The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens inspired inevitable demand for First Order Stormtrooper minifigures and it would be reasonable to suggest that 2016's 75132 First Order Battle Pack was quite disappointing in this regard. That set included only a single standard Stormtrooper, considerably reducing its appeal for assembling an army of First Order forces.
Fortunately, the quantity of Stormtroopers has doubled in the new 75166 First Order Transport Speeder Battle Pack and a Flametrooper also makes an appearance, having previously been limited to much larger sets. Moreover, some exclusive riot control equipment is included and these accessories are bound to prove very popular based on the overwhelming reaction to FN-2199 in the film.
The set includes two First Order Stormtroopers which are ideal for army building. Their helmets are moulded to replicate the shape seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the printed designs are equally accurate, with black lenses, vents and a pearl silver filtration nozzle. This high standard of detail is maintained on the torso and legs which feature armour plates covering the front and back of the figure. They look great overall but I remain hopeful that the Clone Trooper head will soon be replaced, just to introduce some variety.
These Stormtroopers wear standard uniforms but are equipped with some unusual riot gear. The Z6 riot control baton previously appeared in 75139 Battle on Takodana but has been updated to include a trans-light blue 1x1 round plate which represents crackling electricity. The shield, on the other hand, is brand new and is currently only available in this set. Its shape is perfect in relation to the movie and I like the printed window in the centre as well as the four studs at the corners. It is pleasing to see these accessories in LEGO form and I am sure they will be a significant draw for many people, although stud shooters are also included in case your minifigures require ranged weapons.
The First Order Flametrooper has previously appeared in 75103 First Order Transporter and 75149 Resistance X-wing Fighter, both of which are fairly expensive so I am delighted to see this excellent minifigure in a small set. The Flametrooper wears a unique helmet with a narrow visor and he also makes use of a Clone Trooper head underneath. The torso is highly detailed and these designs continue onto the legs, with a sharp contrast between the black body glove and white plate armour which looks great.
The minifigure is armed with a large flamethrower and this includes a trans-orange flame which fits to the end of the barrel. A propellant tank is strapped to the Flametrooper's back and this is constructed quite effectively using 3L bars and 1x1 cylinders. Unfortunately, there is no hose to connect the tank to the flamethrower as in the film but this might not have been possible at such a small scale.
Battle Packs like this one should be entirely focused upon generic characters in my opinion so the First Order Officer seems superfluous, particularly since similar officers have appeared in a couple of previous sets. Nevertheless, the minifigure looks great, wearing an attractive dark blue uniform which loosely replicates the teal attire of officers stationed in the Starkiller Base control centre.
The cap is printed with a black brim and the First Order insignia while the torso features a simple jacket and a belt. I like the metallic silver buckle but dual-moulded legs could have been used to represent boots which would match the officer's black gloves. This figure is armed with a stud shooter which comes with a black tap element to represent the stock.
The Completed Model
The First Order Transport Speeder does not appear in Star Wars: The Force Awakens but its design is consistent with other equipment belonging to the First Order. I quite like the stubby profile of the speeder and the angled windscreen at the front looks great, although the small gap between the two panels is slightly bothersome. These trans-clear trapezoidal flags have only appeared in two previous sets and could be very useful.
The underside of the model is very plain, without even 2x2 sliders which is a shame as it is therefore quite difficult to move the transport speeder across a surface. For display this has very little significance but it does reduce the play value quite considerably so omitting them seems like an oversight on the part of the designer. Of course, it can be easily resolved using pieces from your own collection.
There is room for a single pilot to sit in the cockpit and the vehicle is controlled from a printed instrument panel. The combination of curved slopes and smooth tiles at the front of the speeder looks rather nice and I like the stud shooters which are fixed to either side alongside trans-red lights. Details like these are simple but vital and I do not therefore think that this transport would look out of place alongside sets such as 75100 First Order Snowspeeder.
Being a transport speeder it seems sensible that a large area of the model is dedicated to the storage of weapons. The riot gear is kept just behind the pilot and I think the vehicle looks much better with these accessories in place. Two stud shooters can also be clipped above the engines but a crate would probably have been more effective in my opinion and would have allowed you to store even more weapons if you wish.
A third stud shooter is placed between the engines and faces backwards to defend the vehicle from attack. This can be rotated to cover a wide lateral arc of fire and it also pivots vertically, although that is inhibited to some degree if a minifigure is placed in the gunner's seat at the rear. Nevertheless, I welcome the opportunity to seat a second figure.
75166 First Order Transport Speeder Battle Pack is a vast improvement over the original 75132 First Order Battle Pack and I think it is a worthy purchase at a price of £11.99 or $14.99. The minifigure selection is very impressive and it is nice to see an exclusive First Order officer included, although I think figures like this one should be excluded from Battle Packs in general as they have limited appeal for army building.
However, undoubtedly the most appealing aspect of this set is the riot equipment which is included, with a particular focus on the exclusive shield. FN-2199's brief battle with Finn on Takodana is quite memorable and I am certain that many fans of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will appreciate this set based on the unique accessories alone.
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