The very first Star Wars polybag was released in 2002 and depicted a TIE/LN Fighter using just twelve pieces. Several further miniature versions of this famous vehicle have been produced since then, the most recent of which is 30381 Imperial TIE Fighter.
This set contains 42 pieces and is quite different to the models which have been released before. I have therefore been looking forward to building the TIE Fighter and to finding out whether or not it represents an improvement over those many previous designs.
The Completed Model
Ralph McQuarrie's concept artwork exerts enormous influence upon the Star Wars universe but the design of certain vehicles was adjusted between those illustrations and the movies. The proportions of the TIE Fighter are a notable example as the craft shown in McQuarrie's work include a larger cockpit sphere and shorter wings than those from the Original Trilogy. That design appears to have inspired 30381 Imperial TIE Fighter. Personally, I favour the Original Trilogy model but I appreciate that the designer has chosen to differentiate this miniature TIE Fighter from others by using separate source material.
The entire cockpit module is constructed upside down which is ingenious as it allows a light bluish grey 2x2 slider to form the curved access hatch on top. This looks superb in relation to the movie and I like the 3x3 window element fixed to the cockpit too, although it would have been even better with a printed viewport like that found in 30276 First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter. The twin laser cannons slung underneath are also a welcome feature.
A familiar combination of wedge plates is used for the solar array panels on either side of the cockpit, replicating their hexagonal shape quite effectively. The light and dark bluish grey details in the centre look good but the wing frame is absent, unfortunately. However, I do not think it would be possible to include such detail at this scale without compromising the stability of the structure so this design is perfectly adequate.
Another 3x3 parabolic reflector completes the back of the cockpit sphere. I think its overall shape looks excellent and the narrow stanchions which link the cockpit to the solar array wings are equally accurate to the TIE Fighters in McQuarrie's concept artwork, as well as Star Wars Rebels. The 1x3 plates on the internal surface of each wing look somewhat awkward to me but I like the rigid structure provided by the dark bluish grey supports.
30381 Imperial TIE Fighter undoubtedly makes improvements over previous models of the same scale so I believe this is the best rendition yet. The shape of its cockpit is far smoother than any other version and its increased size has allowed the designer to include superior detail as well. However, there is still room for further enhancement in my opinion as the viewport would benefit from a printed frame.
Furthermore, the packaging for this set suggests that it is based upon Solo: A Star Wars Story, in which case its proportions are not entirely accurate to the upcoming film. The craft from Star Wars Rebels, on the other hand, more closely resembles this model so perhaps its designer took inspiration from the animated series. In any case, I am very satisfied with this set and hope it will soon become more widely available.
I hope you have found this review informative. Let us know by liking this article and share your thoughts on the set in the comments below.