If there were ever two pop culture obsessions that defined my childhood, it would be Lego and Star Wars. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I don’t own a combination of the two in any form (well, outside of an oversized Lego Darth Vader desk lamp). That has now changed though – and in spectacular fashion – thanks to the incredible Lego Star Wars AT-AT walker set I was recently sent by Disney to build and review. We’re currently giving away one of these sets to a lucky person, and I can now tell you from personal experience that this set will not just be leaving them like the inside of a tauntaun: Luke-warm!
Comprised of 1267 pieces and standing around 34cm high and 38cm long when completed, this posable, articulated Lego kit was actually a bit more challenging to put together than I expected. All in all, it took me roughly 4.5 hours to build this from start to finish, and while I never got stuck on any one section during the entire process, there are some intricate details that require some attention and may be a bit tricky for younger children (the Lego age guideline of 10+ seems to be accurate) and apparently 39-year-old man-children.
In fact, “intricate details” is the name of the game here. Lego has put in considerable effort to authentically recreate the AT-AT aka All Terrain Armoured Transport from the Hoth battle scene from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, right down to correctly naming the Imperial Commander in charge of this beast of metal (it’s General Veers, by the way) who is included as one of six Lego minifigures. Other details include computer terminals, movable armour plating, multi-part leg assemblies, sensor arrays, spring-loaded blaster cannons, and even a concealed but operable winch mechanism and “rope” allowing the included Luke Skywalker minifig to grapple to the belly of the AT-AT and deposit a thermal detonator just like in the movie.
Along with Luke (who has a choice of blaster rifle or lightsaber) and General Veers, the kit also includes two Snowtroopers, two AT-AT drivers, an E-Web turret, and a speeder bike. Both drivers and Veers can be placed at their posts inside the head via a roof panel that folds up neatly, or they and the other troopers can be placed on seats inside the troop hold belly of the AT-AT, exposed via armoured side panels that easily swing up and out on multi-hinged arms. The speeder can also be parked in the same space in the AT-AT via a fold-down rear panel.
Each of the AT-AT’s iconic legs offers three points of ratcheted articulation allowing for all kinds of poses. Be warned though, with a top-heavy design (and extra weight in the front coming from the double-articulated swiveling “head”), getting the AT-AT to stay upright when all four its feet are not planted on the ground in a straightforward fashion may require some Force powers. Said head, or cockpit, also offers the bulk of this kit’s flaws. Firstly, while its swaying, side-to-side, subtly resistant mobility is great, not being to swivel up or down (combined with the legs being unable to completely fold beneath themselves) means you can’t really recreate that memorable shot of a downed AT-AT exposing its neck.
More annoyingly though, the side armour panels on the head as well as the blaster cannons mounted beneath it, have the annoying habit of coming off the moment you exert anything more than a little pressure. Since the “firing” mechanism of the cannons work by you loading in a provided red blaster bolt then pulling it back and releasing to fire, expect to be reattaching the weapons often. Luckily the builds on the individual components are incredibly sturdy, it’s just their attachment points that need work. The same goes for the radar-dish-like caps on the leg joints, which tend to dislodge fairly easily. The result is a set that feels more suited for display than play. But what a display it makes!
That is once you’ve made your way through the included 186-page build guide that takes you through the entire process, step by step (you can scan a QR code on the front and get the instructions electronically). Lego parts are divided into eight numbered bags, correlating to each of the chapters in the build guide with each section covering a different major component of the AT-AT walker. For the most part, instructions are immensely clear and easy to follow, though there are a few minor cases where the build of a section requires the attachment of multiple components simultaneously, and only one component will be highlighted, potentially resulting in you missing something important.
It has to also be said that the order of the various components could have used one subtle tweak, which is to move the build of the legs to the end instead of the middle as flipping the AT-AT around and getting to hard-to-reach places can be a bit cumbersome with those long appendages attached. The guide also fails to include any instructions whatsoever that you can actually store the speeder in the hold of the AT-AT, which is a weird oversight.
There were no oversights on the build quality of the Lego blocks though. Each piece stands as a shining example of the durability and dependability of the famous Lego “system”. Everything clips together perfectly, and taking things apart in the event of human error is even easier thanks to a handy provided multi-function tool. But while I had zero build flaws with the set, I did run into the weird issue where three out of four “armour” pieces for the legs were of a similar but different design to the ones indicated in the guide. They still fit but just with slightly changed aesthetics. Not easy to spot unless you know what you’re looking for though. I also thought on a couple of occasions that a particular bag of blocks was missing a key piece, only to find the missing block in the separate tiny bag of “spare parts” that is included in the kit. Nothing more than minor annoyances, but they happened frequently enough that I have to mention it.
Still, as I said, these are minor quibbles. I would maybe have loved some extra Snowtrooper minifigs to fill out the troop hold or even a Rebel snowspeeder to balance out the Imperial speeder bike, but what’s here is pretty great already. Overall, the Lego Star Wars AT-AT walker set is simply a marvelous addition to the collection of any Lego or Star Wars fan. That premium must-have quality comes at a premium price though with it retailing for around R3000. That’s no small sum for a series of plastic blocks, but if you were in the plastic block market though, I could not recommend this enough. You won’t walker-way sorry.
Last Updated: December 17, 2020