While it may be the largest and most expensive set of the summer 2021 wave of LEGO Star Wars products, it’s fair to say that 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser isn’t the most interesting, at least on first impressions. That isn’t a criticism of the set by any means, but an acknowledgement of what it’s up against in competition, which is a line-up of some of the most diverse, colourful and all-round fun models to come out of the LEGO Star Wars theme in recent years.
And it’s competition that – beyond that first impression – it’s not going to fare so well against, simply because it is quite overpriced. It may have a roster of highly-desirable minifigures, but to save all the money needed to afford this set brings with it the challenge of not spending said money on any of the half-dozen – and all cheaper – LEGO Star Wars sets releasing at the same time that offer just as many great and new characters in minifigure form, and LEGO sets that may be smaller but that are all more immediately engaging and interesting.
In short, 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser won’t be the first LEGO Star Wars set most of us will pick up this summer – nor should it be – while for those in the fortunate position to afford a few of the new range releasing (or even all of them), it likely won’t be the first, second or even third one that you’ll build. Does that mean it’s a set to avoid and that BrickLink is the best bet to try to secure those minifigures?
— Set details —
Price: £149.99 / $159.99 / €159.99 Pieces: 1,336 Minifigures: 5 (plus Baby Yoda)
— Build —
Honestly, we dare not answer that question. Taking in the set on its own, 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser isn’t a LEGO model that deserves much criticism. It adapts the source material quite skilfully into LEGO form, to create not only an accurate microscale exterior complete with mini TIE Fighters (and a fun mechanism to launch them out of the front) but also a sizeable interior, with as much space and detail as is required to capture the spirit of the location as it appeared and was used in The Mandalorian.
The Imperial light cruiser first came to prominence for its use in Star Wars Rebels as a smaller, more mobile version of a Star Destroyer, before its debut in live action form in The Mandalorian as key antagonist Moff Gideon’s main mode of transport and mobile base of operations for his Imperial remnant. Gideon used the light cruiser to track Din Djarin and destroy the Razor Crest from just inside the atmosphere of Tython. The ship was also home to Imperial transport ships capable of carrying squads of Stromtroopers down to a planet’s surface, and housed an experimental unit of Dark Troopers.
As the location for the culmination of story in Season 2 (and a special cameo that the LEGO Star Wars team were not aware of before they had finished the set), the ship saw plenty of action and serves as a natural inclusion in the latest LEGO Star Wars wave of releases, and as the anthesis to last year’s 75292 The Mandalorian Bounty Hunter Transport.
In The Mandalorian it casts a menacing shape in the sky and in space, with intimidating size and power when coming up against Mando, Boba Fett and the others. For its use in Rebels too, it’s a now-familiar ship and a more than welcome addition to the LEGO Star Wars collection. Taking the same sort of piece count as has been afforded to larger Star Destroyer sets of the past also gives the design team more options in capturing the finer points of what is, by scale, a much smaller ship than those.
And on both what’s on the outside and the inside, 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser delivers. The unique, striking shape of the cruiser is perfectly captured in proportions and detail around the exterior, thanks to a slight Technic-frame construct on the inside. The all-grey colour scheme works against highlighting the subtle angles that have been recreated in the model, but it all still comes together effectively at the end as the reason why your eye so easily accepts the authentic nature of what’s in front of you.
For what it is as a vehicle, it doesn’t open too many areas for play on the exterior, but the designers have still worked in a couple of fun ways to interact with the model – including the storage hangar for the TIE Fighters towards the rear of the ship, and a launch mechanism built into the front so as to send them out into space. Somewhat unfortunately, you have to have the panels of the ship open so as to activate that feature.
That’s really the only compromise to an exterior design that has also intelligently built the support handle to carry the whole thing around into the bridge of the ship. Weighted slightly towards the front end, though, and not the lightest of LEGO Star Wars ships, it may activate some new muscles in an average AFOL’s arm, and require two hands for younger builders to carry around.
The front end of the cruiser opens up in much the same way many previous LEGO Star Destroyers have – this time in one large folding panel – to house a minifigure-scale interpretation of the ship’s bridge. It’s relatively sparse, with only four control panels, a couple of storage boxes and a central desk to populate the location, but that’s pretty similar to how it appeared in The Mandalorian, with plenty of space left over for the many characters that came together in the Season 2 finale.
75315 Imperial Light Cruiser is probably most remarkable for the structural engineering that allows for such fluidity between the exterior of the model and what is, quite literally, a hollowed-out front-end to it. To achieve that without compromises elsewhere is worthy of particular note and appreciation.
Beyond that, 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser does what it needs to do – strike a balance between play and display in recreating a large-scale ship in LEGO form. But that it has to do so in direct competition with such a range of other LEGO Star Wars ships releasing at the same time, and all of them much cheaper, is where it faces a real challenge.
— Characters —
There are going to be some who only want 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser for the minifigure line-up, such is their appeal. Where the set on its own could be seen as a little plain, the minifigures are packed with detail, colour and exclusivity. Two of them are also likely the reason that the set is priced so highly.
Moff Gideon, Fennec Shand and the Dark Trooper are all exclusive and highly-desirable minifigures and the latter two are capped off thanks to some very detailed and unique moulds for their respective helmets. It is those helmets that elevate those two minifigures in quality and authenticity, alongside the printed arms for Fennec and the printed shoulder pad piece for the Dark Trooper.
Further, it is the subtle extra lift in that shoulder pad piece, combined with the placement of the eyes on the helmet slightly higher than that of a regular minifigure’s eyeline (put the helmet on any other head, and their eyes won’t reach the holes) that gives the Dark Trooper minifigure extra menace in its appearance, and some extra height where otherwise the LEGO Star Wars design team don’t like to offer it.
Moff Gideon’s minifigure includes a two-coloured cape and all the printing on the torso needed to accurately capture his appearance, combined with two well-realised expressions on a dual-moulded head.
At the same time, though – and with a firm focus on the total cost of 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser and the otherwise lack of really unique things within the set – perhaps a second colour in his hairpiece to reflect his greying hair could have worked, or as has most certainly already been pointed out, a new piece to more accurately capture the particular shape of the darksaber. This NINJAGO weapon accessory pack has come in five colours so far already, and the long blade from that coloured in black could have been a perfect fix.
Also included are a second appearance for Cara Dune, Grogu (as referred to on the box art and in the official set description, but Baby Yoda to you and I) and Din Djarin himself in Beskar armour, complete with Beskar spear as per his duel with Moff Gideon.
There’s little to criticise this trio’s inclusion here (if you have the villain, you need the heroes), but a Koska Reeves minifigure could have really helped sell 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser as a better total package, or even an unmasked Din Djarin. At the same time, quality control on the printing for the Mandalorian’s helmet needs to improve. Imagine paying £150 for a set and getting a wonky Mando.
— Price —
Ultimately, the sense of value can be best demonstrated in the surprise we felt when lifting up 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser when complete – it’s far heavier than we anticipated. That surprise, though, is a negative reflection of the how really it does not seem like 1,336 pieces of LEGO have gone into the set. It has the appearance of a set with closer to 800 pieces. Lots of Technic pins on the inside, lots of large grey panels on the outside.
That is not to criticise the design at all, because it offers the right detail that it needs to, both on the exterior at one scale and in the interior at another. Likewise, it is a model that doesn’t need to be any bigger in size. There’s enough space and features inside to recreate all the story so far seen from The Mandalorian, while the outside sits at a perfect balance between size and detail on show.
But charging as high as £149.99 / $159.99 / €159.99 still feels disproportionate to the model that you are left with and, realistically, it may just be a consequence of the minifigures that are included – particularly the two that have required special one-off moulds to create.
— Pictures —
— Summary —
Price is where 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser comes unstuck. If this was between £100 and £120, there would be enough to the set and to the minifigure line-up to recommend it wholeheartedly. However, where we have praised LEGO Star Wars’ return to better value across the rest of its summer 2021 wave of releases, there is a clear imbalance between price and value in 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser and it feels like a carryover from the Sequel Trilogy approach.
Based on its merits as a LEGO set, there’s little to criticise 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser for, because it provides both an excellent rendition of a relatively new Imperial ship for the exterior and a spacious interpretation of a key story moment from The Mandalorian for the interior. The minifigures aren’t all perfect, but remain highly desirable and three of them are (infuriatingly) locked into this set.
In many ways, 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser is close to the limit of what it can be in functions, design and authenticity for the piece count and number of minifigures included. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the price, which stretches at least 30% beyond that same limit.
Without that issue, this is a model that would sit comfortably in the summer 2021 range of LEGO Star Wars sets, but for how remarkable the rest of them all are in comparative value, 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser runs the risk of being overshadowed and overlooked.
This set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.