Wednesday, December 13th, 2017 at 4:36am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
With the latest Star Wars movie coming out this week, it's time for us to look at the final CCBS set of the year: 75529 Elite Praetorian Guard. BZPower Reporter Xccj takes a look at this set to determine if it's worth getting, or if it should be left in a galaxy far, far away. Read on or watch the video review to see what the set has going for it.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The front of the box shows off the character in all his red glory. He's posing menacingly with a room in the background that wouldn't look out of place on a Death Star. The back of the box shows him off in an alternate pose and highlights a few features like his swinging shoulders and staff that break in two. Overall, it does a good job at showcasing the buildable figure, who easily stands out from the other CCBS (Character and Creature Building System) Star Wars models.
Of course, let's address the Rathtar in the room: who exactly is this character? He hasn't shown up in any of the trailers for The Last Jedi, and I've only seen him in the toy aisle and store promotional art. (And who's to say it's even a himů Star Wars has some more female characters now.) I'm sure he'll serve a purpose similar to the Royal Guards from Return of the Jedi, and I bet there's even information out there on the character if you dig, but in generally there's not a whole lot that've been revealed about him. Will he become one of the breakout characters, or will he be more like Captain Phasma in The Force Awakens, who showed up in a lot of toys but ultimately had a minor role in the movie? I suppose we'll be able to know more once the movie premiers.
The set is selling for $24.99 USD, which is pretty standard for Star Wars CCBS sets.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
The model comes with 92 pieces, plus the usual small extras. Although you have some black and grey pieces with a few blue and tan pins, the majority of the parts here are red. And that is cool. Since Star Wars CCBS took over, we have not seen a lot of colorful characters. While there have been some splashes of colors like red before, a majority of the characters utilize black, white, and tan elements, which is a duller color scheme than what we got from Bionicle and Hero Factory sets back in the day. So the glut of red elements in this set is great.
There are a couple of new designs included here. The first part is the head piece, which has a very unusual shape. In the artwork for the set, I thought the head looked more like some sort of shoulder armor piece, and I wasn't impressed. It's a little bit better in person, as you can see the grill on the faceplate, which looks like something a beekeeper might wear. There are some panel details on the back, and then there's the large curved panel on the top. Since we haven't seen much of the movie verson of the character, it's hard to tell how accurate it is, but LEGO has a good track record for making the mask and helmet designs movie accurate (human heads, not much) so it's probably pretty close. It's still not my favorite design, but if it's movie accurate then I can't complain too much.
The next new piece is the shoulder armor, which has some nice ridges built into the mold. It connects via the standard two pins, and while it looks bulky, it also fills up the space well. It would be neat if we could see this element reused in other colors, although since this is Star Wars that might not happen. Next, we get a new silver weapon piece. We've had plenty of silver weapons before, but this one is probably based on the movie, and includes a connection point for a bar element to attach. You also get the large cloth piece, which is made of thick and soft fabric.
We also get a lot of new pieces in red, and some of them are unique to this set. We've seen the large torso element before, and this time it's in red with a few subtle designs printed on, which makes it re-useable on other character. You also get the new leg armor piece in red for the first time, as well as a new #4 red shell piece with ridge printings on it. Another exciting piece in red is the Hordika neck element, which is the first time it's appeared in a color other than dark gray. Finally, the 1x1 round tile with pin element is also exclusive in red. A few of the other technic bits are also rare in red, making this set a great parts pack for red elements.
My first impression is that this is a very solid set. This is helped by the red robes, which fill in the gaps around the legs while not inhibiting mobility. Even the upper back of the character is filled in nicely, which is usually an area left undeveloped. And the robes are certainly needed, because the character looks a bit spindley without them. Sure, the legs have the standard set of armor, including the usual curves on the back of the calves, but it's still less impressive without the robes. That's not to say that the cloth piece isn't without issues; it does tend to get caught between the legs when attempting to pose, which can limit playability.
The character has a bit of a unique shoulder design, due to his action feature, but despite this the arms and head still have a full range of movement. The ridged armor piece fits nicely over the shell element and also doesn't impede any mobility. The printed shells actually match up nicely with the ridges pieces, which looks pretty nice. The staff is a basic design, but it works, and it's fairly easy to break in half to give him dual weapons.
I've set it before, but I'll say it again; this character really works the red color scheme. Some of the blacks and grays are visible, but he's a predominantly red character, and it's a nice change of pace for Star Wars CCSB designs.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
The Elite Praetorian Guard has an action feature that is unique to this set. You can use the bar on his back to rotate his shoulders and swing his staff around. This is a similar concept to the Bionicle Rahkshi, or even the Toa Uniters from last year. (Although their rotation was at their waist and not in their shoulders.) While the concept sounds cool, it's disappointing in practice because of the extreme range of motional it allows. It also requires you to get a good grip on the torso, which can be obstructed by the robes. (I've had bad luck with accidentally disconnecting the legs or arms while trying to get a decent grip to use the action feature.) You'll have better luck just moving the joints on your own, and it's a far cry from the lightsaber swinging capability of previous characters. So while the design gets a nod for being unique and not relying on gears or rubber bands, it still just doesn't work too well. But that aside, the character has a full range of motion with its legs and arms, and offers plenty of role playing options with the character.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
Lots of unique red parts
Just the fact that he's mainly red instead of a blander color
Very solid design, few gaps visible
What's not to like?
Action feature is lackluster
Weird helmet design (But I probably have to blame LucasFilm for this one)
Not exactly a well-known character
The Elite Praetorian Guard has a lot going for him, from a great selection of uncommon pieces to a fairly solid design, thanks to the robe. While the action feature is underwhelming, the biggest drawback I can see is that he's not an iconic character like Rey of Chewbacca, making him less desirable to pick up. But he's still a great CCBS build and worthwhile for any Star Wars collector.
Thanks again for watching and / or reading another BZPower set review. Many thanks to LEGO, who generously donated this set for review. The thoughts and opinions in the review and video are entirely my own. Stay tuned to BZPower for even more LEGO set reviews, including Star Wars!