can keep your kids distracted, though…

September Trooper

With the magic 50th issue in August, the race up to the next fifty is now on with the September edition of the LEGO Star Wars magazine.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, September 2019, Cover

To celebrate that anniversary, belated as it may be, someone figured it might be a good idea to include a Stormtrooper minifigure. People are clamoring for this all the time and this seems to be so much in demand, they likely could bundle another variant with every second issue without the subject ever being covered to the point of getting stale. In this instance it’s not the “cool one”, though, with it actually being a First Order version rather than one from the original first movies, which most aficionados still prefer.

Still, not a bad move if you have bought any of the sets for one of the movies in the last three or four years and want to bolster your troops. In fact I would predict that quite a few people will buy more than one copy of the mag. With those figures being in such high demand everywhere, prices on Bricklink are not necessarily cost-effective to build larger line-ups and in the end the math could add up, even if paying 4 Euro for a figure may seem steep at first.

The rest of the magazine once more is indicative of the meandering back and forth between “barely acceptable” to “okay” to “almost good” in terms of the quality of the comics, posters and puzzles, all very apparently depending on which team took responsibility for any given month. This one falls in the upper half of this range and therefore isn’t that bad. I always like it when in particular the puzzles are reasonably complex and not dumbed down as if only three-year-olds read the mag.

Failed Jump – 75178

While I’ll always be a mostly Technic LEGO guy, it gets boring at times, especially in light of the recent run of rather mediocre Technic sets. That’s why it’s nice to deviate and explore other branches from time to time for a bit of variety.

Now I’m a Star Wars fan as much as the next guy, but don’t consider myself one of those über-nerds. I appreciate the original movies, but never got fully hooked, just like I consider the prequel trilogy a guilty pleasure for some of its ideas and I even found myself watching Clone Wars and Rebels occasionally on TV. Still, none of that was ever so important to me that I couldn’t have lived without it. Only the recent movies under Disney‘s reign have invigorated my interest in Star Wars as a whole and while you could endlessly debate their Pros and Cons, you have to at least give props to that.

Inevitably of course LEGO always follows suit and churns out kits for every new movie or series to the point where the ideas are so paper-thin and repetitive, it gets in itself boring. That makes it difficult for occasional builders like me to find some good affordable models that are not based on just lumping together a ton of angled black or grey panels. For me being ever conscious about cost out of necessity it’s also an important point that the sets contain parts that could possibly be re-used for later projects and add something new to the collection.

In this case the many cylindrical parts, the fins and several silvery parts fitted the bill and thus I opted for the Jakku Quadjumper (75178) from The Force Awakens.

This particular spacecraft is of course barely seen in the movie itself – it only stands around in the background at Unkar Plutt‘s scrapyard and then is immediately is shot down as Finn and Rey try to reach it as a means of escape. This makes it difficult to judge who realistic it is, but some concept art seems to confirm that within the expected limitations it is a fair rendition. It of course makes almost no sense engineering-wise – those four engines would be real fuel-guzzlers, yet the ship is way too small to hold any notable quantities of propellant – but that’s a different matter entirely.

The set contains the aforementioned movie characters as minifigures plus some generic baddie only described as Unkar‘s henchman, a Stormtrooper and of course BB-8. I don’t have too much use for them, but who knows? If I wait long enough they might be worth a few pennies one of these days.

Construction of the model is pretty straightforward since you essentially build all sub-assemblies separately and then just plug them on to the central cabin part via simple pin connections that match the holes in the cylindrical parts. The center piece is intentionally scruffy looking with parts in multiple colors, but in my opinion it could have looked better had they opted to build the model at a larger scale. It’s also very crammed, furthering the impression that this thing could never actually fly.

The glass canopy and doors/ lids in the front and rear can be opened, though personally I don’t think it makes much sense in terms of realism nor am I friends with those ratcheted mini-hinges. Same as before – if it were larger it would have looked more believable. this theme also continues on the undercarriage, which is just an affair of flat bricks and tiles instead of at least being a bit on stilts/ hydraulic pistons.

My pet peeve is the ugly ball knob that drives a lever as a means of pushing off the upper two engines. Sort of an emergency jettison system, if you get the idea. It works okay, but isn’t particularly convincing. It probably should be spring-loaded and then you could use a simple tap release to have the parts jump away in a snazzy fashion. Yet another of those things that might be worth some re-engineering effort one day.

The engine nacelles are really just a bunch of different cylindrical parts stacked together and then capped off with the silver wheel hubs. The details are again attached via pins, micro-hinges and some SNOT converters, which is sufficient, but not very sturdy. You can even see this in part on the photos – just accidentally touching some parts will misalign them.

This being my first Star Wars-ian model, after all, I’m not as dissatisfied as it may sound, just not perfectly happy, either. This is a nice compact model that can be assembled, handled and stowed away easily, which my LEGO side likes a lot, I just don’t feel that my Star Wars side would see it the same way if I were a “pure” collector.

Most notably the scale is too small to really capture the proportions and allow for a more robust construction, which in turn also might have made for some increased play value by ways of a larger aft bay and cockpit. Not that it’s particularly critical, given that the spacecraft doesn’t even have any significant role in the movie. It’s just that one can’t help but feel that at least for enthusiasts that wanted a good replica of the genuine article it could have been approached differently…