Recently I built the Lego Star Wars Imperial Shuttle (Vader’s Lambda-class whip from Episode VI) with the help of my kids. It’s a monster set consisting of 2,503 pieces including five minifigs, and it took us several evenings to complete.
When I opened the box I was struck by all the white bricks that make up the model. Nearly every detail on the ship’s exterior is blazing white, so if you’re planning on building a Hoth model, buying this set is a great way to stock up. On the other hand, this relative monotony made it sometimes difficult to find the right part. Ordinarily I like to heap up all my bricks and dig through the wonderful pile of Lego goodness to find the part I need, but in this case I found the shuttle’s kajillion white bricks to be a little much for that. I definitely feel like the sorting method would have served me better.
Despite the preponderance of white, there were some really great elements found in the set. One of the first things I noticed about the model was the awesome gear assembly containing a ton of Technic gears, including eight(!) 40-tooth gears, which aren’t very common. You can also grab four #6588 Technic gearboxes which have been found in only 4 sets since 2009. More mundanely, if you’re looking to supplement your Technic beam supply, this set is for you. It contains dozens of beams of various lengths — mostly white, as mentioned — used for both structural support as well as cosmetic purposes. Similarly, you can stock up on pegs and connectors.
So what does the model need with all those gears? They help manage the shuttle’s magnificent wings, which stretch almost 24″ across when fully deployed. The wings are manipulated with two cranks jutting from the aft of the ship, and prevent them from falling down once cranked up. There might be a better way of controlling the wings, but I think Lego included all the gears to help builders round out their collection.
While I found the challenge to be just formidable enough, and I thoroughly enjoyed putting together the model, the build process was definitely too much for the kids. The wing assemblies are very complicated and fragile, made up of numerous small bricks and beams, and my teenager found it “too boring.” The younger kids were eager to help find the right bricks in the heap, but the actual build was too difficult. (The set rates itself as 16+, and I’d agree with that — depending on the kid.) On the other hand, with the step-by-steps broken into four books, the set is ripe for a collaborative build.
The Lego Star Wars Imperial Shuttle is a very beautiful model and Lego knows it — they’ve included bricks for a solid and attractive display stand that shows the ship in flight — or, you could use the removable landing gear and display the shuttle “on the ground.” It offers a challenging build, not to mention a plethora of (mostly white) parts for future projects, including some rarities. It’s huge model — true minifig scale — that looks sweet on display.
See my Flickr set for more build pics.