Steamrolling into Autumn – LEGO City Magazine, October 2022

Blue Ocean really caught me on the wrong foot. Just when I was ready to ditch the LEGO City magazine for good, they start bundling them up with interesting extras that I can’t resist. So here we are again with the October 2022 issue and a very positive surprise.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, Cover

First things first, though. The comic is what it is – it’s certainly the most interesting across al those magazines in terms of how the visual style has evolved, but the stories really are for the 5+ generation and the flat jokes and repetitions just don’t land with me.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, Comic

The safety and security transgressions in this issue alone would make any building site’s supervisor hair stand on end. I also don’t quite get why we still have to put up with American style hard hats in for a European magazine. It seems like LEGO really need to fix this and create a new mold. It just seems weird, especially when they appear in mass like here.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, Comic

The posters are okay and at least have a sense of visual clarity and communicating their intent, not just being lumped together excuses. The frontal lighting on the one with the steamroller is a bit odd, though. Like they shot it in a studio and not on a construction site.

LEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, PosterLEGO Magazine, City, October 2022, ExtraNow for the goodie, the steamroller itself in miniature form. I so friggin’ love it! When I saw it on last month’s preview page I had to giggle. This is just cool. It makes good use of the 3 x 3 cylinder piece that came out last year and even better, you get four of them without having to buy e.g. a Star Wars X-Wing or similar where they are used as part of jet engine exhausts or intakes. That alone is some decent value and overall the vehicle just looks cute and believable. If they had thrown in some of these discs to cover the ends it would have been perfect. I guess they just didn’t want to go through the trouble, as it would also have required 7L axles and some extra 2 x 2 plates to offset the side skirts holding them. Anyway, it’s still pretty good even without that. I just had so much fun crunching up some cookie crumbs on the coffee table! ­čÖé

Of course this edition wouldn’t be much without the extra and it’s the major selling point. If I as an old guy can have fun with it, then your kids can definitely have it, too. I seriously recommend this issue for that reason alone.

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┬ádie-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 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

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. ­čśë

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…

Aerial Battle Fun – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, July 2021

The summer heat has waned off a bit this week and things have become a bit more enjoyable, despite me still feeling like a lazy slob a lot of the time. At least the various LEGO magazines arrive on schedule, so let’s see what the latest edition of the Star Wars version has in store.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2021, Cover

Jumping right in with the comics, we get a quite epic aerial battle between some TIE Fighters and X-Wings in the main one and the Millenium Falcon is involved, too. It’s still a bit weird and not adhering to the main canon very well, but still way better than those weird Vader stories. It’s also visually very pleasing with lots of nice blue sky shades, but at the same time the panels not looking empty as I criticized for one of the Jurassic World magazines not so long ago.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2021, Comic

The second comic takes a play at the training scenes with Rey and BB-8 at the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker and is equally acceptable, not just because it serves as the tie-in for the extra, which of course are our two protagonists in minifigure format.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2021, Comic

I’m just gonna say it: The posters are both terrible. It’s what I call uninspired hack jobs. One is cobbled together from existing stock photos. Nothing wrong with that and people do it all the time, but you can literally see that exactly zero effort went into it. Even I could probably bash this together in five minutes. They could at least have properly layered and color corrected the “ghost” overlay instead of just reducing opacity. The backside poster doesn’t fare much better. Though graphical in nature and playing with the idea of a brick mosaic, it just doesn’t look good.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2021, Poster

That being the case, I wish they had used the wimmelpicture instead and ideally as an XXL print at that. The shameless promotion for the Mos Eisley Cantina (75290) and a few other sets aside, it has some interesting and funny details and would look gorgeous as a decently oversize poster. There’s always the chance they may do so in the future, of course, so not all hope is in vain.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2021, Wimmelpicture

The minifigures of Rey and BB-8 at this point feel like clearing leftovers from their stockpile. The funny thing is that  the movie may be only one and a half year in the past, but it already feels like an eternity, yet at the same time it’s to early to celebrate any anniversary and anyone who bought several of the sets is probably sitting on piles of Reys. Surprisingly the BB-8 has a decent value, though, as this new version with the larger eye has not been in that many sets. At the same time, my old version with the smaller eye which I got kind of accidentally with this set seems to be equally coveted. At least it’s rather pricey on Bricklink. Go, figure!

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, July 2021, Extra

All things considered this is an okay issue, but it doesn’t make the globe spin faster. I’m particularly miffed that some good ideas were not used and for the extra they could at least have thrown in one of them palm leaves and a Dark Tan plate or something to create a little patch of the training jungle and make it more enticing. With that in mind, a lot of people are already much more excited about the next issue, which will include a Sith Trooper and as usual some people have already vowed to buy it in bulk… We’ll see how that works out!

2020 – A Space Tragedy – LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904)

Today we are going to have a look at a set that most of us actually never will get their hands on as a real, packaged set in a nice printed box. This is of course due to the specifics how the LEGO Star Wars Nebulon-B Frigate (77904) came into existence and the circumstances surrounding its limited availability. So without further ado, let’s have a look at what brought us here.

LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904), Front Left View

The Haves and the Have-Nots

When it comes to this set there is a huge divide between those that were lucky enough to get an original package, those who didn’t and the large rest of the community, whose only option is to rebrick it from scratch. I belong to the latter, pretty obviously, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the matter, regardless.

Originally intended as an exclusive only sold on-site at what was supposed to be this year’s San Diego Comic Con, inevitably there were ever only going to be limited numbers of this set out there. This has been the case with other sets in the past years as well, and while it always has rubbed me the wrong way not having access to them, I was mostly fine with that, given that they were small sets that would, though fun to rebrick, not necessarily be something I would go crazy about. that and of course that without the equally exclusive minifigures just rebuilding them would not have the same value. I may not like it, but I do get the mechanics of a “collectors” market, if you get my meaning. However, with the Nebulon-B Frigate things were a bit different and perhaps that why things went sour so quickly when due to the Corona pandemic things changed.

With Comic Con being cancelled, but the sets already produced (due to the long-ish lead-in times required for manufacturing and logistics), LEGO had to look for a different way of distribution and wouldn’t you know it – sadly all too predictably they did so in the most stupid and moronic fashion possible. They only distributed it through their own web shop and Amazon – both times only in the US, apparently. So far, so good. However, what then aggravated many American fans even was the way it was handled: There were no clear dates of availability announced, so people never knew if and when they could actually order their copy, yet somehow scalpers managed to order sets in bulk off Amazon long before. Similar things happened on the LEGO online store, where the set appeared out of nowhere for one day and was quickly sold out.

See where this is going? Yes, many fans ended up empty-handed and even YouTubers like Jangbricks rightfully criticized how this was handled, as even he struggled to get a box for his reviews. As a result, this ended up being a situation of those who have an d those who haven’t and everyone was jealous of their neighbor who was lucky enough to snatch a package. This situation could probably not have been entirely avoided, given what the product was originally intended for, but it certainly could have been mitigated with better planning and communication, leaving a lot more potential buyers a whole lot less frustrated. In fact one wonders why LEGO themselves didn’t deal with this better, given that it caused quite a shitstorm of bad PR for them.

To rebrick or not to rebrick, that is the question!

Things being what they are, most would-be customers that might have bought the set were faced with the question of either buying it for a whole lot of money from them scalpers or rebricking it from scratch using their own parts. This is usually a tough decision, as rebricking a set can be many times more costly than the original package. This in particular happens when a set contains specific minifigures, rare parts or rare color variants of a piece and you have to scrape things together from multiple sources, including expensive additional purchases from Bricklink and similar sites.

However, fret not! Surprisingly, rebricking this set is quite affordable. German site did the math using LEGO‘s official Bricks & Pieces service and arrived at a total cost of around 55 Euro. This may change a bit depending on where you live and what exchange rates are for your own country’s currency, but all things considered this is not bad and a far cry from the insane amounts of money I feared this would cost. This is perfectly manageable even on a limited budget and even I might have considered it, despite my reluctance to ever even rebrick official sets or build other people’s MOCs. Also the set does not contain any minifigure at all, so you don’t have to go out there and buy expensive old figures just to kit-bash/ fig-barf together that Rebel officer that might have been included.

However, what really won me over despite my usual reluctance to rebrick official sets or build other people’s MOCs, is the fact that I knew that I had a considerable number of pieces already in my repository, including some more elusive ones like e.g. the new binoculars/ droid head┬áand the single (!) grey skeleton foot I had. Funny enough, after those last few years my buying weird Friends sets and LEGO magazines seems to have paid off at least a little. Knowing that I could get about┬á 70 percent of the way soothed my nerves and made the whole operation viable.

Going through my boxes and picking out sometimes tiny parts was still a pain in the butt, though. It costs a lot of time to sort this stuff into their little partitions and then just as long to fish them out using tweezers when they hide in that corner you can’t get your fingers in. In addition I still had to order some elements, most notably a bunch of those brackets in Dark Bluish Gray. I have tons of them in other colors, but LEGO only did the darker grey version in some sets last year, none of which I had bought. I also threw in some other items such as a bunch of studs and the Fez cones for the engine exhausts (had a few from the Hidden Side Ghost Firetruck 3000 [70436], apparently, but not enough), but nothing too dramatic.

For other items I decided right out of the gate to substitute colors or not bother about any of that, because they either wouldn’t be visible at all or the different colors would not affect the overall appearance. I did so after carefully studying the digital instructions and in fact later during the build realized that I could have taken this even further. For instance many of the Dark Tan 1 x 2 plates are merely used as fill elements underneath other pieces and you can basically use any color your have at hand. You only need to go with the original suggestion for a handful of locations where they are genuinely visible and help to convey that rusty, slightly rugged look.

Some elements I would have liked to replace, but things didn’t coalesce in a favorable way, meaning mostly I would have had to waste another 10 Euro on shipping costs on buying a few tiny pieces from another Bricklink seller, so I didn’t. One such piece are the many 1 x 1 teeth elements used to hint at streamlined coverings, hatches and protrusions. I used the Pearl Silver ones I had in many places instead of the Light Bluish Grey version, the latter of which – you guessed it – is kind of rare and thus not readily available in sufficient quantities with every of my favorite parts dealers. I might fix this at a later point, though.

The Model

After my long-winded ponderings let’s have a look at the actual model for a change. What can I say? I think it’s beautiful in every way and manages to hit the right balance between looking like an adequate representation of the original, capturing the scale and proportions and yet still recognizably looking like a LEGO model. Hard to say what exactly it is, but it simply looks very elegant with its long center beam section and the greebly surface.

LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904), Front Left View

Some of the elegance of course has to do with color choices. The original, while not exactly flamboyant and mostly a flat grey, has a few colorful areas, but the model designers instead opted to give it a classic “paper” look and pretty much keep everything in Light Bluish Grey, with a few Dark Bluish Grey and Dark Tan highlights peeking out here and there. This no doubt has to do with a) LEGO not having all the correct colors in their portfolio, anyway and b) the so-called “scale effect” where colors despite technically being exact matches look different on differently sized objects. More to the point it seems they realized that going with those greens, yellows and browns sprinkled in that you can find on the original movie models things would have gotten too noisy and distracting. I’m also pretty sure they even tried this out on their prototypes and it looked kind of wrong.

LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904), Aft Left View

With that in mind, it’s clear that the appearance is defined by the surface structure much more than actual colors and to that effect they essentially throw every small part (and the kitchen sink) into the ring. There’s a ton of 1 x 1 studs and modified plates, similar 1 x 2 plates and tiles, including the ingot piece as well as some of the weirder stuff I already mentioned. Additionally, there is a considerable number of tiles, slopes and jumper plates and some of them have only come out in the last two years, so no matter how you skin it, this model couldn’t even have been done in this way, shape and form until recently. I guess one could say they had all the pieces in place (no pun intended) just at the right time.

LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904), Aft Right View

The model itself is around 30 cm long and about 20 cm tall. In terms of scale it fits what in the model ship building sphere would be the 1/350th or 1/400th scales, meaning every detail would be pretty tiny and thus simplifications and creating the illusion of geometry with light and shadow are common techniques. Thankfully this set does not have any prints or special stickers to take this even further, or else rebricking it would have been even more of a pain. Could have been cool, though, to have some numbers, badges and squadron insignia as well as perhaps some tiny dots for the windows on some elements.

LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904), Front Right View

Despite the model looking relatively straightforward, building it isn’t always that simple. The most obvious limitation is that you are often dealing with very long, but also very thin parts just one stud wide. This means that handling is delicate and things are not always as stable as you would like. This is in particular the case with the forward section, which uses a lot of 1 x 1 bricks with studs on the sides that are stacked into small towers and then only stabilize once you add the plates on the sides. It’s not a big deal, given that this is a display model and some fragility has to be expected, but some attention and care is required. I had some of these bits fall off a number of times.

LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904), Detail Front, Top View LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904), Detail Front, Bottom View

With regards to the many smaller elements it pays off if you spend a little time orienting the pieces so they have uniform and straight gaps and run in parallel or perpendicular to the edges and surface they are aligned to. I’m sure I still missed quite a few, but it really helps or else your model can look pretty crooked. On the other hand there some limits to this with many elements literally only hanging on on stud and thus remaining movable later. I also was particularly irked by the slope pieces used to shape the upper deck of the rear section not fitting as close together as I would have liked. That’s one of the areas I might have constructed differently if this were my own MOC. Of course that’s always easy to say and other options like using for instance this brick instead may have other disadvantages. you never know until you try, obviously.

LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904), Detail Front, Side View LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904), Detail Aft, Left View

There are a few other slightly annoying things like the frontmost upper antennae always falling off easily due to the binoculars piece they are plugged into not even having a full depth anti stud to connect to the jumper plate that holds it, but overall everything is where it needs to be and you’d be hard-pressed to find alternate solutions to some design problems.

LEGO Star Wars, Nebulon-B Frigate (77904), Detail Aft, Rear View

The Stand

As you already may have noticed, I constructed a slightly different stand for my model than the one proposed in the original instructions. This came about for a number of reasons. For one I didn’t have the curved slopes they used in their version just as I didn’t have a sticker or a printed tile to use for the plaque. Therefore the forward protrusion with the hinge mounts would be redundant.

Second I also think the original design is simply slightly too large for what is necessary plus that weird construction at the top with the curved slope standing out so much just looks ugly to my eyes. I’m not claiming my solution is the ultimate achievement, but it feels better to me. You can of course come up with a million other designs just as well as long as you keep the general positioning and structure intact. The model is very front-heavy and thus in order to balance things out the stand’s pivot also has to be very close to the front section.

At the same time you don’t need a super large pedestal as long as it has enough surface area and is reasonably heavy so the model doesn’t tip over because the center of gravity is too high. I would even wager you could construct something pretty small from a bunch of 6 x 6 plates and Macaroni round pieces, if you add some fishing lead inside. Well, whatever floats your boat will do in a pinch.

Concluding Thoughts: Everything wrong with LEGO Star Wars

In my headline I called this a tragedy and sadly it is – just not in the way you may think at first. The point here is that this set on so many levels illustrates what is wrong with LEGO Star Wars by getting so much right. It’s a well thought-out model that looks amazing, is reasonably enjoyable to build and at 40 Euro is very reasonably priced. Most importantly it brings something entirely fresh to the whole line by representing a vessel that previously hadn’t officially been done and to boot, it does so in a very collectible scale. This would have sold like crazy as a regular retail set!

Now compare that to the umpteenth X-Wing or TIE Fighter, half-baked “Battle Packs” models of iconic scenes and locales that are barely recognizable because they have been reduced to a mere shadow of the original. Need I go on? To me, the Nebulon-B Frigate is a perfect example of how things could/ should be vs. the crappy reality of what we actually get. The model shows that it’s absolutely not the fault of the designers – if they can come up with this, they sure could crank out a whole armada of vessels in this scale – but rather that the decision making further up the chain is to blame, be that LEGO or Disney/ Lucasfilm.

With all that in mind one would hope LEGO have learned some lessons from this little debacle and are working hard on it. Re-issuing this set as a regular one would be a start and I would even buy it, despite already having rebricked it and then from there they could move on to all those other big crafts like alternate Nebulon variants such as the Y-shaped C version or the Empire‘s armored one, a Tantive, a Hammerhead and yes, of course all the Star Destroyers you could want.

I certainly wouldn’t mind having a line-up of approximately equally sized models on the shelf in the 30 cm range even if it means different actual scale, not dissimilar to what Eaglemoss did with their collectible Star Trek vessels. Am I hoping for too much?

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…

September X-Wing

Did you ever realize how many planets in the Star Wars universe are just barren deserts? Given, how hot it’s currently I almost feel like I live on one such planet. That makes the new LEGO Star Wars magazine a welcome distraction while I’m being kind of summer-lazy.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, September 2020, Overview

The September issue is fully packed not just with the actual magazine, but also comes with a “free” album and a sample pack for the new Star Wars collectible sticker series. I put the free in quotes because you actually pay for it to a certain extend. It’s only a fraction of what it would cost separately, but still, paying 5 Euro this month instead of the usual 4 Euro was an unexpected and unwelcome surprise at the newsstand.

On the other hand I’m genuinely tempted to get some more stickers, even more so as they sell the booster packs with extra Stormtrooper minifigures of different kinds. Apparently they are re-used leftovers from earlier editions, but maybe at long last I’ll get my hands on a Snowtrooper? Somehow I always missed out on them. Anyway, I’m definitely going to keep the collector’s album around for a while, as predictably more sticker packs will be bundled with the various LEGO magazines every now and then in the months to come.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, September 2020, Comic

The comic is a retelling of Yoda‘s escape and crash-landing on Dagobah with a few more or less funny twists. I’m not that steeped in the actual canon lore, so I can’t really tell how much they bent it to be kids-friendly. There’s another, shorter comic, as well. Otherwise the magazine is dangerously light on content. Barely anything in the “activities” department, i.e puzzles and all that stuff, and the posters aren’t particularly good, either.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, September 2020, X-Wing ModelThe buildable model is – yet another – X-Wing, this time in its The Rise of Skywalker livery. If you’ve been collecting them all in the last few years, you should have a nice line-up. The build is pretty much the same like before: a long 1 x 1 x 4 brick serves as the nose extension, some plates, slopes and bricks for the main fuselage and then the wings clipped on. At least they have been trying to keep things interesting by using different pieces and construction methods almost every time. This time the wings are created with the 1 x 2 plate with bars on the side and the engine housings are simulated with the still relatively new 1 x 1 rounded bricks.

How many ways to skin a cat there potentially could be is further illustrated by the bigger Poe Dameron’s X-Wing (30386) from the polybag set I put next to it (top half). Once you start to think about the endless combinations and creative uses of the parts, you can go crazy. There’s literally perhaps at least a hundred ways to build such a mini fighter. On an interesting sidenote, I was rummaging through my parts boxes the other day, realizing I actually only had two (!) 1 x 2 jumper plates, so this model is a pleasant surprise. It contains five of these parts and that should bolster my stock considerably. You never know when you’re gonna need them…

All things considered I’m pretty satisfied, though. Good value all round despite the unexpected extra cost. For kids it could be a bit boring due to the lack of more things to do, though.