So you went to Jabba's Palace with an elaborate, multi-tiered plan to break out your favourite smuggler/coffee table and you ticked off your host by walking in, killing his guards, brainwashing his toadies and threatening him. Obviously, Yoda didn't teach you any manners in that five minute training montage that culminated in you deciding that getting your butt whooped in your first real fight meant you were now a full-fledged Jedi Knight. I don't suppose any of those plans you made included the fact that Jabba has a gigantic, hungry and decidedly not particular about who it eats, creature in a hole directly under the spot you chose to tell that fat disgusting man-slug how things were going to go down, or else. I didn't think so.
Welcome to the Rancor Pit.
Running straight from the end of my review of Jabba's Palace, I'm diving directly into the pit. This is basically the second part of one massive review of these two combined sets. So let's get right into it, starting with the build.
In a way, this is a far simpler review then Jabba's Palace and I'm very thankful for that, but It's because this set is pretty simple overall. The pit itself is basically designed as a base for the palace, but I'll get to that in a bit. It does stand on it's own because playing with it is far easier without the larger set sitting on top, blocking access. I found the overall construction sturdier than its companion set and that is of course increased when it's closed. The base is virtually the same construction and the closing clasp is also. Past that things begin to differ.
The four pillars make ample use of LURPs and suffer from LEGO's tendency to add colour to areas that don't really need it. It's a dark, rocky cave and it comes across that there are random brick areas around the walls. At the very least, all the light bley bricks should have been swapped out for dark bley. This is not a big deal for me because 1) I can't confirm what the outside of the pit looked like, 2) I'm thankful for the majority of the useful tan parts they incorporated and 3) it does help blend aesthetics with the Palace when displayed. The upper portion of the columns arch nicely and are capped with tan tiles and four points to mount the palace fairly securely.
Looking at the pillars more closely, we see the bulk of the play in this set. The rear columns utilize the bulk of the rock pieces and one is an extra stud wide allowing ample space for the hidey-hole created by the hinged inner rock piece. There is another nook beneath the floor plate between the two rear pillars that is set to be accessed by using the spare skull as a handle to lift the plate. It holds a few extra bones which I'm guessing are where Jabba has rubbed off on his pet and they are both hiding snacks in the floor at this point. Opened, the two front pillars have little going on beyond a couple of torches and of course the access door. The barred door is not a new part, but it is in dark brown and it has only been in the new Pirate Ship Ambush LotR set since.
The hinged part of the pit is where the main feature comes into play. The little outcropping by the man-door is cluttered up with a bucket and a pitchfork and key on the wall. Well within reach, I'd say. I assume the fork is for picking up after the Rancor, which is a job I'd guess Jabba doles out as punishment to his gang of thugs if they step out of line. The main Rancor gate is an absolutely fantastic part that is well built into the heavy frame and while the technic mechanism for holding the gate in the up position and dropping it on unsuspecting pets just looking for a snack, may be gaudy I can't deny it works well. They even made sure to include a 1x1 trans-red round tile as the gate control button on both the inside and the outside of the gate. This huge gate was custom made for this set to accommodate the Rancor, as the pre-existing ones were simply too small. Even with the new larger gate, the play function is still small to accommodate the Rancor. It's still fun to re-enact his final scene and there are some picture a little further down that highlight this function. Could they have made a more screen accurate, brick built one instead of this 1x12x16 dark brown beauty? Sure, but I for one am glad they didn't.
That's the last bit I want to touch on for the build. Screen accuracy is straight out the window on this one. This is the Coles notes version of that scene. A box, built around a beast it is barely big enough to contain, but it still works. It isn't perfect and it certainly isn't trying to be, but as a set unto itself it can hold up to play. Unfortunately, it won't hold up for long and the novelty will quickly wear off and play may migrate to outside the pit for many. The figures are simply more fun in this one.
Before we take a closer look at them, behold the two sets together in all their glory. Together, they are greater than the sum of their parts and that is where the fun is to be had.
Alright, let's take a look at the figures. Simple set, simple build and simple figs. Right off we have a duplicate from Jabba's Palace in the form of another Gamorrean Guard, which is great. I really liked the update as I said in the last review and it's a character that you see several of in the film, so I'd like a half dozen or so personally. The hand painting on this one just happened to be a bit sharper, but that will differ from figure to figure that I've seen. My only complaint about old porky is that we only get one in the set. The palace had a lot of figures so I felt greedy wanting more than one, but the figures are scarce here (for a good reason I suppose) and that just makes me want an extra to feed my Rancor.
Next up comes the Rancor's keeper, Malakili. Or as I like to call him Captain Crybaby McManboobs. It really does capture the foolish comic relief caricature pretty well and I doubt you could ask for much more. The face looks suitably vacant and the sad face is by far the better for it's pitiful expression alone. The torso is printed well, but I'd be hard pressed to ever use it for other builds. I'm sure someone will get use out of it, but realistically it's uselessness as a figure is equal to how necessary it was to be in this set. You also get more unprinted olive legs and a reddish brown hood that is probably common for castle heads and always looked darker to me, but it was probably just as filthy as the rest of his attire. His weapon/Rancor prod is a highlight for the fig, bringing us more of this very useful bit that I must get more of.
Lastly we get another Luke. This figure is almost identical to the figure in 9496 Dessert Skiff, but with a new face that increases the cockiness on the front and gives us and angry/determined look as an alternate. The robed tunic as always can be very useful, but it's odd to me that they will switch between the new surfer hair for young Luke, but use this old-fashioned hair piece for old Luke. His style in the film wasn't a totally lifeless helmet hair style, but whatever. This is another fig where the alt face peeks out under the back of the hair and I think I'm getting to the point where I don't care about that. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but I guess it's a good thing for LEGO. No lightsaber here for Luke, just a bone and a few extra seconds of not being eaten alive.
Enough with the small fries. It's time to got to Rancor town. RAWR!
The second this was revealed, it was a no brainer for me. Rancor, check. Other guys, whatever. They could have put a zebra, circus clown and the seven dwarves in here and I wouldn't have cared. Well, I might have just Bricklinked him, but if the rest of the set can balance the price of a creature on BL, then why not just buy the set. I can always use more dwarves and I'd love a zebra. Generally though, I don't like clowns as they're all evil.
The Rancor comes in several parts that attach to the main body. Arms, jaw and hands with two removable fingers and four tan horn/claws each. It's an incredibly expressive beast, considering that other than his jaw, all his movement is carried by his arms. They did a great job on those arms. He can chase minifigs, hold them, eat them and grasp all kinds of fun stuff as the pictures show. It allows for a really full range of play and poses for pictures like a pro. I honestly felt bad because I felt I'd let the Rancor down by not coming up with more pictures to take, but I didn't want to go looking for props and it was already getting late. I'm sorry Bruce.
Oh, I named him Bruce. Probably should've mentioned that.
The Rancor here is less Harryhausen inspired and far more symmetrical then it's screen counterpart and that should be expected in the LEGO translation. This is not an issue. It fits within the parameters set by previous "big figs" like the Wampa, various trolls and even the Hulk. This mean the legs don't move and I honestly prefer that to the alternative. I find it allows the finished product to be far more balanced with its arms posed in most positions and still gives it a fun faux kinetic stance. The armored plating on the lower back and shoulders is great and I personally love that the spikes on the shoulder plates have been squared off to give this organic beast a bit of brickishness. After the Jabba update came complete with tattoo, I was a bit surprised that the Rancor came sans earing. I'm cool with it though as I think the one earing look is silly and if I can constantly say it to my biker friends, I can certainly say it to the Rancor.
(At this point in the review, buriedbybricks was eaten by the Rancor. Luckily, he wrote the end of the review first and worked backwards for this one. That's how he reads too. Last page first, weirdo.)
What I Liked:
- The gate piece is fantastic and even if the parts didn't balance the set out for me on this one, the gate would've pushed me over the edge.
- The Rancor is everything I could have hoped for, other than the bone not fitting in its mouth.
- Extra pig guard and the rest. Terrible band name.
- Beautiful Rancor. I've waited so very long. Worth the wait, you were.
What I didn't Like:
- Bland set overall. It relies on the Palace and/or the Rancor itself for most of the play value.
- Price is crappy, but they know we want that beastie.
Verdict: Buy it! If you can get it on sale, yay! If not, don't wait too long. No collection could be complete without the Rancor and while I don't really collect LEGO, I couldn't pass this up either way. I love this guy. Bruce and his pig snack Kyle have been consistently played with since the sets initial construction. The rest has already hit the unsorted bin, but c'est la vie. The Rancor alone was worthy of a quick haiku and what more tribute could be given a toy?
A well thought out haiku, I suppose. Too bad, Bruce. Get over yourself.
Buy 75005 Rancor Pit from Amazon here for $47.83 or at LEGO S@H by clicking the picture below: