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…

Another Star Wars Dollhouse

Ah, LEGO… *sigh* While the rumour mill is always in swing and makes the Internet tick, it seems lately many of those turn out to be true – and usually not in a good way. After the Vestas Wind Turbine (10268) it now seems that some people’s guessing game hit bullseye once more with Darth Vader’s Castle (75251). Images can be for instance found here and elsewhere of course.

Unfortunately the set continues the trend of toy-ish Star Wars sets and indeed is more like Cloud City than a genuine UCS model as everyone hoped it would be. It looks nothing like the imposing architecture you briefly get to see in Rogue One, but rather just a tiny crammed guard tower. At least they kept the lava fall (since this is allegedly on Mustafa to remind Anakin/ Vader of his origins and form a spiritual connection to the place), but aside from the overall shape and recognizing a few details like the isolation chamber and Bacta tank there’s really not much there. They also included a hint at the hidden Sith shrine and Holocron at least, though.

Once more LEGO can only be described as being out of their minds with the price – 130 Euros for only slightly above 1000 pieces isn’t exactly a bargain even. Many of them being larger items the build is going to go rather fast and you probably won’t feel like you get your money’s worth. The minifigures aren’t much to write home about, either, so this would be tough to justify as a purchase. The only thing that really gives this some air of exclusivity is that you can only get it on Amazon and of course in LEGO‘s own shops/ online store, now that Toys’R’Us has fallen off the cart for that kind of thing, but otherwise this strikes me as a rather mundane set where the hype around it doesn’t live up to the actual content.

A non-UCS Cloud City

Remember when a few weeks ago I wrote that LEGO Star Wars is in deep shit? That same pile of manure just got even deeper with the official announcement of the Betrayal at Cloud City (75222) set. Everybody expected it, everybody wanted it and now everybody is disappointed by it. Yupp, that’s pretty much the unanymous reaction of 90 percent of users.

Aside from the fact that 350 Euros is just plain crazy for a 2800 pieces set, when just a week ago they released a 6000 pieces set for 400 Euros (Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle (71043)), the major letdown is the toyish quality. Similar to the Death Star (75159) it’s a puppet house style arrangement of rooms, featuring little vignettes that depict scenes from The Empire Strikes Back. That would be terrible for an Ultimate Collectors Series (UCS) model to begin with, but the people at Promobricks have corrected and commented their post, citing it as the first set of a new Master Builder series – as if this changes anything. It still is pretty lame and terrible. Many others feel the same, but I’ll leave it to you and your favorite YouTube channels and news sites to make up your mind based on more info.

Since LEGO seems to be subscribed to irony these days, it isn’t missing from this release either. Many of the details would make wonderful sets people would buy on their own because they’d exactly be what they want – reasonably priced sets with an acceptable number of parts resulting in a good rendition of the scenes and vehicles. I myself could totally get behind the Slave I for instance und would be willing to spend 30 Euros on it or something like that. However, with these items now being part of this large set this isn’t going to happen and both parties lose in the process. LEGO isn’t going to see any cash from this crowd.

It will of course sell to other people like desperate parents and relatives looking for an expensive Christmas present for their kids once a year. Perhaps you might even come across some younglings who bug their caregivers about it, though perhaps not for reasons one may think. To them it will be just one huge play set independent of all this Star Wars stuff. Whether or not this even will get them hooked and turn them into genuine fans is anyone’s guess.

Overall I think this is another big miss for LEGO. I just don’t see who this is supposed to address other than people with too much money who buy every set, anyway, or the aforementioned special cases. Most critically it spectacularly fails at reconnecting people with the original Star Wars saga and it won’t do much to rekindle the enthusiasm for those old movies, which by all means it could have and should have done at least.

It could have been the perfect gateway drug to get people enthused for more sets, if you want to put it that way and take this cheap attitude towards the whole affair. Still, even that is now called into question and instead people will be even more careful in what sets they invest their money. Total marketing disaster? I surely think so, but that’s just me, of course…