Price: £84.99 / $79.99 / €89.99 (DE) Pieces: 836 Available: Now
Do you remember that recent era in LEGO Star Wars, where every other release was met with the exasperated comment ‘not another ship!’? Well, as I reflected in a recent issue of Blocks magazine, those times are well and truly behind us, with the ever-increasing frequency of location-based LEGO Star Wars sets witnessed during the last couple of years.
Nothing encapsulates the LEGO Group’s embrace of this new direction better than 75180 Rathtar Escape, part of the June 2017 releases, near the top end of the price bracket. It is based on one of the more memorable scenes from 2015’s The Force Awakens, when, on board their transport freighter, Han Solo, Chewbacca, BB-8, Rey and Finn outmaneuver not only two hardened gangs, but also a trio of hungry rathtars.
BB-8, Rey and Finn are not included in this set (maybe that’s the point to the excellently-designed-but-otherwise-purposeless 75178 Jakku Quadjumper, then), but Han and Chewie are, as are Guavian Death Gang’s Bala-Tik and most notably two Guavian Security Soldiers (Death Gang perhaps not so friendly to have on a LEGO box). Those final two minifigures are what we have all had our eye on since their first reveal on the toy fair circuit earlier this year, and they live up to the suspense – they are just as beautiful in your hand as they have looked in the photos. No over-sized helmets here. The colour, moulding and printing on these guys is all on point.
It’s in the very first bag that you get to put together one of the two rathtars included. Generally speaking, these creatures are dark red, with dozens of orange ‘light-reactive sensing orbs’ across the top of their rounded bodies, from which protrude very many, long tentacles. There has been a bit of artistic licence taken in their LEGO adaptation, but, the final effect is no less charming, with some intelligent decisions taken to keep scale close-to-accurate and still achieve that rounded body and those protruding teeth. The way they are put together also means that they are fantastic for posing. Builds like this are what I have in mind when I comment in other reviews about letting designers try their hand at other brick-built creatures, over moulded pieces.
Beyond the rathtars is the construction of an interior corridor and single storage unit of the freighter. It has a satisfying height to loom over the encased minifigures, there are plenty of access points for prying hands and posable rathtars, and there’s enough length and width in the walkway for plenty of action within. It’s instantly recognisable for the scene it is based on, as well as being practical for play, and spacious for those who just want somewhere for many more of their minifigures to stand.
This isn’t the easiest build (though the instructions make it so), and the detail that is included is remarkable, from the small control panels, to the underneath section for escapees to crawl under, and from the door you can collapse at the knock of a lever, to the choice of levers to pull behind the storage unit that either do nothing or release the rathtar from within. These are all details that not only add play value, but will tickle the Star Wars nerds out there (like me) for their references to the sequence in The Force Awakens.
75180 Rathtar Escape isn’t just all that, though. It is also modular by design, as you construct the storage unit, corridor piece and doorway as separate parts that are attachable to each other with Technic pins or clip plates. It means that you can run any combination of them and, as some of you have no doubt been trying to work out a budget for, expand with additional copies of the set.
For those that much prefer the appeal of a ship to swoosh around, 75180 Rathtar Escape cannot compete. But, for what it does represent, as an accurate and fun recreation of a memorable moment from one of the recent Star Wars films, there are few releases that come close to this set, past and present. That it is also ready-made to be doubled, trebled or – if you really do have more money than sense – quadrupled in size is just further testament to the foresight and expertise that went into this set’s design.