Why is it so hard to successfully make one of the most iconic ships from this franchise? Is it merely because it's so iconic? All I know is after as many times as they've redesigned this I would expect them to at least make something worth settling for.
I was tasked with reviewing this model because I had not built any of the previous versions, so in theory I could treat it with a fresh start and as little existing bias as possible. I don't think that helped much though, because I am completely not impressed. The more I look at this the more I dislike it. We'll start off with what I did like though because it's all downhill from there.
I will say that, accuracy aside, and primarily as a play-set, it's honestly not that bad. The layout of the Falcon varies significantly depending on what source you look at so they didn't have to nail one floor plan to stave off my ire. The interior is still notably sparse, but it does include a fair hand full of separate plainly recognizable features with varying degrees of functionality. Of course the holo-chess board is included, but with the droids strangely missing from the minifig lineup you can't quite recreate that scene from the movie.
I'm sure Han knows how to play though so Chewy isn't too upset. The engineering station (full of printed control panels) is very nice, and one bit I don't remember seeing in previous iterations (although I could be wrong here). Likewise, the upward and downward facing gunner stations in the center well was a nice touch.
There are a pair of bunks are tucked away back by the hyperdrive generators, there's a hidden stowaway compartment and (fairly useless) boarding ramp
where it should be, and plenty of room to have Luke's 30 seconds of formal lightsaber training.
I'd like to highlight an observation on the training remote here for a second, and ask why in the world would they use that as a stand and not a transparent antenna?
It's supposed to hover, and that big goofy thing is a poor solution. The petal like panels open and close easily too, and don't look bad doing it.
Also, it's surprisingly swooshable considering it's bulk.
I guess you could say She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts.
The two horizontal sections across the center are very sturdy grip points and the underside is easy to hang on to to fly it around. Inverting is a bit troublesome because some of the panels on top will flip open and if the tools are stored per the instructions they'll get tossed around or dumped out, and the satellite dish & quad canons like to spin at will. Otherwise, swoosh away.
The six minifigures included are a bit underwhelming. Han contains no new elements, just a new combination of existing parts (first time the peachy head and torso has been paired with his dark blue pants at least). Chewy is the same Chewy you'll get in any other set.
This Darth Vader came in the UCS Shuttle set and the ISD already, but it's my first time getting one with the red highlights in his face scars so I'm not complaining.
His inclusion bothers me slightly because he never set foot on the Falcon, whereas R2D2 and C3PO are not included as I mentioned earlier. Such a strange and mildly aggravating decision there. I suppose he was included specifically to face off against Obi-Wan.
The same Obi-Wan that came in the Landspeeder set, just with a hood and cape instead of grey hair now. Luke too features the same torso and legs as he did in the Landspeeder set, but now he has his signature mussed up hair he gained in the Echo Base set's Bacta tank, and a new reversible head too.
Side one featuring a stern look of determination, the other has printing to represent the blast shield for the accompanying training helmet (as well as what appears to be a giant 70's style mustache, must be from a gag reel I don't know about). Lastly is Leia, sporting the same white dress design on the torso as seen in every other ANH based Falcon set, still with pants despite that getup being a dress, but now she gets a double sided head like her brother.
Side one seems to match perfectly to the Echo Base face, the opposite side in similar style but with a very unpleasant frown. There's just something about this style that looks wrong to me. I think it's the giant creepy lips. I prefer the older and distinctly simpler look she used to sport on every fig.
Now it's time to talk about the ship itself, so brace yourselves. First off, and blatantly obvious, the size is way
off for the minifigs. But really that's to be expected with a ship in this price range, if you want something truer to scale get the UCS version. So that's not a fair complaint. I'm just stating the obvious here. The real problem here is that it wasn't just scaled down, the proportions are wrong and the shape of the front half is significantly off no matter how you look at it (assuming of course you're as obsessive about this sort of thing as I seem to be).
The biggest offense is the cockpit. It's massive in relation to the rest of the ship and yet it still only fits two figures. I understand this is a difficult section but they made a lot of compromises that they shouldn't have. It does not extend beyond the edge of the circular portion, and instead it's smashed inward and forward. The raised section to simulate the angled connecting corridor does not line up properly and is even farther forward. The printed cone section and 4x4 dish at least do a decent job to pull off the look of the canopy, but the slope is all wrong and it isn't positioned correctly in relation to the right mandible.
And like I said, despite it's size only two minifigs can fit inside the cockpit, staggered, with arms overlapping and no seats or real effort put into the control panel.
The whole forward cockpit section is built separately from the ship itself, and can still cleanly detach once completed. I can only assume they sacrificed the corridor that should connect the cockpit to the rest of the interior for easier construction, and it ends up looking like it should function as an escape pod. Given the escape pod in the original Falcon set
I would actually have counted this as an improvement if they slapped some thrusters on the back. They had room to with minor reworking of the socket.
Now the mandibles are the other glaring inaccuracy that I take issue with. Simply put: they're puny.
Maybe this was to make up part wise for the over-sized cockpit, and if so it was a bad choice. As the two sections are so close to each other the incongruity is all the more obvious. On the real ship the outer leading edges come nearly tangent to the round section of the ship. On this model they stop short, and the result is an awkward inset angle where it should almost be one continuous line. They appear longer than they should in part because of that missing area along the edge plus the forward freight bay between them being set too far back. The overall size issue means the four round access ports, which are again frustratingly represented as raised tiles, are also smaller than they ought to be (in reality they're the same size as the six vents on the back over the engines).
Those six rear vents, while actually raised on the real Falcon, suffer on this model due to poor integration.
It's hard for them not to look like disks mounted on pegs above the surface of the ship, because that's exactly what they are. Even just a 1x2 black tile under them to fill out the gaps a bit would have helped. Speaking of gaps, they're everywhere. And they're huge.
When you finish building a ship, and you can slip a minifigure between the seams of the hull, you're not really finished. I don't expect a completely sealed surface but I can't help but feel like someone dropped the ball there. On a similar note, here's something that caught my attention in the instructions and really drives me nuts:
THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE.
This shows elements overlapping - physically existing in the same space. On the set you can choose to push those panels on either side outward a 1/16th of an inch
or simply rest the panels on top of each other
, but that problem should never have made it to production. It's not a fluke in the printing on one page, the rest of the instructions show this error over and over from multiple angles.
Taking a looking from the back, the transparent blue tube for the engine and the surrounding groove is pretty well done, but you can catch a glimpse of the support beams below and any points for good design are quickly retracted.
Flip it over and you can see just how unfinished everything feels.
This has never been Lego's strong point in official sets so I'm sort of used to it now. The landing struts are fixed for stability and only slightly dressed up. The lower quad canon turret has the same full range of motion as on the top, but there's no access to the gunner's well. The boarding ramp is functional to an extent, but once flipped back the right way there isn't enough clearance to make use of it at all.
Two twin flick fire missile pods are tacked on the front for those who like them, and are easily removed for those who don't.
As a parts pack it's not too bad. You get a lot of elements that I feel are useful for building your own ships even though it's predominately gray. $139.99 for 1238 parts is I think on the low end for Star Wars sets, and I'm sure you can find a deal better than retail by now.
What I liked:
There's a decent play-set stuffed in there, and it's fun to swoosh such a large ship around.
What I didn't like:
Pretty much everything else. Lackluster minifig selection, a plethora of accuracy issues, impossible glitch in the instructions, gaps-aplenty, and the ramp is a joke.
If you're a kid you're probably a lot less critical than me, so most of the problems I've gone on about won't matter to you. If I could switch of my nit-picky nerd rage circuit I would be happy to get this for Christmas too. But as a Star Wars fan and collector, this is a poor representation of a classic ship that falls way short of what it should be.
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