I’ve talked about how after years of building and reviewing LEGO sets you start to see patterns pop up in the builds and identify the mostly-anonymous people that design the sets (outside of the designer videos, it’s pretty rare to learn whoÂ is behind a set). When I set out to review 75139 Battle on Takodana,Â I was fairly certain that whoever designed this set was also responsible for 75017 Duel on Geonosis. There are just so many similarities between the set that stuck out that I kept thinking back to dancing flipping Yoda (and kind of wishing we would have gotten to see dancing and flipping Maz). I have no real proof that they are done by the same designer, but I’m going to stick with it.
As a set, there’s a lot to like in this little playset… the biggest thing being that this is how you can get Kylo Ren and Finn without having to drop $120 for a big gray monsterÂ and $150 on the piece of garbage junkyard ship. Also, we get everyone’s favorite outer-space grandma in Maz Kanata, who was a surprisingly cool character in a movie full of surprisingly cool characters. Topped off with everyone’s favorite stormtrooper (who, sadly, is named FN-2199 and not the more awesome TR-8R), and his buddy “I’m going to get shot and don’t deserve a number”… there’s a decent little lineup in this $59.99 set. Of course, that perceived value is hurt quite a bit that this set only comes with 409 pieces.
This set also stands out as it’s the first playset we’ve gotten for the Force Awakens. Up to this point, everything has been vehicles, and that means things to swoosh and missiles to launch. In a way, that sort of fits… TFA had a lot of locations, but it was the action in the ships and bases that stuck in your head. The battle this is capturing, the assault on Maz’s temple, was one of the more noteworthy parts of the movie (though I’d argue the battles on Starkiller base or the attack on Jakku at the start were equally memorable). There are obviously a few little elements of spoilers to the set itself, though at this point, spoiler and spoilee can split the blame and fault.
You know, I’m actually glad I ignored most of the leaks for upcoming sets last year, reinstating my old policy of just ignoring leaks. There’s something to be said about the lack of surprise for upcoming stuff, and I won’t lie that most days I miss our old “Respect the Brick” policy. Unfortunately, in the modern internet it’s impossible to miss spoilers, since the days of LEGO being a niche product are as gone as Myspace. Somehow, I either never saw this set or I saw it and forgot it as soon as I saw the leak for some of the other stuff… so when it was sitting on the shelves of my local LEGO store in the new releases, I got to think “oh, that’s cool” and picked it up.
As I already had the Falcon and Kylo Ren’s Command shuttle, so the big reason for me on the minifigures was really Maz and a couple more Stormtroopers. I am firmly in the camp of “you cannot have too many Stormtroopers,” especially given how many showed up in TFA. Still, this is a decent minifig lineup, though the obvious oversight from the movie, given that we have Kylo Ren here, is that we are missing Rey. I’m going to call that a fairly minor quibble, given that she’s still available in the fantastic little speeder set, and this puts all three of our main characters in the same number of sets.
Outside of the little Z6 riot-control baton, these are just standard Stormtroopers. If you haven’t picked up the Force Awakens Visual Dictionary yet, I highly recommend it for that little Star Wars fix in your life. It explains a lot of little gaps, like why this guy had a weapon that could stop a lightsaber (incidental, it was basically just an energy stun-gun type thing) or why that lady on Notcoruscaunt looked so distraught right before she got vaporized.
At first blush, this version of Emo RenÂ looks pretty much like the Kylo Ren we got in the command shuttle, at least after you’ve put him together and you’re only looking at him from the front. Of course, since the movie is out now and I’m going to assume everyone reading this has seen it except like two of you, we know what he looks like under that helmet. And that’s the biggest difference in the figure…
I’m not sure we ever saw Kylo Ren have the sort of range that’s pictures in this minifigure face. I love that face, but when I look at that, I’m seeing more of Snape / Alan Rickman (RIP, Hans Gruber) than I am the kid who was pouting over losing his job at Hot Topic. That was actually the genius of the character, really… he was trying to live up to his grandfather, Darth Vader (and failing), yet trying to avoid his family name (and living up to Anakin in spectacular ways).
This is one of those times when the details on the minifig really hurt the figure. The whole issue with Kylo Ren was that he really didn’t have the “evil” effects of the Dark Side. That was the core of the whole struggle we saw… he was trying to go down a dark path and failing, compared to his grandfather who was going down a dark path and trying to stay on the light. It wasn’t until a tipping point was reached that we got all evil looking with yellow eyes. That translates to a figure looking off compared to the guy we saw in the movie who was still quite normal looking.
Finn is the same version as we got with the Falcon, wearing Poe’s jacket and now sporting a lightsaber he was got from Maz. If you’ve followed some of the behind the scenes stuff and interviews (or just payed very close attention to the first trailer), you know that this whole scene got a few changes.Â In the end, it sort of worked, and we got to see an incredibly dangerous weapon in an unskilled hand.
I still like this figure, and I’m glad that he’s in a much more affordable set. On a good sale, I’d like to get a few more just for parts to break down and use in other figures. The only knock I have on the figure (okay, really not the only, I’m just going to sidestep the whole comment on why the person of color has two angry-ish faces) is that the alt-face should be less determined and more frightened or overwhelmed. The determined, close-mouth, look works for this particular scene, but Finn in the movie was more overwhelmed than anything.
While Kylo Ren and Finn are great bonuses, for people who have the rest of the lineup, the real star of this set is Maz Kanata. I was genuinely surprised at the character, who gave a couple of linesÂ that were part corny and yet felt more Star Wars than every single line Jar Jar had in the whole of the prequels. After all, she loves that wookiee. As a figure, she’s good, though I really wish there was a way to get a head that was both with and without the goggles.
I really hope her character gets some sort of tie-inÂ or more of a presence in the other films / spinoffs. Just saying if they want to make that whole Solo/smuggler/bounty hunter… this is a character I’d love to see more of.
Of course, this is about a battle, so the real design of the set is around that battle. Maz’s castle / temple was a pretty striking building, full a thousand years of closet clutter and smuggling souvenirs. We saw it in the trailer, and we got to see Finn stumble through it, shocked that the universeÂ was more than ineffective white armor and cleaning out trash compactors.
Obviously, in a $60 set, you’re never going to get the scale of the castle in the movie. Still, it feels just so… small looking at what we have.
There are little elements that are right about the whole thing. The pylons on either side are pretty good (though much too close together), and the door is actually a fairly good representation marred by the sticker at the top for detail. That’s somewhat representative of the whole thing, honestly… good stuff that’s run off the rails at the end by something just wrong.
There are some nice parts in the set, lots of “brick” bricks, grill bricks, and round grill bricks… plenty of dark tan and brown stuff, and those are all parts I don’t mind getting more of. That being said, the set itself is “meh” at best, and pretty awful at worst.Â My daughter is three, so she really loved some parts of it… but even she was bored with things like the tree that just tips over. Those bricks that fell off when turned (assuming you could actually get it to turn and don’t have fat fingers like me) were really a hit though.
I know, my video skills are a bit sub-par. This is fairly new space for me… though I wouldn’t expect video reviews anytime soon. The stuff above are features that make sense. There are a lot of parts tied up in making these things, and some of them are just crazy, like building something to push a box out of an alcove…
None of that really holds a candle to the new holder of the “dumbest play feature ever” title (sorry, Weathertop… your flick-fire days are over)… a little launcher that “blasts” some 1×1 black studs out like a laser blast hit it.
Again, the touchy nature of the feature is what really hurts things here, since those parts fall out if you do… well, really anything. Even as a feature, it’s mostly “what the…” Why not build in more breakable parts on the pylons or the castle itself? Did we really need a little shelf that launches studs a couple of inches? Really, the only redeeming thing here is that we get yet another comical use of the “don’t put out your eye” logo. I really need that on a shirt.
I’ve got to admit, this set was a bit of a disappointment. It is saved entirely by the minifigure lineup, which is sad for the first playset we get in Force Awakens. The ships have run from average to great (except that awful Snowspeeder), and this one sticks out. Unlike the rest of the TFA line, there’s really no place for this on my set. I look forward to seeing some great Maz’s castle MOCs, because I think there’s a lot of opportunity there (though wow, you’re going to need a lot of flags and banners). Unfortunately, this set, outside the figures, doesn’t even do much to give you the parts you need to start on it. Some dark tan, sure, but the gray and brown are kind of a waste.
I would have rather seen a bit more done outside the battle and focus on the Cantina instead. This is one of those few instances where a bit more money… no, scratch that… actually giving us $60 worth of value, would have made a better set. There is nothing about this set that justifies the $60 price tag. Sure, Maz is an entirely new figure, but otherwise Finn and the Stormtroopers are the same and Kylo Ren only gets a new head. This is at best a $50 set, and that’s probably pushing it. On a good sale, in that $45-50 range, this is a pretty decent set and the cheapest way to get Finn and Kylo Ren. Otherwise, I’d skip it at full price. The play features are just bad, andÂ while you get figures that are expensive otherwise, both of those sets are just better overall than this thing is. That makes this a two out of five, I’m sad to say. Maz cannot save this set…
What I Liked
- Maz is a great minifig, and we can get Kylo Ren and Finn without having to spend $270
- He will always be TR-8R in my heart, but it’s cool to see FN-2199 show up. Plus, his weapon is easy to build if you don’t want the set
- Some really good parts in the set
What I Didn’t Like
- 409 parts for $60, and the set does nothing to justify that price
- Play features so bad that they couldn’t entertain a three year old (except knocking off the walls, she loved that)
- Build is too small, not enough flags, and just doesn’t look good on a shelf.