Look Sir, Reviews.

Once upon a time, in a bedroom recalled with fondness and nostalgia, there was a child who used to spend hours at play with LEGO bricks spread across the floor. Castles, spaceships, pirate strongholds and towns were all made without need of instructions, colour co-ordination or a certificate from the local planning office.

Sadly that child grew up and forgot that LEGO sets were more than more-than-your-average construction toys. This long-lost child still harboured an attachment for the toy of his infancy and as he reached adulthood and discovered the joys of a disposable income he rediscovered his love of LEGO.

This enlightenment came with a blemish that lived on for years, fed by the stigma that adult fans of LEGO only built them to display. And then one day the adult-who-would-be-child produced an offspring and was taught that it wasn’t possible to spell display without pee, el, ey and wahy.

For most of us – kids and adults alike – play is a lost art. Over time it has been eroded by various forms of distraction, and so when LEGO brought out four additions to their Star Wars theme that dovetailed into a very obvious environment we thought it was worth highlighting the potential to play out the hunt for R2-D2 and C-3PO in the desert sands of Tatooine.

Having run the Imperial blockade set up at the end of the Battle of Scarif, members of the Rebel Alliance are trying to get the Death Star plans to the reclusive General Obi-Wan Kenobi whose last known address was a planet farthest from the bright centre of the universe – Tatooine.

Pursued by an Imperial Star Destroyer, the Tantive IV is soon overtaken and subdued by Darth Vader. Desperate to see the plans delivered to safety, Princess Leia uploads the data into a plucky R2 unit, who – with the fussy C-3PO – uses an escape pod to reach the planet below.

853768 Landspeeder Bag Charm

Far out on the Grand Chott a flash of light high in the atmosphere catches the eye of a young moisture farmer who is on his way to Toshe Station to pick up some power converters.

Curious, he stops his landspeeder, grabs a pair of electrobinoculars and scans the sky. Luckily the pieces are all glued so any Jawas that creep up on it won’t be able to strip off any parts.

Though his talents are latent the Force(d perspective) is with him, and the series of events that leads him to his new life among the stars is just beginning.

You can include a 853768 Landspeeder Bag Charm in your tote life for thanks to LEGO.com for US$4.99 (CA$6.99 / £4.99 / €5.99 / AU$9.99) today.

75221 Imperial Landing Craft

With the local garrison already stretched thin patrolling numerous hives of scum and villainy and combatting the various crimelords who call this desert world their home, troops are dispatched from the orbiting Star Destroyer to comb the planet for a pair of lost droids.

As the Imperial Landing Craft nears the sandy surface its triangular wings fold back as the repuslorlifts kick in to hold the ship steady at a safe distance. Once the pilot gives the command, the hatches open and the landing ramp descends to allow the pair of Sandtroopers to disembark.

With scanners having already identified a credible target, the pair of foot soldiers approach the lone droid as it rolls across the flat landscape, with their blasters set to stun in order to ionise the droid’s circuitry.

Luckily help is at hand, and in a blur of motion, an old man in a brown robe arrives to distract the hapless Sandtroopers and give the droid a chance to escape into a nearby canyon where it can hide from the Imperial Landing Craft’s sensors.

The build itself is a little more advanced than others featured in this commentary, but not so much that the nine bags couldn’t be bashed out by a targetted 8+ in a couple of hours. As the original 7659 Imperial Landing Craft from 2007 is dear to many LEGO Star Wars fan’s hearts it’s a difficult task to compare the two. In its new format the 75221 Imperial Landing Craft is missing the mechanism that raised and lowered its wings and the pair of rubber-tipped spring-loaded missiles – and it is doubtful they’ll really be lamented.

The new cockpit is a vast improvement, with the new shape giving the craft a much more sinister air and bringing it closer in form to its on-screen counterpart. The articulated landing legs are a very nice touch, though having them fully retractable would have been better. On the matter of being retractable, the new troop compartments are fitted with proper egress points in the form of folding hull plates and extendable landing ramps.

This set is vailable now at LEGO.com for US $89.99 (CA$109.99 / £79.99 / €89.99 / AU$149.99).

75198 Tatooine Battle Pack

Quick to realise the potential of the orbital activity are the Jawas, and seeing the escape pod plummeting towards their regular scavenging ground they direct their Sandcrawler out to see what can be reclaimed. Finding the pod empty and abandoned, the big brown box on tracks begins the process of stripping it down.

Recognising the outgoing prints as belonging to a pair of droids, the Jawas send out a recovery team to track the passengers down. In no time they find a golden bipedal protocol droid lost in the dunes and return it to the Sandcrawler for an oil bath before heading back out.

By the time they find the second droid in the highlands of the Jundland Wastes, the twin suns have set and it is too dangerous to travel back. While they warm themselves around a portable heater word that Stormtroopers are looking for a blue R2 unit reaches the Jawas, and so they use the darkness of the night to cover the droid’s blue paint in red dust.

As soon as the suns are up and droid securely clamped on the flatbed of the transport and head back to safety. But they have drawn the attention of a rogue Tusken Raider who gives chase.

Being on foot (cough, bantha, cough) the Raider quickly loses ground to the Jawas as they weave through the Dune Sea, and soon the droid is back at the converted mobile ore processing plant the Jawas call home. After a hearty round of congratulations, the newly salvaged droid is hoisted aboard the Sandcrawler, where it can be cleaned and have its memory wiped ready for a new owner.

This original vehicle design fills a gap that no-one knew existed – the self-propelled carriage conveys the lines of the Sandcrawler it is paired with and the fully articulated crane completes the functional look. The use of the black Technic bricks as tracks is a good way to reduce the complexity of the set, though a pair of wheels underneath wouldn’t have gone amiss. The inclusion of four minifigures – two Jawas and a Tusken Raider, along with a non-R2-D2 astromech – is a great selection that allows for simple role-playing games. The entire set takes 15 to 20 minutes to put together – which you can view in our 45second long time-lapse build video below.

75198 Tatooine Battle Pack is available at LEGO.com for US$14.99 (CA$16.99 / £12.99 / €16.99 / AU$22.99) right now.

Initially, when the was announced the most common comment was “huh?” but with the reveal that a new, and smaller scale, Sandcrawler was coming it all made sense.

75220 Sandcrawler

While stripping down the escape pod the Jawas the patrolling Imperial Landing Craft spots the idling Sandcrawler and drop in for a quick inspection. Calling on the brown-robed scrap merchants to empty out their storage holds of all the droids, the Jawas take these instructions literally and C-3PO who – still immersed in the penetrating oil of the droid bath – is left out of the inventory.

While the Jawas slowly arrange the droids across the desert floor the Sandtroopers get hot and impatient. Though their suspicions are roused when an astromech trundles down the ramp they soon discount it when the see it’s the wrong design and colour. With their cooling fans almost maxed out they retreat to the Imperial Landing Craft and continue their patrol.

This unannounced visit by Stormtroopers is spotted by the same moisture farmer who had observed the heavenly phenomena the day before, and taking advantage of having the droids on display, approaches the Jawas to engage in some bartering.

Fortunately the Jawas are too worked up by their close call with Imperial forces to be interested in making any deals, but promise to swing by the Lars’s moisture farm in a couple of days. Praise the Maker!

While most LEGO sets have been getting bigger and more detailed over the years, it wasn’t possible to up the ante on 75059 UCS Sandcrawler so LEGO took the opposite route by downsizing the dimensions and downscaling on the detailing. The smaller size gives it the same look as the vintage Kenner Radio Controlled Jawa Sandcrawler, which is almost exactly 25% bigger than the LEGO version and makes it look like a super-sized Microfighter.

The three or four hours that is needed to build this set isn’t hard to get through. The layering of brown, dark orange and tan plates and tiles keeps the attention from wavering, and the one section that threatens to crack the most attentive builder’s concentration – the tracks – is wisely broken into different segments.

Much thought has been given to making this new model an accessible build to the non-AFOL end of the market: the drive mechanism doesn’t rely on putting the entire vehicle on the tracks, the side panels are easily removed to give access to the interior, the detailing is just right to give the Sandcrawler the right look without over-indulging in greeblies and the cockpit and articulated crane are nice play features. But most ingenious of all, the cargo sled that is parked behind the front loading ramp can be placed with the hauler from the 75198 Tatooine Battle Pack.

75220 Sandcrawler is available from CA$159.99 / £109.99 / €129.99 / AU$199.99) right now.

Ever since watching Star Wars in 1977 the conundrum of how the Jawas got the restrained R2-D2 out of the canyon in the Jundland Wastes to their Sandcrawler on the Dune Sea, slipped past the Imperial forces searching the planet for the droids and happened to pass by Owen Lars’s homestead just when he was in the right mind to buy some droids has stuck in my mind. Now, forty-one years later, LEGO has put the question to bed.

Entertainment Earth

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