Another giant set is on the way from the LEGO Star Wars team, with 75222 Betrayal at Cloud City now unveiled to the world. The city in the clouds from The Empire Strikes Back has been given the modern LEGO treatment, making it time for Chris Wharfe and Daniel Konstanski to join Graham Hancock in giving their initial reaction to this highly anticipated set.
Once again, the LEGO Group seems to be doing market research by looking at the prices of retired sets online – after 75192 Millennium Falcon and 10256 Taj Mahal, here is 75222 Betrayal at Cloud City. Thankfully it opts to start from scratch, as 10179 did, rather than offer an almost straight-up re-release as 10256 did. While the set looks great, a child’s dream plaything, it has not ignited my excitement in the same way that 10188, now 75159 Death Star did.
That perhaps comes down to the difference in importance of the location. While Cloud City is indeed a cool location derived from some beautiful Ralph McQuarrie designs, it is not the Death Star. It does not lend itself to a specific shape in the same way, it does not immediately offer the multi-level aspect. Some of the rooms and locations are cool, but it does not have trash compactors, chasms and throne rooms.
Despite that, this set does offer neat looking renditions of all of the key areas in Cloud City, which do connect via doors to really maximise the play possibilities. Including the mini Slave I for the landing pad was a wise choice. It will be easier to get a sense of the set in person, as for some reason, the selection of official images is rather limited.
Let’s face it – most of us probably had a pretty good idea of what Cloud City would look like before the rumours of 75222 even started. The LEGO Group’s other massive, hugely successful playset – 10188, then 75159 Death Star – was always going to serve as the template for another set that involves distilling a huge, multi-room location into a single box.
While the unveiling has offered no real surprises, then – the Death Star’s angular floor has even been replicated almost brick-for-brick around the back – it’s still satisfying to see it come to fruition. And it ticks most of the boxes that make the ending of The Empire Strikes Back so iconic: the clean, white corridors; the carbon-freezing chamber; the interrogation room, and of course, Luke’s hanging walkway of truth bombs.
As a playset, it seems to work, but there are a lot of wide open spaces – the inevitable landing platform for one, although the midi-scale Slave I helps. And it’s a shame there aren’t more of the areas in which Luke and Vader fought – more connections between the gantry and the chamber could have helped there – but on the whole, this looks like a great, complete representation of Cloud City, with pretty much every minifigure needed to kit it out.
At first glance, for an all-in-one solution to a sorely underrepresented locale, there shouldn’t be too many fans disappointed by 75222.
Two feelings dominated my gut reaction upon seeing 75222 Betrayal at Cloud City – relief and disappointment.
I was afraid that the LEGO Group would take a page from 76042 The SHIELD Helicarrier or the recent 71043 Hogwarts Castle set and make Cloud City a nanofigure scale type model. While that would still have been dramatically reduced in size it would theoretically work in a manner similar to the Helicarrier – scaled back, but more in line with the actual scale than if it had been scaled down to only minifigure scale. While that would have enabled a more movie accurate appearance overall, it would have been much less fun to interact with. As it is, the LEGO Group has stayed closer to 10188 and 75159 Death Star and given fans the more Star Wars doll house approach that worked quite well for those models. The inclusion of not one, but two ships scaled appropriately makes it even better. The interior has been represented perfectly and I can’t think of any room or location I would add.
However, I will confess to being a bit disappointed with just how dramatically the macro scale mushroom look of Cloud City has been lost. Think about it, if you were to see just the silhouette of this model you would have no idea what it was. Both Death Stars contained the micro scale details while also preserving the overall macro look of the space base. That is definitely not the case here. The soaring spire, graceful symmetrical curves, and distinctive shape of Cloud City has been completely forfeited. While I am sure that was driven by the constraints of price point and part count it is nonetheless a shame that both aspects of Lando’s mining colony could not be maintained. Given those constraints, however, the LEGO Group made the right choice in going all out with a decked-out interior containing every major and most minor locations seen on screen – I just wish there had been room for both.
Overall, this is everything fans have been asking for and more. It doesn’t just adequately succeed its predecessor, it makes the previous version, 10123 Cloud City, look laughable by comparison.