The second UCS set to get a remake, 75059 Sandcrawler, arrived at my doorstep last week. The review was to be embargoed until May 3th, the official on sale date of the set, but it miraculously got lifted a few days ago. This was both good and bad. The good? Good because I've always believed that if reviews, good or bad, can be published ahead of the street date, they should. It helps those people who were on the fence to decide on way or another if they're going to pull the trigger by providing a preview of what to expect. And as a side benefit it helps the site(s) out by driving traffic. The bad? Bad because I was counting on the lead time to the 4th to get my review done. I won't bore you with the details of my life, but that one week before May rolls around was the only free time I had. I managed to rearrange my schedule a bit to get this review done sooner rather than later and here we are.
One of the things I had planned was to rebuild the original set so I can do a side by side. But not having the luxury of time from an accelerated review schedule prevented me from doing so. I may still go back and rebuild it anyway for giggles. I tried to remember some of the details from the first Sandcrawler but couldn't remember much. But no matter because 75059 Sandcrawler is really nice.
Let's start from the outside in. The box. The box has a brand new design. Gone is the Lucasfilm Licensing branding that is prevalent across all licensed toys, LEGO or not. No Yoda... or is it Darth this year... I forget but you don't get that character banner across the top. You simply get the LEGO Star Wars logo, the set name and number, and a badge that says "Ultimate Collector's Series LEGO Star Wars". One can only hope that this badging is a sign of things to come like more UCS sets across different themes. Like say if DC Super Heroes created a UCS Batmobile set or something, the badging might say "Ultimate Collector's Series LEGO DC Super Heroes".
Inside the box was the expected array of numbered bags. 16 different steps with some steps having multiple bags. There was also an unmarked white box that stored some of the numbered bags inside. I couldn't see any reason why these bags were separated this way, but I deduced later that the numbered bags inside the inner white box were the bags that had the minifigure elements. If this were true, I would assume that this is just an additional step in preventing people from breaking into boxes just to five finger discount the minifigures. The white box isn't fool proof, just another preventative measure that the would-be thieves would have to monkey with to get to the goods, but the harder it is to steal the minifigs, the better we are all off in the long run.
The manual. Let's breifly talk about the manual. Taking cues from their Architecture and CUUSOO line, they've changed the presentation of the manual for the better. Not spiral bound like some of the other manuals, it is a glued binding. The first couple of pages are two-page spreads that gives a little more information and background of the subject matter. The last spread has an interview with the designer, Olav Krøigaard, which I enjoyed reading as it gives a small glimpse into the design process.
The Sandcrawler is a big brown box. It doesn't sound very exciting but once you're knee-deep into the process, it's fascinating to see the box take shape. There's a good amount of Technic elements mixed in for the framing and structural strength with massive amounts of plates in all shapes and sizes for the paneling.
The panel work is quite beautiful with all its angles and the engineering behind it all to reach the desired look can teach a thing or two to even the most seasoned builders. It even managed to replicate that gentle upward slope from the back to the front along the top. It's not without its gaps though but completely forgiveable given the number of moving/removable panels and what not. You'd have to be really be looking and be in a cantankerous mood to even make it into an issue.
Going from front to back, the nose has the most interesting shape to it. Mini ball joints are used to achieve some of the angles along with the aforementioned Technic elements. The roof of the nose flips up to reveal a cockpit big enough to fit all four jawas. Plenty of computer screens about, all stickers, and one giant viewscreen where they're watching Star Wars Episode IV and they're at the part where C-3PO is standing in front of the Krayt Dragon remains. Kinda meta. Kinda neat too.
There's a dial that kind of sticks out from the top at an angle which is used to raise and lower the front loading ramp. There are two chain elements with studs on each end that does all the heavy lifting. This is probably the weakest part of the entire set. If the ends of the chain disconnect from the bar it coils around, you're going to have a fun time reconnecting it.
With the ramp lowered, you have access to one of the two hooks the Sandcrawler has. The hook extends outward on a boom and you can use one of three attachments to haul your droids or cargo containers in and out of the cargo bay. There's a small vehicle parked inside. A speeder? Tow vehicle? Jawa scooter? Who knows. The other interior objects are three crates you can use to haul away your droid parts, dragon bones, or other things you may come across on the Dune Sea. The crates are a little hard to access from the front; they are more easily reachable from the middle.
The middle section is made up of two distinct sections. The panels in the first section lift up to give you access to the spacious interior. The roof also lifts away for easier access to the inside as well as the second of two hooks. The hook folds into itself making it nice and compact for storage while not in use and extends to a usable length far enough to reach outside the Sandcrawler. The hook slides along a rail allowing you to use it on either side.
Again, you can use one of three attachments with the hook here, the one everyone will use at least once is the one that looks like the end of the vacuum tube that sucked up R2 from that one scene in the movie where he gets captured. Of course, it doesn't really function that way. The best you can do is just attach the bottom of the cone element to the stud on top of R2's dome, making it look like he's doing a Pharrell Williams impression.
Using what I call the Crate Grabber attachment, you can hook one of the crates and guide it to the chute that's on either side of the vehicle. The chutes are covered by these panels akin to doggy doors that you can push right through. Then the crate rolls down and drops right into an unloading zone.
Just below the crate doggy door are small storage compartments that are covered with flag elements. Jabba's Sail Barge used these in great numbers, and here they not only serve as a decorative element, but a functional one as well. Behind those flag elements are storage areas and inside each compartment is a barrel or crate. There are six in total, three on each side, and the neat thing about these compartments is that there are 1x2 cheese grater slopes on the floor allowing the crates that are stored to slide right out. Not having those sloped elements there would have made getting the crates in and out an annoying task so it's nice that the designer included them if for nothing more than convenience.
The three hook attachments store neatly in the last section. This section also has panels that lift up and a removable roof. The steering mechanism is also located here with a dial on the back that controls the rear set of treads.
So it's easy to push the Sandcrawler and steer at the same time with one hand, something that was impossible to do with the first version (since the steering dial was located on the top near the front) if I am remembering things correctly. This section of the Sandcrawler has the most greebling on the roof panel and the very back of the vehicle, breaking up the monotony of plates that cover almost the entire vehicle.
The build took about 6 hours, give or take. No lie. My camera batteries ran out in the middle of shooting the time lapse, so I had to take a break while one of the batteries charged up and it was a welcome relief. Ignoring the fact that I was building 11pm til about 5am, the build was pretty grueling. I realize 99% of the LEGO Star Wars sets out there are symmetrical in design but the sheer level of repetition is on another level mainly due to the size of the set. And the treads. Don't get me started on the treads. There are 38 of those tank tread pieces in each tread, and there are eight treads to make, split up over bags numbered 7 and 8. This was the halfway point and thankfully there was nothing in the last half that was nearly as bad. It was by far the worst part of the build. Everything after that seemed to go much much faster than all the previous bags.
The minifigs. I'll just say this first to get it out of the way. Where is Beru Lars? Granted, she wasn't exactly pivotal to the scene. She didn't actually stand in front of the Sandcrawler during the purchase of the droids, but she did ask Luke to remind Owen to get one that spoke Bocce. And if that didn't happen, C-3PO would never have been bought, R5-D4 would never have blown his motivator, R2 would never have been subbed in, and then the Sandtroopers would have found the Sandcrawler, and the plans would have been back in the hands of the Empire! After practically saving the rebel movement single-handedly, the least she deserves is her own minifig. I mean come on! Her exclusion is frustrating. With LEGO's propensity for vehicle-based sets, it's highly unlikely we'll ever get a Lars Family Homestead set, especially when the homestead is built underground. They could be saving her for just such a set but I doubt it. There aren't many set ideas where including her would make any sense, but if they can stick Amidala in with the Gungan sub, or Ceremonial Leia with the Y-wing, maybe we'll get lucky and they'll put Beru in a UCS Speeder Bike set or something equally illogical in the future.
With that rant out of the way let's get to the minifigs and droids. You get four Jawas and it wasn't until I lined them up in this shot that I noticed that there are two different patterns for them. These must be Commando Jawas or Special Forces Jawas or Jawas drawn by Rob Liefeld because the number of pouches adorning their twin bandoliers is ridiculous.
Luke Skywalker inexplicably has his lightsaber. Cover your ears, kids, cause Uncle Ace is about to yell: HE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE IT IN THIS SCENE! The purchase of the droids happens a full day and a half before Luke even meets Obi-Wan. IT'S LIKE THEY DIDN'T EVEN WATCH THE MOVIE! I mean come on. The movie may not have shown the Sandcrawler's crates or the Jawa scooter that's included in this set, and I'm willing to make an exception for their inclusion for playability's sake, but there is no reason why Luke should have his saber. The other thing that bothers me about Luke is that they are trying to capture too much detail on his face. There are so many lines on Luke's face you'd think the designer was looking using his post-accident, TESB face for reference material.
Uncle Owen is meh, mostly because his face printing looks like a freaking mess. The stubble on his chin? I mean geezus, if you were to scale it up, each stubble print would be the size of a Cindy Crawford mole and his face is just pepppered with them. I'm not sure if they're trying to replicate his light beard or give him chicken pox.
The Gonk droid is brick built with the only non-stickered, non-minifig, printed element in the entire set used for the face. I kind wish they stuck with the mailbox Gonk droid design. The brick built one doesn't really offer anything new except the printed tile. The old one worked just fine so redesigning it seems a bit superfluous.
The treadwell droid has arms that spin around the central neck/axis. And that's really the only notable thing to mention really.
R2-D2 is awesome and is the same as the one you get in other cheaper sets. He lacks a restraining bolt even though his partner in crime is sporting one.
R5-D4 is just as nice. Some of the first R5 heads I've gotten, mostly from the Y-wing set, had printing issues, namely the ring that goes around the entire head wasn't printed straight but no such issues here.
The green R2 unit lacks a name which is lazy and disappointing and unfortunately he's not the only anonymous droid...
... because say hello to R1-series droid. Not R1-G4 as his name has been known for all these years, but R1-series droid. That is his official name because it's printed right there on the box.
C-3PO looks okay. He is new and exclusive to this set. His one silver leg part has been reduced to a silver printed stripe across his knee. Back in the day, I swapped out my chrome Threepio's leg with one from the chrome Stormtrooper and it looked fine even though it was the whole leg and not just the lower part but it's not my fault they don't have knees. Here, it just looks like a printing error. He too suffers from too much detail like Luke and Owen. His legs look like they're drowning in spaghetti but he does have a restraining bolt printed on him which is a nice little detail so let's call it a wash.
There is a seventh, unnamed droid that you assemble. He's not named on the box, but he's in the instruction manual. The manual even suggests taking it apart and spreading its six elements across each of the storage containers found under the crate doggy doors. He looks like the treadwell droid's offspring. I thought it was a nice touch to include it but the gesture could have been so much better. Other than this droid, there aren't many other droid parts thrown in to fill the crates. The Jawas are the scavengers of the Dune Sea, and I always imagined the interior of the Sandcrawler being filled to the brim with junk. A few extra battle droid parts, R2 legs, some tools, greeble parts, etc. thrown in to fill up the crates would have been a nice touch. Instead we get a Jawa scooter. The thing to do though would be the throw in all the extra elements left over from each of the bags into the crates to simulate droid junk. You get a pretty good handful of parts when it's all said and done so repurposing them as Jawa junk is satisfying.
Q: There are so many LEGO Star Wars models, what do you think sets the LEGO Sandcrawler apart from the others?
A: It has no compromises. We've done our absolute best to make a real evergreen out of this set.
That was the last question and answer from the interview with Olav that's inside the manual. I've never heard the term "evergreen" used in this context but I can guess that the answer was to give the impression that the set raised the bar and set a new standard that all future UCS sets will be measured against. Or something like that. It could be a European term that I'm unfamiliar with, like sabrage. I don't know. But I actually read the interview AFTER having built the set and I'd have to agree with the sentiment. 75059 Sandcrawler is pretty awesome. The playability factor is through the roof with the all the moving parts and extra accessories. And despite my grumblings, the minifigure selection is pretty nice albeit the exclusion of Beru. It may not be the same size and scope as the UCS Millennium Falcon, but did the Falcon have a playable interior hmmm? No, it did not. It just sits there collecting dust wishing it would be taken outside for a swooshing every now and then but you can't because it's so freaking big, awkward to hold, and probably mounted to your wall or somewhere equally inaccessible, like your bin of unsorted bricks. Yes, it's a bit of an unfair comparison, like comparing a minivan to a Porsche and saying the minivan is better because it's loaded with cup holders that the Porsche lacks. But you can't really play with the Falcon. The Sandcrawler, though? Loads of fun. Pretty to look at to boot.
I glance over at the set sitting on my kitchen table and every time I'm impressed by its look. I think the designers hit it out of the park on the overall design. Minifig issues aside, I really like this set but let's be honest. It's still a big brown box and I'm not sure where the appeal is beyond that if one isn't a fan of the original vehicle to begin with. It was hard rating this set. I flipflopped between a 3 and 4 and this is where my personal bias comes into play. If I had to choose between this and the UCS X-wing, I'd pick this in a heartbeat. If I had to choose between this and the Ewok Village, that's a tougher choice but I'd probably choose this since I liked Episode IV more than VI and that would be the only reason really. Both sets are at the top of their game. Final verdict? 4 out of 5 stars.
The set goes on sale officially on May 3th, 2014. If you decide to buy the set, please try and remember to click through our banner at the top of the page or through the below link before making your purchase, or click through an affiliate link on another one of your favorite LEGO blog sites to help generate some revenue for the site owners. We always appreciate your business. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!
Buy this set from LEGO Shop@Home: