Hello, and welcome to a Tohst review.
I hope you find this a useful and provocative format with which to look at new sets and decide if they're worth your money or not. I will attempt to discribe the set both from a build and play perspective but also within the larger millieux of both Lego and Lego Star Wars. In addition, I have my word a day calandar right here. If you like this format, let me know and I'll do more of these. If not, constructive criticism is welcome. So is silence.
The box and first impressions.
Box by lego_tohst, on Flickr
Okay, I'm not a Clone Wars fan. To me, the marketing to key demographic-ness of it overshadows anything else it tries to do. But when I saw the photos of the Jan 2011 assortment I liked a lot of what I saw. These were ships that didn't scream Star Wars to me. They were generic enough to live in any space centric universe. Which isn't a good thing if you're looking for Star Wars sets but is good if you're looking for cool Lego Space.
And does this thing look good. Vaguely wasplike with a large head/cockpit area and rotating thrusters off the wings. It is almost as menacing as the price. I kid. I kid. Sorta.
I have to mention the price. It's high but it is on the low end of the 'new cruelty' normal. And we all know how to wait for sales these days, right? Right? Let the parents and the rubes pay MSRP.
Okay, so you bought it, brought it home, dumped it out and see what?
Three Little Bags - helpfully numbered
Lots of air in that box, but three decent sized bags. One for the master and one for the dame and one for the little boy who lives down the lane. Or One for the cockpit, one for the body, and one for the two thusters. And the sheet. Oh Boy.
The sticker with the pink Kremzeek says 'My other ship is set 5971'
Notice, its a little bend in the corner but better than a lot of other sticker sheets I've gotten mangled out of boxes. The instructions weren't too mangled either. Good Job, Lego. You're getting back to where you were a decade ago in quality assurance.
Okay, dump out the pieces, look for anything new.
We have the new macaroni piece (that is less useful) in dark green. Nice. We have the new 1 x 4 tile with end studs only. We have some of the new cylinders in dark green that were so prominently used in Space Police III (second space police III reference, hrmmm?). New guns, knifes in grey. Nice. New mold circles without side connection points. And Embo's hat which I can think of a few non hat uses of that printing (not all of them dirty). And what's this? A printed tile that translates to 'Intel Inside'. No wonder the Jedi got all but wiped out.
What isn't shown here is the circular windscreen. A very useful piece (available in blue in set 5971. I know, I'm not very subtle.) that here is in trans-clear. What? Trans-clear? RAGE! It was available in Trans-clear in almost every two-bit speed racer set that was clearanced to the cost of a stick of gum. Why not stick with the Star Wars standard of trans-black or smokey trans or tinted or whatever you want to call it. Give us it in a new color and a better looking color to boot. No, trans clear. Sigh.
Let's start building.
The instructions do a good job of differentiating between dark bluish grey, light bluish grey, and black. I appreciate that and again, we're back to where QA was a decade ago. I will say looking at some older instructions black looked like dark bluish grey and it was only because dark grey was warmer that the difference was apparent. So, I can better understand the issues Lego had there and am glad they've found a way to make it fairly obvious.
Okay, that was reasonable...what? You give me a new 1 x 4 plate with two studs and you put a sticker on it for a control panel? RAGE!! Oh, you have a second copy of that piece you actually put to good use later. Fine, I guess. But really? What a waste of a new piece.
Okay, let's talk about the head/cockpit. Take a look at this picture.
If this was the Adventures of Clumsy Pete I'd note this with 'Face!'. From the front it is gorgeous, almost looking like a Mandalorian helmet. Which, considering the set comes with bounty hunters but not a Fett seems ironic. But notice, the front is brick built but the top, which could have been easily decorated in the same fashion uses big ugly stickers. RAGE!!!
Tohst, you say, don't be an idiot. The reason the top isn't brick built is because it would be too heavy and the hinge wouldn't keep it open. That's true, except, the top is hinged using this clip:
and the whole thing is floppy. What a waste.
Okay, you finish the head, you start the body. There is a nice bit of color coding for the play function here to help younger builders (and older builders with poor eyesight). The body is cool and doesn't elicit any rage. Huh.
Good use of new pieces and nice color coding.
The top guns, like the front guns use the spyglass piece which are everywhere the past year or so. When Lego people look at sets in 20 years, they'll know what years they were released by the prevalence of that piece. They also use the Agents guns in black on the top cannon, which is nice.
The Jedi Holocron is 3 1x1 plates. So, I've been unhappy with Lego for years because in a lot of models where they would usually use 1 x 1 plates, they now use 1 x 1 rounds. These are easier for kids to place and remove. I get it. But in my MOCs, I usually need 1 x 1 plates because unless you specifically want texture, they look better. Here, Lego gives us 3 'bonus' 1 x 1 plates and its boring. It doesn't say Holocron to me. Not enough to induce rage, more like ennui.
By this time, you've gotten to the wing tubes. And by this time, Lego has gotten the science of making these tubes down pat. They are great tubes with a nice bit of greebling up front. The connection to the wing shifting mechanism is less sturdy than I expected and looks a little akward but only if you look too close.
This being a Star Wars set in 2011, many of you are buying this for only the minifigs.
Bounty Hunters - Really?
And the back
Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde
Now, 3 of the 4 ain't bad for Minifigures. I only know one of them as a character, Aurra Sing. Aurra was supposed to be the Boba Fett of the prequels according to the hype when those movies were coming out. She, well, wasn't. Now, she is getting her chance to at least be a character in the Clone Wars. And the minifig is a good likeness except she comes with small guns. All the promo matierals she had this gun that was taller than her. Oh well. Not a big change. The minifig also doesn't get her unicorn horn antenna which is probably for the best.
Her and Sugi look less like bounty hunters and more like people at a Rave. Aurra is the club kid with the 'shock my dad' hair. Sugi looks like the bouncer who tells stories about how the 60s were great if only she could remember them. Even Embo gets in the act with a leg print that looks like he has a kicky little skirt on just perfect for clubbing. Again, these minifigures are good with interesting prints but...
Bounty Hunters - Really!
These are bounty hunters!
You know how I know you all stink at being bounty hunters? Because Vader invited none of you to his ship in Empire Strikes Back. No cool kids table for you.
Boba makes them cry
And those are the good three. The assassin droid is just a waste. Here is IG-88 telling him how much even he thinks he stinks and IG-88 has a megaphone for a gun.
You'd cry if you could
The play is the thing in which to catch a king
Okay, after all that, is it fun? Well, yes. The initial impression from the box that it was a cool ship was right on. It swooshes, it whooshes, it fires on screaming victims. And it has the coolest mechanism ever. You pull the back of the ship and the engine tubes flip vertical for landing. Push on the back of the ship and they pop back into place for flight. How cool is that? I've hinted at it before but I'll say it here. I think overall this ship is a better version of the Space Police set 5971. That ship was cool, but flimsy. Here, with the added benefit of a (much) higher price point, the cockpit feels solid, the body is substantial, and they added the cool tube engines. Awesome.
But, if they expect us to believe all those bounty hunters can actually fit in this ship, even if some of them were in the 'cell' area... well, RAGE!
It has room for the pilot and a prisoner. Lego did the same thing with the Jedi Shuttle. We know you have to compress the ships designs for the sake of the set. And if it wasn't for the shuttle with the same problem I probably wouldn't care as much on this one but it seems they aren't even trying to make the ships able to actually carry who they are supposed to carry.
It does have a little concealed weapons area in the canopy above the cockpit so that's cool.
It's a very cool set with some minor stupid things wrong with it. Like everything else these days, catch it on sale.