Tuesday 12 October 2010

Love letter

And so, behold probably my favourite LEGO set of all time.....

Set 10188 Death Star - a work of utter genius

Put simply, Set 10188 Death Star is like a love letter from the LEGO company to Star Wars fans around the world. It's miraculous to me the way that the designers of this set have managed to squeeze so much detail, and so many references to Star Wars, into just one set. Basically, the model is split into multiple compartments, each of which references a particular Death Star-related scene or location from the original Star Wars movie (plus one scene from Return of the Jedi, for good measure). I must warn you that I could eulogise about this set for hours, but for the sake of anybody reading this I'll force myself to just try and call out some of the highlights so that the length of this posting remains manageable.

First, cast your mind back to the scene in Star Wars where Luke and Han dress as stormtroopers and escort Chewie to the prison block restrained in 'binders' to rescue Leia, who was scheduled for 'termination'. The shoot out in the prison block is neatly recreated within this set, both in terms of the imposing design of the prison block itself, and also the inclusion of the key characters from the scene in minifig form (click the pics to enlarge). Han and Luke are even wearing stormtrooper uniforms, and Chewie's wearing binders !

Prison Block
Leia herself is hidden behind the black walls of her cell above but can be released from the clutches of the IT-O interrogator droid (included in the set) by popping the bars of her cell; the cell block also features a moveable CCTV camera (the blue object in the picture above) and a cog which you rotate in order to open a secret trapdoor to the Garbage Compactor beneath.

Garbage Compactor
Pinned down in the cell block, Luke, Leia, Chewie and Han leap through the blasted drainage grating and fall headlong down the garbage chute into fetid depths of the Garbage Compactor below - Han to Chewie : "I don't care what you smell". As in the movie, the LEGO walls close in on our heroes (just push the red lever, shown at the top of the picture above), while a monster (the dianoga) lurks amongst the debris ready to pull Luke under.....

Meanwhile, Ben Kenobi is on a mission to disable the tractor beam which is preventing the Millenium Falcon from escaping. Having distracted a guard with a Jedi Mind Trick, he creeps up to the controls and deactivates the beam while a black R2 unit goes about its business below.

Disabling the Tractor Beam
Elsewhere, having now escaped from the Garbage Compactor, Leia and Luke get separated from Han and Chewie, and they arrive at a dead end, more specifically the edge of a deep chasm. With stormtroopers behind them, they have no option but to swing across....

Swinging Across the Chasm
Honestly, I could just go on. And on. And on. As well as recreating the iconic Star Wars scenes above, the set also features a number of other compartments including a TIE hanger containing Vader's TIE Advanced, Grand Moff Tarkin's conference room, a cargo loading bay, a couple of turbo lasers modelled on those which were supposed to protect the Death Star trench, the Emperor's Throne Room, a control room for the Death Star's primary weapon, and of course the primary weapon itself, caught in the moment of firing (at Alderaan, presumably). Half a movie, then, lovingly crammed into one magnificent LEGO set.

Death Star Primary Weapon - bye bye, Alderaan
And there are also a host of 'play features' as the LEGO company might call them - a working central lift, blast doors which slide open and shut, a launch cradle for Vader's TIE Advanced, a working cargo lift and crane, controls to aim the Death Star primary weapon - the list goes on and on. I doubt that any LEGO set in history has managed to cram in as many features as this one.

Vader's TIE Advanced ready for launch
And if that wasn't enough, the set also contains 24 minifigs - more than almost any other set ever. These include some rarities such as a black protocol droid and R2-Q5, as well as Luke and Han in stormtrooper outfits, Grand Moff Tarkin, Vader and the Emperor himself - a minifig collector's dream.
If you're a fan of LEGO and a fan of Star Wars then this is the nearest you'll get to a no-brainer for as long as you live. Just buy it. Trust me - you will not regret it. It's even still available direct from LEGO despite having been around for a few years now so there's really no excuse not to.

All these minifigs in just one set...

Seriously - it's utterly, utterly brilliant.


  1. Anonymous13/10/10

    I'm seriously considering selling my favourite thing to collect (LEGO) because it's getting expensive, when you write a piece like this that makes me want to hold back and "Get that Death Star!" Lol. Sigh...is awesomeness. Must contemplate.


  2. What more can be said about this set, it is truly epic and definitely my favourite Lego set that I own.

  3. Please stop! I've resisted this set so far, and am NOT looking for any more reasons to buy a $400 LEGO set! Can't you just say that this set is an utter disappointment, that is a mockery of everything LEGO stands for? That it has robbed you of your will to live, and must be avoided at all costs?



    Seriously - nice to see your passion for this set, even if I can't justify the expense!

  4. Don't resist, Dan - you know you want it.

    It's worth living on bread and water for a month and selling the family silver to raise the money for this one. Trust me on this - you will not stop smiling for weeks after buying it.....

  5. Branko Dijkstra14/10/10

    OH NO.
    I have considered getting this set for a while.
    I had JUST decided that I cannot justify the $400 price tag and then this comes along. WHY oh WHY!

    so hard to resist the Dark side of the Force.

  6. Just do it, Branko - you know it makes sense.

    And if you and/or Dan do take the plunge, I'd be delighted to know whether you agree with my assessment, or whether you feel you've been cruelly mislead into spending a small fortune....


  7. Branko Dijkstra15/10/10

    I'll let you know if my wife lets me live through it ;)

  8. Branko Dijkstra29/10/10

    Allright! I've got it now. I've only started building this set but the book alone is so impressive I got all giddy opening it. There is SOOO much lego in this box. I'm used to getting these nearly emtpy boxes but not this one. I spent a lot of time just putting all the minifigs together. MAN this is an impressive kit!

  9. @Branko - told you ! Enjoy !