Reviewed by Chris McGee (SAFOLs Member, jhbLUG Member)
LEGO® over the years has released an annual employee gift which will be distributed to all employees globally. Recently, the gifts have also been distributed to the LAN ambassadors (from recognized LEGO® communities such as RLUG and RLOC). The gift is typically Christmas themed and is promoted as a family build for the holiday season.
This set however, is the first licensed employee gift ever, and how fitting that it should be Star Wars themed, given that 2019 marks 20 years of LEGO® Star Wars as well as the imminent final Skywalker based movie.
Star Wars has forever etched itself deep into the hearts of so many people. Some of my favourite movie scenes from when I was a child came from the original trilogy films: the Death Star trench run; the battle of Hoth; the speeder bike chase on Endor, and with its success in Episode 4 against the Death Star, the X-Wing fighter became iconic, so what better spaceship to put together for such a set.
Three instruction booklets can be found within the set, each able to be built separately (great for a family build) and each one having a separate minifigure. They have been decorated within with small pictures of the representative minifigure, as well as some nice Christmas styled decorations. There is also a bar at the bottom of each page as a sort of progress bar with a candy cane filling to show how far you are with the booklet.
The first booklet deals with the transport / sled which is a nice small build with some added presents for transporting to the X-Wing. It sits on some skateboard wheels and moves around very easier and has some play value. Two of the gifts come with a small toy inside. A pearl gold statuette “action figure” and flat silver roller skate piece “toy car”. R2-D2 is included within the first section and is a nice inclusion for the purposes of helping run the transport as well as go into the X-Wing, but I am sad he didn’t get a special paint job for the holidays, or at least some reindeer antlers as he had from the advent calendar.
The second is a great little build for a workshop based in a sort of igloo. The different slopes and curved parts have been used nicely to give it a good shaping and texture to give the impression of an igloo (or even liken Yoda’s hut). The inside is fairly empty, but it does have a sort of pressing machine and some toys to make further deliveries later. The inclusion of the rubber duck and blue roller skate is for the other two gifts which were empty and gives some play value. A Christmas Yoda is built within the second booklet. He is not intended to replicate the Santa Yoda we got in an older advent calendar, but he appears to be helping make the toys in the workshop. The newer Yoda head is used along with nice Santa torso (candy cane slotted into his back belt as a print).
The third booklet gives us the X-Wing and the exclusive “Yuletide Squadron Pilot”. The pilot minifigure is an interesting inclusion as expectation would be to include a Christmas Luke or Wedge, but given the final result I am actually happy that it is an unnamed character (read on for why). The printing on the figure is good, with it sticking to the main colour themes of red, white and gold accents of the main ship.
The X-Wing itself is very similar in build to the set we got in 2018 (75218), with just some exterior design being made to look more festive, and to take away certain weaponry. The side cannons being replaced by some space for the gifts to be attached to the sides and can be dropped off on your way as a delivery mechanism. The ship also has the ability to open and close the wings as with a standard X-Wing build these days, along with a smooth and sturdy mechanism to control the positions.
The final product:
Everything comes together so wonderfully in this set and really just makes sense. The workshop is able to play as a stand for the flying X-Wing, which on display looks phenomenal. Why a cross over like this hasn’t happened before is beyond me considering how big a Christmas themed product can bag cash (advent calendars aside). I guess that is what makes LEGO® such a renowned company. It’s not about the quick buck, but they have rather left such a special and unique set as their gift to their employees. Also considering they would have spent license fees, and gotten over brand management humps to make such a set, it is quite brilliant.
Therefore, I found myself torn in two as I was writing the review up. On the one hand, it is the near perfect celebration for the employees of LEGO® for keeping a theme like Star Wars going all this time (even without the movies giving it legs during many years). On the other, it is basically a re-skinned version of the original trilogy X-Wing fighter we got in 2018 with a Christmas theme. Nostalgia vs logic… Fandom vs wisdom… Heart vs head.
So I thought about it in a more practical sense: (a) would I have bought this as a set (as is) from a store shelf, and (b) would I recommend for someone to buy it as a set from the likes of Bricklink / EBay?
To (a), it was a ‘heck yes’. Mainly because I am a Christmas fan and something like this would still play on the heart strings as a fan. A lovely take on something so iconic, with a hint of humour in tow, celebrating the 20 years in an awesome way.
For (b), given I am pretty sure that the cost of trying to get one on the aftermarket would be exorbitantly high, I would say ‘rather not’. Main reason is that you could probably piece it together using Bricklink to buy the parts themselves. And what is left is a single minifigure (not based on a main character) and a printed tile. The instructions and box then bring up additional exclusivity. So rather piece it together.
The exclusivity factor is reduced enough in my mind to at least limit the amount of resellers this would bring forward and I am happy for that, as it means many more people will be using this the way that LEGO® intended, through building, display and play. All too often, I fear that the ‘value’ motive stops people from enjoying something that made to be built.
Overall, what a great gift, and I am very grateful that the LEGO® Ambassador Network exists and that we as AFOLs are able to be seen as part of the machine through the recognised user communities. I am also very lucky that my wife, the ambassador who received this, agreed with my sentiments.
As we head towards 2020, I wish all the SAFOLs a great festive season, and hope you enjoy the new Star Wars movie. May the force be with us… always…