Star Wars: The Force Awakens has taken the box office by storm in recent weeks and the quality of the film has exceeded the expectations of many fans and critics. The LEGO sets associated with the movie have been similarly well received overall.
It is rather tricky to give a full assessment of their design without being able to compare the models with the source material. Obviously this was not possible when the first wave became available in September, but now that the film has been released we can discuss the accuracy of each set in depth just as we did back in July for the LEGO Jurassic World range.
This article will contain spoilers after the break, so if you wish to avoid them I recommend not reading any further.
Before we begin our appraisal of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens sets we must first establish that the set designers probably had limited access to the source material, particularly in this case given the secrecy surrounding the plot. Sometimes you can see where the designer took inspiration from even when a set scarcely resembles what we see in the movie. A perfect example of this is 76006 Iron Man: Extremis Sea Port Battle from the Iron Man 3 line. Having seen the film it is clear that the set is woefully inaccurate, but based on the information that the designer might have had access to you can see how a battle at a sea port might be misconstrued in this way.
Furthermore the designers must, of course, take piece count and prices into account. Prices are almost always applied to sets prior to design, so designers are limited in how much of a scene or vehicle they can reproduce and must instead select certain details which they feel will best represent the information they have been given. The target market is important too. The vast majority of LEGO sets are primarily aimed at children so the appearance of stud shooters or functions in models where none exist in the source material is to be expected.
75099 Rey's Speeder
The smallest of the first wave of sets is one of the most prominent vehicles in the entire movie, appearing several times during the early scenes set on Jakku. The most immediately obvious issue with the set is its colour scheme. Dark red is not the correct colour for the panelling in my view and I think dark orange should have been used instead, although that would have required a number of pieces to be created in a new colour. The model is also substantially too big but I think that is fine given the increased level of detail which is included as a result.
On the whole the shape of the model is fairly accurate. The hull should be a little more rounded around the safety grille but there are no pieces which are better suited than the 1x3 arches as far as I am aware. The crate storage feature does not exist on the vehicle in the movie as any scavenged material is packed in a net on the side of the speeder. It is a shame that the net is not included on the model but I think the tools clipped to the side are a reasonable replacement.
I think the back is the best area of the model. The stacked engines look superb and the stabiliser vanes are represented perfectly. Rey can sit behind the controls just like in the film and the shape of the seat is exactly right.
75100 First Order Snowspeeder
Toys representing the First Order Snowspeeder have been produced in their droves but the vehicle scarcely appears in the film, occupying only a few seconds of screen time. I suspect the scene(s) in which the vehicle features was cut and its role was reduced as a result. It is therefore almost impossible to comment on its accuracy based on the movie and for that reason I must turn to the Star Wars The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross Sections book. Unfortunately I cannot show you the page spread as it is not available as a sample spread on Amazon, unlike those which are included in this article.
I actually like the LEGO model a great deal but it must be acknowledged that it is far too big in relation to the minifigures. However, I think the increased size is worth it as the level of detail captured is fantastic, particularly the velocity sensors mounted on the port side. The six stud-shooters mounted on the engine pods are absent in the film but they too are worthy of their place in my opinion as they increase the play value significantly.
75101 First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter
This is one of my favourite Star Wars sets of 2015, due in no small part to its incredible accuracy. The model looks fantastic from almost every angle and compares very well with the movie. Not only is the shaping of the cockpit absolutely perfect but the wings also include a high level of detail which seems to resemble the actual starfighter very closely.
The only major difference between the model and the film is the absence of the bracing spars on the inside of the wing panels. I also think the heavy laser turret slung beneath the cockpit sphere could be better represented too and it should be able to rotate. The fact that I can overlook these minor issues so readily is testament to the excellence of the design and I congratulate the designer on a job well done.
I should also confirm that the black bars mounted on top of the model are communication antennas, not laser cannons as was suggested in some reviews when the set was released. It is an easy mistake to make as they are mounted on a hinge on the model, presumably simply as a method of fitting them rather than as a play feature.
75102 Poe's X-wing Fighter
75102 Poe's X-wing Fighter seems to have been one of the most popular of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens sets and it is certainly an excellent toy with lots of play features and a great selection of minifigures. Conversely, it does not fair quite as well when compared with the source material.
The artwork below is from a Revell model kit but I think it is an accurate representation of the vehicle in the film. As you can see the shape of the nose is one of the most striking disparities as the nose of the LEGO model is completely wrong. The cockpit canopy is also too small in relation to the rest of the craft and the wing structure is nowhere near that of the vehicle in the film as they should divide down the centre of the wing rather than stacking on top of each other. Furthermore, the engine housings are far too bulky and the strut which divides the intakes is not present on the LEGO model which is unfortunate.
The only explanation I can think of for the many innaccuracies is that the designer was influenced by models of the T-65 X-wing which have come out in previous years. There are features of this set which remain unchanged from 9493 X-wing Starfighter when they really needed to be updated. Other toy manuafacturers were able to capture the appearance of the T-70 accurately, so I see no reason why LEGO could not. Nevertheless, this is a decent set as the minifigures are excellent and the play value is impressive even though the model leaves something to be desired.
75103 First Order Transporter
I have made no secret of my liking for this set. It is probably my favourite of the first wave as a result of the outstanding minifigure selection, enormous play value and high level of detail. The model is not perfectly accurate to the craft in the film but I think it strikes an appropriate balance between faithfulness to the source material and alterations made to create an excellent toy.
Despite the brilliance of this set as a whole, there are a few comments to be made regarding the accuracy of its design. Firstly, it is obviously substantially smaller than it ought to be and the scaling between the command tower and the rest of the vessel is therefore quite a long way from the image below. Clearly this is a result of the price point and it would need to be raised if we wanted a perfectly scaled model, although I think it is already the right size for a toy. There should also be some interior detailing towards the rear of the transporter which is not present in the model and the missile launchers stick out too much.
If you have not already purchased this set I strongly recommend that you do so. The model is excellent and the minifigure selection is equally impressive, even though Captain Phasma was demoted to a level akin to that of Hawkeye in the first Avengers movie!
75104 Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle
I think it is fair to say that 75104 Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle is the weak link in the first wave of sets based on The Force Awakens. There are numerous innaccuracies scattered throughout the model and I do not think the price or minifigure selection do the set any favours either. The significant price reductions on this set which have been made in the UK suggest that it has not been selling particularly well, perhaps as a result of the unpopularity of the craft and the distinctly average model.
I think the most prominent issue is the choice of colour. Black would have been more appropriate than dark bluish grey in my opinion and the areas of light bluish grey should be darker. The flaps beneath the main wings do not appear in the film at all and the interior surface of each wing looks awful, with a jarring splattering of red elements.
However, there are also plenty of positives. The crew compartment is precisely the right shape and I love the design of the interior, even though it is not as large as it should be. I must also praise the design of the wing mechanism which is very reminiscent of what is seen in the film. I originally assumed that the upper wings would slide down into the lower section but that is not the case at all and the parallel movement of the wings in this set is absolutely perfect. Clearly, my thoughts on this set are mixed.
75105 Millennium Falcon
75105 Millennium Falcon has received some criticism for its similarity to previous models of the famous freighter but I think it is excellent. The battered exterior of the Falcon is represented nicely using a variety of dark and light bluish grey parts as well as a few areas of tan and dark red. The combination of studded and smooth surfaces also suggests that the craft is battered, just as it should do.
The Kanjiklub gang do not appear on Jakku at any point as the box art indicates, instead attempting to collect payment from Han on the Eravana. On the other hand, Rey, Finn, BB-8, Han Solo and Chewbacca all have substantial roles in early scenes featuring the Millennium Falcon. My most significant criticism of this set based on its accuracy to the film is the absence of a maintenance hatche inside the crew lounge, which is integral to the scene in which Finn and Rey plot to release toxic gas in order to halt any Stormtroopers boarding the ship. Alternate faces where each one is wearing a breathing mask would have been superb too, as would the inclusion of the anti-infantry turret seen in The Empire Strikes Back as well as a deleted scene from The Force Awakens.
All of the other significant issues with the faithfulness of the set to the film are related to scale, although a much larger and more expensive UCS set would be required to fully match the vehicle in the film. Time will tell whether any such set is released in future but I would not be at all surprised. After all, the Millennium Falcon looks set to feature throughout the Sequel Trilogy with a brand new captain at the helm!
75131 Resistance Trooper Battle Pack
Battle Pack vehicles rarely resemble anything from the source material but this set bucks that trend by including a modified Gian-211 patrol craft. This speeder appears very briefly in the film but does not have the enormous turret mounted behind the cockpit. Instead it is used to ferry troops around and is not intended for combat, although you can see why the laser cannon was added to the LEGO model to increase the play value. It is easily removed if you prefer.
It is difficult to give thoughts on the accuracy of the model as we only see the vehicle for a moment during the movie, but based on a small image from Star Wars The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary this seems to resemble the actual vehicle. The scale is just about perfect and the colour scheme is quite faithful to the movie as well, right down to the yellow highlights which are shown in the Visual Dictionary as well as on the model.
75132 First Order Battle Pack
The laser cannon turret included in this set is not directly based on any seen in the film, it is simply intended as a generic weapon which might be seen on Starkiller Base. The turret is reminscent of the XX-9 heavy turbolasers from the Death Star but with a single barrel rather than the dual laser cannons seen in the Original Trilogy.
We know that laser batteries do exist on Starkiller Base but the reduced scale of this model has forced the designer to create an entirely new turret which resembles the full size ones but fits in a small set. I think it serves it purpose nicely and I am sure a more authentic model could be constructed using the pieces from multiple Battle Packs.
75139 Battle on Takodana
Maz Kanata's castle is the setting for some of the film's most exciting scenes and I think this is a decent representation of the building given the limitations imposed by the price point. The angular architecture of the fortress is captured effectively using 1x2x3 slopes and the dark tan, dark bluish grey and medium dark flesh bricks are ideal colours in my opinion. The steps leading to the door look splendid as well and are incredibly faithful to the movie.
The numerous play functions are also quite faithful to the movie, representing the total destruction of the castle which takes place during the battle between the First Order and the Resistance. The inclusion of a crate holding Luke's lightsaber is also an authentic detail which I rather like, as is the banner hanging above the entranceway.
I think the minifigure selection is equally impressive. Many of the major characters from the scene are included which is impressive and Maz Kanata is one of my favourite figures from the entire range! Location based Star Wars sets are hit and miss but this is one of the best.
75140 Resistance Troop Transporter
Unfortunately I cannot find any images of the Resistance Troop Transporter online, perhaps in part due to its relatively brief appearance. However, the craft does appear in Star Wars The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross Sections and based on those images, this is a fantastically accurate model. The scale seems to be about right and the interior looks as good as the exterior, although there are not as many seats for troops as there should be.
Much of this detail relies on stickers which is disappointing. Even the cockpit decoration is formed using three separate stickers, although it is difficult to argue with the results! The complicated shapes of the vehicle are represented accurately using some interesting building techniques, which will be discussed in full when our set review is published.
I think the Star Wars: The Force Awakens range is superb on the whole. No single set is absolutely perfect but I think some of them come impressively close, especially 75101 First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter and 75140 Resistance Troop Transporter.
These will not be the final sets released based on The Force Awakens and I look forward to finding out which other scenes and craft will appear in LEGO. I think the Quadjumper might be among the sets, hopefully with Unkar Plutt, Constable Zuvio and Sarko Plank minifigures included.
If you are interested in the design of the vehicles from the film then I absolutely recommend Star Wars The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross Sections. The book is available now from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.