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Friday, December 1, 2023

Happy Star Wars Day: We Build Luke's LEGO X-Wing Starfighter

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It's Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with us!), and LEGO released a new Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series set to mark the occasion. It is a massive LEGO X-Wing Starfighter—a replica of the iconic one that Luke flies in Episode IV, raises out of the water in Episode IX, and pilots to save Grogu in The Mandalorian.

LEGO Star Wars X-Wing StarfighterAvailable nowLEGO Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter Set #75355, includes 1,949 pieces.$239.99

Composed of 1,949 pieces, the set is large, detailed, and visually imposing. It has basic mechanical functions that are indispensable to an X-Wing build. You turn a knob, and it closes the wings or opens them into the ship's signature "X" formation, via the use of rubber bands to create a catch-and-release mechanism.

We Build the LEGO X-Wing Starfighter (2023)

The set comes with an R2-D2 Minifigure, a Luke Skywalker Minifigure dressed in his orange pilot's outfit from Episode IV, and a placard that displays the ship's specs. The LEGO designers, rather than grounding the X-Wing on its three-point landing gear, mounted the entire ship onto a buildable black stand that's tilted upwards, to give the impression of taking flight.

This is the most fun I've had with a LEGO build in a while.


Since 1999, LEGO has released close to 30 iterations of the X-Wing ship. It's a classic build that's never gone out of style; only the Imperial Star Destroyer and the Millennium Falcon are more readily recognizable to the average person. And if you've been a LEGO fan for any significant amount of time, it's likely that you've owned or built some version of the X-Wing; there is, in fact, a smaller version of the same build available right now on sale at Amazon for $39.99! But this is the first time that LEGO has designed the X-Wing to be this big—nearly two feet long and nearly a foot wide. And it's also the first time that a LEGO X-Wing has been designed for display-only.

Prior LEGO X-Wings were scaled down to Minifigure size, which encouraged interactive play with other similarly proportioned sets. But the new X-Wing is nearly twice the size and four times the piece count. And playing with this set, or moving it too much, would easily break it apart.

The build is divided into ten distinct steps with a single instruction booklet. You start by building the cockpit, and then you build out towards the ship's nose. The body of the plane is actually held in place by the nose, and does not stay together without it. Most LEGO sets reinforce every weak point at least twice; they do not rely on one safeguard to maintain the integrity of a larger structure. This sort of build design is inherently fragile. It's only viable if the set is "look, but don't touch."

Then you put together the four wings. Each wing gets its own dedicated build, and each one is anchored to the ship's body via LEGO Technic and four insertable rods. The wings are heavy, which means that when you only have one or two of them attached, it weighs down the entire build, and the wing -spreading mechanism does not work. It's only when all four wings are anchored in (which balances the weight equally on both sides) that the mechanism functions properly.

And lastly, you mount the four thrusters on the build's aft. They're each topped with a clear pink piece and multiple 2-stud bricks, arranged in a circle to form a lip.

The variety of build techniques distinguishes LEGO Star Wars from other LEGO/third party partnerships. This is the most fun I've had with a LEGO build in a while; even the wings, which were redundant, were engaging and tactile enough that they didn't overstay their welcome. They're visually impactful, so attaching one of them to the ship's body motivated me to complete the next one, and the next one, and the next one, just so I could see the full effect.

Then I turned the knob for the first time. And everything expanded and retracted the way it was supposed to, and it was a wonderful thrill. But I didn't do it too often, because the wings are so heavy. The mechanism works, but it feels a bit unsteady, and I didn't want anything to break or fall off. So I set it to "X" Battle Mode and left it at that.

If you want something sturdier and more portable, there's already another X-Wing that serves that purpose well (see it at Amazon). But if you want the best build experience, then you can't do better than this new X-Wing, which prioritizes its aesthetics and presentation over its hardiness and function.

The LEGO X-Wing Starfighter, Set #75355, retails for $239.99. It is composed of 1949 pieces, and LEGO is releasing it as part of the annual Star Wars Day festivities. It is available now.

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