Star Wars miniland report

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Outside Yesterday afternoon, the competition winners and Brickset staff and friends met up at the new hotel at LEGOLAND Windsor for a preview of the new Star Wars Miniland expreience at LEGOLAND Windsor. There was around 50 people in total in the party, including people from the Brickish Association, FBTB, Jedi News and Pocket-Lint.com.

The hotel warrants a news article to itself but for now I'll concentrate on the Star Wars display, which is in what used to be the Creation Centre/Racers ride building at the top of the hill, behind the Big Shop and cafe. We had a long walk from the very bottom of the park, where the hotel is, to the top of the hill but thankfully it was a warm spring afternoon so it was very pleasant and a good opportunity to talk shop with the members of the other online communities.

Unlike similar SW displays at the other LL parks, this one is totally indoors which has its advantages but also disadvantages: more on which later.

It's divided into seven 'clusters' each in a separate room which are organised almost cronologically:

  • Clone Wars (out of sequence): Christophsis battle scene
  • Episode 1: Naboo, City of Theed/Hangar Duel and Battle of Naboo
  • Episode 2: Battle of Geonosis and the Arena
  • Episode 3: Kashyyyk & Mustafar
  • Episode 4: Tatooine, Mos Espa
  • Episode 5: Batle of Hoth
  • Episode 6: Endor

And, finally, let's not forget, the gift shop at the exit which is stocked exclusively with Star Wars merchandise.

Loitering around the displays were various troopers, assorted Jedi, and none other than Darth Vader himself!

The models are built at miniland scale, so are of course much bigger than regular minifig-scale sets. They are full of large impressive models as well as many small details to add interest, and are instantly recognisable as scenes from the movies. There are many interactive features, activated by buttons in front the displays that, when pressed, change the lighting or start something in motion like, for example, the Milennium Falcon rising out of docking bay 94.

I said earlier the display is indoors which has allowed for the use of creative lighting that, in some areas, is constantly changing. While this no doubt adds to the atmosphere it was a nuisance from a photography point of view and that brings me to my main criticism of it: it's just too dark! There are so many cool little details but half the time they are impossible to see and appreciate because of the low lighting levels. The Clone Wars one was particularly disappointing in that respect. I don't remember any of the movies being particularly dark or set at night so it's a mystery why it is so. Hoth is the only exception and even that was plunged into darkness every so often.

Photography is virtually impossible: on-camera flash just results in reflections on the shiny LEGO surfaces and ugly shadows, the ceilings are matt black, so bouncing a flash gun from them isn't possible, so I had to resort to using f1.8 at ISO3200 and still had shutter speeds of more than 1/30 sec. most of the time. A tripod no doubt would have helped but there wasn't really time to muck about with one.

However, despite that, it is very impressive and it is definitely worth a visit for anyone even remotely interested in Star Wars.

Rather than post all of the hundreds of blurry photos I took, I've chosen just a couple from each cluster that were the best I could manage under the circumstances. I think they'll be sufficient to give you a feel for what it's like and provide encouragement for you to go and see it for yourself!

Finally, I'd like to thank Justin and Zoe for organising the trip and making us all feel very welcome.

Clone Wars: Christophsis Clone Wars: Christophsis Episode 1: Naboo Episode 1: Naboo Episode 2: Geonsis Episode 2: Geonsis Episode 3: Kashyyyk & Mustafar Episode 3: Kashyyyk & Mustafar Episode 4: Tatooine Episode 4: Tatooine Episode 5: Hoth Episode 5: Hoth Episode 5: Hoth Episode 6: Hoth Episode 6: Hoth Episode 6: Hoth Episode 6: Hoth The shop The shop The shop

22 comments on this article

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By in Norway,

This looks amazing! Thanks for posting the pictures, Huw. I can't imagine I'll have the opportunity to go there myself in the near future, but maybe some day. I'm afraid I must admit that the prequel models impressed me the most, especially the turbo tank. Did they use regular minifigure battle droid heads for the battle droids?

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Miniland figures are maybe 3 times the size of minifigures and brick built. The Millennium Falcon in Huw's picture is 2-3 times larger than the 'official' UCS version - it's huge !

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By in Norway,

^ I know the figures are larger than normal minifigures, I have been to LEGOLAND in Billund, but I was wondering if the battle droids have normal minifigure heads?

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By in United Kingdom,

This is well worth a visit for not only Star Wars fans but all lego fans as every scene has been captured in brick perfectly, some with moving elements and lighting effects. I grew up with the OT, but for me the highlight was the prequel trilogy models, with the arena beasts of the Nexu, Reek and Acklay built brilliantly. Although the Naboo battle could have used a few more dead gungans.....

For those who can't make it to legoland Windsor, according to the tour guide a deal struck between Lucasfilm and Lego means the exact same displays will be replicated at other lego parks across the world!

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By in United Kingdom,

This looks amazing on how the details of each scene. I can't wait to see them in proper full detail when I visit the park on the 26th at the end of the month.

Huw (and anyone else who went)? Which sections of the star wars mini land where located in the former Creation Centre building and is there any idea what happened to the old models there?

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By in United States,

From a dude in the USA, that will never visit this miniland, thanks for the virtual visit.

Very interesting take on the minifigs, I would like to see a how-to on creating some.

A lot of cool stuff, but still nothing that matched this legendary Sandcrawler:

http://www.google.com/search?q=lego+sandcrawler&hl=en&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS471US471&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=GphcT76FDoWbtwfX-8CFDA&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CD8Q_AUoAQ&biw=1280&bih=899

OH YEAH, dig all those worthless magnets shown in the store.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ All of it is in the creation centre. The 747 cockpit is no longer in it. The clusters are in what was the racers ride area.

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By in United Kingdom,

As one of the lucky (and grateful - thanks Huw!) friends of Brickset that attended yesterday, I have to add my praise for the exhibit overall. The models are very well done, my favourites being the Original Trilogy scenes. The banthas and dewbacks in Tattooine were very cool, as was the massive MF as mentioned by Dr D. Loved the Ewok village and imperial shuttle landing pad. But my absolute favourite was Hoth, partly because it was the most brightly lit, so you could actually see the details in all their glory.
All in all, well worth a visit.

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By in United Kingdom,

Overall the exhibition is great, for me, by far the best model is the Clone Turbo Tank, it is absolutely fantastic and just on such a huge scale. The Republic Gunship models are also excellent and as others have mentioned, Hoth is the stand-out scene.

Minor downsides, as Huw said, a little dark in places, and perhaps a little too loud at times and very young children get a little scared.

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By in United States,

I see that the 10195, 10198 and 8096 are in stock in the store, are these sets still available in the UK?

Anyways, it's a cool display, but I get the nagging feeling that there are AFOLs that make better models and dioramas, as in the case of Marshall Banana's and Cavegod's sandcrawlers. It might just be that I'm not a great fan of the "bricksculpting" look though.

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By in United Kingdom,

As Lego have secured the franchise for another decade I hope this Is just phase 1 of a larger star wars themed area at the park. Maybe a ride will follow and some interactive attractions. Lego could be testing the public reaction with this new display.

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By in United States,

Why is it Mos Espa on Tatooine for Episode 4? That particular movie used Mos Eisley.

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By in United States,

That one picture on the Endor landing pad looks like the officers are doing some sort of dance.

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By in Canada,

The SW Miniland in Billund is very nice. Too bad about that lighting at Windsor.

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By in United Kingdom,

I Cannot wait, im going to Legoland Windsor with my wife and daughter in July! WOOOOO!

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By in United States,

i like to have that retired, Dropship thats sitting on the store shelves, you can just see it on the left in the store.

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By in United Kingdom,

Eveerything on the shelves was for sale, at full RRP though, of course.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ @Tribalistic Behavior

Funny you mention the Dropship - a number of us did in fact have to stop and think before finally deciding to leave it there! :o)

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By in United States,

): i was so about to get the dropship at tax time (USA), when i checked on it, it was retired....i almost cried, then the ol'lady felt ,so bad she said i could get a Deathstar insted (: so im good n happy.....still you cant "swoosh" n "drop off" a DeathStar.

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By in United Kingdom,

Does anyone know if you have to pay extra to visit this if you've got an annual pass? Thanks.

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By in United Kingdom,

No you don't, as with 99% of other things in the park, it's included in normal entry.

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By in Greece,

It is a great display but I agree the lighting spoils it. Not just how dark it is, but the way there are pure red or blue spotlights on things (some static, some that are part of the push-button events) that mean you can't make out the detail or any colour on the models. They've got a nice watery rippling effect spotlight (there's one in the hotel too) which would look fine if the Naboo scenes were the underwater ones; even beside the river; but when it's the only light on the Naboo palace it just looks strange. Hopefully they can do something about it before long.

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