Review: Ahch-To Island Training

After having seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi multiple times in theatres, I came away from the experience wanting to explore the new grizzly cynical old Luke Skywalker in my artwork. Of all the characters from the original trilogy, his story arc is by far the most interesting to me. So I went in search of a LEGO set that contained an aged-Luke minifig, and settled on the Ahch-To Island Training set.

Warning: Contains very minor spoilers, but nothing plot revealing.

When it arrived, I handed the building of the set off to my 8 year old son, Zeke, a proud LEGO and Star Wars fan himself, so I could get his opinions of the set from his perspective, as well as my own.

This is our review.

What’s In The Box?

The set itself is small, and at 241 pieces is a quick build. The model is essentially one of the stone huts that Luke resides in on the island of Ahch-To. Inside the hut are a lot of details that are interesting: a bed, cooking supplies etc. All of the things one would expect to be inside a small occupied hut.

There are a couple simple moving parts. The back of the hut is left open for access to play, but the roof also comes off for easier access to the internals of the hut. A small part of one of the wall collapses as well. I suspect both are intended to allow for the simulation when Rey’s hut force-explodes. However it does allow for easy access for lights and smoke effects, which makes it intriguing for us toy photographers.

There is also a rock that can be split open. Remember the scene where Rey uses a lightsaber to slice open a large rock? I believe the rock in the set is supposed to allow one to simulate that. However this leads us to one of the many puzzling aspects of this model.

Model in my studio, as built.

Cons

In general, this model looks very little like the scenes from the movie. Aside from the three minifigures of Luke, Rey, and a porg, it feels like the model was designed based on a vague description of the location, and not from scenes from the actual movie. Basically if you handed me the model without the minifigs and the box art, I would never guess that the model was from Ahch-To (I would likely guess a left over model from Force Awakens that is supposed to be from the planet Takodana). The model makes the hut look like it is built with large light coloured rocks, but in the movie it is made from piles of small dark grey stones. The door in the movie is an impressively solid chunk of metal, but the model has the door made from a flimsy piece of cloth.

Oh, may I complain a bit more about that rock that Rey slices open with the lightsaber? In the movie she slices thru a monolithic solid chunk of rock. The model gives a relatively small sphere, that is hollow and contains a gem inside. Where the gem fits into things is a mystery to me – maybe it is something from the director’s cut, certainly not movie accurate. They could have easily made a model where that rock was realistic, and not attached to the hut so it could be located father away, but they didn’t, and that is a shame.

Pros

The true value of this set is in the minifigs. The Luke minifig comes off as the rough character that Luke has truly become.

Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To

Rey looks determined and ready to jump into action. Rey’s hair piece has that cute little 3-bun combo, which is realistic to the movie. It does make it hard to turn her head for posing, but no more than is normal for any minifig with longer hair.

Rey is ready for action, despite the harsh rain of Ahch-To Island

The porg is adorable – I just wish they included a couple more of them. Both Rey and Luke comes with there own staffs, and there is one blue lightsaber to share between them.

Conclusion

From the perspective of toy photography this set is a hot mess of inconsistency. The set does allow easy access to the hut so lights can be added very easily. However it would be almost impossible to get the look and feel from the movie by using this set.

So my advice for the toy photographer is to pick yourself up a set, pull out the minifigs for your own collection, and then immediately drop the rest off in your kids toy box. They are going to enjoy it way more than you are.

About that kids toy box, here are Zeke’s impressions of the set, presented in question/answer format

How hard is it to build?
Not very hard. Easy build. Fun to build.

What do you think of the set?
It’s awesome!

What makes it awesome?
There’s a mechanism that makes one of the rocks pop up and also there is one of those pieces that spin so you can cut open a boulder.

Would you want one for yourself?

Yes!

What is your least favourite thing?
The door isn’t right, and the bed takes up too much space.

Note: Rest assured Zeke received his own set, complete with minifigs, as thanks for helping with the review of this set. He is currently in his room exploring Ahch-To with the intense imagination that only an 8 year old can provide.

Ship in a Bottle

Have you seen the latest LEGO Ideas: Ship in a Bottle set? Like all the LEGO Ideas sets this one is beautiful. There’s something about these fan driven sets that make them approachable, and very collectible. The Ship in a Bottle is no different.

How do I know? LEGO was kind enough to send around a few copies so that I, and a few Toy Photography friends, could take this cool set out for a spin. I’m here to report on the results and share the images that where created by Brett Wilson, Luigi Priori, Robert Whitehead and myself. Continue reading Ship in a Bottle

Review: LEGO 21312 Women of NASA

I’ve known Maia Weinstock via Flickr for a few years, so when I heard that her “Women of NASA” set was being released on November 1st, I knew I wanted one right away. I had a feeling the set would be popular, so I ordered one in the middle of the night on release day from LEGO Shop@Home.

I’m very happy with this set. All three vignettes were fun and interesting to build and are great tributes to these amazing women. There are already many reviews about this set and the builds, so I’d like to write this one from a minifigure photographer’s perspective. Continue reading Review: LEGO 21312 Women of NASA

Review: LEGO 76085 Battle of Atlantis

When first planning this week’s review, I set my sights on the new LEGO Ideas 21312 Women of NASA kit. Unfortunately, it’s out of stock both online and at my local LEGO store, so that review will be a bit late. In the meantime, I’ve decided to celebrate the release of Justice League with one of the film’s three tie-in sets!

The set in question is 76085 Battle of Atlantis, featuring DC Comics’ iconic ocean dwelling hero, Aquaman. The kit features a small piece of the lost city of Atlantis, where two Atlantean warriors are watching over a Motherbox, guarding it from a Parademon. It uh… all makes more sense once you see the movie. Continue reading Review: LEGO 76085 Battle of Atlantis

Review: LEGO 40261 Thanksgiving Harvest

November upon us, and the Thanksgiving holiday is just around the corner for those of us in the United States. At the risk of being region-specific, I decided to take this opportunity to review the latest LEGO seasonal kit: 40261 Thanksgiving Harvest.

Like its predecessor, 40260 Halloween Haunt, 40261 is a small vignette with two minifigures, a handful of accessories, and several mini-builds. If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit, or take some nice autumnal shots, is this the set for you? Continue reading Review: LEGO 40261 Thanksgiving Harvest

Review: LEGO City Jungle Theme

Each year, the LEGO City theme gets some kind of adventurous line to break up the traditional, run-of-the-mill settings. In the past we’ve seen LEGO City citizens go to outer space, explore the arctic, and even face a volcano! This summer, seven sets took a group of adventurers into the LEGO Jungle.

The wide range of small and large sets included things like alligators, helicopters, a plane crash, waterfalls, secret tombs, Venus fly traps and fantastic new panther, tiger and leopard pieces.

While I admitted a few weeks ago that I tend to skip the LEGO City line as a whole, I couldn’t help but be excited about this Jungle sub-theme. I was first drawn to the aforementioned big cat pieces; you can never have too many LEGO animals to photograph! Once I began looking at the sets at large, my curiosity only continued to grow. I knew that I had to take them for a photographic spin and review them here. Continue reading Review: LEGO City Jungle Theme

Review: LEGO Friends 41305 Emma’s Photo Studio

Inspired by my foray into the LEGO City theme last week, I decided this time to expand my horizons and review a line of LEGO I’ve never purchased or photographed before: LEGO Friends.

The LEGO Friends theme has been controversial since it first launched in 2012, largely for being stereotypical about gender (a problem we’re still facing today even outside the Friends theme). It’s clearly marketed as a “girl’s toy,” with its bright purple boxes, wide range of pink and pastel colors not found in other LEGO lines, “minidolls” in place of traditional minifigures, and scenarios specifically targeted at a female audience. These often include boutiques, cupcake and frozen yogurt shops, and many cute animals (Bunnies, puppies and ponies, oh my). Continue reading Review: LEGO Friends 41305 Emma’s Photo Studio

Review: LEGO 40170 Build My City Accessory Set

This week’s review takes us back to the world of LEGO. This time, we won’t be discussing one of the many licensed sets, but something from LEGO’s long-running and under appreciated original line, LEGO City.

I will admit that I don’t purchase LEGO City sets very often. While I was a big fan of them as a kid (back when the line was called Lego System), the various police, fire or airport kits haven’t caught my interest. I did snag last year’s 60134 Fun in the Park and this summer’s 60153 Fun at the Beach people packs, due to their assortment of minifigures. Continue reading Review: LEGO 40170 Build My City Accessory Set

Review: Funko Rick and Morty 5-inch Figures

For this week’s review we’re stepping away from LEGO, and into the Multiverse for a closer look at Funko’s 5-inch Rick and Morty figures!

These figures have been out for several months now, but with the third season finale airing tonight, I thought this would be the perfect time to highlight them. Can these figures offer photographers their interdimensional adventure fix until season 4 eventually airs? Let’s find out! Continue reading Review: Funko Rick and Morty 5-inch Figures

Review: LEGO 40260 Halloween Haunt

It’s officially Fall, which of course means that it’s that time of year where we’re inundated with Halloween goodies. Decorations, costumes, pumpkin flavored drinks and treats, scary movies, and as it turns out, LEGO sets!

I considered saving my review of LEGO’s new seasonal kit, 20460 Halloween Haunt, for later in October. As I set it up and took some test shots, however, I realized that that it could service photographers well all month long. Like the other seasonal sets that come out throughout a year, it serves as an excellent starter kit for someone trying to get into the holiday spirit. Continue reading Review: LEGO 40260 Halloween Haunt