At Wargamer, we’re writing more and more about Lego these days. There are loads of reasons for that, but mostly they boil down to ‘it’s freakin’ awesome’ – and few new Lego sets demonstrate that fundamental truth better than the newly revealed Lego Dune Ornithopter. I love it with all my heart, and not just because when my hands don’t have some kind of military or fantasy model to build, I’m forced to ponder the endless void that awaits us all.
This brand new Lego Icons set was revealed on Tuesday, October 24, and will be on pre-order until it comes out on February 1, 2024. While I may not have the $165 on me right now to reserve myself one, you better believe this just nabbed the #1 spot on my Christmas list.
How do I love the Atreides Royal Ornithopter? Let me count the ways.
Its existence corrects a historic injustice
Perusing the many great Lego sets for adults, the lists of Ultimate Collector Series and Lego Icons sets read like a who’s who of fiction’s greatest vehicles, dominated by spectacular Star Wars Lego sets such as the UCS Millennium Falcon and Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing.
Were you a tiny minifigure walking the Lego hangars, admiring each legendary aircraft recreated in brick form, you’d find George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away greatly overrepresented – and rightly so; Star Wars rocks.
But without Dune – Frank Herbert’s glorious, deeply political, occasionally impenetrable sci-fi novel series that kicked off way back in 1965 – there would be no Star Wars. Lucas’ movies are bursting with clear Dune influences, from desert planets and moisture farmers, to galactic empires, to ancient religions and mind control powers, to spice-based drugs, and a lot more.
It’s barely even controversial to suggest that, without Ornithopters – Herbert’s meticulously described, bug-winged terrestrial light aircraft – there would be no T-65 X-Wing. I mean, look at them; they’re both dragonflies. They just are.
Seeing Ornithopters so exquisitely realised in Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 movie was a joy for Dune fans, but a crucial, brick shaped piece of the pop culture puzzle was still missing – until now. The existence of an authentic, fully detailed Lego Ornithopter is a rare victory for cosmic justice, and we should rejoice.
Its form is immaculate
Admittedly, the credit for this Lego set’s sexy looks can be traced back to the 2021 movie’s brilliant artists and designers for their spot-on interpretation of the ‘Thopter (and, before that, to the inscrutable splendor of evolution by natural selection, for causing dragonflies to exist).
But we should still praise those delightful Danes at Lego for truly whole-assing the job of recreating the craft in buildable form. The eight poseable, slender, insectoid wings are the pièce de résistance here; mounting them on articulated Lego Technic shoulder joints allows them to slide in and out, extending for flight, or folding flat to the fuselage once landed.
Naturally, I can’t be sure until I get my hands on this beauty, but I’d lay a small bet right now, based only on the pictures, that posing and re-posing those wings is going to be more satisfying than crude human language can encapsulate.
It includes the best Lego minifigure ever made
I don’t write this lightly, for among the annals of the best and rarest Lego minifigures are some of the finest pieces of figurine art ever created by human hands – but the Lego Baron Vladimir Harkonnen minifig included with this set is, by some margin, the best Lego figurine I have ever seen, or am ever likely to.
It’s probably one of my all-time favorite tiny plastic figures of any kind, in fact – and that’s no mean feat given that I own thousands of miniatures, drawn from at least 12 Warhammer 40k factions and eight Age of Sigmar armies – not to mention half a dozen other miniature wargames besides.
Baron Harkonnen is a villain defined by three things above all: his devious intelligence; his bizarre physical appearance as a flying fat man; and his deliberate, grotesque perversion relative to the accepted norms of his society. It’s tricky to show devious intelligence in printed plastic, but the Baron’s tiny Lego counterpart manages to embody the latter two qualities beautifully.
The tiny Baron hovers above the ground on a transparent flying base, his long, wiggly, flowing robe just failing to hide his enormous belly – short of adding visible pustules, skin diseases, and a removable heart plug, he couldn’t have been any better. He breaks all the rules for what size and shape Lego minifigures should be, and that’s absolutely perfect for him.
The set’s a winner in terms of general minifig selection too, by the way; Dune fans will also be adding the first ever minifigure versions of Paul Atreides, Chani, Lady Jessica Atreides, Duke Leto Atreides, Gurney Halleck, Dr. Liet Kynes, and Duncan Idaho to their collection, and that excites me greatly.
Lego Baron Harkonnen in particular, though, will haunt my dreams until he is mine.
It implies the existence of more Dune Lego to come
At a very basic level, I believe that the more Dune, the better. With the runaway box office success of Villeneuve’s first Dune movie, we fans were guaranteed not just more movies, but two other precious jewels: first, that there would be more Dune stuff coming out; and, second, that that stuff would be based on the aesthetic touchstones of a great adaptation, not a terrible one.
The initial crop of new Dune board games and tabletop RPGs has already been harvested, and it’s generally a good one. Dune: War for Arrakis – CMON’s mammoth war board game by the designer of War of the Ring – raised over $1.3 million (£1.07 million) on Kickstarter in 2022, and is due to ship out this month. War for Arrakis is based on the books, not the new movie IP – but I doubt it would exist if not for Dune’s big-screen revival.
To my imperfect knowledge, however, up until Tuesday, October 24, 2023, we had seen not a single brick or translucent stud of official Dune Lego. Now, though, the door’s open for any number of iconic Dune Lego sets to become a reality. Just off the top of my head, I’d love to see:
- UCS Spacing Guild Heighliner
- Guild Navigator minifigures
- Sand Worms
- Sietch Tabr and the Fremen
- Spice Harvesters and Carry-Alls
- Arrakeen Palace and city
- The home of House Harkonnen on Giedi Prime
Who knows whether any of these wonderful things are already in the works? All I can say is, if you and I both buy the Dune Atreides Royal Ornithopter, that’ll make it more likely. And that’s basically a good thing.
For the Dune 2 release date and all the latest info on the movie sequel, click that link to visit our sister site The Digital Fix, who’re watching the project like the Atreides Hawk itself.
While we’re all waiting, you can get in the ‘thopter spirit by reading our guides to the best Lego board games, and the very best combat flight simulators on PC in 2023. We can also help you upgrade your brick-building hobby life with guides to the best Lego storage solutions and Lego tables to organise your projects.