When trying to figure out how to write this set, I was wondering how much work it would be to determine the ratio of “time on screen” to “amount of sets” made. There are sets that certainly have had more models created, like the X-Wing, Jedi Star Fighters, and the Falcon. The Snowspeeder is the current champ, I believe, of “why does this model keep getting remade,” blowing even the Jedi Starfighters away.
If you only count the movies, the Snowspeeder, aka T-47 Airspeeder (I wonder how many people put that together in Empire Strikes back… Luke was talking about the snowspeeders when he was talking about it being too cold), at least gets some iconic time. The Jedi Starfighters pretty much just get shot up and blown away ineffectively at the start and end of Revenge of the Sith. Once you add in the TV shows, cartoons and Disney+, a lot of the releases make a whole lot more sense.
There are some surprises in the “keeps getting remade” category, like the Y-Wing, which is clearly someone’s favorite ship out there, but not the kind of ship that you’d think of as Iconic when you think Star Wars. More of the ship that makes you go “oh yeah, that was in there too” when you see it. And yet the TIE Fighter, TIE Bomber, TIE Advanced, and TIE Interceptor have combined had less releases than the AT-ST, despite being all over everything in media.
Taking us back to screen time, though, you start to think of how Iconic and impactful they were overall. The T-47 is absolutely an impactful and iconic ship… in a way. Not in a “okay wow, this is awesome and I want it,” like an X-Wing was. More of that you remember what it is and what it did in the movie, and will always identify it. It’s kind of funny, because they were famously ineffective in the scene they were in, until someone realized the Empire apparently never played any game involving jump ropes and your average ten year old boy. And the whole plan relied on the target basically standing still, because if the legs kept moving as we’d seen them doing, the rope would have just slid off and the whole thing wouldn’t have worked. Also, they were airspeeders, couldn’t they just have flown up there and shot that point of the armor?
But this isn’t a review of the T-47, it’s a review of the other little iconic vehicle that made it’s appearance on Hoth in Empire Strikes Back. It was in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moment, but we’re all a bunch of Star Wars nerds here so we know that. I’ll skip making jokes about “when was the AT-ST on Hoth?” because we live in the era of people freeze framing every single second of all movies and TV looking for pointless mistakes like a coffee cup and then turning that into a meme for a week or two. It was introduced in Empire on on screen for almost two seconds, running in front of an AT-ST in a single shot, yet somehow not seen in any of the wide arcing overhead or chase shots. Just this one, in that one view. I guess maybe a test run or something?
My love of walkers is well documented on this site, and pretty sure the review I did was the Mandalorian AT-ST raider set. Luke’s Landspeeder has been out so many times that it’s a joke about re-releases amongst the staff and when Ace is going to review it (used to be the same joke for me and Jedi Starfighters)… but still, a lot of rehash sets here. We’ve gotten a lot more fill-in for the AT-ST in the years since, with it showing up in the comics and that episode of Mandalorian, but we get a lot more of the precursors instead.
Not seen in that particular shot? Chewbacca. What is seen in that particular shot? Lets. What will be seen in this review going forward? Lots and lots of leg jokes, because, spoiler alert, they are easily the single worst thing about the set. I mean, they look… better, than some of the other versions, I suppose. They’re certainly thinner and get the dainty little chicken-walker look down.
I don’t build a lot of LEGO sets anymore. I don’t even really look at or think about LEGO sets the vast majority of the time. I ended up doing this on a lark because I was going down the LEGO aisle with my kids and mentioned I kind of missed doing reviews, but wasn’t even really sure what was out right now. Honestly, even after going down that aisle, I’m still not sure. I haven’t been to a LEGO store in ages, despite there being two of them within a short (for this area) driving distance of my house. I’ve found that a “short drive” is a very different thing in my mind now living in a major metro compared to where I grew up. Driving 20 miles for something here is nothing, but 20 miles there was a major trip.
In the set, we get minifigures, and they’re all… fine, I guess. It’s one of the eternal problems that I’ve discussed many times, where LEGO always seems to design their sets around this idea of it being “versus.” The makeup of the minifigures or the contents of the set have to be opposed or fit together. Chewie makes perfect sense if this was an AT-ST modeled after Return of the Jedi, but it’s around Hoth, so he’s weird in the set.
All of the minis in the set are new and unique, which isn’t nearly as special these days as it used to be. It’s a mixture of Syndrome’s “When everyone is Special, No One Is” and Smither’s “But She Has a New Hat!” smashed all in one. We have a whole bunch of Chewie minis, this one just has
dandruff snow on it.
It’s cool to get a Hoth Trooper with a female face and different skin tone recycled from a Eternals set no one wanted… but it’s just a combination of different parts.
The jacket is new but it’s a printing variation that you’d train yourself to go and understand what is new.
Same with the AT-ST pilot, where there are a bunch changes to the printing and maybe a new mold even on the helmet with a goggles shape (which begs the question of why).
They’re just all another step on the crawl of over-detailed that LEGO minifigures have been going down for years, losing that small thing that made them so special and fun and just another toy.
The Probe Droid is maybe the most interesting, being brick built, but it really makes you long for a Hoth set that features Han, Chewie, and maybe a Taun Taun with Luke instead. Yes, I know, the Probe Droid was also featured as a small smudge at the bottom of the freeze-frame that the AT-ST was in. I’d put money that there isn’t a kid out there who noticed that who wasn’t pointed to it by a parent or uncle that isn’t an obsessed fan themselves. Of course, it was also much darker (i.e., basically black) when we saw it in the film, so the dark gray color is an interesting choice here.
The AT-ST as a vehicle sort of defies being built right in LEGO form, maybe in any real form, because it does not make sense. It’s simply wildly impractical as an engine of war. I get it, you want a guard tower that can move around. Except… the whole idea of a guard tower is that it stays somewhere and guard things. They’re fixed points that hold defenses, watching over them in conjunction with something else. As soon as you make them mobile, you take away that point bit of usefulness.
Not to mention, when you put something on two legs and then make it walk, you’ve now made it inherently unstable. Humans are not some sort of apex predators… our evolutionary advantage is our brains and ability to form cooperatives and collectives (as well as opposable thumbs, tool use… no one thing made us the things we are). Our legs do a lot of things well, but anyone who’s ever watched professional sports or the first Karate Kid movie knows that we’re quite vulnerable to our legs getting swept out from under us.
None of the LEGO AT-ST builds have been perfect, but the closest to it was probably the build from 2009’s 8038 Battle for Endor. It’s small but also greatly playable for what it needs to be, and just simple. All of the variations only seat one pilot, even though we know there is space for a pilot and gunner inside thanks to Return of the Jedi. Yet the cockpit is set just for one person and the weird round hatch over the opening, so it doesn’t improve on the others.
At $49.99 US, this is what a $30 set used to be, I suppose, but it seems “bigger” than older sets. Yet at the same time, it doesn’t really improve on them much. The gaps on teh front and top of it just look awful. A lot of the bulk that comes into the cockpit is to hide the firing mechanisms for the spring-loaded bricks, the rest goes into the offset for the side walls and redirection.
The positive you can take from it is that the actual walls of it is sturdy, which has been a problem in previous versions of the set, so it will hold up to play. Well, the actual body of the vehicle is, the guns pop off at the slightest touch. A nice callout, though, is that the head pivots thank to a control and some technic working at the back, which is the best play feature of the set.
All of this brings me to the legs and feet… which are the strangest mix of best and worst of the set. Look at this from the front, and it looks great. Flat, sleek, and clean, they look like the best building. From the side, though, you get giant technic bricks and you can’t unsee. The bigger issue though is that the legs are just… static. They’re fixed and set, with only one real pose that you can the legs and have it set upright. So… this really isn’t a walker as much as it is a statue. Fine as a display piece, I guess, but not great for playability. Or if you want to put more than one of them standing together unless you’re doing this as a parade formation.
Ultimately, though, the proportions of the vehicle just feel off. I’m going to fall back on my tried-and-true Legion model, which I’m fairly certain I broke out for pictures when I reviewed the Mandalorian AT-ST and I’m a bit ashamed to say I haven’t made any further progress on painting if I did. I’ve painted several thousand points of Blood Angels, but can’t finish this one stupid AT-ST.
Part of the problem with proportions is in the pose, that it stands so upright, rather than more of a traditional “chicken” pose. The supports above and below the center part or the leg are also both too long, while the feet are almost comically oversized for how they should be. The leg to head proportion of the vehicle is about 4.5:3, while the LEGO set is coming in at almost a 7:4, getting much closer to the legs being almost twice as tall as the head is, rather than just 50% talker than the head.
In short, it just leaves a whole lot to be desired as a set. It wasn’t particularly fun to build, especially when compared to the AT-ST Raider or previous versions of the same walker. Most walkers can be a bit challenging as a build, and always a bit fragile… which this one does fix, but it fixes it at the expense of both play features and how nice it’s going to look on the shelf.
It makes one question who the set design for a lot of LEGO sets is really for, ultimately. The original movies are popular, sure, and remain a touchstone… but we’re realistically at the point where they’re looked at as artifacts of a much smaller galaxy. LEGO is a kid’s toy, and we’re now at the point where not only are we ten years into Disney owning Star Wars, thus prime age for fans who have only known modern Star Wars, but the Clone Wars turned 14 this year. The Clone Wars, Rebels, Bad Batch, and the Disney+ shows makes up the bulk of Star Wars content out there.
Kids who grew up where the prequels were their Star Wars are in their 30s now, and have kids of their own, growing up on a new Star Wars. Despite the noise and how much whining their is online by a very vocal and toxic minority that has poisoned so much of the fandom… the fans that LEGO is really targeting with toys like this are now two steps removed from the source material. Having big sets from the original movies is still cool, and obviously, they keep revisiting evergreen and ever-present sets like the X-Wing and Death Star because they are so iconic.
I just honestly don’t know if you can say that about the AT-ST at this point, especially when its framed around such a niche little reference. We live in a world where a stupid coffee cup left in a shot and not edited out for a split second gets paused, screen-capped, and memeed to death because 4K and streaming makes that possible. My kids laugh at memes, but they’re not the ones cranking them out like mad, and they’re both firmly in the range that LEGO is targeting with these products.
That’s not dismissing or diminishing the influence of the original trilogy, more of just their overall influence. If they’re important to you, that’s great. They’re important to me, but over the years, they become less and less so. I enjoy them, but another fact that I’ve made peace with is that my kid’s don’t. My wife doesn’t Star Wars is my thing that I enjoy. I can get them to watch the cartoons but they won’t watch the movies or live action shows with me at all.
This isn’t meant as an attack on anyone who loves the OT and/or PT, and only cares about them. That’s fine. But it’s also easy to pick out some demographics about you if that describes you – probably a guy your mid to late 30s or early-to-mid 40s. The reality is though that Star Wars is just so much more than any of the old stuff, and always will be.
Someone who saw Episode I when they were 10 is in their 30s now. Someone who was in Kindergarten, and started to watch the show and got the first Clone Wars LEGO sets back in 2008 would be turning 20 this year and in college. I mean, my daughter was born two months before Disney bought Star Wars and she turned ten this year.
My son hasn’t asked to play with the AT-ST walker at all or even asked a question about it, but knows all about the Mario sets and will grab a Jedi Starfighter, Clone Tank, or something more recognizable. LEGO probably knows their business, but I also wonder if maybe they need to stop catering their toy purchases to what the 40+ crowd liked and remembered. I know, plenty of the sets out there aren’t the old stuff (and, spoilers, I’m actually working on reviews for a few of them too). But a good chunk of it is. A lot of the marquee sets, which are taking up a good deal of space at my local Targets, are all things that I’d call adult and collector sets, that you can go watch kids walk right past.
A strange thing to think about, since ten years ago all I wanted was more Original Trilogy set releases, but here we are. You can only keep tapping the same well so many times, and it feels like the AT-ST in particular has kind of reached the end of its life. I’ve made all kinds of jokes when I review the same revision of a set over and over, but this is the first time I’ve gone through a set and it really felt like “this doesn’t feel like the right set for anyone.”
This version of the AT-ST is uninspired, looks wrong, and doesn’t deliver a lot of value for the things kids that do enjoy the movies are going to recognize. The figures are all new and unique, but aren’t distinctive enough to justify themselves or be anything special. If you really need another version of the AT-ST, I suppose it’s fine, but it’s easily a pass, and the only reason that it’s stayed assembled at my house is that it’s taken me months to actually write this review after reading it. This is a two out of five set at best for me, and one that you can safely skip.
But hey, if you want to get it because you need to get your walker itch on, something I totally understand, you can pick up 75322 Hoth AT-ST at Amazon right now.
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