Love them or hate them, Porgs are one of the most iconic creatures from the new Star Wars sequel trilogy. Nearly universally loved for their cuteness, the tiny feathered creatures have featured prominently in promotional materials and scores of toys from The Last Jedi right from the beginning. The first minifigure-scale LEGO Porgs appeared in the 75192 UCS Millennium Falcon last year, but LEGO is now releasing a life-size sculpture of the fuzzy birds. 75230 Porg contains 811 pieces, and we believe it will retail for $70-$80 USD beginning in October, but LEGO has declined to confirm either the price or the availability date at the time of publishing.
Update Oct. 1: The set is now on sale from LEGO for $69.99 in the US ($89.99 in Canada | £59.99 in the UK).
Update Sept. 17: LEGO has confirmed that the official release date for 75230 Porg is Oct. 1, and it will retail for $69.99 USD.
Original update on Sept. 16: We have personally observed this set being sold in retail stores, where it’s priced at $69.99 USD. Obviously, that also means that it’s already available, at least in some markets.
The box & contents
Let’s start with the box, which is oriented vertically, an uncommon package design for LEGO sets. The most interesting thing about the box, however, is the graphics–or more precisely, the absence of a few specific ones. Much like last year’s 75187 BB-8, the Porg includes a UCS-style placard but is devoid of the Ultimate Collector Series markings on the box or elsewhere in the packaging. Neither is the set part of the new Master Builder Series, as with 75222 Betrayal at Cloud City that we recently reviewed.
Inside the box are relatively few bags for such a large set–only 6 bags total, each numbered. There’s also the instruction manual and the sticker sheet, which consists solely of the placard sticker. The instruction manual is standard fare, which is to say there’s no UCS-style introduction or background on Porgs, opting instead to jump straight into the build’s 308 steps.
It’s common for modern LEGO sets to begin with a partially Technic frame. Over the past few decades, the designers in Billund have discovered that the interlocking beams used in the Technic system add a strength to flimsy vehicles that classic bricks and plates alone can’t deliver, allowing them to withstand the rigors of rambunctious play at the hands of a child. With the Porg, however, by the end of the first bag, I was a bit unsure if I were accidentally building a Technic construction crane rather than a small flightless bird.The Porg is, to a much a greater extent than most models, a purely Technic framework overlaid with a skin of System bricks and plates. The central frame of the Porg is a 6×6 column of Technic beams, studded all over with blue half pins, from which the outer shell will hang.
The feet themselves are attached with a single frictionless Technic pin (Tile 2×2 with pin), allowing them a small amount of side-to-side wiggle between the downward-facing studs on either side that keep them from going too pigeon-toed.
Next up, the build switches gears entirely, and you may feel as though you’re building a bit of landscaping for a tiny castle on a rocky mountainside. However, this roughly sculpted facade forms the Porg’s textured back. The black bits are the creature’s stubby tail.
The large white section that makes up the Porg’s chest is much smoother, made of curved slopes for the downy feathers. Interestingly, the Porg’s short legs are attached to this front section rather than to the feet. The front and rear feathered sections then attach to the Technic frame, sandwiching it.
The two side panels work the same way, employing more white curved slopes. There’s a small opening at the top of each one for the wing attachment points to jut out.
The two wings use more of the rock plates for the jagged feather tips. The wings are made of layered plates, with an attachment point for a Technic axle at the shoulders. After attaching the wings, a pair of rock plates is added to the sides to block the axles from falling out. Apart from those rock plates, the entire body can be stripped back down to the frame in just a few chunks, with no other disassembly.
Suddenly, at the end of Bag 5, with the side panels and wings on, I’m presented with the gruesome sight of a headless Porg who seems to have befallen a horrible accident. The red interior that will form the mouth is perfectly situated to amplify the macabre effect.
All that’s left in Bag 6 is the Porg’s head and the placard. The head uses a multitude of “baby bow wedges” (curved slope 2 x 1 with notch) for the feathered effect, and the result is strikingly realistic. All told, the set includes 2o pairs of the element in orange, with more lone pair in white. The eyes, made of 3×3 radar dishes with inset black boat studs, are attached to the head via rods inserted into headlight bricks, which are turned at an angle.
The Porg stands about 8 inches tall, which makes it life-size, though representative of a small member of the species. The overall impression of the Porg is that it quite resembles its source material–there’s no mistaking what creature this is. Porgs populate the island of Ahch-To, where Luke makes his residence during the long intervening years between sagas. The birds were designed for the film to disguise the multitudes of native puffins in the background of every scene shot on the craggy island of Skellig Michael off the coast of Ireland. While they come in a variety of colors, the color pattern on this individual match those of Chewie’s companion aboard the Millennium Falcon, who tagged along during the journey to Crait.
The set’s placard is quite minimal, and sits wholly separate from the model, unlike BB-8’s which also functions as a stand. A minifigure-scale Porg is included, and it’s identical to those found in previous sets. The placard gives some “stats” about the Porg, though the blueprint-style info placard doesn’t work as well with organic creatures as it does with vehicles. It’s also missing key details such as size.
A segment of the Porg’s tail doubles as a lever, and can be used to move the Porg’s mouth open and closed like a nutcracker. It’s also geared into the wings, which give a little flap as the mouth moves. This is the Porg’s one and only point of movement.
The Porg’s soft white belly is appropriately smooth, and the layered textured effect with angled slopes works wondrously for the orange hair around the head. However, the rough back made with rock elements and cheese slopes looks far too rough, seeming more jagged and scaly than feathered. The back should have used the same technique as the sides of the head for a smoothly featured look.
Its head is permanently affixed at a slight upward cant, all the better to present those big, puppy-dog eyes to you (inspired by a pug, according to the Lucasfilm creature designer). The closed mouth bears a strong resemblance to the internet sensation Grumpy Cat, and in just the same way, the Porg has a face that’s so adorably grouchy you can’t help but love it.
Part of the reason this Porg is small in stature compared to the reference material is its very short legs. The LEGO version is very squat compared to its on-screen counterpart, nearly lacking legs entirely.
Porgs have gangly, long legs much like a seagull, whereas the LEGO Porg sits with its body to the ground, like a penguin. No doubt this is to avoid the technical challenge of balancing a large model atop two spindly stilts, but the Porg definitely loses something in the translation, coming out looking much fatter and a bit less cute.
Moreover, there’s something a little disconcerting about the LEGO Porg, especially with its mouth agape. The adorable alien avian falls squarely into the uncanny valley as its mouth flaps, looking rather frightening. It’s not exactly inaccurate, just creepy.
Although it’s not the same scale as last year’s BB-8 model (BB-8 should be at least twice as large here), the two look good next to one another, sharing a color scheme and similar size. They will surely find themselves sharing a shelf in many fans’ collections.
Conclusion & recommendation
Despite a few shortcomings, LEGO’s designers have done an excellent job overall with shaping the creature. As a statically posed model (without its scary mouth open), it’s as cute as any small furry creature with huge eyes ought to be. And the Porg also makes a bit of history, having the singular distinction of being LEGO’s first Star Wars creature in a scale larger than minifigure scale.* We certainly hope it’s not the last–personally, I’m rooting for a UCS-style Mynock or Luggabeast.
*Not counting the miniland-scale Tauntaun from a LEGOLAND promotional set that was never officially available for sale.
At 811 pieces for $70, the set retails for a reasonable price, and fans of the new trilogy will certainly want this for a display piece. And unlike many other large character sculpts from Star Wars, this set is quite sturdy enough to withstand play, making it a great set for kids, too, even if it is light on action features.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
Don’t leave the Porg alone for too long. Strange things happen.