Last month at Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019, LEGO took the opportunity during their compactly titled "20 Years Of The LEGO Star Wars Story – A Retrospective And Forward Look" to provide a glimpse into the future when Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, LEGO Star Wars team lead wowed the audience with the first public appearance of this new direct to customer set.
In another surprise move, LEGO then put 250 units of 75244 Tantive IV up for sale, ahead of the May 3rd (for VIP members)/4th (general populace), through their pop-up retail store in the Exhibit Hall. Piling on the bonuses, set designer César Carvalhosa Soares was there to sign boxes.
Rebelscum was lucky to receive a complimentary set to review - it just had to make the long journey back to LEGOscum HQ in Australia.
Taking the set out of the box that it crossed the Pacific in, I introduced my son Oscar (aka OB1, son of LEGOscum) to the new Tantive IV. After his eyes dropped and jaw bulged in a very Roger Rabbit fashion, the first words out of his mouth were "Is it big enough for the minifigures to walk around in?" such is the impressive size of this new set. Before going further I explained to Oscar that this, the sixth version, still wasn't big enough to be fully minifig-scale.
Unable to resist the opportunity to share my LEGO Star Wars knowledge I explained that the original Tantive IV set (10019 Rebel Blockade Runner) came out in 2001 as part of the fledgling Ultimate Collectors Series in 2001 and it wasn't until 2009 that an appropriately System/minifigure-scaled version - 10198 Tantive IV - was released.
Of course, the most recent miniature version is being introduced this May The 4th Be With You weekend as a Make & Take at LEGO brand stores in North America and Europe.
Fittingly, for the first System-scaled version of the spaceship that delivered (albeit in a roundabout fashion) the Death Star plans into the hands of the Rebel Alliance, came out for the 10th anniversary of the LEGO Star Wars license, it took another ten years for 75244 Tantive IV to make another appearance.
As you may have already guessed, one of my favourite aspects of writing a LEGO Star Wars review - after building the actual model of course - if being able to show off my knowledge of esoteric Star Wars trivia and expound on the antiquarian context of the set in question.
These days, however, LEGO is doing that for me because in the last three or four higher end sets that have come out under the guise of the Ultimate Collectors Series and the (now defunct) Master Builder Series have had chapters explaining the history of the model and an introduction to the designers at LEGO who contributed to the set.
The additions are well worth the read as they go into some depth - and with brilliant illustrations - on the origin of both design and construction of the model used in the making of Star Wars and the one produced by LEGO, as well as some canon-based nerd triva that sets the scene that inspired the LEGO designers to come up with the final creation.
And with this being the digital age, LEGO have also produced a designers video that introduces the team behind the set and goes into further detail about the model that the flat text on the LEGO.com webpage can't carry off.
With my rambling preamble finished, it's time to look at the finished build so imagine me, if you will, laying out the thirteeen bags of bricks, failing to set the LEGO Life app up on my laptop so I could use the digital instructions, opening the 258-page instruction book, and - in the optimal building position that my knees, back and shoulders hate so much - following each step precisely to complete the construction on the hammerhead cruiser than we all remember so fondly.
Starting at the bow, the cockpit - made of four half-cone elements - has the optimal rake to its exterior and the perfect accoutrements to the interior. Six stickers give the outside the right appearance, and the right selection of elements gives the nose that slight wedge effect that the screen-seen pratical and digital models displayed. The inside of the cockpit is a little sparse but the design choices that LEGO employed to give the two seats a padded look works well. It's just a shame that no-one thought to include the poster that the original model builders at ILM added as an Easter egg!
Behind the cockpit, on the upper and lower hull, is the builds main "weaponry". Though you'd expect a consular ship - especially one from a planet of pacifists - not to have any armaments, this model comes equipped with two stud shooters and two spring-loaded missile shooters plus an array of static guns.
Next along the model's length is the main compartment. It boasts a conference table that is less imposing than the more Senatorial desk that 10198 Tantive IV, and could be used for diplomatic negotiations or friendly games of sabacc. ALso furnishing this room are wall-mounted clips for securing accessories like electrobinoculars (for bird spotting in space?) and hand weapons, and a a small table that is likely a holographic projector for conference calls with the Senate.
A secondary compartment - which LEGO describes as a cargo hold - is just big enough to contain the two spare missiles for the spring-loaded shooters. Curiously they come mounted in a carry case that could easily double up as a boom box.
The handle, which is built into the mid-ship communications array, is reminiscent of another toy modelled on a classic Star Wars vehcile - Kenner's Rebel Transport from 1982 - and gives lift to an otherwise awkward hold. It's only downside is that it doesn't quite balance properly, and the ship opts for a slight nose-down pitch.
The model also includes a pair of escape pods - one for R2-D2 and C-3PO while the other is presumably one of the malfunctioning pods that had vexed The Devastator's gun crew. The escape pods lack any details that suggests their purpose, and it was only after taking a closer look at the imagery on the box that it became clear what they were for. No doubt some talented LEGO customiser will take the blank canvas as the opportunity it is.
Without a doubt the most eyecatching feature is the engine cluster. The risk of them becoming the boring part of the build was avoided by strategically pacing them out with other sections of the construction. The angles and colours are just right, and the greebling adds a touch of detail that doesn't overwhelm the overall aesthetics. The only grumble that can be levelled at the finished set is that the two outer engines aren't quite on the same level as the interior two. It's not an important point and anyone fixating on this should just remind themselves how awesome this set looks from the rear.
The minifigures that come with this model include Princess Leia who has two leg pieces - the normal, articulated element and a new curved wedge that creates the effect of a flowing gown, C-3PO who has yet to be updated with a silver right leg, an R2-D2 droid figure (so-called because LEGO doesn't count these as minifigures), a Rebel Fleet Trooper, Captain Antilles with an updated face print and for the first Bail Organa, which is printed wearing the same costume the character wore in Rogue One.
Overall 75244 Tantive IV is a fun build that should take an average builder three and a half hours (coincidentally the combined running time of The Boodock Saints and The Dirt, which I had on in the background) to put this model together. Oscar's final verdict was far more succinct.
It's a real mantlepiece set!If you have some shelf space- whether it be over a fire place or not - that needs filling click on one of the links below to jump to one of the regional entries for this set.
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