Never has a LEGO set caused so much heated discussion throughout the LEGO community, but since LEGO revealed Assault on Hoth as this year’s May the 4th UCS set, it has rapidly become the poster boy for everyone’s opinion of a number of recent LEGO releases. It’s worth noting that back in 2014 LEGO chose to re-brand their larger scale exclusive LEGO Star Wars sets to be included in the Ultimate Collectors Series range. Previous to this, UCS sets were mainly larger scale display pieces aimed towards older builders. With the Assault on Hoth set being skewed more towards being a play-set, the Adult Fans of LEGO community is up in arms.
But despite all this controversy how does the actual set shape up once built? Here’s our review of set 75098: Assault on Hoth, so grab a glass of warm Wampa juice and read on.
Get ready for epic battles on ice planet Hoth like never before! This fantastic LEGO® recreation of the Rebel force’s Echo Base from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back has all the details you need to create your own epic ice-planet battles. Set out on scouting missions with the Snowspeeder armed with twin spring-loaded shooters, and when you spot the enemy speeder bike, get back to base and help Luke, Han and the other Rebel heroes lock down the blast doors, ready the laser cannons, man the gun turrets with dual spring-loaded shooters and power up the devastating ion cannon, also with 2 spring-loaded shooters! This amazing model has so many more features, including a service area with crane, control room area, power generator with explode function, rotating communication dish, scout post with dual stud shooters and a Tauntaun with its own stable. There’s even a Wampa cave (with Wampa) for Luke to escape from! This amazingly detailed set’s modular design also means that you can create your very own Rebel base configuration. Prepare for ultimate LEGO Star Wars action! Includes 14 minifigures with assorted weapons: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Toryn Farr, Rebel Officer, Wes Janson, Wedge Antilles, K-3PO, 5 Rebel troopers and 2 Snowtroopers, plus an R3-A2, Tauntaun and a Wampa.
- Includes 14 minifigures with assorted weapons: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Toryn Farr, Rebel Officer, Wes Janson, Wedge Antilles, K-3PO, 5 Rebel troopers and 2 Snowtroopers, plus an R3-A2, Tauntaun and a Wampa
- Features Rebel base with modular wall and trench sections, a Snowspeeder and a speeder bike
- Wall section features slidable blast doors, service area with crane, control room area, power generator with explode function, ion cannon with dual spring-loaded shooters, laser turret with spring-loaded shooters and space for a minifigure, scout post with dual stud shooters and space for a minifigure, Tauntaun stable and a Wampa cave
- Trench section features heavy blasters, laser turret with double spring-loaded shooters and space for a minifigure, and a laser cannon with rapid stud shooter
- Snowspeeder features an opening cockpit, extending speed flaps and 2 spring-loaded shooters
- Weapons include Luke’s Lightsaber, 7 blaster pistols, 2 blaster rifles and 2 blasters
- Accessories include 7 Hoth Rebel helmets, 2 Snowtrooper helmets, and Wes and Wedge’s flight helmets
- Man the weapons and prepare to fire!
- Jump in the Snowspeeder and track the enemy
- Keep a lookout for Imperial forces from the scout post
- Close the blast doors and prepare for battle!
- Tend to the Tauntaun
- Hoist up the Snowspeeder ready for servicing
- Bring down orbiting starships with the devastating ion cannon!
- Can Luke escape the ferocious Wampa?
- Snowspeeder measures over 1” (5cm) high, 7” (18cm) long and 6” (17cm) wide
- Speeder bike measures over 1” (3cm) high, 5” (13cm) long and 1” (4cm) wide
- Power generator measures over 3” (8cm) high, 6” (16cm) wide and 5” (13cm) deep
- Wall section including ion cannon measures over 5” (15cm) high, 20” (51cm) wide and 11” (30cm) deep
- Trench section measures over 3” (10cm) high, 13” (35cm) wide and 4” (11cm) deep
Now first things first; despite the UCS branding and size of the set I’m going to treat it as a playset. As stated above LEGO have decided to bring together all exclusive Direct to Customer (D2C) Star Wars sets under the Ultimate Collectors Series banner; this clearly means that both display pieces such as the Slave-1 and larger scale playsets such as the Ewok Village are now both considered to be UCS but are obviously very different beasts. This is one of the reasons there has been so much anger directed towards Assault on Hoth.
Now that’s out of the way, on with the review. Empire Strikes Back is widely considered to be the best of Star Wars movies; released in 1980, the film begins on a snowy ice planet called Hoth with the plucky Rebels in the midst of battle with the evil Empire. With the Imperial fleet now fully aware of the hidden Rebel Base’s location, it’s not long before an epic battle kicks off on the icy planet. Previous LEGO sets have focused on different elements of Hoth, but this is the first time several sections have been brought together in one set – which is another sticky point we’ll come to later.
Images of the set really don’t do it any favours which is something I’ve found happening a lot recently. In order to bring more excitement to the box, the set is split up which makes it look like there’s way more than there is. But once you begin to build you’ll realise most sections actually clip together. However these sections are all built individually which offers a less challenging build for adults, but still a fairly time-consuming one. In total there are 13 numbered groups of bags, which are split across 8 build sections. It begins with the Rebel trench, turret tower and Imperial fraction. Followed by the Shield Generator, then the Snowspeeder, Echo Base Hangar door, command room, Wampa Cave, service bay and finally the ION cannon. It felt very much like building several retail sets.
Most sections are fairly straightforward and a little boring to build in all fairness, with a few gun turrets here and there, or an icy outcropping, it’s not until you get to the very last element of the build do thing get a little more interesting. I quite like the sphere-like ION cannon; it’s fun to build in terms of the engineering behind it and it looks quite nice (if a little small) along with some fun functionality. It features a pull lever which propels two flick missiles and who doesn’t enjoy a good old flick missile? I do enjoy it when designers hide them within the build instead of just getting you to nudge the missile to fire. The main part of the set is the hangar door which would lead into the hidden Rebel Base – ‘would’ because here it’s a mere cross section of an area used to launch Snowspeeders and Tauntauns. And while the mechanics of the door are fun, they are very exposed, which makes the set feel unfinished. The lack of an interior is also a missed opportunity, especially when set 7879 Hoth Echo Base had some nice features which could have been incorporated.
The Snowspeeder is very similar to the previous model featured in set 75049 with the addition of the strange orange livery, which the MicroFighter Snowspeeders also sported, with only one ship included with the set. Oddly, the Empire have left their massive AT-ATs at home and have instead decided to bring a white coloured Speeder Bike to the party, which is not the first or most imposing Imperial vehicle which comes to mind when I think of Hoth. In fact, despite this set depicting an assault on Hoth, the Imperials are quite lacking with only a couple Snowtroopers included alongside a couple of blaster turrets. Less an assault and more of a minor inconvenience.
The minifigures, however, are great. There are 14 included with the set including a number featuring new print detail. Protocol Droid K-3PO has a more detailed torso and new Astromech Droid R3-A2 has a funky transparent head dome. Luke is included in his Rebel Trooper gear, Han appears in a different version of his Hoth snow gear and oddly Leia doesn’t feature in the set instead there’s a very similar looking character making her first minifigure appearance called Toryn Farr. One of the Rebel Troopers has the best facial print. Not only does he look as if he wants to be anywhere but on Hoth, he also has an amazing ‘tache. It’s almost, almost worth the price of the set, it’s that epic.
Luke’s run in with the Wampa is once again depicted in LEGO and its inclusion here is only its second appearance since 2010’s 8089: Hoth Wampa Cave set. The Rebels’ Tower Turrets are also featured in another set which was only released the year. These are the sets biggest drawbacks – too many parts of it have already been featured in a number of other Empire Strikes Back sets and, when you combine those sets together, the price doesn’t come anywhere near the £219.99 RRP of Assault on Hoth. Some parts of the set also fall a little flat; although I like the ION cannon, the Shield Generator is missing a whole piece of it as really there should be four generator discs whereas the one here only has two. It would seem the designers at Kaut Drive Yard weren’t fully consulted on its design. The re-release of past sets is nothing new, but it’s never been done on this scale.
A special mention must go to the instruction booklet as not only is it one big booklet, it also features an interview with the set’s two designers, Hans Burkhard Schlömer and Paul-Constantin Turcanu, although there are a few comments they make which are a little cringeworthy, especially the sentence about the set feeling like designing several retail sets. But I do enjoy it when sets are given a little background to their creation in this way and I hope it’s something that will appear more in future exclusive sets. It’s certainly one way of making them feel a little more special compared to other sets. Unfortunately for the designers, I don’t think any amount of bells and whistles will stop people from hating on this set. It’s easy for me to give an flippant opinion on a set which has been provided for review, but you aren’t being forced at blaster point to go and buy it just because it’s been released. I love Star Wars and I love many of the sets that have been released based on its universe, but finding the right balance between re-imagining older sets and creating new ones is difficult as you will never please everyone.
If LEGO want to stop future backlash I think they may need to rethink the UCS branding but, as stated above, no-one is forcing anyone to buy any LEGO products, let alone this set. As someone who owns a couple of the other playset-style Star Wars UCS sets, I don’t have a problem with them being released, but I also see why they annoy people. This isn’t a bad set – it’s mostly fun to build, has some decent sections and, like it or not, some fun play features. It’s certainly an expensive set for what the final product is, no question. However, when you compare it to other sets with the same sort of piece count, the price is fair but unfortunately suffers the consequence of being a licensed set. I’m not sure what LEGO could have done to cause less backlash; add more to the set and it becomes more expensive, make it more compact and it loses the scale of an exclusive set. A decision which ultimately they had to make and live with. The question is, will they learn from the reactions for better or worse in future?
Disclaimer: All our reviews are our own personal views, thanks to the LEGO ARP team for providing us with sets to review.