LEGO Star Wars began during 1999 and several excellent sets appeared within that range. 7140 X-wing Fighter is a particularly notable example and looks distinctive, featuring an unusual light grey colour scheme which differs from modern renditions of the same classic starfighter.
In addition, the original X-wing is much smaller than its myriad successors, containing 266 pieces. Nevertheless, the model looks impressive in official images so I decided it might be interesting to take a closer look at a product which has shaped the entire LEGO Star Wars range, two decades after the set was initially released.
Box and Contents
The packaging for LEGO Star Wars sets has been updated on many occasions but the classic design from 1999 remains among my favourites. I like the Original Trilogy emblem and the X-wing looks very dynamic. It is it interesting that the background image is not taken from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Instead, this is the reactor shaft where Emperor Palpatine met his apparent end during Return of the Jedi!
Opening the box reveals a separate cardboard tray containing the pieces, an instruction manual and a leaflet advertising other contemporary sets. These include the Adventurers theme, Rock Raiders and Slizer. Furthermore, the instruction booklet includes a comic and several inspiration models which can be constructed using the elements in this set.
Three different Luke Skywalker minifigures emerged during 1999 and the version wearing his orange flight suit seems especially popular, recently inspiring a twentieth anniversary minifigure. The helmet is decorated with two Rebel insignia beside some hazard stripes and an identical element remains in use today. Luke's head, on the other hand, has been updated on multiple occasions and the original design looks rather plain.
Biggs Darklighter accompanies Luke and shares his head with many Town minifigures. Nevertheless, his distinctive moustache is present and the helmet looks magnificent, featuring a lovely chequerboard pattern. Both pilots wear metallic silver life support units over white flak vests. These look simple when compared with later designs but the essential features are included. Biggs is unarmed but Luke wields a lightsaber with a chrome hilt.
More than a thousand Star Wars figures have been created since 1999 and R2-D2 is among the most prolific characters. This rendition contrasts with its modern counterpart, consisting of white pieces with some metallic silver and blue designs. The resultant droid looks good, although its head only occupies the uppermost section of the dome which seems slightly odd. Presumably that can be attributed to the limitations in printing technology during 1999.
The set also contains a Rebel Mechanic, sporting a tan uniform with a matching cap. This minifigure takes inspiration from the attendants preparing Rebel starfighters before the Battle of Yavin and I like his simple attire, although there is no back printing. Much like Biggs, his moustachioed head was not created specifically for Star Wars, instead originating in the Pirates theme from 1989.
The Completed Model
Maintenance vehicles have appeared in numerous LEGO Star Wars sets and this example is relatively detailed, consisting of three sections which are connected using ball joints. The entire model moves on black 2x2 sliders and includes two exposed studs where the driver can stand, as exhibited below. I like the lever controls and the drive unit also carries some black 2x2 bricks alongside a pair of trans-yellow cones that represent marshalling wands.
The central section is designed for transporting personnel to their starfighters while the rear includes some maintenance equipment and a fuelling hose. Rebel transport speeders do appear in the movie and this rendition is reasonably accurate, although the yellow highlights appear out of place in my view. The vehicle certainly provides additional play value though.
X-wing starfighters are distinguished by their unique silhouette and this model is instantly recognisable. It measures 27cm in length so is significantly smaller than subsequent designs and its light grey colour scheme further differentiates this rendition of a T-65 X-wing from others. There has been some debate surrounding the most suitable colour for these vehicles and I understand why grey was chosen for the original set, although I prefer white.
Moreover, this model includes red highlights along its flanks while modern versions feature dark red as an accent colour. That shade was not introduced until 2001 and red is an excellent alternative. The tan details are similarly attractive and remained in use for many years, only being replaced with bright light yellow when 75218 X-wing Starfighter was released in 2018.
The nose incorporates a printed wedge slope which represents the sensor window while the cockpit features a printed canopy. This component was designed for X-wings, Y-wing and Snowspeeders so does not match any vehicle perfectly, although it resembles them all. Angled bricks form the tapering shape of the fuselage and this design appears reasonably streamlined.
Click hinges enable the cockpit to open, revealing the pilot along with a printed console. This displays the targeting computer as the X-wing manoeuvres through the Death Star's meridian trench. However, the minifigure cannot actually reach the control console as that part of the cockpit is too narrow. There are additional controls beside the pilot though and R2-D2 slots into an Astromech droid socket behind the cockpit.
Unfortunately, the droid socket is not enclosed so it seems rather awkward with its occupant removed. The printed mechanical details look superb though and I appreciate the storage compartment which is large enough for Luke's lightsaber, albeit only with the blade removed from the hilt. Another concealed storage bay is situated within the nose.
The vehicle appears unusually bland from behind, lacking the round S-foil servo actuator which appears on later models. I like the printed 1x2 tile though and the glowing engines look marvellous, despite their simple construction. Subtle details are not represented here but the broader shape has been captured with surprising accuracy, given the age of this set.
Additional printed tiles are fitted on both dorsal wings, identifying this X-wing as Red Five. Once again, such details appear rudimentary when compared with modern sets but the most prominent features of the source material are included. However, their proportions in relation to the fuselage could definitely be improved.
Each wing is connected to the fuselage using two click hinges so they can switch into attack position, as demonstrated below. This function works perfectly and the comparatively lightweight S-foils do not require rubber bands for support which is pleasing. Moreover, the vehicle includes detachable landing gear so you can display this model with its wings open, without the need for a separate stand.
7140 X-wing Fighter is the ultimate representative of LEGO Star Wars and its origins. This may not be the best rendition of an X-wing that LEGO has produced but many important details from the movies are included, despite the presence of relatively few specialised elements. Furthermore, the model feels remarkably robust and its functions have been integrated reasonably neatly.
The minifigure selection is similarly impressive. They appear considerably less detailed than their modern equivalents but each character is recognisable and I was pleasantly surprised by the intricate helmet printing, especially on Biggs Darklighter. 7140 X-wing Fighter falls short of modern LEGO Star Wars sets in certain respects but the theme might not exist without sets like this one.
Which set do you consider most representative of the LEGO Star Wars theme and did you purchase this set in 1999? Let us know in the comments.