Star Wars: The Last Jedi will introduce a number of new characters, among the most intriguing of whom are the mysterious Elite Praetorian Guard. These deadly warriors protect Supreme Leader Snoke and wield unique bladed weapons with exceptional skill so are reminiscent of the Royal Guard who accompanied the Emperor and Darth Vader during the period of the Galactic Civil War.
75529 Elite Praetorian Guard depicts one such warrior. I was particularly drawn to this model as a result of its bright red armour which stands out among other Buildable Figures, as does the unusual shape of the helmet. Hopefully the Praetorian Guard will prove to be similarly conspicuous in the movie, improving upon the inaction of their Imperial predecessors.
The Completed Model
The figure stands just over 25cm in height and features extensive articulation so you can create some very dynamic poses. Slits in the fabric component around the guard's waist ensure that the legs can splay without interference and this also reflects their design in the film, as demonstrated in recent promotional shots. It looks superb and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bulky shoulder armour does not hinder poseability in the slightest, due in part to the inclusion of a play feature which will be discussed a little later.
I imagine this helmet design will divide opinion as it does not resemble anything we have seen in previous Star Wars movies. Personally, I rather like the contrast between the textured slits covering the face and the smooth upper surface. There are some attractive mechanical details on the back as well and the shape of the helmet allows extensive motion at the neck which feels appropriate for a warrior who would be so reliant upon agility.
Snoke's Praetorian Guard wear crimson robes and armour so have inevitably drawn comparisons with the Emperor's Royal Guards. However, their heavily armoured design is perhaps more akin to that of Kir Kanos and the Imperial Knights of the Fell Empire, both of which are from Legends material and feature a similar combination of red and black armour with relatively light robes. This familiarity does not bother me at all and I love the segmented armour protecting the arms, represented here by a new component over the shoulders and a printed design towards the end of the vambrace.
The large shells covering the shoulders appear quite intrusive but feature notches which slot over the elements to which they are attached, allowing the guard to stand with his arms outstretched. The articulation is further improved as you can swing the arms back and forth by moving the switch on the back of the model. This works fairly well but I find it more useful as a means of shifting the shoulder joints, thereby ensuring that the arms can cross the torso further than any other Buildable Figure. It is a shame that there is not a little more friction as the arms do wobble slightly but this does not detract from the poseability.
A simple fabric component wraps around the legs of the figure and is fixed in place by a 1x1 round tile with a vertical shaft which has not appeared in red before. The slits allow you to move the legs naturally and I like the new red greaves in conjunction with black shells covering the thighs. These match the source material but another element to conceal the dark bluish grey skeleton visible on the inside of the thighs would have been welcome.
Five members of the Elite Praetorian Guard have been revealed so far, each of whom wields their own distinctive weapon. This one features pearl silver blades at either end and trans-red 4L bars are fitted alongside them to represent crackling electricity. I like the textured detail on the blades and their angled design is quite attractive, reminding me of Asajj Ventress' twisted lightsaber hilt from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Furthermore, the weapon can split in half and be wielded as two separate blades, again recalling Ventress' lightsaber. This versatility is very pleasing as you can display the figure in many different ways and it also increases the play value a little. I would have liked to see some printed detail on the sides of the blades as they are not entirely silver in the movie, although their current design is perfectly satisfactory in my opinion.
I am surprised to report that 75529 Elite Praetorian Guard is my favourite of the four new Buildable Figures! This is due in part to my love for the character design in the movie but can be further attributed to the extensive articulation which allows you to create an impressive range of realistic poses. The motion of the shoulders is particularly vital in this regard as joints within the torso allow the entire shoulder assembly to move back and forth, just as we might use our pectoral muscles to shift the position of our shoulder.
My only significant criticism of the figure also relates to the shoulders as the function which moves the arms is quite loose, much like the arms on 75120 K-2SO last year. They therefore tend to move with gravity which is sometimes irritating. However, this is easily resolved by the addition of a few friction pins and does little to impact upon the high quality of the model as a whole. The price of £19.99 or $24.99 seems reasonable in relation to other sets of this kind so I would definitely recommend it.
I hope you have found this review informative. Let us know by liking this article and share your thoughts on the set in the comments below.