How LEGO has spent the past 25 years making the Millennium Falcon better – and bigger

LEGO Star Wars: The Force of Creativity author Graham E. Hancock shares a few of the insights he learned about the Millennium Falcon along the way – and why it had to go on the cover…

City has its police stations, Friends has its animal rescue centres and DC Super Heroes has its Batmobiles. There’s a particular model that is so essential to each LEGO theme that there must near enough always be a version available, so that collectors and children coming in fresh can acquire it without having to resort to the secondary market.

For LEGO Star Wars, the Millennium Falcon is that core model. The YT-1300 Freighter is at the heart of the saga’s most thrilling space battles – but it isn’t just another starship, it’s also a home of sorts for the core characters. As the original trilogy progresses, the audience goes on an emotional journey with a vehicle that is just as much of a hero as its pilot.

That makes it sound certain that it would have been one of the first LEGO Star Wars sets to launch in 1999, when the theme arrived in toy stores – but in actuality, the Falcon was held back for the second year. With the focus on The Phantom Menace for that launch year, the largest model slots went to the newest Star Wars instalment.

lego

When researching LEGO Star Wars: The Force of Creativity, I spoke to Design Master Søren Dyrhøj, who designed 7190 Millennium Falcon, the very first version that was released in 2000. He did consider using a DUPLO tube element to connect the cockpit to the main body of the ship, but soon dismissed that idea – but he did use the large single piece elements from UFO (a 1997 subtheme of Space) to capture the shape of the ship. They were easy to remove so that, after building the model, children could access the interior and play.

That was the first ever LEGO Millennium Falcon though – and using the internet required some effort – so fans didn’t complain about a model that looks rudimentary by modern standards. 

Huge elements aren’t really at the core of the LEGO System in Play, which is at its best when it uses the most basic elements in surprising ways to create unique forms. That’s why, when Søren revisited the hunk of junk a few years later, he switched things up. 4504 Millennium Falcon, released in 2004, was the first version to use a dozen wedge-plated sections on hinges to cover the interior. The individual flaps come together to form the top of the Falcon, but then easily open up to reveal the freighter’s interior.

Not only does that mean that 4504 Millennium Falcon has a more engaging build process, but the ship also has plenty of visible studs, something that the LEGO Star Wars team always strives for. In fact, the use of multiple hinged sections worked so well that the same concept has been part of every play scale Millennium Falcon since, right up to 2019’s 75257 Millennium Falcon.

After the release of that 2004 version, the LEGO Group received feedback from fans who wanted to replicate the movie and put four minifigures in the cockpit – and Design Director Jens Kronvold Frederiksen took that as a challenge. He went about figuring out how big the entire model would need to be if it were to have a cockpit that could seat four minifigures.

Once Jens had an idea of how big he would need to go, he put together a staggering number of pieces until he ended up with a massive rendition of the Millennium Falcon. Pleased to have found that it was achievable, he put the model on display in the design area. Before long, someone spotted the ‘for fun’ build and selected it for actual production; Jens and his colleagues went about finessing the sketch model and turning it into something for fans to build at home.

10179 Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon launched in 2007, the precursor to the biggest Ultimate Collector Series (UCS) sets that are now released each year. The entire model was scaled to the minifigures that came with it – not only can Han, Chewbacca, Luke and Obi-Wan all fit in the cockpit, but the model towers over them, just as it does in the film when they step out into Docking Bay 94. Made up of 5,197 pieces, it was the largest LEGO set ever when released in 2007.

Of all the Star Wars spaceships, it was the Millennium Falcon that encouraged the design team to dream bigger and release such an incredible display model. Recently, they have gone smaller again – 75375 Millennium Falcon delivers a version of the ship that isn’t scaled for minifigure play and isn’t so huge that it will take over whatever room you put it in. The set demonstrates that the designers can recreate this screen icon at any scale – and it is the one that deserves to be available in different formats for different collectors.

It’s because the Millennium Falcon is so integral to Star Wars that it was the perfect candidate to be on the front of LEGO Star Wars: The Force of Creativity. After all, it did make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force of Creativity is available to pre-order now exclusively from LEGO.com and will be published on July 20. For more on this titanic LEGO Star Wars tome, check out Brick Fanatics’ interview with Graham.

Support the work that Brick Fanatics does by purchasing your LEGO using our affiliate links. Thanks!

Author Profile

Graham E. Hancock
Graham was the Brick Fanatics Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects, including LEGO Star Wars: The Force of Creativity. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education.

Graham E. Hancock

Graham was the Brick Fanatics Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects, including LEGO Star Wars: The Force of Creativity. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *