9516 Jabba's Palace review, part 3
In the final part of the review, we look at the build and the completed model. Words by CapnRex101, pictures by me...
The build takes about two hours and is quite an enjoyable build. Although not many construction techniques of interest are used, most of the build uses traditional bricks and there is very little Technic involved. The way in which the difficult curved outer surface of the throne room has been formed is quite nice as is the large domed roof which looks superb when completed. No SNOT or other techniques really feature in the construction, but it is a fun and traditional build nevertheless and one which would be ideal for younger Lego fans as it is quite easy to put together due to the numbered bags.
When the model is all finished, it looks exquisite. Both the guard tower and the throne room are just about perfect for display and there are a huge number of excellent features to keep younger buyers interested.
I will begin with the guard tower. At the base of the tower is the door to the palace which is seen at the beginning of Return of the Jedi when R2-D2 and C-3PO gain access to the palace via this main door.
The door is split into several panels just like in the film, and from the central one, the gate watcher droid can peer out at anybody who comes to the door. The eye stalk is retractable into the door or can be extended and moved around a bit from the inside. The actual eye piece is a wonderful printed golden round tile which looks extremely accurate to the droid from the film and you even get a spare one! The walls all over this guard tower section are made up of mostly tan pieces with a bit of dark tan interspersed with it which gives it a worn look which is quite realistic. The door can be slid upwards to allow access to the palace and there is a mechanism which allows the door to be held open if you wish. Above the door is a rotating turret to protect the entrance from Jabba's many enemies which is seen briefly in the film so is a nice touch on the part of Lego. Inside on the ground floor there is just an empty room with two orange lights on the wall and some windows.
On the next floor is a balcony area which is mostly filled by the door mechanism, but a minifig can be stood up there if need be. Three small domes surround this veranda which is in keeping with the architectural design of the rest of the palace. On the inside of the building on this floor there is a wooden crate which holds a large rifle and a translucent bottle piece. Very simple but a neat little room nonetheless.
The top level is the lookout post and I love the shape of this. From the outside an outward curving shape has been created with four windows for the guards to look out over the Dune Sea. On the inside there is easily space for two minifigs to look out. On the walls a pair of macrobinoculars and a standard blaster are held on clips in case the lookout spots any possible intruders. The roof uses two curved slopes and a small dome piece which looks great and matches the roof of the throne room nicely.
Now I will move on to the much larger of the two sections, Jabba's huge throne room. The floor area of this room is about six times the size of the tower which is plenty big enough to fit a lot of lovely details into this area. From the outside the difficult curving wall has been created from lots of dark tan slopes very well indeed, or as good as you are going to get without making it from a single large piece which would have been very boring indeed. Around the top of this wall are the tiny windows seen on the actual palace which allow some atmospheric lighting into the throne room.
The domed roof section can be removed easily and looks very good, most of the large dark tan curved slopes are used here and there is inexplicably a flick fire missile hidden beneath the upper section of the dome. This is launched by pushing a button on the other side of the dome. I have no idea why this was included, but for younger children it might be a fun feature, and it does not take anything away from the palace aesthetically.
Inside the room itself there are loads of features. It is possible to clip the sections together and walk straight from one area to the other through a large archway to the right of the throne room as you look at it from the inside. There are a few more lights on the wall here like there are in the tower and just by this doorway is Jabba's combined Hookah and Gorg bowl which he has next to his dais in the movie.
In the bottom section a frog piece (which is acting as a Gorg, one of Jabba's favourite snacks, in this set) can be seen through a translucent bell jar style component. This is attached to the upper section, which is Jabba's Hookah, using two gold pieces which were first introduced in the Ninjago theme and are actually very useful indeed. A black lever is attached here underneath a white dome piece, which is the crime lord's Hookah. From the Hookah itself a string piece is used which Jabba can hold as his Hookah pipe. I was astonished that Lego included this as Jabba is using it to smoke something, possibly a narcotic, in this scene during the film and I would have thought that Lego would not want to place a smoking related instrument in a Lego set, even if it is just a fantasy model. I am glad that they did though as it is very accurate!
Two tables are found in front of Jabba's dais, which have goblets and an ice cream piece on them. Between the tables there is an open grille piece so that you can see down into the Rancor pit beneath Jabba's throne room. A brown box is one the left of the room which is empty. Central to the entire building though is Jabba's dais from which he plans his nefarious criminal schemes. There are four round plates used on the front of it like we see in the film and there is a place for Jabba and one of his slaves to sit. There is room for Salacious Crumb to sit here and for Bib Fortuna to stand behind Jabba whispering advice to him.
Jabba the Hutt's dais can be moved back and forth to cover the sliding trapdoor which allows Jabba to drop anyone who displeases him, such as the unfortunate Oola, down into the den of the Rancor. A tab on the left side of the model can be pulled to open up the trapdoor which is completely open and will drop whatever is on the flap right through the floor, so if you have the parts to do so you could add a Rancor pit down under the palace!
Two small flights of stairs lead up to the dais on either side of it and behind Jabba is a small cooking area. There is another tab here which can be pushed forwards to move the dais forwards, although moving it backwards must be done by hand. When the dais is pushed forwards over the trapdoor it reveals a dip in the floor in which two gold round tiles, a Gorg, and a small blaster pistol are found. The back section of the throne room can be hinged open for easier access to play with it.
Last of all, to the left of Jabba is an alcove in which the frozen Han Solo is kept. On the wall next to him is a control panel which Leia will use to release him and the Carbonite is mounted on a turntable so it can be flipped around as though Han has been freed. The look of the throne room from the film has been captured perfectly and I love it
Summary (by CapnRex101)
I am absolutely delighted with this set overall. It is a model of real quality and you can tell that a lot of time and effort has been taken over designing this vast set. There are numerous fantastic features and the minifigs are incredible. This model can be used with set 9496, Desert Skiff, and the minifigs from that wonderful set can be added to here if you wish which really adds to the playability. From a play perspective, this set is hard to beat with so many functions, but for display this set is also amazing, there is loads of detail and it looks good from the inside or the outside!
There is just one problem which many people have been concerned about, the price. Yes, the cost is high, the price per piece ratio is way off, but I honestly believe it is just about worth it! There are a lot of large parts in this set and a plethora of brand new moulds which will drive up the price, so when that is taken into account, I think the price, while still high, is far from extortionate.
This is a set which I highly recommend and if you have the money, do not hesitate to buy it. For fans of the Original Trilogy this set is really a must have and I do advise you to get it if you can. If you see it on sale, snap it up as soon as possible as it really is an absolutely delightful set which contains excellent minifigs, fantastic pieces, and a superb representation of the legendary Jabba's Palace.
Summary (by Huw)
There's no doubt that this is an excellent set. The completed model looks great from the front and the back, and the minifigs are, generally, excellent. As has been noted in the comments to the other parts of the review, they are not without fault, though. Chewie is showing his age now: his mould is crude compared to more recent ones and is overdue an update. Oola's mouth is visible below her headgear at the back of her head and Han's back isn't printed. Fairly minor points, and not really worth worrying much about, IMO.
What may seem more worrying, though, is the price, which at first glance seems astronomical. £120 for just over 700 pieces makes its price-per-piece high, although actually, it's on a par with other Star Wars and licensed sets. However, given the quality of the minifigs and the care that's gone into the design of the palace, I think it's probably just about worth it. I can't see many parents buying it for their kids, except maybe for Christmas, but for AFOL Star Wars fans, it's an essential purchase.