Orange Trooper – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, March 2023

February is of course a short month, so here we are already again with the latest LEGO Star Wars magazine for March 2023.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2023, Cover

The first comic has The Mandalorian and Grogu in it, which is a bit unusual, given that last month we got a similar comic already, though it was the shorter one.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2023, Comic

In the second comic we see General Grievous facing off against some Storm Troopers, which of course is a not so subtle hint at the included extra (no, it’s not Grievous)

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2023, Comic

For the poster I picked the back side featuring Yoda‘s unforgettable “Do it or don’t! There is no try!” quote. If the text was slightly smaller it would be even better. The front side has a standard Death Star trench chase scene. That’s okay, just nothing special.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2023, Poster

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, March 2023, ExtraThe extra has some people’s underwear in a knot and to some degree makes them go bonkers. The facts are simple: The  212th Clone Trooper so far has only appeared in the AT-TE Walker (75337) and there are only three in this set. This apparently makes this coveted minifigure quite costly on Bricklink and other secondary markets. That seems to be reason enough for people to buy stacks and stacks of this magazine to deck out their battle dioramas. It’s basically still cheaper to pay 5 Euro for the mag instead of 7 Euro (in an optimistic case; most times it’s around 10 Euro), but it’s still a lot of money to throw around you could just as well on some real sets. It always amazes me how people fall into this “battle pack (substitute) craze”!

That said, the figure itself is just fine and has some detailed prints. With its Orange demarcations it will look distinct to the 501th Storm Troopers with their Blue insignia or the upcoming Dark Purple ones (forgot which unit they are) as well as the many standard white and grey ones. Personally I will be happy that the next issue comes with a buildable extra again, though. I get why people want minifigures, but at the end of the day you clearly cannot cover enough ground to make everybody happy, anyway, for a multitude of reasons. Having something brick-built will make a nice change after four minifigs in a row.

For me this is one of the more enjoyable issues because it doesn’t veer too much in the “silly nonsense” direction with the comics and there’s at least one serviceable poster. If you’re part of the Storm Trooper/ Clone Trooper crowd you cannot avoid buying this, anyway, multiple times if necessary.

Kashyyyk Tusken – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, May 2022

Dunno, but lately I’ve become less and less enthused about LEGO Star Wars. The models are becoming more and more expensive, yet oddly also more lackluster (not counting UCS, of course). That’s why I’m glad at least the comic magazine stays in an affordable realm and at least every now and then manages to pull off a pleasant surprise. Let’s see if the May 2022 issue can brighten our day!

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2022, Cover

Say what you will, but jungle-based comics are always automatically at least fifty percent cooler than others just for their visual density intrinsically created by all that greenery. As a graphics guy I can also appreciate how the illustrators and colorists have to put in a lot more work here, so props for that as well. The story of Yoda going through some droid invasion hijinx is okay in that it could totally have happened without breaking the overall consistency of the lore. My only complaint would be that everything is a bit too green. Mixing in some more colorful blossoms and/ or shifting a few of the plant colors towards more turquoise/ cyanide greens would have been nice.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2022, Comic

The secondary comic, which of course hints at the extra (no, it’s not The Manadalorian) is a bit odd. The Bantha is a bit too cute-ified and those plumped up lips just look strange. You know, like a harmless looking giant worm that’s gonna suck you up, anyway. Other than that it’s just fine.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2022, Comic

The posters feature General Grievous and Anakin, respectively. Not nearly as well done as the one with Ahsoka in the last issue, but acceptable. Mostly it’s just that those non-descript dark backgrounds overwhelm the details and swallow too much of the texture. Lighter and friendlier colors would definitely be preferable.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2022, Poster

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, May 2022, ExtraThe extra this time is a Tusken Raider minifigure. It’s been in a number of sets over the last two years and technically is nothing special nor ist it particularly valuable (and having masses of them on the market by way of this magazine will make prices on Bricklink drop even more) , but at least the unique head piece makes it different enough from your standard Stormtrooper, Obi-Wan, Anakin or the many other standard figures that have been included in the mag over and over again. In fact I think they could have made it stand out by including a coat and perhaps a different weapon/ utensil instead of the staff…

All in all this issue isn’t turning anything on its head or makes you drool, but it feels strangely soothing in its slightly boring normal-ness. That sometimes can be a good thing. So if you need a bit of anti-excitement in these crazy times, this edition would at least do that.

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!

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…

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.