Saturday, July 30, 2011

Likely Destined To Collect Dust

7962 Sebulba's and Anakin's Podracers
The Chronicler's Rating - 2/5
Price ~ $90.00
Year Released - 2011

Lego has been producing Star Wars sets for over a decade now.  In that time they have created models of every possible vehicle, no matter how brief its screen time, and multiple incarnations of the most famous (the one notable exception is Queen Amidala's Royal Starship from Episode 1 but that is because Lego does not produce the bricks which would be required in chrome, although it does appear that we will be getting a figure of Queen Amidala in the near future…).  We have had no fewer than 3 releases (and in some cases more) of X-Wings, Millennium Falcons, Snowspeeders, Y-Wings and multiple other craft.  This fact begs the question why, in light of the plethora of every other craft that has a similar amount of screen time, is this only the second incarnation of Sebulba's and Anakin's Podracers ever released?

The Original 1999 Podracing Set
The intrigue is compounded by the fact that these vehicles are from Episode 1 and therefore Lego has had the entirety of the time they have produced Star Wars sets to make multiple models (as opposed to Episodes 2 and 3 which came out afterwards and have therefore had fewer years to be produced, not that that has stopped Lego from creating several incarnations of ships from them anyway) and that it is separated from its predecessor by a decade.  The answer lies in an unfortunate characteristic of all racing sets. 

In my collection I posses the largest Lego racing set ever released: 6395 Victory Lap Raceway from 1988. 

Featuring 4 cars, pits for each of them, a huge grandstand, announcers booth, mechanics truck and more it is the mother load of all race sets from our galaxy or any other.  I got it for my fifth birthday and must confess that despite its size and detail it sat on my Lego table and got played with maybe 2 or 3 times a year.  Why?  Simple: what do you do with a racing set besides... race?  The answer for most kids is nothing and so after the initial excitement and a week of playing race the sets get... boring.  That is what happened with my race track and I would venture that it is what happened with the previous version of this set for a bunch of kids back in the late 90s which is why Lego has waited so long to release another. 

I have written extensively about what makes a great Lego set if you have read some of my other entries you know that I consider the most important quality of any Lego set to be its playability.  Will the set continue to spawn original and creative play a month or even a year after it is first received?  If so then even if it has horrible pieces and is overpriced it is usually worth getting (if it has great pieces and is decently priced then all the better).  The problem with this set is that for most kids it will have very low playability.  With the cost of it being so high and with so many excellent Star Wars sets in a similar price range available at the same time (see 7965 Millennium Falcon) I would recommend that you steer clear of this one unless your child has repeatedly requested it specifically. 

I would warn you against this set.  First, as I explained above, race sets such as this can be hard to play with after awhile.  Furthermore the pieces and colors of this set are not that exceptional.  The orange of Sebulba's podracer especially will be difficult to use in your own creations.  If the playability is poor and the pieces not that great there is not a lot to redeem the set.  For this amount of money I would suggest that you look at some of the other Star Wars sets that were released at the same time as this one such as 7965 Millennium Falcon or 7964 Republic Frigate. 

This set is a very movie accurate representation of the vehicles from Episode 1. Furthermore, it is exponentially better than its predecessor.  The problem is that sets based on racing can get really boring when it is not possible to actually race the vehicles (case in point the failure of the recent sets based on the movie Speed Racer).  Other than whisking these podracers around the room and acting out a race there is no way for them to compete.  As such I see no reason to think that this set will avoid the fate of primarily being dust collectors which has befallen its many predecessors across multiple themes. 

Happy Building
The Lego Chronicler

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