75313 AT-AT: The Ultimate Review

Whether you say “aye-tee aye-tee” or simply pronounce it as “AT-AT”, the Imperial walker (which is the only way it has ever been enunciated in a Star Wars movie) ranks high up on the list of iconic Star Wars vehicles, and – with the release of 75313 AT-AT – this iconic weapon-of-mass-disheartenment is a well-deserved addition to the Ultimate Collector Series subtheme.

The design history of this classic four-legged troop transport is clouded, with some sources claiming George Lucas based it on the tripods from War of the Worlds (HG Wells, 1898), while others state that Joe Johnston – the art director on The Empire Strikes Back – was either inspired by a quadrupedal mech prototype built for the United States Army in the late 1960s or an extinct rhinoceros. (And then there’s the persistent – but long debunked – rumor that the dockside cranes at the Port of Oakland were the true root of the AT-AT’s initial concept.)

It was Johnston who ultimately had the biggest influence on what the Imperial walkers looked like, when – in close consultation with Lucas – he drew the preliminary sketches while the second Star Wars film was in pre-production, and later helped to finalize their appearance when he storyboarded the movie prior to ILM’s post-production involvement.

Whatever their source was, they went down in cinematic history thanks to the skill and patience of Jon Berg and Phil Tippet, who – together – constructed and perambulated the AT-ATs seen in The Empire Strikes Back.

The first AT-AT to make the step from paper to the physical world was built by Berg, a miniature maker working for ILM. He constructed a number of models ranging from two to 20 inches (six to 50 centimeters), with those in the foreground being made of rubber with a jointed metal skeleton built as part of the stop-motion model.

Tippet, who lead the ILM stop-motion team during the production of The Empire Strikes Back, was inspired at an early age when he watched The Seven Voyages of Sinbad and fell in love with the work of Ray Harryhausen, the legendary stop-motion animator.

They were very complicated engineering problems that Jon Berg needed to solve because all of the joints were actually exposed. Most stop-motion puppets have articulated skeletons that are embedded deep within the rubber, so they merely have to be functional, but not visible. Jon had to design this series of joints that would work and that had very complicated compound moves, angles, and invent a number of different stop-motion joints that would work with Joe’s design. He had a great deal of internal mechanisms so that if you move the leg, it would automatically move pistons so you wouldn’t have to hand-animate them — the pistons would drive themselves.

Quote: Phil Tippet (Source: StarWars.com)

Though he choose the gait of an elephant to base the AT-AT’s movements on, Tippet was unable to mirror the animal’s fluid motion, which was developed over 60 million years of evolution. Nonetheless, the staccato-like pace was perfect for the mechanical nature of the AT-AT.

Toy-wise, it was Kenner who first introduced this massive vehicle to bedroom floors when they released their All Terrain Armored Transport toy in the Fall of 1981, and set the standard for years to come. Hasbro took up the gauntlet in 1997 when they released the Electronic Imperial AT-AT Walker, but rather than create a whole new toy for the recently launched and rebooted Power of the Force line, they used the original molds of the Kenner vehicle, albeit with several modifications to distinguish it from its vintage counterpart.

The first LEGO version came in in 1999 when they released 9754 Mindstorms Dark Side Developer Kit, a collection of sets that combined TECHNIC and System elements with a rudimentary robotics package to the Star Wars lineup in 1999, it was technically possible to build an AT-AT that walked. Sadly the build only remotely resembles the Imperial Walker, and its lurching gait was a bigger weakness than its susceptibility to being tripped up by tow cables.

This was followed by a proper minifigure-scale System version – 4483 AT-AT – released in May 2003, which was followed by the Miniscale version (4489 AT-AT) in June of that year. Since the start of the LEGO Star Wars license, there have been a total of 20 different versions – little and large – including the newly minted Ultimate Collector Series version.

75313 AT-AT

This is the AT-AT (75313) that every LEGO® Star Wars™ fan has been waiting for. This epic Ultimate Collector Series build-and-display model features posable legs and head, cannons with a realistic recoil action, rotating cannons, bomb-drop hatch and a hook to attach to Luke Skywalker’s line, just like in the Battle of Hoth. The AT-AT measures over 24.5 in. (62 cm) high and is easily opened to view the detailed interior. The main body has space for 40 LEGO minifigures (General Veers and Luke Skywalker are among 9 in this set), 4 speeder bikes (2 included) and the included E-Web heavy repeating blaster. The head/cockpit seats 2 LEGO minifigures and has space for 1 more. An information plaque completes a magnificent display piece. This collectible LEGO Star Wars set for adults makes a special gift for yourself, Star Wars fans and any advanced LEGO builder. It comes with clear instructions so you can enjoy every step of the immersive and challenging build.

    • Build and display the first-ever LEGO® Star Wars™ Ultimate Collector Series version of an AT-AT (75313) from the Battle of Hoth in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
    • Includes 9 LEGO® Star Wars™ minifigures – General Veers, Luke Skywalker, Snowtrooper Commander, 4 Snowtroopers and 2 AT-AT Drivers – plus an information plaque to complete a stunning centerpiece.
    • This epic, buildable model features posable legs and head, opening hatches, cannons with a realistic recoil action, rotating cannons, bomb-drop hatch, and a hook to attach to Luke Skywalker’s line.
    • The AT-AT has panels that lift-off to reveal the interior. The main body has space for up to 40 LEGO® minifigures, 4 speeder bikes (2 included) and the included E-Web heavy repeating blaster.
    • This 6,785-piece set offers a complex and rewarding build and makes the best birthday present or holiday gift for yourself, any Star Wars™ connoisseur and advanced LEGO® builder.
    • Measuring over 24.5 in. (62 cm) high, 27 in. (69 cm) long and 9.5 in. (24 cm) wide, this brick-built LEGO® Star Wars™ UCS model makes an awesome display piece in any room.
    • Are you a Star Wars™ fan who is new to LEGO® sets? Don’t worry. It comes with clear instructions so you can take your time and tackle this complex build step by step.
    • Collectible LEGO® Star Wars™ sets for adults are designed for discerning hobbyists who enjoy fun DIY projects to relax in a mindful and creative way.
    • LEGO® components meet stringent industry standards to ensure compatibility and a simple, strong connection for robust builds.
    • LEGO® bricks and pieces are tested in almost every way imaginable to make sure that they satisfy rigorous global safety standards.

Ages Pieces VIP Points Item Minifigures Value

Overshadowing the rest of the Ultimate Collector Series is the new 75313 AT-AT, which not only outclasses them with regards to scale and detail but in the size of the box it comes in too.

When a model completely dwarfs the packaging it came in, there’s absolutely no doubting that it is big – and in the case of a set that comes in a box that’s the size of a nightstand, you know that 75313 AT-AT is staggeringly big.

The standard that LEGO has employed with this set is evidenced with the graphics on all the outer box’s panels, which shows off the scale of the set as well as illustrating its features.

The grandstanding doesn’t stop there because the internal boxes are just as entrancing, with an illustration of the advancing AT-ATs depicted when the four boxes are stacked up and the underside of each showing the snowy imprints of the AT-AT’s feet.

Subtle flashes on the front panel of each of the four boxes indicate what order to build the set in, and highlighting on the decorative illustration shows what each stage of the build is comprised of:

  • Box 1 – framework, hips and upper legs (plus adjustment tool)
  • Box 2 – feet and lower legs
  • Box 3 – main body framework, troop compartment and neck (including General Veers and two AT-AT Driver minifigures)
  • Box 4 – head/cockpit, armor panels, speeder bikes, e-web cannon and UCS data plate (as well as the remaining snowtrooper and Luke Skywalker minifigures)

Cracking into the first box reveals a surprise – the instructions aren’t printed as one large book, but as four separate pamphlets. This means that the build is more digestible and can also be started at any one of the four boxes, rather than the first page of the typical instruction book. This does have the effect that the traditional preamble/essay is broken up over the four booklets, but also means that the paper is less likely to get dog-eared through the course of the build.

Diving into the first box, the immensity of 75313 AT-AT’s scale becomes clear and with the second stage complete, the model begins to take on the look of an Imperial walker (though with a hint of a threadbare Daggit).

It’s at this point the lengths that Andersen and his team of collaborators went to to ensure that the build is structurally sound begins to reveal itself and with the importance of a solid structure, appropriate detailing, and the necessary articulation, it’s clear that this section took Andersen a great deal of effort to get right – especially since it bears the mass of the UCS AT-AT.

Consulting with the Technic team, lead designer Markus Kossman suggested using the newly developed arc element as a stabilizer and a design element.

“They help distribute the weight of the model evenly among a total of eight wheels placed on top of the arc elements.”

The use of this new element in the legs and feet met the design and function requirement, and load testing showed that this assemblage would provide a secure foundation for the model.

Not quite ready to move on from the legs, LEGO took the articulation one step further and included worm gears in each joint. These are positioned in the turntables in the knees and hips, and when turned using the brick-built adjustment tool included with the set, it’s possible to incrementally reposition the legs in such a fashion that Tippet would immediately recognize. Once posed, the friction between the worm gears and turntable ensures the legs are locked in place.

Through the course of the build, you’ll get an understanding of how large this set is going to be, but it’s only when completing the feet do you get the first true indicator of the scale of this set.

Building the third and fourth boxes add the dressing that gives the model its iconic cockpit and distinct look, and throughout the build, there are details – like the cockpit’s views cope, the Octan-like fuel cells, the speeder bike compartment, and sand blue seating in the troop compartment, and the small access hatch in the underbelly that Luke used to access the inner mechanism – that long-term LEGO and Star Wars fans will get a kick out of.

Completing the set’s inventory are nine minifigures, and while this isn’t an earth-shattering number for a UCS set, it’s more than enough to fulfill the basic requirements (though definitely not enough to overrun a Rebel base).

Representing the Rebel Alliance is Luke Skywalker in his orange flight suit, and comes readily armed with a lightsaber, thermal detonator, and hoist cable. At this point, it’s worth noting that the AT-AT that Luke destroyed with a thermal detonator was not the one carrying General Veers, who went on to destroy the shield generator and survived the Battle of Hoth.

Fronting for the Empire are a whole slew of minifigures, first and foremost is General Veers (who comes with a pair of macrobinoculars).

Alongside him in the AT-AT’s cockpit are two AT-AT Drivers. Though they come in matching uniforms, underneath their helmets they are distinctly different with one having light nougat coloring with a male face print and the other a regular nougat tone and a female print. Each comes armed with a short blaster pistol, which has a handy holder between their seats.

Sat back in the cheap seats are four Snowtrooper minifigures and their Snowtrooper Commander. The distinction between the rank and file prints and that of the commissioned officer is subtle, so look for an Imperial rank emblem on the upper left breast. Again, displaying diversity, these foot soldiers of the Empire come with a variety of skin tones and gender-revealing face prints.

Could it be improved? Sure; a few more minifigures would have been nice, a mechanism to make the chin guns ratchet back and forth would have gone down well, and a snowscaped base for the UCS plate (like the one that came with 75306 Imperial Probe Droid) would have been a particularly nice touch. But while you can ask for everything, you should know that expecting every little detail an AFOL can come up with is beyond reasonable expectations.

That said, one particular irk that should have never have been approved is the small handle that moves the head back and forth. Not only is it weak and prone to popping loose, but it can only be accessed by removing one of the large armor plating panels.

While the price tag might be prohibitive for many LEGO Star Wars fans, and the build isn’t for the faint-hearted, a fully built 75313 AT-AT would prove to be a spectacular addition to anyone’s collection given enough budget and display space.

Released on November 26th (Black Friday 2021), 75313 AT-AT is currently exclusive to the LEGO shop@home website and its global network of brand stores:

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