This week, a Pixar movie launches onto the screen. Lightyear is a movie that tells the story of Buzz Lightyear – not the toy, but the character that inspired it. This is the movie that Andy from Toy Story saw that started his adulation of Buzz.
My review will also have comments from Angus MacLane, director of the movie. We talked about the movie and LEGO on a Zoom session, courtesy of Pixar. As one of the people who were part of the design process of the sets, I asked for some thoughts about the set I reviewed.
My review set, courtesy of Pixar, was the XL-15 Spaceship (76832). It’s a $50 set with 497 pieces, three figures, and a cat. There are five bags or sections to build, an instruction book, a sticker sheet, and is a slightly complex build for the 8+ builder. I’m not showing the individual bags or steps because I went straight to the build and finished it over an evening. My review will spotlight the many features and very few flaws in the set.
The build experience is really nice. The main reason this took an entire evening was that the build was so much fun to do. When asked about the set, Angus is just as enthusiastic about it: “I’m really proud of the models that LEGO did. The build satisfaction, especially to the XL-15 is really quite something.” Angus was also responsible for a new part for LEGO space builders: a new windscreen in transparent yellow!
Bags 1, 3, and 4 have figures, with the first to be built being Buzz Lightyear. His outfit isn’t the one we are used to seeing in the Toy Story movies, but an outfit he wears in the movie. His chestpiece remains but is colored in gray. For additional building possibilities, the chestpiece has studs on the back.
Unlike the Buzz Lightyear minifigure that was released in the Toy Story sets, the chestpiece doesn’t have a visor – in fact, the center hole for the visor is gone. Buzz has a separate helmet that is from the current Space themed sets. He also has a gun that is only one piece that could benefit from a couple more parts – with the leftover parts, I added a barrel that would make the gun look like Buzz’s flare gun seen in the previews.
Stickers are used instead of brick printing. While it’s understood that the cost of a sticker sheet is much lower than a printed brick, aligning the stickers requires a steady hand. Admittedly, my sticker application skills are good, but not excellent.
One piece that doesn’t use a sticker is the crystolic core. This is a 1 x 1 transparent brick with prints of opposite sides. This is the first time that LEGO has done printing of this type and allows for the edge bars of the container to be depicted. Angus told me that LEGO almost went another direction: “Early on, that was a thing where I was like, ‘There’s no way you’re gonna spend your budget on a triangular part’. They wanted to do that but I also liked their final option because it’s LEGO (style) and square. ” Another printed part is seen in bag 2 as part of the cockpit – IVAN, the AI navigator computer, which is a removable cartridge. In the set, it is part of a 2 x 2 triangular tile and is depicted as a triangular module. However in the movie, it is a rectangular cartridge, so the design must have changed between production of the set and movie. The main purpose of the part, however, (being removable and holdable by minifigures) is still preserved.
The cockpit is a nicely designed build. A heads up display is implied with a click hinge base and the joystick isn’t the usual control lever, but a bar with a clip. I learned that the joystick was also meant to help keep IVAN in place. It’s a little odd not to have a seat or back for a minifigure to rest on, but Buzz’s chestpiece and the need to open space in the cockpit for Sox, the AI cat, required that the interior be open.
On the other hand, a few more steps down the way, and you get to build the wings, which isn’t a big deal until you attach them to the fuselage. Usually, an angled wing is a challenge to build and make sturdy. The common solution is to use click hinges, as they are rigid and have a set number of angles to work with. With the XL-15, another solution is used that takes advantage of technic pins and plates to make a solid angled wing at an angle that isn’t available with click hinges. It’s a really neat moment when the wing is swung into position and secured…it’s a really solid joint! This ties into something Angus mentions: “I didn’t know that angle worked. There’s always one thing in a LEGO set I fell like you can learn from and for me that angle on that set was something I was really excited about.”
Continuing down the construction of the set, the engine exhausts are another clever use of available parts. It took me a while to figure out what the element was, and it was only after I went online and asked did I find this element was a part of a larger assembly – it’s part of the new LEGO Technic differential. The structure of the part ws a perfect solution to fit an exhaust, complete with interior detail! Added bonus: it spins! The only issue is that this is the only part of the differential you’ll get in the set – if you wanted the complete element, you’re out of luck.
By the time the final bag is opened the majority of the model is done and it’s a matter of adding hatches and the base to finish. Here, one of the cargo spaces become a minor disappointment. The lower rear cargo compartment is meant to hold the crystolic fuel cell, and in the movie, it’s a place where the cell is plugged into the ship and is a tight fit – the cell snugly slides into the ship. In the set, the cell slides into an open space that is too wide – this is a area that looks like a place to modify!
The final assembly is the base, and the LX-15 attaches by a technic axle to make a solid joint. Overall, the build is very solid. As Angus notes, “It’s a really good build experience. They did a great job with that one, and I hope it brings them lot of success. It’s a good value set with the three figures and the cat and IVAN the computer. There’s a lot of good stuff there.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The preview review –
I was able to see a 30 minute clip of Lightyear, and I can say it feels like a typical Pixar movie. Of course, with a Pixar movie, expectations are elevated because they make movies so well. I saw two sequences, one that sets up the movie, and another that is further in that is a more comedic tone. This about a quarter of the movie, so ths review only reflects what I saw.
There’s a lot to unpack in just these two clips. Buzz Lightyear is still a Space Ranger, but he makes mistakes. He also tries to fix them, which takes up most of the first clip. There’s a sequence that is very evocative of Up that will bring some tears and also hammers home the science-fiction aspect of Lightyear.. In the second clip, it looks like different movie with the change in scene, but things didn’t move in space, they moved in time.
The casting of the Chris Evans as Buzz was originally viewed as a stunt cast, but it’s a good choice. The rest of the cast also do a great job with their characters, including Buzz’s fellow Space Ranger Alisha Hawthorne, voiced by Uzo Aduba. Aduba has an extra voice challenge in the movie, as you’ll see, that makes her performance outstanding. Buzz’s sidekick is Sox, a personal companion robot. Voiced by Peter Sohn, the cute robot in just the initial clip does something that proves to be very important, and it looks like he will do much more. In the second clip, the characters don’t have as much voice time, but you can hear the fun in Izzy Hawthorne’s voice (by Keke Palmer) and the hints of the eccentricities of Darby Steel (an older prison inmate on parole) and Mo Morrison (voiced by Taika Waititi), who can’t seem to load a harpoon gun!
The look of the film is a cleaned-up version of the Star Wars universe – everything is lived-in, but cared for. This changes later, as things break down and age. It’s a detailed world, and the art staff at Pixar do a really good job establishing an environment. Sharp-eyed viewers will see easter eggs to other sci-fi movies and Pixar flicks in some shots. The first clip easily sets the tone for the movie and for Buzz, with his mantra for ‘finishing the mission’ becoming his guide through his adventure, even when the mission changes drastically in the second clip.
The problem with the clips is that there is a sizable gap between the two clips and the last clip ends abruptly with Zurg boarding his personal ship. There’s a lot more that happened between and after those clips. My mission now is to see the rest of the movie, as should be yours!