Imperial Landing Craft
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
The Sentinel is an FTL-capable heavy landing craft built by Sienar Fleet Systems and Cygnus Spaceworks for the navies of the Galactic Empire. Incorporating similar features to its smaller cousin, the Lambda-class light personnel shuttle, it has an expanded cargo capacity that allows it to hold a number of single-seat All-Terrain Personal Transports (AT-PT), or several military-grade speeder bikes. But it also has use as a troop transport- carrying six squadrons of Stormtroopers directly to the front lines. Unlike the Lambda-class shuttle, however, the Sentinel has thicker armor, more powerful shields, and spots a wide array of weapons for both ground and air-assaults- eight forward laser cannons, two retractable heavy rapid-fire blaster cannon turrets under the nose, two concussion missile launchers (with four rounds each), and a dorsally-mounted ion cannon turret! With a command crew of two, and three gunnery officers, this allows it to also be use for military actions other than hauling cargo & troops to the front lines, and between Imperial starships. The Sentinel was first seen in the off-screen “Shadows of the Empire” multimedia series (books, graphic novels, video games, models, toys, etc.) during the late ‘90s which bridged the gap between the Star Wars films “...The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “...Return of the Jedi” (1983). But when the Special Edition version of “...A New Hope” was re-released back into theaters twenty years later in 1997, the Sentinel made its first and only on-screen cameo- taking off from a Tatooine desert after dispatching a squadron of Imperial Sandtroopers looking for a pair of Rebel Alliance droids which escaped the capture of the Corellian CR90 corvette, Tantive-IV.
This set is a gamble on the part of Lego: that kids & collectors would buy a set based on the obscure, hard-to-see, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo it makes in the Special-Edition version of Episode IV. It’s a bit squatter, but it fits the general shapes, functions, and appearance of the Sentinel-class assault shuttle. The cockpit section is tilted downwards like the Lambda-class shuttle [aka Imperial Shuttle (Set #7166)], but the hinge it’s attached to in back is different, so it unintentionally tilts up and down. A single all-black Imperial Pilot can beseated in front of the tilting controls inside by removing the transparent canopy piece. Oddly, though the Sentinel does have windscreens, they are very narrow, but here the cockpit is fully exposed with no printed hull designs like the Imperial Shuttle set’s canopy did. The paired retractable Blast Cannon Turrets are located under the nose, but they do not move. Continuing back, on the front of the cargo mid-section are four of the eight retractable Laser Cannons located behind the cockpit by small transparent-neon yellow cones. On the inner side of these are the Missile Launchers (which I’ll get into detail later). Along the bottom of the cargo section are two blocky footpads that hold the set off of the ground; these do not move, but you can remove them easily enough if you wish. Above the cargo section is the tall vertical stabilizer. Also obviously inspired by the one on the Lambda-class shuttle, this one is shaped differently- with a large chunk taken out of the back-lower half. Along the back corners of the cargo section are two small red levers) that activate another feature [that I’ll be getting into later]. The back engineering section contains the gear system to move the wings up-and-down, and has an assembly in back to represent the wide sub-light ion engine array. Like the Imperial Shuttle set, the Imperial Landing Craft has three small non-functional orange anti-collision lights along the front tips of the tail and wings. To gain quick access to the bomb and missile launchers, the top roof panels (x3 per side) of the cargo section can be lifted upwards on both sides to reveal the interior! From underneath, you can see two red Technic levers on both the front and back of the cargo section. When you pull both of these away, you can then lift the cockpit, tail, & engineering sections away to reveal the cargo section! Very cool idea, and it allows you to replace things inside easier without bumping into everything else along the way! (The cockpit/tail/engineering half doesn’t balance very easily on its own upright, so you’ll have to just tilt the nose up, and fold the red levers in, and then carefully set it down.) Though the larger cargo loading ramps are not available on the Imperial Landing Craft set, they are still implied by the indents on the outside walls of the cargo section. The interior of the cargo section is taken up mostly by space for the two missile launchers & their trigger assemblies, and just enough room for the two Stormtrooper gunners (they just sit wedged in on the floor between the bomb & missile launchers), two commanding Sandtroopers (they sit on two blue minifig seats), and the minifigs’ four hand-held weapons. The bomb launcher(s) takes up the back wall. The minifig blasters sit upside-down in holes to save space, and so that they won’t go anywhere. The four transparent-orange/-neon yellow bombs simply sit in open troughs along that back wall. The retractable ion cannon is not represented in this set.
Transition to Flight Mode
Unlike the earlier Imperial Shuttle set which had wings which ratcheted down/up manually by hand, the wings on the Imperial Landing Craft are tied into a gear system triggered by a small knob beneath the engineering section. Twisting counter-clockwise lowers the wings, while twisting clockwise retracts them. It takes about eight turns to make the wings reach their respective position(s), so be patient.
Unlike most Lego Star Wars sets with large movable sections, however, this set does not have a stop point or a bumper to prevent the wings from unfolding farther than they are supposed to, so you have to just guess where they stop, and then leave the knob alone. (I set the wings at about 135°.) This means that, even though it doesn’t do this in the Special Edition version of Episode IV or “Shadows of the Empire”, the wings on the Imperial Landing Craft can be twisted around 180° if you wish.
Again, because the Sentinel-class assault shuttle is more stretched out on all axis, the Imperial Landing Craft set seems a bit on the chubby side. The wings are not totally flat; instead being layered in order for Lego to keep them both thin and long. The engineering section is completely exposed from both the top and bottom, so you can easily see the mechanism in there in either mode. Something to keep in mind as you’re flying the Imperial Landing Craft around- don’t turn it upside-down, or else the bombs inside will fall out of their troughs! I will also say that the set cannot support itself on any of the flight surfaces- tail and wings- or they will break off. But while a lot of the surface detail is also missing, it makes up for it in features- mostly in the form of its weapons... I’m gonna say this right off: do not touch the forward laser cannons unless ya wanna shoot something! That’s just a habit you’re gonna have to get into. Pushing inwards on either of the longer laser cannons will fire the associated spring-powered missile launcher. These things have a pretty good range (5’ on a flat surface) and an even better kick. The warheads of each of the two missiles provided are soft hollow rubber, so they cushion the impact a bit... but that doesn’t then give you the excuse to then go shoot someone or something with them! The bomb launcher system is quite simple to use, and pain-free- simply press upwards on the two small red levers on the back of the cargo section, and then the bombs will fall out of little chutes on the back. You can also drop just from one side if you wish, but since each trough inside the cargo section is designed to hold only two bombs, each side will only drop that many.
There is one new part in here that I’ve never seen before, and two of them are provided with the set. They’re half visible on the back of the cargo section, just behind the red levers. They’re flat 1x2 Technic plates, but they’re composed entirely of black rubber! These act as little springs which reset the troughs inside the bomb wall inside the cargo section- when pressed down, the bombs fall out, and then when you let go, the rubber parts reset automatically so the bombs can be repositioned inside without immediately falling out again. Interesting idea!
Lego Set #7659 comes with five minifigs- a black Imperial Pilot, two standard Stormtroopers, and two Sandtroopers. The four ‘troopers have printed details on their helmets, and on the front & back of their torso parts. What separates the standard Stormtroopers from the Sandtroopers is the small soft fabric covers they have over their right shoulders; these orange & black items match those seen in “...A New Hope”, though they lack the associated cooling backpack units. The two orange shoulder pads come in a small cardboard box, and are printed flat- to get them to curve, you place the two holes over the neck of each minifig. All of the ‘Troopers’ inner minifig heads are straight black with no detailing. The black helmet of the Imperial Pilot minifig is just a different-colored version of a Stormtrooper helmet; only the circular Imperial Navy’s logos are added for detail. The pilot’s front torso detail is also different from the other 'Troopers', but he has no printing on the back of his torso piece. Two minifig blast rifles, and two smaller blasters are provided for the ‘Troopers. (I think the smaller ones are actually designed to be used as Han Solo’s blaster!)
As an update to the Imperial Shuttle set from the late ‘90s (it came out before Episode-I did), this one absolutely rocks! The biggest thing for me was that it had the mechanism which allowed you to turn the wings around by turning a knob rather than having to ratchet each one manually up-&-down. The only bad part to this, however, is that they don’t stop the wings for you; you have to make a judgment call each time, and so that was a bit of a let-down. But dropping bombs, and firing- not one, but two- hidden spring-powered missiles was fantastic! (Do you know how often Lego incorporates two spring-powered launchers into their sets-? Not very often, I can tell ya that! So this was a real treat.) I also thought it great that, not only could you access the cargo section through risible doors on top, but you could actually separate the cargo section altogether! While it would have been nice to have four Sandtroopers, I thought that it was a nice balance to mix it up with two regular Stormtroopers. And then you got a separate all-black Imperial Pilot. Yeah- they seriously down-scaled this set from what it would have been (the assault shuttle is supposed to carry 54 Stormtroopers at once), but what we got was pretty cool too. Things to change: add bumpers for the wings so they don’t drop down farther than they’re supposed to, maybe beef-up the neck a little bit to give it more substance, and add some painted detail to the canopy so it’s more opaque that clear. The Imperial Landing Craft is an awesome Lego set, so I highly recommend getting it!
|Posted 9 October, 2008 - 21:43 by EVA_Unit_4A