Popular vehicles, characters and locations often seem to be omitted from LEGO's product range in favour of some more obscure subjects. 75204 Sandspeeder is a particularly striking example of this phenomenon. The craft has never appeared in a Star Wars movie or in any official material, either from the modern canon or Legends!
Instead, the vehicle is loosely based upon a Kenner toy that was scheduled for release in 1985 but was subsequently cancelled. This might be considered a bizarre source from which to take inspiration, especially given the unprecedented obscurity of this vessel. Nevertheless, it seems logical that the T-47 airspeeder could be adapted for desert conditions as well as the cold and the set includes a couple of interesting minifigures which have caught my attention.
Two minifigures are included, the first of which is a Sandspeeder Pilot. This character wears a light bluish grey flight suit with dark tan straps and a white flak vest so resembles the pilots of Grey Squadron from the Battle of Endor. I appreciate the creation of a distinctive design and the new printing on the legs looks superb, featuring a little more detail than we have seen on previous Rebel pilot minifigures.
However, better still is the brand female head which has been introduced here. It surprises me that we have only once seen a female Rebel pilot in a LEGO set before now as several appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This is a nicely designed element, including a smile and a grimace as well as the usual orange visor. The Snowspeeder Gunner also sports a grey flight suit with plenty of printed detail but his head is much more familiar, having first appeared in 2014's 75049 Snowspeeder.
My favourite aspect of these minifigures is definitely their new helmets as both are highly detailed and are based upon helmets seen during the Star Wars saga. The dark red helmet belongs to John D. Branon who flew as Red Four at the Battle of Yavin. It is decorated with a few black streaks as well as winged icons on either side. You may recognise the other as that worn by Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was originally owned by Dosmit Ræh, a pilot who fought during the Battle of Jakku and whose name is written in Aurebesh on the side of the helmet, as shown below, beside two yellow Rebel Alliance starbird symbols.
The Completed Model
Moisture vaporators appear on arid worlds across the galaxy and have been included in a couple of past LEGO sets. This example features four chilling bars spaced evenly around a cylindrical core and is built upon a rocky surface. The contrast between the dark bluish grey base and the white vaporator looks great, as does the tan gear which provides some texture at the centre. Moreover, the tiny humidity sensors at the top are more appropriately scaled than they have been on other moisture vaporators.
The model rests on a Technic axle so can be knocked over easily, lifting the rock and releasing a light bluish grey snake. This element last appeared in 70912 Arkham Asylum and does not seem to take inspiration from a specific animal, although several species of serpent exist in the Star Wars universe. I think the vaporator found in 75204 Mos Eisley Cantina remains my favourite by a narrow margin, although this is an excellent rendition and certain aspects of its design are a definite improvement.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back demonstrates the versatility of the T-47 airspeeder as it is modified to cope with the freezing conditions on Hoth, becoming a Snowspeeder. It therefore stands to reason that the craft could also be adapted for the deserts of Jakku, as shown on the packaging, so this model features a suitable tan colour scheme as well as a couple of new design elements taken from the original Kenner toy.
The most notable of these are the two stabiliser fins situated on top of the wings. This curved component was introduced for 75150 Vader's TIE Advanced vs. A-wing Starfighter from 2016 and one might imagine that the fins have been removed from an A-wing and repurposed for the Sandspeeder, perhaps to increase its atmospheric manoeuvrability. I like the stickers on the sides and the hinged air brakes look great against the tan armour, although there are no mechanical details hidden underneath.
Laser cannons are fitted to the wings and these line up with spring-loaded shooters underneath, much like on the standard Snowspeeder found in 75098 Assault on Hoth. The printing on the canopy has been updated to match the tan fuselage of the Sandspeeder but its shape remains the same. This is unfortunate as I think there is room for improvement here, particularly when compared with the more accurate cockpit of 75144 Snowspeeder.
However, the structure of the cockpit has definitely been improved. The canopy opens on hinges at the rear, revealing seats for both minifigures along with printed consoles and an area in which to store their blaster pistols. Each figure must lie back for the canopy to close properly which looks slightly awkward, although not to the extent seen on many previous Snowspeeder models.
A large bank of cooling fins are found on all T-47 airspeeder models and these would be especially vital given Jakku's warm climate. It is therefore a shame that the designer did not expand the radiator to suit a desert environment, although I like the traditional configuration seen here. A stud shooter is fitted in place of the standard tow cable and this rotates all the way around. Unfortunately, the elevation is not adjustable.
Viewing the model from beneath reveals another distinguishing feature of this model as the wings are attached using Technic elements rather than click hinges. This design is very sturdy but leaves no room for the spring-loaded shooters which were previously placed towards the back. They have now been moved to the front which makes it more difficult to launch the missiles while flying the model around. Even so, I am glad that they are included.
75204 Sandspeeder remains an enigma. Kenner's unproduced Sandspeeder vehicle feels like an odd source from which to take inspiration and simply applying a new colour to an existing model, albeit with a few minor updates to the design, is somewhat disappointing. Moreover, the printed helmets which have appeared in the movies but have little relation to this set are a strange inclusion, although I am glad to add them to my Rebel Alliance collection.
That having been said, this is still a good set. The Sandspeeder is sturdily constructed so feels very tactile and I like the tan colour scheme as well as many of the alterations made to the traditional T-47 airspeeder design. Another minifigure might have gone some way to justify the price of £34.99 or $29.99 but the two that are included are excellent and I think the cost is reasonable, particularly in the US. It is a shame that the opportunity was not taken to release something more desirable but I still quite like this set!
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