REVIEW: LEGO Star Wars 9496 – Desert Skiff
Posted 11 June 2012 - 07:09 PM
It has been a while since TLG gave us an updated version of the Desert Skiff. We got the first one back in 2000 (7104 Desert Skiff) and six years later as part of 6210 Jabba’s Sail Barge in 2006. Another six years have past and we're now getting the third installment of this obscure desert utility vehicle in a LEGO set. Based on the preliminary images it does look like a winner of a set, but as the cliché goes, you wouldn’t appreciate a set until you buy it, build it, hold it in your hands and see the completed set with your own eyes. So was the long wait worth it? Will this set live up to the expectations? Let’s all find out.
Name: Desert Skiff
Theme: Star Wars | Subtheme: Original Trilogy (Episode VI)
Price: $24.99 | £24.99
Links: Brickset | Bricklink | Peeron (not yet inventoried) | LEGO Shop@Home
The box is longer than the usual boxes of $25 sets due to the horizontal orientation of the main source material, the Desert Skiff. It measures 35.4 x 19.1 x 6 cm and sports the 2012 box art template featuring Darth Maul’s awkwardly twisted head at the top right. I don’t mind the “extra length” of the box, I think it’s the proper “presentation”, though I’m not a big fan of the Maul box art.
The front box art recreates the scene in RoTJ where Luke was supposed to be executed in the Sarlacc Pit. I like the fact that the box art already shows the characters in action, with Luke already “receiving” his lightsaber (from astromech sharpshooter Artoo in the movie) while maintaining his balance on the platform. Boba Fett flying to Luke’s skiff is also quite accurate, though it looks like he just came out of the Sarlacc Pit. A disguised Lando and skiff guard Kithaba completes the battle scene. Like all 2012 box arts, the minifig line-up is prominently displayed on the right side under a bluish metallic background. The usual set information is displayed on the left, and I need not be reminded that I clearly fall into the 7-12 age bracket (kid at heart ).
In the back of the box, a big main panel shows Luke being escorted to the Desert Skiff (on landing mode). This is a nice fictional scene to see as this was actually not shown in the movie. Three small panels at the left show the playability features of the skiff, while three slightly bigger panels on the right show a couple of movie scenarios at the top and a “how-to-feed-Boba-in-the-Sarlacc Pit mini-tutorial” on the side. Two shot of the desert skiff over a schematic diagram-type background and the LEGO.com icon on the lower right corner complete the back box art.
The right side of the top of the box features the set’s line-up of four NEW! Minifigs, with the Lando fig separated from the other three as it’s shown in the 1:1 panel – good call I must say to avoid redundancy. No fancy background either, just a clean simple blue background makes the figs stand-out so you’ll notice the details better.
The left side of the box simply shows the LEGO Star Wars logo, set number, and a small version of the front box art on the right. I no longer took the photos of the right and bottom sides as they’re just your usual boring information stuff.
The box contains three numbered bags, a single instruction booklet, and three loose plates, which will all be shown next. Oh, and no dreaded sticker sheets. Zero, nada, zilch. I can now die peacefully.
The Instruction Booklet
As the norm of small-sized sets, the single instruction booklet features the same cover art as the box minus the set name and minifig line-up. The booklet I got came in good condition, and I was a bit surprised on how thicker and heavier it is compared to other sets of the same size (it’s 60 pages BTW).
Here’s a sample page of the instruction booklet. The image of Darth Maul appears every once in a while along the building process. The instructions are easy to understand, printed clearly on the light grey background there's no difficulty with color differentiation.
The LEGO parts
Bag 1 Content
The first bag contains the pieces to create the Sarlacc Pit and the Luke Skywakler and Boba Fett minifigs. The earth colors of tan, dark tan, and light bley are distinctively ‘desertish’.
Bag 2 Content
Bag 2 gives us the first parts for the desert skiff, as well as those of the Lando and Kithaba figs.
Bag 3 Content
The third and last bag is also the biggest one, containing huge parts to complete the desert skiff.
There are three 2x16 dark bley plates loosely included along with the other contents of the box, which is the usual case for relatively long/large plates in small sets.
As previously mentioned, this set gives us four new minifigs, or more appropriately, three updated minifigs (Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, and Lando Calrissian in Skiff Guard disguise) and a new Kithaba minifig. We’ll look at them closely on the following sections.
After a very impressive update of the old Boba Fett minifig into the 'modernized' version we got in 2010’s Slave I, TLG has decided to yet again “improve further” the detailing of the Boba minifig, particularly the leg prints. Now I’ve always had issues with overly-detailed minifigs, though admittedly I’m more and more becoming used to this trend (by force?) dominating the figs of almost every LEGO theme (Licensed, Collectible Minfigure Series, etc.) so I’m no longer averse of them that much. I’m pretty sure fans of highly-detailed minifigs would absolutely love this new Boba fig, and would salivate at the sight of those leg prints, it even has metal boot details!
Comparing it with the 2010 Boba Fett, aside from the aforementioned leg prints, the hip color was also corrected into dark green and the shoulder cape changed from brown to sand green. Fett's blaster was also apparently ‘upgraded’ into an uber-long version, which I don’t think is an improvement at all. Overall, it’s quite a good fig, the added leg prints is accurate to the source material. I assume this would probably be the most popular minifig in this set among LSW fans, but I have my own favorite one in this set, which happens to be….
Lando Calrissian (in Skiff Guard Disguise)
The best one for me in this set, for the following reasons: 1. the outstandingly detailed helmet, 2. a useful brown-skinned minifig head which is rarely released, and 3. it saved me some bucks by not getting the overpriced old version from 2006’s 6210 Jabba’s Sail Barge.
Comparison with the previous version version show that the same helmet mold was re-used but with much-needed prints now. The torso also has improved print detailing (including a back print) and changed its color from black to dark orange. The face print was also updated into the pupiled eyes. Even the vibro-axe weapon was improved, though it’s quite long IMO, but no big deal really.
Here is yet another version of Luke Skywalker, probably the most recreated character in minifig form (free cookies to anyone who could tell how many version of Lukes have been there). He now sports a grey torso with black undershirt and black sleeved arms. It’s a simple but an effective update which I certainly welcome. It looks good overall.
This is the new minifig character in this set – Kithaba the Klatooinian assassin turned skiff guard. For an extremely minor character I must say his minifig is quite well done. Both his face and torso prints are accurate to the source material. While I would’ve wanted to see the Weequay skiff guard Queequeg (since he’s the one that I remember the most in this scene), I think it’s already asking too much since we already got two fantastic minifigs in Lando and Boba and it would’ve required a new headgear mold, something TLG would obviously not do for a relatively unknown character in a small set.
The Sarlacc Pit
From the contents of Bag 1 the Sarlacc Pit was built. Here are some multiple views of this desert creature in brickbuilt form.
I think it’s quite a good brickbuilt representation of the real Sarlacc using a decent amount of parts. The mouth pieces used, along with the tentacles and surrounding teeth are effective in capturing the organic look of the Sarlacc. Of course one could argue that it could be built better via MOCing route but in the context of a playset I think it serves its purpose pretty well.
And what would the Sarlacc be without it’s favorite Mandalorian meal right? The Boba Fett fig (or any other figs for that matter) fits snugly inside the Sarlacc mouth.
Comparison with Reference Material and previous version
Here is a comparison pic of the 9496 Sarlacc Pit vs. the 2006 version and the reference material. The current Sarlacc gets plus points for the added tentacles (even it's only two compared to several in the 'real' thing) and the playability feature of fitting a minifig inside the mouth. Though I would have to say 6210 Sarlacc has better teeth details and the mouth-to-pit opening relative size looks more accurate than the new one.
Bag 2 – Desert Skiff Part 1
The base foundation of the desert skiff is built using the parts from Bag 2. Here is what we have at this stage of the build:
Bag 3 – Completed Desert Skiff
The desert skiff is completed with the last parts from Bag 3. Overall it was a very easy and straightforward build. Here are a few shots of the desert skiff:
Weapons Chest Box
At the center of the skiff is an opening chest box where small weapons could be stored. Quite a neat little detail that was not expected but very welcome.
Swinging (Extendable) Gangplank
The “main life of the party” so to speak. The desert skiff would be nothing without its dreaded gangplank where unfortunate victims spend their last seconds in the universe. The way it was built so it could be concealed inconspicuously on the side of the skiff during flight mode is genius IMO.
Movable Side Steering Vanes
Much like the wing flaps, rudders, and steering vanes of real life air-borne vehicles, the two side steering vanes of the skiff can be moved up-and-down and rotated 360-degrees for maximum control.
The captions say it all.
A control pedestal is located at the back with a couple of simplistic control sticks. Nothing too fancy but gets the job done.
Aside from the four minifigs included, you could still put additional figs in the spacious platform. Remember the movie scene actually had 9 passengers on the skiff, and you could very well do that on this one.
Comparison with Reference Material
Here’s a comparison image of this LEGO desert skiff vs. the source material:
The Good: Overall shape and length, proper curves at the right spots, the control pedestal, side steering vanes, ‘hideable’ gangplank, and weapon rack details are true to the source material.
The Bad: Lack of curved hand railing in the front and back, which are distinct features in the real desert skiff.
The Ugly: Multi-colored skiff vs. mono-toned color of the real desert skiff. This actually doesn’t bother me much, just pointing out the obvious inaccuracy.
Comparison with previous LEGO desert skiffs
As expected, the new desert skiff definitely trumps the previous two versions in terms of overall design. The new one is wider (6 studs-wide vs. 4 for the other two), longer, and has finally corrected the lack of the distinct sleek curved look of the two previous versions. There is nothing I could find in the previous desert skiffs that is better than this new one. Even with still some lacking details like the front and back curved hand rails, the new desert skiff is certainly a huge improved over the previous two versions.
Rating the Set:
Design – 9/10 It’s hard not to compare this with its 7104 predecessor, if I were to score him that way this would’ve been easily a perfect 10. But putting things in perspective, a respectable score of 9 is just about right for both the desert skiff and Sarlacc pit designs, striking a balance between aesthetic look, function and playability, and cost considerations. The only shortcoming I felt is the minor lack of curved hand rail details in the skiff.
Build – 8/10 The build was expectedly smooth sailing for the set its size. There were no thought-provoking techniques used, though I have to give + points to the 'hideable' gangplank.
Parts – 7/10 I’ve never had much earthy colors like brown and dark tan in my sets before, so these are a welcome sight. And they can be extremely useful for steampunk-inspired MOCs! But aside from those, majority of the parts are quite common and nothing to be excited about.
Minifigures – 10/10 Perfect IMO. TLG did a pretty good job in updating Luke and Lando, and introducing a new minifig in Kithaba. All three have an adequate amount of details while still retaining the simplistic LEGO look and shying away from the action figure-like detailing. On the other hand, the overly-detailed Boba Fett is growing on me the longer I look at it.
Playability – 8/10 A hovering craft which could accommodate a bunch of minifigs, a hungry worm-like desert monster, sacrificing a hero and turning back the tables on the villains with intense battle scenes – what more could an imaginative playful child would want right?
Price – 9/10 Great value for your money, the four new figs alone will probably cost more than the whole set when sold separately. Selling prospects aside, a $0.11 price/parts ratio is pretty good especially for a SW set. And rarely do your get four new minifigs on a single small non-battle pack set.
I’m pretty certain this would be one of the most popular sets among LSW fans considering the OT material, and the long time it took for this set to be re-made adds another level of desirability. TLG is once again capitalizing on the minifig-driven customer preference on buying sets, and for long-time LSW fans like us, this set is a welcome opportunity to add four new minifigs in our collection. Overall, one could never go wrong with this set, I highly recommend this to any avid LSW fan
Posted 11 June 2012 - 07:50 PM
Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:32 PM
Oh, and there have been 26 different Lukes. (According to Bricklink.) Now, what kind of cookies do I get?
Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:36 PM
It looks like he tried to do the scene from titanic. But it does look obscene lol
Edited by jmagaletta, 11 June 2012 - 08:36 PM.
Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:47 PM
And you forgot to compare this to the 2007 Desert Skiff from the Sail Barge!
Posted 11 June 2012 - 09:51 PM
Student at the Eurobricks Reviewers Academy
The Supreme Commander of the Droid Army2012 LEGO Star Wars Checklist -
Saesee Tiin's JSF
Posted 11 June 2012 - 09:57 PM
Posted 11 June 2012 - 10:42 PM
Edited by DarkFader, 11 June 2012 - 10:44 PM.
Posted 11 June 2012 - 11:01 PM
Cool skift and those minifigs.....AWESOME.
Now Boba's blaster is a compromise remember Luke sliced the barrel of his blaster off, hence you can re-enact that scene.
Posted 12 June 2012 - 02:41 AM
Edited by Brickmamba, 12 June 2012 - 02:47 AM.
Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:12 AM
And you can never turn your back to the Dark Side, the Force is always strong even for ex-LSW fans so you better get this set!
Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:14 PM
What really impresses me about the set though is the sleekness of it. LEGO finally nailed the smooth look of the Skiff. The past two versions just didn't reach that level of smoothness that needed to be accomplished. I think this version does it because the front is one big piece, rather than a couple sloped pieces. Also, the Sarlaac is pretty darn cool, and being able to fit a full minifig in it is a big bonus.
Hopefully we'll see a revamped Sail Barge in the future to go with this set (maybe with a Nikto and Weequay to make Jabba's entourage bigger). Also, we need an updated Slave Leia.
This is a definite buy for me!
Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:27 PM
Great review, but the lack of the sail barge skiff ruins it .
Good to have you back.
Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:27 PM
Edited by DarkFader, 12 June 2012 - 03:28 PM.
Posted 12 June 2012 - 06:14 PM
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