The few remaining Imperial forces fled into the Unknown Regions following the Battle of Jakku, giving rise to the First Order. It therefore makes sense that a great deal of First Order technology has been adapted from designs belonging to the Empire, including 75201 First Order AT-ST.
Unfortunately, this 370-piece set has received a barrage of criticism since being announced. It is based upon a specific scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi in which BB-8 comes to the rescue of Finn and Rose, commandeering an AT-ST and providing suppressive fire as Captain Phasma approaches them. The armoured head shears off during the battle, leaving behind this spindly vehicle which seems ill-suited to a LEGO set. In fact, this could be the worst LEGO Star Wars set released to date...
Both the Galactic Empire and the First Order have proven vulnerable to infiltration by Rebel agents, a weakness exploited by Finn and Rose during Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The heroes wear First Order officer uniforms in this set and both look marvellous, perfectly blending in with the similar minifigures that have appeared in 75166 First Order Transport Speeder Battle Pack and 75190 First Order Star Destroyer. Finn's pearl dark grey torso appeared in the latter of those sets but Rose's torso is brand new.
Rose also includes an unusual hair piece, moulded with a dark blue command cap, which is exclusive to this set. I like her textured hair and the intricate First Order insignia printed on each cap looks great. Finn's head is printed with a new stern facial expression while Rose's double-sided head is identical to that found in 75176 Resistance Transport Pod. Both figures are equipped with blaster pistols and Finn wields a Z6 riot control baton.
BB-8 is becoming increasingly common but this is still an excellent rendition of the droid, consisting of a spherical body and a domed head. Both elements are printed with attractive orange and metallic silver details which are faithful to BB-8's design in the movie. I especially like the unique tool bay panels on each side of the body but it would perhaps look even better with small terrain sensors breaking up the white areas between the panels.
Captain Phasma has only previously appeared in 75103 First Order Transporter so I am very pleased to see her return here. Phasma wears an updated helmet in this set, featuring a narrower mouth shape than the original version and smaller lenses. The metallic silver and dark bluish grey printed details look superb and I like the shiny pearl silver finish, although chrome silver armour would certainly have been even better.
The torso and legs remain unchanged. Both elements are printed with impressive detail and match the standard Stormtroopers perfectly, as one would expect. I love the cape worn over the villain's shoulder and the red stripe along the edge looks brilliant but a plain black head is used underneath the helmet, unfortunately. Phasma exhibited unmatched combat skills on her home planet of Parnassos so is armed with a blaster and a lethal quicksilver baton.
The Completed Model
This set consists of two models, the smaller of which is a hangar lift. A rudimentary Technic mechanism allows you to raise and lower the lift quite easily, stopping it at four different levels along the way. This function works well and I was pleasantly surprised by the stability of the model but it looks awful, due primarily to the exposed Technic elements which dominate the design. The blue Technic pins seem particularly out of place.
A few standard System pieces are used for the platform itself so this area of the lift looks a little more complete than the rest, featuring railings on either side and space for a couple of minifigures. Only the studded area is actually useful though as the platform tends to rock when moving up and down so I am unsure why the designer chose to include a 2x3 tile.
Unfortunately, the entire model is rendered useless when placed alongside the AT-ST. It is described as a boarding lift in LEGO's official set description but does not reach the height required to actually board the vehicle, falling several centimetres too short! Errors like this one are absolutely inexcusable in my opinion, demonstrating a total lack of attention on the part of the designer as I can only assume that they never bothered to test the lift.
The First Order AT-ST stands 22cm in height so looks appropriately imposing, although its proportions appear odd without the head section. The model therefore matches the source material well and includes a few attractive mechanical details, many of which are represented using stickers. I would question LEGO's decision to design a set based upon an incomplete vehicle though, especially given the obvious potential for a complete AT-ST which could include a removable head function.
75153 AT-ST Walker was among the most popular sets from the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story range and this set borrows numerous design features from the 2016 model, as one might expect. The legs are therefore very sturdy and they look pretty good from most angles, although the exposed Technic that detracts from the appearance of the Original Trilogy walker has not been improved upon which is very disappointing.
Furthermore, the articulation of the legs remains unchanged, consisting of a single ratchet joint on each leg. The poseability of the AT-ST is therefore extremely limited and displaying the model as though it is walking is impossible. This could be attributed to the weight of the head were it not for that fact that the head has been removed. I was therefore hoping that the designer would take this opportunity to include additional points of articulation but instead they have copied the earlier design almost exactly, to the detriment of this set.
Turning a knob at the rear of the engine compartment causes the head to rotate from side to side, just as in 75153 AT-ST Walker. I like this feature and the mechanical details in front of the knob are superb, despite being partially reliant upon stickers. However, the Technic liftarm fitted behind what remains of the head looks terrible and the liftarms which support each leg are not present at all in the film. In this respect the design of the legs has actually regressed since the previous AT-ST was released!
Twin blaster cannons are slung beneath the front of the cockpit. These look a lot larger than on most AT-STs, due in part to the inclusion of two bulky spring-loaded shooters but also to the removal of the head armour which would usually cover the internal mechanism. The blasters can move up and down on a click hinge which works quite smoothly and I like the simulated rotational joint underneath which is also visible in the movie.
BB-8 seizes control of the walker during Star Wars: The Last Jedi but there is room for any minifigure at the stickered control panel, as well as a couple of passengers behind the driver. This is perfect should you wish to recreate the heroes' escape from the Supremacy, although that scene is only very brief and the set would be far more appealing if it could also serve as a standard First Order AT-ST, as its name suggests.
More than 600 LEGO Star Wars products have been released since 1999 and 75201 First Order AT-ST is perhaps the worst of them all. The duel between Finn and Captain Phasma is short but had the potential to be quite memorable so in that regard I can see why LEGO might choose to create a set like this. However, the incomplete design of the AT-ST severely restricts its appeal and choosing not to include the remainder of the head is inexcusable, particularly since the removable armour could have been an interesting function.
Furthermore, the hangar lift is totally superfluous, offering very little play value and even failing to fulfill its fundamental purpose! The price of £54.99 or $39.99 is therefore absolutely absurd, especially when compared with 75153 AT-ST Walker from 2016 which cost less than this set in the majority of countries. The minifigures are the only redeeming factor but even they are not outstanding so this is certainly a set to avoid.
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