LEGO Review: Anakin’s Podracer 20 Years Later

The nostalgia is strong with this one! The first time LEGO brought the famous Star Wars podracers to life back in 1999, I was only 10 years old. Now at the time of this writing I’m just days away from turning 30, and find myself once again having a blast with the iconic vehicles (and making plenty of racing noises).

Spoiler Alert: I have fallen completely in love with Anakin’s Podracer 75258, the 20th anniversary edition of this classic vehicle from The Phantom Menace. It’s remarkably photogenic, thanks to a brilliant redesign that shows off just how far LEGO has come over two decades, especially when compared to the original.

2019 vs. 1999

A long time ago, in a kid’s bedroom far, far away…

Like Anakin’s midi-chlorian count, my excitement for The Phantom Menace was completely off the charts in 1999. I collected as many of the toys as I could get my hands on, and for my birthday that year my parents gifted me LEGO set 7171 Mos Espa Podrace. It’s easily one of my all-time favorite sets, and was actually the first thing I put back together when I recovered all of my childhood LEGO from my parents eight or so years ago. Thus, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic while building 75258.

I missed the release of 7962 in 2011, which ditched Gasgano and gave updates to Sebulba’s and Anakin’s pods. This new set just focuses on the young Skywalker, and improves upon the original design in every way, right down to giving Anakin’s helmet the proper color. I was particularly impressed by the engines, and found myself taking more closeup photos of them than anything else!

The toy photography test

I knew while building that I would have no trouble photographing all of the great new details. But I did worry about one thing that has been present in all three iterations: The support stand that’s built into each podracer. Would I be able to get around it well enough to photograph it? Or would I have to spend time masking it away in post?

To my pleasant surprise, LEGO seems to have anticipated one’s desire to separate the podracer from the stand. First off, gone are the tan bricks that kept the 1999 versions afloat (something I always thought was clever, since they’d be flying over sand). In their place, LEGO has used clear Technic elements that are both more sturdy and less obtrusive for the viewer.

Secondly, and most cleverly, LEGO has made it simple to disconnect the two engines and Anakin’s seat (cockpit?) from the support stand. With just a couple of clicks, I had a more screen-accurate podracer to play with!

Then came the next challenge: Actually suspending the podracer in midair so I could get it zooming around in my photos. After a bit of trial and error, I found a quick solution: remove two of the Modified 2×2 with Pin tiles under the cockpit, and attach them instead to the bottom of each engine. Wires fit perfectly into the pins, and a bit of sticky tack kept them in place.

It’s certainly not a perfect solution; the set was a bit wobbly and it was sometimes difficult to move one side without knocking over the other two, but that’s something I can refine next time.

Now this is podracing!

The moment I finally put the podracer down on my makeshift Tatooine setup, it seemed to come to life. I quickly began photographing it from different angles, going under, over and beside each piece looking for the right perspective.

I had the most fun playing with low angles, really showing off the hovering podracer.

I spent several hours on just that one photoshoot, and walked away ecstatic about what I’d captured. I had to do a bit more work in the editing room, removing wires and blurring backgrounds, but the entire process was a joy from start to finish.

Just for kicks, I also brought out my old Sebulba podracer from ’99. The design holds up!

The verdict

I’ve had trouble photographing LEGO Star Wars vehicles before. Their size is often a challenge, and I find many of them aren’t photogenic at every angle. But I didn’t feel encumbered or frustrated at all by Anakin’s Podracer 75258.

It’s small enough to move around easily, and looked great just about anywhere I pointed my camera. And, as an added bonus, the slick new design makes this an excellent display piece as well. I can’t recommend it enough for podracer fans, collectors, and especially toy photographers.

-James

Thank you to The LEGO Group for providing this set to review! Stay tuned for more reviews featuring LEGO Star Wars’ 20th anniversary.

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Anakin's Podracer LEGO by James Garcia
Cruisin’

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