BB-8 proved to be among the most popular new characters to emerge from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and was an enormous merchandising success in 2015. Many LEGO fans created their own models of the famed droid and an official rendition has now been released which seems certain to impress and may prove to be the best selling of the eleven Star Wars: The Last Jedi sets released on Force Friday II.
75187 BB-8 contains 1106 pieces and is priced at £84.99 in the UK or $99.99 in the US. That seems reasonable based on the piece count alone but I think some people may be a little disappointed in the size of the model, standing 25cm in height without the stand. Nevertheless, I have been very excited for this set and have high expectations that it will match or even surpass the thoroughly impressive 10225 R2-D2!
This set includes a small BB-8 figure to be displayed alongside his larger counterpart, just as 10225 R2-D2 was accompanied by an R2-D2 minifigure. The droid consists of only two pieces which were unique to this figure until the arrival of BB-9E. Both are intricately printed and match the source material very closely, particularly where the metallic silver tool bay panels are concerned as these feature different designs on all four sides so reflect the appearance of the character in the films perfectly.
The Completed Model
There has been some debate concerning whether or not 75187 BB-8 should be considered an Ultimate Collector's Series set, due in part to the inclusion of this black display stand. Its design is very much like the stands found throughout the UCS range and it even includes a stickered plaque showing a few technical details about the droid. The BB-8 model slots into the supports perfectly and there is even a spot for displaying the minifigure.
LEGO pieces are ill-suited to building spheres so BB-8 presents a considerable challenge given that the droid consists entirely of a large sphere which forms the body and a hemispherical head. However, the designer has made clever use of a Lowell Sphere to form the curved shape and I think it looks brilliant, particularly when viewed from a distance as the inevitable jagged edges become less apparent.
Removing one of the six panels that make up BB-8's body reveals a fairly elaborate Technic structure inside. This serves two roles as the gears are dedicated to a couple of mechanisms activated from the exterior while the longer Technic liftarms ensure the absolute stability of the model. It feels very sturdy when picked up and is quite heavy in relation to its size.
The first mechanism is activated by turning one of the tool bay discs which causes the head to rotate. This works brilliantly and the motion is quite realistic as there is also some transverse movement so the head appears to bob up and down, as if held in place by several magnetic casters. In fact, it is simply connected to the body using a Technic axle but this is very well hidden beneath the centre of the head.
The horizontal motion is facilitated by a rubber band found within the body so the head will always return to the centre as long as the model is displayed on a flat surface. If BB-8 is placed at an angle then the head will dip in the direction of travel, just as it does when BB-8 moves at speed in the films! This function is a lot of fun and gives the droid a great deal of personality based simply on the range of possible poses.
BB-8's head is traditionally constructed with almost all of the studs facing upwards but it still looks very detailed. I like the black 2x2 slider which forms the primary photoreceptor and the holographic projector is mounted at an angle which looks great. There is perhaps a little too much space between the photoreceptor and the projector but I think such a minor inaccuracy can be excused at this scale given the absence of specialised pieces.
The high level of detail continues all the way around the head as rows of alternating white and orange plates form a series of small access panels. Two antennas are fitted to the top and the high frequency receiver includes black pieces at the top and bottom, recreating the design from the movies with the utmost accuracy! The back of the body is similarly faithful to the source material and features a second tool bay, although this one is purely decorative.
Another tool hatch is hidden underneath the model. It does not house any functions but looks great and offers surprising stability as the tiles cover a reasonably wide surface area. BB-8 is therefore very unlikely to tip over accidentally and I would be confident in displaying the droid without its stand, although it looks marvellous in either configuration.
I appreciate the attention to detail shown by the designer as each tool bay features a different design, all of which are accurate to the droid in the movie. Furthermore, not only do the final hatches look superb but they also conceal a lovely function as rotating the panel on the side extends the welding torch which BB-8 memorably used to imitate Finn's 'thumbs up' gesture in Star Wars: The Force Awakens!
This is a tremendous feature and it works very smoothly as the extending arm pushes the hatch open while concurrently folding out the trans-medium blue flame. Ideally, I would have liked the flame to extend a little further and I should mention that only a small section of the panel opens to reveal the torch in the film. However, that would be impossible to recreate precisely at this scale and I am quite satisfied with the current design.
The welding torch is retracted simply by rotating the panel in the other direction and it folds away as smoothly as it opens. Unfortunately, the hatch is not connected to the extending arm so it must be closed manually but this is still an excellent feature and I like the spear tip which is used to depict the flame as the standard flame piece would be the wrong shape.
75187 BB-8 is undoubtedly comparable with 10225 R2-D2 as both models depict well-known droids and rely upon traditional combinations of bricks and plates to form curved surfaces. I have therefore been very eager to find out whether the two sets are appropriately scaled and I am delighted to report that they are! The top of BB-8's head reaches just over half way up Artoo's shoulder so matches the film perfectly and you could certainly display them together.
This is a truly fantastic set. The spherical shape has been rendered very effectively and I love the detailed tool bay discs, each of which features a unique design, just as in the movie. The model looks magnificent on display, particularly since the black stand presents an attractive contrast with the bright white and orange of BB-8, although I think it is equally impressive when standing alone without additional support.
In addition, the set includes a couple of fun features which increase the play value quite considerably without compromising the appearance of the model. I imagine the exposed studs will not appeal to everyone but I find them quite charming and the presence of a BB-8 minifigure to stand alongside its larger counterpart is a welcome bonus. I think the price of £84.99 or $99.99 seems reasonable in relation to the content and weight of the set so I absolutely recommend adding 75187 BB-8 to your collection.
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