It’s cold and dark outside — of course we need some kind of psychological crutch to help us through the winter, and what better excuse to have a giant fuck-off party? Put up the tinsel, slam on the crimbo tunes…
As a child, my main crimbo gift from Santos was invariably a Lego model. From my earliest memories of the Spyrius Mighty Mogul (is this where my love of giant robots began, or was it just a symptom of some genetic/instinctive desire?) to collecting (almost) the entire Insectoids range, I’ve been around quite a lot (though not as much as you might imagine, nor as much as I’d like). Of course, as an old man I was told in no uncertain terms to grow out of it a while back.
So it was with great delight that I cast aside all inhibitions this year and asked Santos for the bastion of bad-ass that is General Grievous’ Starfighter (8095), and it was with even greater delight that I did find it nestled beneath the tree…
I must have been a good boy this year.
At 454 pieces this set is no slouch. It took me a good forty-five minutes to build, and despite years of accumulated rust I’d say I was still at least semi-pro (the smaller accumulations on my desk have certainly seen a lot of action recently). Especially with the modern instructions that tell you what pieces you need for each step, and the portion-controlled seperation into convenient bags for each sub-section.
So what if it came from the Expanded Universe? Battle and Destroyer Droids and everything about Grievious except the fact he’s actually organic and his name and his cough and his cloak are the best things to come out of the Expanded Universe. Say what you like about the lore behind the train wreck, it’s often full of big ideas and beautiful vehicles and environments.
It’s a nice, big, solid piece of kit, adhering to all my principles of over-engineering and solid construction (versus the tendancy for flimsiness some sets have, that didn’t stand up to much hard playing). The giant engine-wings have secret compartments with flick-firing missiles, though I’d say the flick-firing missiles were a tad over-done these days (secret compartments, on the other hand…). The cabin is also held shut by a delightful rubber thing (not a band that’ll snap, mind you — once you see it, you’ll shit brix), though Grievous has to discard his bonus arms to fit into it (I have heard rumour there is some contortion to make him fit with all four on, but it so far eludes me).
Grievous Bodily Harm
Grievous himself wasn’t always so pretty. The older version of the minifig is little more than a glorified Battle Droid, and much as I love the skinny little blighters, it really didn’t work for Grievous at all. All four arms sticking out the side of his torso was more than a bit ugly, and the lack of detail meant he lost a lot of character.
The new Grievous is tremendous. He’s now larger than a normal Lego figure, but by as much as he is larger than a man in the film. He has seperate legs (seperate legs — a design feature that Lego seem to find it hard to implement in their non-standard minifigs), poseable head… The problem of only sometimes having four arms is also elegantly solved by attaching the second set to the shoulders of the main pair. Proper bo indeed.
And this set has a motherfucking Mon Calamari. He’s no Ackbar (seems to be some Expanded Universe author self-insert), but Ackbar’s set comes with considerably less Grievous. Thus, we get this vaguely superfluous “Greivous’ secret base” with a bad ass-chair and a lightsabre rack. The only downside to the Grievous mini is that there’s really no way to “tie him down” to a seat; he doesn’t have stud-accepting buttocks like standard minifigs, and nor does he have the arms perfectly-designed for handle pieces like Battle Droids.
And The Rest…
What do you get for the man who has everything? Despite the sole focus being Grievous (and the complete metal polydice set being thwarted by them being out of stock), I managed a very respectable haul of computer games.
- The complete Icewind Dale box-set
- Star Wars: Empire at War Gold Pack
- Age of Empires III: Gold Pack
Gee, it’s all about the compilations this year. All these large-scale games that will keep me from Y4… Then again, new things can only refresh the development process with exciting ideas and features.
But what about you, dear reader? Did you finally grow enough balls to ask your parents for Lego too? Did Santa bring you something nice? Or were you a naughty boy and got a lump of coal?