In the long and storied history of remakes in the LEGO Star Wars line, there’s something impressive that a scene as iconic as as the final duel between Vader and Luke going thirteen years before it gets remade. In fact, the only release for that specific scene was 2002’s Final Duel 1 and 2, two tiny sets that some of us may have stocked up on when KB Toys exploded so many moons ago. I still have a whole bunch of Imperial Officers from Final Duel II, even though few of them are in their original form, having had fleshy hands and heads subbed in for other builds.
We’ve had bits and pieces from the scene, spread across other things, typically as filler parts in a set. We got Imperial Guards and the Emperor in Imperial Inspection, Vader rarely gets to feature a set that’s not his TIE Fighter, and Jedi Luke has been in most Return of the Jedi sets that have been made in the last few years. The scene itself was sort of remade in the Death Star playset that’s still available, as one of the eleven million scenes that make up that beast.
Reviewing 75093 Death Star Final Duel had me looking at pretty much my entire history of collecting LEGO Star Wars, because this remade more than one thing. Honestly, it’s hard to call this thing a remake… the Final Duel sets were glorified minifig packs that included a few parts. Seriously, there were thirty-five parts total in both of those sets… we’ve gotten that many stud-blaster parts in things like Iron Man vs. Ultron. At 698 parts and $79.99, this set marks a 1330.5% increase from the original, which has got to be some sort of record (okay, half that if I count both). With a lot of big money Star Wars sets coming out this year, the question should be if your money is well spent on a set like this.
Honestly, this was one of the more difficult reviews I’ve had to do in recent memory. On the surface, the lower part count and higher price normally are something that’d turn me off. It’s no fan that I’m a little down on Royal Guards, since they’re so easy to get and you don’t need all that many of them. Yet, there’s something to be said about a playset-feature heavy set, and this is pretty much entirely playset, and manages to do that without feeling like an oversized battle pack.
We get five minifigs in this set, three of them unique to this set and updated from previous figures. The two Royal guards are unchanged, the Emperor has a new head, torso, and legs, and Luke is updated from his last appearance in the Ewok Village.
We get two Imperial Guards, the same as the battlepack. These guys are always kind of a curious inclusion in the whole Star Wars canon, given that they basically just turned around a couple of times and that was about it. Given that the Emperor died on their watch, one would have to conclude that they kind of suck at their job. I don’t have anything new to add with these guys… but I guess I have a couple more to use in that display I want to build (and likely never will).
When this set was first revealed, the update to what is likely the most iconic LEGO Star Wars piece, Darth Vader’s helmet was pretty much what everyone had to talk about. Vader is the figure for LEGO Star Wars at this point… until Rebels took over the box art, he’d been in the default look for years.
The Helmet may be the focal point, but the entire figure has received an update. We get a brand new head, which I think is probably my favorite part of the whole thing. I know I’ve ragged on over-detailing figures, but I think this one keeps enough of the LEGO character that it really works. The lines, highlights, and that little smirk just seem to go together in a way that the detailed faces usually fail at. Also, it’s nice that it’s not just a gray face… we finally get a color accurate head.
The updated printing is also quite a bit more elaborate, but Vader has always been on the elaborate side. Honestly, I’m just glad that they printed on the robe portions of his armor instead of giving us some terrible fabric parts. Those things are just the worst on almost any minifig that uses them… and if we are going to be fully honest, pretty bad on almost any Vader action figure.
I’m a bit more torn on the helmet. We’re obviously going to see this type of design, with multiple parts, show up more. Ultron got a similar setup in the Age of Ultron sets, and Vader’s helmet seems to be the perfect application for it. While the look is spot-on, here’s where we lose a little bit of the LEGO charm. It keeps the general bulk of the LEGO helmet, but it gets more accurate and streamlined, and that somehow hurts it.
Beyond that, the biggest complaint we can level is that Vader’s helmet is actually a three-part affair. The dome is separate from the mask, not a single piece. In the current size, it’s hard to imagine how LEGO could have kept this modular design and it still been durable enough to survive more than a couple of minutes in the hand of any kid buying LEGO. They could have gotten around it by adding a bit more bulk, which would make him a bit more Iron Man in size, so it’s really hard to say they could have done much different. I will be honest though… when you put this on the first time, you are going to do a little hum of the Imperial March, and once it locks into place (which it does exceptionally well)… you are going to do a little bit of KSSSHHH KUUUHHH.
Let me just say, if they are planning on doing a remake of Darth Vader’s Transformation, they now have the perfect helmet for it. And if LEGO is taking requests for sets that will never get made, I’d like that one mixed with a set of him in the oxygen chamber from Empire too. Sadly, it’s more likely we’re going to get a painted up and “damaged” version of this in Episode VII sets, since it’s featured prominently in the theater posters.
Next up in the new figure brigade is a version of Emperor Palpatine, a figure that has never gotten the treatment he deserves in LEGO form. Much like Vader, he’s only been featured with a gray face… at least in the Emperor variety. The Chancellor version has had a fleshy face before, though the Clone Wars version of the figure is a monstrosity and the Episode III one is pre-disfigurement. I am always curious why the guy who controls a galactic empire dresses like he’s a monk after he takes control.
The alt/angry face is probably the one that fits the Emperor the best. I really wish the regular face would have featured that twisted smile instead of the indifferent face that he has. Palpatine was one of the highlights of all of the movies (though, unlike most everyone else, I’d say Episode III was the weakest film for him and Episode I the strongest of the PT… he’s the only reason to watch it), and he was always cooly arrogant or bugnuts crazy. And frequently he was both. I think there’s a bit too much detail in this face, but I’m just glad it’s not that gray look.
I will give LEGO one thing on this set’s makeup… they absolutely nailed the minifigure lineup. The guards are the least “crucial” part of this, but they were absolutely featured in the scene (when they were dismissed and then promptly failed at everything). Since this is about the final duel, we have got to get a Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. Brickset calls him Jedi Master, and maybe the box does (it’s long since been tossed)… but he would only be a master by the fact that all the rest of them were dead.
Unfortunately, my biggest complaint for Luke Skywalker minifigs (and Han Solo figs, since they use the same hair), is still there… his little chin butt on the alt-face shows out under the hair. That or he’s got one of those little alien things that tried to take over the Federation in the first season of TNG.
The inventory says this is a new head, and this is technically a unique version of Jedi Luke. I’m not sure if there’s a great enough difference between the two faces, but perhaps that’s just an accurate representations of the one basic emotional look Luke had in Return of the Jedi.
Okay, I exaggerated earlier when I said Jedi Luke showed up in all Episode III sets… but mostly because we really don’t get that many of them. The last version we got was in the Ewok Village, pictured on the right. The new torso is very similar, with a closed tunic (I guess he didn’t want to go full Shatner in Wrath of Khan for his big fight), and the printing is a little bit thinner overall. I like the face for the Ewok Village version of the set a whole lot more, and wish they would have included it in the new figure.
This is all about a duel, however, and the emperor’s throne room is fairly well represented here. Though I have to be honest… after I built the set I had to go look the layout of this thing up. There are a few questions when I think back to the fight. First… how big was that room? It’s like they were running around a convention center or something for awhile, but when you look at the layout, it wasn’t that big. Obviously, we weren’t going to get the full thing in a LEGO set, but it’s important to get the major parts, like the the throne, the platform, the steps, and the inexplicable pit of doom.
The whole thing collapses down if you’re so inclined, but open or closed, one of the biggest misses that I see is that the two sides don’t really tie into the flow of the set. They’re connected in the sense that they’re hinged together, but the playset doesn’t do anything to connect them.
Looking at the layout of the whole thing, it seems like a real shame that they didn’t try to stick to the layout a bit better. The set makes more sense closed, but most of the stuff on the right side doesn’t need to be there. If they would have done more to tie to sides together, it would have some better flow.
The walkway to the lift is probably the most “um… what?” part of the build. It’s decent construction, though I wonder about this little flick launcher. I guess we need a catapult to put people into the reactor pit or something. Honestly, I think it would have been better to just drop that piece and give us the guard rails to hack away at when Luke has hit little dark side moment chopping off his daddy’s robot hand (and then calming down and getting electrocuted for it).
The stairs also has a breakaway feature, which I really don’t get (the steps were more about people walking up and down or in one case, getting kicked down them). The steps, by themselves, look good, and I don’t know if it needed that extra little bit.
The pillars were built well, even if this thing had to be downsized to be more LEGO-sized. It’s a visually striking feature that looks good and very Star Wars. Here you can see how nice the steps look, but they’re pretty fragile. The best thing I can say is that there are some solid parts here that can inspire you to make a bigger, better throne room.
The most notable piece we get with these are the three windows using the new TIE Fighter / TIE Advanced mold, but featuring a different print. I’m really hoping these things show up on Bricks and Pieces eventually, because I’d like a whole bunch of them.
Unfortunately, the biggest knock about how they’re used is that the build only looks good form a distance and straight-on. From the side, the gap in the window is huge, which strikes me as poor battle station design. They also open, which strikes me as equally poor design. Not “we don’t put railings around our pits of doom” bad, but still pretty bad.
The right platform is supposed to represent the pit of doom the Emperor goes base jumping in, I believe, but it’s really hard to tell. It’s a curious things that all the stickers are used on the interior, which is covered with a platform above, save a small opening above and a gap below. I get what LEGO was trying to do, but it’s just sort of a waste. I rather would have seen that section used to raise a bit or put stickers on the side instead of this small pit, which just looks wrong. The stickers are invisible unless you take this thing apart, and it’s so covered and shadowed you can’t really see them when the set is built.
The left side is the scaffold Luke takes a breather in when he doesn’t feel like killing his dad, and it’s an interesting play feature that, unlike the pit, works out well in capturing the scene. It’s a fragile thing by design, where you can swing Vader’s saber and knock it down. It’s a bit awkward, and you have to clear the base to get it to fall, but it sort of works.
The throne is a good representation by itself, though I wonder about the choice to stash a lightsaber behind it. Again, we waste a whole bunch of parts to give a play feature that I’m not sure needs to be there. Things that went into this saber and launcher, which we never saw the Emperor use in the OT, could have been used to raise up the middle or make a better pit (in a spot that makes sense).
I suppose it works, but it’s just a weird thing to have in there. Maybe if we had Episode III Emperor, jumping around and taunting a muppet, that’s the kind of thing there. But we have a powerful Sith Lord, perhaps one of the most powerful who ever lived, with his apprentice, on a battle station full of guards, and he can fire lightning from his hands. Waiting for the saber to come down is perhaps the least efficient thing the emperor in a fight. Well, compared to the “pretty much nothing but sit there and laugh” he did during the fight.
This is one of the more difficult sets to really rate once it’s all said and done. There aren’t a whole lot of minifigs, but two of them are outstanding, one is good, and two are available in battlepacks. There are some really nice parts, but it’s hard to say that you get your full money’s worth. There are some nice playset features, but they don’t make that much sense in the scope of the set.
All of that would seem to add up to an average score, at best. Yet I have to acknowledge that even though there are some value questions in there, the playset features are fun, and what it does do, even if it’s laid out wrong, is makes you remember Return of the Jedi and all the fun scenes at the end. I mean, writing this review got me to listen to my Return of the Jedi soundtrack (vinyl and digital).I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to build the Vader figure without making breathing sounds or humming the Imperial March. Put this thing together with the Imperial Shuttle set and you got a whole bunch of fun.
Ultimately, what every licensed set should do is get you to remember what the set is based on. This set does that incredibly well, and that’s worth a boost. That tells me that this is a solid four out of five set, even if it’s likely better on sale.
What I liked
- Vader and Emperor figures were both do for some remakes, and while the Vader figure can take a couple of knocks, it’s still pretty awesome
- Minifigure lineup makes perfect sense
- New windows, lots of valuable parts, a better throne… there are some misses, but also some really good parts to the build
- It makes you remember the scene and fight from the scene it was based on, and that’s a rare thing these days
What I didn’t like
- Certain playset features work (scaffold, elevator doors), some are meh (launcher, stairs), but some are just awful (opening windows and the “pit”)
- Set would be better if raised a bit and just depicted the pit where it makes sense
- Drop it $10 and this becomes an outstanding set
Verdict: 4 out of 5… sometimes, the play quality trumps the price. You can buy 75903 Death Star Final Duel right now on LEGO Shop@Home.