Today I’ll be reviewing the hovertank in the bottom of the above photo, the smaller of the two, but I’ve used a picture that includes a custom one in order to better illustrate some points I’m about to make about this set.
The Imperial Assault Hovertank features in Rogue One, and rumbles onto the screen during the portion of the plot set in the streets of the Holy City on the desert planet of Jedha. The set comes with the hovertank itself, an orange crate, and three minifigs: two hovertank pilots, and Chirrut Imwe, along with enough weapons for all three figures and one spare.
This set is pretty decent on the whole. The pilot figures are really charming and are unique to this set which is a big bonus as it’s not one of the more expensive builds in the line. Chirrut is exclusive too, but we’ll get onto my issues with that. I especially like Lego’s cunning in placing near-transparent wheels on the underside so that it really does ‘hover’, and the little touches like the black tile used for an open hatch are really ingenious design methods. Lots of SNOT (studs not on top) building techniques are used, too, which is unlike Lego themselves and more a staple of the AFOL (adult fan of Lego, remember these terms) community, so that was awesome to see and is something the company is incorporating more and more these days. There are some neat play features, too, like the opening hatches on the front and top, the lovely little tactile design of the crate in its striking orange hue (more a compliment for the concept team of the film itself, but there you go), and the return of spring-powered missiles! Three cheers! One of the very first things you build is a pair of weird technic sticks with gears on the end, which have to be oriented correctly when placed on the side of the vehicle so that a little black nubbin points downwards. I genuinely squealed with glee when I got to the final stages of the build and was instructed to add the missile ‘launchers’, directly in front of the aforementioned nubbins. Some really clever building methods go into this set, which make my problems with it a bit of a letdown as the design itself is rather shoddy.
To be Improved:
Oh, lordy, the price! I know Lego operate on their weird minifigure to a tenner pricing ratio, but I picked up this set from John Lewis for £18.39 (weird price, I know, perhaps there was an offer on somewhere that JL didn’t want to undersell them) compared to Lego’s thirty quid. More than a third of the price knocked off! And besides, when you look at the actual set compared to the custom one, you really notice how little effort Lego put into the design. I’d understand if this were a Force Awakens set, where the designers were only shown preliminary sketches from concept art well before the movie designs were finalised, and went off those (even then, they did a pretty astonishing job). But this time it just seems like sheer half-heartedness from the team. On top of that, without the second crate the back half just looks empty. I’d gone through probably 90% of the pieces before I’d even started work on the top of the rear portion, and it shows. It really shows. The header image doesn’t really do it justice, but take a look at this:
Look at how bland and just plain empty the back of it looks without, and even with, the addition of the crate. It doesn’t really do the scale justice until you have it in your hand and realise that half its length is essentially one solid flat block. It’s a little sneaky that in the box’s product shots the dead length is cleverly disguised by the crate, or the angle, or a fig standing in front of it, or all of the above, because having it in your hands it could seriously have done with another crate. And considering the one in the movie carries three, only including one measly box is just insulting! Another little gripe that I didn’t really notice until I rewatched Rogue One following the DVD release (I picked this set up the same day I bought a copy, see my review), is Chirrut’s white hand. On closer inspection I realised that he’s wearing a forearm gauntlet in the film, and while printed hands is something I don’t think Lego has ever done, or will do for that matter because any details would look too fiddly and the effect would be lost, the gauntlet isn’t even white but is instead a sandy grey and the figure has no arm printing to speak of, an addition that was rare in the past but is something Lego can do on a regular basis nowadays with updated machines. Again, to neglect this just seems lazy and like something that should have been overcome once the designers got further than mere prototyping. Furthermore, Chirrut suffers from the same BFS (blank face syndome) that the Lego Movie’s Wyldstyle figure did. Neither of his double-sided head’s expressions are too… well, expressive, and they don’t differ from each other save for a slight crinkle of the mouth and a barely-noticeable twitching of the eyebrows. Compare it to Emmet’s adorably emotional head printing and you see my point:
The only other problem I have with the set also relates to that orange crate. In the film, the crates contain kyber crystals used for powering the Death Star and, more crucially in the Star Wars universe, the Jedis’ lightsabers. In the set, the crate is used for storing a pair of binoculars. When my girlfriend asked whether or not this was their purpose in the film, I replied no, and when explaining their actual cargo I suddenly realised that I personally own about sixteen Lego crystal pieces of varying sizes and colours, that I know for a fact would fit in the compartment in this set! So why would Lego not bother to include one? As in the case of the hovertank’s design and the Chirrut minifigure, more laziness on the company’s part.
Some people forget that six out of ten is still a positive rating, and I want you to keep that in mind. Not much effort has been put into this set compared to a lot of others, but for the dramatically lowered price I nabbed this set for, I really can’t complain too much, despite doing just that in the last paragraph. And if you think about it, nearly all of my complaints are about the two smallest elements of this set, the Chirrut figure and the orange crate, not the vehicle itself. The pilot minifigures are wonderful and some of my favourite-designed characters to date because of their similarity to shoretroopers, so they’re a very welcome addition to my collection indeed. And with some little adjustments, such as the addition of an antenna and a redesigning of the cannons, the hovertank can look a lot closer to its onscreen counterpart than the unmodified version does, and what’s Lego designed for, anyway? Answer: building things your way and adding or changing whatever you want. The instructions are a guideline, not a rigid code. Because of that, I can’t be too disappointed, and once tweaked the hovertank is perfectly capable of holding centre stage in my Jedha MOC without detracting from the aesthetic. Some laziness in design, but a really solid set overall if you sit some stormtroopers on the back and, most importantly, refuse to surrender to Lego’s inflated price tag. Besides, the lack of stud shooters gets a thumbs up in my book.