Price: £84.99 / $99.99 / €99.99 Pieces: 1106 Available: Amazon
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega’s Rey and Finn may have been billed as the two new lead characters when the Star Wars saga returned to cinema screens with The Force Awakens, but neither was the breakout star. The undisputed scene stealing new character, who was embraced whole heartedly by audiences, was BB-8. Now, the LEGO Group has given the character the rare accolade of being realised as a LEGO System set.
This is not the first time that the LEGO Group has released a sculpted character, but they are few and far between, with 75187 BB-8 the first since 10225 R2-D2. This droid is clearly more studded than the R2 release, but is similar in style and scale. With the included plaque/stand and level of detail, many fans are considering this a UCS (Ultimate Collector Series) quality set, even though it has been released in the regular LEGO Star Wars range – but does it live up to that standard?
When fans build a new LEGO set, they have a rough idea of how it will go – the more sets built, the more predictable they become. So being offered something fresh from the LEGO designers is absolutely key, as it stops building a set being a predictable affair, instead something intriguing and entertaining. 75187 BB-8 certainly delivers on something fresh.
Ironically, the spherical droid of Star Wars begins with a square frame – no doubt the best way to start, but it also feels like the designer must have been having some fun there. BB-8 is very rare in the LEGO Star Wars line-up because the character’s construction continues with a bag’s worth of Technic mechanism building, that is incorporating two functions. This is even more like ‘proper’ Technic building than in 75177 First Order Heavy Scout Walker.
After the central mechanism section is complete, it is a case of building the panels that surround the droid, giving BB-8 the signature spherical appearance. Finally the head is added, with a clever method of incorporating the two ‘eyes’ at the relevant angles.
This LEGO set is not just delightful to build, the completed BB-8 looks absolutely wonderful. Without using any fancy techniques to create the sphere, instead just using SNOT and layered plates, the designer has conveyed BB-8’s shape perfectly, and the head is full of all of the same personality that the movie’s character design is. This is one of those sets that, when it has pride of place on the shelf, will have non-LEGO loving friends and family completely intrigued.
To go further, this is one of those sets that would even be enjoyed by a non-LEGO fan. If you have a fan of the Star Wars sequel trilogy who just loves BB-8 in your life, then they would be thrilled to receive this set. When the LEGO Group refer to the ‘joy of creation’, it is often taken for granted that the phrase refers to building a MOC – but following the instructions to build this model, enjoying the variety and seeing the bricks come together, to then be confronted with something packed full of such character… it is so very satisfying.
It is a demonstration of what can be done purely with LEGO pieces – no stickers are used to get 75187 to be movie accurate, it is all down to the bricks in the box (a sticker is used on the plaque featuring droid stats). Compared to some of the minifigure compatible sets, relatively few bespoke elements are used – a lot of BB-8 is made up of bricks and plates.
The set demonstrates that with more than just aesthetics, as the functionality offers two appealing features. Turn the panel on BB-8’s left hand side, to reveal the thumbs lighter that the droid memorably uses in The Force Awakens. Turn his right panel, and the head rotates – but rather than just spin around, it wobbles and bobs in the same way that it does on-screen. The movement is uncanny, and that such a simple mechanism and an elastic band achieved this is very impressive.
Perhaps the reason 75187 BB-8 is such an enjoyable experience, both as a build and as a completed model, is that character sculptures come along so rarely in the LEGO Star Wars theme. If the execution is as perfect as it is in this case every time, then it really is worth the wait. If you buy only one LEGO set from the Star Wars: The Last Jedi range, then buy this one – BB-8 stole the show in The Force Awakens, and now the plucky droid does the same in the LEGO Star Wars 2017 line-up.