Review: LEGO UCS AT-AT delivers the biggest and best Star Wars set of the year

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While 2021 saw an unprecedented three USC LEGO Star Wars sets released, only one of them earns the title of being the largest creation from a galaxy far, far away this year. That would be the new UCS LEGO AT-AT, which towers over the current lineup with nearly 6,800 pieces. But is the set worth it’s lofty $800 price tag? Let’s take a closer look at this behemoth of a kit to end 2021.

Hands-on with the LEGO UCS AT-AT

Right away, the LEGO Group is setting expectations high with the unboxing experience. Ultimate Collector Series sets have long been heralded for the level of polish that graces every aspect of the collectible, and the LEGO AT-AT is just the latest example. In fact, it might even be one of the best executions yet. 

Delivering on the excitement from the second you cut the tape on the outside of the box, there’s some really nice artwork themed around the Imperial walker. It’s that kind of attention to detail that really sets the pace for an $800 set like this, and the LEGO Group really pulled out all the stops for the UCS AT-AT. You can follow along in my own amusement at opening the set right here, too.

But now, it’s onto the build. Clocking in with 6,785 pieces, there’s a lot of actual assembly in order to turn the fifty bags of bricks into a model ready to invade the Rebel Alliance on Hoth. I’d say that piecing together the UCS AT-AT took me around 12 hours or so, which is to say on the faster side compared to some of the other massive LEGO builds I’ve assembled over the past few days.

One of the things that made the build go by so quickly was just how refreshing the experience was. There’s a really nice mix of techniques like building the Technic frame to covering everything with all of the detail bricks. Even wit four identical legs and an overall symmetrical design, the instructions do a lot to keep things interesting.

Though once you finally place that final brick, you end up with an absolute behemoth of a model that stands over 24 inches tall. It really pulls off the source material and has quite the menacing look. All of those pieces of course make it not only the most authentic LEGO AT-AT to date, but maybe the most accurate UCS period.

Nearly all of the proportions are right as they should be, and the size makes it fit right in at minifigure scale. But there’s so much more to the build than just what you can see on the outside, so lets take a look at all of those notable features packed within 2021’s largest set.

Highlights on the new UCS Star Wars creation

On the outside of the LEGO UCS AT-AT, there’s really no sugar coating that the exterior is pretty flat and simple. But that’s just how it should be! Aside from its true to the big screen design overall, the real excitement is on the inside. And thanks to a series of panels which coat the model, accessing everything is pretty straightforward.

Each side of the Imperial walker has a removable panel which allows you to reveal all of the details on the furnished interior. It gives the build this really novel cross section look as if you had sliced into the model to showcase what lies under the armored exterior. These panels are also modular in that they can be split into three different sections, allowing you to show off just the engine room or some other aspect of the build. Though if you just want to reveal the landing area, there’s a really neat mechanism that lets you lift up the side door.

With the exterior removed, you can get a better look at the inside of the LEGO UCS AT-AT. Right off the bat, I bet you’re thinking wow that’s a lot of chairs! And you’re right to, as there are four included in the set in order to be authentic to the real deal. Or I guess what you’d actually find in the Star Wars universe.

In true UCS fashion, this also marks the first time that the LEGO Group has gotten one of the details on the AT-AT correct. For the past 20 odd years of the Star Wars theme, there has never been a model that got the red visor correct on the front of the walker’s head. And speaking of, the two main guns located beneath the cockpit actually move in the right way, as when one is pushed back it will bring the other forward.

One of the real triumphs of the UCS AT-AT was that the LEGO Group finally figured out a way to recreate such a gangly-looking walker in a way that can actually hold itself up. Previously thought to be an unclimbable mountain of a LEGO set, this newfound success is thanks to a unique joint technique that allows the build to actually be sturdy enough for displaying in your collection.

Each leg has two of these brick-built gear boxes which allow you to adjust the pitch and position of the limbs without sacrificing on stability. This approach does come with something of a trade-off, as all of the LEGO AT-AT models beforehand (sans the motorized version) had the ability to just adjust the legs with easy to move ratchet joints.

This time around, you’ll need to bust out the included LEGO screwdriver in order to make any adjustments. It’s pretty simple to do, and since this is a display model you’ll likely only do it once right during assembly. Some will lament this execution, but I really think it’s hardly a compromise in the first place and gives us what I had thought would never be done in LEGO form at this scale.

Not without its flaws

As impressive of a model as the latest UCS creation is, it isn’t without some shortcomings. Earlier I noted just how much all of the effort to create a sturdy model paid off with the unique leg mechanisms, but it seems like that was the end of the set designer’s focus on stability. There are so many little sections throughout the build that seem like there wasn’t much thought put into how they actually connect to the model.

The worst offender has to be the little accents to each of the legs, which is attached with a single stud. The LEGO Group could have easily swapped out that connection for something much less likely to fall off if you so much as look at it the wrong way.

To be fair, this is a display model and not everything has to be able to stand up to the durability you’d find on playset builds. It just seems like once the designer cracked the code on the legs, everything else didn’t matter. This is a small gripe in the grand scheme of things, but worth mentioning that as good as the LEGO UCS AT-AT is, it’s still not perfect by any means.

Minifigures are a nice touch, but nothing too special

As for minifigures, there’s nothing all too exciting on this front. Though, it’s really nice to see such a wide range of characters included, with nine included in the box. There’s notably General Veers with new dual-molded legs as well as a pair of AT-AT drivers. Four Snowtroopers and an exclusive Snowtrooper Commander go a long way towards filling all 40 of the walker’s seats, which is also a nice touch. Luke Skywalker rounds out the set with his Rebel pilot garb.

Does the LEGO UCS AT-AT feel like it’s worth $800?

The biggest question with the LEGO UCS AT-AT is if the creation is really worth its steep price tag. After all, $800 is an absurd amount of money in any context let alone one of the collectible variety. And the short answer is absolutely. But hat doesn’t mean it’s the best value out there for LEGO Star Wars fans.

Tying the price of the LEGO UCS Millennium Falcon, the former record holder that now shares its title with the AT-AT gives the 2021 release a run for its money. I won’t necessarily say that one set is better than the other, as it really depends on what you’re looking for. The Imperial walker here is about as authentic and accurate as can be, while the brick-built recreation of the fastest ship in the galaxy carries with it all of the charm and stature that you’d expect the face of Star Wars to have.

9to5Toys’ Take: 

The long and short of this review is that the AT-AT is the best LEGO set of the year period. Our top ten list of sets details what the runners up were, but reigning supreme for 2021 is none other than the latest and greatest from a galaxy far, far away. So at least for LEGO Star Wars, bigger seems to always be better.

Though it’s just not the size that makes this such a good model, it’s all of the details that were packed in along the way. Easily my favorite aspect of this set is that it is actually minifigure-scale, which means it fits in perfectly with tons of other LEGO sets. It pairs perfectly with the 20th anniversary Snowspeeder from the other year and fittingly dwarfs the Microfighter Tauntaun from the beginning of 2021.

So at the end of the day, the UCS AT-AT is about as authentic as can be from the blocky medium that is LEGO. Which in my book, makes it everything I could want from a collectible like this. I’m not going to sit here typing this and say that $800 isn’t a lot of cash, but as far as LEGO sets go, you’re certainly getting your money’s worth out of a set like this.

If you don’t plan on buying the LEGO UCS AT-AT anytime soon, you can feast your eyes on all of the details in the galley below.

Buy the LEGO UCS AT-AT now

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