Wednesday, 22 February 2012

So Bad it's Almost Good

After last week's Harry Potter nostalgia-fest I've got another blast from the past for you this week - Set 7159 Star Wars Bucket. Truth be told, if I hadn't been on a quest to collect the entire LEGO Star Wars back catalogue then I probably wouldn't have touched this one with a six foot barge pole. As it is, I picked it up from eBay for around £40 plus postage in late 2009. Although I never really had any intention of building the set, for whatever reason I just fancied putting it together last weekend, so here it is....

This set, containing 292 pieces and released in 2000 at a price of $25 (I'm not sure of the UK retail price), is an oddity on a number of levels. Let's start with the packaging (above - click to enlarge). To my knowledge this set is unique among Star Wars sets in that it comes in a square bucket, akin to some of the starter sets filled with basic bricks. And it's not any bucket either - this one's a black bucket speckled with silver, presumably designed to simulate a galaxy far, far away. Each of the 4 facets of the bucket features a sticker showing off features of the set; all four stickers on mine are a bit crinkled but still intact at least. There are four larger-than-life LEGO-embossed studs on the lid, and a black plastic carrying handle on the side.

The instructions are another oddity; at first glance they seem like your typical LEGO instruction manual. Closer inspection of the front cover (below) however reveals that not all of the set is actually shown in the picture - bizarrely, Anakin's podracer has been missed off. The same is true for the identical picture stuck onto one of the sides of the bucket. It's hard to believe this would have been done deliberately given that Anakin's is by far the most recognisable podracer in the whole set. It almost makes me wonder if the set was originally not supposed to contain Anakin's podracer - perhaps it was initially supposed to complement Set 7131 Anakin's Podracer which was released a year earlier, and then someone realised that the scale was totally wrong, and that they'd better throw a stripped down version of Anakin's podracer into the bucket as well.....

The building instructions themselves are easy to follow - clear, and with none of the colour confusion that some instruction manuals can be cursed with. One of the best things about the instructions is the series of little cartoons which can be found on the pages alongside the building steps (some shown below - click to enlarge)

You can see a selection of parts from the set below. I was surprised to discover that funky trans-neon orange 1x6 bricks are actually unique to this set, as is the trans-green 1x2x1 panel, while the trans-red panel, red 4x4 round brick and dark grey cylinder have only appeared in this and one other set. All other pieces in the picture have appeared in just three or four sets.

The set contains 3 minifigures. Well, maybe make that 2 and a half, but we'll get on to that in a moment.... First we have the earliest version of everybody's favourite Star Wars character, Jar Jar Binks. This version of Jar Jar appears in a total of 5 sets, and while the design is quite good, his head does have a distinctly unfinished, unpainted look. Perhaps I've just been spoiled by the more colourful version of Jar Jar in Set 7929 The Battle of Naboo, however.

Next we have young Anakin Skywalker. This version of Anakin appears in 3 sets and is fairly unremarkable, sporting a yellow pre-fleshie head, freckles and a simple tan Tattooine outfit.

Finally, mercenary and hitman Aldar Beedo (pic below from Wookieepedia)

Truth be told, his LEGO rendition in this set is a total dog's dinner - he's a bizarre fusion of battle droid and roof slope, and couldn't look less like his movie persona if he tried. The one saving grace is his interesting head, but all things considered, this minifigure really wasn't LEGO's finest work....

Notably, LEGO produced a new, single-piece version of Aldar Beedo (below) in 2001 for Set 7186 Watto's Junkyard. It's unpainted, but it does at least look a bit more like him this time...

Aldar Beedo figure (from
Once you've recovered from the shock of Aldar Beedo and picked your jaw up off the floor, it's time to start on the podracers themselves. First up is Anakin's podracer. Not including mini versions, LEGO have produced four versions of this podracer over the years. Set 7131 Anakin's Podracer and Set 7171 Mos Espa Podrace came first in 1999, followed by this one in 2000, and most recently the excellent Set 7962 Anakin Skywalker and Sebulba's Podracers in 2010.

I can confidently state that the 'cubist' version in the Star Wars Bucket (below - click to enlarge) is the least accurate rendition of the lot by some distance - blocky and basic in the extreme. Unlike the other versions, it does at least score points for having sturdier flexible linkages between the engines and the pod meaning that there's no need for an ugly brick-built stabilizer to hold everything together and stop it falling apart, but that's it - I can't think of any other redeeming features at all. Apart from the printed blue slope on the front on the pod, maybe.

Moving swiftly on, the next podracer to be built is I believe a version of Neva Kee's podracer - a FG 8T8 Twin-Block 2 Special (pic below from Wookieepedia)

The LEGO version (below) is at best vaguely similar to the source material in overall design and colour scheme but that's as far as I'm willing to go. Disappointingly, there's no Neva Kee minifigure to go with it....

Next up is Aldar Beedo's podracer, a MARK IV Flat-Twin Turbo Jet. It's a good job that the Aldar Beedo 'figure' was included in this set, as without it the identity of the predominantly blue and yellow podracer might have been hard to ascertain. Some similarities between the source material and the version in this set are evident - the yellow markings on the front and the red engine exhausts - but you could be easily forgiven for missing them.....

MARK IV Flat-Twin Turbo Jet (From

LEGO subsequently produced another version of this particular podracer in the Watto's Junkyard set (below) which was larger and marginally more accurate, although for some reason it dispensed with the blue and yellow colour scheme in favour of blue and white.

The identity of the final podracer in the bucket wasn't immediately obvious to me, but some rudimentary research suggests that it's probably Clegg Holdfast's podracer - a KV9T9-B Wasp.

(Image from Wookieepedia)
You can see the LEGO version below. It was the green cones protruding from the front of the engines that gave it away.

In addition to the minifigures and podracers, the set also comes complete with a start/finish gantry, and truth be told, it's probably the most elegant part of the set...

You can see the entire set in all its glory below....

So what on earth to make of it all ? Well, it'd be easy to just write this set off as a poor quality Star Wars Episode I cash-in and move on. And's that bucket that's got me wondering whether I'm completely missing the point. Remember what I said at the beginning, namely that the set "comes in a square bucket, akin to some of the starter sets filled with basic bricks". Well, maybe that's exactly it. I'd guess that most if not all of us have at some time or another heard the criticism that licensed sets, and particularly the Star Wars sets, throttle creativity because they contain so many custom parts and not enough basic bricks and plates. Well that's a criticism that applies far less to this set than it does to most Star Wars sets. So maybe I accidentally got it right at the beginning after all - this set is basically a Star Wars-branded starter set, designed to contain a much greater proportion of generic elements than your average Star Wars set, and even packaged like a basic brick bucket. Just to further push this theory, the set contains 4 basic tyres - you can see Aldar Beedo standing next to them on the front cover of the instructions. These tyres appear to be entirely redundant - podracers don't have wheels. But two of the podracers do use wheel hubs in the construction of their engine exhausts, and it's no coincidence that the tyres fit perfectly onto those wheel hubs, should you decide to take the podracers apart and build something else with the pieces...

So in summary, to say that the models in this set are rudimentary would be a gross understatement - if you're looking for a set which will provide you with some good-looking podracers to play with or display then this certainly isn't it. But the whole package is undoubtedly a one-off and a curiosity, and as a LEGO Star Wars collector that alone makes me glad that I own it.


  1. Richard Selby23/2/12

    You're right about the market niche, I think.

    As dad of a 7 year old Star Wars fanatic, that's exactly what I would have bought him early on in his obsession. SW doesn't particularly appeal to me, so I don't care too much that the sets aren't movie accurate. And the other ones are too complex, too specialised and too expensive.

    But to make it work, they should have included some iconic SW figs, eg Darth Vader and Luke, not the strange choice they did.

  2. As a sidenote, the head they used for fig 2.5 does, in fact, come in other sets. It comes from the 1998 Aquazone line: Hydronauts. That said, it certainly works in a Star Wars context... though not necessarily as Aldar Beedo.

  3. ^ So it does - thanks for the info ! Corrected.

  4. Anonymous2/3/12

    I have recently done a review of this on brickset. It has a charm to it that's difficult to put your finger on.
    Given the seemingly ever increasing detail of Star Wars sets (lends itself to older fans?), I think it would be a great idea for Lego to do a few more entry points for younger children to the world of star wars again. This set seems almost alone in that target & marketing.

  5. Andhe8/3/12

    Wow, at first glance I thought this was another of those Star Wars Bucket suggestions on Cuusoo. Never heard or seen this bucket before, but does throw up some nice ideas of getting a load of bricks and suggested builds rather than specific bricks that realistically can only be built into the intended model. Thanks for sharing.