75159 Death Star has been the subject of enormous speculation for months, with some believing that we might see a display model akin to 10143 Death Star II and others considering the possibility of a set based on Starkiller Base.
Now that the set has been revealed, under bizarre circumstances, this has been proven incorrect and 75159 is instead almost identical to 10188 Death Star which was retired earlier this year. This has elicited a great deal of disappointment which is understandable as there is plenty of room for improvement and this has not been exploited to the fullest extent possible.
The reveal of 75159 Death Star has altered our schedule a little so What's Missing? Return of the Jedi will be published next Sunday instead but for now we are taking a closer look at the new set and how it differs from the original.
What has changed?
The most apparent alteration has been made to the minifigures. 10188 Death Star was released in 2008 and was finally withdrawn from sale in December of 2015, seven years and five months after it first arrived. The design of minifigures was greatly advanced during that time but the selection included in 10188 remained the same, but for the addition of white pupils to the eyes in latter production runs. This therefore left the 24 minifigures looking rather outdated after the set had been available for a few years and I am glad to see that they have been suitably updated for 75159.
There are now 25 minifigures included but only a few are brand new. Han Solo features a new hair piece and the RA-7 Protocol Droid head first seen in 75051 Jedi Scout Fighter is finally re-used on an updated Death Star Droid. The Imperial Astromech Droid has also been improved and now has blue markings to match those of R3-M3 from the film. Grand Moff Tarkin has also been updated with a new hair piece and is flanked by a pair of Imperial Officers which did not appear in 10188 Death Star. Death Star Gunners have been introduced since 2008 as well so were not included with the original set. The white Assassin Droid is the only figure to have been removed.
The new set is obviously very similar to the original but the piece count has increased from 3803 to 4016 which suggests that some changes have been made. The ones I have spotted are as follows:
- The Imperial conference chamber now has black light fittings on the walls.
- The dial which controls the elevation of the superlaser dish is a little taller which makes it easier to access but spoils the appearance of the model to some extent.
- The superlaser itself has also been adjusted in order to strengthen the central laser.
- The turbolaser underneath now includes spring-loaded shooters rather than the rubber missile launcher used on 10188 Death Star.
- The design of the Dianoga's legs has been altered. They are now formed using horn elements in reddish brown.
- Curved corner bricks were used for the base of the tractor beam terminal and these have been replaced by angled bricks on the new model.
- Darth Vader's TIE Advanced has been updated quite significantly with more black pieces on the wings and some dark bluish grey slopes which have supplanted the light bluish grey parts from the 2008 design.
The back of the box shows the other side of the model and reveals a few more updates:
- The tips of the twin turbolasers have been altered and now feature some Technic gears rather than the lightsaber hilt elements which appeared on 10188.
- Brighter colours are used for the lever which controls the turbolasers.
- The tool and helmet racks in the droid maintenance area have been swapped for a slightly bulkier design.
- The window in the Emperor's throne room is formed using the printed piece which appeared in 75093 Death Star Final Duel.
- A couple more barrels are placed on the floor in the throne room.
- Light bluish grey bushes were used on the TIE Fighter rack in the original set and these have been swapped for yellow pieces.
- The yellow crane in the maintenance bay has undergone some significant changes.
- An extra baluster supports the railing on the bottom level.
What could have been improved?
I like 10188 Death Star very much but it is not perfect, particularly by the standards of today. The original design was very successful and it would be unwise to overhaul the entire model but there are therefore several improvements which could have been made and these are described below:
- I think the weakest aspect of #10188 is the stepped design on the exterior edge of each wall. A combination of bricks with studs on the side and curved slopes could have resolved that quite easily.
- The play value could have been further improved by allowing the floors to be easily separated, akin to a Modular Building. That would also have allowed the bottom floor to be used properly, even if only for some corridor space.
- An outer shell could have been introduced to improve the display value, even if only on one side of the model. This could perhaps have been designed in conjunction with a feature which would allow the floors to be separated.
- I would have omitted Darth Vader's TIE Advanced and the loading rack as it does not look very good in my opinion and also hinders access to the hangar bay for play.
- The superlaser is not accurate to the film as the primary laser does not emit from the centre of the dish in the film and is instead formed by the eight tributary beams.
- The tractor beam terminal area could have been improved with some additional detail as it has always looked rather bland to me.
- The lift between the maintenance bay and the hangar bay required some refinement as the original design did not fit into the floor of the hangar properly.
The long lifespan of 10188 Death Star suggests that the set was exceedingly successful and I am sure 75159 will prove similarly popular with children and new adult fans. However, the majority of existing LEGO Star Wars fans are understandably disappointed as it would have been nice to see something new or at least see some further improvements over 10188 as there are plenty of alterations which might have been made given the huge range of new elements which have been released since 2008.
Inflation would warrant an increase over the original price of £274.99 or $399.99 but the increases far exceed that of inflation as the new set is priced at £399.99 in the UK and $499.99 in the US.
Ultimately, I do not object to the fact that 10188 Death Star has been remade but an opportunity has been missed by not making further updates. 10188 is not a perfect set and 75159 makes no attempt whatsoever to improve upon the original which is not good enough in my opinion.
I think the LEGO Star Wars range has been poor in 2016 and this set does little to change my view. 75098 Assault on Hoth was very disappointing and I do not think the standard of retail sets has matched that of earlier years. However, the Rogue One selection looks great and I look forward to reviewing them towards the end of September. We have plenty more Star Wars coverage to publish before then including two more 'What's Missing?' articles, a review of 75159 Death Star and much more!
Are you satisfied with 75159 Death Star and what changes would you have liked to see? Share your thoughts in the comments below.