I love my wife. She understands and accepts my obsession with little plastic bricks. Aside from that, she is very good at bargain hunting. She checks LEGO.com daily, looking for clearance sales. Which is where she found this set, 10144 - Sandcrawler.
Theme: Star Wars
Original MSRP: $140 USD
Links: Bricklink, Peeron, Brickset
The box was rather large, and was about 3/4s full.
The front of the box has that wonderful Original Trilogy border around it. I miss those days.
The back of the box is devoted entirely to showing the play features of this set. You can see the removal of the workshop, the opening of the front ramp, the cockpit and even lowering R2-D2 into the top hatch.
Box Side 1
The side of the box shows the 11 minifigs. Don't they look pretty?
Box Side 2
The opposite side of the box shows two Jawas
The front shows the same image as the front of the box, minus the number of parts.
The back page of the instructions shows the final step, illustrating how to use the crane and showing all of the minifigs. There is no part callout in the instructions.
The beginning of one of the wall sections. Aside from the base of the crawler, the walls are almost entirely modular.
Bits and Pieces
This is a large set. It would be difficult for any reviewer to pile all of the parts onto his studio and have them all fit. So instead I’ll show a series of pictures of the parts in the bags, just as I found them. There were 22 bags in all, plus one large black brick (which forms the base of the workshop) and two additional bags of smaller parts inside two of the bags.
Bags, Part 1
This first set of bags is used almost entirely in making the treads of the Sandcrawler. In fact, there are three full bags of the tread pieces.
Bags, Part 2
And the cavalcade of brown pieces begins. You can see the sprue with the hand tools in the upper left, and one of the bag within a bag in the lower right.
Bags, Part 3
More brown. You can make out two R2 legs in the bag on the right, as well as a box that held either the Jawa capes or the thread for the crane.
Bags, Part 4
The last of the bag pictures. The gray technic bricks are used for building the tread assemblies.
The Dreaded Sticker Sheet
Yes, this set came with a DSS, although it is a small one. Three stickers for the windscreen, and two to add some detail to the workshop. There are no printed parts included in this set, aside from the minifig torsos. For the price of this set, you think LEGO could have added a printed part or two. I apologize for the fact that the picture is a little blurry. But the stickers have been applied already, so this is the only picture I have.
You’ll find a lot of parts that you’d expect as extras in this set. Except for that brown 1 x 8 plate. I went through the instructions three times looking for a step where I missed a 1 x 8 plate. Finally I checked Bricklink, which confirmed that the plate is an extra.
The minifigs are one of the highlights of this set (some will say THE highlight). There are 11 of them, including four that are exclusive to this set. (Three of the droids are technically exclusive as well, but they can easily be brick built from parts that aren’t exclusive to this set.)
Here are all the minifigs, along with a hastily built wall to get all of them in the same shot .
The Main Characters
From left to right, you can see R5-D4 (who really could have used a printed dome), R2-D2, C-3PO and Owen Lars. Apparently the C-3PO came with two different colored hands: either Light Pearl Gold or Dark Pearl Gold. I was happy to find that mine was the dark version, which matches 3PO’s body.
Owen Lars is one of those exclusive minifigs I mentioned. Despite only getting about five minutes of screen time in A New Hope, Owen Lars rated enough to get his own torso printing and a unique minifig face. The torso looks like any Tattoine outfit, with the brown undershirt, and the tan robe over the top. Owen's face has gray eyebrows and a hint of gray stubble. For a minor character, LEGO captured his likeness well.
The Main Characters‘ Backs
Alas, only C-3PO has back printing.
Until 2005, there was a void in a lot of Original Trilogy minifig collections. The Jawas filled that void, and rather nicely, I might add. Equipped with an ion blaster, they also come with cloth capes and a minifig hood. The torsos show the crossed bandoliers many of us are familiar with.
The Jawas‘ Backs
The Jawas have no printing on their backs. I suppose LEGO assumed the capes would always cover their backs.
The rest of the minifigs are droids which help round out the menagerie of the Sandcrawler. After all, what would the Jawas be without droids to scavenge and sell. From left to right we see a Gonk Droid, R1-G4, a Treadwell Droid (my favorite of the droids in this set) and an ASP Droid. The Gonk Droid is semi-unique, appearing for the first time in dark bluish gray.
The Droids‘ Backs
There’s nothing really exciting about the backs of these droids. Seeing how they’re brick built, there wasn’t much hope that they would have any back printing.
For a set with almost 1700 parts, the build is very straight-forward. There is very little SNOT used and most steps involved placing bricks on top of bricks. This set could really have used a numbered bag system. I tried to minimize the number of pieces out at any given time, but by step 7, all of the 22 bags except 4 were open. Three of those bags were the tread pieces.
The sand crawler starts out very simple. A layer of plates, with a few 2 x 10 plates to hold them all together. Then a few layers of brick around the edges. The most interesting part of this picture is the steering mechanism for the rear treads. It is a simple rack and pinion steering mechanism. You can see the white 2 x 16 plate that forms the rack.
Here is the Sandcrawler after the four side walls and back wall have been added. The construction of the walls is very easy, with a lot of texture and small splashes of color thrown in (mostly dark gray, tan and dark orange). The arches and technic bricks keep the walls very sturdy, despite having been made as separate modules. You can clearly see the area that has been left open for the workshop.
The doors at the front are open. It almost seems that the bricks with handles were there to hold doors onto the model, but were taken off before production (there are corresponding bricks on the opening on the sides of the workshop).
A view of the bottom of the Sandcrawler. All four tread assemblies have been attached. You can see how each assembly has two sets of treads on it. The bricks at the corners of the base, while simple, really add a lot to the finished model. You can see the black beveled gear on the back that controls the steering mechanism.
The front of the crawler is nearly complete. The roof of the back section is also done, but I’ll show the greebling of that part later in the finished pics. The light gray bricks at the top form the cockpit for the sand crawler. Despite the size of the vehicle, there is only room for one pilot in the cockpit. Even with the angles needed to capture the look of the Sandcrawler’s front end, the build is still a very simple stack of bricks, attached by a few locking hinge bricks.
The crane is one of the play features for this set. It is used to pick up droids on the outside and drop them through a hatch that sits behind the cockpit.
There aren’t a lot of details on the crane. There is a simple control system (consisting of a single lever) and the crane itself. The crane sits atop a 2 x 2 turntable so the crane can access both sides of the Sandcrawler. The locking hinge bricks allow the crane to extend out over the sides, then retract to the hatch on the top.
The removable workshop is one of the big play features of the set. It’s removal allows access to the interior of the Sand crawler (not that LEGO put any detail into all of that empty space).
The workshop is very open. The details are very non-specific, yet technical looking. There is a full set of minifig tools spread throughout the workshop. The center of the roof is removable, allowing the crane to be placed on top of the workshop to raise and lower droids into the belly of the beast.
The front of the workshop shows the three rather non-descript workstations. There is no apparent use for any of these stations, except to look like they belong. I think they serve that purpose well.
From the back, you can see that the center console looks like a forge. That would make sense for a droid workshop.
From the top you can see the opening where the removable roof goes. It also gives a good look at the forge.
The Finished Product
The finished product does show a few flaws. I consider them minor. In A New Hope, the Sandcrawler looked tall, relatively thin, with a sharp angle in front. This version looks more squat, wide and the front angle is set at 45 degrees. Still, I think a little creative license is allowed, and the shape, while not perfect, is still pretty accurate.
Here is the finished Sandcrawler. The LEGO designers did a good job of mottling the model by mixing in dark orange, tan, dark gray and even black in with the brown. It looks far better than a solid brown model would look, but at times I think they overdid it a bit.
The designers also did an excellent job in changing the texture of the model. Using the back side of 1 x 4 x 3 panels, 1 x 1 round bricks, 1 x 1 headlight bricks and even turning around those headlight bricks so that the back side is visible (you can see a row of them to the right of the door, about four bricks up). This helps to break up the side of the Sandcrawler, and makes a much better model than a flat wall of brown would have been.
Just to give you an idea of how massive this set is, here's good ol' Owen standing next to it. His head barely reaches the top of the treads.
You can clearly see three of the five stickers used in this set., to give the illusion of a window. The shape of the nose of the Sandcrawler is fairly complex, but LEGO did a good job of bringing it out without using difficult techniques.
One thing that should be very clear from this photo is that the final model has some significant gaps in it. There is about a ¼” gap (or more) all the way around the ramp at the front of the model. On a model that is so angular, I never expect a perfect fit, so I don’t see this as a major flaw.
Here's another view of the Sandcrawler's front end, this time with the ramp down. It's pretty dark in there, but you can get a sense of just how empty the model interior really is. To illustrate this point further:
A photo looking through the space where the workshop sits toward the front end. There's a full 12 studs by 18 studs just standing empty. Of course, when the crane sits in there it takes some of the space, but a cutout can easily be added to accommodate it.
This picture is looking through the workshop cutout toward the back end. You can see the steering mechanism hasn't changed during the build, it's just more shadowed. There's quite a bit of space back here, too. About 10 studs by 18 studs, if my eyes don't deceive me. Enterprising MODers can easily use that space without disturbing the exterior at all.
The side view shows some of the SNOT used in the model. If you look at the tread assemblies, you can see some 2 x 2 dishes and some 1 x 1 round plates used as greebles. I told you there wasn’t much.
You can also see another significant gap, this time where the main wall meets with the angled front. Again, not a big detraction, but some might complain.
I get the feeling that the designers really wanted to let their inner greeb out after doing mostly straight walls on the sides of the model. The back wall is so overly detailed, full of lots of texture and curves, and minimizing all colors except for brown and dark gray. The result is speaks for itself. I don’t recall if the back of the Sandcrawler is ever seen on screen, so the designers probably had a blank slate to work with.
If you look closely at the roof over the cockpit, you can see another gap. The angles formed when the front section is formed don’t allow the studs to line up. So to form the roof, the designers had to use plates and tiles stacked on top of each other to cover this section. This leaves a few gaps.
While not as detailed as the back of the model, the roof does have a lot of details with a minimum of parts. The very back uses dishes to good effect. The covers for the roof of the workshop and the forward hatch are not as detailed, but they do look good. My only beef with the roof is that the sides have almost no details. It looks a bit incongruous.
The ramp on the front section extends to allow access to the center of the machine. This front section holds the crane when it is not in use.
These are presumably there as the main access to the vehicle when the main ramp is up. It's too bad LEGO didn't give us a ramp for the minifigs to actually use these nice doors. With no interior, you can see all the way through to the door on the other side.
This is the best photo I could get of the cockpit. There is only room for one Jawa. The controls are sparse, with only two levers to control the entire Sandcrawler. A printed tile, or maybe a slope would have really helped. There are two trans yellow 1 x 2 bricks where the windscreen should be. I can only imagine the designers thought this would represent the actual windscreen. Unfortunately, these bricks are backed by a solid brown 1 x 6 brick, so the effect is lost.
As I mentioned before, the steering system works well. Just don't expect to turn on a dime. Turning the black gear on the back (shown by the red arrow) causes the rear sets of treads to turn. There are stops inside the Sandcrawler that prevent you from over-steering.
Opening the Hatch
Besides lifting droids, the crane can be used to open the forward hatch on the Sandcrawler’s roof. One of the Jawas is preparing the hatch for its next victim.
Bye Bye, Artoo
R2-D2 should have been more careful. The Jawas have captured him, and are lowering him into the Sandcrawler to meet his fate. Or is it destiny?
Build: 8/10 There isn't a lot of repetition, the build is straight-forward and relatively easy, even with 1660 pieces. There's very little SNOT to make the build more interesting.
Playability: 9/10 The Sandcrawler moves exactly how you expect it to move: slowly. The steering mechanism works, but the turning radius is terrible. The crane is fun to play around with, and the workshop adds that little extra bit. I wish there was more to the interior, though. I think a little (a lot??) of MODing is in order.
Minifigures: 10/10 How could it be any less. Three Jawas and Owen Lars that are unique to the set, yet another R2-D2 and C-3PO, and five other droids. Anyone that complains about the Sandcrawler’s minifigs is crazy.
Pieces: 8/10 A lot of reddish brown. And a smattering of dark orange, dark gray and black. Almost all of the pieces are bricks, so if you want plates, don’t come looking here.
Price: 10/10 Having a parts to price ratio around $.10/part is great, especially for a licensed set. This set is under 8.4 cents per part. And if you need reddish brown bricks, this set will give you all you’ll ever need.
Design: 9/10 The design is a bit gappy, especially in the front end. It’s a little too short, a bit too wide, and the front angle isn’t quite right. But I don’t think LEGO could have gotten it any more accurate.
Total- 54/60 A very good set for any Star Wars fan. The play features work well, the minifig selection is excellent and the price was right (too bad you’ll have to pay collector’s prices nowadays.) If you like Original Trilogy sets, this is a must have for your collection.
Full gallery for more pictures, when moderated.