The Ultimate Collector's Series has come to encompass various kinds of products in recent years, ranging from enormous display models to what can only be described as prodigious play sets. However, 75144 Snowspeeder marks a welcome return to the original focus of the UCS range as a popular vehicle is rendered at a large scale and with an exceptional level of detail.
The T-47 Airspeeder is one of the most popular and recognisable vehicles from the Original Trilogy and it is therefore not surprising to see it rendered for a second time in the Ultimate Collector's Series. 10129 Rebel Snowspeeder was released in 2003 and remains comparably impressive today so I have high expectations that 75144 Snowspeeder will be even better!
Box and Contents
The front of the box displays the Snowspeeder in flight, with three AT-ATs bearing down upon the rebels in the distance. I love the billowing snow effect along the edge of the wing and the bright orange explosions present an attractive contrast against the white surface of Hoth. The golden Ultimate Collector's Series badge is printed on the box and this is certainly a set worthy of such distinction, meeting all the requirements of a UCS model in my opinion.
Small images demonstrate the numerous play features and high level of detail on the back of the box, with the Snowspeeder on its stand in the centre. This low angle shows off the shaping of the armour very effectively and I like the shot from the rear in particular as this has always been my favourite aspect of the T-47 Airspeeder.
The instruction manual is exactly 300 pages in length and contains technical specifications for the T-47 Airspeeder alongside interviews with the set designer, the graphic designer and the art director. These features are consistently excellent and I was particularly interested to hear how the design of 10129 Rebel Snowspeeder influenced that of this set. Unfortunately there are a number of factual and typographical errors in the text, just as there are in the instructions for 75098 Assault on Hoth and 75159 Death Star. Hopefully such oversights will be resolved in future production runs.
The 1703 pieces are divided across thirteen numbered bags and a large sticker sheet is also included, containing a total of 35 stickers. Printed pieces would certainly have been welcome but most of the stickers are easy to apply and I think it would be unrealistic to expect all of the designs to be printed. However, the display plaque should certainly have been printed as it is very difficult to avoid trapping air bubbles beneath such a large sticker.
75144 Snowspeeder is considerably larger than minifigure scale but includes two exclusive figures, the first of which is a Rebel Snowspeeder Pilot. The designer video suggests that the characters should be identifiable based on their helmet designs. On that basis the dark helmet of the pilot most closely resembles that worn by Zev Senesca, although the sides of his headgear are white in the film so this inaccuracy is a little disappointing. Nevertheless, I like the distinctive colour choice and the silver battle damage looks splendid.
Both minifigures feature a double-sided head, with smiling and frightened expressions as well as an orange visor and chin strap. I think a determined grimace would have been more appropriate than a grin and the inclusion of two identical heads is unfortunate. On the other hand, I like the designs on the torso and legs, due in part to the addition of arm printing which has not appeared on a Rebel pilot before and offers an extra dimension of detail.
If we assume that the pilot is intended to represent Zev Senesca then the corresponding Rebel Snowspeeder Gunner should be Kit Valent. However, the instruction manual identifies the minifigure as Will Scotian, a pilot who participated in the Battle of Hoth but is better known for his appearance in Steve Perry's Shadows of the Empire. Scotian seems like an arbitrary selection and is not entirely appropriate given that he is neither a gunner nor a member of Rogue Squadron during the events of The Empire Strikes Back.
However, the minifigure looks great and is sufficiently generic that it could represent almost anybody. His helmet is not shown in the film but I like this simple design, with two red Alliance Starbird insignia and a dark bluish grey stripe in the centre. He wears the same orange flight suit as the pilot and comes complete with printed arms as well as a blaster pistol. Senesca is equipped with a pair of white macrobinoculars.
The Completed Model
No franchise boasts the breadth of iconic vehicles offered by Star Wars and the T-47 Airspeeder is one of my favourite examples. Its deceptively intricate shape gives the immediate impression of outstanding speed and manoeuvrability and this is reflected in the design of the LEGO model. It measures 40cm in length so is slightly smaller than the earlier 10129 Rebel Snowspeeder but the accuracy of the angled armour is far superior, facilitated by the much larger range of parts available to current designers.
A black display stand is included and comes complete with a specification plaque and room for the two minifigures. It slots into the underside of the Snowspeeder and comfortably supports the model in two positions, either level or angled towards the port side. I like the simple curvature of the feet and this stand matches those found in other UCS sets so they will look splendid when displayed together.
The details listed on the plaque are correct and follow the layout of past UCS models. It is almost impossible to avoid air bubbles when applying this large sticker and I certainly think these 8x16 tiles should be printed, although that has not been the case throughout the seventeen year history of the Ultimate Collector's Series and I doubt it will change now.
Four studs are left exposed on both the front and back of the stand so you can fit the fact panel on either side. The central section consists almost entirely of Technic elements, ensuring that the support structure remains sturdy even under the heavy weight of a substantial model like the Snowspeeder.
The armour at the front of the vehicle is angled quite severely and this was perhaps the weakest aspect of the original UCS Snowspeeder. A range of parts were available in 2003, forcing the designer to use 2x4 slopes which left some unsightly gaps. This model is far superior in this regard as small ball joints are used to connect different sections of armour plating, forming an accurate shape which lines up perfectly with the wings.
An orange stripe runs down the centre of the forward section and includes a sticker with the homing sensors as well as a series of pearl silver 1x2 grilles which represent the targeting system. The orange stripe continues onto the cockpit and both stickers show some light battle damage as the paint has been worn.
Further orange markings are visible on each wing and these are also represented using stickers. I like the addition of some extra colours to break up the white colour scheme and the differing textures of studs and tiles is also useful in this respect. The angled edge of the wing is faithful to the film and it is only two plates thick so looks appropriately sleek when viewed from the side.
Laser cannons are bolted to the wings and these are represented more accurately than ever before, with Technic elements used to represent the energiser coils and other details along their entire length. Furthermore, each one is set at a slight inward angle so the laser bolts will meet at a distant focal point. This is accurate to the design from the movie and I was pleasantly surprised by their rigidity as I had been concerned that the introduction of turntables to angle the laser cannons might cause them to wobble.
Stickers form the power couplings and air intakes on the wings, both of which look marvellous. However, many of the mechanical details are represented using rows of tiny pieces, as exemplified at the base of the forward repulsor housing where binoculars and pearl silver cones are employed to excellent effect.
The aft repulsor unit housing is decorated with an attractive orange stripe and is built using some advanced techniques. A combination of slopes and angled tiles form the shape of the armour and I love the scattered dark bluish grey elements which provide some additional detail. Unfortunately the stripe is interrupted by a white bracket at one point but this is unavoidable and could easily be excused as an area of worn paint, just as is seen on the stickers at the front of the model.
The authenticity of the repulsor housing is undoubtedly impressive but I must acknowledge that the innermost surface should be constructed at a shallower angle. The shape of the air intake has dictated the angle of the armour panel and I cannot envisage how it might have been improved without compromising the appearance of the Snowspeeder from other angles so I think this minor inaccuracy is a reasonable compromise.
The thrust nozzles are one of the best aspects of the entire set in my opinion. They are constructed quite simply but the arrangement of six 1x1 round plates around the gear in the centre looks great, perfectly recreating the design from the movie. I like the authentic hazard warning stripes on either side and the ventral air brake underneath is constructed very nicely, with an actuator that really works!
Twisting the thrust nozzles will cause the dorsal air brakes to open, revealing even more mechanical detail inside! The motion is very smooth and I appreciate how the designer has ensured that the shape of the air brake is accurate, with an angled surface on the outermost edge. Rotating the nozzle in the other direction will close the flap and it fits perfectly to form a smooth surface.
The cockpit canopy has proven difficult to render in past models of the T-47 Airspeeder but the creation of a brand new windscreen has resolved this persistent issue. It looks brilliant and is accurately decorated using stickers on every surface. The white pillars along either side of the canopy are reasonably faithful to the vehicle in the film and I like the window on top which is formed using a trans-clear 4x3 panel.
Identification markings are found on either side of the cockpit and the gunner position is relatively enclosed, with only small windows though which they can view the battlefield. Two click hinges are visible on top and I was worried that these would not be strong enough to support the weight of the entire canopy alone.
However, these hinges are more than sufficient for the task and you can position the cockpit canopy at any angle. The interior is absolutely packed with realistic details and includes seating for the pilot and the tail gunner as well as authentic flight and fire controls on every available surface.
The pilot sits facing forward and is surrounded by a panoply of controls, some of which are printed while others use stickers. The central console is printed on a 2x2 slope but the altitude and pitch displays feature stickers showing the snowy surface of Hoth. Foot pedals dictate the yaw of the Snowspeeder while dual control columns open the air brakes on either side and these are cleverly represented using machine gun elements.
The seats are situated back to back and look superb, with black upholstery and an attractive curved component on top. Stickers form the displays on the walls of the cockpit and these designs are accurate when compared with the film, demonstrating exceptional attention to detail on the part of the graphic designer.
The fire-control system consists of two printed consoles and a control yoke which is adorned with a sticker showing the foot of an AT-AT. I love these kinds of details and the additional controls located beside the seat look splendid, again mirroring those seen during the Battle of Hoth in the film.
My favourite play feature in the set is found here as moving the control yoke will cause the harpoon launcher to rotate. The mechanism is remarkably simple and works perfectly, even recreating the reversed controls we see when Wes Janson uses the harpoon in the movie. Moving the yoke to the left will turn the launcher to the right and vice versa, as shown in the image below.
The pitch of the harpoon gun must be controlled manually and you can also rotate it manually without damaging the control yoke mechanism. The twin barrels look splendid and I particularly like how black roller skates represent the mechanical details on either side of the tow cable launcher.
The enormous bank of cooling fins beneath the harpoon has always been my favourite part of the Snowspeeder and they have been brilliantly recreated in this set. I love the details which are visible between the insulators and the presence of a few black and pearl silver elements is very satisfying. It would have been nice to see the full compliment of fifteen fins included but eleven is sufficient and it would be impossible to add any more at this scale.
The top of the Snowspeeder is richly detailed and a similarly pleasing standard is maintained underneath. The orange stripes match those seen on top and I like the combination of light and dark bluish grey panels very much. Some may reasonably argue that the entire T-47 Airspeeder should be light bluish grey as they appear this colour in numerous shots from the film. However, I favour the predominantly white colour scheme as I think it better represents the factory fresh model and presents a more attractive contrast with the orange areas.
Additional air intakes litter the underside of the Snowspeeder and a retractable landing leg is also included, allowing you to display the model without the stand if you wish. You can see the hole into which the display stand fits in the photo below, just behind the landing gear.
The underside of the armour at the front is the least visually appealing area of the model. This could not have been avoided without compromising the accuracy of the design when viewed from above and I like the ice skates which line the leading edge to create some textured detail. The armour underneath is also angled using ball joints but relies upon rubber bands to maintain its shape. These are carefully hidden and are under little stress so they are unlikely to perish as has been the case for a few rubber bands in past LEGO sets.
The ventral air brakes are best viewed from underneath and they function just as in the film, with the actuators extending as the flaps open. I like the contrast between the grey air brakes and the black ram and a smaller, non-functional actuator is also included which is delightful as this is faithful to the source material. Tiny details like these are found across the entire model and they combine to form a marvellous Ultimate Collector's Series set.
The Ultimate Collector's Series has experienced a difficult period over the last couple of years but 75144 Snowspeeder is a worthy addition to the pantheon of brilliant Star Wars models which make up the UCS collection. The level of detail is exceptional and I applaud the thoroughly impressive accuracy of the overall design, although there is still room for very slight improvement in certain areas.
I like the play features included as they do not interfere with the exterior appearance of the model and each one functions perfectly. The vehicle is sturdily constructed and can be flown around with two hands if you wish, although its weight is restrictive and I prefer to leave it on the black display stand where it looks absolutely fantastic.
I certainly recommend 75144 Snowspeeder, whether or not you own 10129 Rebel Snowspeeder. The price of £169.99 or $199.99 seems comparatively reasonable and the improvements over the older model are numerous. Moreover, I think enough time has passed to warrant an update as the vast majority of current LEGO Star Wars fans will not own the original UCS model of the T-47 Airspeeder, myself included. I think this is the best Ultimate Collector's Series set since 75060 Slave I was released in January of 2015 and it is actually one of my favourite Star Wars sets to date!
This set was provided for review by The LEGO Group but the review is an expression of my own opinions.