The first task involves construction of the lower surface of the ship (picture below; as ever, click to enlarge) which consists of 2 layers of plates with a partial third layer adding extra rigidity to the outer and central areas. The pieces you'll need come packaged with the minifigures and mini Imperial Star Destroyer parts in the bags labelled with a '1'. You'll also need a bunch of plates from an unmarked additional bag.
One thing that struck me early on during the build was the frequent appearance of dark tan 1 x 2 plates and light blue grey modified 1 x 4 plates with 2 studs. There's really no reason to use either of these pieces - the dark tan 1 x 2 plates are seldom if ever visible and could just as easily have been light or dark blue grey like (almost) everything else, and standard 1 x 4 plates could have been used in place of the modified 1 x 4 plates with no perceptible effect on the build. I therefore reckon that the designer included these uncommon (dark tan) and brand new (modified 1 x 4 plates) parts as a kind of 'Easter Egg', to give the builder a nice little supply of these parts for their own creations.... You'll also find yourself blessed with a respectable number of the new-ish light blue grey 2 x 4 tiles if you buy this set when it appears at retail.
Oh, and another thing - what quickly becomes apparent is how much space you're going to need when building this monster. My desk space was quickly exhausted as the lower surface of the ship grew ever larger. So clear a large space before you start - the lower surface of the ship is just a taster of what's to come....
Once the lower surface of the ship is complete, it's time to open the bags labelled with a '2'. You'll also need the rest of the plates from the unmarked bag I mentioned earlier. All these parts are used to construct the rigid spine and outer frame of the ship, upon which the super-structure and upper surface of the ship will eventually sit. Predictably enough, the spine is made up of long Technic bricks joined with pins, and it attaches to the lower surface of the ship. The outer frame attaches to the spine via a series of hinge plates aligned at specific angles in order to recreate the characteristic 'dagger' shape of the craft. Notable on the outer frame is the use of a number of modified 1 x 2 plates with clip on top. This is another new part appearing for the first time in 2011, and the reason for its inclusion will become evident later on.
On we go to the bags labelled with a '3', and after applying some decoration to the outside of the frame, it's time to embark upon the most time-consuming part of the build - the construction of the command bridge and the super-structure. This includes gradually mapping out 2 internal spaces within the body of the ship with stickered control panels and walls which will become the command bridge.
|The Command Bridge|
|Vader briefs the Bounty Hunters|
As previously stated, it's disappointing that in a set of this size and cost we get stickers rather than printed parts, but the saving grace is that at least we're not cursed with STAMPs. In truth, it's hard to get too exercised about the few stickers in this set; aside from the name plate, none of them are even visible from the outside, being hidden inside the command bridge, and if you're going to be buying the set as a display model rather than as a playset (which I suspect will almost certainly be the case) then you'll never see them anyway. So not a big deal in the great scheme of things.
It's at this point that we go into full-blown greeble overdrive; as you'll no doubt have seen from the publicity shots of the model, the super-structure of the ship features extensive surface detailing, and it's this aspect which occupies much of the building time. It's certainly not the most exhilarating part of the building experience overall, but the final effect is I think well worth the effort, eventually creating a pretty good illusion of what is effectively a small city in space.
The next phase of construction involves opening the bags labelled with a '4' and building the two display stands, which fix to the underside of the ship via a couple of Technic axles and lift the ship by around 14 cm. Then it's time to carefully apply the sticker containing the set information to the black 6 x 12 tile supplied and attach this to the base of one of the stands. I remember the old days when we had to put a whole bunch of 1 x 8 tiles on top of a large plate and then apply the set info sticker on the top of the tiles. I've been critical in the past of the unnecessary use of large pieces in sets when a number of smaller more generic pieces would do just fine, but in this case I will definitely make an exception - applying the set information sticker to a large 6 x 12 tile gives a much neater result.
The remaining parts in the bags labelled with a '4' are used in the construction of the removable roof section which covers the command bridge; this greeble-covered construction slots into place over and around the stickered command bridge structures and rests upon tiles; it's not physically attached to the surrounding structures by studs, but it's nevertheless held quite firmly in place by virtue of its position.
|Removable Command Bridge Roof Section|
Once the command bridge roof section is in place, the super-structure extends uninterrupted for more than half the length of the ship, which is a lot of greebles...
Next we open the bags labelled with a '5' and turn our attention to the rear section of the ship and the engines. The two smaller lateral engine sections were quickly completed prior to embarking upon the much larger central section. All the engine sections attach firmly to the frame of the ship via a combination of Technic axles and pins. There's certainly no shortage of engines on this ship, although compared with the engines on an Imperial Star Destroyer or even Tantive IV Rebel Blockade Runner they look suspiciously small to propel such a massive beast through the void. That'd be a question for Kuat Drive Yards, however, or maybe even George Lucas; LEGO designer Kurt Kristiansen seems to have done a pretty good job of recreating the source material in LEGO form, which is all we can really ask of him....
Once the rear engine sections have been attached, we're on the home straight. Bags labelled with a '6' and bags labelled with a '7' contain the pieces for the upper surface of the ship, which is constructed in two parts. These take no time at all to build considering their considerable size.
Once built, they attach to the outer frame of the ship by way of the modified 1 x 2 plates with clip on top that I mentioned earlier. Pleasingly, they slide into the clips with a satisfying and reassuring 'clunk', and once in place, they take some shifting. A few final greebles later and we're done ! All that remains is to suitably position the mini Imperial Star Destroyer alongside it's (considerably) bigger brother and Set 10221 Super Star Destroyer is complete.
In conclusion, the Super Star Destroyer is the 18th official UCS set that LEGO have released, and it's clear that they've learned lessons as they've gone along. Notably, the ship has a much more robust and stable feel to it than its nearest relative, 2002's Set 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer. I often joke that it wasn't even possible to look at that set without it breaking, the principal culprit being the magnets which hold its upper and lower surfaces in place, but which are barely powerful enough to manage the weight. The Super Star Destroyer thankfully dispenses with the magnet system. Instead, a more stable arrangement of 1 x 2 plates with clip on top to hold the upper surface in place is employed. Truth be told, despite its size, the ship just feels better bolted together than Set 10030, and for that I'm grateful.
I'm also grateful for the numbered bags. I never thought I'd ever say that, but there you go. Thinking back, some past UCS building experiences have been at times a little frustrating, the frustration borne out of spending too long wading through literally thousands of pieces looking for the one small part I needed to proceed. While the piece hunt is to a certain extent a necessary part of my LEGO experience, in sets this big it sometimes risks crossing that line between pleasure and pain.... Within an hour or two of starting to build the Super Star Destroyer, however, it occurred to me that something was missing, and that something was episodes of frustration as I struggled to locate a necessary piece, interspersed with a nagging fear that the piece might actually be missing completely.... Take that away, and the build was actually quite relaxing, and no less enjoyable.
So what of the ship itself ? Well, compared with iconic Star Wars craft such as the Millenium Falcon, X-Wing, Imperial Star Destroyer and the like, the Super Star Destroyer appears relatively infrequently in the Star Wars films, and when it does, it's not on screen for long enough to be burned into the consciousness the same way as the household names above have been. This means that beyond recognising the basic likeness, I can't really comment on the accuracy of LEGO's reproduction other than to say that it looks about right, an impression which is reinforced by scrutinising the surprisingly uninformative images of the ship on the web. The only aspect which doesn't look quite right to me is the bottom of the ship which seems too flat; otherwise it seems to be a respectable LEGO likeness.
Overall, therefore, given that I can't get enough of the UCS Star Wars sets, you'd expect me to love this set, and you'd be absolutely right ! It's ridiculously huge, looks great, and is guaranteed to have all but the most fervent UCS fanboys shaking their heads in utter bemusement, which is exactly what a good UCS set is all about IMHO. Also, the finished model is stable, everything fits together as it should, and the numbered bags mean that frustration is kept to a minimum during the build. It's certainly not perfect - the flat lower surface doesn't look quite right to me, it has stickers rather than printed parts, and then there's the price - but it's indisputably a set in the grand UCS tradition and therefore a no-brainer to get hold of if like me you're a sucker for the big Star Wars ships. It'll be available at retail in September, so time to start saving....
And that's it for now, apart from one final reminder that this very model will be on display over the coming weekend (16th & 17th July) alongside the other 17 official LEGO Star Wars UCS sets, some spectacular fan-designed UCS-style models, and a host of other LEGO creations, at an exhibition being put on by the Brickish Association at the UK National Space Centre in Leicester. So come on over !
EDIT : Set 10221 Super Star Destroyer is now available to buy at retail ! UK readers can click on the image below to be taken to the relevant page on the LEGO S@H website; readers elsewhere please direct your browsers to your local LEGO S@H website and place your orders....
Happy days !
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