After the latest LEGO Star Wars magazine came with a mini version of the Sith Eternal TIE Dagger and I already posted a size comparison to the actual commercial model, it only seems natural to follow up with a full review of the Sith TIE Fighter (75272), late as it may be.
As you may know, I won this set in a little building contest a while back. This opens up the question whether I would actually ever have bought it myself. I think I can pretty much answer this with a firm “No!” without much pretense and dancing around like that it would depend on the circumstances and whatever other excuses one could make up. The only exception from that is of course when I would need the parts for a project and buying the box would be cheaper than ordering the pieces individually from Bricklink.
The latter is, however, unlikely to ever happen, considering how pricey this set actually is. At a suggested retail price of 70 Euro for a meager 470 parts the price-to-piece ratio is terrible. You can’t even rationalize this with some of those elements being larger plates or for that matter some of the wedge plates used on this model being “new” (more on that later). They will be common pretty soon and lose their “exclusivity”, given in how many sets they are already being used and latest at that point nobody will be willing to pay a premium just to get them. This will be penny stuff one day soon.
Now of course actual retail prices are lower, but even then the usual metrics of 10 Cent a piece don’t work out when you still have to pay 50 Euro when that’s what it actually should cost before discounts. Point in case: These TIE Fighter sets just don’t have enough bulk, use mostly standard parts and in this particular case there aren’t even any fancy extras to justify an extra profit on top. In fact one could even be majorly upset by the way the minifigures are distributed, so let’s have a look at that.
This set only has three minifigures to offer. On a general level that is adequate enough, but more or less feels a bit underwhelming, given how large the model will be. Most notably, aside from the pilot himself there aren’t any actual figures associated with the craft itself. In some other sets you get at least a guard and a mechanic. Funny enough, the opposing side, The Resistance, more often than not gets a much richer selection of characters, with even some smaller sets having more minifigures than this one.
Aside from the sheer number of little guys, there is also something very, very cynical (to the fans) going on here: Critical characters from the The Rise of Skywalker movie have been scattered across multiple sets from this series, forcing people who want to collect them to spend big just to obtain a complete selection of figures. Of course I’m referring to The Knights of Ren first and foremost, but this has happened to some others as well. It’s just sad to see and while I have ambiguous feelings about obsessive collectors, I still feel for anyone who had to shell out big just for a special minifig, as much as I may then benefit from buying sets bereft of the figures for cheap on secondary markets.
The characters themselves are executed nicely with some fine details and prints. Finn even got his utility bag and wears his leather jacket! The TIE pilot isn’t anything special, but may still be valuable for a larger diorama with an imperial squadron if you want to mix up things a bit and need different helmet types. Maybe that becomes even more a thing when the new Star Wars – Squadrons game comes out? Finally there’s of course the single Knight of Ren. Since I’m not that deep into the overall canon and lore I’m not going to bother with his name, but it’s interesting to me what crazy prices this would fetch. Again, I’m stunned what consequences such a very corporate move can have in practice…
Is it real?
One thing that really drives me up the wall with this particular TIE Fighter is the scarcity or even utter lack of any references and background info. Aside from one or two rather generic official concept drawings there is nothing for interested fans to verify and obsess about actual dimensions, technical details, tactical combat use and so on. There’s not even a cutaway drawing in one of the usual The Art of Star Wars… books that accompany every movie.
The big stinker is that very, very, very clearly detailed plans for this vessel existed/ exist somewhere. This can be easily proven by the amount of detail that not only the LEGO model tries to squeeze out, but also other model renditions like the Metal Earth version folded up from etched frets or more toy-ish versions from other vendors.
The unfortunate and very frustrating conclusion therefore has to be that this vehicle is a victim of circumstance in that it simply fell between the cracks some time during production of the movie and what little remains of all the conceptual work cannot be recognized and appreciated because quite literally this fighter has been relegated to act as background filler in a big battle scene. So if anyone at Disney or Lucasfilm is reading this: Give us that dang concept art from your vaults!
The Lady comes in Pieces!
One thing I’ve always appreciated as a bit of an engineering nerd myself even way back then is the way those TIE Fighters are split into sensible sub-assemblies not just to facilitate the building process. It really helps with transport and storage. On the other hand, once plugged back together, things are extremely stable and robust, making for a very “swooshable”, i.e. playable, model. As you would expect, this model separates into the two main wings and the central cockpit section with it’s beam-like mounting points and then there’s an extra small support pylon.
The Cockpit Section
If you’ve ever built any TIE Fighter, you know what to expect here. The only real difference compared to similar models is that this time there was an actual effort made to give the cylindrical cockpit some real volume with some round 3 x 3 x 2 dome pieces used to give it a shaped butt. The proportions otherwise are still wrong, though, with the glass canopy being too large and not bulbous enough.
Another major flaw or shortcoming it least is that no attempt was made to reproduce the wedge-like shaping of the front edges of the support beams. There may not be many resources to draw on, but at least this part is very clearly visible in the concept artwork, more so than on any other TIE craft ever before. I find it almost tragic, given how the beams are built, as in my opinion it would have taken minimum effort to squeeze in some suitably shaped wedge and slope pieces like this one and this one perhaps.
The wings, or more precisely the radiator plates for the TIE drive constitute the bulk of the build and ultimately are what makes any of these fighters appear so large. The basic triangular shape has been around for a while on Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter (75179), Major Vonreg’s TIE Fighter (75240) and a few others, but this extreme symmetrical, almost equilateral form was never used before.
Does it make sense? Probably not? Is it cool? I don’t agree on that one, either. The whole thing feels forced as if they were trying to come up with yet another shape for the fighters just for the sake of it when there really was no need to. An iconic design like the original hexagonal TIE simply does not need to be reinvented over and over again. It also doesn’t make much sense from an engineering point of view, as the internal tubing for the cooling fluid would be a nightmare and sharp turns cause hot spots and potential congestions.
The red border is also kind of pointless. As stated, the fighters are barely visible in the movie and this outline is so thin, you just don’t recognize it enough. and not to state the obvious: With such large areas available any TIE Fighter pilot would be more likely to just paint on large squadron badges, diagonal stripes or other insignia. Point in case: Had the edge been copper, brass or silver colored I could have accepted it as being a different material for technical reasons, but being as it is it is simply the lamest way they could have designed this.
The double sandwiched wings could arguably have some purpose on a real vessel by massively increasing the available surface area for cooling, but of course this rationale is lost in the way the LEGO model is built with the secondary wing foil just stacked on the first one by ways of standard bricks, thus not allowing anything to stream through the gap. It might be possible to build this differently, but arguably just hanging by a few axles and brackets this would be too flimsy and unsafe for mainstream consumption, so I guess it’s okay on some level. At the same time of course it could be merely a misinterpretation of the original artwork just as well. We’ll likely never know…
The rear edge of the radiator panel is actually a completely separate entity. if you study the few original sources, it appears to be shaped like a broad sward with an irregular blade, which kind of brings us back to my point about the leading edges of the cockpit section: It seems the whole thing was supposed to look a lot more aggressive and intimidating in the first place, leaning much more in the somewhat rough Knights of Ren design direction. Given, what a mess the movie was and we already mentioned the various failures of this TIE Fighter I’m not at all surprised things turned out that way and not in a good sense.
When viewed straight on either from the bottom or the top the basic construction and some of the cooler tricks become readily apparent. First there’s that thing with the Trans Clear 1 x 4 tiles used to reinforce the gap between the actual panel and the “cleaver” section I just described. According to Bricklink, this is the first set in like forever to have these tiles and on top of it there are exactly two sets to date that have even used them. I was kind of wowed by this, though I have no concrete idea if and when I actually might need such tiles. They’re not particularly rare, either, but I’ll definitely stow them away safely just in case.
The other interesting thing are of course the tons of the relatively new 4 x 2 and 6 x 4 wedge plates. As I already wrote in my LEGO Star Wars magazine review they will be common soon enough, but I sure don’t mind having a good helping of them right out of the gate. Further incentive is of course provided by some modified tiles which at the very least also will come in handy when that next Star Wars MOC for a competition will require those polished Imperial black floors. 😉
Now for the part that wants me make to slap the LEGO designers in their face (or the responsible higher up project manager) – the sad excuse that is the support pylon/ display stand. It really is like they couldn’t be bothered to even put in a minimum of effort to make it look nice nor actually stable. All it does is literally serve as a third leg to prevent the model from tipping forward while it rests on the bottom aft corner points of the wings. This apparently works sufficiently, but it’s still disappointing. There isn’t even a transversal plate to keep the two trusses at the right distance, much less anything in the way of an actual display stand. I yearn for the day when we get a real launch platform/ gantry with any of the TIE Fighters!
While there are a lot of shortcomings with the set, there’s no denying that from certain angles it looks good enough. In particular viewed from steep angles that stretch it in perspective you can almost feel it zooming by and making your furniture tremble. Funny enough, it also looks pretty decent from behind. It’s just the sideways views that give away its somewhat clunky appearance and uninteresting design of the radiator panels. As I said, at least that latter point could have been fixed easily with a different color scheme, so it’s a pity things have to be that way.
Would I have bought this set if I hadn’t won it in a building contest? I consider it extremely unlikely. Unless I had a very concrete plan to build a custom model that would require or at least benefit from having those new wedge plate type en masse, this simply doesn’t add up. The vehicle itself is not the most attractive and on top of it the set is extremely overpriced for what little you get in return. I can appreciate it as a free lunch, though, and of course some people will be right in that I probably shouldn’t complain as much under those conditions. Still, I feel that it’s important to give you the full picture, especially when there’s several caveats to consider. Feel free to agree or disagree and voice your opinions in the comments!