Interview with Hans Burkhard Schlömer, designer of 75192 Millennium Falcon

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The announcement of 75192 Millennium Falcon met with a response of unprecedented excitement on the 1st of September and its release, which took place just a couple of weeks later, proved the sheer magnitude of fans' anticipation as the set sold out online and in stores within a matter of minutes.

We know that Brickset readers are always eager to learn more about the design process behind LEGO products so we contacted Hans Burkhard Schlömer, the creator of 75192 Millennium Falcon and numerous other popular Star Wars sets, to discuss his experience designing this monumental model. Hans very kindly agreed to answer some of our questions about the new Ultimate Collector's Series set and you can read the interview after the break...


When was it decided that a brand new Ultimate Collector’s Series Millennium Falcon would be designed for the fortieth anniversary of Star Wars?

Several circumstances were coming together here with perfect timing: the unbroken popularity of the legendary LEGO 10179 UCS Millennium Falcon, its own 10-year anniversary, Star Wars Episode VII showcasing the Falcon in a fantastic way – and of course also the 40th anniversary of the film that launched us into this amazing galaxy far, far away...

What can you tell us about your history within LEGO and the LEGO Star Wars design team?

Working at the LEGO Group for almost 10 years now, I joined the LEGO Star Wars team more than 3 years ago. The first set I worked on was – a Millennium Falcon! 75105 from The Force Awakens became hugely popular and even won a “toy of the year award”, the equivalent of an Oscar in the toy industry. As to how I scored this job in the first place, well – while working on a different LEGO product line, I was entrusted with the design of a Star Wars UCS set, the well-received 75060 UCS Slave I. Later, when there was an open position on the Star Wars team, they sent bounty hunters to pick me up!

Did you feel a particular sense of responsibility when designing the largest LEGO set ever?

Designing the largest LEGO set ever was not something I had on my mind initially, or set out to do. But after working on it for a while it slowly dawned on me that it would indeed be that, the biggest LEGO set ever sold. There was one memorable day pretty early on when the piece count surpassed a previous record holder, 10189 Taj Mahal, (5922 elements). But as you know today, it didn't stop there, and the goal became bigger than reviving a vintage LEGO set. Also, it is the Millennium Falcon, one of the most iconic ships ever. So yes, there was some pressure to get it absolutely right, but most of the pressure was self-imposed by a perfectionist approach. I consider this task my own version of Han Solo’s famous Kessel run!

LEGO products often involve a great deal of collaboration between designers. To what extent did other members of the Star Wars team contribute to the creation of this set?

The LEGO Star Wars team is extremely busy these days so even on large tasks there is usually only one designer assigned to a set. In this case it was me, chiselling away at this new UCS model for about eight months. Not in solitude, however! At LEGO, we are used to working as a team. Designers look at each other’s models regularly and share ideas. When a designer runs into a problem, we are not left alone. This is very reassuring when you are responsible for designing a set that will be sold all over the world!

What challenges does designing such an enormous set present?

One word: space! Our working desks at LEGO seem huge, but they quickly fill up when you put computer equipment on them, add some concept models and bins of other stuff and LEGO elements. Then try to find room on the desk for even just one copy of the UCS Millennium Falcon to continuously work on! Fortunately, I am used to working with digital LEGO design tools on my computer. This allows me to apply changes much more quickly and easily than in the real world. It also drastically reduced the amount of copies I had to build to document changes and improvements. But while this greatly helped, there were challenges that couldn't be solved in the digital realm only – like how to deal with the tremendous weight of this particular model!

Did choosing to include an interior cause any issues relating to the stability of the model during the design phase?

Not at all. There were open spaces in the internal support frame of the older UCS Falcon already, which I used for a start. It was a matter of moving all the LEGO Technic beams further apart to make some more space. Not as much space as I would have liked, but just enough to put in every interior feature seen in the movies that I thought the Falcon should have.

What kinds of reference material did you use when designing the set?

There are many pictures of awesome fan-created studio-scale models on the internet, but it is important that we designers stick to official reference material, like pictures of actual movie props from the Lucasfilm archive, and use other sources only for inspiration. Eventually, our product needs to be approved by Lucasfilm - and they always look very closely at every detail.

Did your experience designing 75105 Millennium Falcon have any impact upon the creation of this Ultimate Collector’s Series set?

Due to their vastly different sizes, both models have less in common than one would think. One detail from 75105 that made it into the new UCS however are the trans-blue flex tubes used for the sublight engines. They also share a LEGO Technic frame providing stability. But while on 75105 the frame is under the model (allowing for an interior), on the UCS version it is hidden on the inside.

What inspiration did you take from 10179 Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon?

Since 75192 is based on, and started off around the frame of the older UCS Falcon, I definitely took more than just inspiration from 10179! I even kept the way the hull panels are attached, because it still made sense to design the set this way.

Were there any aspects of 10179 Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon that you were particularly keen to improve upon when designing 75192 Millennium Falcon?

In my eyes 10179 still looked good even after so many years, but there were opportunities for upgrades, like making everything even more accurate, making everything round that should be round, ramping up the level of detail and greebling, putting in some interior and generally be a little more courageous with colors. All of this using the latest elements, of course. I am especially happy with the new windscreen element we made.

LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary revealed that 10179 Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon was designed before being assigned a price, inverting the usual design process. Was the same process applied to this set?

Correct, Jens Kronvold Frederiksen designed 10179 on his own and it then became a set! Developing a product portfolio is complex and involves a lot of planning, which makes it difficult for designers to push their own side projects.

What aspects of the set are you most satisfied with?

I am very satisfied with the exterior and the way the interior can be accessed without having to remove entire hull panels. I am also happy our team went along with my Episode V direction in terms of minifigure design (respirators!) and box art.

Is there anything that you wished to include but were unable to do so?

Not really, no! Well, maybe more Mynocks?

How did you decide upon which characters to include from the Original Trilogy?

Usually it is not up to the model designer to build a minifigure line-up, but again UCS sets are special. For example, on the UCS Slave I only Boba Fett was supposed to come with the set. However, I figured a Stormtrooper and a Bespin guard would really round out the set nicely so we added them in! With the UCS Millennium Falcon we didn't want to include any super-exclusive minifigures. The set is not really about the minifigures, anyway.

The Millennium Falcon underwent numerous alterations between the Original and Sequel Trilogies, the most notable being the new rectenna and the more powerful tractor beam projectors on the mandibles. Did you consider including any of the subtler changes?

There are indeed other differences between the Classic Trilogy Falcon and the Falcon from the Sequel Trilogy but most are fairly minor and don’t stand out. I didn't want to add too many details that would have to be swapped when reconfiguring the model between Episode V and VII, so I took a middle of the road approach and just kept what I thought made sense and looked good.

The piece count of 7541 elements far surpasses that of any previous LEGO set. Do you think there is the potential to produce even larger sets in the future?

There are always limiting factors when designing a LEGO set. With the Falcon I think we have reached a limit to what could be done in terms of weight and stability in a LEGO Star Wars set, so I hope we can keep this new record for a while!

Many thanks for taking the time to speak with us!


Hans diligently maintains a BrickList of his work which you can view here.

75192 Millennium Falcon is currently out of stock at shop.LEGO.com and in LEGO stores but we will let you know as soon as additional stock is released.

In addition, we will soon be publishing the final part of our review, covering the completed model and its accuracy to the source material, so keep an eye on the homepage for that as well as more reviews of the remaining Star Wars: The Last Jedi products.

25 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Very informative!

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By in United Kingdom,

Just wish he'd designed it easier to move around, some parts are sadly quite fragile, but excellent insider review thanks Huw.

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By in Norway,

why is it based on episode V and VII when it's the 40th anniversary of episode IV?

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By in United States,

It's such a beautiful and awe inspiring set that I hate to make any criticism, however at a price of 800.00 US I think it should have closer to 10K pieces and a complete, highly detailed interior (which I think could be done while maintaining structural integrity). If I can ever save the funds I'd love to have a go at modding it out. I think it's great that he also designed 75060 UCS Slave I, which is one of my favorite SW ships ever!

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By in Belgium,

finally a new ucs mf post!

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By in United Kingdom,

Cool interview.

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By in United States,

Thank you Captain Rex for the interview and thank you Hans Burkhard Schlömer for bringing us, such an amazing set (among many other great SW models). I truly admire your work and own all of the SW sets you have designed.

Agree that there should have been at least 2 Mynocks in the set. Seeing as there are 2 Porgs, the omission of an aged Luke Skywalker, from TFA and TLJ, is unforgivable. =0

Appreciate your fighting for Episode V design and minis as this Han and Leia were needed. Thank you for pushing for additional mins, beyond Boba Fett in Slave I (fantastic design and unique building techniques). While you may feel that minis are not the focus of a UCS, I disagree. They can truly compliment in terms of display, just as much as possible play (though not likely for AFOL). Seeing as a vast array of exclusive figures can be found in recent Death Star and Hoth UCS sets... a set on the scale of this Falcon, merits the same level of minis.

This sole gripe aside...Oh, wait, did I forget stickers? There should not be any. But there are just a few, kudos on this too. Don't let any of the above overshadow my delight with the set, overall. I am thankful for your great work. I was one of the lucky ones to secure the set via the LEGO Website (it shipped out and arrived just last week) and look forward to building it over Thanksgiving and display it side-by-side with the UCS TIE and Slave I.

May The Force Be With you!

Cheers,

Ron

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By in Canada,

After checking Hans BrickList I discovered I must be a fan of his since I own all but two of his sets he designed. So, I guess a big thanks is order. Thanks!

No question about what Hans is currently working on?

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By in Germany,

I guess if you have made two of the most loved and also one of the most hated Lego UCS sets, you have definitely left a mark in the UCS line ;-).

Yeah, I know, I've read the note for "Assault on Hoth" :-).

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By in Canada,

Another great article! Thank you Brickset. And thank you Hans for your awesome work! I love Hans' candor on his BrickList! :-)

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By in Australia,

Such a shame he kind of dodged what I would consider the two most important questions - "when was it decided a new UCS Falcon would be made?" and "was this set priced before it was designed?" I guess we can only assume it was decided sometime early 2016 if it took him 8 months to design and that like the old one it was priced later. Good interview, I'm glad you guys were able to do this.

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By in Netherlands,

Nice interview, thanks!

I don't really get the problem some people have with the stickers in sets. I think for this set they choose exactly the right amount of stickers and printed parts. The holotable, cockpit and dish were absolutely needed to print, but some of the other parts are fine as stickers. For most sets, I like that you can choose if you want to apply the stickers or not.

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By in United States,

So he specifically wanted the set to contain no ultra-exclusive minifigures. I totally respect that.

Also, TWP ^, the reason that the set should have all printed pieces and no stickers is because it's a luxurious set. UCS models have a sense of quality to them, and having all printed parts even if it brings the price up a bit kinda defines what UCS is. A little extra money for a richer building experience and a more quality set. And since this is the biggest and frankly most 'UCS' of the UCS sets, all prints would have felt right. I don't believe in no stickers for all Lego, but when it comes to the biggest and best sets, it really helps show that 'this is the good stuff'.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great set and great interview thanks to all.

One point I noticed on Hans BrickList link above is that UCS 75098 Assault On Hoth is included as a set that Hans has designed.
Hans you might just have the record of designing the best Star Wars UCS set, and probably one of the worst... :)

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By in France,

Thanks for the interview! The only problem is now I want Lego to put it back in sale soon haha.

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By in Australia,

Holy crap, I think I've read that Bricklist five times now!

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By in Austria,

A little comment about stickers (although it's an age old question).

I see having stickers (especially for expensive set) as equivalence to a non-perfect brick, similar to a Lepin brick.

Why? Anyone could make a mistake in applying the stickers and it will not be perfectly done. If some water accidentally came in contact, it is difficult to manage. And after some years it may peel off by itself, depending on storage condition. And do you then be able to get another new set of stickers? Likely no because those on sale at Bricklink will be at stupid prices. So it ends up with a, non perfect brick.

And does Lego wanted to be non perfect? I don't think so, all the other processes are done to the highest quality possible, surpassing all the toy makers. So.. It remains a mystery to me on this topic.

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By in Germany,

Thanks to Hans and CapnRex for this nice interview! And also thanks to Hans for his Bricklist - especially the notes are very interesting! :)

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By in Netherlands,

@BrickHeed
Yeah, for the most part I do agree with your points. Although I think the big sticker for the stand and the ones of the hallways will look less nice in print.
What I also like with the stickers, is that you can buy more and apply them on different parts then intended. While that might be expensive with this set, you can maybe copy the sticker sheet to obtain more easily

@audiobean: Just as there can be a mistake in stickers there can be a mistake in bricks or printed parts. Although with stickers you have to be more careful yourself. I feel the stickers are better then the string in some sets though, I really hate the fiddling with those! I seem to never make mistakes with stickers, if you're careful enough you'll never put them on wrongly ;)
And about storage: sometimes the quality of the stickers is testament to the overall quality of the bricks in the set themselves. You can see by them how careful someone was with his/her set. If you're careful enough with the set they won't peel off (at least with the current sticker material). If they do peel, most of the other bricks in the set won't look as good anymore either.

And why Lego still has sets with stickers: Inventory. They need to keep all parts in stock in big storage houses, which always fall short on space for new parts. Every printed part takes up a new slot. I'd rather have more bricks in more different colors and newly designed bricks than printed parts. Designers have a limited amount of new elements they are allowed to put in sets (a recolor, a new print and a new designed part all take up a slot in this amount), and I'd rather have them use it for recolors and new parts. :)

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By in United Kingdom,

I really love Hans and his approach to large scale models in Star Wars - those grumbling (still) about Assault on Hoth, I hesitate to go into a full explanation but a fellow Inside Tour member asked Hans about it tentatively, and it sounded in my opinion like a 'designed by committee' situation. I don't think it should be the black mark a lot of people might think of.

The answers to the interview questions solve a lot of queries I had when building the model and there aren't many more I'd add. However - the one element I thought a little juxtaposing was the fact that the set aimed not to have special minifigs - and yet the Han and Leia with respirators are very much exclusive! We might also only have the Porgs in the Millenium Falcon but it would be easy to imagine them appearing in other Last Jedi sets.

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By in Australia,

Hopefully I will be able to obtain this set in 2018 (mind you their handling of Saturn V set gives me no confidence).
Agree with others re stickers, at the price point of the set it is simply unacceptable, and really quite amateur.

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By in Germany,

Great interview and interesting comments on his design history, thanks a lot for that! I especially liked the comments about the advent calendar, as I'm a huge OT fan. I would love to get interested in the UCS MF, but to be frank, I've no idea where to put it..

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By in Canada,

Did anyone else note his comment about Krennic’s shuttle in his list of designs? “Lucasfilm thought we should rather make the "hero" 4-winged transport ship”. We can only presume there is high probability this will be a follow-up Rogue 1 release in the coming year(s).

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By in Sweden,

Have you noted that the current 2x VIP promotion explicitly excludes the 75192? It’s become apparent that it will be hard to make any deals whereas the UCS MF is concerned.

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By in Germany,

^ Only as long as it's exclusive ...

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