For as much as Return of the Jedi gets knocked by bitter people and hipsters who love to hate on things that make you happy, like Ewoks, it has been a great source of scenes, ships, and characters. Yes, I know, I just described myself, but I love Ewoks, and Jedi will always be my favorite Star Wars film, because it was the only one I remember seeing in the theater.
We get the B-Wing, the A-Wing, “It’s a Trap” memes that make you want to punch so many people, Mon Calmari Cruisers, AT-ST walkers that aren’t just a tiny smudge on Hoth, and Speeder Bikes. While I like pretty much all of those things, the scene that always stuck in my head and didn’t have the words “Nyub nyub”
This is a pretty substantial gap between releases for the Imperial Shuttle, with the last system scale set showing up ten years ago, in perhaps the most controversial set release ever, 7264 Imperial Inspection. For those who don’t remember that debacle, it was basically on shelves for about elven minutes, it was incredibly difficult to find, and it featured a whole slew of unique minifigs, something that was nearly unheard of at the time (including the first version of Stormtroopers to feature printed legs, a unique Imperial Officer, and a unique-ish Emperor). Of course, that was a $50, 367 piece set that was nearly identical to the original (it had fleshy figures and the new “stone”, or bluish, gray).
So, mix the people complaining about the absurd price (especially at the time) and the people complaining about the crazy small availability window, who were often the same people, and you have what is still likely the biggest boondoggle of a Star Wars LEGO set ever made (for my money, the Ideas Scientist set remains the biggest boondoggle, if you were curious). It’s also a pretty iconic ship in the Star Wars universe, figuring in to several scenes in Return of the Jedi, and I think we can all agree that a decade is too long to be waiting for one of these. At $99.99 and XXX parts, this is a pretty hefty jump for a less hefty leap in pieces. But we’re also getting the first revisions of Endor Troopers since the battle packs and new versions of Han and Leia, so perhaps there’s some value in this
It’s no secret that one of my long-standing goals is to someday build a MOC of the Emperor’s Arrival from Return of the Jedi. Unfortunately, that means I need to buy a whole boatload of Stormtrooper minifigs, since I don’t have the option of cheating by using matte paintings like they did in Jedi. Of course, the other thing you need to make that scene work is an Imperial Shuttle, and I never bothered to get the UCS version of the ship. That makes this set, potentially, my best bet.
Of course, since this is the shuttle Tydirium, our minifigure selection is decidedly Rebels. I’m cool with that, since Jedi was the first time we got unnamed Rebels doing something besides dying. We get five minifgs in the set: Harry from Harry and the Hendersons, Endor version of Leia and Han, and two Rebel Troopers. Yes, I know, I made a Harry and the Hendersons joke when I reviewed the new Chewie figure in the Droid Gunship, but I stick with the comparison. The missing character here is Luke, but since he’s in the Final Duel, it’s kind of nice he isn’t here. Still, it would have been nice to get an Endor version of him here.
If you were hoping that Chewie would get improvements… keep hoping. This guy is identical to the earlier set. Of course, the upside is that this set is decidedly less awful than the gunship, so if you really want him, you can get him here. I have nothing new to add on the figure, except that apparently I never noticed those especially creepy eyes. Those are the eyes of the guy who’s working at the gas station in three in the morning and is far too excited at any sort of human contact when you walk in.
We get a new Leia figure, probably the last “young” version of her we get for some time. Did you know that there have been fourteen different Leia figures released over the lifetime of Star Wars LEGO? Only Luke and Han have had more variations between them, but I think Leia runs the gauntlet for the greatest amount of variation between the different figures.
About half of the figure is new. The obvious part, the soft-cloth tunic, is a new part, but her torso and head are also unique to this set. The hair is the same that came in the Echo Base set, as well as included in the Rebel Joust Castle set (which I own but didn’t remember until I looked it up). I’m not a huge fan of the tunic, as it’s a part that’s going to rip given the small connections and soft nature of the material, and it just looks so misplaced on the figure.
The alt-face is what I’ll refer to as the “Looking at Han” face, doesn’t really fit her character. A more serious, I’m about to shoot you look, would have worked better. Sadly, LEGO only seems to have two settings for minifig heads these days… angry and happy.
The last Endor Leia was one of the last (if not the last) of the more traditional minifig faces for Leia, with the new one riding the more detailed wave that followed. I think Leia fared better than some of the others, honestly (especially Luke “I’m made up entirely of lines” Skywalker). At least the recent figure heads are uniquely hers, and actually looked like hers. I hate to say this… but putting her next to the old style, I actually have started to prefer the new one. *shudder*
Han gets the most drastic upgrade here, with a printed duster over his trademark outfit. I’m actually okay with the printing here over the tunic that Leia has with the fabric. I’ve gotten printed fabric customs before to use as dusters or robes, and they almost always end up obscuring the figure and just looking wrong. Also… what the heck is going on with his crotch in this picture?
The torso has an interesting pattern, but on the back, it really suffers since the legs don’t match at all. This is where the printing of the duster doesn’t work, but I’m not sure there’s a good solution here until LEGO starts printing leg backs. It still looks better than fabric, but I think this print is marred by the splotchy nature of the camo print. Apparently the Rebels generate their camo from used painting overalls. We also get yet another figure where the alt-face chin butt pokes through. We get the added addition of his cheeks coming down as well, which is just bad.
Han’s alt-face is indifferent, which doesn’t fit the character any more than Leia’s face did above. He was the charming rogue, and I wish LEGO would do something different. Maybe give us a smirk or perhaps a “oh crap run run run run” face we see so many times.
Our Rebel Troopers are revisions, of sorts, of the previous ones. I’m really a fan of grumpy old guy on the left. If that beard was a bit more red, it would totally get mixed into my personal figure. That angry look would work well for me. The printing here is lined up well, but that teeny little gap sort of draws the eyes. And while the printing works well, the real shame is that it hurts how reusable the legs and torsos are.
Here, the printing on the camo works out better than with Han. All of these Endor figures are noticeably darker, thanks to the introduction of olive green colors. Likewise, the helmet band is now dark green, but the general look of the helmet is similar to what it was before.
We now have a whole bunch of Rebel troopers at this point, and these guys look better, yet stand out from the huge number of troopers that I already have. I think it’s more apparent here, on a flat background. It’s possible if you put this into a forest display, maybe around the Ewok Village (I really need to re-assemble mine), they wouldn’t look as starkly out of place.
Unlike the Death Star Final Duel set, this set really is about the ship, where the minifigures are a secondary piece to the whole thing. Let me tell you right away, this set just blows away the previous versions of the ship. I know I usually do comparisons of sets, but it didn’t feel worth it here. There’s been such a huge gap between releases, and the builds are just so vastly different that it didn’t seem fair to either one.
The differences start with the cockpit, which actually swings up to show a spot for the pilot. Interestingly, when you look at the Imperial Shuttle as a ship, there should be a ramp that opens under the cockpit and lets things out of the back. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how you could really do it in a ship this size, which means no ramp. The big downside to this solution is that it doesn’t lock into place, which limits some of the swooshiness in the ship.
Maybe I should have built the old one to compare how much bigger this one feels. Compared to the minifigs, this version of the ship just sort of feels right. Sure, the interior can apparently seat fifty or so (based on how many Endor troopers seem to have showed up with General Solo and company), but I think that was more just a general liberty with interior filming more than anything else.
There’s actually an interior that gets hidden away for putting your troopers and the like. I would have liked to see a connection between the cockpit and the center (just like I would have liked a ramp), but it’s clear that the support structure was put where that’d opening would be. The big knock I have on these openings is for them to really work correctly, the wings have to be down, which means you have to be holding the ship to get to at it…
That or utilize a tragically empty Old Fashioned glass (or, in my case, use it as an excuse to quickly drink that scotch so it can be used for a picture) to get up at it. The wings look nice when extended, but unless you build extra or really just want to hold it up all the time, they’re going to spend most of their time up, and that means you can’t get at the interior.
The wings themselves are pretty interesting in how they all fit together. On the bottom, there’s a large technic click-hinge that gets put into the engines to keep stuff from just falling down. There’s also structure elements blended in to keep the wings from just falling apart. The whole build is quite sturdy, which is a big improvement over the older versions of the set (where wings would just fall off because it was a day that ended in a y).
The back is now mostly made of engines and some gaps around the passenger section. While there are some spaces here, there are technic bars that sit under it, plus it’s tucked away, so it doesn’t look too bad. It’s noticable, but not like the gaping holes that you see on some builds (like, say, the V-Wings). There are gaps under the cockpit section too, but unless you look at it from the bottom, you’re never going to notice.
The ship has a set of landing skids as well. They don’t fully retract into the body, but do slide back quite a bit when you decide to pick it up. It’s not a bad feature, but it does feel a bit unnecessary overall. We also get some flick-fire launchers built into the wings, and the lasers that sit on the hinges between are movable as well.
In the interior, we do get some of the bits that the Rebels are going to use to blow up that big dish. The crate of detonators is an especially nice touch, though i think I would have liked it even more if they would have filled the crate. As it sits, you need to buy two ships to fill this. Okay, that gets you a few extras, since you get an extra piece of both parts. And they’re not particularly rare, so it’s probably far easier to get them on the aftermarket.
There are a whole lot of little details tucked into this ship. As a shelf piece, it’s a fantastic upgrade to the original. You want to set it up either for the Rebel landing, or more likely for the Emperor’s arrival. It just begs to do something like that with it. Unlike the UCS, which is certainly huge, this ship fits more in the system scale of the minifigs. It’s a solid upgrade, there are good figures, and it looks nice. It’s not perfect, what with said lack of ramp and an interior that’s not particularly easy to get at… but that’s not enough to change that this is a solid 4 out of 5.
What I liked
- A rock solid build, with the wings all being anchored to the body and good hinges set up to keep it from drooping
- Minifigure upgrades, particularly Han, look nicer than the previous Endor versions
- It makes you want to do more with the ship, either in a display or just trying to do upgrades, a hallmark of a good set
What I didn’t like
- Have I said anything about the ramp being missing?
- There are some noticeable gaps that do detract from the build, like the back and under the cockpit
- The new structure, while making it sturdy, does make the bottom a bit ugly
- It’s difficult to get at the interior with the wings up, and impossible to put the wings down without putting something under the ship