LEGO Fans Claim $800 AT-AT Is Hard If Not Impossible to Rebuild

The complicated pieces at the heart of LEGO's new Star Wars set is frustrating some fans.
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Image: LEGO promotional photograph.

A Star Wars–themed LEGO set is causing trouble for fans who want to rebuild the set. 

At $800 and 6,785 pieces, LEGO’s new Star Wars AT-AT is one of the most expensive and complicated LEGO sets ever produced. At more than two feet high and almost a foot long, it’s also one of the largest. Once the enormous Imperial Walker is finished, however, it’s time to either display the beast or tear it down to rebuild it. According to some LEGO fans, rebuilding the LEGO AT-AT is difficult due to some complicated interlocking parts, something some fans said is against the very spirit of LEGO.

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BRICKSET, a website dedicated to all things LEGO, sounded the alarm on the AT-AT. “Traditionally, LEGO sets are designed to be assembled and, should you wish, taken apart to allow you to use the pieces for your own creations,” an article on BRICKSET said. “However, the company's latest release, 75313 AT-AT, has broken from this tradition and some sub-assemblies within it are impossible to dismantle without resorting to using sharp metal implements.”

According to BRICKSET, the problem lies with theTechnic pieces that LEGO started introducing in 2009. These modular frames and complicated pieces help LEGO craft large and intricate frames of sets like the AT-AT and the Lamborghini Sian FKP 37. BRICKSET said that once this AT-AT frame is constructed, it’s all but impossible to pull apart.

“The assembly cannot be dismantled conventionally: there is only one way to do it. The green pin connector has a slit in it large enough for a knife blade. It's just about possible to use one to move the 4l axle fractionally, just enough to grip the end of it. However, it comes at the cost of damaging the axle,” BRICKSET said. “I am quite surprised that this passed LEGO's stringent model review, to be honest.”

The comments on the post are full of people complaining about a recent trend in LEGO’s design philosophy. “Lego's efforts on capitalizing on the [adult fans of LEGO] market make them shift their focus from playability and reusability to making display pieces,” user “Arnoldos” said. “Such large sets are simply being built once and then put in a display case or gather dust. There are much fewer sets now that spark creativity on the user end than there were 20 years ago.”

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The rebuild-ability of an $800 LEGO Star Wars set may seem like it’ll only affect a narrow portion of the fan base, but people are already talking about the issue on Reddit. “How to remove??” Redditor Few-Worldliness-4692 asked under a picture of the offending frame.

“That's the neat part. You don't,” is the top comment in the thread. Another user pointed to a YouTube video that purported to show how LEGO fans how to disassemble the piece. In the end, the LEGO fan used a knife to pry the thing apart.

“Got it removed with a very sharp knife, pretty annoying lego would use this technique in a set,” they said in reply to their own thread. 

The joy of LEGO is not just in the building but in the constant rebuilding and iteration. The internet is full of people who pulled apart LEGO sets and rebuilt them using slightly different pieces. This multicolored AT-AT (built using the design instructions of an older and much smaller AT-AT LEGO set) is a striking psychedelic piece. Here’s a child’s AT-AT constructed from Duplo blocks.

According to LEGO fans, this isn’t the first time the company has released a set that’s hard to disassemble. “I just spent a week chipping away at disassembling my Bugatti Chiron to get it back in to a Tupperware bin,” mittinger77 said on Reddit. “Mind you, I broke it down to each individual piece so it could be rebuilt like new again in the future. I’d never had such a challenge as I did with the Chiron, lots of interlocking pins that made separating it very challenging at times.”

Typically the harder to disassemble sets are expensive recreations of cars and machines from Star Wars. They’re collector’s items, typically, sold at a premium price and marketed to LEGO’s adult fans. But there’s still hundreds of reasons fans may want to pull apart their giant LEGO sets, even if it’s just to experience the joy of putting them back together.

“All LEGO sets are designed to be rebuildable, including the LEGO Star Wars AT-AT,” Lego told Motherboad. “This set is a complex build intended for those aged 18+ and uses Technic pieces to secure elements of the set. Once assembled, these pieces can sometimes be more difficult to take apart, but it is still possible. In the case of the elements that attach the upper body to the lower part of the set, builders should tap to the side of the Technic rod until it starts to stick out and then remove it using the LEGO tool which is provided with the set.  Alternatively, you can ease the model onto its side and the rods will come out.  Regarding the pieces used to construct the legs; once assembled the Technic rods can be removed by pushing the rod from one end and securing the end of it with your fingernail. Then push back the cross-axel extender and keep repeating this movement until enough of the end protrudes out to be able to remove it.”