04 June 2013

Star Wars LEGO Review | 75005 Rancor Pit

Modular designs are now commonly found in most LEGO themes. From the soaring multi-storey pet shops and period fire stations of City to the set-sprawling schools of witchcraft and wizardry of Harry Potter, LEGO models are now more compatible than ever before, making purchases such as the overpriced but irresistible Rancor Pit set mandatory for Force-sensitive builders everywhere.

The set’s greatest attraction is without doubt its titular Rancor creature, who outdoes even impressive offerings like the Wampa when it comes to detail and playability. The ten-centimetre tall monstrosity has jaws that open and shut, allowing its minifigure-prey to hang limp out of its mouth, and its individually-removable claws can be broken off when it’s lost in the reckless zeal of bloodlust. With a broken shackle hanging from one hand and an ill-fated Gamorrean guard clasped in the other, all this megafigure is missing is the stop-motion slaver that burned Return of the Jedi’s subterranean set piece into the minds of two generations’ moviegoers.

The rest of the set’s minifigures really are mini in comparison, but it’s still quite apparent that the Rancor is significantly smaller than it would have been had it been accurately produced to scale. However, as the proud owner of a trilogy-spanning Death Star that has fewer rooms than my house and an open-plan Millennium Falcon that only has room for one in its cockpit, it would be a little churlish of me to grumble too much about issues of sizing – particularly when both the Gamorrean (who’s an exact replica of his colleague thrown in with the Jabba’s Palace set, albeit brandishing a drumstick here instead of an axe) and Malakili are such charming little fellows. I’m especially fond of the latter, as LEGO have captured absolutely the character’s defining hang-dog, “You’ve just killed my pet!” expression, if not his wobbling rolls of fat. In contrast, the blonde and conservative Luke Skywalker doesn’t really measure up. The bone that he clutches in place of his lost lightsaber is certainly movie-accurate, but it would have been nice to have both, and his reversible head is a complete calamity as his hairpiece doesn’t cover his well-defined dimples – whichever mood you choose to fix him with, the poor lad’s got a chin on the back of his head.

The pit itself matches the style of Jabba’s palace, and is fleshed out nicely with some deft flashes of finesse such as oversized keys and even festering skeletons. It’s far flimsier though, with only its gate-holding wall complete and its base and roof absent. For those that own it, the latter can be provided by the main body of the Hutt gangster’s palatial gaffe, which rests nicely upon the four small pyramids that crown the pit, but it’s worth noting that the palace’s tower annex, which can be (and invariably is, in mine’s case) connected to the throne room via a handful of interlocking pieces, cannot be attached so readily, despite what the picture on the back of the box implies. Unless you’ve a load of spare sand, grey and brown-coloured bricks, the best that you can hope for is to nestle the tower in next to the rest of the structure, and hope for the best.

Ultimately though, any gripes that I had about this set instantly evaporated the very first time that I sent young Skywalker plummeting through Jabba’s trapdoor into the pit waiting below. Admittedly, £59.99 – a cost pulled into sharp focus by the entire saga’s Blu-rays’ going rate online - is a lofty price to pay for such a juvenile pleasure, but I dare say that if you’re interested enough in this set to have read this review, you won’t begrudge a penny of it.

The Star Wars LEGO Rancor Pit is available from LEGO directly for £59.99 with free delivery. Today's cheapest online retailer though is ASDA Direct, who are currently selling this set for £47.99 plus £2.95 delivery (£50.94 overall).