We Build LEGO's Massive, Impressive Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer
LEGO released this set in September 2019. We're reviewing it in anticipation of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, which debuts in theaters on December 20, 2019.The LEGO Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer is gargantuan. Mounted on its stand, it rests at nearly a foot-and-a-half tall. It is over three-and-a-half feet long (from fore to aft) and over two feet wide (from starboard to port). The photos don't do it justice; they shrink the spaceship down, by necessity, to the confines of a two-dimensional, rectangular frame. This model is something that has to be seen, up close and in-person, to fully appreciate — for both its three-dimensional scale and its surfeit of detail.This Imperial Star Destroyer model is a scaled replica of the Devastator from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope; it's the Imperial ship which chases after the Tantive IV in the film's opening. It comes in a massive box that would be difficult to squeeze into the back seat of a car.The instructions are contained in a giant, spiraled booklet, which makes them easier to read than most instructions—a good thing, since the build is highly involved. It contains 4,784 pieces in total. Surprisingly, it contains no new, molded elements; every piece in this build has been released in older LEGO builds, which takes more than a little ingenuity on the part of the designers.LEGO priced this set at $699.99, which means that if you're purchasing it, you're a serious Star Wars fan, a serious LEGO fan, or ideally, both. It is, to its credit, a lengthy, in-depth experience for the amount of money that it costs. As an experienced LEGO builder, I needed approximately two weeks, building evenings and weekends, to assemble the Star Destroyer, and I stayed up into the AM hours on a couple of those days. It is not the most difficult build I've attempted (the LEGO Batmobile, for example, was certainly more difficult than this), but the LEGO Star Destroyer is definitely the most involved and intensive model I've built thus far.You begin by building a thin, black stand, upon which you mount the model. There's an information placard that attaches to the stand, which details the Devastator's length and weapons capabilities. There are two LEGO minifigures—Imperial officers, dressed in black and grey, with individual laser blasters—that flank the placard on either side. The stand looks deceptively slight, especially as you pile more and more weight upon it. But despite its outward appearance, it holds up the Star Destroyer effectively. It reinforces a visual paradox in the films—that these heavy, imposing machines have a weightlessness in space and can travel at hyperspeed.Then comes the ship's frame. As always, LEGO designs its vehicles' "skeletons" with beams and pins, rather than interlocking bricks, to give the models stability. Even at this early stage, the signature, triangular shape of the Star Destroyer begins to take form.From here, you alternate between building a surface element and then attaching it to the bigger model via pins or clamps. It is a long, involved process filled with both childish joy and relief, especially when you build the command tower, crowned with its two signature spheres. Last, but not least, is a scaled model of Princess Leia's ship, the Tantive IV. You can attach it to the build via a clear rod, to create the perception that the Star Destroyer is pursuing the runaway ship, just as it does in the film.The Imperial Star Destroyer is essentially for display only; it is not intended to be played with or moved around too much. There are no interior rooms or modular elements. The designers compensated for this via the external plating; they found ingenuity and playfulness in what could have been a monotonous chore.Consider that the entire body of the Star Destroyer is the same, grey hue. How does one take something outwardly simple and uniform, and make it visually interesting and convincing? The Star Destroyer's designers accomplished this with an incredible amount of surface detail. Look closer, and beyond the endless grey, you see a granular tangle of wires, mechanical parts, and laser cannons covering its surface.It takes time to put these tiny pieces together—to integrate them into a cohesive whole. But the final effect is worth the hours of effort. The entire model looks busy in the best possible way. One could imagine the thousands of crewmen, each of them devoted to a specific task, that make this monolithic, impenetrable machine run.If you're going to buy this model, do some preliminary planning. Where will you build it? You need a work surface for not only the model, but also for the instruction booklet and the pile of pieces And once it's complete, where will you display it? You'll want to put it somewhere where you can admire it, after the fact, and feel appropriately accomplished.The LEGO Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer, Set #75252, retails for $699.99. It was built by veteran LEGO designer Henrik Andersen as a part of the Ultimate Collector Series. The Star Destroyer is currently available at brick-and-mortar LEGO stores and the LEGO online store.