Given the release of the new The Lord of the Rings line, my Star Wars purchases (if any) will be limited this year, but this is a pretty good collection of sets, with some real stand-outs. Here's some of my thoughts on a few of the sets:
9496 Desert Skiff: Pretty cool, definitely an improvement on previous iterations, including the Sarlaac; the addition of tentacles is a nice touch. I don't care much for the new new Boba Fett, the extra printing and (especially) colour change of the cloak seems somewhat unnecessary.
9497 Republic Striker-Class Starfighter & 9500 Sith Fury-Class Interceptor: The latter seems like a pretty substantial set, with some pretty nifty looking play features and awesome looking figures (well, figure: Darth Malagus!) to boot, the former however looks comparatively disappointing, and the figures are nothing to write home about (I expected a new hair sculpt), although the droid is interesting, some npu there. The interceptor build looks a bit more complex and interesting compared to the Republic starfighter, and given the target audience for these sets (probably not kids; teens and adults that have actually played the game) I expected some more advanced building techniques and detail on this particular set. I do have a soft spot for the Old Republic era, so these are a maybe (at least the Sith interceptor).
9515 The Malevolence: Could this iteration of Padme be the ugliest minifigure in the whole line? Considering her other appearance in the Gungan Sub set, this figure is pretty hideous, but I don't care much for the Clone Wars sets, so I'll leave it be.
9516 Jabba’s Palace: Whoa! definitely worth it for the minifigures alone. Salacious Crumb I am in two minds about; the figure teeters on the boundary of 'LEGO' and action figure-dom. The new Jabba is nicely done and the tattoo on his right arm is an excellent little detail. Oola looks awesome, with revesible head to boot; I love the lime green, I think the colour choice has proved controversial. Leia Boushh. Those two words alone should be enough to convey the awesomeness of this figure. Well played LEGO. The rest of the set doesn't look half bad either, you couldn't ask for much more really. Except maybe a Rancor. Maybe.
Well those are just my two cents. Some nice looking sets there; the Sith interceptor are Jabba's Palace are on my 'maybe' list. The advent calendar seems to be a bit of an improvement on last year, but the Darth Maul in Santa suit seems a bit poor effort; but again, not really a set that interests me.
And BIG thanks to the FBTB team for getting us these pics. Super-excited to see all the new sets in stores nonetheless!