Ah, the AT-TE, otherwise known as "you know what was cool, the AT-AT, we need more of that in the Prequels" walker. As I talked about in the AT-RT review, I love me some walkers, and this thing is no different. It also marks the one big set that I own all three varieties of, so for the purposes of this review, I didn't bother to photograph the other two. Okay, to be fair... they were packed up while getting carpet installed, but still.
This is the biggest of a whole series of Episode II sets we got with the fall release. We haven't seen much in the way of leaks yet for next year, but given what we've seen, you sort of have to assume we'll get an Episode III wave some time between now and the Episode VII / Rebels sets start to land. Hope you like some Clone Turbo Tank sets. Well, and that one AT-PT walker we've seen already.
At $90, this set manages to occupy the exact same price point in all three iterations (though the other two were $80, inflation and what not). Along with the Gunship, it's a pair of big sets that you'd think would fit together (but don't, that's a whole different dropship). While the RGS was featured prominently in Clone Wars as the chariot that took Anakin to his surgery date, the AT-TEs were mostly background fodder for the CGI guys to play with. The last AT-TE was a wonderful big set, even being Clone Wars, and the original was one of the better first release sets (though it had to get a service pack to make it work). The question is, how does this guy stack up?
Look at these different AT-TEs, compliments Tohst (my older AT-TE was packed away at the time of the review for some renovation work). You can see right away that this one is smaller than than both the original and the Clone Wars version. When you pick it up after building it, the whole set feels too small in your hands right away. Maybe it only feels like that if you owned the previous set, but it's obvious if you do. The last version was, like the RGS, the best of the Clone Wars sets. It was good enough that a lot of us could overlook the demon faces for the build itself.
For a set in this price range, it is a little light on the minifigure front, with the somewhat hilariously named Coleman Trebor (that sounds like the name of a DUI laywer that has cheesy TV commercials... something like 1-CALL-TREBOR), Mace Windu, a Clone Commander and a couple of dark flesh Droids. Droids count like, what, half a minifig? Most $50 sets come with more figures than this, so it's already an odd start, but it was a problem with the new Gunship as well.
Coleman Trebor is only really noticeable for being the Jedi that Jango Fett killed when the guy just jumped down and smiled at Dooku instead of, I don't know, maybe attacking while he leapt into the box instead of just trying to cut his way through some droids. He was a Jedi Master that already showed some actuall intelligence in this fight, otherwise, since he didn't go into the turkey shoot in the middle of the arena and tried to kill a leader. Of course, that's kind of like saying the last lemming over the hill is the smartest one because he waited (even though the lemming thing is a myth), since he jumped up without a weapon being ready.
This is the first of many Jedi who could have disrupted the war from the outset (maybe the second, since Obi-Wan didn't couldn't seem to associate "maybe a Clone Army based on an assassin that has already tried to kill me twice" and "bad idea"). It's not a bad sculpt of the head, and that kind of part that can easily be put on to a different head and tossed into any number of army applications. The grey printing on the torso is always a shame, but at least it's not yellow or flesh, so you could just pretend that it's an undershirt and have a good generic Jedi tunic.
Next up we get Mace Windu, who we've actually gotten a few versions of lately. There is the obligatory (and just terrible) Clone Wars version, but a more "modern" version that came with Palpatine's Arrest last year. I'd love to show you a comparison of the two figures, but that set is overpriced when its on sale. I may pick it up someday, but since it's an overpriced TRU exclusive, chances are I have decades to pick one up.
Mace's head remains fairly basic, because SLJ's head is pretty basic (also, awesome). We get printed white legs to go with the jedi tunic, and no alt face (since there is no hair to hide it poorly). Not a bad figure, and it's always nice to add to the minifig color palette. Plus, now we have some variation of all those Mace Windu heads that we had to use before (it was that or that head from the Arkham Guard with those terrible glasses). Plus, we do get another purple lightsaber.
When I wrote the RGS review, I made a mistake in saying that all clones were in white armor in Episode II. Turns out, there were variations for commanders, pilots, and some other variations. I even managed to make it through watching Episode II again (which is surprising for any number of reasons, not the least of which was massive consumption of a certain type of liquid to fortify myself for watching the PT) and saw these colored clones during the battle.
Under the helmet, we get the new Clone Trooper face, which is nice. The printing is also the improved clone torso (better shadowing and definition on the lines) complete with rank pips and yellow arms. A good little figure, which is sadly going to be a bit tough to get unless you want some more AT-TEs. Then again, you never want more officers than enlisted soldiers... it's the enlisted men and women that do all the work!
There are two slightly different Battle Droids included in the set as well, a dark orange variety of the regular droid, and a commander version of the same thing. Said commander has a little yellow stripe and a dot in the front, otherwise, they are identical. The regular droid is the same as what you get with the Droid Tank set that came out at the same time as the AT-TE, only missing the back plate.
Luckily, LEGO has... diversified a little since the old Episode II days, so you can get those 1x2 plates a whole lot easier than you could the sand red 1x2 plate that came with the original Geonosian battle droids. Those things were only in two sets, and are still hard to find. Still, given the size and price of this set, the minifigs are a real let down. There should have been, at the least, at least one more Clone Trooper (if not two). There wasn't much reason to include the battle droids at all, there are other sets that make far more sense (spider droid, droid tank, battle packs).
No one is ever going to accuse the AT-TE of being a set that's only about the minifigs (looking at you, almost every other licensed set released in the past five years). This thing is obviously about the vehicle, and the figures that are tossed in. This set is about the AT-TE, and that's not a bad thing. It obviously has the look, even if it's kinda compact compared to the other versions of the same set. Let's see what this is supposed to look like...
That's actually not too bad, all things considered. The proportion is off because this thing is compacted, but if you look at the older one, it actually looks too long by comparison. The newer version pushes the middle legs out farther as well, in how they are offset. The middle legs stick out even more here in part to the shape of the ship itself, with the smaller front and back making it look somewhat chibi-like (it's not Chibi, but has that overstated proportion aspect to it). We get a couple of stickered panels (to replace what was effectively bricks in the old one), and an emblem or two. I never understood why Lego moved that part away from being printed. I understand perfectly why certain things are stickers instead of printed when they're only showing up one or two places.
I actually don't mind stickers for the most part (and have quite liked some stickers), but I don't get how they can print up a wood grain pattern that just started to be used in the past couple of years, but stopped printing a tile that had been printed previously and shows up in probably a third of the sets made every year.
There are a few notable changes from the previous version, other than the size, that don't really stick out in the pictures of the assembled set. The first is the front at the cockpit. The Clone Wars version included a couple of spring-loaded launchers, which I'm honestly not all that sad to see go. We get four cannons, the bottom two which are fastened with a single peg in both places. The RGS really improved the connectors between the old version and the new one, the AT-TE pretty much just maintains it.
The change comes with the entire way the cockpit functions. Instead of opening on a hinge, it just slides out and sits inside a slotted brick to reveal the seat for a clone pilot... who happens to not be included in this set. At least the RGS included a pilot figure, it would have been nice to have another.
The space for the pilot is really cramped, and the only way you can fit him in there is with the arms up. It looks good, I suppose, but it's not a very play-friendly way to put in a cockpit. The turret above it has improved in quality a bit, with a bit more detail. I do question the logic of fortifying an entire vehicle for assault and then sticking a guy standing on top of it to operate it's main weapon. I'm pretty sure that I know where I'd be shooting...
The cannon on top was also switched from a simple "lets just stick this here" to a "let's just stick this here, but also hide a few flick-fires. I really wouldn't mind some missiles on this set, but something about making it so your primary weapon is rendered useless just to fire a few shots that could be knocked out of the sky feels a bit flawed. There's nothing to say that this is accurate to the movie, since these were a tank more than a rocket platform (thus the big turret-y cannon on top).
The sides of the entire ship are basically held on a single technic pin that attaches to the underside, and they sort of slide into place. I suppose it works, but really, the worst part about this smaller shape, the single pins, and the whole firing mechanism is that you lose most of the interior. This thing is a troop transport (albeit a horribly slow and inefficient one), and the entire front section can now be used to do nothing.
The back half of the waker at least pretends to be some sort of transport, and the top half has plenty of space to set a few clones to do some pot-shots (I always liked putting them on top of the old AT-TE). We also have two cannons, and a ladder clipped to the bottom. I know I decry the whole overuse of over-complicated nature of certain parts (see any rant about flick-fires), but this might just be the most phoned-in part of any set ever. We couldn't get a ramp or a decent retractable ladder? Nope. Clip and single-piece ladder.
- The back here does open, and there is a little bit of room for troops. And by a little bit, I mean two or three, if they're willing to stand uncomfortably close.
In fact, the entire rear piece does sort of fold up and reveal that back section, which has stickers on the slopes for some reason. In truth, you could probably get four or five clones there, but that's such a difference from the last version that it feels like a why bother sort of thing.
The legs on this version are somewhat improved from the earlier version, though you have less ways to articulate them effectively. Sure, they move a whole lot, but they also just sort of hang there and spin around, so it mostly sits in place. I guess at least the big dish is still printed. And there are some slope pieces there as well to give some extra heft. There's also a little lever mechanism that lets you pick it up, but not really latch on to anything (the RGS is too bulky and the wrong ship anyway).
In the end though, none of these things are enough to make up for the fact that this version just isn't as good as the last AT-TE (or even the original before it). Worse, it wasn't even fiddling with it to try and improve the "playset" nature of the set that ruins it (like, say Jabba's Sail Barge). Unlike the RGS, which was a marked improvement on almost every front, this one is a regression. The cockpit is certainly more sturdy, but it's harder to access and doesn't come with a driver. The top turret looks better, but it wastes a bunch of space to add missiles. The entire build is more stubby and doesn't look as good next to the Clone Wars version.
Parts-wise, I'm not sure it can justify the $90 price tag, even with 794 pieces It's a somewhat deceptive number, with plenty of technic parts and the like (that gun on top is probably 70 parts in total, especially if you own the superior older version. Yes, you get three figures that are unique in this set, with Coleman being the most unique of them.
As of this writing, Amazon.com has the set for a nice little markdown, which makes it a lot more desirable, especially if you don't have the older set, or if you want the figures and could use a mix of parts (or perhaps just MOC the thing and make it longer and capable of carrying troops).
What I liked:
- New top gun looks better than previous iterations
- Cockpit is a lot sturdier
- Minifigs are an interesting blend, with a lot of uniqueness, even if...
What I didn't like:
- ... there are not enough minifigures in the set. There should have been at least one more Clone Trooper, if not two (or one and a pilot)
- No reason for battle droids to be in the set, there are plenty of other sets to get battle droids in right now
- Set is smaller, stubbier, and an overall worse set than the Clone Wars version was. It's worse when you put it next to the original
- Lack of interior space makes this bad at filling up with clones, which means less sales of Clones to put in there
You can pick up the AT-TE right now for a nice little discount on Amazon.com.