LEGO Icons 10327: Dune Atreides Royal Ornithopter [REVIEW]

Science fiction is one of the best inspirations for custom LEGO creations, from franchises like Star Wars, Alien, Starship Troopers, Bladerunner, and many more. And there have been plenty of official sets inspired by the genre as well. But outside of Star Wars and LEGO space-related themes, there have not been very many official sets (LEGO Ideas 21340: Tales of the Space Age being a rare exception). But this changed at the start of this month. With the premiere of Dune part 2 in theaters on March 1st, one of the most iconic vehicles from the movie is finally brought to fantastic LEGO life with the release of LEGO Icons 10327: Atreides Royal Ornithopter. The set comes with 1,369 pieces, includes 8 minifigures, and is available now from and other retailers for US $164.99 | CAN $214.99 | UK £149.99.

Unboxing the parts and instructions

The front of the black, 18+ branded box features an image of the ornithopter in flight. You can see Duke Leto and Liet Kynes in the cockpit (more on LEGO’s choice of minifigures and outfits later in the review) along with the Atreides Royal Ornithopter and the Dune movie logos.

On the back of the box, the ornitopter is shown with the landing gear deployed and the wings folded. There is a row of smaller images along the bottom, including one still from the movie showing two ornithopters in flight. The other images detail some of the sets play features like the landing gear and the folding wing mechanisms.

The top of the box shows a full line-up of the 8 minifigures included with the set from left to right: Channi holding a crysknife (made from the tooth of a sandworm). Next, Liet Kynes holds two maker hooks. Duke Leto holds binoculars. Gurney Halleck wears Atreides battle armor and brandishes a sword. The Lady Jessica stands next to Paul, who holds a practice dagger. Duncan Idaho holds his short and long sword that he wields so effectively against the Emperor’s Saudaukar troops. And finally, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen floats above the ground in his long robes.

Inside the box there are 10 numbered bags, an unnumbered bag with the cockpit canopies, an instruction booklet, and a long box holding the 8 brand-new wing blades. I really apprecitated that LEGO shipped the canopies in their own bag, as my 10497 Galaxy Explorer set did not and one of the yellow canopies had a small scratch. There are no stickers in this set, only a pair of 2×3 tiles with the Atreides hawk logo printed on them.

Full disclosure: this review was for a set I purchased myself and built prior to writing, so I unfortunately don’t have bag picks.

The build

The first part of the build was fairly uneventful, starting with a solid Technic frame for the tail that is very sturdy and makes the finished ‘thopter quite swooshable. But we quickly move on to a series of Technic connections. They always makes me nervous about making a mistake and having to undo a bunch of steps to figure out what I did wrong. The end result is a couple of essential mechanisms for the play features. The long gray connector is what will “power” the wing-flapping motion (gravity does most of the work, and your thumb does the rest). There is also a bit connected to the engine cone that, when turned, will lower and raise the landing gear. Flipping the build upside down, we attach the loading ramp that holds the two rear landing gear later on.

The next part is the four lower wing attachment assemblies which are connected to the inner mechanism for flapping. Then, we add the shock-absorber assembly that will unfold and fold the wings. The spring provides the perfect amount of tension in both positions, as we will see later.

After adding more internal structural support from arches, and axles to reinforce the lower wing connections, we build a pair of lifts arms. Each has 4 mounted ball joints that will unfold and fold all 8 wings in a single motion. The two assemblies slide back, and then are attached to the shock absorber bit with two small lift arms.

Here’s a short video of the mechanism at work, which shows how everything comes together. I have nothing but the greatest respect for Technic set designers and the LEGO fan community builders who work magic with these parts. Here’s hoping I didn’t screw anything up!

Before we move on to the four upper wings, I want to take a moment to talk about a surprise building technique that adds some stud connections on top of the main body. A pair of right-angled Technic beams are attached to clips and swung into place. Absolute genius!

Next, four more wing attachment points are added and linked together with loose connector rods. Then we move on to building the front fuselage that the cockpit will attach to. Finally, some details along the top to cover up the many Technic connections.

I know this is a pretty small nit, but the gap along the center of the ‘thopter top bothers me. Not to worry though, as it is easy to fix with just a few elements, and they have no impact on the wing-folding mechanism. At the tail end, a pair of small jet exhaust vents add a bit of detail.

The next part focuses on the cockpit, starting with a long bit at the bottom which will hold the removable seat. From here we can attach the flood lights and forward landing gear, as well as a few analog flight controls. At the very front is a single trans clear plate, to which the front canopy will attach.

Flipping the ‘thopter over again, I wanted to show off the landing gear mechanism in its completed form. The forward landing gear swing out and down with one motion, while the rear landing gear are fixed to the loading ramp. The turning jet cone “locks” into place in each position very firmly, with no added wiggle.

It looks a bit stiff upside down, but when right side up, the movement is pretty smooth. I really want to build a stand like I did for my USC Razor Crest, but I don’t think that would be possible without hindering this feature.

Before finishing the cockpit sides, we add eight wing attachment points that will allow the wing blades to fold and unfold.

The cockpit has a fixed straight roof using 3 different parts in the new opaque transparent black, including the angled front windscreen element. Then the two large canopies are attached using click-hinges mounted to the top rear of the cockpit.

Finally, the eight wing blades attach, and we’re ready to tour the spice harvesting process beyond the great shield wall.

The Minifigs

The set comes with 8 minifigures, covering most of the main characters from Dune Part 1. All minifigures (except the Baron) include front and back printing and alternate facial expressions.

First, Paul wears his green military uniform, Jessica wears her gold robe and detachable hood, and Leto wears a stillsuit.

Paul has a brooding face, and a slightly more brooding face, which is perfect for the character. Jessica’s alt face has the gold chain veil print. Leto has a happy face and an angry one.

I wish that either Leto was in his battle armour, or Paul was in a stillsuit, or both outfits were included. As it is, to get Paul and Leto in stillsuits together, you have to borrow Liet’s or Chani’s.

Next we have Gurney Hallek in full Atreides battle armor, and a relaxed Duncan Idaho in his casual, slightly disheveled shirt.

Gurney’s faces are both grim, but one is “smiling” slightly. Duncan has a carefree smirk, and a battle rage face.

Chani and Dr. Liet Lynes both wear stillsuits, and have the blue-in-blue eyes of spice addiction.

Their alternate faces show their breathing masks.

Finally, the Baron, who has a plain black torso and legs with a ridiculously long hanging robe. I guess it’s to help us feel better about laughing at him, but I would definitely think twice about it if I were you.

The finished model

The finished model looks great, and is an excellent replica of the on-screen inspiration. The creative direction to base the ‘thopter on both a dragonfly, like the book reference and the Apache helicopter, grounds the vehicle in just the right amount of reality. It feels both heavy and nimble at the same time. The fact that so many complex mechanisms are so easily contained within the body is a tribute to the design team.

I do agree with some of the criticisms I have heard online about the large number of blue and red Technic elements visible on the finished model. But since the ball joint and the long pin are both available in black, it would be fairly easy to replace them if one so desired. And speaking of modifications, a few tiles and other small details can easily be added to the side and top to fill any remaining gaps.

The ‘thopter can be held easily by the tail, and the mechanisms can all be operated with one hand while swooshing. I have to admit to folding and unfolding the wings several times just for fun.

Conclusions and recommendations

As you can probably guess, I am a huge Dune fan, and I can honestly say that this Ornithopter is one of the best sci-fi movie vehicle interpretations LEGO has ever produced. The overall look of the ‘thopter is sleek and powerful. And aside from the substantial wingspan, it would make a fantastic display set in landing configuration, or alongside any of the larger Star Wars vehicles like the Razor Crest or the Millennium Falcon. I hope that the new movie inspires more LEGO sets, like a diorama-style scene or more vehicles. The included minifigures are a great collection including most of the main characters from the first film. Fans of the franchise should have no reservations about picking up this set for themselves. LEGO Icons 10327: Atreides Royal Ornithopter comes with 1,369 pieces and is available now for US $164.99 | CAN $214.99 | UK £149.99

Oh, and if you want to see some amazing Dune inspired MOCs featured on TBB, be sure to check out this collection.

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