In more than one thread on our forums, I've called out 2006's 6210 - Jabba's Sail Barge as my all-time favorite Star Wars LEGO set. It was a crown jewel of any collection (at least until the UCS Falcon came out), and has held up remarkably over the years. If for no other reason, it finally gave us a reason to embrace the Fleshy figure transition by giving us both Lando and Slave Leia.
Of course, now seven years later, we're getting a new Sail barge set, the fourth in what is almost a mini-theme of overpriced Jabba the Hut sets. It begs the question: are the new Jabba the Hutt figures painted by blind Tibetan monks? What else would justify the high prices for these sets... wait, the Rancor set was high too. Maybe there's some secret deal to charge fans of the OT more for these things, I don't know.
At $120, the new Sail Barge represents a 60% increase in price over the previous set, and adds a whopping 69 extra pieces. Of course, we do get three brand new figures, including the much-requested Max Rebo, along with an updated Slave Leia and the same Jabba from the palace and R2-D2 with a plate.
Inflation since 2006 has been about 16% (thanks, internet), so we have to ask the question... does this set justify the other 44% of wallet shock?
I'm an American, and a fan of our brand of Football, so there's a great analogy here to describe the impossible mission that's here for this model. Basically... no one wants to be the guy who replaces John Elway (or Joe Montana, or Troy Aikman, or Dan Marino). When Elway retired in 1999, he was coming off of two Super Bowl wins and was, without question, the best player that the Broncos had ever had. Now, there was a massive gap in the lineup, and the guy who had to come in and replace him would never be able to win over the fans or perform at the same level.
In a sport that's uniquely dependant on a particular position, that position is usually a star, and teams go through some very hard years before they get back (unless you're the Dolphins, which means you never come back, or my beloved Cowboys, which means you just underachieve for a few decades and blame your current QB). For every Steve Young that comes out and does as well as a predecessor, there are a dozen Jake Plumbers, or Quincey Carters, or whoever played for the Dolphins after Marino finally gave up.
Fans of soccer/football will have to tell me if there's a more international version of this as well, though my understanding sees players move around a lot more between clubs in the European leagues.
That's what this new Sail Barge is facing to start. Before it hit the shelf... heck, before we saw the first picture, we had a standard to hold it to: the last Sail Barge. And that's a very difficult position to be in. Occasionally, we get our expectations exceeded (see Steve Young, or in LEGO terms the new Republic Gunship). If we're lucky, usually we get some small letdowns (the most recent Slave I redesign) and not just complete bombs.
The most obvious thing to be excited for in this set if you're an owner of the previous Sail Barge is the new set of minifigures. How can you not be excited to see Max Rebo in minifig form? That's a pure callout to fans of the OT. Sure, we still don't have the rest of the crazy band and that terrible song from the Special Edition, but we did get Oola in the Jabba's Palace set. Can I make up some of my nerd cred from the whole green lightsaber debacle in my RGS review by saying I know the names of these minifigs without having to go to the hive of scum and villainy that is Wookiepedia?
We get a Jabba in this set, being his ship and all. He's identical to the one that came in the Jabba's Palace set, though I did notice that my copy from his palace had noticeably lighter (as in thinner) printing, which made that figure look darker. I checked with a few others that own it, however, and found out that mine looks to just be off, and they are identical.
Otherwise, he's still a big giant slug, and the only thing I could see in the sets that seems to speak to their absurd price points. I doubt we're looking at a $20 figure here, so maybe they're trying to pay of Han's debt?
He certainly has come along way since the original Palace and Sail Barge sets, though. One note, to anyone who's going to stick the new Jabba in the old sail barge... you have to do some changes to the base under him, and reposition a couple of things to get the new fixed tail to sit in there right. Minor changes, but still, changes.
Slave Leia gets a pretty big update as well, one that isn't all that obvious until you really hold the character. We've seen a few different versions of Leia in recent years, as LEGO has decided that maybe ignoring one of two women in the OT really isn't in their best interest. We get the new and somewhat pissed-off Leia alt-face (the same as what we got with the Boushh figure), a completely new hairpiece and new printing for the bikini and legs.
The alt face is typical Leia smile, but the bigger thing to note is how the hair piece is designed to both look like her actual long braid (and not the little ponytail we had on the previous one), but still accommodate the backpack stud for use on the chain. I hadn't even noticed that placement until I attached the chain, and was just wowed by it. I love this new hairpiece, but shudder at the price I'm going to pay on the aftermarket to get more of it...
My hat is off to LEGO at finally getting the printing on the torso and legs to line up perfectly. The printing has come a long way since the original Leia, which had the same general design. Obviously, we have the thicker lines that modern figures like, but also get the bikini part over her hips, instead of the low-riders she had before. It's also printed on the back sort of alluding to it being a golden thong, so there is that.
Is it wrong to be curious at all of the terribly wrong MOCs that will come out of a new Slave Leia figure being in the wild?
R2 also gets a slight update, though it's less with a new figure (this is the same astromech that we get in a bunch of other sets) and more with a slightly updated drink tray. I loved this aspect in the original Sail Barge, since back then, this was one of what, three astromechs that you could get?
Since then, we've had a whole bunch of crazy varieties, which makes this a bit uninspired. Basically, we get dark tan instead of dark grey (having come into the palette with PoP sets after this set had gone to pasture), and the addition of the wine bottle.
Sitting next to the old one, it really doesn't look all that different (other than years of dust marring the clear cups on my old R2). A complete aside... if there was ever a figure that deserved the Chrome treatment, it's our buddy R2. Seriously LEGO... you want to get people excited for a poromotion? Make a shiny R2-D2. The money from Don alone could buy one of the LEGO owners a new solid gold shark tank.
The first of the completely new minifigures we get is Ree-Yees (a name I know compliments to Star Wars Galaxies), our three-eyed thug destined to die a fiery death (along with a lot of prisoners and enslaved people like Max Rebo) when they blow up the barge. I'm all for more aliens in the Star Wars figure lexicon, and this one certainly doesn't let us down. Plus, with a molded head, no alt face!
The printed torso shows some promise, but has the little bit of not-quite-right color flesh printing. He's a nice figure, but I don't have a lot to say about him, since he was on the screen for a few seconds total.
Next up is Weequay, a character I'm sure was in the movie but I really can't remember. Again, an alien, which is always nice to see, but this is one mostly defined by printing. I'm not a huge fan of the braids printed on the back of the torso and head, though it sort of lines up. I just think LEGO could have come up with a solution for some hair, given all of the different hairpieces we've had as of late. Otherwise, I've got nothing else to comment on the figure.
Last up, the figure that drew everyone's eyes to the set, Max Rebo, our nalargon playing buddy (again, SWG... I always had an entertainer character of some sort when I played that game).
There's really not a lot I can say about this character. While I love to see yet another obscure character get made, and they did a good job on his head, the rest of him is a little bit... blue (dark azure, technically). I get that the character is totally naked and blue, I would have liked to see a bit of detail on the torso or legs.
While missing the rest of the band, he's a great figure but could be a lot more. LEGO collectors are never happy, so now that we have Max, we need to demand some Sy Snoodles or a Joh Yowza (wow, I'm sliding away from normal nerdocity into "how did you ever get married?" nerdocity, aren't I), or at the very least, access to some Bith figures.
While the price of the bigger Jabba sets hasn't been good (the Desert Skiff, however, remains exceptional value), it has been great for those looking to expand their figure collection. We've gotten Oola, updates to Gamorrean Guards, Bib Fortuna, and Jabba himself. We've gotten Boushh, that little monkey dude, and a bunch of other scoundrels to add to our collection. In short, if you like minifigures, you have to at least enjoy what these sets have given us.
The interesting thing about the new Sail Barge is that it looks better sitting next to the old one than it does all by itself. The first pictures of this set just looked absolutely horrible, and were met with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. I'll admit, I did more than my fair share of it, and after building this set, I was right for the most part. While it's not as bad as I had first thought, it certainly not as good as the old one, but does have a few updates worth noting.
The sails are plastic now, instead of the fabric we got with the old one. They're also a bit smaller, so you can't just swap the sails out if you get it (you can, however, swap the entire mounts between them).
The entire sailbarge is designted to fold out and expose the interior. The old one did that as well, at least for the center parts, but this one actually opens up entirely, and the deck is removable as one piece instead of three.
The entire thing, however, is considerably smaller than the old Sailbarge, and it's apparent in the comparison pictures. The deck has a lot less space for figures.
Of course, the thing that really draws your eye when you look at this is the absolutely terrible front. The 2006 Sail barge had a very inventive way of making the sailbarge, which effectively is an upside down boat look like an upside down boat: they took boat pieces and put them upside down.
Look athe picture of the movie sailbarge, and you can see the rounded look on the front. The old set captured that very well, at least as well as you can really do with LEGO.
The new one, by contrast, uses a mess of slopes to build it. It's strange what a difference color can make for a part, as this is basically the same building technique that was used in the new Republic Gunship to produce a clean line around the cockpits. It's a fairly repetitive building process to do it.
Of course, there was a reason that LEGO made the choice to go with this style instead of the boat hulls from the old one...
Why in the * bleep * is there a cannon inside the front of the sail barge!? There are any number of words I want to use to describe this, but cannot because of the language policy of our site.
I get that LEGO tries to put play features into their sets. That's why the old one included the little launcher to send Boba "Paris Hilton of Star Wars" Fett flying in the old sail barge. It gave you a reason to have a blind man knock him into a pit to be digested for a thousand years in unspeakable pain. But this makes absolutely no sense.
First... it's a cannon from the Pirates line (also making an appearence in the Lone Ranger sets as a civil war-era gun). A gun in a galaxy far, far away this is not. Adding red round 1x1 bricks does not make this space age, unless you're going for the Space Pirates from Futurama. That I could actually support.
I get that I have a lot of pointless knowledge crammed into my head, but I'm usually one to disdain the EU and outside materials. But let's take a look at the schematic for the Sail Barge. Not pictures above? A CANNON!
Honestly, the worst thing about this feature is that it takes away from look and design of the set, chews up piece count that could have been used elsewhere to give us a much better model. It used to be that the use of the big, ugly corner slopes is what really bugged me. Then I built the set, and realized that they were just someone being lazy after having a model ruined.
Inside, we still have the little kitchen and prison-ish areas. The lost space inside was mostly taken away from the prison, which is now fixed (the old one had a removable grate). I still don't really get the kitchen part, but it is what it is. I am glad to see the glowing cubes, spider, and the like all gone.
Jabba's area has tiles under it now. To be honest, I don't know if there were colored tiles under him in the movie... my eye was typically fixed on Carrie Fisher in that gold bikini. We do get some dark green 2x2 tiles, so there is that. Mostly, though, it's empty space.
At the very back folds down to reveal the nalargon for Max Rebo, which is strange. I thought that he was on the sail barge (and thought he, like a lot of other innocent people, died on it when Luke and Leia needlessly blew it up), but don't remember ever seeing him on there. But according to the Star Wars character bio, he somehow escaped and retired to Coruscant, another member of the "1 degree of separation from a main character" that all Star Wars bit players have.
Really, I'm not a fan of this position or arrangement. And unfortunately, you can't really move it into the older Sail Barge, since the back doesn't open on it. That and it doesn't feel like it belongs there without the rest of the band.
One feature I do like on the new one over the old is the new way that steering pylons are a attached. It'd be nice if they found a way to put a second pin on there, but it works a bit better than the old airplane tails that held the old ones in place. What is kind of frustrating is that you have to fold them back to open the side.
The top of the deck is smaller than the old one, but does add a better system for holding the sails in place (with the 2x2 modified bricks and pin placement over the round brick from before. There is also less space taken up to build the front railing, and a little accent that takes the place of Boba's launcher. The back is slightly raised, though the lazy continues in using the side cover give the illusion of a higher deck, while in truth it only goes up about a stud-and-a-half.
The deck gun, on the other hand, just looks absolutely awful in the new setup. The old gun was a highlight of a great set in the original Sail Barge. It tried to capture the look/feel of the gun from the movie, and did that job well. This thing looks like leftover parts from a building challenge using a polybag and disappointed tears.
There's also the grappling gun that was fixed to the side of the wall, which is something that the original didn't have (it was the gun they fastened to the rail to shoot at the skiffs, if I'm remembering correctly). It's basic and somewhat boring. Plus side, you can just remove the connecting plate and clip it on the rails of your old one, if you feel inclined.
In the end, unlike the RGS model, this is a set that lived up (down?) to my initial impressions. This is far more Jay Fiedler (the QB that replaced Marino, for those paying attention) than Aaron Rogers, and it shows. If anything nice can be said about it, it's that it makes you want to take the few good elements and go and improve the old Sail Barge, or perhaps try to build and even better MOC between them.
After building this and the Republic Gunship at the same time, you really see the gulf in quality between the sets. The RGS is one of the best sets in the LEGO Star Wars line, and a wonderful follow-up to a well-loved set. The Sail Barge doesn't do much to justify it's existence or it's cost.
What I liked
- The minifigures make good additions to the OT horde
- Makes me really appreciate my 2006 Sail Barge
- Sturdier building methods for a lot of pieces, especially the connections of the sides to the frame, and better steering vane system
- Combining some parts and building methods with the old sail barge can make one heck of a MOC
What I didn't like
- That #$*&@% cannon on the front
- The price; this, more than the Palace or the Rancor Pit, is a set priced well above where it should be. This is an $90 set, tops
- Deck Cannon looks terrible, especially when you look at the old one. This is probably the single worst change on the small features among the set
- Again, that cannon, which you can tell ruined so many other things about the set: the front, piece count, look of it closed
Verdict: Skip it until you find it on a great sale, or really want the minifigures.
You can pick up the Sail Barge on LEGO Shop@Home starting August 1st