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Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

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Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby Staff » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:52 am



The second half releases for Star Wars served to remind AFOLs of a few things. First, it's that LEGO has absolutely no regard for us and our wallets. Second, that Star Wars Episode I exists, now in 3D, and it featured a lot of terrible, terrible things. For those of you that have blocked Episode I out of your brains (and I can't blame you for that), the Gungan Sub was from a completely forgettable middle section where a Young Ed Bloom and Ra's al Ghul visit the Snorks and have to borrow a car in order to get Jar-Jar to the prom to make sure that his dad punches the bully and rescues his mom through a series of imaginative stories and flashbacks. I'm pretty sure I'm remembering that right, but those blocks I put in place for Episode I were very, very strong.

The new Gungan sub presents something kind of unique for me... a set that's a rehash that I never picked up (the only other set with that distinction is the original Gunship... anything else I've got the original, the rehash, and sometimes the rehash of the rehash). It's not that I had any more disdain for it than for the other Episode I sets... I was just a poor college student.

When it came down to the choice between LEGO or beer, the Gungan sub could not inspire sobriety like the X-Wing could. And back then, the sub was just a $25 set, so how does the new one stack up at almost triple the price and less than a hundred more pieces? $50 set... so how does the new one stack up at 50% more and less than a hundred new pieces

[Edit: Thanks to forum member ytjedi for pointing out that the brickpedia entry for the price was incorrect... like I said, I didn't buy it, so never knew]



Badly. So very, very badly. This set was first teased to us through a panel at last year's San Diego Comic Con. Okay, this set wasn't, but a brand new, detailed, Queen Amidala figure was. At first blush, it looked amazing, and they put it next to an equally amazing looking TIE Fighter. A character that had been ignored almost entirely (despite being one of the main characters of the PT) was finally getting some affection? How could LEGO possibly screw this up?

Back then, we didn't know that LEGO was going to violate our wallets to put it out there, and tack it on to some rehash set no one liked all that much in the first place. On the other hand, one has to hand it to the marketing team that through up adding such a radically new figure to a set like this. I'm sure more than a few bought it just for Queen Amidala.

Worse, when you look at the PT, and Episode I specifically, you have so few "good" things to choose from. We've already seen the amazing Pod Racer's set remake, a wildly overpriced Naboo Starfighter... and well, that's been it lately. A lot of other Episode I sets have been remade in recent history (MTT, ATT, Droid Ships, half of a Sith Infiltrator), but usually with a spin from a different movie or the Clone Wars series. Side note, it's hard to quantify time after 13 years of collecting Star Wars LEGO... I was going to say "couple of years," and then it dawned on me, the MTT is five years old. Turns out, Episode I just kinda sucked as a building source.

Yet it's given us a lot of decent sets over the years (both MTTs, the ATT, Battle Packs, Battle for Naboo), and good minifigures have always been a part of this one. Looking at the sub, we're off to an iffy start.We get four figures in this set, the aforementioned Queen Amidala, Jar Jar Binks, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Qui-Gon Jinn. Really, there's only one truly new figure here, Amidala. While Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn have been updated, they've been in other sets recently, and Jar-Jar is still available in The Battle of Naboo.



So let's cut to the chase and look at the figure that exemplifies George Lucas' complete misunderstanding of government and civics, our elected Queen. Don't get me wrong, at first glance, this figure looks amazing. But looks can be deceiving. Look at the first picture, and how the torso and the base line up. The base is an obvious one-off, and apparently, no one ever bothered to whip out the measuring tools and make sure they were the right size.

 

On a centerpiece figure like this, it's just a lazy choice. The printing itself is also different, most likely due to the fact that the base is the cheaper plastic we saw show up with some of the Toy Story 3 figures (Lotso, the monster guy). It feels light and extremely cheap. The interior is hollow as well, which means that this figure is very top heavy, especially since the headpiece is the traditional LEGO material.



Broken down, you see that scary white face (which would make an excellent head for castle stuff, courtesans, jesters, etc), the base, and a huge headpiece. Sure, it'd be nice if the hair broke down more, but I get why that's not. I just have to wonder how much of the $70 for this set went in to printing some of those little pieces and making the detail on the hair.



Everyone's favorite despot and slayer of millions, Jar Jar Binks, shows up in this set. He's identical to the Battle of Naboo version, and that's a good thing. Hate the character all you like, but he's a great minifigure, and one that really benefitted from the updated printing. Every time I see him, I keep thinking that someday, SOMEDAY, I'm going to build that "all Gungan" TIE FIghter squadron. Because you know they totally existed.

 

We get Qui-Gon Jinn. I wanted to find the last revision of him, which came with the Sith Infiltrator last year, but he was hiding from me when I snapped these pictures. That version is actually quite close to this one, and I instead found the version from the Republic Cruiser, which shows the difference a lot more starkly. Both he and Obi-Wan have alt faces with their little electric toothbrushes that somehow let them breathe underwater.

 

I love that super mullet he sports. Probably the best thing to come out of Episode I. I mean, is there a better hairpiece if you need to build a good crew chief or redneck? Of course there isn't. Plus, this may be the most unchanging part in Star Wars history. This version actually shows a bit better details on the hair, but it's obviously just a touchup of the same thing.



When you compare him to the older ones, like some other figures, it's mostly about details. There's obviously more of it on all newer figures, but the lines are thicker and more defined, even than the one from last year. Also, that whole grin and mustache thing he's going going makes me think "serial killer" more than "jedi master." Anyone who shows that many teeth when they smile are just trying to show off what they're going to eat your face with.



Obi-Wan is in a similar boat to Qui-Gon, he's recently been through a revamp (Podracer set), and mostly what's changed is detail. We have a lot more Kenobi minifigs to choose from than we have Qui-Gon figures, and he's as boring as ever. Also, I think his chin-butt is now actually larger than anything else on his face... he's slowly becoming Jay Leno.

Slap a beard on him and BAM! Episode 3! 

Biggest addition is the padawan braid, which I guess is now growing out of his shoulder. Someday, it'd be nice to see a legitimate padawan mullet, but I guess, for now, we can take iffy printing. The one from the Podracer set (not pictured), also has a bigger smirk for the alt face, but does not have the braid.



The sub itself is an interesting looking ship. I get the style in the movie, the sub was obviously inspired by a devil ray, and it has those kinds of curves and flow.



It's really hard to pin down this set while building it. The sub is built to be modular, kind of. The back section pulls off, and opens up to reveal a little seating area. I honestly don't remember this being a "thing" in the movie, and I really wonder why so much detail was put into this (and not into, let's say, the front anchor thing). You get to sticker some stuff, but in this set, it sort of works, because the stickers are accents, and not the whole point of the set.

The tail itself is fun to build, and so simple it's just kind of ridiculous. Take 4 long bars, put on either end, and then twist it. The end effect works quite well, even though it takes a few extra twists as the shape bends back. After awhile though, it holds and works.

 

The main body itself is somewhat interesting to build, at times. The curve on either side is done through a combination of hinges and well-placed jumpers. One beef, though, is that the instructions make the placement of the curve very confusing, with a lot of counting from difference places to make sure you have it lined up just right. There are also a few different places where parts were added to completely different areas on the ship, which means there's some back-tracking if you missed them. The worst of it though, has got to be that anchor that's just slapped on the front. It looks so ugly and jarring, by comparison to the rest.

You do get a couple of little accessories, for some reason. The ship comes with a couple of crates that only serve to fall out when you swoosh (or is it spwoosh underwater). I really don't understand what these add, was there something in the movie that I'm forgetting? At least the little orange depth charge makes a bit more sense (even if storing it under a glass canopy in a cockpit does not).

 

One of the most exciting things about the set was seeing the new bubble canopy, in trans clear, that gives starship builders (like myself) another option for shielding our meaty little passengers. It's been a good few years for ship builders, with all of the new molds, colors, and styles coming out. That you can attach it to any clip part is a huge plus, and one of the best changes to canopies in recent years, at least in my opinion. A lot easier to use these than hinges.

The bottom is what you'd expect, which is to say, nothing. There are flick fires (of course, what set doesn't have these now? Are they in the Friends line yet?), but thankfully they only take up minimal parts and are tacked on. What is nice are the trans light-blue bulbs that go on the end... I can see plenty of application for them. One beef though is the boat bottom discs, which serve more than a way to slide it around. In a lot of cases, these are basically holding the plates together. This is a somewhat fragile ship on the bottom, and I had these pop off and a tile break out, more than once.



I get that the whole price-per-piece ratio is a dead horse, and an outdated one at that. I'd love to come up with something new (and have been working on it), but even without that measurement, this set is a terrible value. We get one totally new and unique minifigure, two revisions of figures that were revised just last year, and a duplicate of Jar Jar Binks. This set has tripled greatly increased in price over the original without a substantial increase in quality or parts, and it's a vehicle that few people care about in the first place. I have several years before I can ask my daughter her opinion, but I can guess that when it comes to kids, few are clamoring that they want to play with the Mighty Jack of the Star Wars universe.

I think LEGO missed the boat on this one. There are better things that need a rehash out of Episode I (like, say, the Flash Speeder) that would have been better to put Amidala in. This one is the worst kind of mix, a set that's bland and a bad value. Or they could have added something more to this to make it work (maybe Boss Nas, or a brick fish or two). In the end, the actual model looks good, it really does, but that can't get you to forget the price and how bad the value is.

What I liked

  • Amidala starting to get a little more attention, even if the figure is more about look than quality

  • New canopies make my MOC'er sense tingle

  • Stickers actually used right, and the sub itself does look good

  • The tail section is interesting and fun to build


What I didn't like

  • The price. This is probably one of the worst value Star Wars sets LEGO has ever made

  • Set is a juxtaposition of great building elements and experience (tail, canopies, slope curve) and terrible, tacked-on ones (the anchor in the front, junk inside the other cockpits)

  • Figures make sense for what the set is, but not when compared to other sets still on the market

  • The price again. It's so bad it's worth mentioning twice


Verdict: Skip it, unless you find it on a huge sale. Amazon has it on sale for $5 less than MSRP. Better than nothing:
You can also pick up this set, and many others, on FBTB's Shop@Home Store!


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Permalink: http://www.fbtb.net/2012/09/19/review-9499-gungan-sub/
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby ytjedi » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:49 am

You're right about the high price of this set, but while you may have been fortunate enough to see the earlier version for $25 back in the day, it actually had MSRP of $50. So I guess your triple-the-cost complaint doesn't really "hold water". (couldn't resist)

http://brickset.com/detail/?set=7161-1
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby deco_droid » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:57 am

Dude, just wait a few months and get it on Amazon for 30% off like all the smart buyers do.

And I think we get that you didn't like Episode 1 after the umpteenth snarky comment. Go watch your vintage 80s OT laserdiscs again and get over it! I thought you were reviewing a Lego set...
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby dWhisper » Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:20 pm

ytjedi wrote:You're right about the high price of this set, but while you may have been fortunate enough to see the earlier version for $25 back in the day, it actually had MSRP of $50. So I guess your triple-the-cost complaint doesn't really "hold water". (couldn't resist)


Hrm, my mistake on that one. I actually just looked it up on a google search, and that's what LEGO Wikia told me the price. Looking at Bricklink, it says $50, so I'll go correct it.

And the tripled part may be busted, but I think the "bad value" conclusion still does.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby Flynn » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:13 pm

The Big Fish reference was totally worth reminding myself of this set. Thank you for that.


But seriously, this might have the distinction of being my least favorite SW set, just because of how crass the marketing is for it. "Oh, here's a ship no one will want to buy, so instead of improving it or ditching it for a better idea, let's randomly stuff in a minifigure people have been clamoring for since 1999 and watch them sell like crazy! It's brilliant!"
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby The_Chosen_1 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:06 pm

deco_droid wrote:And I think we get that you didn't like Episode 1 after the umpteenth snarky comment. Go watch your vintage 80s OT laserdiscs again and get over it! I thought you were reviewing a Lego set...


My thoughts exactly. The juvenile complaining got old and really detracted from the review itself.

And there's a reason all of the containers and depth charge are included; those are included in the actual ship:

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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby Trooper10 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:58 pm

I get that the whole price-per-piece ratio is a dead horse, and an outdated one at that. I'd love to come up with something new (and have been working on it), but even without that measurement, this set is a terrible value. We get one totally new and unique minifigure, two revisions of figures that were revised just last year, and a duplicate of Jar Jar Binks. This set has tripled greatly increased in price over the original without a substantial increase in quality or parts, and it's a vehicle that few people care about in the first place. I have several years before I can ask my daughter her opinion, but I can guess that when it comes to kids, few are clamoring that they want to play with the Mighty Jack of the Star Wars universe.

The price. This is probably one of the worst value Star Wars sets LEGO has ever made


Actually at MSRP Jabba's Palace (16.7c/part) and the AT-ST (15.4c/part) planet set are worse value than the sub (15.1c/part), but the point is well taken - a discount of 33% would bring the sub down to 10c/part

Oh and personally I can't get enough snarky comments about Ep1 (and 2 and 3)...if it wasn't for the lightsabers I think I would have done something drastic....like watch, or even worse, read Twilight...ok, so when I make a tasteless joke like that suddenly Jar Jar doesn't seem so bad.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby dWhisper » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:48 pm

My beef with the crates, which aren't in the cutaway (and the ones I was questioning)' is that they fall out. The set would heave been better served just closing that and including more of the depth charges. I get why a sub has those, the design of the ship just makes them a bit impractical. How do you launch them? By opening the canopy and flooding the section?

To clarify on value, I wasn't talking purely price ratio. I know there are worse ratio sets out there, like Jabba's palace. But while the palace is bad by the ratio numbers, it at least adds a lot of wildly unique figures and remakes. I can swallow that markup a bit better (though I feel it's still a $100 set, tops)

Also, there a reason I don't factor sale prices in to the reviews: they're not the norm. The majority of buyers aren't going to wait for a sale, and sales are not always available. A lot of my reviews comment on that in the verdict section (like, say, this one), but I'm looking at what Lego intended, and would prefer, we pay.

Honestly, the only Lego set I know of that a sale couldn't fix was The Twilight. I'm pretty sure TRU eventually had to pay people,to take those. Also, what AT-ST are you talking about? The Planets one?
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby buriedbybricks » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:13 pm

Jabba's Palace also looks like a great part assortment, while this one...
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby JohnGreenArt » Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:47 am

Queen Amidala's torso/dress not lining up is annoying, but it seems traditional for LEGO. All minifig torsos stick out a teeny bit from the leg section. One doesn't really notice it in most cases, since the average minifig wears a shirt and pants, but if you take bacta tank Luke, who's mostly naked, it looks like he's got a little muffin top hanging over his underwear/diaper/whatever.

And I think it's the same with other custom bottom-halfs, like the mermaids in the POTC sets and stuff.

I don't know why LEGO does it with the custom bottom pieces, because they really don't have much use for anything else, so it seems like it wouldn't be a part compatibility issue. The piece it should be most compatible with is the minifig torso, so why not make the custom bottom line up smoothly?

Is a real shame about the cheap plastic.

As for the set, I have no intention of getting it, but as for accuracy it does look like a MAJOR improvement over the original, which I got back when the sets came out before the movie and I didn't know what I was in for... :)
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby CaptainFordo » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:05 am

Every time I see him, I keep thinking that someday, SOMEDAY, I'm going to build that "all Gungan" TIE FIghter squadron. Because you know they totally existed.


I know that this was a joke, but I just wanted to say that the Empire was a notoriously racist organisation and had a pretty strict humans-only policy from what I recall. =P

Also I have to agree regarding the Episode I jabs. It has been 13 years, it's time to move on - either burn all your Star Wars stuff in a pyre a la Simon Pegg in Spaced, or stop talking about it =P.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby Flynn » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:25 pm

Given that this is a review for an Episode I set, though, and the diatribe is mostly just one paragraph, I think it's fine.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby Jargon » Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:05 am

I think we've all learned an important lesson here: no stating your opinion on a particular Star Wars film when reviewing (i.e. offering an opinion) merchandise derived from said film. That sounds about right.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby dWhisper » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:07 am

If time is the indicator on how long we can make fun of things, I'm fairly certain that Cracked.com (and really, the entire internet) is screwed.
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby Robzula » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:07 am

dWhisper wrote:If time is the indicator on how long we can make fun of things, I'm fairly certain that Cracked.com (and really, the entire internet) is screwed.

Which is why we still love hearing about arrow in the knee. Or the cake is a lie. Or LOL cats. Or Lightningbolt Wizard (I'm sure there's a few people here who don't even know what that is).

The fact is, it's not really stating a valid opinion anymore. No, you may not actually like the movies, but the way it's worded, the frequency of the mentionings... it's just another repeated meme. Memes tend to piss most people off after a certain amount of time. This one's starting to run its course.

Honestly, I didn't even read the review past that first "opinion" until I decided it was worth my while to open my yap so I could see just what was going on. I just couldn't find any desire to sit through hearing about it over and over again (not that it was mentioned overly much in this review, though I daresay once is becoming too much for me).
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby Flynn » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:21 am

Am I the only one that just skimmed through the paragraph and read the review? Seriously, I don't see what the big deal is about a 1-paragraph diatribe about something directly related to the set itself.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby dWhisper » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:16 am

Fair enough, Robzula, though I'm going to disagree. Yes, meme's do run their course, but this really isn't a meme, it's a construct vehicle in the writing. In this case, using over-the-top sarcasm to set the tone for the review, in order to establish the point that the set was sub-par, similar to it's source material. Did I know it would alienate some people? Sure, but it's also the style that I have established on the site.

Could I have done an impartial and level review? No, not really. Sure, I could have cut out the sarcasm I set up, but I cannot overcome the bias I have against certain sets any more than the rest of us can. It has even shown through on sets I loved (the Podracers set from last year, for example) from the same movie or theme, and sometimes, I've ignored the movie to focus on gaps in the set (the Sith Infiltrator). Part of the fun of being an adult collector is being able to complain about things... to quote the esteemed prophet, Simon Phoenix: "You can't take away people's rights to be *bleep*!"

These are theme sets, and live in that scene. It's like trying to review a part of a machine by ignoring that machine. Episode I is a genuinely bad movie, and yes, I don't like it (though I wouldn't characterize it as hate... it's just bleh)... but it's also current and fresh. This was a brand new set based on a re-released movie (now in 3D!). The construct, in this case, was poking at the absurdity of the movie and basing a high-dollar set around what was, at best, filler (and at worst, a pointless waste of time).

Think about Episode I... what happens in it that matters even a bit in the later movies? Half of the main characters are dead by the time the second movie starts, and none of them are ever mentioned again. Jar-Jar shows up, and the only thing he does is start an interstellar war. "Queen Amidala" is gone and replaced by Padme, Obi-Wan is more or less different, and Anakin is all grown up. When Toper Grace recut the PT, the only thing he used was the battle between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan. No pod race, no subs, no blockade, because they added nothing.

I would have rather seen the top-end set spent on something else from Episode I, or see the Amidala figure used to move something else. There's plenty of things that can overcome the handicap of the source material (again, see the Podracers set). This could have easily been a new AAT, a bigger Gungan battle set, Flash speeder or a hanger battle, maybe even something around the space battle, or duel of the fates (because, seriously, who wouldn't want a playset that involved cutting Darth Maul in half?)

So I use sarcasm to explain that. I could also write a scholarly discussion about it, but it doesn't make for something distillable (or when I was just trying to fit as many other references into a paragraph as I could) in a short space. A calculated risk that won't work with everyone, but that's really anything. Besides, I think the rest of my scheduled reviews are about making fun of Clone Wars and The Old Republic, so my snark will be put to fresher purposes.
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby Robzula » Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:42 pm

I was gonna write a whole big thing to counter you, but I'm really not trying to get into an argument or debate and I'm a bit burned out from chemistry so I'm can't really think good right now, so...

I'm not saying you wrote a bad review. I'm not saying the jokes (I still stand by it being a meme) didn't belong in your review. All I was attempting to do was defend the people talking out against you. Their opinion of disliking the meme and voicing their disapproval and belief that it distracted from the review is valid. For my part, I didn't even bother reading the review (though once I did, I found it was well written and the meme was only really present in the first paragraph or two).
Jargon wrote:I think we've all learned an important lesson here: no stating your opinion on a particular Star Wars film when reviewing (i.e. offering an opinion) merchandise derived from said film. That sounds about right.

This quote was really what prompted me to comment. Your (dWhisper's) comment just happened to fit better with mine.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby lowlead » Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:07 am

Forgive me for the resurrection, but fast forward to March 2013 where this set is now $55.97 at WM.

I must have stood in the LEGO aisle for 20 minutes staring at the dumb thing, debating if the above price was worth a couple copies: I could easily recover $20+ by selling off the queen.

Well, I refrained from parting with my cash until further meditation on the issue - and this review certainly helped. It was thorough and very informative, and I found myself laughing out loud, no, actually guffawing, on several occasions. It's the highly acidic, cynical review - funny.

As you were.
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Re: Review: 9499 Gungan Sub

Postby Marty » Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:59 pm

Hi, read the reviews, yes! Price is steep, more here in Australia than you lot paid for it! But here's the thing, I did buy the original model when it came out, I think for about $45 AUD, this one was $99 from Myer with $10 off so $89 I paid for it.
The set is a vast improvement on the older version, figures too, the queen, though a nice touch, has nothing to do with the set.
Honestly Lego could have added a little throne room & an extra figure for the price of this, or added the Adlantis fish chasing the sub, and it would he been worth it. But as it stands it's only for the real diehard fans of this, (I'm one!) This was the only thing I liked in that movie, and getting the queen, well, she's long overdue.

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