The LEGO Star Wars Rebels range has been excellent so far and I am hoping that the three large sets being released this summer will maintain the record set over the last couple of years. As season two began some of our favourite characters and craft from the Original Trilogy returned, including Darth Vader, his famous TIE Advanced and the A-wing fighter.
75150 Vader's TIE Advanced vs. A-wing Starfighter offers all of those and more in a single set, so seems like one of the most exciting Star Wars sets of the summer wave. Hopefully that will prove to be an accurate expectation.
This is Sabine Wren's first appearance in her guise from season two and I think the updated version is significantly better than the previous figure which was included in a couple of sets last year. Unfortunately her skin tone has not been altered and it is still too light as a result, although I like her colourful hair very much.
Her head is the same as usual, with a grimace on one side and a neutral expression on the other while her torso and legs have been updated to include much more printed detail on the front and back. Her belt does not quite match between the hips and torso but it looks alright to me and is certainly a huge improvement over last year's effort.
Sabine's arms have also been improved quite significantly. Gone are the flesh coloured components, replaced instead by black with dark orange gloves. It would have been wonderful to see some printing on the arms, but this is a step in the right direction. A pair of blaster pistols are included but her helmet is absent which is annoying. I have no idea why LEGO seem so reluctant to include Sabine's helmet but the hair is great so the minifigure is impressive nonetheless.
A generic A-wing pilot is also included. She is clearly based on Phoenix Two from the season two episode 'Homecoming' which is interesting as the character only appears for a matter of seconds before being brutally shot down while trying to escape a skirmish. The colour scheme of her fighter matches that of the model in this set as well which shows impressive attention to detail.
The existing helmet mould is excellent and I like the new colours which adorn it in this set, although we only see the pilots with their visors lowered in the animated series due to limited animation budgets and this exposed face is therefore slightly inaccurate. Nevertheless, this is an excellent minifigure and I am pleased to see the ranks of Rebel personnel bolstered.
Darth Vader has only been slightly updated since he appeared in 75093 Death Star Final Duel last summer. He now has a new printed design on the torso which reflects the more angular appearance of his animated character model as opposed to the live action version seen in the films. His helmet has not undergone the same treatment and is therefore rather inaccurate to Star Wars Rebels, although I do like the helmet which was introduced last year.
It consists of two parts and can be split to reveal Vader's scarred head underneath, which is printed on the front and back. It still bothers me slightly that the helmet is shaped as though Darth Vader is looking upwards but it is an improvement over the older design in my opinion.
As ever, Darth Vader wears an intimidating cape and is equipped with a red bladed lightsaber. Unfortunately there is nowhere to store the lightsaber onboard the TIE Advanced but I am glad that it is included.
The fourth and final minifigure is Grand Moff Tarkin, who has been a thorn in the side of the Rebels since the end of season one. Incredibly, this is only Tarkin's third appearance in a set and the first since 2008, so the minifigure has undergone and enormous update as one would expect. His uniform is now dark tan to reflect the Imperial attire seen in Star Wars Rebels and his hair has also been altered to more closely reflect his onscreen appearance.
This is the first time the hair piece has appeared in dark bluish grey and it looks splendid, as does his wrinkled face. He looks decidely unfriendly on both sides and is accordingly armed with a blaster pistol.
The Completed Model
The A-wing fighter has been a consistent presence in Star Wars Rebels since the end of the first season. Its design has been drawn closer to the original concept artwork produced by Ralph McQuarrie and this model has been created accordingly, so departs quite dramatically from earlier versions such as 75003 A-wing Starfighter.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the A-wing is the colour scheme which has been chosen. These dark green markings have appeared on a couple of starfighters in the show but the blue designs are far more prevalent and more appealing in some respects. I wonder whether the blue and grey colour scheme of 75149 Resistance X-wing Fighter decided the pattern which would be used on this A-wing.
Regardless, the combination of dark green, light bluish grey and yellow looks splendid to me and I appreciate the unusual colour choice. The shape of the model is spot on as well, with angled stabiliser wings and completely enclosed thrust vector control rudders, just as we see in the animated series. I actually prefer this sleeker design to that which appears in Return of the Jedi, although that will obviously vary from one person to the next.
The cockpit canopy can be opened to seat the pilot inside and a stickered control panel is also included. You can also move the laser cannons on either side to face forwards or backwards during dogfights. The engine pods look great and the new fin elements which are used on the top and bottom of each one form a very attractive profile.
Landing gear is hidden underneath along with a pair of white rubber bands which are attached in three places. These are used for the primary feature of the A-wing, although it might not be immediately obvious given how well this function has been hidden.
By pulling back on the entire central section of the model you can launch a pair of missiles from the front! This is almost invisible from most angles and works perfectly so I am quite pleased with the feature. However, it must be acknowledged that it seems rather overengineered in some respects as a simple button could have accomplished the same thing.
It is over seven years since Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1 has been seen in a LEGO set and building techniques have advanced enormously in that time. It is therefore somewhat surprising that this model has changed relatively little since 2009, although many of the alterations which have been made are certainly for the better.
The most notable of these centres upon the cockpit which now includes a pair of printed 6x6 hatch elements which were introduced last year. These look brilliant and it is difficult to imagine how the design could be improved in future, particularly given the impressive level of detail inside the cockpit. Darth Vader can be seated comfortably behind the controls and the hatch on top can be opened for access to the minifigure.
Spring loaded shooters are mounted beneath the cockpit and these can be activated remotely by pushing down on black buttons on top. The exposed Technic elements beside the cockpit are slightly bothersome but do not detract from the model too much as the wings conceal the inconsistent colours very effectively.
The wings are angled appropriately but are attached using Technic pins so tend to wobble a little during flight. This is a great shame as I had hoped these issues had been resolved following the more secure construction method used in 75101 First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter last year. Nevertheless, the design looks good and is certainly stable, just not quite to the extent I would like.
The large rear section forms a perfect place to grip the model when flying it around and is decorated with some detailed stickers which replicate the designs seen in the show very accurately. It looks as good from the rear as it does from the front!
This is a thoroughly impressive set on the whole but there are some drawbacks, the most significant of which is definitely the price. The two models are roughly the same size and neither is worth £39.99 if they were to be sold individually, so they are not worth £79.99 when combined.
However, in all other respects I like this set very much. The minifigures are splendid and the two fighters are also very impressive, striking a perfect balance between play features and faithfulness to the source material. I think a reduction of around 25% would be reasonable and at that price point I would certainly recommend this set if you are a fan of Star Wars Rebels.
What's Missing? Revenge of the Sith has been delayed until next week to make room for new set reviews but keep an eye on the homepage next Sunday!
This set was provided for review by Norton & Co. but the review is an expression of my own opinions.