Anyone who's read my reviews knows that I like to do comparisons when a set is an update to an existing release. I've been collecting for a long time, and have a pretty decent collection of stuff to pull from to do it. I'd like to tell you this is going to be some great comparison review, showing the differences between the old Wheel Bike set, made in 2005, and this one.
Yeah, I parted out the old bikes years ago. It was an awful set based on an awful and absurd design. The Wheel Bike was basically the Star Wars version of the G.I. Joe Ballistic Battle Ball, something so ridiculous you have to assume it was some kind of covert plant by the opposing side to see how many troops they could kill just by getting them to use it. I mean, seriously, what is the purpose of a giant spinning wheel with legs and an energy bar thing when you're in a universe where flying stuff is everywhere. Is there some sort of strange situation where a STAP and some shields aren't going to work, so you need a clumsy, slower, and much more shootable wheel? The thing is effectively a big rolling target.
I un-parted out the AT-AP I'd taken apart because that set was broken down because of storage space. I have more space now, because I've got more places to stash sets, and could put it back together. The wheel bike was parted out because it just sucked as a set and a vehicle, and I knew it wasn't something I wanted to put in a display (it was even bad at sitting on a shelf), and I had no intentions of finding the stuff.
The original also was one of those sets that was really a harbinger of things to come, as it ran $20 and only included 111 parts. Some of that space was made up for, in hindsight, by the creature that Obi-Wan was riding (it was called General Grievous Chase, after all), leaving only a smattering of parts to make up for that money. This new set increases the price to $25, but let's be honest... that's basically the same price point as $20 was back then. It also increases the part count way up to 261 parts... yet sadly, is missing the one thing that I bought the original for.
These are the parts I could find at a quick glance through my parts that belonged to the old Wheel Bike set. Actually, that's not true, it had printed dishes, I just couldn't find them, so I grabbed these instead. Well, that and the Grievous figure which shows up later in the review. I'm sure their are other parts around, and I know I have the original Obi-Wan somewhere... it's just that I only bought the set for the Varactyl, a word I know because I was a big-time Star Wars Galaxies player and spent a lot of time killing them looking for loot and decorations. And creature mounts are always fun... why the old Dewback is so cool (well, that and it came in a set that was unremarkable except for the inclusion of Greedo and a bunch of colors you couldn't get many other places).
We get two minifigs in the set, Grievous and Obi-Wan, the same as we got with the original set. Curiously, Grievous has lightsabers and Obi-Wan doesn't. It's been awhile since I've watched Episode III, and I was incredibly hungover at the time (thanks to the stuff I had to drink to watch Episodes I and II), but I could have sworn that Obi-Wan had his lightsaber at the point where grievous had four sabers (until he cut off a couple of his arms). It was only during the chase that he lost it and grabbed the staff from the Magna Droid (the saber was later returned by Cody right before right before he tried to murder one of the only competent Jedi in the galaxy). So the omission of a saber for Kenobi here is kinda odd.
Grievous is the same model as we got with his Clone Wars starfighter (which was basically the exact same ship that was in Episode III). The only differences is the color (white instead of tan) and the printing around the eyes. He's still got those weird printed arms that don't look like they printed all that well, the offset legs, and the bad posture.
This isn't a bad figure, I guess, and the arms were the best compromise that they could make in Lego (well, outside of the original which did it better but looked much worse). The big issue I've found with all versions of
Grievous has always been a very weird figure and characters. If you're going by the movies alone, he's basically the Cousin Oliver added to the movie because they needed a new bad guy after Dooku had his neck ventilated at the beginning. When you toss in the Clone Wars cartoons, he's vastly more important and involved (yet, from the episodes I've seen, wildly incompetent... going back to my G.I. Joe themes, he is totally the Cobra Commander of the Droid Army to Dooku's Destro). The figure has come away from that ugly, yet more correct arms version to the more correct but worse arms that we have now. Seriously, that first one is probably one of the worse head sculpts Lego has done.
We get a new Obi-Wan in the set, but this is a big case of "A new hat!" minifigure. If you don't get that joke... go look up The Simpsons episode "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy." I get that the episode first aired before a good deal of you were born (and that makes me sad), but the point is valid. The torso printing is actually different from the version we got with the green Jedi Interceptor, with the addition of a belt with a lot of gadgets and pouches (I guess Rob Liefeld is doing Lego torsos now), but the rest of the print is fairly close. A few accent lines here or there and more detail in the undershirt, but it's not a great change. The legs are the biggest change from the Interceptor version, as they're now printed to match his tunic. The face is the same, as is the hair.
I've typically stayed fairly indifferent to the whole detail updates (even though the stuff in the Sandcrawler is just terribad)... but this torso really stuck out to me for some reason. The PT version of Obi-Wan has always been rather plain, because his character design was always pretty plain. I guess that this is trying to make up for that, but between the printing and the hair, this thing feels like more of a Clone Wars figure than it does a movie figure.
The Wheel Bike is a huge upgrade over the original. Since I didn't bother with the set, let me show you the box art / instructions for comparison...
Basically, it was pretty much just the wheel, legs, and some binoculars stuck... places. Given the piece count of the set and what went into the Varactyl, there are probably 80 parts in total with that. The new one drops nearly 240 parts into the bike, so there's going to be a whole lot more going on. Everything, from the legs to the wheel to the seat is, in all senses, an upgrade. But given how little there was to the old one, I'm not sure how much you can take of it.
I think that this set does establish some sort of record for "most parts used in a single step/page" I've ever seen...
For those keeping count, that's 60 parts in a single step (there's another page in this where you attach the grill and studs). I collect the Modular Buildings, which look awesome but have some of the worst instructions around with the number of parts per step (sometimes being attached at completely different parts of the build). Here though, we basically have a very repetition step you're doing 12 times to make the outside of the wheel. Considering that the old one didn't even have an outside, this is the most notable upgrade to the thing. You can actually roll this one around!
Well, sort of. The legs fold up on the vehicle... for the most part. The joint is sturdy, but those long... hinge/plate thingies... pop off all the time when you're moving it around. That, however, is a minor problem compared to the issue of folding up the legs so you can wheel it around. The one ones basically flipped up or in... they were so small that it didn't really matter where you put them. The instructions show them nice and folded up, one on top of the other, but I can't help but notice they used an illustration and not a picture of the model. Probably because in practice, the folding thing is just terrible. There's a chance that I just don't understand how it's supposed to work (a good chance), but it just feels awkward and the instructions don't make it clear what to do.
The binoculars are gone from this version, and that's a good thing. We know that binoculars are only used to make shotguns now! The whole gun side (and the chair side, for that matter), are a lot bulkier. There is an old-style flick-fire built into that mess, with the a mechanism for doing the firing with a technic axle. I've never been a fan of them, but this set is already full of technic parts that what is a few more. It is notable as this set is one of the few non-battle pack sets that doesn't use the new flick-fire bricks.
Of course, the beautiful thing with this set is cheese wedges in sand blue. SAND BLUE! The world is a better place with more sand blue parts. Sadly, we only get the 16 (plus an extra) cheese wedges along with a couple of wedge plates. Still, seeing sand blue back into the palette makes me happy. We got an Olive Green modular building, so I'm going to add a sand blue modular into my toolbox of unrealistic wishes (other notable entries include a CMF line based on DC and Marvel characters, a UCS A-Wing, and a Lego Store opening in Arkansas).
Make no mistake, this set is a pretty huge update over the original. The wheel actually spins (and does it fairly well, like you can see above... I just wanted an action shot like that), it has some nice colors, and it adds a lot of bulk. On the other hand... outside of some sand blue, the tiles, and the big clear wheel (which is also unique to this set)... there's not a whole lot of value and utility. The feet have been all over Ninjago and Chima sets, if you've ever parted out something related to Batman (read, every DC set pretty much ever), you probably have those hinge wings, and most of the technic stuff is the same technic stuff we've gotten. So despite being better than the original, it's still not a very good set. I prefer the tan Clone Wars Grevious to the white, and Obi-Wan has some printing upgrades but I'm not sure that justifies the cost.
What I really wish would have happened is what we're getting in the Cantina set... an updated varactyl model (or better yet, just use the old one). That was the defining factor in the original that made a very bad set into an okay one (it was also the source of an Obi-Wan without a Light-Up Lightsaber or a headset). This one doesn't have something that really sets it apart other than a handful of sets. More than that, it's just an awkward vehicle with legs that really don't work all that well. I can't knock the designer all that much (though it does seem like they added a bunch of bulk that may not need to be there), because the source for it is also just a bad vehicle. In the $25, there are better sets to buy, unless you're specifically looking for these minifigs or you just really want a good Utapau battle that's missing the key creature for Obi-Wan.
What's that old saying about polishing?
What I liked
- Vehicle is better than the original by a huge margin (140 extra parts will do that)
- Sand blue cheese wedges are almost as delicious as real cheese wedges (though not blue cheese, that stuff is gross)
- A break from the norm where an updated set drastically increases the piece count but not the price
What I didn't like
- Even updated, it's still just an awful vehicle
- Not a lot of useful parts outside the wheel hub and the sand blue
- Lack of a lightsaber for Obi-Wan, and worse, a complete lack of his mount, make this version worse overall than the original
Verdict: 2 out of 5. If you want a set in this price range, like the V-Wing and the Jedi Interceptor, while certainly not perfect, are better value for figures and parts. You can buy 75040 General Grievous’ Wheel Bike, and the rest of the 2014 Star Wars lineup, on Lego Shop@Home right now!