Numerous impressive vehicles were created for the Prequel Trilogy and the HMP Droid Gunship is among my favourite such vessels. It occupied a fairly insignificant role in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith but the craft certainly stood out as a mighty weapon during later seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Nevertheless, the unveiling of 75233 Droid Gunship was surprising. Only three years have elapsed since the previous model, 75042 Droid Gunship, was retired and this version looks similar to its predecessor. Hopefully it will represent an improvement, particularly since the set now costs £54.99 in the UK while the US price of $49.99 has remained constant.
Only three sets contained Yoda during the first decade of the LEGO Star Wars theme but this popular character has since become much more common, thankfully. His head is made from a rubbery plastic and captures some remarkably subtle detail, including a wrinkled brow and impressive texture around the eyes. Unfortunately, the hair on the back lacks such texturing but it still looks good in my opinion.
The minifigure wears a tan robe which corresponds with the source material, although the plain legs look slightly awkward to me. Hopefully printed short legs will become a possibility in the future. Yoda comes with a trans-bright green lightsaber, as usual, but no gimer stick.
Tarfful commands the Wookiee forces in the defence of their homeworld and appears identical to the minifigure which appeared in 75043 AT-AP from 2014. Nevertheless, this is a delightful representation of the character, accurately capturing his textured fur and including outstanding printed detail. The dark tan highlights are particularly striking against the dark brown base colour for each component.
The minifigure wears a decorative pauldron and a bandoleer which continues across either side of the torso. I like the metallic silver rings that support Tarfful's braided hair and the white symbol on his chest, identifying the Kachirho clan, looks wonderful. Tarfful is armed with a reddish brown blunderbuss which is intended to represent his heavy bowcaster from the film.
B1 Battle Droids have been a consistent presence within the Star Wars theme since 1999 and several variants have been produced, the latest of which are Kashyyyk Battle Droids. These are based upon AAT drivers which appeared in episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars but they also seem suitable for the forested setting of Kashyyyk, featuring olive green torsos and stripes across the head. Both droids are armed with pearl dark grey blasters.
The Completed Model
75042 Droid Gunship established an appropriate scale for this craft and the 2019 model is exactly the same size as its predecessor, measuring 29cm in length. However, some notable changes have been made to reflect the introduction of new elements and the bomb dropping functions which appeared on both previous Droid Gunships have been replaced with grouped flick-fire missiles situated underneath the fuselage.
That decision elicited some disappointment when the set was revealed, as one might expect given the impressive integration of the bombs on previous occasions. However, the HMP droid gunship is armed with missile pods in the movie so flick-fire missiles are probably more authentic and they work perfectly. Two missiles can be launched together or you fire them all for a devastating barrage which is satisfying! Retractable landing gear is also included.
Furthermore, a pair of stud shooters are situated beside the laser cannons on either flank while those mounted on the head offer a splendid range of motion. The ball turrets are particularly impressive and compare favourably with the source material. I love the small mandibles too. They appeared too large on the models from 2008 and 2014 but this design is marvellous and the red photoreceptor eyes look excellent.
Droid Gunships are controlled by a droid brain, much like Vulture Droids, but each LEGO rendition has included room for a figure. That seems sensible for play and a Battle Droid fits inside neatly, although it does need to lie down. A couple of stickers are applied beside the cockpit, representing shield projector vents, while the range finders incorporate dark blue ice cream cones which are new in this colour.
The fuselage is constructed using 10x10 rounded slopes and 6x6 rounded slopes so matches previous Droid Gunship designs. These form an accurate shape in relation to the source material and the colour scheme of light bluish grey and dark blue looks great, improving quite considerably upon prior models. The stickers towards the front are particularly effective and I like the yellow emblems which denoted Ado Eemon's support for the Separatist cause in Legends continuity.
Four additional stickers are placed towards the rear, forming radiator vents and the thrusters. Ideally, such details would be brick-built but using the large rounded slopes does enforce certain restrictions. However, the reactor core and surrounding vents at the centre of the fuselage look fantastic, making clever use of a parabolic ring and some clips which nestle between dark blue 5x5 arch bricks.
Remakes are an inevitable feature of the LEGO Star Wars range, allowing new fans an opportunity to add popular vehicles and characters to their collection. That makes perfect sense and does not bother me, as long as the opportunity to make significant improvements is exploited wherever possible. 75233 Droid Gunship meets that criterion, albeit only by a narrow margin.
This is certainly my favourite rendition of the craft but it does not seem considerably better than 75042 Droid Gunship from 2014. I like the new 'cockpit' module and the external detail is superb, although an updated design feels unnecessary so soon after the last version was released. In addition, the price of £54.99 or $49.99 is far too expensive. On that basis, I would recommend this set to those who missed its predecessor but only with a significant discount.
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