A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the LEGO Group teamed up with Lucasfilm for what would be its first-ever licensed theme: LEGO Star Wars. More than two decades later, it’s since become one of the company’s most successful product lines, bringing to life movies, TV shows, video games and more in LEGO bricks.
From The Phantom Menace to The Rise of Skywalker and everything in between, the LEGO Star Wars theme now spans hundreds of sets, from ever-evolving renditions of iconic vehicles like X-wings and TIE Fighters to obscure, one-off sets of locations and characters known only to hardcore Star Wars fans.
LEGO Star Wars history
In 1999, the LEGO Group made history – and forever cemented its future portfolio – by embracing the power of licensed partnerships. Winnie the Pooh became DUPLO’s first licensed theme, but the real headline-grabber was LEGO Star Wars, which debuted at the International Toy Fair in New York in February that year.
The coming together of those two brands felt like the most obvious thing in the world. Star Wars was already a merchandising powerhouse, having rewritten the handbook on producing and selling toys, action figures and collectibles. The LEGO Group, meanwhile was no stranger to sci-fi with its long-running Space theme. A collaboration between the two seemed obvious.
However, while Star Wars is an essential part of today’s LEGO landscape, it didn’t start out like that. Before LEGO Star Wars launched, LEGO sets were resolutely pacifistic in their design. They often avoided realistic depictions of warfare (modern or otherwise), and early play themes focussed on exploration and everyday life. As such, the decision to license Star Wars inspired some soul-searching within the LEGO Group itself.
At the same time, it may be fair to say LEGO sets were already touching upon this idea. Prior ranges like the Space Police theme (which debuted a decade before LEGO Star Wars) established a clear, fantasised depiction of conflict within a LEGO product. While it remained an outlier (most Space themes have no conflict to speak of) it showed this idea of sci-fi conflict wasn’t entirely off the table.
That Star Wars was (and is) a hugely popular franchise probably helped to seal the deal. As such, the first Star Wars sets landed on shelves in 1999. They included a mix of brand new models for The Phantom Menace and classic vehicles and characters from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, including 7140 X-wing Fighter, 7110 Landspeeder and 7130 Snowspeeder, with minifigures of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO, R2-D2 and many more.
Ironically, the LEGO Star Wars theme got off to a rocky start. The initial batch of LEGO Star Wars sets was reportedly difficult to find, and the range of sets released the year after (in 2000) was hampered by the absence of a new Star Wars movie. These kinds of oversights contributed to the LEGO Group’s rocky period around the turn of the century.
Still, the continued popularity of Star Wars has allowed LEGO Star Wars sets to endure across the years. While sets inspired by new movie releases have steadily released, they have invariably been paired with sets inspired by the original trilogy. This trend has continued to the present day; 2022 has featured several different Star Wars sets inspired by The Empire Strikes Back, for example.
While those early designs now seem positively archaic, it’s only because the LEGO Star Wars team has continually updated and refined its designs over the past two decades, bringing us newer and increasingly-impressive versions of X-wings, Landspeeders and Snowspeeders, each one generally improving on the last.
The archaic nature of these early sets was also shaped by The LEGO Group’s design philosophy at the time. LEGO designers were keen to use existing elements as much as possible in the Star Wars set designs, and preserve the creativity that LEGO bricks inspired.
7190 Millennium Falcon is a neat example of this idea. Its curved shape was achieved using parts from the UFO line, which debuted in 1997. Moreover, its instructions encouraged you to rebuild the Falcon into many other models; a range of other builds, including a bipedal walker, were provided as inspiration.
The LEGO Star Wars theme has also been at the forefront of innovation for the LEGO Group. Many of its early minifigures established conventions and design principles for years to come. It led the way in the switch from classic yellow-skinned minifigures to flesh-toned characters in the mid-2000s, and its laundry list of new elements has bled into other themes. Lightsaber hilts, hoods and more have been repurposed for several licensed and in-house builds and characters.
Now spanning multiple subthemes and product collections, from its helmets and Ultimate Collector Series models to battle packs, 18+ display models and 4+ playsets – all of which run the gamut from The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and everything in-between – the LEGO Star Wars theme shows no signs of slowing down.
LEGO Star Wars sets
LEGO Star Wars has played host to some eclectic experiments from the LEGO design team over the years, from MINDSTORMS tie-ins to BIONICLE-esque action figures. Today’s product portfolio is a little more streamlined, but still encompasses a variety of sets that target completely different audiences.
For instance, the LEGO Group’s recent push into the adult market has brought us both the LEGO Star Wars Helmet Collection – including sets such as 75277 Boba Fett Helmet (review) and 75304 Darth Vader Helmet (review) – and a newly-established line of display models, from 75294 Bespin Duel and 75296 Darth Vader Meditation Chamber (review) to the rumoured 75330 Yoda’s Training.
The Ultimate Collector Series is still going strong, meanwhile, with headline sets including 75192 Millennium Falcon (review), 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer and the newly-revealed 75313 AT-AT (review). And even if your bank account doesn’t stretch to those titans, the likes of 75308 R2-D2 (review), 75275 A-wing Starfighter (review) and 75309 Republic Gunship (review) cater for a wider range of budgets.
That’s not to say the LEGO Group’s traditional demographic has been left behind: in early 2021, 75300 Imperial TIE Fighter (review) and 75301 Luke Skywalker’s X-wing Fighter (review) brought us cheaper and more accessible – yet still authentic – renditions of classic ships, which have since been joined by 75302 Imperial Shuttle (review) and 75312 Boba Fett’s Starship (review). These downsized models may not be as accurate as their predecessors, but they’re far easier to collect for younger buyers.
And while there’s still a heavy focus on the original trilogy across the theme, as there will surely forever be, many of today’s LEGO Star Wars sets draw from a wide range of source material, including The Mandalorian – with products such as 75292 The Mandalorian Bounty Hunter Transport (review) and 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser (review) – and The Clone Wars, with the likes of 75310 Duel on Mandalore (review) and 75316 Mandalorian Starfighter (review).
LEGO Star Wars minifigures
From its earliest days, the LEGO Star Wars theme has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible with minifigures, while also determining the direction of future character designs across both its own and broader product lines.
Probably the best example of that is Chewbacca, who presented a real technical challenge for the LEGO Group in the late ‘90s. Eventually, the design team came up with a moulded head element that also covered the front and back of Chewie’s torso, giving him textured fur rather than just a basic print. That same approach has since been applied to minifigures of Ewoks, Gamorrean Guards, and even SpongeBob SquarePants.
Jar Jar Binks was also one of the first-ever minifigures to receive a unique head sculpt (and we’ve had hundreds more since), while Yoda and young Boba Fett were among the first batch of minifigures with short legs. In many ways, the demands of specific LEGO Star Wars characters have helped to pave the way for innovations in minifigure design for the past two decades.
According to secondary marketplace BrickLink, we’ve had more than 1,200 LEGO Star Wars minifigures since 1999, which makes collecting them all a pretty tough (and expensive) task. And just like the sets, they draw on everything from the Skywalker Saga, Rogue One and Solo to The Clone Wars, Rebels and The Mandalorian, alongside Legends and wider content including The Force Unleashed, The Old Republic, Galaxy’s Edge and The Freemaker Adventures.
Some of the most valuable LEGO Star Wars minifigures today are Yoda in his NY I Heart torso, which was a promotional minifigure available exclusively at Toys R Us in Times Square, and is now available new on BrickLink for roughly £7,000; and the Yuletide Squadron Pilot, which was only included in 2019’s LEGO employee gift, 4002019 Christmas X-wing, and now sells for an average of just under £300.
LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga
First announced in 2019 at E3, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has suffered setback after setback – which here means delay after delay. Originally expected to launch in 2020, the saga-spanning game – which covers everything from The Phantom Menace through to The Rise of Skywalker – was first delayed to spring 2021, then spring 2022, at consecutive Gamescom events.
Indeed, spring 2022 is basically as precise as it gets for the LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga release date at the moment, as we’re still waiting to hear exactly when we’ll be able to get our hands on the game. The latest trailer showed off the progress developers TT Games have made in just the past two years, though, including more polished graphics and gameplay.
The ambitious title is set to include hundreds of characters, many of them playable, along with nearly 20 planets to explore and plenty of missions to complete, with a particular focus on story beats that haven’t been previously covered in LEGO Star Wars video games.
LEGO Star Wars The Mandalorian
The first season of The Mandalorian arrived on Disney+ in 2019, chronicling the adventures of Din Djarin in a post-Return of the Jedi landscape. We’ve met new characters including Baby Yoda (or Grogu, if you prefer), Cara Dune and Greef Karga, and seen fan-favourites like Boba Fett, Ahsoka Tano and Luke Skywalker return to screens.
Despite a pretty slow start to the LEGO Star Wars theme’s coverage of The Mandalorian – just a single set debuted alongside the first season in 75254 AT-ST Raider (review), while 75292 The Mandalorian Bounty Hunter Transport (formerly The Razor Crest) didn’t arrive on shelves for another year – the LEGO Group has now gone full throttle on the first live-action Star Wars TV series.
August 2021 brought us an entire wave of new additions to the LEGO Star Wars The Mandalorian line-up, including 75311 Imperial Armored Marauder (review), 75312 Boba Fett’s Starship (review), 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser (review) and 75319 The Armorer’s Mandalorian Forge (review). Those have since been joined by 75307 Star Wars Advent Calendar, which includes festive versions of Din Djarin and Baby Yoda.
At the moment, only one more Mandalorian set is rumoured for 2022 in 75321 Razor Crest Microfighter, but at least two sets based on the show’s spin-off series The Book of Boba Fett are also said to be on the way.
LEGO Star Wars AT-AT
X-wings, Snowspeeders and TIE Fighters aren’t the only sets to receive constant revisions over the past two decades of LEGO Star Wars sets: the fearsome, four-legged Imperial AT-AT walker has also been recreated in bricks more times than you can count on one hand, across a medley of different sizes and scales.
At the smaller end of the scale, 4489 AT-AT and 75075 AT-AT Microfighter have offered a way to amass an army of AT-ATs without breaking the bank, while at the other, last year’s 75288 AT-AT (review) represents the pinnacle of LEGO Star Wars design for this walker – at least until 75313 AT-AT lumbered into view, dwarfing all previous mechanical beasts as the first Ultimate Collector Series version of the formidable walker.
Available from Black Friday (or November 26) for £749.99 / $799.99 / €799.99, 75313 AT-AT is the second-largest LEGO Star Wars set to date. Find out more about the walker in our detailed review, or kick back and watch our video review.
We can’t forget about 10178 Motorized Walking AT-AT, either, which is probably the most successful of the LEGO Group’s wild experiments in the LEGO Star Wars line-up over the years. Check out our in-depth review of that model here.
LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon
Still the largest LEGO Star Wars set to date by piece count, 75192 Millennium Falcon smashed all sorts of records when it launched in 2017. The Ultimate Collector Series set is far and away the biggest, best and most expensive version of Han Solo’s freighter ever committed to LEGO bricks at 7,541 pieces for £649.99 / $799.99 / €799.99, but it’s certainly not the only one.
The very first LEGO Millennium Falcon launched all the way back in 2000, and looks very primitive by today’s standards. It didn’t take long for the LEGO Group to abandon that set’s huge quarter-dishes in favour of the segmented flaps it still uses for its modern play-scale Falcons, which first appeared in 4504 Millennium Falcon in 2004.
Since then, we’ve seen the LEGO Group depict the Falcon at microscale, in mini form, as a Microfighter, in midi-scale, as a playset – from A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back all the way through to The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker – and at true minifigure scale in both 10179 Millennium Falcon and 75192 Millennium Falcon.
Few LEGO Star Wars vehicles have had as much love from the LEGO Group as the Millennium Falcon, and you’ll generally always find at least one available to purchase – at least when it’s in stock, because even four years on from its original release, the UCS version still flies off shelves.
LEGO Star Wars Black Friday
The best time of year to buy LEGO Star Wars sets is often across LEGO VIP Weekend, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, during which the LEGO Group and third-party retailers typically offer generous discounts, promotions and incentives on products, such as gifts-with-purchase and double VIP points.
In 2020, for example, 75244 Tantive IV was reduced by 20% at LEGO.com, while purchases of £150 / $150 / €150 or more also qualified for 40410 Charles Dickens Tribute. Look out for similar discounts on retiring LEGO Star Wars sets across Black Friday in 2021, which this year falls on November 26. The LEGO Group’s shopping event will likely run from that day through Cyber Monday on November 29, while LEGO VIP Weekend is already confirmed for November 20-21.