In recent years, LEGO seems to have produced far more Prequel Trilogy sets than Original Trilogy models, and this wave is an excellent example of this continuing trend. 75020 Jabba's Sail Barge is the only set from the Summer 2013 selection which is from the Original Trilogy, and I am quite pleased with it overall.
Initial images of the set were not at all encouraging. The nose looked awful and the Minifigure selection seemed quite small for a set which costs £99.99 or $119.99 for 850-pieces. While this set is far from perfect, the Sail Barge is, in my opinion, far better in person than the artwork would suggest, much like the recent LEGO Cuusoo offering of 21003 The Delorean Time Machine. The Minifigures are excellent, and the actual vehicle is a nice representation of the Sail Barge in the film.
Box and Contents
As I have already mentioned, the box artwork does this model no favours whatsoever. The angle at which the ship has been photographed is not very complimentary at all and due to the rather dull colours of the Sail Barge and the Tatooine background, the image does not look quite as vibrant as many other boxes do, particularly in the Star Wars theme. The usual green border runs along the top of the box and at the bottom we see the Minifigure gallery and an advertisement for the poster which is included inside. The back of the box displays the set opened up and includes some images demonstrating the features, along with a couple of rather cinematic shots.
There are two instruction booklets included along with the aforementioned poster, the plastic sails and a sticker sheet, all of which are packaged with a cardboard backing to prevent warping. There are six numbered bags inside, as well as a small bag containing the components used for making up Jabba the Hutt.
The poster is designed with a rather interesting style, which looks rather like an watercolour painting. The shot is action packed with explosions and laser bolts as the Rebels skirmish with Jabba and his entourage over the Pit of Carkoon.
Six Minifigures are included in this set, four of which are brand new. I will begin with one of the characters we have seen before, the infamous crime lord Jabba the Hutt, who is central to this set of course. An identical figure appeared in 9516 Jabba's Palace last year which is perfect as far as I am concerned. Jabba is made up of three parts, his printed head, a blue Technic pin and the body and tail section, thus allowing him to twist at this joint. His arms too are poseable, and can hold items in just the same manner as any other Minifigure would.
The head is printed with some tan markings and bright orange eyes. On the back are some wrinkles and the same small tattoo appears on his arm as first appeared on Jabba the Hutt last year. I think this detail is a delight, as are all of the little textured touches on the whole of the figure representing his nostrils and lascivious mouth. The bottom half is printed with some simple wrinkles in dark tan and there are twenty studs underneath for Jabba to be attached to a LEGO surface. I cannot find fault with this version of Jabba the Hutt and I hope that this figure is used for some more years to come.
Continuing with the members of Jabba's entourage, the next Minifigure is a simple Weequay Skiff Guard. Despite this Minifigure's fairly basic nature, it should prove to be very useful. In any Tatooine MOC, a few unnamed pirates are a necessity and this figure fills that role perfectly. The head is printed with the leathery skin which is just about unique to the Weequay species and the detail here is quite incredible, right down to the vacant black eyes which are notable in the film. Black mesh was used to hide the actors' eyes inside, leaving Weequay with a rather creepy appearance. The back of the head is printed with the top section of his ponytail and this is continued down onto the torso.
The front of the torso is detailed with reddish brown padding and a simple belt. The back is mostly occupied by the ponytail which looks fairly realistic. Some may complain that this design is printed rather than having a separate mould, although I think it looks great as it is. His legs are plain tan and he carries a Vibro-axe, which consists of an axe head attached to a pearl dark grey spear piece.
Next we have the first ever Gran Minifigure produced by LEGO, the criminal Ree-Yees. This is an obscure character, notable only for having a hand deformity. Getting a head piece for the three-eyed Gran is a treat, as these aliens are commonly seen throughout the Star Wars galaxy, and therefore they will fit into just about any Star Wars MOC much like the Weequay Skiff Guard. The head mould is highly detailed and looks fantastic. It is cast in a rubbery tan plastic, with printed eyes and lots of moulded details, including ears, nostrils and even the tiny antennae which are just about visible on the top of the head.
The torso is a fairly standard design, featuring a striped brown tunic and a very simple belt, both of which are continued onto the back. His legs are plain dark brown and Ree-Yees is equipped with a standard blaster.
Max Rebo could be considered the most memorable character from the whole of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. He is renowned as looking like a blue elephant and despite only appearing for a few seconds in the film, he has acquired quite a backstory. The LEGO Minifigure is uncomplicated but outstanding. The head mould is of course the most important component of the figure, and it it does not disappoint. It is cast in a slightly rubbery plastic just like Ree-Yees, and the only printing on the piece is for his eyes. All of the key features of this character are captured including the 'trunk,' the large and rather flabby ears, and even the dimples which are just about visible on the character in the film.
The torso and short legs are both plain blue with no printing, although this is perfectly reasonable as there is not much of Max Rebo visible in the films anyway beyond his head and he looks fine in plain blue. I am very impressed with this Minifigure, far more than I had expected, as while he retains a perfect level of simplicity, the character is still captured very nicely indeed and he looks fantastic when playing his Nalargon.
Now we can get on to the heroes of the set, the first of which is Princess Leia in her slave attire. This is perhaps the Minifigure which was most anticipated from this set, as without this particular character, the scenes involving Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi are not complete. Princess Leia has appeared twice before in this outfit, firstly in the traditional yellow in 4480 Jabba's Palace and then later in 6210 Jabba's Sail Barge where the only major change was the colour of her skin from yellow to flesh. This is the first time therefore that this character has received a major overhaul, and this newest edition is simply outstanding.
Her hair is a brand new piece, which is cast in a rubbery plastic and printed with a huge amount of detail. The mould takes account of the fact that a chain is attached to her back using a bracket, and the ponytail curves as such. There are some golden details in her hair just as in the film and even a pearl gold hair clip at the bottom of her ponytail. Her head is the same as all the recent Leia Minifigures, with one smiling expression, and the other frustrated. She has some red lipstick and brown eyebrows, which match up nicely with Carrie Fisher in the film.
Around her neck, Leia wears a bracket to which one can attach the chain which is included, so Jabba can reel her in as he wishes. Her torso is printed with the famous golden bikini and the design is continued onto her back, although this is mostly obscured by the bracket around her neck. Her hips and legs are printed with the dark red and gold sash which she wears during this scene in Return of the Jedi. Overall, this is an excellent Minifigure and by far the best version of the character we have seen.
The final Minifigure included is R2-D2, who includes a serving tray with some glasses and bottles on it. The figure is the same as always with a light bluish grey dome piece, printed with various displays and gadgets and the same cylindrical body which is detailed with flaps and compartments in which R2-D2 stores various tools. Between the domed head and body is a dark tan 2 x 4 plate which is what forms the drinks tray, in just the same manner as the R2-D2 Minifigure in 6210 Jabba's Sail Barge from 2006. A translucent clear mug and goblet is included, as well as a translucent black bottle.
I found construction of this set very entertaining indeed. It takes about two hours at a leisurely pace and features some interesting building techniques, including a combination of slopes and plates to form the nose as well as plenty of SNOT construction used to form the armour plating for the entire vehicle. I also noted that the flooring towards the rear of the Sail Barge is created using tessellating 3 x 6 wedge plates which might be new to some people. Lastly, the use of skeleton legs to support the railing around the front of the barge is ingenious, despite not being a new technique. It will be new to some people, and it achieves a very pleasing appearance in my opinion so is a technique well worth noting.
The Completed Model
Perhaps the most notable factor involved in this set is the size, which is actually rather smaller than the 2006 edition of the Sail Barge. This set is a full £40 more expensive than the original, and that model also came with a Desert Skiff. I fully understand that it is not entirely fair to compare sets nowadays to sets from more than three or four years ago, although there is little doubt that this set is lacking in terms of value for money. In the photos below one can see the length of the two Sail Barges and the noses of each compared. In both photos, the model at the bottom is 75020, whereas the one at the top is 6210.
Putting that to one side for the moment however, this is actually a great set. Starting at the front, it is the nose which has received a great deal of criticism, despite this though, I rather like this nose design as it is undoubtedly more accurate to the film than the previous edition of the Sail Barge, capturing the gradient of this area of the vehicle perfectly. Inside is perhaps the oddest feature I have encountered in a Star Wars set, a hidden cannon. This cannon can be fired by pulling back on the knob at the rear, so to launch one of the orange cylinders which are stored inside the barge, one must take the entire assembly out of the vehicle. This might be a fun feature, but I would much rather have seen a cockpit area.
Behind this, a gaol cell is included, which can be accessed via a door which leads into the kitchen. On the wall, a frying pan, a fish and a leg of chicken are hung. There is also a box with a printed lid and a saucepan in this area, which is placed on a small hob, and has some kind of blue concoction cooking inside (which is in fact a blue ice cream piece). The printed lid of the box has also appeared in 7930 Bounty Hunter Gunship and 9525 Pre Vizsla's Mandalorian Starfighter and has some Aurebesh writing printed on it, which reads 'LOCK.' There are four shutters which open here on each side and they work much better than the shutters on the old model, which I found were quite difficult to line up properly.
The next area is Jabba's lounge, where one finds a dark green and red rug for Jabba the Hutt to sit on. There is just about space for Leia to stand in front of him as she does in the film, and they can peek out of the opening shutters to view the planned execution of Luke Skywalker and his friends, just as they do in the film. In the very back of the vehicle is an area for Max Rebo's nicely constructed Nalargon instrument which can swivel on its base.
On the top deck of the Sail Barge are two sails, which are made from a soft plastic. I do not mind this in the least as the printing and colour is far more vibrant the older set, thereby avoiding a model which is entirely brown and boring. There is also the adjustable deck gun which is used to destroy the barge in the film, and this features two flick-fire missiles. On the rear deck, which is raised a little, is a railing mounted gun, this can be controlled by a Minifigure using a pair of handlebars. This entire section is removable and with the sides down, this leaves plenty of room for placing Minifigures inside. Underneath are several wheels which allow the model to roll along with ease, a feature absent from the older barge and a welcome addition on this occasion.
While the actual model is excellent in my opinion, it could be a little bigger, and the price is too high for what is included. The Minifigure selection is superb, and although they may not be universally popular as some are fairly obscure, they all look fantastic and are suitably accurate to the movie.
Beside 9496 Desert Skiff this model is too small, although I do not think the scaling is too bad personally, as to create models which are perfectly to scale the Sail Barge would have to be at least double the price. I am throwing down the gauntlet to anybody out there who might construct a full Minifigure scale model.
As the only Original Trilogy set released this Summer, and most likely the final in the selection of Jabba the Hutt related sets, this is a wonderful model, and if you can purchase it on sale then I would not hesitate to buy it. For Original Trilogy fans therefore 75020 Jabba's Sail Barge is highly recommended, although if you are a fan of the Prequel Trilogy too, then I might choose 75021 Republic Gunship over this set, despite the slightly higher price point of that model.
Parts: 4.5 - There is a nice selection of brown and tan parts, as well as the rare blue ice cream and some superb new Minifigure components, so there should be enough to keep one interested in this set for its part-out value.
Playability: 5 - The easy access to the interior and numerous play features give this set a high play value in my opinion.
Building Experience: 4.5 - There are plenty of interesting techniques used here and I enjoyed how the set is constructed in modular sections.
Value for Money: 3.5 - £99.99 or $119.99 seems only slightly high for 850-pieces, however the size of the model one is left with is a little disappointing and I think there are better sets at this price point than this one.
Overall: 4 - The only major issue here is the price, at perhaps £79.99 or $99.99, this set would be awarded with full marks, as it is, this is a serious flaw and it badly damages the set as a whole in my opinion.
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