Flying Triangle – LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272)

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.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Box

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.

The Minifigures

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.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Minifigures

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.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Sub-Assemblies

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.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Cockpit Section, Front Left View LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Cockpit Section, Opened Interior

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.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Cockpit Section, Aft Left View LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Cockpit Section, Aft Right View

The Wings

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.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Right Wing, Top View

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.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Right Wing, Side View

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…

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Right Wing, Aft View

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.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Right Wing, Bottom View

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. ­čśë

Pylon What?!

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), PylonNow 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!

Photo Tour!

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.

LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Front Left View LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Top Left View LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Aft View LEGO Star Wars, Sith TIE Fighter (75272), Front Right View

Concluding Thoughts

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!

October Triangle – LEGO Star Wars Magazine, October 2020

Blue Ocean‘s release scheduling this year has really taken a hit, if not to say it sucks. they were still advertising September 12th as the release date in their other magazines when it was past that already and it became clear that the LEGO Star Wars magazine would be out only one week later.

Now these things happen – a print run may go wrong, distribution logistics may get stuck somewhere and all that – but this hasn’t been the first time. Worse yet, in a day and age where there’s Facebook and other social media and they have their own web site, too, they can’t manage to keep them updated in a timely fashion to inform customers. I certainly don’t need the unnecessary excitement and uncertainty of going to the news agent every other day and coming back empty-handed. Now that it’s here, though, let’s have a look at the October issue.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Cover

The main comic is weird. Aside from being utterly non-canonical, would anyone actually believe that Vader could not be recognized posing as an imperial officer? It’s not bad from a technical or stylistic viewpoint, mind you, just not a great story. The second, shorter comic is somehow of lesser quality and displays Luke‘s original X-Wing that isn’t even available as a LEGO model currently, while on another “info” page Poe Dameron‘s fighter is shown. Confuses me!

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Comic

There is extremely little in the mag in the way of activities and puzzles, with all of them being mazes/ labyrinths of sorts to find your way. It took me under three minutes to solve them in my head without even tracing the lines. Definitely underwhelming even if you account for a kid’s less developed spatial awareness and acuity.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Poster

The posters aren’t good, either. the one on the back has this weird Yoda silhouette with the characters peeking through and the front one, as displayed here, fails because someone went crazy with Photoshop‘s lightning filter. Kylo Ren‘s kintsugy-style repaired mask is of course iconic and I get what they were aiming for, but this once again looks like a sloppy intern job.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Extra LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Extra

The highlight of the issue and its saving grace is once more the buildable model, this time a Sith Eternal TIE Dagger. Fancy names aside, it is basically the TIE Fighter that never really was, because, as I wrote in my film review back then, it isn’t even that important or prominently featured in the The Rise of Skywalker movie. Further indication of its limited relevance is that there isn’t even a concept drawing/ cutaway in one of the The Art of Star Wars… books. It really feels like an afterthought with no rhyme or reason simply because they wanted something in their movie nobody had seen before, only to then relegate it to the background.

For comparison I took a snapshot of the small version with the bigger model from set 75272 that I won in this building contest a few months ago. The value of the small model lies in the new 4 x 2 and 6 x 4 wedge plates only recently introduced. I had the Medium Azure version of the smaller plates in this Speed Champion set already, but getting a bunch of black ones may turn out much more useful. I could see them being used as spires for towers or similar pointy, sharp stuff already.

Anyway, you get eight of the smaller plates (four left, four right) and two each of the larger ones, so this is a good basis and a simple way to obtain some examples just in case you might need them if like me you are not privy to having the big set (where there’s a ton of those plates, including the red versions of course).

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, October 2020, Comparison

This issue is not great by any stretch of the imagination. It leaves a lot to be desired and even the model would be just the umpteenth micro scale TIE Fighter if it weren’t for the new parts. Perhaps I’m really getting too old and jaded, but it seems to me that they need to shake up the formula a little, even more so considering how many adults actually read the mag. The insistence on pretending this was primarily still for kids feels more and more out of alignment with reality to me…

Getting Hexi

While I’m admittedly a slow builder who likes to take his time and doesn’t too often jump in with immediate solutions to specific problems when people ask on forums, occasionally it still happens when something is pretty obvious and I can exploit my limited experience in these matters.

Such was the case a while ago when someone had bought commercial MOC instructions that just didn’t live up to the expected standard. I believe it was some sort of Star Wars TIE Fighter and as some those vehicles so often do, it used a triangular/ hexagonal arrangement of the wings/ cooling panels. This was done very flimsily (which to me proves that the original creator never actually had built a physical copy and only relied on digital creation or else he’d have noticed this easily) and needed some serious changes. The person asking had come up with an own solution that didn’t work that well either, so I spent an evening figuring things out using a mix of Technic pieces and conventional stud-based construction.

I’m not claiming it’s perfect and by all means it’s more an exploration of specific construction techniques, but it should meet the following criteria:

  • It’s perhaps as narrow in diameter as it can get under these circumstances.
  • It’s relatively stable compared to stud-only methods.
  • It’s expandable by inserting more elements and swapping out the axles, so you can in theory create some pretty long segments just by repeating bits.

There are some downsides, too, of course, with the biggest likely being the extensive use of the half-width Technic liftarms. They tend to be more expensive on Bricklink as they are simply not found in as large numbers in commercial sets. I was just lucky to have them in my repository. Anyway, check out the small instruction booklet and make up your own mind. This will also be linked via my Rebrickable page, so you should be able to conveniently access the inventory. The crazy colors are just for distinction. Use whatever fits your type of model or whatever you have at hand on your own projects.

Hexa Core MOC, Preview

Hexa Core MOC, Instructions

Strike Out!

Going from not so exciting to pretty much *meh* the February issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine has arrived.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, February 2020, Cover

This feeling of dissatisfaction of course primarily stems from the rather inglorious model included this time, the value of which to me hovers somewhere around the zero mark. Don’t get me wrong, there have been simplistic models in the past, but at least they always contained some interesting and unique parts or at least ones in interesting “rare” or new colors. This TIE Striker is really as mundane as it gets and has been trimmed down extremely to the point of barely being recognizable. Ironically it would have been easy to fix/ improve the whole affair by using larger wedge plates for the wings/ radiator surfaces and bulking up the fuselage ever so slightly with some more plates.

The comic has some nice panels featuring Yoda that would make for great posters, but no such luck. Instead we’re treated to the usual poor CG stuff this time featuring Vader and Luke. the activities department is sparse, to say the least with only three simple games/ puzzles. On the bright side, the price has been corrected down back to 3.99 Euro, but you just feel that there are fewer pages. Also the next issue is looking a lot more attractive judging from the preview page, so there’s hope yet…

Holy Night, Silencer Night!

Cheap headline puns aside, the December issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine has arrived surprisingly quickly. Feels like I was writing about the November one just the other day.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, December 2019, Cover

Thematically it matches the previous mag in that we get more variation on the TIE fighters, this time by ways of Kylo Ren‘s TIE Silencer as seen in that scene in The Last Jedi where he’s hesitant whether or not to blast the bridge with his mother Leia on it to bits and then it happen’s anyway, leading to that notorious Mary Poppins moment later on. The model isn’t anything special and sadly I can’t help but feel that it is once more an example with the designers to “optimize” more and more, using less and less pieces. Given the recent price increase not a satisfying trend.

At least they make good use of the mobile radio piece for once. Being a regular buyer of LEGO Friends stuff I already have a ton of those since basically every set dealing with nature exploration and pet rescue missions has them, so I couldn’t say I have much need for adding four more, but it’s okay. Just beware what you are getting and how it my clog up your storage.

For an end-of-year/ Christmas issue the mag is pretty forgettable unfortunately. The posters are terrible and there’s not too many activity bits. I guess you’ll have to find other ways of distracting your kids while decorating the tree or baking cookies. The comics are okay, though the one with the Ewoks feels oddly off-canon and out of place. Younger readers might not even know who these furries are.

Not the best issue and the preview for the January one doesn’t hold much promise, either, but of course I will get it, regardless.

November TIE-Up

Nobody likes price hikes, so the November issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine now costing 4.20 Euro instead of the previous 3.99 was not a pleasant surprise at the newsstand. As long as there is some good value attached that 5 percent increase would acceptable, though, so let’s see if that does add up.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, November 2019, Cover

For me this is determined primarily by the parts included in the mini build and I have to say it’s pretty good this time around. There of course have been any number of small scale TIE Fighters already and one would think that this subject has been done to death, but the one included with the mag surprises with yet another novel approach. That is in particular how the large cooling panels (a.k.a. wings) are attached inverted by ways of the new T-style brackets. Logically then on a symmetrical model you get two of those. To somewhat cover up the now exposed undersides of the plates you also get four inverted tiles and it never hurts to have those, either, be it just to make your model undersides scratch-proof to prevent damage while the are standing on your table. all nice stuff to have from a builder’s perspective.

The comics don’t tie in with a specific story line from the movies and thus function independently, with clear references to The Force Awakens and The Empire Strike Back, however. They’re both drawn in the new, more dynamic style and here’s hoping that this will be the new norm. The posters are also pretty good and I’m almost tempted to put up the first order pilots one just for giggles. If you care remember there is a commercial, quite similar poster out there and it could be funny to have them side by side. The games and puzzles feel a bit light in this issue. I admittedly have no idea how long a simplistic dice-based strategy game with only a handful of planets to conquer can keep your kids distracted, though…