The ultimate show of power in the collecting galaxy, the LEGO® Death Star has been a holy grail of collecting for me since I heard it existed. All those bricks! All the mini-figures! I could not even wrap my head around it. I missed the boat on the very first release, and also the Death Star 2, and it has been retired and taken out of retirement so many times that the timing never seemed to line up. The secondary market is always insane on these when in retirement, so once it came out again with the release of Rouge One, I knew this was my shot. This third version, set number 75159, features scenes from both Death Stars from A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. It is almost the same as the first release, but with more updated mini-figs and some extra updates to things like the superweapon. It is the biggest LEGO Star Wars set available, and one of the biggest sets period. And now it is mine! Over the next few weeks I will be chronicling the building of this battle station, so let's dive in!
Right from the get-go: the box is very heavy! Who knew 4,016 little bricks could have such weight to them? Once you start removing the bags and instruction manual, you get a really good sense of what you are in for. Bags and bags and bags of bricks come out of that box and the long white boxes as well. 10 sets of bags, each with at least four bags per set, some more. And, an instruction book so big that it is a spiral notebook. In the front, the history of the Death Star, the specs of the spacestation, behind the scenes of the development of the set, and a mini-fig gallery start it off. Totally awesome stuff.
For this first article, I went though and built bag sets 1-3. One thing I will say: get ready for A LOT of grey. Building a LEGO set is relaxing for me most of the time, but at the beginning I found myself nervous to place bricks wrong or the wrong grey in the wrong order. There is quite a bit of stopping and starting. The key is to take your time, and when you relax and let that mindset take hold, it becomes much clearer and easier to pick up the pace a bit. I was more than a little upset to find out that at the end of the first bag sets I was missing two bricks. At a $500 price tag, you would hope that this thing goes through all kinds of quality control so that this never happens, but it did. These were essential bricks so that the four pillars that hold up the next layer would be even, so building had to stop until I could get replacements. Luckily, the local LEGO Store is not too far from where I live, and they luckily had the ones missing. Still, very annoying and made me quite mad.
The mini-figures are spread throughout the bags as well, and let me tell you: these figures are AMAZING. The cloth capes included here instead of the usually stiffer ones make all the difference in the look of the figures. the Darth Vader here is simply the best mini-figure they have ever done. The helmet is in two pieces as it should be, the cloth cape drapes over his shoulders perfectly. Just really gorgeous. R3-M3 is a nice little addition, along with a cool Imperial Officer and a Death Star Droid. Awesome way to kick the figures off. A mini Vader TIE Advanced Fighter completes the first set of bags.
The second set of bags went much faster, considering it had all the pieces! This is where you begin to build up all of the platforms and layers, all the little ladders and railings and barrels are starting to be placed around as well. Again: take your time when placing small bricks onto the platform pieces and count the nubs to make sure they are going in the right spots. I did have to rebuild one of the platforms because I was off by one little spot and that threw everything off. The sticker placement is always the bane of my existence, no matter how hard I try they always end up crooked, but I think they look ok so far.
The mini-figures here are again stellar. The Stormtrooper helmets have a nice shine to them, and the faces on these figures seem more detailed to me than normal, maybe I am crazy, but they really look better than in regular release sets. The farmboy Luke is the standout to me here, it is just such an iconic look and the hairpiece is what brings it all together. Han is not to be forgotten however, the body details are spot-on.
Bag set three is when you start to build the rooms themselves, as the majority of the work here involves the trash compactor room and the elevator that moves through the floors. The wall that includes the crank for the elevator is a little tricky, threading the sting into the little grooves and tying it off proved to be a little frustrating, and the wall tends to move a tad right now without anything connecting on top, but that will change in the next couple bags. The coolest part of the compactor room is the trapdoor you pull down so the Dianoga can pop its head out. The sliding door leading out of there is one of those pieces you will be able to tell really quick if you made a mistake. If it will not slide into place you have some tear down work to do. These bags included another Luke, the Stormtrooper version, and Princess Leia. Leia is yet another fine addition to the set, with her iconic hairpiece and smirking expression.
So far, the build has been epic and fun. Circumstances out of my control made me frustrated and slowed me down, but as long as there are no more hiccups like that, we will speed right through this. Check back next week for part two, as we will be getting some full scenes built and more mini-figures to gawk at in bag sets 4-6!