Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Lego Star Wars Set 75150 Vader's TIE Advanced vs. A-wing Starfighter Review

The Lego Star Wars set 75150: Vader's TIE Advanced vs. A-wing Starfighter was released in the summer of 2016 (June 2016 worldwide). It contains 702 parts and 4 minifigures. It retails for £79.99 / $89.99 / 49.99€, bringing the cents-per-piece ratio to about 11.4p / 12.8c / 7.1c per piece. The Rebels range of sets has been excellent so far, so I bought this one hoping that it would be just as great as the others. Let's see if my assumption has proven right.

Disclaimer note: I have bought this set with my own money from the local store, paying full price. The Lego Group had no entanglements with the way I aquiered this set and is probably unaware of my existence anyhow. The opinions here are therefore my own; they are not reviewed before being posted here by anyone else but myself.


Box, Instructions and Building experience

The box art shows the built set and some details (including set number, title, the number of parts, age rating) on the front side and some play features and some advertising for the new iOS and Android "Force Builder" app on the back side. It is basically just a standard Lego box, nothing special about it.
Front side of the box

Rear side of the box
After opening the box and spilling its contents on (hopefully not the carpet in your room) a table, you are left with 7 bags numbered 1 to 6 (there are 2 no. 6 bags, both contain the parts required for the wings of the TIE Advanced x1), a sticker sheet and 2 instruction booklets wrapped in some plastic for protection.
The instructions provide clear directions, I could not find mistakes or anything. The building of the A-wing was relatively simple and basic, but the TIE had a more innovative overall building process (I do not mean the wings, only the central pod). However it got very boring towards the end as you had to assemble the wings. They are exactly the same (and are build the same way). On the other hand, I am not sure how it could have been done differently since the Starfighter itself is symmetrical.
You get a lot of extra parts and an orange brick separator (including an extra pair of missiles), but that is normal with all of those larger sets.


Minifigures and accessories

As I mentioned earlier, this set contains 4 minifigures: Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, Sabine Wren and a generic female Phoenix-Squadron A-wing pilot.

She is clearly based on Phoenix Two from the season two episode 'Homecoming' which is interesting as the character only appears for a matter of seconds before being brutally shot down while trying to escape a skirmish. The color scheme of her fighter matches that of the model in this set as well which shows impressive attention to detail. She also does have a double-sided face, as all minifigures in this set: A smiling one and a worried one.
The existing pilot helmet mould is excellent and I like the new colors which adorn it in this set (the green/ yellow scheme matches that of the fighter), although we only see the pilots with their visors lowered in the animated series due to limited animation budgets and this exposed face is therefore slightly inaccurate although highly appreciated, since even those pilots need to have a face of sorts underneath those helmets. Nevertheless, this is an excellent minifigure and I am pleased to see the ranks of my Rebel navy personnel bolstered.

This is Sabine Wren's first appearance in her form from season two and I think the updated version is significantly better than the previous figure which was included in a couple of sets last year. Unfortunately her skin tone has not been altered and it is still too light as a result, although I like her colorful hair very much.
Her head is the same as usual, with a grimace on one side and a neutral expression on the other while her torso and legs have been updated to include much more printed detail on the front and back.
Sabine's arms have also been improved quite significantly. The flesh colored components have been replaced by black with dark orange gloves. It would have been wonderful to see some printing on the arms, but this is a step in the right direction. A pair of blaster pistols are included but her helmet is absent which is annoying. I have no idea why Lego seem so reluctant to include Sabine's helmet but the hair is great so the minifigure is impressive nonetheless.

Darth Vader now has a new printed design on the torso which reflects the more angular appearance of his animated character model as opposed to the  version seen in the films. His helmet has not been updated and is therefore rather inaccurate to Star Wars Rebels, although I do like it.
It consists of two parts and can be split to reveal Vader's scarred head underneath, which is printed on the front and back. It still bothers me slightly that the helmet is shaped as though Darth Vader is looking upwards but it is an improvement over the older design in my opinion. As ever, Darth Vader wears an intimidating black cape and is equipped with a red lightsaber. Unfortunately there is nowhere to store it onboard the TIE Advanced.

Finally there is is Grand Moff Tarkin, who has been a thorn in the side of the Rebels since the end of season one. Incredibly, this is only Tarkin's third appearance in a set and the first since the 2008 Death Star, so the minifigure has undergone and enormous update as one would expect. His uniform is now dark tan to reflect the Imperial attire seen in Star Wars Rebels and his hair has also been altered to more closely reflect his onscreen appearance.
 This is the first time the hair piece has appeared in dark bluish grey and it looks splendid, as does his wrinkled face. He looks decidely unfriendly on both sides and is accordingly armed with a blaster pistol (even if Imperial regulation forbids high-ranking officers to wear weapons while not on a dangerous mission)


General info about the spacecraft (source: Wookieepedia)

The RZ-1 A-wing interceptor was a starfighter manufactured by Kuat Systems Engineering. They were used by the early rebellion against the Empire and the subsequent Rebel Alliance, seeing action during the Age of the Empire and the Galactic Civil War. It was still in use 30 years later during the conflict between the Resistance and the First Order. Influenced by the designs of the Republic starfighters flown during the Clone Wars, the A-wing was wedge-shaped with dual sublight engines mounted on the stern and came equipped with a hyperdrive. The fighters were armed with two laser cannons and twelve concussion missiles. A-wings measured 9.6 meters long. A group of A-wing fighters codenamed "Phoenix Squadron" was part of a rebel cell led by Commander Jun Sato.

Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1 was a starfighter used by Darth Vader during the Galactic Civil War, leading Black Squadron, and flown by him during the Battle of Yavin. It was a modified early prototype of the TIE Advanced line. The TIE Advanced x1 featured a greater speed than the standard TIE. It was armed with heavy twin blaster cannons on fixed mounts, and was also capable of carrying secondary weapons such as cluster missiles. In addition, unlike most TIE models, the TIE Advanced x1 was equipped with both a hyperdrive and a deflector shield generator and even a much more effective solar ionization reactor and stronger hull. It also had more cockpit capacity than other TIEs, thus catering to the larger-than-average figure of Darth Vader. It was built to Vader's specifications by Santhe/ Sienar Technologies at the Sienar Advanced Projects Laboratory. Unlike the class standard, Vader's TIE Advanced apparently possessed a life-support system.

The completed model

The A-wing fighter has been a consistent presence in Star Wars Rebels since the end of the first season and we have seen it more than once in the films. Its design departs quite dramatically from earlier versions such as the 2013 75003 A-wing Starfighter but at the same time it is more accurate to what we see on-screen.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the A-wing is the colour scheme which has been chosen. These dark green markings have appeared on a couple of starfighters in the show but the blue designs are far more prevalent and more appealing in some respects.
Regardless, the combination of dark green, light bluish grey and yellow looks splendid to me and I appreciate the unusual color choice. However, it will make those people looking to build a Starfleet avoid this set due to the customized, specific nature of it (only an ace pilot could afford to customize his fighter like this and get away with it). Nevertheless, the shape of the model is spot on as well, with angled stabiliser wings and completely enclosed thrust vector control rudders, just as we see in the animated series. I actually prefer this sleeker design to that which appears in Return of the Jedi, although that will obviously vary from one person to the next.
The cockpit canopy can be opened to seat the pilot inside and a stickered control panel is also included. You can also move the laser cannons on either side to face forwards or backwards during dogfights. The engine pods look great and the new fin elements which are used on the top and bottom of each one form a very attractive profile.
Landing gear is hidden underneath along with a pair of white rubber bands which are attached in three places. These are used for the primary feature of the A-wing, although it might not be immediately obvious given how well this function has been hidden.
By pulling back on the entire central section of the model you can launch a pair of missiles from the front! This is almost invisible from most angles and works perfectly so I am quite pleased with the feature. However, it must be acknowledged that it seems rather over-engineered and a way to drive the price up in some respects as a simple button could have accomplished the same thing.

It is over seven years since Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1 has been seen in a LEGO set and building techniques and parts available have advanced enormously in that time. It is therefore somewhat surprising that this model has changed relatively little since 2009, although many of the alterations which have been made are certainly for the better.
The most notable of these centres upon the cockpit which now includes a pair of printed 6x6 hatch elements which were introduced last year. These look brilliant and it is difficult to imagine how the design could be improved in future, particularly given the impressive level of detail inside the cockpit. Darth Vader can be seated comfortably behind the controls and the hatch on top can be opened for access to the minifigure.
Spring loaded shooters are mounted beneath the cockpit and these can be activated remotely by pushing down on black buttons next to the top hatch.
 The wings are angled appropriately but tend to wobble a bit due to the way they are attached to the main body of the TIE.

The large rear section forms a perfect place to grip the model when flying it around and is decorated with some detailed stickers which replicate the designs seen in the show very accurately. You can even distinguish the twin ion engines which give this starship its name.

Overall

There are no truly perfect sets out there, because there is always something bothersome about them. For this one, it's the price. The two models contain about the same number of parts but neither are worth the 45$ you would have to pay if they were sold separately, so they are not worth the current 90$.
However, in all other respects I like this set very much. The minifigures are splendid and the two fighters are also very impressive, striking a perfect balance between play features and faithfulness to the source material. I think a reduction of around 25% would be reasonable and at that price point I would certainly recommend this set if you are a fan of Star Wars Rebels and if you are willing to live with the hole it would leave in your pocket.

Interested in buying this set? Check it out at the link below:
http://amzn.to/2kBNGZk