The longstanding infatuation that the LEGO Group has with Snowspeeders has forever baffled me. With the exception of perhaps Jedi Starfighters, which in contrast have a host of variants to choose from, there is no other ship in the Star Wars universe reproduced in the brick as many times as the Rebellion’s short lived Hoth based fighter. Having pretty much perfected the design on iteration number two, subsequent offerings have been difficult to distinguish from each other. For better or worse, the themes of ‘odd choice’ and ‘difficult to distinguish from its predecessor’ permeate my first impression of the latest LEGO Star Wars UCS set.
My first observation is that this is a perfectly executed set. The designers have done an outstanding job capturing the look, proportions, colour scheme and feel of the iconic Snowspeeder. The point of these non-minifigure scale offerings is to capture a level of detail not possible on smaller models and that trait is in full force here. Collectors looking for a satisfying display piece need look no further. If you missed out on the previous UCS Snowspeeder, set 10129 from 2003, this will not disappoint.
The age of 10129 was no doubt a major factor in the decision to re-tread the frozen terrain of Hoth and make the Snowspeeder the second re-do in the UCS line. While I cannot dispute the basic logic, this set still seems an odd choice. Was anyone actually looking for a new UCS Snowspeeder? Unlike 10240, the updated UCS X-Wing released in 2013, 75144 maintains the trend of its smaller counterparts and is not a dramatic improvement from its predecessor. The LEGO design team pretty much nailed the Snowspeeder’s look with the original UCS set. While there have been improvements, the shapes and angles have notably been refined, most changes appear to be minor, a fact which is reflected in the meagre 248 increase in pieces.
As one digs into the details, the oddities only continue. The LEGO Group has included a pair of minifigure pilots which the set’s description states are intended for placement in the model, but the ship is not to scale. Those figures will look like dolls about to be consumed by their chairs. Further on, the description calls out that two blaster pistols are included. Talking up two parts that have no real place in a UCS set, and can be found in almost every Star Wars set, implies scraping the bottom of the barrel for features to showcase. Admittedly, this may be the marketing department misunderstanding the appeal rather than a fault in the product, but it does stand out in the press release.
In summary, collectors who have been scared off by 10129’s high aftermarket price will no doubt be delighted at the opportunity to add this iconic vessel to their UCS lineup. They will not be disappointed as the LEGO Group has returned to form in terms of the detail we expect in UCS-badged sets after the other return to Hoth that is spoken about in hushed tones. With that said, I must confess to being disappointed that the decision was made to re-tread old ground, no matter how well executed, when there are so many other ships and locations which have not previously been given the UCS treatment. A certain other, arguably more iconic, vehicle which saw battle on the ice planes of Hoth comes to mind…