I had been looking forward to visiting the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Manchester (again) since it was announced that there would be a Star Wars themed miniland exhibit. Although based on the much maligned Episode I: The Phantom Menace the mix of Star Wars and LEGO was enough to persuade me to make the long trip to Manchester to see the exhibit for myself!
To be honest I would have to say I was a little disappointed with the overall exhibit. Theed Palace and the pod race scene look great but the Battle of Naboo is disappointing.
Theed Palace looks amazing! The tan and blueish green bricks used to build the towers, rotundas and copulas look fantastic and although there are a lot of areas which have been sculpted from polystyrene or styrofoam and painted to reflect the cliff edges with shrubs and waterfalls, this only adds to re-create the beauty of the capital of Naboo.
The Palace entrance has the six statues of Naboo philosophers with a group of Battle Droids infiltrating the Palace while the forecourt also has a squadron of Battle Droids on the offensive.
The hangar bay re-creates the scene where Anakin takes off in a Naboo Starfighter while a battle between droids and Naboo Guards ensues!
The Pod Race scene is similarly re-created with a mixture of LEGO bricks and sculpted polystyrene on a sand base. Sebulba and Anakin’s pod racers are on a scalectrix type circuit as they fight it out for the Boonta Eve Classic. The course, which has the remnants of other competitors pods dispersed across it, runs around the Mos Espa Grand Arena.
The Mos Espa Grand Arena is as grand as the name suggests. The minifigures used to populate the arena add to the realism of the setting and you even have Jabba The Hutt and his enturage seated in his private box.
The Battle of Naboo is a bit under-whelming. The Battle of Naboo took place on the grassy plains of Naboo where the Gungan Army fought several thousand Battle Droids who were acompanied into battle by 48 MTT’s and 36 ATT’s. The LEGO recreation has two MTT’s and two ATT’s!
Personally I think the designers/creators of this exhibit would have been best staying clear of this sequence from the film as they would never be able to re-create something as imposing as the battle in the allotted area they had to work with. Having done such a wonderful job with the other two pieces which look amazing, the battle looks like a bit of an after thought. I would have much preferred a set from Coruscant like the Jedi Temple or have the Naboo Space Battle with a multitude of Naboo and Trade Federation starships suspended from the ceiling!