I’ve always wanted a LEGO X-Wing, but like for so many others there were a few things getting in the way. I never could quite make up my mind which of the different models I preferred and than all too often the exorbitant prices got in the way. some of these circumstances have changed with the latest wave, so I finally took the plunge and got myself Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing Fighter (75301) even though there are still several caveats as you will see.
The Non-Solution to a Problem
Before digging into the actual specifics of the set we have to address the elephant in the room – the reason why this model even exists in this particular form.
It used to be that LEGO Star Wars sets always were expensive, but still affordable within reasonable limits. That is notwithstanding that they still exploited the goodwill of the fans, but it wasn’t terrible, especially when the sets were good. In recent years this, however, has drastically changed for the worse. Not only have prices risen in general, but you’re getting less bang for the buck. The average price-per-part ratio these days regularly exceeds that magical 10 Cent a piece and in most sets you only get a minimum of the highly coveted minifigures. Now one could go on endlessly and speculate what aside from general inflation and rising manufacturing cost may be at play here, but certainly Disney and LEGO milking the cow is factoring in, too.
The downside of course is that this policy has made it much harder for many people to either buy this stuff at all or at least keep up with ever new releases. This realization must have dawned on the people in charge at LEGO as well at some point, and so they decided to act upon it and do a bit of course correction. As you might imagine, I don’t really agree on how they are trying to mitigate the issue or else I wouldn’t be writing this. There are inf act even some bullshit “designer videos” on YouTube trying to rationalize their decision, which riles me up even more. Point in case: The have the gall on blaming it on the customer as in “You all want detailed models, but you don’t want to pay enough.”
Now on an idealistic level I’m not even opposed to some of the changes as indeed it has become questionable why you should pay 100 Euro for something like Poe Dameron’s X-Wing Fighter (75273). However, their “solution” of reducing the complexity of the models and simplifying details does not fix the underlying problem at all. You still pay more than that magical average per part and get a lesser model for it. Which I guess is the point. One would instead assume they adjust their pricing or haggle out a new licensing deal to bring down external cost, if that really were the driving factor. That not being the case they chose to put all the burden on you as the buyer.
Pricing and Contents
Regardless of my overall gripes I’m always on the lookout to get my stuff as cheap as possible out of pure necessity, so let’s see how things look here. Officially the set retails for 50 Euro in these parts. That is okay-ish, all things considered, but my previous point is proven once again. Once you figure in the typical discounts from big outlets things are getting better. I picked up my set for 37 Euro and in fact was a bit upset at myself because two days later it was on Amazon for 34 Euro. That’s just my bad luck striking again! This brings things down to a sensible level.
Still, the model still does not look like it would even contain the number of parts to justify this lower price, which is the crux of it. For all intents and purposes it feels crude compared to most of its more detailed (but also more costly) predecessors. This is only slightly offset by the box containing four minifigures, something you have to be thankful for, I guess. It would not in any way have been surprising had there been only one or two minifigs.
As you would expect from a set called Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing Fighter the eponymous hero is present in minifig form as is his trusted sidekick R2-D2. I have tons of Lukes in different versions, but this is actually my first pilot one, so I’m not complaining. Since all of these figures in flying gear appear to be different, they generally seem to fetch a good price with collectors. That also goes for the version of Leia with the skirt piece in this set, as so far this combination has only been seen in the Tantive IV (75244), a model that due to its undecidedness on whether to be a toy or a collectible didn’t appeal to many fans.
Finally there’s General Dodonna. I actually had to look him up, but it appears he’s only to be seen in a few shots leading up to the attack on the Death Star as a supporting character. Since it’s the first time he’s been translated into this format, he’s also reasonably valuable in case you want to sell the figs. The white hair is also nice (and not that common) and to boot he comes with one of the rarer Flat Silver blasters. With all that being the case, the value of the minifigures is considerable and if you share them with a collector that alone could help to partially refinance the purchase.
By its nature as Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing of course the X-Wing is the classic T-65 model that has been done a million times already even in LEGO, so there would be plenty of room for comparison. Not owning any of the previous models I have to relay on photos, naturally, but the first thing that stands out is that the model looks and feels more compact than the others.
It’s technically not that much shorter than others, but I guess the lack of details in some areas just makes it look more stubby. You could even browse through the digital instructions and you would find that the front section uses the same building techniques as older versions, it just lacks all the extra slopes and tiles used for additional shaping and making things a bit more elegant. This trend continues throughout and is one area where they started saving on the parts count.
It becomes particularly apparent on the wings, or more correctly the X-foils (since they have no aerodynamic lift, they aren’t exactly wings). On previous models these tended to be more detailed up with smaller tiles and plates to represent some of the stripes and insignia, whereas here this is left to your imagination or some large-ish stickers if you elect to use them. Interestingly, they again did not do anything to fix the wingspan, which would need to be noticeably wider. This has been bothering fans for forever. I think it is forgivable here, though, given that they aimed for simplification, but they really should get around to it one day.
The engines fall into the “Let’s count number of ways we can creatively stack round elements.” category. It’s not really terrible, but one wishes they would come up with some more specific pieces for this after having tried all those round bricks, wheel hubs and barrels and settle on one style. On the bright side, they introduced a new piece for the front intakes, a 3 x 3 cylinder. While it’s nice to have a new element and it certainly will come in handy in the future, I feel it’s a step down from what they did in the 2018 X-Wing Starfighter (75218). This really begs for a printed tile to at least hint at the input lips and incidentally also make thinks look more deep.
Another victim of the “optimization” process is the cockpit. Granted, there wasn’t much going on in this section in the other versions as well, but one can’t help but feel that if they could save on even one more brick they would have done it just to prove a point.
The tail section looks okay, though the attempt to mimic the purple-ish red glow of the engine blast looks feeblish. Similar to the front intakes I would have preferred if it was just a deeper dark hole. Or perhaps they could have done something to amp up the “glow” like inserting a white bar. dunno. It just doesn’t look hot, not even against sun light.
Of course the X-foils can be spread and this is basically the area where the most savings have been implemented be using a completely different mechanism compared to older editions. On the positive side this may be the first time we actually get a mechanism that is able to fully close and at the same time allow for the thinnest possible wings. This not least of all also has to do with this new Technic brick (also see my review of the City Tractor (60284), where it was first introduced) allowing for some space-saving, yet stable construction and how it connects to the central hinge construction. This is particularly important after the much derided “only half a wing” implementation in Poe Dameron’s X-Wing Fighter (75273)
The downside to all of that is that now not only do the wings move, but the fuselage actually splits. Clever as the mechanism is, and I really have to say that as someone who did Technic for a while and also obsesses about mechanical engineering, it kind of ruins the look. The point here is of course that you have no way of attaching conventional bricks to shim over everything to disguise the internal stuff and it also makes the ship look like its twisting and warping in that area.
Interestingly, the whole thing does not use any rubber bands or blocking elements and the wings are solely held apart by the cumulative friction of the pins and liftarms in the compact block. It also is constructed in such a way that the wings move smoothly and symmetrically when you push the central nub on the top. On the other hand it’s not that strong that the wings would stay opened when you put down the model on its skids. Then the models own weight will take care of automatically closing the X-foils. That is more or less correct technically, but it would be nice if the user had full control. Would have made taking some of the photos a lot easier as well. 😉
The mechanism is pretty much visible all around the circumference of the aft fuselage section, even from the underside. The interesting observation here is that it is basically all held together by long axles rather than bricks and the single long plate on the bottom is pretty much only one last element to counter rotational movements. Again, pretty smart, just not looking that good.
Speaking of which… The wave emitters on the wingtips really annoyed me. They look okay, but where connecting stuff through axles succeeds on the wing fold mechanism it doesn’t really work here.This stuff rattles around a lot because the wheel hubs and connectors of course have pin holes, not axles holes and thus spin around happily. It’s really odd that LEGO haven’t come up with something better in all those years to avoid this. Perhaps it’s really time for a 8 L pin/ bar or something like that?
At the end of the day this is a somewhat odd product. I can’t quite see who it is supposed to appeal to. For more seriously minded Star Wars fans it simply lacks too many details that would make it worthwhile as a display piece to put on a shelf. As a toy for kids it would be serviceable and in fact the new wing section makes it very “swooshable” and playable while offering a lot of robustness, but then it would still be on the slightly expensive side. The old “Just buy your kid a Ninjago set!” would certainly apply as most of the models there offer more transformation features for play and you often get more figures.
Funny enough, however, the latter could still be considered the saving grace for this model as well, again more for the connoisseur rather than children. With four minifigures (or three if you count out the repetitive R2-D2) and each one of them being unique there is some decent value here. It’s just that the main sensation, the X-Wing, is not on that same level and its lackluster overall appearance leaves you unsatisfied. The most annoying thing for me is that this set simply does not rectify any of the actual issues with the Star Wars products. LEGO simply seem unwilling to fix construction problems and compromise on their cash cow.
If you have the money for it I would recommend you rather get one of the more expensive “big” X-Wing sets while they still can be found relatively easy even if they have their own flaws and quirks and then only consider this as a complementary addition to your collection later on. I feel there’s just too much left to be desired and unless you are a minifigure collector even at the lower price it doesn’t feel like money well spent. This odd empty feeling of “If only…” lingers on for a while and when you look at the model you always find new areas that feel incomplete or could be improved and then you begin to begrudge the absence of this and that extra piece that would have made things look so much nicer…