LEGO Star Wars is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year and almost every scene from throughout the entire series has already been represented in a set. For instance, 10188 Death Star and 75159 Death Star both contain depictions of Luke and Leia's escape from the original Death Star.
Nevertheless, it seems that 75229 Death Star Escape has captured the attention of Star Wars fans. This is not surprising given its excellent minifigure selection and relatively modest price, costing £24.99 in the UK or $29.99 in the US. However, I have reservations about the appearance of the model based upon official images.
Numerous versions of Luke Skywalker have appeared during the last twenty years but this minifigure is unique, wearing a white belt stolen from a Stormtrooper around his waist. This element was created for Batman in The LEGO Batman Movie but looks magnificent here and Luke's white tunic is accurate when compared with the movie. I also like the bands around his knees and the double-sided head is excellent, featuring a smile on one side and an angry expression on the other.
Leia Organa is among the most important characters from the Original Trilogy but appears in relatively few Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope sets. The torso has therefore only appeared once before and it looks superb, featuring a metallic silver belt and a hood on the back. I think some subtle fabric creasing on the legs would have been a pleasing addition but this plain white design is suitable too.
The textured dark brown hair piece looks fantastic, faithfully replicating Leia's iconic hairstyle from the movie. I like the head underneath as well which includes determined and smiling expressions. Leia is armed with a standard blaster rifle while Luke wields a blue lightsaber and a trans-clear bracket fits around his neck, allowing you to attach a grappling hook cord alongside a hand grip for Leia.
LEGO released the first Stormtrooper minifigure in 2001 and these faceless soldiers have since been updated on several subsequent occasions. However, the latest alteration is the most significant as the classic helmet has been replaced with a new dual-moulded element. This helmet is very detailed but I found the older component to be perfectly satisfactory so am not wholly convinced that a change was necessary.
Comparing the two pieces reveals several notable differences, the most significant of which is probably their shape. The new element, shown on the right, seems much sharper around the air supply nozzles and the vocoder is larger. Furthermore, the black lenses have been moved and are more pronounced on the 2019 minifigure. The new design therefore seems slightly more accurate to the source material but it remains unable to turn which feels like a missed opportunity.
Fortunately, the printed designs on the torso and legs remain unchanged. The white armour appears accurate and features lovely shading around the abdomen while the legs are decorated with differing knee protectors, corresponding exactly with the films. A standard Clone Trooper head lies underneath the helmet and this Stormtrooper carries a blaster rifle, as usual.
The Completed Model
Locations in Star Wars are often notable for their enormous scale and that can create challenges when designing an associated LEGO model. The cavernous air shaft which appears in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is a particularly difficult example but this rendition captures some integral details from the scene, including an extending bridge and two air intakes where Luke can attach his grappling hook.
A large doorway occupies one section of the structure. This takes inspiration from the platform where Luke and Leia stand and it looks alright from this angle, featuring a light bluish grey frame and several trans-red lights. An open area would have been preferable to the black base but that was probably not possible given the presence of a hinged function, allowing you to open or close the chasm.
The other side of the doorway is less appealing. Some red pieces are found here and they look awful, although these elements do identify one of the most enjoyable functions. Pushing the red Technic axle down will release the door, thereby preventing any pursuing Stormtroopers from catching the heroes. I love this feature and it works perfectly but the mechanism should have been implemented more neatly.
Furthermore, a couple of 1x2 plates with rails obstruct the door so it cannot close properly. That does occur in the movie as Stormtroopers open the door but I would rather it could close all the way. Even so, the rails hold the bridge in position and it slides smoothly. There is probably enough room for a geared mechanism but the sliding function is fun and I like the textured 1x2 grille tiles on the bridge.
Of course, the most important feature is definitely Luke and Leia swinging across the chasm! The hook fits securely onto the air intakes above the platform, thereby allowing the two minifigures to swing quite easily. The string is not actually long enough for the figures to reach the opposite platform but I believe that was intentional as a longer string would have made it difficult to display these characters over the air shaft.
The second platform is simpler than the first but it looks reasonable, featuring a rack for Stormtrooper equipment and a Mouse Droid. This droid is similar to the rendition from 6211 Imperial Star Destroyer which is interesting as an updated model appears in 75251 Darth Vader's Castle, although I prefer this design. Its tiny 'mouse hole' is a wonderful detail too and the entire Mouse Droid can fit inside.
Stormtroopers shoot at Luke and Leia from an elevated platform during the movie and a corresponding platform is included. This can be accessed using a ladder and there is plenty of room for minifigures to stand on top. However, the red Technic gear shown below activates another function which will fling a minifigure from the platform! Every available space has been used efficiently on this model but the red highlights do detract from its appearance.
75229 Death Star Escape is certainly a set which has been designed primarily for play and it excels in that regard. The functions are simple but they are enjoyable and I am impressed by the effective use of space within such a small model. Moreover, the minifigures are excellent and I like the new Stormtrooper, although becoming accustomed to his updated helmet might take some time.
Unfortunately, the model is less suitable for display. It looks alright from certain angles but there is very little detail and the Technic mechanism for the door has been integrated poorly. Nevertheless, younger Star Wars fans will probably enjoy this set and I would recommend 75229 Death Star Escape to those who do not already own this version of Princess Leia.
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