Friday, 9 September 2011

LEGO Star Wars Summer 2011 Range: Part II

Earlier in the week I began my run-down of the latest Star Wars releases from LEGO, so today I round off by looking at the two large vehicles (conveniently released in time for Christmas) and the range overall. These views are all based on the official images that have been released, so are preliminary thoughts rather than product reviews, take that as you will.

What would some years be considered the ‘big set’ of the year, the Republic Frigate (7964) blasts out of The Clone Wars. Thankfully it sports a very different colour scheme from the similar Republic Cruiser (7665), otherwise the price would be hard to stomach. It looks nice and reflective of what’s on the screen, like a nice and sturdy ship. More Clones, another Yoda, Eeth Koth are included, but the mini-fig that gets me excited is the inclusion of Quinlan Vos in this set. The Jedi star of the long-running Republic comic series is a character never expected to be seen in LEGO, but thanks to popping up in The Clone Wars TV series, here he is. The character was originally to be included in the T-6 Jedi Shuttle (7931), but the design team felt two new Jedi were enough for one set, and gave Vos the elbow – so it’s a big relief to see him turn up.

The year is rounded out with a set I really don’t need or want - another Millennium Falcon. I have mini-fig based ones, a mini one, a midi one, and the incredible UCS one. But that said, LEGO can’t afford to go too long without releasing a large version of the Millennium Falcon at a vaguely realistic price point. In fairness, LEGO have held off a while, as the last release of this sort was back in 2004. My personal preference would be for the midi Falcon to be made a ‘permanently available’ exclusive, like the X-wing Fighter (6212), with Han Solo and Chewbacca mini-figs thrown in.

However, this isn’t the way LEGO are going, and looking at what we have there are improvements to the last release (4504), the sort of incremental stuff we’re used to seeing with new parts available and such like. It looks a little smoother and slightly larger, but the biggest difference is that there’s more stuff to do inside. Han and Chewbacca need somewhere to sleep after all, and it’s good to see Luke get to grips with fighting his remote droid.

Overall, this seems to be one of the best selections of summer sets we’ve seen in a while. There are plenty of movie sets in the mix, and The Clone Wars offerings are varied and appealing. The types of vehicles and environments are varied, rather than lots of grey ships as in 2009. There’s a lot of repetition here for the completist who’s been around since 1999; but it’s hard to argue against the re-releases here as at least they are sets that have not been around for a good while. What LEGO seem to have realised over this past year is that a good way of drawing long-term collectors back for another bite is to update the mini-figs. Darth Maul, Watto, Sebulba, like the TIE Pilot and Gungans earlier in the year have all been ‘improved’ (depending on your take on it). Captain Panaka, Wald, Ki Adi Mundi are all-new to the mini-fig world. One danger, however, is that including three plus mini-figs in every set is going to push up the price even further. It seems surprising that the Sith Infiltrator and Podracers have come this year, with the release of The Phantom Menace next year – but then again, this way the sets will be sat on the shelves ready for the film’s release.

Let’s hope that LEGO can continue to get such a nice mix of films/TV and types of set as the line continues.
So which sets will you be buying? Are these re-releases a good thing, giving newcomers a chance to get these sets, or is there enough newness left for LEGO to mine?

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