For my birthday I got two big Lego sets: the AT-TE and the AT-AT. I put together the AT-TE last night, and here’s a review of it. It’s a $70 set and contains (according to the box; I didn’t count them) 646 pieces.
It’s pretty complicated. The angles are all done with various hinges and sometimes it’s hard to see in the instructions how they go together. Also, I originally did the feet wrong, which resulted in it standing funny, but once I corrected that it stood just fine. The resemblance to the movie AT-TE is very good, though I don’t have an Action Fleet one to compare it to. No additional models are given in the instructions, though there’s a sort of battlemech on the back of the box.
Minifigs: It comes with four minifigs – all clonetroopers. No different from each other or previous clonetroopers. For accessories, there are four ‘guns’ (megaphones), macrobinoculars, and a buzz saw(!). The speederbike has a backpack on it.
Features: The front hatch opens and the pilot’s seat slides out. The top comes off to reveal the (largely undetailed) interior and to remove a section that seats four troopers. The back hatch opens to stow the speederbike, which is pretty cool. Of course, the round turrets rotate and the legs move.
Problems: The legs are unusually fragile. And since there are six of them, reattaching one leg that has fallen off will often dislodge another leg. I rechecked the instructions and I seem to have built it correctly. The legs really need to be shored up some to support the weight of the body. Also, although I like the round turrets, the “barrels” of the guns on them are constantly falling off. There’s a control panel tile and the legs feature radar dished with “joints” marked on them, but the Republic icon is a sticker to be put on a flat round tile, and there are other stickers as well. (The angle on the side of the forward hatch is done with a sticker.) I personally don’t care for stickers and usually don’t put them on, since I often put them on crooked and they often don’t stay on. Plus, having the pieces blank makes them more useful in other models. I don’t have a problem with printed pieces, though, so this is just a weird idiosyncrasy of mine.
Pieces: The main interesting pieces here are the joints used in the legs. There are a LOT of flat gray panels in the set. Strangely, among the extra pieces after building were six blue flat 2×2 circles. You’d think six circles = six legs and I forgot to put them in when building the legs, but I looked over the instructions twice and found that not only had I not left them out of the legs, but that the model doesn’t use blue circles at all! The round turrets are nice. For the most part there are very few “new” pieces. Well, I take that back. There are some interesting new (to me, at least) variations on the hinges that have been showing up in recent sets. The main advantage, piece-wise, is the bounty of flat gray panels (mostly light gray).
Overall: It’s a big honkin’ set. Took me a couple hours to get it together and the final model is a hefty thing, almost a foot and a half long. It would have been nice if one of the troopers had been a variant (command markings or something), but then again, that would be putting a variant minifig in an expensive set, which would be annoying. So never mind. At the very least, at this price point, a couple more troopers would have been nice. But there’s still a lot of bang for the buck here. The legs need some modifications so that the vehicle can do more than just stand there without fear of them coming apart. The legs are hinged interestingly, but they’re too fragile to explore in detail. I felt like I got my money’s worth, but then again, it was bought with birthday money!