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I do hope we get confirmation either way well before May 1st.
My money's on Sandcrawler for May.
There's the last AT-AT, the AT-STs in the Endor bunker, the midi Star Destroyer, all the old TIEs (the new one less so), every Snowspeeder ever, Jabba's Sailbarge, the Falcon, the Tantive IV's central section, and that's just the OT sets I've got on my shelves right now! From this year's other sets, the AT-PT, the B-Wing and the new Star Destroyer all carry that theme on.
Yes, you may prefer not having studs on the sides, but it's such a well established look within the Lego Star Wars universe it seems a bit late to be complaining about it now!
(And yes, I do think it actually looks really rather good!)
For me, I just think the model looks worse than the original, though a nice homestead would certainly push me towards buying one.
But really, we've seen only one single image. This happens every time a sought after new set is released. Lots of initial complaining. Then when the final set is released... more complaining. Then after a few months people start coming around and then it's one of the greatest sets ever released.
To your point about the price, the only things I've heard are $299.99 and (more commonly) $349.99. For the pictured model, as you agree, that's a pretty steep price. For the sandcrawler and a substantial homestead... that's a lot easier to stomach.
I guess it's time to Bricklink one of these 7000+pieces MOC's out there,anybody's got LDD instructions for one of these?
And okay, only the AT-ST, AT-AT and Sailbarge really have similar amounts of side-studs, but they're also the only vehicles that have any real height to them. I maintain, side panels with studs mostly visible is the current established method for a vehicle of this type.
And I trust that the designers tried panels that have few, like the 4x4 with just 4 studs that is used, and I trust they made a choice based on what they thought looked better.
I think perhaps MOC dreams are colouring expectations of TLG releases a little too much, no?
I will, definitely be making a Lars 'igloo' on LDD to go with this!