Before we dive into the details of the Luke Skywalker (Red Five) Helmet (75327) from the LEGO Star Wars theme series, let me clarify a few things.
The collectible “Helmets” series has been around for two years now and this (unofficial) moniker not only covers various Star Wars headgear but also some notable Super Heroes stuff like Batman‘s cowl, Iron Man‘s helmet or Venom‘s entire head for instance. Again, there is no “Helmets” series per se, as they’re all filed under their respective other themes, but people habitually call it that because of the undeniable similarities and commonalities they all share with regards to scale, overall style etc..
When the first one was announced, which of course had to be a Stormtrooper Helmet (75276), I was mildly enthused, but not over the moon. The idea had merit and it could be cool to have some iconic helmets lined up on the shelf. Still, even back then I already feared that LEGO would milk this and the pricing would be outrageous, so I remained slightly skeptical. And wouldn’t you know it, what I suspected indeed came to pass, so my reservations were warranted (more on pricing considerations in the next chapter below as usual).
What made this even worse is that the actual results looked rather naff and by that I simply mean way too many visible studs, gaps and recognizable building techniques. That may get some fans drooling, but I decided it’s not for me and basically swore to myself to never buy any of these things. I just want my collectibles to look nice and in case of these helmets that would have meant much more of an effort to make them smooth and rounded and solid without resorting to cheap tricks, which badly enough also includes having to use stickers because even with these expensive items LEGO can’t be bothered to just print everything.
So how did I end up buying the Red Five helmet, after all? I’m not going to pretend otherwise, but the core motivation was simply a number of distinct and unique parts I could add to my collection just by buying this set. Some are also in other sets, but still rare, some are exclusive to this one for the time being. I also of course wanted to check if my own prejudice against these helmets was justified and if a positive build experience could not sway me and convince me otherwise (hint: It didn’t!). So let’s see how things went…
Pricing and Contents
As already mentioned, I find these sets shamelessly overpriced. That’s nothing new in the LEGO universe and you’re probably tired of me complaining about it, but it still stings/ stinks. Worse yet, they don’t even pretend that this is in any way related to the parts count or other factors. The smallest set, the Classic TV Series Batman Cowl (76238) with its meager 372 pieces costs just as much as the others – 60 Euro. There are a few exceptions with the Darth Vader Helmet (75304) at 834 pieces even costing 70 Euro, but at the same time the Scout Trooper Helmet (75305) with 471 pieces costing only 50 Euro. Does that make sense to anyone? There’s just no rhyme or reason to it and it seems totally arbitrary.
Luke‘s helmet is somewhere in the middle with 675 pieces and on paper when applying the old formula of 10 Cent * piece count the math turns out just fine. However, as you would expect many of the elements are just 1 x 1 and 1 x 2, so this is not necessarily a good price. All things considered, what’s there really feels more like it should have cost you 40 Euro from the outset. Of course you can get this price with discounts at many retailers, but ultimately this is not a sustainable model in the long run. While LEGO keep raising MSRPs and wholesale prices, those vendors barely make a cut. When their businesses crumble, everyone may feel the repercussions.
Anyway, for now I’m a beneficiary of this policy and even if I don’t feel good about it (Wouldn’t it be fantastic, if those products were simply sold for reasonable prices from the get-go and we all could afford that?), in my situation I’ll take whatever discounts I can get. I bought the package for 36 Euro and only recently I saw a special promo for 32 Euro. So keep your eyes peeled! There’s always a chance to get this for a better price if you’re not in a rush.
As mentioned in my intro, I’m not that terribly enthralled by these helmets due to the designers not even attempting to make them more rounded and smooth. This becomes extremely apparent on this particular example due to the stark contrast between the center ridge, the ear covers and the rest. It is even more noticeable when you compare the overall shape to images of the original or other replicas and it just feels wrong on so many levels. Even if you allow some room for the usual limitations that come with brick-built designs it just feels inadequate.
On top of it, the build is of course quite tedious and repetitive. By that I don’t just mean the inevitable symmetrical building, but also some decisions in how elements are laid out and which items are used. For instance there are several locations where the 1 x 5 plate introduced late last year could have been used favorably, but instead you are forced to piece together several sections using 1 x 1 plates in conjunction with a 1 x 4 or a 1 x 6. It is highly questionable why nobody gave this a last minute polish and substituted the elements, even if you consider the potential delays in production due to additional lead-in time. It really would have helped to minimize some frustration.
In a similar vein I found it quite annoying to piece together stacks of plates that barely overlap or are only held together by tiles. Typically you end up building three or four plate high sub-assemblies that are very wobbly and only stabilize once they connect to the various SNOT bricks and brackets on the central block. That can be really annoying if you don’t have a large flat table to built your stuff on and like me prefer to “freestyle” holding them in your hand.
The socket/ stand is more or less the same standard type as used on the other helmets and heads, but has been extended quite a bit towards the top to allow for the hollow construction and disguising the attachment points. in the upper dome and rear. This works, but naturally only by creating a “black hole” illusion where you can’t discern any of the interior details because it’s all dark.
The prints in this set are a pain, which really doesn’t surprise me anymore, given how LEGO have dialed down the thickness of their paint application (faster drying = more throughput = larger quantities in the same time). The white stripes on the central ridge are rather faint and thus look pink-ish plus they appear oddly frizzled and uneven. The prints on the various dishes are actually okay, but leave it to LEGO to even screw that up. Yupp, there’s some damage on one of the dishes with the Rebel Alliance insignia where clearly the paint has been peeled of by the stencil or shortly thereafter. This should have been caught at the factory. The irony here is of course that this would actually be cool in a way if the helmet had been designed to represent a worn out version that has seen battle many times.
Now I’m gonna sound like a hypocrite when I tell you that I didn’t request replacements despite my complaining about it. Yes, LEGO would have probably sent them without much fuss, but I just didn’t wanna go through the steps, knowing that the bust would not have a long shelf life and after disassembling it I would just stash the printed pieces somewhere until I may one day have an idea on how to use them for something else.
One thing that is causing me outright agony is the simulated pin stripe on the central ridge. This uses a yellow “rigid hose”, which despite the fact that you can pre-bend it to mimic the curvature is still an element that has tension. Even more critically it is only affixed at two points at the start and end, respectively, which does not bode well once you consider that the elements used are 1 x 1 modified plates with a bar holder on one and a C-clamp on the other. Here’s the thing: This isn’t much of an issue for the few weeks and months I usually have my models around, but in the long run you may end up with a damaged model.
As the plastic ages and gets more brittle there’s a good chance that in particular the C-clamps are going to go *kerplang*. The forces here are simply too strong and I find it incomprehensible how this could pass quality control (QC). It’s just one bad decision on top of another. There would have needed to be two more fixation points along the perimeter of the tube. Not only would that have relieved the tension and stress on the material, but it also would have helped to lock the whole thing in place and better retain its shape.
The inside of the helmet emulates the real thing by having the typical earmuffs to isolate the radio voice from exterior sounds. I’m not too sure about the color, as most images suggest that inside it’s actually clad in sheer pig’s leather, but of course anything is possible and I’m not that deep into Star Wars that I would nerd out about it. For all I know, across multiple films there could have been different props with different coloring. The way the inner headphone padding is constructed is interesting, but I honestly felt that the designers really had to stretch their imagination to make it work for the simple truth that to this day LEGO does not have direction inverter plates. If they had, this would have been a walk in the park and they could even have made it more elaborate using different pieces.
On that note – the rounded corner pieces used here were one of the reasons I committed to this set. They appear useful and currently there is no other package that has them in Dark Bluish Grey. That may of course change at any point. The situation is pretty much the same for the 3 x 3 round tiles in Yellow that in large part are hidden under the rounded bulges on the side to again create the illusion of some decorative pin striping.
Finally there’s the Trans Orange curved brick/ slope that premiered in the Porsche 911 (10295) last year put to good use on the glasses/ protective goggles/ anti-glare shield, complemented by some other elements. Personally I’m inclined to think that this might also have looked good in Dark Orange with the 3 x 3 pancake piece and some extra slopes and in fact the extra curvature might have produced more convincing highlights and reflections on the shelf. It’s up for debate, though, and the way it is is just fine.
The short summary of my review could be: “This sucks!”, but that wouldn’t be useful. So who is this actually for? I can basically only see two groups of buyers for this – people who buy all the helmets because they want a full line-up on their shelf and on the other hand Star Wars die-hards who would be interested to at least add the relevant sub-set of the helmets to their collection. None of that does preclude the random anomalies where people just pick it up for other reasons and enjoy it, but those two core demographics probably make up the biggest chunk.
Outside that I cannot see the appeal. As a pure LEGO set it is simply too boring and even for casual Star Wars fans there are enough alternate options to get a helmet in their home from expensive premium collector’s replicas to moderately priced smaller toys. Funny enough, even some cheap toys beat this model hands down in the accuracy department be that with better proportions or proper prints. At least the latter should be a non issue, but no, LEGO once more chose to annoy their customers with stickers, which of course I haven’t applied anywhere.
Combined with the outrageous pricing the many shortcomings make it a hard sell and I wouldn’t really recommend this. You get a relatively small model the size of an adult man’s hand that has notable issues and won’t stand scrutiny from up close. Given the small price gap to some alternate offerings you may forever wonder if those 60 Euro couldn’t have been spent better. I guess the real point is that i get what they were going for, they just weren’t terribly successful. A lot of that clearly has to do with their usual half-assed-ness and cutting corners and it’s all too apparent…