2016 will be known as the year that took the lives of countless celebrities, Great Britain’s exit from the EU the release of the “UCS” 75098 Assault on Hoth set. The quotation marks are present due to the dubious UCS label bestowed upon this set.
I’ve had this set sitting in my living room for the past couple of months but I’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and properly review it. My hesitance was caused by two factors, namely that Star Wars isn’t a particular focus of my LEGO collection and that the word of mouth of this set has been dreadful to say the least. If you’ve read reviews on other LEGO blogs, you’d know what I was talking about.
Don’t get me wrong, I do have a small-ish LEGO Star Wars collection and I’m a massive fan of the movie, but I tend to gravitate to more iconic display sets like some of the newer UCS sets or sets with interesting minifigures – mostly from the original trilogy.
So is the UCS Assault on Hoth a definite stinker? Read on to find out what I thought of the set in this review!
If you’ve seen the memes about this set, you kind of already know the biggest criticisms of this set – that it just feels like a bunch of random Hoth-themed sets thrown together in the guise of a UCS (Ultimate Collector’s Series) set. The criticism is totally valid, and it becomes fairly evident when you start building it.
Before we get into the build, let’s take a look at the instruction manual. Like all large sets, it’s quite a hefty booklet.
To reflect the premium price point of Assault on Hoth and its illegitimate UCS status, the booklet contains a few informative sections giving you an introduction to the LEGO Star Wars Design Team as well as an overview of the Battle of Hoth, and Echo Base where most of it takes place.
Star Wars fans will no doubt enjoy the photographs and artwork included, although I wish that this section had a lot more content in it. It does feel rather bare and I would’ve liked a more in-depth look into Hoth and Echo Base.
My favourite parts of the booklet are the interviews with model designer, Hans Burkhard Schlomer and Graphic Designer Paul Constantin Turcanu who worked on this set. Hans’ interview is especially candid and I found it very fascinating that he does concede that even in the design process, it felt like “designing several regular retail sets at once” and affirmed the many complains about this set that it feels like many smaller models combined into a set.
Another thing that bothered me about the interview is the fact that he talked up the play features of Assault on Hoth. While I don’t mind play features in sets and think that sometimes they add a lot of value to it, they certainly don’t feel like they fit in the UCS umbrella, given that these sets are usually aimed at adults or more mature collectors who primarily utilise them as sick display pieces.
Assault on Hoth contains 18 polybags that are split into 13 distinct build sections. While the criticism that Assault on Hoth feels like a whole bunch of small sets cobbled together (and it does), I actually mostly enjoyed putting this set together as I was able to space the build out over a few days (I’ve been incredibly busy at work) which was quite therapeutic and yes, it did feel like I was assembling a different Star Wars set each night.
Before we get into the models, let’s take a look at the minifigures included in the set. There are a total of 14 minifigures and one Astromech Droid included in the set, most of which are Rebel forces and a measly Imperial assault force.
Here’s a look at the “named” major characters of the set. We get Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and the debut of Toryn Farr as a minifigure, all of whom are exclusive to this set.
Luke Skywalker comes in his Hoth Rebel uniform, which has a tan-coloured quilted jacket, and some neat details like the three blue dots printed on a patch, signifying his rank as Commander (I think?). He comes with a blue lightsaber and has a confident smirk on his face, with some very subtle chin printing.
Han Solo is also outfitted for the cold, sporting his comfy brown jacket that he has on when he goes looking for Luke Skywalker in the frozen wastelands of Hoth. I really like all the details on Han’s torso and legs, the print is absolutely stunning and there are plenty of cool little fabric and accessory details on it.
Han’s torso is really versatile and I like how you can easily reuse it for other minifigures who are in need of winter-wear. He does sorely lack a proper hoodie accessory. A fur hood is printed on his back, but I would’ve liked an extra option to alter his look.
Toryn Farr is a bit of a curious addition to this set. This is the first time she’s been made into a minifigure, but I don’t know if she’s that big of a drawcard. In case you were wondering who she is, she’s a Communications Officer at Echo Base and her claim to fame is her line “Standby Ion Control…Fire” in which she gives the directive to swat a Star Destroyer out of space with the Ion Cannon.
There’s nothing especially unique about Toryn and if not for her minifigure being named, and could simply pass off as a generic female Rebel.
Here’s a look at the back printing of each minifigure, where you can see that lovely quilted pattern on the tan jackets in more detail. Each of the named minifigures have dual-sided heads as well.
Luke has a scarred face courtesy of his misadventures in the Wampa Cave, Han Solo has a neutral concerned expression and Toryn has a blank “could you not” expression. I quite like Luke’s face although it does look like he’s a messy eater and has got pasta sauce all over his face.
The next batch of named characters are much more interesting – we get minifigures of legendary Revel pilot, Wedge Antilles (green helmet) and his harpoon gunner Wes Janson (red chequered helmet). The duo were famously depicted in Empire Strikes Back as the first to take down an AT-AT using their harpoon cables.
Wedge Antilles is a renowned Star Wars character and leader of Rogue Squadron, the Rebel’s most elite pilots. I was a massive fan of the Gamecube game, Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader where you got to play as Wedge and I have very fond memories of that game from my formative years. Along with Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and the Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR 1 & 2), I consider Rogue Squadron to be the best Star Wars video games ever.
This is Wedge’s second appearance as a minifigure, having only shown up once in 6212 X-Wing Fighter 10 years ago. This is also Wes Janson’s debut as a LEGO minifigure, and it’s quite fitting to include both of these in Assault on Hoth.
Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson both have identical faces and torsos, with only their helmet patterns used to tell them apart. A bit disappointing that we didn’t get unique heads for each of them, but I guess it’s still mostly a good thing for LEGO to finally update Wedge (his previous minifig only had a flesh-coloured smiley face) for modern times, and also create a Wes Janson minifig.
Check out this Youtube video to relive one of the most awesome parts of Empire Strikes Back.
Moving on to the generic minifigs, we get a motley crew of nameless Rebel Troopers and one Rebel Officer. There are two variations of Rebel Troopers, those with the white uniform, and those with the quilted tan jackets – probably to separate those that work inside Echo Base vs those that are stationed outside.
The Rebel Officer is unnamed, but he probably is someone important as he has an insignia on his chest with three red dots, signifying someone of a higher position in the Rebel hierarchy.
There’s a good bit of variety when it comes to the faces of the Rebel Troopers, with most of them being unique bar one. I really like the Officer’s face, with his bushy moustache as well as the older Rebel Troopers with their magnificent beards. Yay for LEGO minifigs with facial hair.
Apart from that, the Rebel Troopers are rather generic, with identical torsos and legs.
Here’s a look at the back printing on all 3 variations.
For Hoth army builders, getting so many generic Rebel Troopers is probably a good thing, but it doesn’t really do that much for me. I would’ve rather gotten more Snowtroopers (way cooler than these Rebel scum) or other named characters, just for a bit of diversity.
On the side of the “bad guys”, we get 2 Snowtroopers. Now, I love Snowtroopers – they have awesome designs and one of the best headgear in the entire Star Wars universe, second only to classic Stormtoopers. Unfortunately, these Snowtroopers aren’t new or updated in anyway – they’re exactly the same as the Snowtroopers from 2014’s AT-AT and Snowspeeder.
Kind of a shame that we didn’t get updated Snowtroopers as some leg printing would’ve been superb. I was also disappointed that we only got two Snowtroopers in the set. It’s quite a pathetic show of force from the Imperial Troops and one has to wonder: “are 2 Snowtroopers really expected to take down Echo Base?”
Here’s a look at the Snowtroopers’s backpacks, which sport a printed tile as well as back printing.
Last but not least are the two droids included in the set – K-3PO, the resident white protocol droid of Echo Base and a brand new astromech droid, R3-A2. Star Wars droid enthusiasts are undoubtedly going to be very excited about the inclusion of both of them.
K-3PO is pretty much a white version of C-3PO, so there’s nothing too outlandish about him. The printing on his torso and legs should be familiar to LEGO C-3PO fans. This is only the second K-3PO minifigure, just that his torso printing has been updated to match all the other most recent protocol droid designs.
R3-A2 looks pretty snazzy with his transparent black dome. I don’t have an encyclopedic LEGO Star Wars knowledge, but I definitely know that astromech droids with transparent domes veer towards the rarer end of the spectrum.
They’re great additions for more serious Star Wars fans, but these droids are mostly okay to me. I’m sorta glad I get to add them to my collection, but I’m not overly excited by them.
While fourteen minifigures and one Astromech droid might seem like a lot, there isn’t a lot of diversity and variety when it comes to the characters, and the anonymous nature of most of these characters don’t help combat that perception at all.
There is also a gross imbalance (and a dash of irony) that the Imperial forces are vastly outnumbered by the Rebels, especially since this set is called Assault on Hoth. I’m not sure that you can two Snowtroopers are worthy of being labelled an “assault”.
When grouped up together for a photo, you can really notice the homogeneous nature of the minifigures – they just all look pretty samesy and apart from Wedge Antilles, Wes Janson and the droids, there isn’t a lot to get excited about with this lineup.
Bag 1, 2 and 3 starts off with assembling the Imperial forces. Seriously, 2 Snowtroopers is simply not enough. Their equipment is also equally as pathetic. We get a decently designed Speeder Bike in white, to blend in with all the snow. The design is decent, but there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about it.
We also get an E-Web heavy repeating blaster which is laughably oversized. I honestly have no idea how the Snowtroopers are supposed to operate it as it’s so much taller than them and just looks horribly unwieldy. I’m not a fan of stud blasters, and the one tacked on top of the blaster just makes it look awkward.
Oh and Assault on Hoth starts off really badly, with a very glaring mistake in the instructions of Bag 1. Hint: the stickers are numbered wrongly. I’m not an anal perfectionist, but this certainly didn’t do much to reassure me about this set’s outlook.
And…that’s it for the “Assault” on Hoth. We’re not off to a good start.
The rest of Bags 1, 2 and 3 have you assembling the trench which is fitted out with some large blaster rifles, two white turrets and a grey one. It’s a trench, so there’s nothing especially exhilarating about it. There are plenty of white slopes to give it a snowy look but that’s not entirely groundbreaking technique. Within the trench are some tan and dark tan plates, which break up the monotony of colour slightly.
The white turrets are well designed, but unremarkable. They fire spring-loaded missiles – yet another unnecessary play feature which actually make the turrets look worst, given that the transparent red missiles stick out awkwardly from behind.
The grey turret is slightly more interesting, and it’s fitted with a gatling stud-blaster – it also has the ability to be tilted up and down.
Each turret can be removed fairly easily, so you can switch the layout around if you get bored of the existing configuration, but again, it just feels like such an unnecessary feature that adds very little to the build.
In Bag 4, we build Echo Base’s shield generator, which has somehow never been a fixture in other Hoth sets.
The design of the shield generators are fairly accurate to the source material, with the large grey discs looking quite decent.
There’s just one major problem – there are supposed to be four of them. What a glaring oversight from the design team.
Star Wars UCS sets have traditionally been marketed to serious Star Wars enthusiasts, with one of the major selling points being accuracy. This just spits in that legacy and what it means to be an UCS set.
Here’s a look at the back of the shield generators, where you can see a small lever that’s built into the back to trigger the play feature. Again, we don’t need play features in an UCS set.
Jam the lever down and the shield generator goes “boom”, launching the grey discs out of their pod. The play feature is well designed, but how many times can you get a kick out of exploding a movie-inaccurate shield generator array before it gets old.
Bags 5 and 6 build you the Snowspeeder for Wedge and Wes to pilot. I like Snowspeeders and this one isn’t too badly designed. In fact, it looks extremely similar to 75049 Snowspeeder, which conveniently retired at the beginning of this year. I own that one as well, and the only difference I can really make out is the fact that this one has orange accents.
I’m pretty sure there are other smaller changes, but for all intents and purposes, they look almost identical to me.
It’s not a bad design – in fact, it’s a really good Snowspeeder model. My only gripe is that it lacks context. What it this Snowspeeder supposed to do exactly? Does Echo Base really need a Snowspeeder to defend itself against 2 Snowtroopers?
In fact, my major gripe is that it lacks context. Give us a bloody AT-AT or AT-ST at the very least for the Snowspeeder to go up against. It has a grappling hook cable on its back, but nothing to use it on. I like Snowspeeders, but this one just feels lonely, out of place and a big waste overall.
Bags 7 and 8 have you assembling the blast doors and cave opening section of Echo Base. It’s a pretty large model, making it look quite impressive just because of its sheer size. I believe it measures around 50 cm wide.
From the front, you’re greeted by piles and piles of snow and the craggy exterior of the cave. If you’ve visited LEGO conventions or seen large-scale MOCs, this technique shouldn’t be too alien, but it’s nice to see it being applied in a retail set.
That said, it’s a clever way to inflate the piece count. There’s also some sort of antennae thing that’s attached to the entrance, although I definitely don’t remember something like it in Empire Strikes Back.
Bags 9, 10 and 11 build 3 “modules” that attach themselves to the Blast Doors. In its entirety, the Blast Doors make up the “core” of Assault on Hoth as nearly every other component is designed to interact with the main structure.
The doors are a little ugly from within, and I don’t like the exposed grey plates against the black doors. It just looks a little incomplete and bare from behind.
The one good thing about the blast doors is that the opening and closing mechanism works quite well – you just rotate the white gear piece to open and close it. It sometimes get stuck against one another, but it works well for the most part.
Here’s a look at the control room. For starters, it’s really tiny and it doesn’t really capture the frantic nature of the Echo Base command centre.
There are a few clips that secure the transparent red missiles which look a little misplaced. The transparent display (achieved by stickers) is very movie accurate, and there are other stickered details such as a poster of some sorts, control panel and some printed computer console slopes.
It looks a bit better populated by minifigures. There is also a trolley from the movies included to transport around stuff.
Across the room is a stable for the Tauntaun, and a robotic service crane, presumably to fix Rebel Snowspeeders. The crane can sideways on its rails.
Here’s a look at the Tauntaun which is a relatively rare Star Wars animal. I didn’t own the old Hoth Echo Base set or any of the other sets came with Tauntauns, so I’m quite happy to own one. The Tauntaun has a saddle and harness for Han solo to grab ahold of.
In an attempt to jam as much “Hoth-ness” into this set, we also get a mini Wampa Cave module that attachs to the main wall/door section. This was just baffling to me as it feels so out of place, bizarre and most of all – a desperate afterthought.
Why? Why would you attach a Wampa Cave section to Echo Base.
Thankfully, you can detach the Wampa Cave from Echo Base, so it kinda works as a small vignette. It has all the trappings of the Wampa Cave, such as a place to hang Luke upside down.
There’s a small and yet another silly play feature built into the Wampa Cave. You stick Luke’s lightsaber into a small hole, slam down your finger and it pops out to reenact the moment in Empire Strikes Back where Luke uses the Force to snag his lightsaber and protect himself from the rampaging Wampa.
The Wampa is a small consolation for this turd of a set. I believe this is only the second Star Wars set to include a Wampa after 2010’s Hoth Wampa Cave so this is a decent opportunity to get one if you missed out on it previously.
The Wampa’s design is a little flawed as it’s not really balanced really well. If you lift the Wampa’s hands, it will almost always fall over, so you’ll have to affix it to studs if you want to pose him around.
The Ion Cannon has never been featured in a LEGO set ever, so out of all the components of Echo Base, it’s the one thing that truly stands out as being unique and original. The Ion Cannon is a lot larger than I had expected it to be – official photos of Assault on Hoth don’t seem to represent it at the correct scale, so I was quite surprised at its size when I completed it.
The build is also fairly advanced, as you build the spherical-shaped cannon from scratch without any large, custom pieces. The Ion Cannon has a play feature where you can launch two spring-loaded missiles in quick succession – one of the cooler (but not by a whole lot) play features of this set.
You can also lift the top of the Ion Cannon open to reveal a small enclosed section where you can fit Toryn Farr in to fire the Ion Cannon which isn’t entirely the most realistic thing.
The Ion Cannon unfortunately unravels when you look at it from behind. It looks hideous and incomplete. The exposed multi-coloured bricks inside just look really bad – it’s like the designers forgot to cover it up.
Really, really disappointing as the Ion Cannon would’ve been at least semi-decent otherwise.
What I liked:
- Plenty of white pieces
- Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson
- Snowspeeder isn’t the worst
What I didn’t like:
- Where do I even begin.
- NOT an UCS set. Not even close
Final thoughts: Assault on Hoth is a dud. An expensive and disappointing dud. This so called “UCS” set makes me feel irrationally angry on behalf of long-time LEGO Star Wars fans as it definitively shits all over the once hallowed “UCS” lable.
It’s a huge bloated mess that tries to be too many things, which causes it to miss the mark completely on becoming a cohesive, enjoyable set. See, I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan and I have a very tiny collection of Hoth sets, and even with all the Hoth-y elements jammed into this mess, it still doesn’t do it for me.
Unlike 10236 Ewok Village which is a terrific playset and display piece, Assault on Hoth is almost impossible to display. For one thing, with so many different components spread out from each other, it takes up a LOT of space. When you display it, the biggest criticism (that it looks like a bunch of small sets combined) really comse to the fore.
That said, it’s not all bad. If you are a new and enthusiastic Star Wars fan, it’s a quick and easy way to build up a sizable Hoth presence, and you get staples such as a Snowspeeder, Wampa Cave and the trench which by itself doesn’t look too bad.
Where it falls flat is the price. For AU$399.99, you are definitely not getting your money’s worth. The utility of this set is questionable since it’s such a bad display piece.
I guess the only thing Assault on Hoth has going for it is its playability. All the disparate small elements should be quite a bit of fun for younger kids, and the moving parts like the blat doors, all the spring-loaded missile turrets and minifigures make for a passable playset.
Therein lies the real problem. It’s obviously designed with younger kids in mind, but a AU$400 pricetag is just such a preposterous notion. You can buy an iPad Mini 2, PS4, WiiU or an XBox One for AU$400 and I can bet you, any kids would pick those over Assault on Hoth. It just doesn’t add up.
I cannot in good faith recommend this set under any circumstance. This is a stinking pile of disappointment, and it’s universally panned for a reason.
This set is a flop, a mark of shame on the Star Wars UCS theme and most importantly, a massive rip-Hoth.
Assault on Hoth is available on LEGO.com, though I can’t imagine why you’d want it. If you want to try and score it at retail in Australia, 75098 Assault on Hoth is set to be a Target Australia exclusive, though I really doubt fans are going to be excited about it. Maybe if it goes on clearance for 50% off, it might be a good buy, but I’d just avoid this altogether.
Are you crazy enough to contemplate buying Assault on Hoth? Do you own it and have incurable buyer’s remorse? Are you a helpless Star Wars UCS completionist, duty-bound to buy this set? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this set in the comments section!