Featured Review: 75290 Mos Eisley Cantina by Patrick Barnes

As part of our new Monthly Newsletter initiative, longtime LUG member and Star Wars fanatic Patrick Barnes has written an extensive in-depth review of 75290 Mos Eisley Cantina for out LUG website. Read on!

“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars (1977)

Patrick: For almost half a century, the Mos Eisley Cantina has been captivating die-hard Sci-Fi fans, as well as introducing new ones to the galaxy far, far away known as Star Wars. The shady characters and aliens, the iconic jazzy Cantina theme and the events that take place within have all become synonymous with Star Wars, and it’s hard to imagine the universe without Chalmun’s Cantina on that dusty, backwater planet of Tatooine. Naturally, with such prominence in the original Star Wars movie, toys would soon follow the film release, and kids and adults alike could finally bring a piece of the Cantina home. This originally appeared in the form of the 1977 Kenner Action Figures, where Cantina patrons could be purchased under aliases like “Hammerhead” and “Walrus Man”.

In 2004, Lego tried their hand at their first Chalmun’s Cantina with set 4501, most notably featuring the original Greedo minifigure with arm-printing, as well as the first Dewback build (reptilian beast ridden by Imperial troopers in the movie). The Cantina build itself was considered quite poor, even for the time, though subsequent Cantina builds (75052 in 2014 and 25205 in 2018) drastically improved on the original structure by including more booths, as well as Cantina band members and the bartender, Wuher. It wasn’t until 2020, with the title set 75290: MBS Mos Eisley Cantina, that Lego finally released an accurate, large, figure-filled set, and in my opinion, finally did the iconic scene justice.

The Build

Weighing in at 3,187 pieces and 21 minifigures, the 75290 Cantina comprises of everything seen above; Chalmun’s Cantina, two separate Tatooine buildings, two speeders, two moisture vaporators and the Dewback. The build was super enjoyable, much more like building a Creator or City set than a Star Wars set, as much of it comprised of brick-on-brick building rather than the pin/beam/Technic nature of most modern Star Wars sets. The build also came together really nicely, being assembled in large, individual portions before being combined together. Once the initial structure was done, adjoining sections were attached, such as the Dewback pen and the other buildings. *Tan background baseplates and plates holding figures NOT included*

On note of the initial structure, isolating it from the minifigures and other buildings shows an imposing but accurate depiction of the Cantina. Nice angles are used to show how the structure is not just a square, and contrasting light and dark grey elements against the tan and dark tan building add believable detail to what a run-down bar on a seedy planet could look like.

Removable roofs, ratcheted dome pieces and sliding doors provide excellent access to the interior, which is now visible with a significant bar assembly, booths, tables, and a stage for the band. All roof sections are either fixed via one or two studs, or simply laid on; However, once the roof sections are removed..

The Cantina can open up! Multiple hinges allows the Cantina to open from both sides, leaving the bar in the middle and providing lots of playable/usable space to display figures. I included the figures to flesh out the build and give an idea what it looks like occupied; I really love this angle!! All booths can now be accessed, including a booth with launching mechanisms for Han and Greedo, as well as behind the bar and in Wuher’s back room. The build re-combines with only a single pin, meaning transporting the structure between rooms might be dangerous, however once reassembled it feels very solid and sturdy.

Moving away from the Cantina, above we see both side structures, as well as their interiors. The structure on the left is supposed to be a small house of some kind, and while it does not have a full back or a closable door, the house is still very effective and looks like something seen on screen in Episode 4. I especially like the greebling on the removable roof sections, implying some air circulation or conditioning in the building below. The structure on the right, however, feels more complete, and can also open via hinges, with a sliding door and a ratcheted dome. This structure is implied to be a Jawa shop, and while I don’t know if a Jawa shop is seen on Tatooine, other than the Sandcrawler, it definitely feels like something that could be found on the planet, and it could just as easily be a shop for someone else. There are less surface-level details on this hut, but it uses a nice cloth piece as an overhang for the shop window below, which I think gives it the edge out of the two for better assemblies. Both structures can attach to each other via clips, which can then attach to the larger Cantina. Initially, I did not like the inclusion of smaller buildings as it felt like an excuse to bump the pieces- and therefore the price- up, but I actually think they add a lot to the build and the overall scene, it also allows the Cantina to have a sort of “courtyard” outside, where figures and speeders can be placed, as seen below.

Finally, the set also includes three other, smaller builds in the (L to R) V-35 Courier Landspeeder, the Dewback with Sandtrooper saddle assembly, and the Ubrikkian 9000 Landspeeder. All three are seen on Tatooine and therefore are valid, welcomed inclusions in the set, though a personal favourite is the V-35, as it’s the first time we’ve received this in Lego, and it has a super slick design. It can seat two people, with a windscreen that needs to be completely removed for access to one. The Dewback is new for this set because of a SLIGHTLY updated eye print and slightly different saddle build, otherwise it would exactly like the one found in 2014s Cantina- which is totally fine, its very effective. It also includes a small, olive green back build (not pictured) you can swap out the saddle for, which I guess allows you to have off-the-clock or wild Dewbacks. Finally, the Ubrikkian 9000, which contains more stickers than the rest of the set combined, is a fine inclusion. It is slightly updated from its 2018 variant with opaque black windscreens instead of clear, and also dropping the stud-shooter. I’ve always found these a little silly, not really resembling a speeder at all, but I have to hand it to Lego, it looks exactly like it did in the movie.

The Minifigures

As stated previously, the set includes 21 minifigures. I have divided these figures into categories based on rarity for review, as well as valuation purposes- more exclusive figures in a set, more desirable those figures, and therefore that set will be!

The five most common minifigures of the set are found above, which are (L to R) R2-D2, C-3PO, a Jawa, Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca. Now, these figures being here does not imply they are not desirable, nor are they not necessary inclusions in the set. They just use existing prints and designs from previous figures, meaning they are not new and less valuable. Surprisingly, the rarest of the five above is R2, utilizing a new print introduced in 2019/2020. C-3PO, Luke and Chewie are all pretty common, as the most accurate versions of these characters, and the Jawa can be acquired from the new Luke’s Landspeeder and the Tatooine Battle Pack. I guess standout figs of the lot are Luke and 3PO for the accurate printing, though I’d like to see another 3PO with side leg printing.

The following lot of minifigures I have deemed “pseudo-rare”, where they can be acquired from another set but maybe only one or two others. Left to right, they are the three Bith Musicians, Wuher, Greedo, Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The least rare of the lot is definitely Han Solo, who has appeared in other sets, and even in the 2018 Cantina. However, he is an essential inclusion in the set and contains the desirable newer head and hair combo, giving him the edge. Wuher and Greedo are identical to their 2018 appearance in the 75205 Cantina, but are found only in that set otherwise (in this version at least. This is Greedos third iteration). Greedo appearing identical to how he did in 2018, which was even a step down from 2014, was a bit disappointing, as myself and other fans expected arm-printing as a callback to his original 2004 figure, but he is still an effective figure and necessary counterpart to Han. Obi-Wan utilizes the new hood piece, and is exclusive to the Cantina other than his lowkey appearance last year in 75246- Death Star Cannon. Finally, the Bith Musicians (of which there are three in the set) are identical to how they appeared in the 2014 Cantina, but this is an acceptable compromise as a) if you own both sets you can create one, larger band, and b) the 2014 design for the Bith Musicians was excellent and worth reusing. Therefore, the standouts of the lot are the Biths, and Obi with the exclusive hood.

Finally, no good Star Wars Ultimate Collectors Series or Master Builder Series set would be complete without some exclusive figures, and in this set there are nine. From left to right, they are Sandtrooper Squad Leader, Sandtrooper, Hrchek Kal Fas, Ponda Baba, Dr. Evazan, Momaw Nadon, Kabe, Labria and Garindan. Other than the Sandtroopers, all of these characters are brand new for Lego, which, as a Star Wars minfigure collector, I couldn’t be happier! These are all valid and necessary inclusions for a large Cantina set- what kind of bar would be complete without patrons? The Sandtroopers are considered new because of updated backpack builds, as well as head variations below their helmets. All the figures otherwise utilize brand new head prints, new head molds, new torso prints and new leg prints (in the case of Momaw). The standouts for me out of this crew have got to be Garindan, as we’ve been overdue the Imperial Spy in Lego for YEARS, as well as Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba. The duo were also long overdue, and if a mid-sized cantina set was made between this size and the older, smaller ones, I had always hoped it would include at least those two. Finally, I really like the printing on Momaw especially, as well as Kabe’s torso, which just SCREAMS 70s. Overall, fantastic figure selection.

Final Thoughts

I preface this with; everyone knows Lego is expensive, its synonymous with the brand itself at this point. That being said, its still polarizing, for me at least, to drop $449.99 on a Lego set; that is no insignificant chunk of change. However, I’m happy to confirm that this set FEELS like hundreds of dollars worth of Lego. It FEELS like a premium product, with instructions containing facts and blurbs about the characters, vehicles, and settings the set is depicting. They give you plenty of figures to occupy the Cantina, and its designed to be opened and occupied. The set functions as both a play and display piece, which is where I think the line is drawn between this set and others in a similar vain such as set 75098 UCS Assault on Hoth and set 75222 MBS Betrayal at Cloud City. From any angle, both exterior and interior, this set looks concise and whole, as if every detail was meticulously considered to ensure all boxes are checked. And other than a minor gripe about exclusive minifigure selection (or there lack of), it checks every box for me too.

I rate this set a slimy and villainous 9.5/10, and it appropriately takes its place in my top five Lego sets ever!

A big thanks to Patrick for writing this thorough review!