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Lego Star Wars
by Artemis

Everyone loves mobile artillery, right? Unless you're on the receiving end of it, naturally.

Descended from the All Terrain Personal Transport, the AT-AP (All Terrain Attack Pod) is armed with blaster cannons. Deployed with mechanized platoons, the scout's adjustable leg-suspension system gives stability and maneuverability.

That's from the Revenge of the Sith Visual Dictionary, which evidently didn't notice the sodding enormous gun sticking out the front of the thing - that's a mass driver, which is pretty much the whole purpose of the vehicle. Aren't all of these supposed to have been approved by Lucas, or something? Anyway, if you think "Attack Pod" is a silly name, it could be worse - the other option is the "Pod Attack Walker," or PAW. Someone's got "pod" on the brain - which is appropriate, since the All-Terrain Personal Transport this thing's allegedly descended from is just a copy of a Zentraedi battle pod.

The AT-AP is kind of the little yappy dog to the AT-TE's gruff bulldog (c'mon, you know the old Warner Bros. cartoon I'm talking about, right?) - it hangs around the big guy, occasionally doing something useful under specialised circumstances, but mostly relying on its larger, tougher sibling for protection. Those specialised circumstances are when something needs shooting but good, which is when the mass driver cycles up and puts a solid slug through it at a respectable multiple of the speed of sound - bolt on whatever armour you like, that's still going to leave a mark.

The AT-AP is a late entry from the Revenge of the Sith line, but it blends in well enough to pass with the current Clone Wars sets. Construction is fairly simple, starting out with the skeleton of the pod's body, the foundation frame and a central structure which will support the front, rear, and top armour, and by extension the main turret. Then on go the legs - the right and left drive legs, and the vehicle's weird little "stabiliser" middle leg - the armour, and the finishing details. The angled armour plates are all locked into place in the proper orientation one way or another, and the final vehicle is quite sturdy and stable, even with the central leg stowed away. Compared to the real thing, the Lego AT-AP's body is relatively larger than its legs, and the mass driver sits up higher, looking more like a low turret than an extension of the body itself, but it's still easily recognizable.

Since the vehicle's main function is to shoot a very big gun at things, let's start there. The mass driver is mounted between a pair of sturdy swivels, which let it change its angle from straight ahead to as far down as the forward hull will allow - since there's not much point firing an artillery piece at your own feet, let's assume that joint's just a means of mounting the thing at an angle on top of the hull and move on. Atop the cannon is a secondary turret, which swivels 360° - but only when the mass driver is tilted forwards, clearing the laser turret from a pair of rails that keep it facing forwards. Odd design, there. The walker has another laser cannon mounted beneath its "chin," which can't turn at all.

Since the main legs are busy keeping the whole thing from falling over, they're not articulated, but the stabiliser leg is - which means it's quite unstable. Yuk yuk yuk. It's generally kept folded up beneath the walker's body, but can be deployed to turn the vehicle into a tripod, allegedly to keep it steady while it's firing. I say "allegedly" because tripods are bollocks at not falling over, and in any case the stabiliser leg goes at the front, when any recoil from a mass driver is going to force the vehicle backwards. Which, incidentally, is also going to put tremendous strain on the ankle joints of the drive legs. It's not really the best-designed piece of artillery around.

Inside this haphazard insult to military design, accessible via either of two side hatchways, or just flipping the whole top up, is the crew compartment. Here we find a driver's station on the right side, a passenger station on the left (also containing a storage rack for the crew's two blaster rifles), and in the middle one of those green-yellow transparent cylinder blocks that a bunch of these clone trooper vehicles have, which I presume are meant to be power cores. Unlike the removable ones in the AT-TE, this one's fixed in place - I guess no-one cares enough about AT-AP crews to give them a core they can jettison in case of overload (let's face it, if they were important, they wouldn't be driving this thing).

To keep it happy and mobile, the AT-AP comes with two clone troopers, both in red-detailed armour, which probably means "vehicle crew" (or "expendable") or something. They're the later-style clones - Phase II or something - with more Stormtrooper-like armour and helmets, and in Lego terms, the open visors that allow whatever head is inside to show through. To provide the proper black-visored effect, their heads are therefore pure black. The slits are too high to match up to a standard Lego face's eyes anyway, so you can't stick a regular head in there and have them peering comically out of a clone trooper helmet; there're also no plug-in points for the current Phase I clone helmet accessories, like the visors and targeters and so on. The two figures are identical, which is why I didn't bother fishing the driver out of the pod for the photo, and of course - again if you remove them from the vehicle - they've each got a short-stock blaster rifle.

It's an odd set. You wouldn't want this one to start your collection with - it's too specific-purpose, too limited in its features, and let's be honest, it looks a bit goofy. If you're army-building it kind of fits in with the current AT-TE, but it's not quite at the same scale, and Star Wars purists will probably be loathe to mix the different clone armour styles. It's not a bad set, just not that great either - if you've got the other sets and just want more Lego it won't disappoint, but don't go to this one first of all.

-- 01/10/09


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