Star Wars: Encounter on Jakku (LEGO)
One of the newer LEGO Star Wars sets hitting shelves puts the spotlight on one of the early (but important) scenes from The Force Awakens, giving us new characters and locales for fans to play around with. Come inside to check out my review for Encounter on Jakku!
I’ve always enjoyed playsets when it comes to Star Wars. They’re neat little things that offer up a sliver of the the movies’ most iconic moments. Set up properly and they look great on display without having to do much but place it on the shelf. For younger fans, they give the chance to recreate (or alter) their favorite moments.
As such, I’ve been really digging the LEGO Star Wars sets so far that do this (especially as Hasbro seems to have abandoned the concept of playsets). One of the latest is Encounter on Jakku which features Unkar Plutt’s store front where he doles out “portions” of food and water for struggling survivors on the harsh planet. The Luggabeast and Teedo (the alien and four-legged creature who tried to capture BB-8 before Rey stopped them) also comes with the set along with an adorable BB-8 and Rey.
In terms of a playset, Encounter on Jakku is roughly the same size (though a little more involved) as the Battle on Takodana LEGO set. It also features a hinge on it which allows the thing to ‘fold up’ to take up a smaller amount of space, though I don’t think it’s unfolded form takes up that much room.
The set looks pretty impressive and really gives off that desolate junkyard vibe. The are a variety of pieces that make this all come together, giving it that hodge podge look (though it’s fairly sturdy) as if it were cobbled together from whatever could be found. It comes with random tools, battle droid parts, and other odds and ends that are placed throughout. Couple this with a cool tarp looking accessory and Encounter on Jakku looks like it was pulled right out of the movie.
Despite its size, this feels like one of the more movie accurate LEGO playsets out there, and totally nails the feel of Jakku’s scavenger lifestyle.
The build itself feels almost like you’re making a couple different things. All the pieces are separated out into five bags. The first two are use for building the Luggabeast, while the remaining three comprise the actual playset part of it.
The surprisingly thick instruction booklet is easy to follow, and if you’ve put together any sort of LEGO set in the last couple years should be a breeze. For the most part, I think this set fits into the “intermediate” category. It’s not all that difficult to put together, but there are quite a few small pieces (individual pegs, half-pieces, round pegs, and rods) that can be difficult to keep track of and pop into place.
There’s actually a few moments in which you have to place a single square tile onto the side peg of a single brick. Both of them are relatively small in their own right, so having to combine them together was a little problematic. Overall, however, I don’t think the set was difficult and only featured a few instances that required a bit more precision.
Whereas with previous sets, my kids were able to help me with almost no assistance on my part, there were a few moments during the Encounter on Jakku build where I had to momentarily take over. Again, this isn’t a huge deal and if you’re a big nerd and family man, it makes for some fun hang out time for you and your child(ren).
Play and Display
Unfolded, Encounter on Jakku has plenty of room to play around without worrying about knocking things over, or causing pieces to come off. This is no small feat considering my large fingers normally struggle to maneuver things on the LEGO scale. For my kids, it was especially easy for them to play within and have fun which I did as well.
Due to its decent size, it also works well with Rey’s Speeder LEGO set, and fits in aesthetically, meaning it’s easy to combine the sets and make for a bigger and better play time. It’s a neat synergy between sets that makes your LEGO collection more interconnected (at least with these).
One of the coolest aspects of this set, at least for me, were all the neat features built into it. I mentioned that hinge, which allows it to fold up, but there’s a couple other things built into it. There’s a hidden drawer that slides in and out on these cool LEGO track pieces. It holds a hidden blaster, presumably there to deal with unexpected troubles (at least that’s how we played with it).
There’s also a little safe squared away on the inside of the shop which holds Unkar’s “portions” to dole out. You can flip down the handle to extract them (little round, golden discs), and it features little slits in the sides from which you can deposit the discs back inside. There’s a workbench on one side where some tools are placed/stored, with a partially built Battle Droid being worked on.
These details aren’t huge, or necessarily new to LEGO sets, but they go a long way towards making this particular playset feel like it packs a lot inside. It offers up a variety of things to play with and discover. Once again, all of it really plays toward the junk/shady/desolate feel of Jakku’s seedy exchange place.
The only issue I have with Encounter on Jakku is much the same as I had the Battle on Takodana playset...the lack of a base plate. These days with mid-sized sets, LEGO has been getting rid of the base plate, leaving the sets to their own devices unlike in days of yore. While the idea is that they can fold up for easier storage and be used anywhere, it still feels odd.
Perhaps I’m just getting old and set in my ways, but a connecting base plate really makes a set feel complete and solid. Without the base I worry about things being too flimsy and falling apart as you transport it around. Fortunately I had a desert colored base plate lying around (we have a lot of LEGO pieces in the house) and placed the set on top. In terms of display, it immediately makes it stand out much more.
It’s a great set on its own and looks excellent up on the shelf unfolded with all the mini-figs in their proper place, but when I added the base plate it really popped. The sandy color pulls it all together and makes it look unique on the shelf among the other LEGO sets. If your primary purpose for picking up the set is for displaying on your shelf, I would highly suggest picking up a small 12x12 beige LEGO board to go with it.