I’m sorry, LEGO, but your latest set, 75098 Assault on Hoth, is a lemon.
When this set was first announced, the following image floated around the internet soon after:
I kinda glanced at it noting the similarities that were being drawn between 75098 and the multitude of sets that it drew material from. I wanted to give LEGO the benefit of the doubt, that they wouldn’t try and sell us what appeared to be the mother of all rehashes. But that is exactly what they did.
Before I start on my inevitable rant on the recycled stuff we’re getting, let’s focus on the new stuff first starting with the Planet Defender Ion Cannon, or PDIC for short.
Despite the way the back looks, it’s got a nice round shape and features two spring-loaded missile launchers. The top of the cannon is a flap that you can open up to plop in a Rebel trigger man. There’s a lever in the back that you pull. Pulling the lever pulls the spring-loaded missile launcher assembly back hitting a plate that launches the missiles. The two launchers are offset from each other by a stud so that you have basically two rounds of ammo to fire. There isn’t a whole lot to fire at though, seeing as to how the Imperial side is represented by a two-man assault team. More on that later. I suppose you could line up the two Snowtroopers and use them for target practice. Fun times.
And it’s small. For an ion cannon that’s supposed to defend a planet from an invasion, or in this case, provide cover fire for fleeing rebels, it looks small. It looks like it can barely take out the speeder bike let alone render an Imperial Star Destroyer powerless.
The shield generators is the only other unique build in this set. They got the basic shape of the generator about right but they only include three disks when there should be four:
Three does not equal four. These things aren’t exactly parts intensive and they’re so small, I just can’t understand why they couldn’t include the fourth fin to at least make it screen accurate. The disks don’t really attach to the base and for good reason. There is a lever on the back of the assembly that you slam down on to make the disks pop up, emulating an explosion, you know, from that AT-AT that wasn’t included in the set. Sarcasm aside, I’d like to just point out that the the two unique builds in this set, what could have been two of the biggest selling points, are seriously undersized. Saying that these two builds were disappointing is putting it mildly. But, there’s got to be more to this set than just an undersized ion cannon and micro-scale shield generators, right?
And there is, like these hangar doors. Now, that diagram above points out that Echo Base hangar doors already existed from set 7666 Hoth Rebel Base. While this is true the doors you get here are much, much larger and much more functional. The doors from 7666 Hoth Rebel Base had two separate dials that you would have to turn, one for each door. Annoying. 75098 Assault on Hoth solves this issue by using a series of axles and gears allowing you to open both doors simultaneously from a single dial. The sliding door action is oh so satisfying. And sadly, this is the best part of the entire set and everything goes downhill from here.
The interior details are pretty sparse. There is a small command center, a box-toting vehicle, a crane mechanism to handle the boxes from the box toting vehicle, and two tree branches. I don’t remember seeing tree branches inside Echo Base in the movie so I have no idea what they’re doing in this set.
While the hangar doors are a notable upgrade from the previous version, the rest of the set is where we start treading into familiar territory.
The wampa cave is a simpler design than the previous one found in 8089 Hoth Wampa Cave. They took the basic idea of that set and stripped it down to its bare essentials. You get Luke whom you can hang upside down in front of the cave entrance. There’s a lightsaber launching mechanism, and a Wampa. Hilariously, you attach the wampa cave directly to the hangar door assembly. No wonder they couldn’t find Luke, he was right under their noses! There’s a warning sign sticker you put on on the other side of the wampa cave wall, no doubt in reference to the deleted scene.
The tauntaun hasn’t been seen for a few years now but if you’ve been collecting for a couple of years chances are good you already have at least one in your collection.
There are a couple of turrets that you build as part of the defensive trench. Two of them are nearly identical to the one you get in the current $25 dollar 75138 Hoth Attack set, right down to the sticker used for the front curved panel. There is a slight variation in the way the spring-loaded missile launchers are set up but it is essentially the same exact model.
The turrets can be attached to a defensive trench. There’s not much to say about this build. It’s just a pile of bricks that’s made to resemble piled snow. There’s another turret that’s different from the previous two; it has a six stud shooter element for its ammunition. And looking at it now I realize that it too is unique to this set and not recycled but I’m not going to go back and re-edit this review.
Each of the turrets are attached to these bases and can be swapped around. Kinda pointless if you ask me since there’s only so many configurations you execute against. There’s one on top of the hangar and three more around the trench so one spot will always be open.
And finally, we come to the Snowspeeder. I could say that the Snowspeeder is exactly the same as 75049 Snowspeeder set from two years ago. But I’ll be fair and say that it is only about 98% the same. The only differences between the 75049 version and the one you get in 75098 Assault on Hoth is that in some places where you would use 2 1×2 light bluish gray tiles you would instead use 1 2×2 dark bluish gray tile. The dark gray slopes on the wings are now orange. The stickers are all exactly the same except the one on the nose which is the same exact design but it is now orange instead of dark gray. Also, the order in which you stack the elements is different. I’m guessing they put more effort into redesigning the build instruction by changing the build order than they did in redesigning the Snowspeeder. Why am I complaining? Because it’s nothing new. All those little tiny changes hardly define a new build. This one is exactly the same as the standalone 75049 set and seems to be a product of pure laziness. They thought, “Hey, that last one we built was good enough let’s just throw that one in here.”
The argument could be made “why fix what ain’t broke” and I can agree to that to some extent. But then the next being asked should be “why bother including it in the first place?” It’s not just that it’s the same model as 75049, it’s the fact that you’re forced to buy it all over again. I’m looking at this set and seeing what I’m getting for my money. What is new that I don’t already have that should be a big enough of a reason for me to get it? And if 75% of the set seems familiar and is similar to previous sets, then that other 25% better be AWESOME or it’s just not worth it. Unfortunately that 25% is made up of an undersized Planet Defender Ion Cannon and a shield generators that are small and not even screen-accurate. So what’s the point then? What’s the draw exactly for me or any other collector that’s been in the hobby for at least a couple of years to buy this set?
If you look at the 10236 Ewok Village set as a comparison, right off the bat you can see the value in it. Aside from the speeder bikes and maybe some of the minifigures, the whole set feels unique and something we’ve never seen before. Historically, Endor sets have been a couple of Ewok Attacks or Speeder Bikes or what have you, certainly nothing that would break the bank. The village set is huge, and you feel like you’re getting a good value for the money because, overall, it was a building experience that’s never been done before. 75098 Assault on Hoth, on the other hand, feels like repetition over and over again because of how familiar so many of the builds are. Again, the Snowspeeder is a prime example of this.
The only unique builds are the PDIC and the shield generators. These are the things that LEGO should have focused on. If I had a magic wand connected to a genie lamp powered by a crystal ball giving me carte blanche power to go back to the drawing board for this set, here’s what my concept would be. Make the shield generators the focus. Make them huge. Have it split open down the middle lengthwise dollhouse-style. And inside each one of the generator disks and the large rectangular base would be several rooms: command center, medical bay, recovery room, a Wampa room with a door that has a warning sign 2×2 tile that Threepio could rip off, corridors where Leia and Han can argue, and the list goes on. The shield generator disks could built on top of a rectangular base that opens up into a hangar bay. I’d shoot a Snowspeeder set with whatever magic shrink ray they used for Vader’s TIE Advanced that was in 10188 Death Star set. I would also definitely make a new tauntaun element with hollow stomach to put Luke inside. Another option is to redo the 10188 Death Star but build it in white, wrap it with plates, build a small base around it, and present it as a “Echo Base Planet Defender Ion Cannon” or even just “Echo Base” because the current name is stupid.
And about that name. Calling it “Assault on Hoth” is completely moronic as the assault team consists of two Snowtroopers, an E-Web heavy repeating blaster, and a Speeder Bike. The assault elements are such a joke that you are done completing the assault elements halfway through bag number one. Bag number one! That’s it. Ten or fifteen minutes tops and its time to build the rebel’s defense. It’s like being assaulted by a pair of mosquitos. But hey, that E-Web heavy repeating blaster is a new build, so its got that going for it which is nice I guess.
The assault team also gets a Speeder Bike. Pretty standard design by the looks of it. And, surprise, the two Snowtroopers are exactly the same as the ones from 75138 Hoth Attack.
And speaking of Snowtroopers, what about the other minifigs? Surely there’s some value there. There is, “some” being the key word. Aside from the two previously mentioned Snowtroopers, you get 13 other minifigures.
This set is the first appearance of Toryn “Stand by ion control. Fire.” Farr and Wes Janson. The thing with Toryn is that she’s not really all that unique. Her face isn’t new, her hair piece isn’t new, the torso is new but its the same torso used in the other Rebel soldiers from this set. It lacks the usual printed curved waist that is typical of other female minifig torsos. Wedge Antilles hasn’t been seen on Hoth yet so he’d be considered new as well. He was last seen in 6212 X-wing Fighter.
Han Solo oddly enough has hair and is the only figure other than Toryn Farr to come with it. And when you see him pictured sitting on his Tauntaun with hair it just looks odd. Thankfully, you can get a proper hooded version of him in the other current Hoth set, 75138 Hoth Attack.
Luke Skywalker comes with post-Wampa attack bloody face on his head along with a non-bloody expression.
You also get five Rebel troopers and a Rebel officer to man the trench defenses.
R3-A2 is brand new and looks awesome as does K-3PO. R3-A2 has a trans-smoke dome. K-3PO has yellow eyes. This is the second version of this particular protocol droid and comes with updated protocol droid printed pattern.
As a loyal fan of the line since the beginning, I feel cheated by this set and can’t help but feel that LEGO really just phoned it in. They are asking $250 dollars for a set that is about 75% recycled material. For the exact same price, you can get a set that is 99% new builds in 10236 Ewok Village. 75098 Assault on Hoth had a lot of potential but ended up being a wasted opportunity. The only conditions under which I can recommend this as a purchase is if you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, you never picked up Hoth-based set in your life, the set was $100 cheaper, and LEGO puts out a press release declaring that they will never, ever make another Hoth-based set as long as they have the license ever again. And even under those conditions, it’s still a hard sell because it doesn’t feel like the value is there. It looks like a bunch of small sets thrown together and that’s what it ends up feeling like by the end. Even the minifig selection isn’t compelling enough to raise the score. I have to give this set a 1 out of 5 stars. Do not buy this set.
I realize the irony in linking to the set on LEGO Shop@Home right after I say don’t buy it, but it’s part of the review format.