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Review: Star Wars Rogue One AT-ST Walker [75153]

Review: Star Wars Rogue One AT-ST Walker [75153]

©LEGO Group

Set Theme: Star Wars  |  Sub-theme: Rogue One  |  Set Name: AT-ST Walker  |  Set Number: 75153-1  |  Pieces: 449  |  Number of Minifigures: 3  |  Set Year: 2016

The first wave of the new LEGO Star Wars Rogue One sets have introduced us to a number of new Star Wars designs, vehicles, and characters - all of which we should expect to see on the big screen once the film debuts in theaters this December 16th.  Of course, with a multi-generational franchise, such as Star Wars, not every thing has to be new to be exciting.  The pang of nostalgia is very strong with those who have been a fan of the Star Wars saga since the days of the OT [Original Trilogy] or even the prequels.  For some it can be just as exciting to see an old design brought back to life as it is for something new to be added to Star Wars canon.  One such design which we haven't seen on the big screen in quite a while - since 1983's Return of the Jedi - and one which is confirmed to be returning in the first non-episodic Star Wars film, Rogue One, is the Imperial AT-ST Walker.  To heighten the excitement of the return of the AT-ST to the silver screen, LEGO has decided to bring the AT-ST back to brick form as well with their latest design for the vehicle which is affectionately referred by fans as [due to the vehicles bird-like gait] the chicken walker.  Does the new LEGO design of the now iconic walker match our nostalgic memories of the vehicle?  Is it a set which will excite those of us unfamiliar with the walker to enjoy as a play set?  Let's take a look.  But, first...  Could everyone take their seats please?  It's time for a history lesson.  More specifically [and before you click away], a LEGO Star Wars history lesson...

A BRIEF HISTORY OF LEGO AT-ST RELEASES

Imperial AT-ST [7127] from 2001 | ©2001 LEGO Group

LEGO has given us a total of four minifigure-scale AT-ST sets [the 2016 model bringing the total set-count now to five].  As you can imagine and as is often the case with the evolution of any LEGO model over the years, the design of the LEGO AT-ST has come a very long way.  LEGO's first attempt at an AT-ST was all the way back in the year 2001 with the Imperial AT-ST [7127].  The set clocked in at only 107 pieces and included one single minifigure - Chewbacca [pour lonely Chewie].  

The next LEGO AT-ST would not come until five years later in 2006.  Nevertheless, the LEGO Group made sure that the AT-ST returned in glorious UCS style with the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Imperial AT-ST [10174] which clocked in at a whopping 1,068 pieces.  The 2016 model gives the 2006 model a run for its money, but the 2006 UCS AT-ST is certainly the most detailed AT-ST LEGO has ever released.  If you're interested in picking up the 2006 set, you can easily do so on the secondary market for about $500 [good luck explaining that purchase to the wife].

Ultimate Collector Series Imperial AT-ST [10174] from 2006 | ©2006 LEGO Group

Interestingly, LEGO decided to release yet another AT-ST set just one year after the mammoth UCS set.  In 2007 LEGO released the simply-titled AT-ST [7657] which included 244 pieces and, again, one minifigure [pour lonely AT-ST pilot].  Finally, the last set to include a minifigure-scale AT-ST is a set which included quite a bit more than just a walker.  In 2009 LEGO released The Battle of Endor [8038] which was a fairly large play set meant to allow LEGO fans to reenact the famous scenes from Return of the Jedi when the rebels land on the Forest Moon of Endor in hopes of destroying the second Death Star's shield generators.  The size of the 2009 model appears to be comparable to the 2007 model, but the 2009 model looks vastly improved.  Some of the design elements from the 2009 model has even found its way over to LEGO's latest AT-ST.  Sadly, after the release of The Battle of Endor in 2009...silence.   Months and years ticked by completely AT-ST-less.  Until...

THE SET

The first thing I noticed once I completed the build of the AT-ST is the size of the model.  The model is surprisingly larger than I had assumed it would be.  You can see the model placed next to minifigures on the box art which gives a general idea of the model's scale, but I was happily pleased to see just how large and sturdy the model is in person once constructed.  The set currently retails at $39.99 USD and includes 449 pieces which equals price-per-part evaluation of about 9 cents per piece.  A good price-per-part total is around 10 cents, so this set is maybe only slightly over-priced.   Yet, the size and sturdiness of the finished model adds a ton of value to the set.  If you consider the quality of the build, then I think you'll find plenty of value in this set.   

In terms of the display value of the set, the AT-ST looks incredible from any angle.  The AT-ST from the Star Wars films has such an iconic and menacing profile, and LEGO does a great job of bring that design to life with this updated model.  You feel like AT-ST might just start walking on its own at any minute.  The model looks particularly menacing when faced directly toward you.  You can almost imagine that you're either Han Solo or Princess Leia staring up at the vehicle - hoping not to get blown away - while attempting to breach the shield generator bunker.  

The only complaint I have concerning the model is the color choice of the Technic pins used in the leg-construction of the AT-ST.  This is a question I very frequently have while assembling LEGO sets.  Why doesn't LEGO choose to sprinkle such inconspicuous colors throughout their models?   I understand why an inconspicuous color might be used in the construction of an element of a model which - once completed - is completely hidden from view.  I also understand why the inclusion of inconspicuous "stand-out" colors can make the construction of a model easier for the builder.  What I don't understand is why LEGO chooses to use inconspicuous colors which act as eye sores once a model is completed.  Particularly, if a much more conspicuous color is available.  For example, if you look at the construction of the AT-ST's legs you'll notice that a number of blue Technic pins were used to construct the legs.  Blue is not a color which exists on the real in-universe AT-ST from the films, including the Rogue One film.  Using such an odd color only attracts attention to the fact that the model is built from bricks.  A great LEGO design detracts the viewer from thinking about the model as a series of bricks.  The oddest part of this color choice is that LEGO could have very easily used a less conspicuous color of Technic pins to accomplish the same result in a much more elegant way.  Nevertheless, this color issue can be very easily fixed by changing out the blue Technic pins for either black or light bluish gray pins [most of us have a ton of these pins lying around anyway].

The exterior of the AT-ST does include some great blaster turret builds and some finer details which are provided via a fairly small sticker sheet.  The details seen on the AT-ST's feet, backside, and top-hatch are all provided via stickers.  This a an example of set which utilizes stickers successfully.  The stickers are placed in areas where they are easy to apply, and they provide subtle, sleek enhancements to the model which only increases the display value.

THE PLAY FEATURES

LEGO's latest iteration of the AT-ST includes all of the play features which you would expect or for which you would hope.  For instance, all of the turrets located on the exterior of the "head" build of the walker move up-and-down/left-and-right respectively.  Additionally - and most importantly - the top-latch build of the walker is connected via a hinge-system which allows the latch to open just as it functions in the films.  This enables you to recreate the famous scene from Return of the Jedi when Chewbacca hijacks an AT-ST on the Forest Moon of Endor.  However, since good ol' Chewie is not included in this set [which makes sense given that it is a Rogue One offering], the included Imperial AT-ST Driver minifigure rises to the occasion and capably mans the walker.  To make it even easier to access the interior of the AT-ST model, the entire top of the head build is attached via hinges and opens in order for you to place your driver in his appropriate spot with minimal hassle.   If you look closely, you can even see the AT-ST Driver in action when the top of the AT-ST head and latch is closed.

The interior of the head includes a cozy area for your AT-ST Driver or any minifigure, and toward the front there is a pair of screens and a control board provided via a single sticker.  Just behind the seating area within the AT-ST lyes one single thermal detonator piece which is a print [let's hope the driver doesn't accidentally sit on it!].

The AT-ST does include a play feature which I'm sure will make any one watching to involuntarily "Ooo" and "Ahhh" and scream "It's alive!  Quick, someone grab an Ewok!  We need one of them to smash the head of this thing with a tree trunk!" [Okay, maybe not that last one].  The feature involves a simple Technic assembly which allows the head of the AT-ST to swivel left and right by turning a 2x2 round brick attached to the back of the model clockwise or counterclockwise.  The effect is truly stunning!  The feature causes the AT-ST to come to life in a way I've seen very few LEGO models achieve.  For a moment it feels like a miniature AT-ST has popped straight of the screen and into your living room [or wherever you prefer have your Imperial/Rebel battles].  A simple but incredibly effective feature.  I guarantee you'll get chills when you see it in action.

Turn the 2x2 round brick on the back of the model to swivel the entire head of the AT-ST left or right

VIDEO: Click play on the above image to see the AT-ST's head-swivel play feature in action.

An addition to the impressive swivel feature, the head of the AT-ST does include one additional play feature - one you might expect.  Located toward the "mouth" of the head are two spring-loaded missiles meant to represent fire missiles being fired from the walker's front turrets.  The spring-loaded missiles are well-hidden and in no way detract from the model's overall display value.  The missiles are activated on the back of the model by pushing one of the two 1x1 cone pieces inward - push both inward at the same time to fire both missiles simultaneously. 

Activate spring-loaded missiles located on the front of the model  by pushing one of the two 1x1 cone pieces located on the back of the model inward.

There is one final play-feature, but, quite honestly, it's barely worth mentioning.  The legs.  The legs of the AT-ST are capable of moving; however, if you move either leg out of the default pose, the model will tumble.  I was hoping that LEGO might allow the "feet" of the walker to bend at the ankle in order to allow for alternate poses but such a feature was not included.  I consider this a small issue, and it's one that doesn't really decrease the play or display value of the set.  As has been mentioned in many other reviews, most kids will simply pick up the walker and cause it to "pretend walk" across surfaces anyway and collector's interested in displaying the model will simply pose the walker using the default pose seen on the box art.  You can't really blame LEGO too much on this one.  The physics of the AT-ST design do not provide for an easy multi-posable toy [the walker's obviously a little top heavy. All of those Twinkies are going straight to his head].  

THE MINIFIGURES

The minifigures included in the set are of a quality which you don't typically find in a set at the $40 USD price-point.  The detailing of the prints on the minifigures, particularly the printing on Baze Malbus, is of a "Collectible Minifigure" caliber with so many fine details on both the front and the back of the torso which extends to the legs on the front.  The included Rebel Trooper has a ton of great detail on the torso and legs as well.  Considering that the Rebel Trooper is just a generic "good guy," it's great to see LEGO give us such detailed minifigures, even for those non-essential characters.  

A look at the alternate faces for Baze Malbus and the AT-ST Walker Driver

A new print for the AT-ST Driver's helmet

Example of an LEGO AT-ST Driver minifigure from 2012 with goggles print on the second face [set 9679]  |  Image © BrickLink.com

The set also includes a new take an a LEGO AT-ST Driver.  Previous LEGO AT-ST Driver's included a plain, non-printed helmet and a second face which includes the goggles of the driver applied over the eyes.  This new take on the driver includes, in addition to more details on the torso and legs, a goggle print on the top of the driver's helmet.  This allows the AT-ST Driver to have two goggle-free faces.  The helmet is a great new print to have.  

I did also want to highlight the monstrosity that is Baze's gun.  That is one huge gun.  The gun and attached back pack is built using a total of 10 pieces.  The movie has yet to release, so we have yet to see of what exactly this behemoth of a weapon is capable, but from the looks of the LEGO version, I think Baze will sporting some serious fire power in the Rogue One film.  You'll notice that the entire "back pack" build is attached using a fairly new piece - back plate w.2 knobs for textile [design ID 18986].

THE BASEPLATE

Some of the criticism regarding licensed LEGO themes can often be true.  Licensed themes can frequently contain a large collection of highly-desirable minifigures coupled with an equal amount of uninspired builds.  It can be tough to find an affordable licensed set which checks all of the boxes:  Desirable minifigures? Check.  Enjoyable build?  Check.  Good play features?  Check.  High display value?  Check.  The Star Wars theme is no exception to this stereotype.  It’s certainly not infallible to the “licensed-theme” issue [Carbon Freezing Chamber and Hoth Attack, for example].  Nevertheless, the Rogue One AT-ST Walker absolutely rises above this stereotype.  In my opinion, it checks all the boxes.  The included minifigures are desirable, and you are provided with one of the crucial characters from the Rogue One story - Baze Malbus.  The build of the AT-ST Walker is an inspired build and design - particularly for a $40 set.  The play features really enhance the model and bring it to life.  The end result is the best LEGO AT-ST Walker to date.  A chicken walker which any Star Wars fan of any age would be happy to own.

OVERALL SCORE

Playability: A |  Displayability: A


Official LEGO AT-ST Walker [75135] Product Animation Video

IMAGE GALLERY

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