When we first started to divvy up the review schedule for this year, I volunteered for the AT-AP on a whim. I owned the original (even though it was parted out... and then un-parted for this review), and remembered it somewhat fondly. My love affair with walkers is fairly well known, but to be honest, I didn't think all that much of this particular set. It didn't strike me as all that different from the original, which wasn't exactly spectacular, and the price was considerably higher ($60 for the new one while the old one only ran $40).
I actually have a process when I build sets like this for review along with the older version. I always build the new model first, make some observations, and then go build the old one (or ones, in the case of the Jedi Interceptor). I got the added fun with this one of digging through hundreds of thousands of parts and old sets to get the things I needed, which was... something. Everytime I do that, I swear I'm never parting out another set (and then do it anyway when I run out of storage room for sets), and then jump to doing some comparisons.
Most of my notes for this set consisted of stuff like this...
"12 steps of nothing but technic stuff"
"Is this really all that different?"
"Legs seem a lot nicer looking in this one with the bricks"
Usually, I have a good idea of the old vs. new comparison during the new build... my memory isn't quite that bad, but it does occasionally fail me. This was one of those situations, where I was obviously remembering the old set in a far better light than it deserved. It wasn't a bad set, exactly, but it wasn't a good one either. It looked okay standing there next to an AT-TE, because as much as I harp on the PT as movies, I really like making displays of clones and jedi cutting through battle droids. What can I say, a toaster wronged me years ago, so I want to cut down some robots! Anyway, I built the new one, jotted some notes, wasn't really blown away, and shelved it to go start getting the old stuff going.
It was putting together the old one that really started to reveal just how much of an upgrade this new set was. Without putting them side-by-side, you won't realize that there is a size difference on the legs (and a bit on the body). Without holding them both you won't realize that the old one was light and flimsy and the new one is built like a rock. Having over 300 more parts did wonders for this model, and not just on looks. This is probably the first review where I had to go back and review the new set after building the old one, because my initial notes obviously didn't do it any justice.
After building this set, my impression was that it was an "interesting" set to build, but not really a fun one. It was very Technic-heavy set that focused on some really interesting building methods. It felt like it had a lot more complexities in building the model then most sets in the range (and it was certainly a better build than the AT-TE remake was). I'm not a Technic guy though, and while I can respect some interesting build techniques with it, there was a point where I was just longing for a plate and some bricks just for a change of pace.
For several years, sets are almost always defined by the overload of minifigs that come in the set. This set breaks that trend by only giving us two true minifigs, both of them new and exclusive: Clone Commander Gree and Chief Tarfful. There's a Battle Droid, a Battle Droid Commander, and a Super Battle Droid to round things out, but the other two are the only unique things in the set. The really nice thing about them is that both are true exclusives, for the most part. We've only gotten one Clone Wars Gree (who was in a book and that terrible cannon set), and Tarfful was only "Wookie Warrior" when we last had wookies, so it's cool to see him.
Battle Droids haven't changed since... well, kind of ever? I guess the arm has changed, and the paint pattern for the commander, but really they're basically the same thing. We occasionally get a new color shell and can call it a Battle Droid C, but no one buys them because they want the new model with a fingerprint reader. It could be that I'm confusing a battle droid with a phone or something, though. Been known to happen. I don't have anything to add to these guys, because they're in a few sets I'm reviewing (and have reviewed). You can't have too many droids for a good battle, so I welcome more of them. Well, sort of, but I'll get to that.
The Super Battle Droid is even a bit more curious than the Battle Droid, as they have seen changes. First they were blue, then the more familiar gunmetal grey. Then they were give a gun arm so they didn't just have to point their hands at clones and go "pew pew pew" before they got blown up. For some reason, those arms vanished almost as quickly as they showed up, and the poor droids have been stuck in yelling bang really loud for years. He's also in several sets currently, so nothing all that special here.
Who doesn't love getting a new Wookiee figure? Okay, part of me has to make a joke that "maybe the Wookiees lost to the empire because they brought muskets to a laser fight" but I think that's more about the laziness of Lego in not wanting to design proper bowcasters. Tarfful features printed legs and much better printing than previous wookies. I'd like to tell you something about him as a character, but I only remember him as helping to carry Yoda after Order 66
In a lot of ways, he's an update to the Wookiee Warrior from the original Episode III sets. He's not a repaint of the existing mold, though you'd have to assume that he served as the inspiration for it. The nice thing is that old warriors can still be used in sets for wookiee fights (I usually hide mine in the Ewok Village). Likewise, Tarfful is generic enough (or maybe just unknown enough) that having multiples really isn't a problem.
I'd like to tell you a whole lot about Gree, but all I remember of him is that Yoda turned him into the bad guy from Sleepy Hollow because he tried to sneak up on one of the three "Not Totally Incompetent" Jedi Masters. His old figure was far more like a generic specialty trooper than a commander, so I didn't even realize it was Gree until I was searching to see if he'd been released before. We're looking at a rarity in the world a "A New Hat!" minifigure releases, this guy is new top-to-bottom. He features the new clone helmet that came with the current release of sets, in brand new colors with some pretty elaborate printing.
The torso and legs are unique to the figure, leaving only the head as the common part. I actually kind of like it. While it goes overly elaborate (as most minifigs do anymore), it still has a distinct Lego look to it, and that's nice. Plus, there's enough in the design that you can turn this into another minifig easily. Same with the legs... all of this could be turned into some fun space marine.
This set is obviously made to go with the Kashyyyk Trooper battle pack, and he fits in there quite nicely (even if his helmet looks strange next to them). I like that he's set out as the commander without all of the extra junk that usually gets stuck on clones. Incidentally, the new helmets don't have the pegs and slots for said gear, so... if you're like me and have a drawer full of them, better keep your old Phase 1 and 2 stuff.
It's a huge bump from the old one, which had been Clone Wars run only.
The walker has quite a bit of heft and substance to it, and actually looks pretty nice as a build, overall. A good portion of it is going to be on how you feel about walkers or PT stuff in general. While I'm very harsh on the PT as movies, and the spaceship design is lackluster at best, the ground stuff and things like walkers have always have had very nice designs. The AT-AP is an obvious ancestor of the AT-ST, and that's a decent pedigree to have.
The AT-AP has a weird 3-leg tripod design where the center leg can retract to move, or place to turn it into a sitting duck of some sort, I'm not sure of the physics here. The legs for this version are still technic heavy, but improves the structure and the exterior look with just a couple of plates. It also incorporates some 2x1 slopes into the feet instead of just wedge plates, so the general look of the feet is also (slightly) improved.
Size-wise, the legs are only a few studs taller than the old build, but the difference is pretty stark (a comparison picture is further down the article). The way it connects is fairly similar, with just a technic pin that rotates in, though it secures with a hook plate against... an axe, of all things. It makes it easier to make the connection to form the shape of the shell, but also makes it easier to knock off.
The interior has a couple of different ways to get into it. Either through the side slots that open with the doors (and are a bit too small to actually get minifigs in unless your hands are extra-special tiny), or by flipping up the top. This is similar to the old one, but the change to how the interior looks makes it a bit easier to position things.
The flip-up doesn't tip the set, like the old one, and since this version doesn't use huge slopes (it opts for hinges to give more shape), and that makes the whole thing a lot sturdier.
The inside looks a bit better, and the stickered tile really adds something to the inside. I don't like the 2x cheese slopes with buttons, mostly because it's a part I really wish they would print, but that's a minor quibble. This version also dropped the seats for plates/tiles to sit the minifigs. Of course, the real problem here is that you don't get any minifigs you can really put in these seats, unless you want to hide Gree inside. You need to pick up the Kashyyyk battle pack or a couple of CTT micro-fighters to fill it up.
Some of the biggest changes to this version is a better mechanism for holding the center leg and locking the cannon in place. For the leg, it's a swivel that holds it in place when you fold it up, and let's it drop when you release it. It never really locks, but does a decent enough job holding it. The center leg swings fairly free, so when you release it, it falls down. There's too much tension on the middle joint to keep it from dropping completely.
The gun lock is quite a bit more interesting, if for no other reason that I've never seen the tow-ball pin snapped between a hinge like that. It works surprisingly well, and is an unconventional solution in a build.
The gun(s) in this version are all fairly good upgrades. On the bottom, the gun is more or less the same, but it's placed on a swivel that can swing around, prompting a lot of "pew pew pew" noises. That might just be me though. The top guns are fairly similar, except the seat is more integrated, there are a couple of extra round plates, and the new spring-loaded launcher for your eye-blasting pleasure.
[video width="500" height="375" mp4="http://www.fbtb.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/New-Flick-Fire-Missile-Launcher.mp4"][/video]
I actually put together a little video (which is weird for me, I hate working in video) to show how the new launcher works. For reference, that's about eight feet from the corner of my desk to the Lego closet. These are an interesting little addition. I was somewhat apprehensive at first, given my pretty well-documented hatred for flick-fires. These actually solve some of those problems I typically have with Flick-fires, like taking up too much space or wasting a lot of parts to build launchers. Now, the launcher is a 1x4 brick with a spring inside, and the pins fire by pushing down very lightly. They go farther, actually act as a play feature, and as they get more common, won't be a huge price/parts suck. Plus they're better than those old monster spring launchers that had to have so much space to make them work.
The launcher is integrated into some regular guns, and doesn't really look out of place. You can put Gree on the top and call it good. There are some stickers to this set beyond the cockpit stuff, like the slope and round tile pictured above. The only ones that really bug me are the Republic army stickers, since they used to be a printed tile that was turned into a sticker on multiple sets. I get why stickers exist and why everything isn't printed... but the most common things should be printed. Stuff like controls panels, those logos and the like.
Ultimately, the difference between this set and the original isn't really obvious until you put them next to each other. It's almost double the parts but not double the size. But when you actually put them next to each other... I mean, just look at them. It's bigger, bulkier, heavier, and sturdier, and makes for a good update. I didn't actually expect to like this set all that much, given the big bump in price and the not immediately apparent changes. While this isn't an RGS-level makeover and surprise, it still wasn't a bad build. It's a technic-heavy build that had a lot of intricacies to it, and that makes it pretty fun to put together. It also just looks better than the old one, and fits with other sets nicely.
In short, not a bad set overall.
What I liked
- Gree is a huge upgrade, shows off a way to mix elaborate printing while still keeping some Lego style
- Tarfull is likewise a nice addtiion
- Some good play features, solid build, and interesting techniques
What I didn't like
- Technic-heavy build is obviously well-engineered, but limits the usefulness of the set for parts and mods
- They still haven't made a proper underside for this thing
- Would have been better with a couple more clones or Wookies (or better, Yoda and a clone) instead of the Battle Droids.
Verdict: 3 out of 5. I'd like to go higher, but $60 is a tough sell even with the part count, given that it's so Technic heavy. Still, once this one goes on even a bit of a sale, it'll be worth the money. Even without the sale, it's hard to argue with the value.
You can pick up 75043 AT-AP, and the rest of the Star Wars line, on Lego Shop@Home Right now (with a bit of a backorder delay... this stuff sure is popular)