In 2007, the LEGO Group created the ultimate Millennium Falcon, and then in 2017 it did it all over again – but was it a complete rebuild or a quick respray?
If you watch enough American crime drama, sooner or later you’ll come across the following scene: The crime-battling team are standing around a computer while one member scrolls through grainy CCTV footage. Suddenly they find what they’re looking for. Maybe the suspect, maybe a stolen car. But the picture is too blurry to make out the crucial detail. Then the boss leans in and says the magic word: “Enhance.”
The operative clicks a button and in moments the fuzzy picture suddenly resolves itself into a razor sharp image. Crucial details in hand the team then go off, apprehend the criminal and are congratulating themselves over drinks before the credits roll.
And in a way, that’s exactly what happened with 10179 Millennium Falcon. Only instead of pressing a button, it took an awful lot of work by the LEGO Star Wars team in Billund, and rather than happening instantaneously, the transformation took a decade.
For a long time, 10179, the original Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon was the holy grail of LEGO collectors. It was the largest set ever created. It cost an unimaginable £349.99. It did what it said on the tin. It was just… the ultimate set. Fast forward ten years and along came 75192 Millennium Falcon. Those who hadn’t managed to pick up an original and couldn’t afford the astronomical aftermarket prices cheered. Those who had an original set stored, waiting to sell it for a huge profit were… less happy. But was it just a remake, or are there fundamental differences between the two?
At first glance the two sets are fairly similar, and in terms of size they’re pretty much identical. But the new ship has an extra 2,344 parts and they have to go somewhere. Starting with the more obvious differences, the cockpit is a vast improvement. With a moulded, printed trans-clear piece it looks terrific, as opposed to the few, spartan bars that gave the impression of a cockpit in the old set. That said, the old version could seat four minifigures in comfort. Not so with 75192 – thanks to Chewie’s new and improved fur, whoever’s behind him has to stand.
Talking of minifigures, that’s one of the few areas where the differences are minimal. Five in the older set, eight in the new. Sure, the detail has been somewhat improved. Back prints that are missing from the 2007 minifigures are now present and correct. Han Solo’s hair now looks right for the scoundrel, whereas his earlier counterpart looks more like 1970s schoolboy.
The most significant difference with 75192 is that, because the designer has built in options for ‘Classic Falcon’ from the original trilogy and ‘Sequel Falcon’ from, er, the sequels, they’ve accounted for the differences with the minifigures too. On the ship, you can decide whether to go with round antenna dish or ‘rectenna’, and you can also choose the appropriate minifigures to accompany the ship.
The antenna on the old ship is typical of many of the changes. While the old one is absolutely fine, the new one is undeniably better. A more detailed print and a wider range of parts available to the designer just makes for a more accurate result. And that, in a nutshell, is what sets the two versions of the Falcon apart. The access corridor to the cockpit, for example. If you only had the old ship, you’d be happy with it. It’s made of flat plates and so it’s semi-hexagonal rather than semi-circular, thus there is some gapping, but it’s okay. But 10 years of part development means that the newer corridor is smooth and round. Mind you, it still has a terrible gap where it turns the corner into the cockpit itself.
Wherever you look, the ship has undergone the ‘enhance’ treatment. Smaller gaps between pieces, or no gaps at all. Smooth curves replace sharp angles. The escape pods on either side of the ship are round, whereas the 2007 versions are made up of many flat plates and look like those connectors you get for garden hoses. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t un-see it.
And the interior. Here there’s no comparison really, as 10179 doesn’t have an interior, just a lot of empty space under those grey plates. 75192, on the other hand, has removable sections of hull revealing the lounge where R2-D2 can play Chewbacca at Dejarik and Luke can practice his lightsaber skills against the remote. Elsewhere there is access to opening escape pods, corridors that curve away to other, more inaccessible parts of the ship. And easy to miss, buried in the floor, some handy smuggling compartments.
That doesn’t take up 2,300 extra parts though. But the greebling does. All those little bits and bobs on the hull don’t look anything as you carefully click them into place, but stand back and the effect is astonishing. To be fair, the back of the old ship has been greebled well, but as you move forward, towards those iconic mandibles, the new version shows where the money was spent. Another, relatively subtle difference is the colouring of the hull. While 10179 is a sea of grey, broken up with the occasional coloured tile, 75192 has red, brown and green elements scattered around, giving a far better impression of the wear and tear the the ship has seen.
So yes, there are differences. From the other side of the room you may not spot them, but the closer you get, the more they become apparent. Is the new set better though? Put it this way. In the motoring world, a number of classic cars such as the Mini and the Fiat 500 have been ‘reimagined’ for the 21st century. They are undeniably an improvement. Safer. Better constructed. More comfortable. More efficient. But you’ll still find plenty of people who would choose the original over the remake.
And the same could be said for the Falcon. On paper, 75192 Millennium Falcon wins the contest hands down, but for some, the originality and the scarcity of 10179 give it the edge. And let’s not forget, if 10179 hadn’t existed, it’s less likely (although not impossible) that 75192 would ever have been created. But while differences there may be, either one is a remarkable set that will take pride of place in any LEGO collection.