Review: 75251 Darth Vader's Castle

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Darth Vader's foreboding fortress on Mustafar was introduced during Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and has subsequently appeared in several different comic series along with the recent Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire VR experience. This imposing structure has therefore become quite prominent within the Star Wars universe.

Nevertheless, the announcement of 75251 Darth Vader's Castle came as a wonderful surprise. The fortress looks absolutely fantastic and represents a significant departure from previous Star Wars models which is always welcome. Furthermore, the set contains 1060 pieces and costs £119.99 in the UK or $129.99 in the US so it appears to provide reasonable value for money.

Minifigures

An updated version of Darth Vader was created for 75093 Death Star Final Duel in 2015 and its design has remained consistent since then, featuring a large helmet that consists of two elements. Removing the uppermost section reveals Anakin Skywalker's scarred visage and leaves another component, placed around the neck, behind. This matches the movie quite closely and the pale head underneath looks great.

75251 Darth Vader's Castle

The vital life-systems computer on Darth Vader's torso is decorated with some colourful buttons and he wears a metallic silver pauldron which protects his shoulders. Unfortunately, the back of the torso is not printed but this is obscured by a soft fabric cape so the absence of printing does not bother me. As usual, the Sith Lord comes with a red-bladed lightsaber.

75251 Darth Vader's Castle

In addition, the set includes an exclusive Darth Vader minifigure without his iconic armour. Instead, he wears a black breathing mask for submergence in a bacta tank, taking inspiration from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This element has not appeared in black before but it looks marvellous and I love the unique facial expression with closed eyes.

75251 Darth Vader's Castle

Some narrow veins and integrated mechanical details are printed on both sides of Darth Vader's torso. These look suitably grotesque and the legs are decorated with a black harness, drawing comparison with Luke Skywalker from 75203 Hoth Medical Chamber. Strangely, the right arm is pearl silver while the left arm is white which is not entirely accurate. In fact, the Sith Lord's right arm should feature more flesh than the left but this inaccuracy is minor.

75251 Darth Vader's Castle

Darth Vader's bacta tank is flanked by two Royal Guards in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and they also accompany the Sith Lord here. These minifigures have become fairly common in recent years but the latest version, wearing a dual-tone red and dark red cloak which is made from a spongy material, is only available elsewhere in 75159 Death Star.

View image at flickr

The red mask looks superb and I like the creases on the front of the torso, although there is no printing on the back. The legs also appear rather plain but any further detail is probably unnecessary when the minifigures are compared with their onscreen counterparts. Both guards wield simple Force Pikes that consist of just two pieces.

75251 Darth Vader's Castle

A lone Imperial Transport Pilot completes the minifigure selection. This character is based upon Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, in which some Rebel spies disguise themselves as Imperial personnel in an attempt to recover intelligence. Athex wears a pilot's uniform with blue highlights during this mission and the minifigure looks brilliant, sporting the same helmet as the Hovertank Pilots from 75152 Imperial Assault Hovertank.

75251 Darth Vader's Castle

His chest armour, on the other hand, more closely resembles that worn by a Stormtrooper which seems odd, although this design is accurate when compared with the source material. Athex does not remove his helmet during the virtual reality experience so a standard Clone Trooper head is found underneath and he comes with a blaster rifle, as one would expect.

75251 Darth Vader's Castle

The Completed Model

A miniature rendition of Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1 accompanies the fortress. The vehicle is large enough for a minifigure to sit inside but is evidently smaller than minifigure-scale. Its proportions could certainly be improved but this design captures remarkable detail and feels sturdy so it is ideal for play. In fact, I would love to see a range of popular vehicles that match the scale of this starfighter and the Slave I from 75222 Betrayal at Cloud City.

View image at flickr

This model bears an inevitable resemblance to the vehicles from 10188 Death Star and 75159 Death Star, both of which are constructed at a similar scale, but employs several unique building techniques. The wings, for instance, feature some 2x2 angled tiles which form an attractive shape and the section behind the cockpit has been streamlined. Moreover, the latest version of Darth Vader's craft is slightly larger than its predecessors.

View image at flickr

The cockpit is extremely cramped but there is enough room to place Darth Vader inside, albeit without any controls or a translucent viewport. Instead, a printed trans-black dish covers an opaque 4x4 round plate which looks superb from the exterior. Two stud shooters are mounted beneath the cockpit. These weapons are much larger than the laser cannons on previous versions of the TIE Advanced x1 but they are integrated neatly.

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Click hinges form the angular solar array wings on either side of the fuselage and these look perfect in relation to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I like the smooth tiled surfaces and the wings are connected to the cockpit using Technic axles, ensuring their absolute rigidity. The dark bluish grey power converters on the outside of each wing look great too.

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The founded fuselage is fairly simple but it represents a significant improvement upon past models and includes some lovely mechanical detail. Darth Vader's lightsaber can be kept on a clip towards the rear of the vehicle. This storage solution looks rather rudimentary but fulfils its purpose, thereby completing an excellent rendition of the TIE Advanced x1.

View image at flickr

Darth Vader's pyramidal fortress is even more impressive. Its dark silhouette looks absolutely fantastic and the fortress measures 41cm in height so is large enough to capture the majestic appearance of its source material, despite being vastly scaled down in relation to the movie. Furthermore, the black and dark bluish grey colour scheme works perfectly, especially in combination with the trans-red windows.

View image at flickr

A stream of trans-orange lava flows underneath the fortress and into the valley where Darth Vader was defeated by Obi-Wan Kenobi. This stands out against the surrounding walls and the cliffs on either side look superb, using 8x8x6 rock pieces. I was not certain whether dark tan would feel appropriate here as the rocks appear much darker in the movie but it actually works perfectly, presenting a contrast with the castle while also maintaining some realism.

View image at flickr

Mustafar's perennially sombre aesthetic makes it difficult to assess the precise colour of Darth Vader's fortress onscreen. It appears to be almost entirely black but the introduction of some dark bluish grey streaks on this model is effective, creating an appealing texture. The trans-red windows look good too, especially when they are lit from behind and their beautiful pyramidal shape is revealed.

View image at flickr

A large hangar bay is located beneath the castle. Stickers are applied to the columns around this room and their design appears consistent with Imperial architecture across the galaxy, although printed parts would have been preferable. The hollow base provides remarkable support to the model, ensuring that it can be moved around with ease.

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Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1 fits very neatly inside the hangar but leaves little space for minifigures on either side. You can still seat Darth Vader inside his starfighter though as the cockpit opens forwards and there is plenty of room to display some minifigures in front of the TIE Advanced.

View image at flickr

The dark side of the Force has a powerful influence on Mustafar, accentuated by an ancient Sith cave beneath its surface. This shrine bears little resemblance to the cave that appeared in the Darth Vader comic series but it looks wonderful, featuring a Sith holocron which is flanked by two hooded statues. Sith symbols decorate the walls and a pearl dark grey lightsaber hilt, perhaps belonging to a bygone Sith Lord, is hidden inside the rock face.

View image at flickr

Furthermore, a red kyber crystal can be found inside the rocks on the other side of the castle. These functions have been implemented quite well, although the surface is not entirely smooth when the hinged panel is closed. This area also includes storage bays for some stud shooter ammunition alongside a docking station where the Mouse Droid can recharge. Previous renditions of these little droids have remained almost identical but this design is unique and I think it looks superb.

View image at flickr

A black staircase allows Darth Vader to enter his fortress from the hangar bay. Such mundane details are frequently excluded from location-based Star Wars sets so I am delighted to find a staircase here and the opening door on the next level looks brilliant. A sliding design would have been ideal but this hinged configuration is a reasonable alternative in my opinion.

View image at flickr

Darth Vader suffered terrible injuries following his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi so must periodically bathe in a bacta tank. This trans-light blue cylinder is familiar but features a darker colour scheme than the bacta tanks from 7676 Republic Attack Gunship or 75203 Hoth Medical Chamber. The angular doorway on one side of this chamber looks good and I like the control panel, monitoring Darth Vader's vital signs, against the opposite wall.

View image at flickr

The bacta tank opens upwards on a hinge and can be removed entirely, providing easy access to the minifigure inside. The tank stands on a black podium which looks superb but the reddish brown plates on the walls appear slightly out of place. Fortunately, these only become clearly visible under particular lighting conditions and their dark colour matches the surrounding shades of black and dark bluish grey quite closely.

View image at flickr

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the Darth Vader comic series have explored little of Darth Vader's castle, compelling the designer of this set to include a few interesting details which have not appeared in any canon material. It seems likely that Darth Vader would maintain a meditation chamber inside his personal abode and this example looks magnificent, including far greater detail than the version from 6211 Imperial Star Destroyer.

View image at flickr

The top half of the meditation chamber opens smoothly on a hinge, revealing a space for Darth Vader inside. Its white interior corresponds with the chamber from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and you can keep the Sith Lord's lightsaber on a peg beside the wall. Furthermore, this area of the fortress includes a holographic figure of Emperor Palpatine so the two characters may conspire together.

View image at flickr

The uppermost level is occupied by the impressive rotunda where Darth Vader meets Director Krennic during Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Its decorative floor lighting is heavily reliant upon a large sticker but I think it would be difficult to capture such detail without using a sticker at this scale. A stud shooter is also situated between the spires and this is mounted on a ball joint so it has a great range of motion.

View image at flickr

Overall

75251 Darth Vader's Castle is undoubtedly among the best Star Wars sets that I have constructed in 2018. Its monolithic exterior looks spectacular on display and includes wonderful detail, despite being fairly monochromatic. I am particularly impressed by the trans-red windows and the trans-orange lava flow which really captures attention at the base of the fortress. The small TIE Advanced x1 is also very good, offering excellent play value.

View image at flickr

The minifigure selection, on the other hand, is somewhat disappointing as Director Krennic and Vaneé, Darth Vader's loyal attendant, should have been included. Nevertheless, this is an excellent set and I think its price of £119.99 or $129.99 is quite reasonable so I would certainly recommend adding it to your Star Wars collection.

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.

 

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40 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Wow . It looks great, especially all the new prints and the upgraded mouse droid. Also, the Imperial Transport Pilot's chest armour has some wear around the edges?

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By in United States,

I have never seen any of the media that has this location, but I absolutely NEED this set. I'm a sucker for Star Wars, specifically Darth Vader, and I love a good sci-fi villian lair, too. Combining both is just too good!

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By in Canada,

I'm not normally a fan of sets that fall outside of Episodes I - VI and the Clone Wars (ie, Lucas's work) but this one is spectacular. This is a structure that Lucas wanted to include in a film since Episode V, and its inclusion in Rogue One denoted the film as one that honours Lucas's legacy, rather than rejects it like Disney's other projects.

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By in Netherlands,

Thanks for this review. As I thought, it seems really great.
It has some great playfeatures. I won't be disappointed when it finally arrives and I build it!

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By in United States,

I need this set so badly.

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By in United States,

What about an overview of the box, the bags, the instructions, the build? This type of set (a building) is uncommon in the Star Wars theme, which is nice to see.

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By in United States,

I was able to build this set for my store display, and echo the excitement over a new Star Wars set. The bacta tank Vader figure is fantastic in my opinion. I originally thought the castle base color would be better if it were darker, but upon finishing the build I think it does make a nice contrast from the castle itself. I love the lava flow and wish this came with a lightbrick to put behind it, I think that is one tiny change I will make to my own set.

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By in United States,

Phenomenal set, only flaws are lack of Krennic and Vanee. Otherwise best Star Wars set of an otherwise weak year

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By in United Kingdom,

Loved this the minute i saw it a few weeks ago on here,
Brilliant set..

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By in Venezuela,

Great review, thanks

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By in France,

Ordered on October the 4th, as soon as available on [email protected], I was in haste to read your review and watch JangBricks's. Now I am convinced that this set is really a good one for me SW and Lego fan, and I am in haste to receive it. Hope Lego will hang on its shipping date, this Saturday! As I said when the new of its release came out: unexpected, very esthetic, never made before, a very good surprise for this end of year. Thank you for the good review. I love this set! Just a little complaint, as it has been available for a few hours on Amazon on Black Friday, and at a very big discounted price (80 or 90€ if I remember) and when I saw this I really wondered why Lego lets retailers selling its products before themselves and with such attractive prices. They missed a deal IMO because we can be sure that many have jumped on the bargain.

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By in United Kingdom,

This set looks great. Nice complete structure. Will be good as display piece. And appreciate the inclusion of all the details e.g. the Holocron and appropriate use of spaces e.g. the meditation chamber, bacta tank etc. Sets like this are often include empty or poorly utilised rooms (see 75953).

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By in United States,

Thanks for the review!

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By in United Kingdom,

Why don't we regularly get good location-based licensed sets like this?
Come to think it, why don't we get any location-based licensed sets often?

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By in United States,

I probably won't end up getting this one but it does look very nice. Thanks for the review and all of the photos

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By in Germany,

Damn, it was reduced fairly generously on Black Friday and i skipped it. :-(

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By in Australia,

Great review Cap't as always. $200 for this set is Australia is a disgrace! I'll have to wait until it's discounted, but it's a must have for me. Rogue One was the best Star Wars movie since Empire & this scene was pivotal in cementing it's place within the franchise. A pity about Krenic's omission.

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By in United States,

Finally—we are getting things from other sources of canon. Mr. Rebel Spy, Seyn in next year's Inferno Squad set, good, good!

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By in United States,

Great review, just wish they would’ve included Director Krennic and Vanee, such a disappointment:(

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By in Australia,

Wait, Vader actually built a castle on the lava planet where he almost died?

So who has the high ground now, eh Obi Wan?

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By in United States,

Awesome Awesome Awesome! Double VIP points too on Friday, as well as the free Christmas gift!!!

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By in New Zealand,

It has a very domestic feel to it doesn’t it. If it were a lighter colour, it could pass as a Friends model I reckon.

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By in Australia,

^ Just needs some pink wall panels, lavender highlights, a fluffy pet of some kind, and a toilet.

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By in United States,

Now if only we could get the Sith Temple from Malachor seen in Rebels...

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By in United States,

@namekuji: I noticed a while back that regardless of target audience, castles from licensed themes (particularly the various versions of Hogwarts) seemed to do a better job showcasing non-military, non-political parts of their inhabitants' lifestyles than a lot of ones from the Castle or Kingdoms themes.

The same also turned out to be true with Nexo Knights and Ninjago sets to an extent, which makes me wonder if it's a matter of kids caring more about these sorts of considerations with characters who have names/personalities, whereas with the nameless archetypical figures in the Castle theme kids only think about play experiences they associate with those archetypes.

For example, what does the King do? He sits on a throne or rides out to command his troops. What do the good knights do? They protect the king and castle from attackers, or go out and attack enemy castles to rescue captured princesses. What do evil knights do? They capture prisoners and good knights and attack the castle to steal treasure. What do witches and wizards do? They live in strange spooky towers, predict the future using crystal balls, and possibly command the scary dragons that sometimes attack enemy castles.

But in general, what these figures eat or where they sleep or what they do in their free time or what their interests are as individuals is not important to them being kings or knights or witches or wizards. In fact, without a defined story or characters, it could be hard to include details that help make the characters' lives feel richer because kids won't have any context that helps them associate particular details with particular parts of particular characters' lifestyles.

In a Classic Space set, for example, a meditation chamber like this would be bewildering, because there would be no way of knowing that it was a meditation chamber, or that one of the characters in that set is known for meditating. A Bacta Tank like in this set wouldn't make sense because kids wouldn't know what bacta is, or why one of the characters in this set would need a tank of it, or what that character would need to do in order to use it.

Overall I think this is a really impressive set, not just in terms of size and level of detail, but also its unique and recognizable texture, colors, and silhouette, and how well it suggests Mustafar's fiery landscape that surrounds the castle even without a whole bunch of landscaping elements.

The price per piece is a bit steeper than a lot of AFOLs prefer, but in this case I think it's rather justified since so many of the set's parts seem to be stuff like larger plates and mountain bricks, and while the inventory certainly contains several tiny detail parts (as most sets aimed at older builders do), they are used sparingly and not to the extent you might see in an Architecture set or the new microscale Hogwarts Castle.

Thanks for the cool review!

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By in United Kingdom,

I'd never be able to fit this set anywhere, but a wonderful piece all the same.

Since we are getting sets from other media outside the films once again ... can we finally get the Outrider and the Moldy Crow please?

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By in Singapore,

Absolutely LOVE this set! Darth Vader’s Castle was a big omission from what were splendid 2016-2017 Rogue One Set waves... While Castle is based on VR experience, because of the prior omission, an alternate version of Director Krennic would have been welcome, but the inclusion of Vaneé was a must. Side note: Was surprised that the re-release of The Death Star, did not include any references to Rogue One. Lost opportunity!

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By in Canada,

Zordboy: He is probably feeling guilty and pining for the love of his life, believing that she died close by.

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By in United States,

@Aanchir -- one of the best comments I've ever seen on Brickset. That's some good analyzing, man!

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By in South Korea,

I love Star Wars and I love all the little details and things they put in there but for the price they are asking it is a little steep. This feels like the Mace Windu vs Grevious hovercraft set where it is overpriced for the content you get. The sheer number of stickers also throws me off this set. If they were all printed then maybe I could justify the price but stickers to me are lazy design and corner cutting.

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By in Russian Federation,

Amazing set! Although I can't for the life of me understand why in 2018 we still have [email protected] sets. All it means is if you live in a third-world country, you've no chance of ever getting the set.

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By in United States,

ugh! This review only made me want it more! I love this set! I think the outside looks really sleek. I love the hanger bay and turret piece. I think Darth Vader's thinking chamber looks good; I could be better but it's good. I love how the Tie Advanced is holds Vader like the previous ones, however I don't care for the way to visible lightsaber storage. This set is just like 10237 Tower of Orthanc but for the Star Wars universe. I defiantly want this set. I wish it were a little cheaper but I understand the pricing on it. Thanks for the review!

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By in Australia,

I wish there was a grand UCS version of this set.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Robot99 Darth Vader's castle is shown in the Rogue One movie. It has some extensive scenes of the exterior and interior. Very cool.
I like this set very much and definitely will be adding this to my collection. Only down side of this set is that it's an amazon exclusive so there won't be much competitive pricing.

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By in New Zealand,

@AussieSamurai, oh there was- 41101

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By in United States,

I appear to be in the minority here, as I think a giant, skinny pyramid is boring. I want the minifigs and appreciate the sturdy TIE, and the micro Siths are cool, but otherwise..... meh.

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By in United Kingdom,

Hi all, Anyone noticed that on Amazon.co.uk This is now on 25% off. Now £89.99!! I pre-ordered the set through TLG and in hand now.. Thought its bang out of order that another retailer can reduced the price so quick, not even been out for a week on TGL!! Annoying! rant over.

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By in Canada,

I personally feel that this set is a bit overpriced. The standout for me is the exclusive "naked" Vader minifigure.

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By in Australia,

Did anyone notice that the printed dish on the cockpit of the TIE is a different part, now having a hollow stud in the middle, instead of a solid one, same piece though.

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