Monday, 17 April 2017

Lego Star Wars Set 75172 Y-wing Starfighter Review

The Lego Star Wars set 75172: Y-wing Starfighter is one of the 11 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story sets released in early 2017 (December 2016 in Europe/ January 2017 in the US-of-A). It contains 691 parts, 5 minifigures and is priced at about £64.99 / $59.99 / 69.99€, bringing the cents-per-piece ratio to 9.4p / 8.7c / 10.1c. I was really looking forward to buy this set because I missed to opportunity to buy the 2012 version. Compared to that one, the 2017 Y-wing is not just a simple refresh, but rather a new set altogether.




Disclaimer note: I have bought this set with my own money from the local store, paying full price. The Lego Group had no entanglements with the way I aquiered this set and is probably unaware of my existence anyhow. The opinions here are therefore my own; they are not reviewed before being posted here by anyone else but myself.

Box, Instructions, Out-of-the-Box and building experience

The box art shows the built set and some details (including set number, title, the number of parts, age rating) on the front side and some play features on the back side. It is somewhat slimmer than boxes of sets priced similarly.


After opening the box, spilling its contents on a table and punching the box out of the way, I was left with 5 numbered bags and a rather thick instruction booklet, that does not contain any mistakes or inaccuracies and that has some sort of catalog (at the end) with all minifigures included in the early 2017 wave of Star Wars sets. Seeing that one of those numbered bags had a different print (look at the numbers) than the others kind of triggered my OCD, but once I got past that I started building the actual set. This kept me busy for about 1 hour.



The building process is pretty straight forward. However the high number of gray parts makes it hard to keep building. I found myself more often than not having to compare images of previous steps to see where certain elements should go (and I still missed putting on 2 parts... they don't seem that important tho). Below you can see the spare parts.



Minifigures and accessories

As mentioned earlyer, this set contains 5 minifigures: Admiral Raddus, Moroff, R3-S1, an U-wing Pilot and a Stormtrooper. Raddus, Moroff and the astromech are exclusive to this set.



Admiral Raddus is the commanding officer of the Rebel fleet in Rogue one. He is a Mon Calamari, like Admiral Ackbar, however his skin color is different: Ackbar's skin is orange, Raddus' is dark gray (some lore to provide a reason for this: it looks like Raddus was born near the poles of the planet Mon Cala, while Ackbar is from the equatorial region, that's why their skin color differs). While Raddus does not have a lot of on-screen time, I think Lego represented him well in this set with the dark blue suit and the dark gray Ackbar head.


Moroff is the odd one in this set. I didn't notice him when I saw the movie and I don't know much else about him. He is some sort of Yeti-like mercenary, carrying a large backpack, where he can hold his gun and even deploy a bipod for said gun (as depicted on the back side of the box I believe). His head and torso are a single piece that combines the white color of the fur of the creature with dark blueish gray details.



R3-S1 is the astromech droid that helps the pilot fly his Y-wing. There is not much background info about this one here. It is made up of 4 parts: the head, the body and the two legs. Only the body and the head are printed. The print on the former is almost the same as that of R2-D2, only the colors differ (while R2-D2 has a white-and-blue print, this one has a gray-and-silver one). I appreciate the attention to detail here. The head is a final 2x2 brick painted transparent brown, with the typical astromech print, only in orange.


The unnamed pilot has a dark blue flight suit. He looks great but I can't find any source images of rebel pilots in dark blue suits so I don't know how accurate he is. The helmet vizor is printed on his head rather than being a physical vizor (like in the U-wing) and this face has been used in a few sets since 2014. The head is double-sided: smiling or scared. The helmet has a checkered model with yellow stripes.



There is nothing special about the Stromtrooper: he has the same, generic "scared clone" face and a standard blaster. It seems to me that he is completely outgunned, outnumbered and outmatched by his foes, which makes his inclusion in this set more like an afterthought, the easy way of increasing the minifigure-count (and therefore the price).


The last Y-wing set had a princess Leia minifig besides the pilot and droid, this time we get an admiral, a mercenary and a stormtrooper. I understand that this is a Rogue One set, but come on...

The completed model

This set is quite substantial. Other than the spacecraft itself, there is also a yellow, hovering crane, used by the ground-crew load bombs and spring-loaded missiles on the craft. It is made up of 2 separate sections: the crane itself and a little trailer carying the ordonance.


The Y-wing is, however, the main component of this set. The ship just looks great. While at first it may appear very similar to the previous Y-wing, on closer inspection almost every detail is different. The greebling works well and the sand blue is a nice touch in the color scheme. The engines especially look great although I would love to see the texture of the main part of the engine done in brick rather than stickers.

As a play set this is great. The ship is sturdy enough to be swooshable, it has missiles beneath the cockpit (unfortunately they are nut-that-well placed: if you hold the ship from behind the cockpit, you will surely trigger them). Behind the cockpit, there is a special slot for the astromech. Lego decided to include a bombing bay (a really smart choice IMO), where you can load about 3 of the 4 included bombs. To drop them, you have to spin the black toothed wheel at the back of the ship.


Lore

The Y-wing starfighter was deployed as a fighter-bomber, designed to fight its way to its objective, deliver its payload of high explosives, and fight its way out again. Its weaponry included two laser cannons, two ion cannons, and two proton torpedo launchers. An astromech droid, such as an R2 unit, could be plugged into a socket behind the cockpit to act as a co-pilot and manage the ship's various systems.
The Y-wing was a resilient, well-shielded craft, but was slow and ungainly compared to other Alliance fighters. Its deficiencies were partly compensated for by the heavy proton torpedo load it could carry, and its ability to paralyze craft with ion cannon fire without destroying them, a unique ability until the B-wing starfighter was introduced after the Battle of Yavin. In addition to the Rebel Alliance, many planetary defense forces, mercenaries, and pirates fielded the craft.
The design had many flaws, and required constant maintenance. The Y-wing was originally entirely sheathed in an aerodynamic, elegant fuselage, but its high-maintenance nature led to many aggravated maintenance crews getting fed up with constantly having to remove the superficial hull plating and disposing of it altogether. Due to this, many Y-wings had no hull plating (except on the cockpit), exposing the internals of the main hull. Pilots found that this would lighten the spaceframe and keep components cooler, noticeably boosting performance.
Despite its shortcomings in speed and maneuverability compared to space superiority fighters such as the X-wing (or especially compared to interceptors like the A-wing), the Y-wing was an extremely durable craft, with heavier armor and shielding making it a favorite among some Alliance pilots during the Galactic Civil War. The Y-wing also had a larger torpedo magazine.
The Y-wing was not a sluggish fighter overall, as its speed and agility exceeded that of its intended replacement, the B-wing, but its lack of mobility meant that the Y-wing was not effective as a space superiority fighter. When properly used by such commanders as General Grisserno and Horton Salm, Y-wings would accelerate towards their capital ship targets, relying on their gunners and wingmates in X-wing starfighters and A-wing interceptors to distract enemy fighters and the enemy ships' gunners. This would allow the Y-wings and B-wings to focus their fire on capital ships. This tactic was similar to the A-wing Slash, which involved solely X-wings and A-wings.

You can continue reading the lore on wookipedia: here.

Overall

While this isn't one of the biggest or technically advanced builds, it has been one of my favourites. The minifigures are brilliantly moulded, printed and will make excellent additions to the Star Wars roster. The ship itself is wonderful. It's a well built and sturdy model and I defy any fan of Star Wars who builds this not to take it for a spin round the living room (when nobody is looking obviously).My only small complaint with this set has to be with the bomb loader crane. It holds absolutely no interest and the brick count used could have been used elsewhere within the set but even from a play-ability point of view, it's not properly functional as the jib only has up and down travel, which wouldn't be quite so bad but then the missiles that it's supposed to pick up are fixed in place with a hinge.Apart from that, this is an excellent set and a worthy addition to any collection.



Interested in buying this set? Check it out at the link below:
http://amzn.to/2oPHxdD

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Lego "The Lego Batman Movie" 30524: The Mini Batwing Polybag Review

The 30524: The Mini Batwing is one of the 31 "The Lego Batman Movie" sets released so far. It was given away at shop.lego.com and at Lego brand stores with purchases of 35$ or more from the beginning of January to the beginning of February. The set comes in a polybag and contains 80 parts. It is based of the new representation of the Batwing that we will see in the movie that came out on February 10th. The full-size craft will be released sometime in the summer of 2017.
No doubt that it is worth getting as a promotional set for free, but should you spend your hard-earned cash on it otherwise?

Disclaimer note: I have bought this set with my own money from the local store, paying full price. The Lego Group had no entanglements with the way I aquiered this set and is probably unaware of my existence anyhow. The opinions here are therefore my own; they are not reviewed before being posted here by anyone else but myself.

Out-of-the-box and building experience

I think this is where I will say the least about this model. The Batwing is build in four sections: the body, the cockpit and the wings.
The instruction manual while still fold-out in style is rather comprehensive and large for a polybag.
You do also get some spare parts, depicted below.


The completed model

The wings of the Mini Batwing can be posed at any angle with the help of the hinges on either side of the main body section, which is covered with smooth curves and some texturing such as 1x2 grilled slopes and light-saber hilts for what I assume are some type of weapons on the minifigure-scale Batwing model.

Of course, it being a Batman-vehicle (and called "Batwing") influenced the overall shape and design of the thing, especially when seen from a top view. It immediately brings to mind Batman's symbol and the silhouette of a bat in general. The shaping is absolutely fantastic, with the wings represented by the wings of the plane, the body being the body and the front cockpit attachment being the head.

Speaking of the wings, these can be folded up vertically, horizontally, or at an angle. A slightly-angled-down variation is the only one seen in advertisements and on the packaging of the polybag, which makes sense as they look the best as such, in my opinion.
The detailing, like the solid black NEXO Power pieces and sloping, is superb. The exposed studs actually add some nice texturing too. Each wing is lined with red which offers a nice splattering of color in the otherwise monochromatic model.

From the underside, there is not much to see. It is rather ugly, though I suppose you won't be displaying the craft with it visible.

The head is attached firmly between a "telescope"-like brick in light bluish-grey and a white modified 1x2 plate with bar at the front of the body. It slides right on, blending in with the rest of the craft marvelously and leaving no gaps.
I appreciate the angling of the sides of the head using the new black wedge plates, as well as the splash of trans-yellow in the windscreen glass using two cheese slopes. Two 1x2 slopes form the ears at the top of the head, or front of the cockpit (depending on the angle you are viewing the Batwing from).


Overall

The Mini-Batwing is a nice little set: sleek and ideal for display.
For free, it makes a great addition if you are planning to whatever haul you are planning on getting this month at the LEGO Store or online. And to be honest, why wouldn't you plan on that?! There are plenty of great new 2017 sets available now! (that I have yet to start reviewing... shame on me)
But actually buying this set? Like... spending money on it?  I would not recommend doing that, unless you enjoy collecting micro-scale vehicles or if you are a LEGO Batman Movie theme or polybag completist. But if you do, I have a feeling you will really like this one.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Lego Star Wars Set 75150 Vader's TIE Advanced vs. A-wing Starfighter Review

The Lego Star Wars set 75150: Vader's TIE Advanced vs. A-wing Starfighter was released in the summer of 2016 (June 2016 worldwide). It contains 702 parts and 4 minifigures. It retails for £79.99 / $89.99 / 49.99€, bringing the cents-per-piece ratio to about 11.4p / 12.8c / 7.1c per piece. The Rebels range of sets has been excellent so far, so I bought this one hoping that it would be just as great as the others. Let's see if my assumption has proven right.

Disclaimer note: I have bought this set with my own money from the local store, paying full price. The Lego Group had no entanglements with the way I aquiered this set and is probably unaware of my existence anyhow. The opinions here are therefore my own; they are not reviewed before being posted here by anyone else but myself.


Box, Instructions and Building experience

The box art shows the built set and some details (including set number, title, the number of parts, age rating) on the front side and some play features and some advertising for the new iOS and Android "Force Builder" app on the back side. It is basically just a standard Lego box, nothing special about it.
Front side of the box

Rear side of the box
After opening the box and spilling its contents on (hopefully not the carpet in your room) a table, you are left with 7 bags numbered 1 to 6 (there are 2 no. 6 bags, both contain the parts required for the wings of the TIE Advanced x1), a sticker sheet and 2 instruction booklets wrapped in some plastic for protection.
The instructions provide clear directions, I could not find mistakes or anything. The building of the A-wing was relatively simple and basic, but the TIE had a more innovative overall building process (I do not mean the wings, only the central pod). However it got very boring towards the end as you had to assemble the wings. They are exactly the same (and are build the same way). On the other hand, I am not sure how it could have been done differently since the Starfighter itself is symmetrical.
You get a lot of extra parts and an orange brick separator (including an extra pair of missiles), but that is normal with all of those larger sets.


Minifigures and accessories

As I mentioned earlier, this set contains 4 minifigures: Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, Sabine Wren and a generic female Phoenix-Squadron A-wing pilot.

She is clearly based on Phoenix Two from the season two episode 'Homecoming' which is interesting as the character only appears for a matter of seconds before being brutally shot down while trying to escape a skirmish. The color scheme of her fighter matches that of the model in this set as well which shows impressive attention to detail. She also does have a double-sided face, as all minifigures in this set: A smiling one and a worried one.
The existing pilot helmet mould is excellent and I like the new colors which adorn it in this set (the green/ yellow scheme matches that of the fighter), although we only see the pilots with their visors lowered in the animated series due to limited animation budgets and this exposed face is therefore slightly inaccurate although highly appreciated, since even those pilots need to have a face of sorts underneath those helmets. Nevertheless, this is an excellent minifigure and I am pleased to see the ranks of my Rebel navy personnel bolstered.

This is Sabine Wren's first appearance in her form from season two and I think the updated version is significantly better than the previous figure which was included in a couple of sets last year. Unfortunately her skin tone has not been altered and it is still too light as a result, although I like her colorful hair very much.
Her head is the same as usual, with a grimace on one side and a neutral expression on the other while her torso and legs have been updated to include much more printed detail on the front and back.
Sabine's arms have also been improved quite significantly. The flesh colored components have been replaced by black with dark orange gloves. It would have been wonderful to see some printing on the arms, but this is a step in the right direction. A pair of blaster pistols are included but her helmet is absent which is annoying. I have no idea why Lego seem so reluctant to include Sabine's helmet but the hair is great so the minifigure is impressive nonetheless.

Darth Vader now has a new printed design on the torso which reflects the more angular appearance of his animated character model as opposed to the  version seen in the films. His helmet has not been updated and is therefore rather inaccurate to Star Wars Rebels, although I do like it.
It consists of two parts and can be split to reveal Vader's scarred head underneath, which is printed on the front and back. It still bothers me slightly that the helmet is shaped as though Darth Vader is looking upwards but it is an improvement over the older design in my opinion. As ever, Darth Vader wears an intimidating black cape and is equipped with a red lightsaber. Unfortunately there is nowhere to store it onboard the TIE Advanced.

Finally there is is Grand Moff Tarkin, who has been a thorn in the side of the Rebels since the end of season one. Incredibly, this is only Tarkin's third appearance in a set and the first since the 2008 Death Star, so the minifigure has undergone and enormous update as one would expect. His uniform is now dark tan to reflect the Imperial attire seen in Star Wars Rebels and his hair has also been altered to more closely reflect his onscreen appearance.
 This is the first time the hair piece has appeared in dark bluish grey and it looks splendid, as does his wrinkled face. He looks decidely unfriendly on both sides and is accordingly armed with a blaster pistol (even if Imperial regulation forbids high-ranking officers to wear weapons while not on a dangerous mission)


General info about the spacecraft (source: Wookieepedia)

The RZ-1 A-wing interceptor was a starfighter manufactured by Kuat Systems Engineering. They were used by the early rebellion against the Empire and the subsequent Rebel Alliance, seeing action during the Age of the Empire and the Galactic Civil War. It was still in use 30 years later during the conflict between the Resistance and the First Order. Influenced by the designs of the Republic starfighters flown during the Clone Wars, the A-wing was wedge-shaped with dual sublight engines mounted on the stern and came equipped with a hyperdrive. The fighters were armed with two laser cannons and twelve concussion missiles. A-wings measured 9.6 meters long. A group of A-wing fighters codenamed "Phoenix Squadron" was part of a rebel cell led by Commander Jun Sato.

Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1 was a starfighter used by Darth Vader during the Galactic Civil War, leading Black Squadron, and flown by him during the Battle of Yavin. It was a modified early prototype of the TIE Advanced line. The TIE Advanced x1 featured a greater speed than the standard TIE. It was armed with heavy twin blaster cannons on fixed mounts, and was also capable of carrying secondary weapons such as cluster missiles. In addition, unlike most TIE models, the TIE Advanced x1 was equipped with both a hyperdrive and a deflector shield generator and even a much more effective solar ionization reactor and stronger hull. It also had more cockpit capacity than other TIEs, thus catering to the larger-than-average figure of Darth Vader. It was built to Vader's specifications by Santhe/ Sienar Technologies at the Sienar Advanced Projects Laboratory. Unlike the class standard, Vader's TIE Advanced apparently possessed a life-support system.

The completed model

The A-wing fighter has been a consistent presence in Star Wars Rebels since the end of the first season and we have seen it more than once in the films. Its design departs quite dramatically from earlier versions such as the 2013 75003 A-wing Starfighter but at the same time it is more accurate to what we see on-screen.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the A-wing is the colour scheme which has been chosen. These dark green markings have appeared on a couple of starfighters in the show but the blue designs are far more prevalent and more appealing in some respects.
Regardless, the combination of dark green, light bluish grey and yellow looks splendid to me and I appreciate the unusual color choice. However, it will make those people looking to build a Starfleet avoid this set due to the customized, specific nature of it (only an ace pilot could afford to customize his fighter like this and get away with it). Nevertheless, the shape of the model is spot on as well, with angled stabiliser wings and completely enclosed thrust vector control rudders, just as we see in the animated series. I actually prefer this sleeker design to that which appears in Return of the Jedi, although that will obviously vary from one person to the next.
The cockpit canopy can be opened to seat the pilot inside and a stickered control panel is also included. You can also move the laser cannons on either side to face forwards or backwards during dogfights. The engine pods look great and the new fin elements which are used on the top and bottom of each one form a very attractive profile.
Landing gear is hidden underneath along with a pair of white rubber bands which are attached in three places. These are used for the primary feature of the A-wing, although it might not be immediately obvious given how well this function has been hidden.
By pulling back on the entire central section of the model you can launch a pair of missiles from the front! This is almost invisible from most angles and works perfectly so I am quite pleased with the feature. However, it must be acknowledged that it seems rather over-engineered and a way to drive the price up in some respects as a simple button could have accomplished the same thing.

It is over seven years since Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1 has been seen in a LEGO set and building techniques and parts available have advanced enormously in that time. It is therefore somewhat surprising that this model has changed relatively little since 2009, although many of the alterations which have been made are certainly for the better.
The most notable of these centres upon the cockpit which now includes a pair of printed 6x6 hatch elements which were introduced last year. These look brilliant and it is difficult to imagine how the design could be improved in future, particularly given the impressive level of detail inside the cockpit. Darth Vader can be seated comfortably behind the controls and the hatch on top can be opened for access to the minifigure.
Spring loaded shooters are mounted beneath the cockpit and these can be activated remotely by pushing down on black buttons next to the top hatch.
 The wings are angled appropriately but tend to wobble a bit due to the way they are attached to the main body of the TIE.

The large rear section forms a perfect place to grip the model when flying it around and is decorated with some detailed stickers which replicate the designs seen in the show very accurately. You can even distinguish the twin ion engines which give this starship its name.

Overall

There are no truly perfect sets out there, because there is always something bothersome about them. For this one, it's the price. The two models contain about the same number of parts but neither are worth the 45$ you would have to pay if they were sold separately, so they are not worth the current 90$.
However, in all other respects I like this set very much. The minifigures are splendid and the two fighters are also very impressive, striking a perfect balance between play features and faithfulness to the source material. I think a reduction of around 25% would be reasonable and at that price point I would certainly recommend this set if you are a fan of Star Wars Rebels and if you are willing to live with the hole it would leave in your pocket.

Interested in buying this set? Check it out at the link below:
http://amzn.to/2kBNGZk