A not so long time ago in a LEGO galaxy, far, far away, every Stormtrooper and hero was armed with a trusty blaster (which replaces the previously used megaphone piece). These elements have been around since 2007, with new colour options added when needed, like pearl-grey to imitate chrome. They gave fans an excuse to go ‘pew pew’ during role play and the blasters looked great for displays too. However, then in 2014 there came a disturbance in the Force. One that would haunt LEGO fans, parents, and many others, forever. Stud shooters.
It’s practically a universally accepted truth that stud shooters are up there right next to stickers for things fans dislike about LEGO sets. So, why do people hate these pesky pieces?
Firstly, it was the impact they had on Star Wars sets, particularly battle-packs. Rather than every minifigure coming equipped with a blaster element, there was now a huge emphasis on stud-shooters, with perhaps only two or in some cases no blasters included. Why is this a problem? Young fans probably delighted in playing with the projectile launchers, but anyone buying the sets for army building or display purposes couldn’t use the totally unwieldy and inaccurate stud shooters. So, collectors had to go onto parts sites or eBay, having to spend more money on their minifigures, to equip them.
Unfortunately stud-shooters weren’t limited to the Star Wars theme. After their introduction the pieces exploded into just about every range going, and not just as minifigure weapons. It was as if the designers wanted to fit them in everywhere – they’re in nearly 250 sets to date. Soon they were in Friends, DC, NINJAGO and even Minecraft. Which is where problem number two arises. Not all stud shooters are incorporated into a model equally. Sometimes they just look plain ugly and way too conspicuous on a model, added on just to provide a simple play feature.
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Are stud shooters really that fun? That probably depends on who you’re asking. Young fans likely love shooting studs at high-speed across the living room. The parents who tidy up and hoover afterwards may disagree. Safety risks are mild, but they gain enough speed that if a stud was to accidentally hit a person in the face then it would sting.
Even though they are disliked, stud shooters are here to stay and most LEGO fans have come to accept them. There are ways to work around the pieces, including just not attaching them to a model to make it more aesthetically pleasing for display. But the plot thickens and fans may find themselves having to accept an even uglier, stud shooter reality.
In the recently revealed images for The Batman LEGO sets, eagle-eyed fans have spotted something new. That’s right, there’s a new type of stud shooter coming. Now the current piece isn’t that pretty, but these new ones are, if possible, even worse. Big, blocky and very grey. 76181 Batmobile: The Penguin Chase highlights the eponymous villain wielding the new stud shooter and it looks so strange, especially the size compared to the minifigure.
So, is it out with the old and in with the new? Until more set reveals for 2021 occur then it’s impossible to predict if this is a replacement for the existing version or just an alternative. One thing is for certain though – fans will never escape the stud shooter pieces anytime soon.