Price: £169.99 / $199.99 / €199.99 (DE) Pieces: 1703 Available: Now
Despite having been given the Ultimate Collector Series treatment once already back in 2003, many fans (especially this one) have been looking forward to the release of 2017’s 75144 Snowspeeder. This and the Slave I are my two favourite Star Wars ships, both for their unorthodox designs as well as their roles within the original films. Is this new entry worth all of the fuss, or is it ‘just another Snowspeeder’?
It’s fair to argue that releasing multiple versions of the same ship can take away from the opportunities to represent new sets from the Star Wars universe. At the same time, though, it also means designers have a chance to take another crack at a familiar design with a very different set of LEGO elements available to them. There are now fourteen years worth of new elements to help create a more accurate and functional shape for the Snowspeeder. Perhaps the most noticeable improvement is in the scale of the canopy, which is possible thanks to an entirely new piece of glass at the front. A judicious use of Mixel joints also allows for a number of angles previously unattainable through normal building techniques. This is clearly demonstrated at the front of the craft with nice, deep lines leading to the canopy. It should be noted though that while this technique makes for a lovely shape, it also leaves that part of the ship being a bit fragile.
The core of the ship is a satisfying experience, with some interesting part usage and a highly detailed cockpit. There are three wonderfully printed instrument screens, while the rest of the details on the outside of the ship are stickers (we’ll come back to that). There are some nice vents built with angled flags, as well as some tiny stabilising fins represented by minifig ice skates. It’s these sorts of details that allow a UCS scale design to shine. In what seems like a bit of an odd choice at first, the instructions have you move on to build the display stand after finishing up the central part of the ship. You’re then supposed to finish building the rest of the ship on the stand. As you continue the build, it makes a lot of sense to do this, as handling a craft of this size can be a bit unwieldy, and building on the stand proves a great solution.
Moving onto 75144 Snowspeeder‘s first wing, things continue to be interesting. The base is built on many, many plates, but once you start constructing the airbrakes and the turbo lasers, the attention to detail becomes apparent. The top airbrakes are operated by turning the main thruster at the back, which is a really nice bit of functionality. Inside you can see the workings of the mechanism, as well as other greebly details to make sure the physical presentation is top shelf. The bottom brakes are manually operated, but still impressive in their design. The laser cannons are also angled in ever so slightly to allow them to focus on a common target. This is a really nice touch, and surely something which will appeal to the more tech oriented fans.
The second wing ends up just being more of the same, which is less a criticism and more just a consequence of symmetrical design, an issue many Star Wars crafts (ahem, TIE Fighters). One of my favourite parts of the build is actually the heat dispersion slats at the rear of the ship. They are a clever use of the 4×4 tiles with four studs on one edge. These are mounted using technic pins and are a perfect example of a modular sub-build. Also at the back of the ship is the rear laser, which can be turned using the control yoke inside the cockpit thanks to some clever gearing.
Let’s return to those stickers I mentioned earlier. The graphic design of the stickers is wonderful – very well rendered and screen accurate. That being said however, they are printed on a white background which doesn’t quite match the white of the bricks. For some this may not prove an issue, but for others – myself included – I find it unsightly, and an unfortunate knock against the overall look of the ship. It’s hardly a deal breaker, but this set would have benefited greatly from printed elements, especially on the canopy and some of the 2×4 tiles that get stickers. Honestly for a $200 set, printing seems like it should be standard. This is especially true when you consider much smaller and less expensive sets, such as the Yellow Submarine, are resplendent with printed elements.
One last note – the instruction manual has some really nice additional content in the form of designer interviews, and history of the Snowspeeder. The Architecture series has information like this, as well as some other high end sets such as 2015’s 70751 Temple of Airjitzu. Hopefully this will be a trend that continues, as it is a very welcome bit of added value for the set, and gives builders some insight into how these types of sets come to fruition.
Adhesive quibbles aside, 75144 is an extraordinary set. It is extremely detailed, has some great functionality, and looks amazing on display. It soundly sits alongside the best the UCS series has to offer. While the $200 is by no means cheap, you can see and feel every penny of it in the build.
This product was provided for review by the LEGO Group.