75252 Imperial Star Destroyer has evoked some tremendous discussion. Brickset and Jedi News were fortunate to speak with its designer, Henrik Andersen, while attending the Rebuild the World event recently and discussed this addition to the Ultimate Collector Series.
Brickset: How did the development process for 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer begin?
Henrik: Shortly before the summer holidays during 2017, the LEGO Star Wars design team discussed which subjects may be most suitable for the next Ultimate Collector Series model. The design director, Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, was away so I began creating sketches for an Imperial Star Destroyer. When he returned, the discussion continued and I received approval to continue developing the model.
Had the price been decided before you started development?
No, I just wanted to produce a model which matched, or perhaps exceeded, the size of 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer from 2002. I was also aiming to create a sturdier vehicle and I believe the accuracy has been improved. While the original set was inspired primarily by screenshots from the film, this example takes inspiration from the prop which was used for filming.
Focusing upon the movie prop was primarily decided by my passion for building scale models, usually depicting trucks. I always try to maintain great authenticity when assembling them and worked hard to achieve comparable accuracy with the Star Destroyer.
Have any other Star Wars sets been designed using the filming model as the primary source?
I am not aware of any other examples, although that is the method I would use if I were building any subsequent Ultimate Collector Series models. 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer probably takes primary inspiration from the onscreen vessel which is an effective method for design, although looking at the physical model can provide different advantages when trying to achieve absolute authenticity.
Imperial Star Destroyer Devastator studio model - Image from modelermagic.com.
Why did you choose to design an Imperial I-class Star Destroyer?
Creating an Imperial I-class Star Destroyer seemed most appropriate because my colleague, César Soares, had already designed 75244 Tantive IV. Producing the first two vehicles from throughout the entire Star Wars saga felt perfect for the twentieth anniversary of LEGO Star Wars. That decision did make finding reference material more challenging though because most images feature the Avenger rather than the Devastator.
The designer video was originally intended to feature me choosing between the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer and the later variant. However, the video makes it seem as though I am focusing upon the wrong vehicle for inspiration which is slightly unfortunate.
Did you consider including alternative turbolaser cannons so the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer could become an Imperial II-class version?
No, we were focused entirely upon the Imperial I-class model because they are surprisingly different. While the turbolaser cannons are probably the most visible distinguishing design feature, the texture across the hull was also updated considerably between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
Were you aware that Imperial I-class Star Destroyers might be appearing in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker when designing this set?
That would have been exceptional planning but no, I was not aware of their possible presence in the Sequel Trilogy until the trailer was released at Star Wars Celebration. It was undoubtedly a welcome surprise though and the same might be true for the Tantive IV, of course!
Did you consider including any interior?
No. We were determined to design something purely for display when the concepts were developed. Including an interior can certainly be fun but entails possible compromises in the rigidity of the model which we planned to avoid. Also, providing internal detail would substantially increase the quantity of pieces and the associated cost.
Are there any areas of the model you would have liked to design differently?
When developing the stand, I had originally planned to construct a triangular base that would form the shadow of the Imperial Star Destroyer. It would have featured two pillars towards the back and another further forward. However, that stand was not strong enough so I decided upon the rectangular structure which provides much better support.
I think some additional tiled surfaces might have been effective too, although that would entail adding further layers of tiles and plates above the panels. That might be possible with smaller craft but would have added several hundred elements to 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer. Also, I think the visible studs look good on LEGO models and distinguish this Star Destroyer from typical plastic model kits.
The set contains no new moulded elements. Do you think any might have been necessary?
I enjoy using our existing pieces whenever possible and cannot think of any particular areas where I might have required new elements here. There are some pieces returning in light bluish grey though, including larger plates and the antenna parts which have generated excitement. Moreover, there are several elements which have not been produced in light bluish grey before, such as the BB-8 heads fitted behind the command bridge.
Did you consider including additional dark bluish grey elements?
That was certainly something we discussed. However, the model is absolutely enormous and adding further colours would therefore make little sense, particularly when viewing the filming model which is almost completely light grey. Much of the colour depth you see during the films is created by shadows and lighting.
In fact, creating shadows was something we briefed the photographers about when they were taking promotional photos of the model. We really hoped to replicate the onscreen lighting conditions where possible so those images include many more shadows than most official set photos and that was our intention.
10030 Imperial Star Destroyer and 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer are assembled very differently. The original model involves building four large panels sequentially while they are more divided for the new set. Was that an intentional decision?
Yes, although not necessarily for the reasons you might expect. We certainly wanted to improve the build flow and the resultant enjoyment but distributing the weight during construction was even more important. Unusually, the stand is assembled first so we needed to ensure that the model would stay absolutely in position throughout the build process, even when fitting sections at the very back or the nose.
Absolutely, the triangular silhouette of an Imperial Star Destroyer becomes visible towards the end of bag three whereas the Millennium Falcon comes together later. That is also the stage when you may actually wear the vehicle by putting your legs through its hollow frame, somewhat like a Microfighter!
On the subject of the frame, how did you improve upon the magnetic structure from 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer?
I was keen to avoid using magnets, in part because they sometimes become less structurally sound over time but also because we wanted to use exclusively plastic elements. The decision to use small ball joints emerged quite early in the development process and I think that works perfectly. They were originally situated along the central axis but putting them on the edge creates a more accurate shape.
You might notice several additional connection points which remain unused on the dorsal side. They are not actually required but I wanted to mirror the sides of the frame during construction so some of the attachment points from the underside reappear on top.
What other difficulties did you encounter when designing the successor to 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer, especially since the original set is held in such high esteem?
I did not actually build 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer until after completing my own version because I hoped to avoid being influenced too much by the other model. I apply that same principle to as many LEGO Star Wars sets as I can when designing new models because it assists in keeping the construction techniques fresh.
This decision was especially important here because focusing upon the model from 2002 may have influenced me to change the proportions. However, I know that the silhouette of 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer is accurate as I used three dimensional models of the original prop and used them as the template for building my rendition of the Star Destroyer, almost like three dimensional tracing paper!
Many thanks for speaking with us!
Henrik has also designed almost fifty City sets. Look out for our discussion of those products next month.
You can view the comprehensive BrickList of Henrik's creations here and read our review of 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer here.