With all the pre-release hype that goes into generating marketing opportunities in the build-up to the release of a Star Wars
movie it's not surprising that key stakeholders co-ordinate their merchandising campaigns with Disney and cherry pick those products that will represent aspects of film that can be shared in trailers and sell well. This is done without fan's knowing how the sets fit in, or how important they are to the story line, and with this week's worldwide release of The Last Jedi
we finally got to find out where the sets that were made available on Force Friday II slot in to the film's action and pace.
Judging from quite a few LEGO Star Wars
fan's reactions there's notable amount of concern that those sets released first might not have the consequence that we had come to expect. So where do the sets fit in?
75176 Resistance Transport Pod With about around 15 seconds of screen time - which is about five times more than than 75178 Quad Jumper got in The Force Awakens - only the rising tide could have made this VW Beetle in space's screen time any shorter. On the plus side its tug-like shape does create the impression that it could pull a bunch of the personnel compartments that formed the bulk of 75140 Resistance Troop Transport like a chain of World War II airborne gliders. Curahee!
75177 First Order Heavy Scout Walker Though it is has extremely cool looking walking mechanism, we're still not sure where this vehicle appeared in The Last Jedi. One explanation is that it was towing the the battering ram cannon over the salt flats of Crait. I can remember some kind of blocky devices, attached to what looked like tow cables, in front of the ram but they didn't look like this. Perhaps it's parked in the same garage as 75126 First Order Snowspeeder?
75179 Kylo Ren's TIE Fighter Another example of LEGO's development procedures being ahead of the curve but being in front of the ball at the same time: this set didn't get invited to the name day party that saw Kylo Ren's TIE Fighter dubbed TIE Silencer. Despite this, the set does agood job of duplicating the small fighter that Kylo piloted when he set out to off his mum. And though it got barely a heart beat of screen time its absence from toy store shelves would have raised objections.
75187 BB-8 Out of all the new Star Wars sets this bubbly beach ball probably has the most screen time, and it's not hard to figure out where BB-8 fits in to the latest instalment. Though he has clearly put R2-D2 in a corner his antics earned him a belter of a set, but why it hasn't been officially included in the Ultimate Collector's Series is a mystery.
75188 Resistance Bomber Though it seemingly played a significant role when a wing of these flying axe heads were on the verge of dumping devastation on the Dreadnaught that was threatening the Resistance base, it turned out that a single Resistance Bomber managed to do what a dozen others couldn't. An example of over kill perhaps? Though it's certainly an example of non-essential it did provide LEGO with an opportunity to include an Admiral Holdo minifigure. Still, it was a pretty good opening sequence.
75189 First Order Heavy Assault Walker No-one would have missed this piece of quadrapedal heavy artillery stomping its way across the alkaline plain in front of the defunct mine that served as the final redoubt for the Resistance, but what was the exact purpose of this war machine and did its short appearance in The Last Jedi warrant such an expensive set? If yeses are measured in cool then it is undoubtedly a worthy addition to the LEGO Star Wars line.
75190 First Order Star Destroyer The mainstay of the First Order fleet probably had the most screen time of all the LEGO The Last Jedi vehicles, yet this build misrepresented the purpose for which its on-screen originator was built. Though the set gave us a Supreme minifig it was neither Snoke's flying wing flagship, nor was it a dreadnaught or Hux's Resurgent-class Star Destroyer. If this First Order hybrid was one of those chasing down the Resistance fleet a bow-mounted Technic Competition Arrow would have worked.
75526 Elite TIE Fighter Pilot Who needs regular or even special forces TIE Fighter pilots when the elite are on hand? And when Kylo Ren stays his shot rather than complete the parricide that began with Han Solo in The Force Awakens, they had his back in a blink-and-you-might-miss-them glimpse into the cockpits of Kylo's wingmen.
75528 Rey The only buildable figure in the Star Wars line to have been refreshed and updated for a new movie (at least until 75334 Darth Vader is released in January), this costume represents Rey's attire while "training" to be a Jedi on Ahch-To. There's not much more to say about this set - if your daughter likes to accessorise her dollies then point her towards Hasbro's Force's of Destiny line up and keep this for yourself.
75529 Elite Praetorian Guard Finally an elite security detail who earned their red gowns! Such was their devotion to their fallen master that, in a climactic and surprisingly out-of-character lightsaber duel, they kicked, whipped and slashed their way to their own demise in a posthumous sortie rather than honour tradition. And the beauty of this set is that LEGO doesn't need to produce a different buildable figure for each of the variants depicted in The Last Jedi.
75530 Chewbacca When Vector Prime got de-canonised on April 25, 2014 we all shared one thought: Chewbacca Lives! And though, deep in our hearts, we know that the sub plot of the current Sequel Trilogy (or Transition Trilogy as I prefer to call it) is to phase out all the Original Trilogy characters we are still getting a few more years of our favourite Wookiee. It's a shame that he wasn't utilised more but at least he has a side kick (even if it is a porg) rather than being one.
It's clear that, for the main, the sets made available in the first wave aren't that significant - but who is to blame for placing too much importance in them?
It is fair to say that the hype begins on the web - and in most cases long before LEGO intends for it start. Rebelscum's own participation in promoting LEGO Star Wars
starts as soon as we can share substatiated news, rather than just rumours or waiting until the official memo gets published, is certainly a factor in this. And while doing so does LEGO no favours and - judging from the number of requests we have received to remove content - generally gets their back up, it does perform an important role in preparing the budgets of Star Wars
collectors. The downside of this is that LEGO and Star Wars
news sites that report on leaked sets are guilty of over-egging the pudding and inflating expectations.
While this does serves as a valid counterpoint for curtailing our reporting of leaked set news, an information gap in our LEGO coverage serves no purpose unless it can be filled by approved content that is informative and exclusive.
Now that we (or at least most of us) have seen The Last Jedi
we know what to expect from the second wave of sets, which have just been added to LEGOshop.com
, and can make an informed choice on which sets will have the most impact on our (and our children's) collections. Personally I can't wait for January 1st when I can put 75200 Ahch-To Island Training
on a shelf with my 75183 Darth Vader Transformation
, 75137 Carbon Freeze Chamber
and 75169 Duel on Naboo
One can only hope that there will be a third selection of The Last Jedi
sets - I'd love to see a battering ram cannon armed with a giant rubber-tipped dart, and no doubt LEGO will add a cockpit to their second-wave AT-ST to represent the ones on Crait.