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Archive for June, 2005

Ace Kim | June 28th, 2005 | Uncategorized

Robert Martin Strikes Back!

Maybe a tad overly dramatic on the title of this post, but if you’ve been following our forum activity for awhile, you’ll know that our very own Robert Martin has been busier than ever creating some awesome new minifigs. He sent me a couple of photos to share with you all. You can access them all by checking out his spotlight section The new ones are the last four images on the list on the right hand side. Just for kicks, read his interview Tim did back in August of 2000.

Ace Kim | June 15th, 2005 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 4504 Millennium Falcon

One of the first things I noticed about the Falcon box was that it featured a flip-up front cover like some of the older LEGO boxes had. But unlike the older LEGO sets, underneath the cover wasn’t a plastic window where you can gaze upon the insides and see some of the goodies you’ll be getting. Instead, there was just more artwork, including an extremely large mockup of the now infamous Death Star Space scene and the numbers that bring dread to everyone’s ears: 10131. There’s no doubt it’s a TIE set of some sort, but I digress.

For $99.99, you get 985 pieces which is a pretty good price per parts ratio and more than 300+ parts than the previous incarnation. When I opened the box, I immediately noticed a correction sheet and some loose plates. Seems like step 57 wasn’t quite right and the plates were necessary to fix the flaw. I spent about 3 and a half hours on and off building the set while watching TV. I have mixed feelings about the construction.

First things first: the minifigs. Han and Leia are peach or “flesh-toned” or whatever the proper term is. i don’t like them. I wish they stuck with yellow. Leia comes in her Hoth outfit as does Han, but the instruction manual for Han shows him with a tan colored torso design whereas the minifig you actually get is dark blue. Chewie and Threepio are always a treat to get. And the snowtrooper is a little lame if you ask me. The inclusion of the Snowtrooper recreates a very specific scene, a scene that has more than one Snowtrooper and when you compare the Falcon to the E-web Cannon, it’s almost ridiculous to think that the ship was scared of this puny thing. But eh, not like there are a lot of opportunities to amass a Snowtrooper army for cheap. It should be noted that the Snowtrooper torso is incorrect and what you get instead is a Clonetrooper torso. Call LEGO Shop at Home for a replacement.

I enjoyed the build and the high number of parts gave it a level of detail the first Falcon never achieved. The designers went out of their way to include detail after detail in the interior. There is now a full pathway around the 95% of the ship, 5% being blocked by the escape pod. Speaking of escape pod, the designers must have had this cartoon in mind when they designed it, because it is now fully enclosed, but it’s so big it blocks part of the interior walkway. On the opposite side of the ship, if you pull out the docking bay part way, a walkway lowers to the ground. Awesome detail. The Dejarik hologram board is back and there is now a nice constructed hyperdrive engine. Although there isn’t a hidden floor panel where you can hide the rebels during an Imperial inspection, the floor is hollow and with a little work you should be able to customize that feature. Although not perfect, given the constraints of the design and the brick, the top gunner station is a nice addition and will in fact seat a minifig. A complementary belly gunner station was not included, but that’s the beauty of LEGO, you can make one yourself if you’re so inclined.

The overall structural integrity of the ship is quite solid. Attaching one of two large ribs that creates the outer hull was quite unwieldy but easier the second time around. The plate flaps that form the top are great and reflect a common technique also found in some Harry Potter sets that contruct the roof from angled plates than anything else. Any fears that this approach would create a less sturdy ship should be put to rest. It also gives it a more unrefined look and feel that more accurately conveys what the Falcon is really like.

There are only a few things about the design that really bugged me. The 1 thing that really bothered me was that I noticed that some of the bricks didn’t bind as well as I’m used to. My first experience of weak studs was step 7 and the 4 tan 1×3 plates. They just didn’t bind as well as some other parts, and those plates weren’t the only ones. I’d be interested to see if others experienced the same thing. I do know that Gareth mentioned weaker bindings with the 2004 minis, so maybe it’s more widespread than initially thought.

The other minor gripes I have are some of the construction angles. I probably have my own idealized image of what the Falcon should look like, heck, who doesn’t? I felt like the mandibles were way too small and should be wider and thicker. The docking space between the mandibles, all wrong. The previous Falcon suffered from the same awful, huge GAP. The cockpit isn’t quite right; it’s not better than the previous version, nor is it any worse, just a different design that’s still not quite there. You CAN sit two in the cockpit, not side by side, but rather one ahead of the other. Only by one stud and to the casual observer, it looks fine. Sticklers for an attention to detail won’t find it sufficient though. The way the cockpit attaches to the ship is quite weak and can easily be strengthened by replacing the two 1×2 sand blue grille tiles with two 1×2 tiles with center stud like on the other two contact points. I guess this was done to remove the cockpit easily to either put in or remove minifigs. Still too weak for my tastes.

I hate stickers and I was quite disappointed to discover that the Hyperdrive tile was stickered instead of printed. I wished the other stickered elements were printed else they too will suffer the same fate as other stickered elements: peeling and cracking within a few months.

I finished building the model late last night and have it sitting on my coffee table. After glancing at it this morning and casually looking at it, turning it, and messing around with it this evening. What’s my overall opinion? I must say, this is one of the best Star Wars model to date. The level of detail is outstanding and years ahead of the previous rendition of everyone’s favorite bucket of bolts… or bricks… If you’re like me, you like to tweak an official set to make it a little better. This Falcon provides an excellent base and starting point. A few homemade modifications can really turn this excellent model into an outstanding MOC.

Price/Parts ratio: 10/10
Parts Selection: 10/10
Minifigs: 3/10
Construction: 6/10
Design: 8/10
Swoosh Factor: 3/10
Reviewer’s Tilt: 9/10
Final Score: 7.0

Here are some photos that LEGO sent me awhile back:

Ace Kim | June 15th, 2005 | LEGO Star Wars, Reviews

Review: 4501 Mos Eisley Cantina

June 15, 2005

Ever buy a bag of chips and rip it open only to be disappointed because the bag was only a quarter of the way full? That’s kind of what you might expect when opening up the box of 4501 Mos Eisley Cantina. The vast expanse of empty space that echoes back at you isn’t the only disappointment either, the high price and the terrible price to parts ratio doesn’t exactly win any awards either.

MSRP of this set is $29.99 for a paltry 193 pieces. Terrible, just terrible. It’s hard to justify purchasing this set when you have 4507 Prehistoric Creatures sitting on the shelf right next to it. 719 pieces for the same price? Who wouldn’t want to get this set? LEGO should be ashamed for asking for so much money. But, like the mantra goes, you should never judge a book by it’s cover and you’d be making a slight mistake if you were only looking at the price.

Why does LEGO demand such a high price for this set? Two reasons immediately come to mind. The first being the awesome dewback you get. When LEGO released the dinosaurs a few years back, I hoped that a dewback creature would be made, that and a tauntaun. While a tuantaun still has yet to be realized in ABS form, the dewback is every bit as I had imagined. Body, legs, and tails were previously existing pieces from the dinosaur line. The dewback’s head is all new and captures the creature’s head shape quite well.

The second reason why this set is a bit pricey is Greedo. The rodian’s head is all new and quite, quite accurate. So with the dewback’s head and Greedo’s head requiring new molds, it is my educated guess that the reason why 4501 is so expensive is because of these awesome new pieces. They have limited use outside of the Star Wars theme and we’ll probably see them again in another set in the future to help offset the cost a bit more.

The cantina set you actually build is a complete joke. You get an arch, a table in an alcove, and table. That’s it. No bar, no Modal Nodes, no other aliens, nothing. I would be REALLY impressed if an actual cantina set is in the works to expand this fragment but we’ll just have to wait and see. One neat little feature is that the table that Han and Greedo sit at flips up to reveal a storage compartment for Han’s megaphone. The landspeeder continues this year’s theme of redesigns. It’s larger overall with a bit more detail than its predecessor. The rear engine flips back to reveal a storage compartment for Luke’s lightsaber. It’s a lot more movie accurate with it’s sand red color scheme instead of the older version’s tan color. Also, one of the engines is light grey while the other two are dark grey. Nice attention to detail.

There are a lot of LEGO Star Wars fans who are in it for the minifigs, and this is where 4501 really shines. You get a total of 5 minifgs. Luke is as he appeared in 7110 as is Ben Kenobi (although it is the opinion of this reviewer that Old Ben should have come with a brown hood and cape). You get Han with dark blue legs like he appeared in 7190 Millennium Falcon. You also get the bounty hunter Greedo and what an awesome fig he is. Simply one of the best. To finish this list, you also get a stormtrooper modified to be a sandtrooper. His orange pauldron is made from the same cloth as minifig jedi robes, but it totally works despite it not being a plastic piece.

Is this set worth getting? Completists really don’t need a reason to get this set. Minifig fans might balk at the price if they already own Luke, Ben, and Han. You get a cool dewback and the landspeeder is pretty nice. The cantina is a complete joke, should have been called Mos Eisley Broom Closet it’s so small. Overall, if you’re on a budget, you’re better spending your money elsewhere. It’s a tough call to recommend this set very highly. The few good points doesn’t compensate for the high price completely, so you stand a chance of being disappointed.

Price/Parts ratio: 2/10
Parts Selection: 3/10
Minifigs: 8/10
Construction (Landspeeder): 7/10
Design (Landspeeder): 8/10
Construction (Cantina): 3/10
Design (Cantina): 2/10
Swoosh Factor: 2/10
Reviewer’s Tilt: 5/10
Final Score: 4.44

Images used in this article:

CORRECTION: It has been pointed out to me that the Han minifig you get with 7190 is has blue legs, and that the dark blue legged version you get in 4501 is exclusive to this set.