Posted by Jeremy on February 4, 2020 at 09:02 PM CST
From start to finish the road to The Rise of Skywalker has been a long journey, with a lengthy and tempered promotional, marketing and merchandising campaign that took a full three quarters of a year to play out. This timeline was was marked by three key milestones for LEGO - the summer convention season, the Lucasfilm mandated Triple Force Friday merchandising push and finally their own Winter wave of new set releases.
With the release of the first teaser trailer at Celebration Chicago in April 2019 The Rise Of Excitement for this next Star Wars installment began to grow exponentially, and in July fans were treated to theif first official exposure of what Lucasfilm and LEGO had up their sleeve when the Sith Trooper was revealed at San Diego Comic Con 2019.
The fiftieth San Diego Comic Con saw the co-ordinated reveal of the Sith Trooper with Hasbro, Hot Toys, Funko and a number of other licensees showing off their first licensed products from the new movie. LEGO joined in with their convention exclusive - a head and shoulders build of the new Sith Trooper - which was similar to the Darth Vader bust released at Star Wars Celebration 2019 in Chicago.
77901 Sith Trooper Bust
Packed in a retro, VHS slipcase this 484 piece set was only available through a lottery which convention-goers had to pre-register for. The "early release edition" flash on the packaging was taken to mean that a less exclusive version of this bust would be released at a later date. It wasn't until some time afterwards that collectors realised that the wording meant that it was part of the multi-licensee reveal of the same character.
Original stocks, priced at $45 each, were quickly depleted by collectors and speculators. Nowadays it can only be bought through secondary market sites like eBay and Bricklink.com, where it runs to around $200.
It wasn't until October that fans were treated to the first six sets of the new movie when Triple Force Friday arrived - and the speculation on how the they fit into the story began.
Previous initial LEGO Star Wars product launches had considerably more variety and scope: The Last Jedi had six sets and three buildable figures as part its Force Friday opening while Solo: A Star Wars Story came out with eight sets, four promotional polybags and two buildable figures, and even had a San Diego Comic Con exclusive set.
Unsurprisingly after the fall-out that surrounded the heavily merchandised, over-hyped and under-whelming The Last Jedi, the promotional campaign for The Rise of Skywalker has been subdued, and the merchandise launch came a month later than normal, was co-mingled in with the release of sets from the Prequel and Original Trilogy movies, as well as one vehicle from The Mandalorian series.
75248 Resistance A-Wing Starfighter
First in the Resistance's alphabet fleet , this Formula One attack starfighter is as fast to build as it is in flight. It's dark green Return of the Jedi-like colouring and Open Circle Fleet roundel point toward this ship having been stored under a heavy dust sheet for a number of decades, and LEGO have done a great job capturing the antiquity of the starfighter.
This rendition's proportions have been tweaked, and its increased length gives it a sleeker appearance that is more accurate than other versions, while the angled stabiliser fins and open exhausts of the engine nacelles are managed with a minimum of parts. If there's any complaint it's that the underbelly is sparse and playet; given that so much effort goes into making this highly swooshable set as detailed as possible from above it is a shame that the same can't be said for its nethers.
When seen in The Rise of Skywalker, this starfighter is devoid of any known characters and so LEGO opted to place a Snap Wexley and Lieutenant Connix minifigure with the build. The inclusion of Snap was based on a brief glimpse of the character kneeling by the ship's cockpit during the fleet's muster, while Connix was added by merit of having no where else to put this three-movie character's minifigure. Oddly the Aurabesh printing on the side of helmet spells "popsæboo" which has no obvious meaning, and running it through an anagram generator doesn't provide any answers.
These wishbone fighter-bombers have been knocking about the Star Wars universe for as long as anyone can remember, first showing up in the timeline during the Clone Wars - and depicted as Anakin's Y-wing Starfighter in 2009, ten years after its first appearance in 1999 when it was paired with the earliest version of Darth Vader's TIE Fighter in set 7150.
The current version has a distinctly vintage feel to it and captures the colour marking used on the Y-wing Starfighter that Hasbro included in its Original Trilogy Collection of 2004. Included in the set are a number of new minifigures: Poe Dameron in a very Indianna Jones get-up that reflects his spice runner past, the enignamtic Rocketeer known as Zorii Bliss, a First Order Snowtrooper and though strictly not minifigures but a "droid LEGO figures" the single piece D-O and a teal astromech.
The ship has been labelled a "Resistance" X-wing based on the footage of one performing a barrel-roll as it skilfully targetted the Axial superlaser on one of the Sith's new Xyston-class Star Destroyers, but the minifigures that LEGO has placed with the set clearly place it at Kijimi, suggesting that it is the freelancer Zorii's own personal spacecraft.
Perhaps the most exciting sequence in both the teaser and final trailers, the Resistance's escape from the Festival of the Ancestors on Pasaana is well represented in this set, and there is no aspect of it that will fail to please.
The treadspeeder, with its snowmobile traction, works well and rolls easily. This small vehicle is a quick and easy build and complements the skiff perfectly. Hopefully, when LEGO decides to build the other half of this chase scene, they will update the treadspeeder to have an spring-loaded ejector that will launch the included jet trooper. The transport skimmer is a particularly exciting vehicle to both build and play with. LEGO perfectly captures the Serenity-meets-Mad Max aesthetic, and the combined tan and red will certainly help liven up the grey pallette of most LEGO Star Wars collectors shelves. The market stall is a cute addition, though the included hardware doesn't quite carry over the festival feel that the on-screen stalls had.
The included minifigures are satisfactory and - with two Resistance and two First Order characters - provide a proper balance, though an Aki-Aki character would have increased the set's diversity by a degree or two.
By far the biggest set released in the Triple Force Friday selection - and the entire The Rise of Skywalker collection for that matter - this new Millennium Falcon is the Goldilocks version, in that everything is just right. Gone are the little niggles: the angle of the mandibles are perfect, the detailed cockpit has enough room for a three minifigures, all the compartments are fulfilling and the hull panels open like a flower facing the warmth of the Sun.
Assembling this set took is a blast from the past as it is very reminiscent of 4504 Millennium Falcon (2003), which was probably the last time LEGO came close to perfecting the Falcon. Throughout the build the framework was very sturdy and at no point did it feel like it was going to break apart. The interior is particularly fun, with a number of compartments picked out for added detail, including the engine area. While this new version lacks the naively labelled "Hyperdrive" brick it does have the honour of being the first LEGO Star Wars spaceship to have a kitchen! The exterior is just as interesting, and LEGO uses a number of inventive ways to give create a used and battle-damaged hull.
The only two gripes that can be attached to this set is the lack of the top hatch which featured heavily in the movie, and the lack of any lower hull plating. This last omission suggests that this version's design draws a touch of inspiration from the Falcon's forced landing on Kef Bir.
The set comes with a good selection of minifigs, and though the lack of Klaud does put the crew off balance the inclusion of Boolio is a nice touch - and means that a certain later scene can easily be played out. And let's be honest, there's no way LEGO could make an accurate version of the Falcon's newest mechanic anyway.
This release has the honour of being the first Sequel Trilogy set to be remade, and only four years after it enjoyed its debut appearance as 75104 Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle in 2015. The original version had a number of inaccuracies - later explained away as running changes made during The Force Awaken's post-production - which this new set corrects. With an almost blink-and-you'll-miss it appearance on the deck of the Steadfast, the Supreme Leader’s personal transport ship now has wings that tilt out in flight.
Aside from the aforementioned swing-wing action, those Star Wars collectors who already have 75104 can look forward to a sleeker and more steathy build, cleaned up detailing and more accurate apperance. Those readers who enjoyed being able to fit the entire minifigure complement into the original command shuttle are going to be disappointed, as the wing mechanism takes up half the space of the shuttle's body.
Getting a soft-released the weekend following the Triple Force Friday product push, this was the first (and, to date, only) BrickHeadz from The Rise of Skywalker line.
At the time of release this double-pack of the new Supreme Leader of the First Order and a crimson-clad Sith Trooper sidekick was assumed to be a hero/sidekick combo - we eventually learned the nature of the dynamic. The product's description highlights the wabi-sabi'd faceplate and signature inverted cruciform lightsabre that this latest version of Kylo Ren came with but gave no further details on the role of the Sith Trooper.
Little more was learned when the final trailer dropped at the end of October, though a number of fans had some fun giving it a LEGO brickmotion treatment and creating insanely accurate LEGO versions of the movie poster to help while away the two months that stretched out before the theatrical release of The Rise of Skywalker in December.
With the movie finally out fans could begin to piece together the sets from the first wave, and put some coins in their anticipation meter while they waited for the second assortment to be put out on toy shelves. For those in North America this happened just before Christmas, while Europe and the rest of the world had to sit on their hands until the start of the New Year. Graham Hancock, editor of Brick Fanatics offers insight into the disparity between the two set releases:
"It seems that Lucasfilm wanted to hold back certain vehicles, situations and characters so put them in the second wave of sets. Most of the vehicles in the first wave were familiar, whereas the second wave featured new vehicles and characters like the Knights of Ren."
This assortment - officially dubbed the Winter Wave - added three more System, two Microfighter sets and an exclusive polybag to the LEGO The Rise of Skywalker collection.
75263 Resistance Y-wing Microfighter
Introduced to provide iconic vehicles and a minifigure at pocket-money prices, Microfighters are one of the longest running LEGO Star Wars subthemes. There must be something about the Y-wing that lends itself to Microfighter proportions because this spacecraft, with a total of three, is the most common vehicle in the range.
This updated Y-wing matches the larger 75249 Resistace Y-wing Starfigher by keeping the most important elements like the white and red fuselage and nacelles, adding new touches (such as the rotating laser turret) while correcting design flaws like the weak engine vanes. With the inclusion of a Zorii Bliss minifig, which was previously only available in the much more expensive System-scale version that came out for Triple Force Friday, this set is an all-round winner.
When they first arrived on the scene LEGO Microfighters raised a few eyebrows in the adult collecting community - but then the reality check was cashed and it was recognised by the minority that these funky sets, aimed at kids, were pretty cool.
While the shuttle itself is more-or-less in the right proportions it's the bulbous and oversized helmet piece that lends itself to the aesthetic of the deformed scale and, despite the almost vulcan image that the imperfect repairs create, makes it appear as if Kylo Ren is sitting on a coin-operated kiddie ride.
This mini troop speeder might not have appeared in any scenes in The Rise of Skywalker but it's easy to imagine these shuttling troops through the corridors of the emergent Sith Empire fleet, and with three-quarters of the included minifigs being of the vermillion variety this set offers an easy way to start building a Final Order army. The only grip is that the wrong galactic faction has been assigned to the First Order officer who is - by merit of his association with the crimson warriors and the emblem on his uniform - a member of the Final Order.
It's hard to say if this set accurately depicts the galaxy's newest TIE variant because they're onky seen at a distance, and fleetingly at that. Perhaps it was because they only amount to a couple of on-screen pixels that LEGO has produced such a basic set? Of all the sets in The Rise of Skywalker collection this is probably the least recommendable.
The new Sith TIE Fighter - aka TIE Dagger in all other reference material - set comes across as a cut-down design when compared to other TIE sets, and has been likened to an advanced LEGO Star Wars 4+ set rather than a 9+ one. With the typical layered detailing and the ball-shaped cockpit reduced to a fraction of what you'd expect, and while the stand is incongrously clunky compared to the blade-like shape of the TIE this set is a relatively uncomplicated build and would still be great addition to a kid's collection.
The minifigures that LEGO has incorporated into this set a a mixed bunch. Finn, which is the same printed minifigure that comes with 75257 Millennium Falcon, is included to add hero appeal, while the Knight of Ren minifigure fulfills the craving for a villainous character. And just like in 75266 Sith Trooper Battle Pack, LEGO have got their First and Final Orders mixed up by including a First Order TIE Fighter pilot minifigure.
If you are keen to add this set to your - or anyone else's - collection then head to LEGO, Walmart, Amazon or Target.com, where it has an MSRP of $79.99 and is currently in stock.
75273 Poe Dameron's X-wing Fighter
Replicating the sleek and sporty exterior of Poe's new starfighter, this updated X-wing from The Rise of Skywalker uses the same internal structure and mechanics as the 4002019 Christmas X-wing and is one of the rare times when a new set isn't wholy unique.
Matching the on-screen version's palette quite closely, the orange and blue bricks add a splash of colour to a regularlygreay and white spacecraft, and the curved intakes looked ready to suck in space air to power the engines. With the wings opened in attack mode this set is incredibly swooshable.
Orange is the new white for this season, and with matching flight suit the Poe Dameron minfigure cuts a fine figure. Accompanied by Jannah, R2-D2 and the fourth Knight of Ren the minifig selection of this set covers all the layers of the Resistance assault at Exegol.
With the X-wing always a popular addition to both collector's shelves and children's toy boxes, this new set is a sure-fire hit. Get yours via Walmart.com, Target.com, Amazon and,of course, LEGO online and retail outlets for the price of $89.99 now.
30386 Poe Dameron's X-wing Fighter
Released to promote and encourage sales of the Winter wave of The Rise of Skywalker sets as a polybagged impulse buy item in the US and Canada, and a gift with purchase in Europe and Australia, this 68 piece faithfully replicates 75273 Poe Dameron's X-wing Fighter in miniature scale.
With the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga told that's it for the LEGO Star Warstheme, right?
Of course not - get ready for New York Toy Fair!
Just like all the other Star Wars movies that LEGO has developed sets for since 1999 there will be plenty more to come. For starters there are rumoured sets from the seventh season of the animated Clone Wars to come, LEGO still has to release a Razor Crest from The Mandalorian, May The 4th Be With You will bring some exciting launches and there are sure to be some tie-in sets for LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga - that's all in the first half of the year!