The BTL A4 Starfighter, known as the Y-Wing due to its distinctive shape, was the workhorse of the Rebel Alliance during the Battle of Yavin, and, although aging, was instrumental in the defeat of the Death Star. Lego's Ultimate Collector Series version of this iconic vessel was only the second distinct version they released, after the blocky 1999 original; released in late 2004, it was the first UCS set to use the 'new' grey colours, and also the first to employ the recently-introduced curve slopes to provide sleeker contours. See how the model measures up in this first Eurobricks review.
Name: Y-Wing Attack Starfighter
Theme: Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series
Years: 2004 - 2006
Minifigs: 1 (R2 Unit)
Price: originally GB £109 | US $120
'2005 Shop@Home Catalogue' said:
Named for its unusual shape, the classic fighter-bomber of the Rebel Alliance played a key role in the defeat of both Death Stars and the downfall of the Galactic Empire. Exploding with incredible detail, the Ultimate Collector Series Y-wing Attack Starfighter carries a pair of nose-mounted lasers, an ion cannon turret and an astromech droid for swift escapes into hyperspace.
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The Box - Front
A wonderful, dynamic shot of the Y-Wing, dodging blaster fire against a pseudo-Death Star backdrop, graces the cover of this smart box. The legend declares this to be 'Original Trilogy Edition': many SW sets in 2003-4 were released with two types of box, blue or black, the latter being 'OT Edition' like this. However, I've never seen this set with a blue box.
The rear shows of the features of the set: The nose-mounted lasers, and 'ion cannon' turret; the astromech droid and the targeting mechanism in the cockpit.
Unusually for a UCS set, other models from the regular range are advertised on the back, as if Lego have finally caught on that AFOLs like minifigs too.
The box measures W 574 x D 92 x H 383 mm, and, like all prior UCS sets, opens with a lifting lid; this partly explains why my box is reasonably well preserved. According the small print, components were made in Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany.
A single instruction book, slightly larger than A4, covers the whole model. The front is identical to the box cover:
As you can see, the pages themselves have a blue border, which jars somewhat with the black cover; perhaps the instruction manual was designed to go with the 'blue' box variety.
The back features an unnamed Rebel with a generic helmet fleeing the Death Star amidst a hail of laser fire, whilst finding the time to advertise StarWars.com:
Just one manual for a 1500 piece set, when some of the smaller sets smaller sets have two or even three booklets? Well, there is no parts inventory, or alternative model to pad out the instructions, and the individual steps are intensive, with 10 to 20 parts per step...
... and some pages feature several steps:
There is also a degree of repetition, with the engines being identical. Colour differentiation is tricky in a few places, mainly between dark grey and black; fortunately, there is little black used in the main model itself.
A single sticker sheet holds the UCS display information, transparent stickers to provide the cockpit detail, and two yellow flashes for the nose. As usual, the display decal requires placement across multiple tiles.
My sticker sheet, despite having spent its life sandwiched between leaves of the manual, is inexplicably grubby.
I really struggled to photograph all of these 1500 pieces. In the end I adopted a 'stack-'em' method.
There's a nice selections of larger bricks, mostly in black, and medium and dark stone grey, and also a useful amount of slopes, both normal and inverted. Note the large white wheel rims, and the two white domes which are similar to Tri-Fighter cockpit pieces but with a non-clicky hinge. There are few unique pieces here, except for the 2x1 brick with side bar, which is found nowhere else in dark orange. The two 2x2 slopes with printing have occurred elsewhere, but this is the only set to feature them in new dark grey.
Plates and Tiles
Again, a very useful selection, but nothing to make your jaw drop. The three round printed tiles at the front feature a grille pattern (2) and a hatch (1) and can be found on many SW sets (the recent midi-falcon springs to mind).
Small Parts, Functional Elements, and Decorative Pieces
The large number of technic pins might make your heart sink, but rest assured, their use is not too extensive. Taking centre stage are 78 small tube pieces in white; we'll see how they are employed later. Also of note are 16 white 'snowspeeder blasters', 8 white droid bodies, and a number of pieces of narrow tubing in 'pearl copper', a colour I haven't encountered before.
The leftovers include the usual technic pins and bushes; there's also an extra lightsaber hilt in grey, which I've employed elsewhere. However, there are a number of extra small pieces which I've included on the model as extra greebling: cookies to anyone who can spot them on the later pics. I'm looking for a lever, a yellow 1x1 tile, and two round 1x1 plates (one white, one grey).
The very first thing we are instructed to do is to build the minifig. It's only a red astromech droid, but at this time UCS sets usually came without figures, so we should be thankful for small mercies. This one is identical to the R2 unit found in the smaller System-scaled Y-Wing (7658), although mine is rather poorly printed (it's the one on the left):
It's still a little bit small compared to the finished model, but not so clearly off-scale as the droid that comes with the 7191 UCS X-Wing.
Part 1 - Body
We start with the long 'stem' that forms the centre of the Y-wing's structure. A double layer of plates is topped with a layer of inverted slopes and large blocks for reinforcement at step 6:
The medium stone grey 4x4 square technic brick in the middle will become the attachment for the stand.
By step 9, we have added the inverted curve slopes and tiles that will support the cockpit section. Another double layer of plates helps with longitudinal stability.
The two grey jumper plates form the base of the cavity in which the droid will sit.
The rear of the section starts to get built up first, presumably to make the instructions easier to follow. Some technic pins, five each side, mark the point at which the perpendicular engine struts will attach.
The 4x1 bricks with side studs at the rear herald the onset of some SNOT technique, which is used extensively, and to good effect, throughout...
... and here it is put into use. Large bricks add to the strength of the section, and yet more dark orange 'rust' is employed.
Here we also get our first taste of greebling, in the shape of little 'tap' pieces at the front. (Greebling, for those unfamiliar with the word, is the use of small decorative pieces to imply functional detail.)
By step 18, we're coming toward the end of the section. The top is covered with some large plates, and here we begin the greebling process.
It's fiddly work, placing all those 1x1 clip pieces, telephones, and grille tiles, but the overall effect is worth the effort.
And here's the finished section. Quite a lot of work for 21 steps.
I like the effect of the tubing pieces, and the use of dark orange 'rust' and the tattered yellow-striped printed slops help to give the model an 'aged' look. So far, the build has been thoroughly enjoyable.
Part 2 - 'Wings'
Ok, so they're not really wings. The struts that attach the engines are a simple sandwich of bricks between plates, with further piping and greebles, and again SNOT is used at front and rear.
The two sections, left and right, are symmetrical, and built separately.
Part 3 - Engines
The engines, left and right, are identical, and after building one we find the dreaded 'x2' at the end, which means we have to it all over again. Personally, I prefer to build both sides at the same time, in parallel.
Again, two layers of plates come first, then inverted slopes; next, another layer of plates and two large technic frames give the section rigidity. The holes in the side will later be used to attach SNOT greebling, and to connect to the body section.
Another layer of plates and roofing slopes complete the 'round' shape; the technic axles will be used to attach the long tubing of the open rear frames later.
Jumper plates, tiles, tubing and more 'rust' complete the top surface.
The SNOT engine exhaust nozzle attaches via a 1x4 brick with side-studs; quite securely, despite appearances.
In the second picture, you can see one of four identical greeble plates that add detail to the engine sides. This makes the engines identical, rather than mirror images; this makes some sense (I'm sure Rolls Royce doesn't make 'left' and 'right' engines for 747s!). Symmetry-obsessives, rest assured - the engines can easily be modified to mirror each other.
Now we come to the tiresome part. Each of the 8 pylons that support the rear steering plates ('disk vectrals', according to Wookieepedia ) is constructed of three 12-long white technic axles, over which we must push a total of 78 2-long tubes. It's hard work on your fingers.
The 'disk vectrals' themselves are represented by large white wheel rims; hardly accurate, but it looks good, even though the wheels have three spokes when four might have been more appropriate.
The completed pylons are floppy, but when secured to the engines become quite stable.
Having struggled through the nadir of the build process, things start to improve, as the build returns to more traditional techniques. More technic frames are employed here, and the technic pins signify the modular construction:
The second picture, while not strictly part of the build process, shows how the hinge bricks are attached, SNOT, via two headlight bricks.
A classically brick-built section forms the yellow and white rings at the front, and the 'sensor dome' is attached via an old-style non-clicky hinge:
The front end of the support pylons in formed of two white snowspeeder blasters, mounted at 45 degrees on the aforementioned hinges, fronted with a white droid body. It's an effective use of pieces which normally have a very different purpose.
Part 4 - Cockpit
Now we come to the best part of the build. The cockpit section is nicely shaped, using wedge plates and bricks, and some lovely SNOT to add curves to the sides:
Note the interesting use of the 8x1 plates with wide side ridges. The base of the cockpit chair is three studs wide, and placed on jumper plates.
The contours of the cockpit section are nicely replicated with curve slopes, and we start to see the livery of 'gold' squadron take shape.
A lightsaber hilt, old-style droid arm, and tap comprise the targeting device; simple, but effective.
A 'standard' cockpit cover is employed. It would look more realistic with the stickers applied, but I refuse!! The 'real' Y-wing has a side-opening cockpit, and I was a little disappointed that Lego didn't go the extra mile here. However, the overall effect is still superb:
It's almost a little spaceship of its own! Note the 'ion cannon turret': It's nicely done, and better than its equivalent on the smaller 7658, but being dependent on a 2x2 turntable it does tend to swing around a bit.
The instructions tell you to attach all built sections as you go, but I've kept them separate to demonstrate the modular construction:
Whether you like modular builds or not, it does mean the model can be transported or stored without fully disassembling. The four dark stone grey tiles are used to secure the engines to the struts, and the struts to the body, and help to prevent sagging.
Part 5 - Stand
Lastly, we have the UCS display stand. In contrast to the earlier stands used for the 7191 X-wing and 7181 TIE Interceptor, this one is designed to hold the model leaning to the side. It is identical to the that of the 10129 UCS Snowspeeder (review coming soon ).
Here it is, compared to the X-wing stand:
Although the design is similar, the Y-wing stand has a steeper angle, produced by an extra plate between the technic beams and the liftarms. Incidentally, the design difference is not just aesthetic: the X-wing and Y-wing are balanced differently, and disaster ensues if you try to swap stands!
The Complete Model
Let's see what this beauty looks like whole.
It's only when the individual sections are put together that you get a feel for the scale of this beast. It's big - well, long really. The angle of the display stand is ideal for showing off the features, and the greebling and tubing really stand out; the spectacular contrast between the dark grey, brown and 'rust' and the white and yellow highlights reinforce the impression that this is a working spaceship.
As we move around the side of the model, the extraordinary length becomes apparent. If anything, it's a little too long. Compare it to this reference picture from A New Hope:
Here we can see that the engines in Lego's version are proportionally longer than the 'real' thing; indeed the entire ship looks sleeker and more streamlined than the official stubby version. Likewise, the cockpit section is probably a little smaller than it ought to be, and doesn't sport the same downward slant.
There are many good features. The attention to detail is amazing; the tubing of the body section looks the part, and the construction of the forward end of the support pylons, with the double 'snowspeeder blasters', is a perfect representation - a characteristic of the original that I'd never have noticed otherwise.
Some more views:
I love this shot. It's very imposing from the front: if I were a TIE pilot, I wouldn't want to see that in my rear view!
This view might be more familiar to Darth Vader, as he screams down the Death Star trench:
Here you can see the detail of the rear of the body section, and the enormous length of the engine pylons is all too apparent.
A close-up of the rear of the engine:
Yes, the use of a wheel might seem a little lazy, but I think the overall effect isn't bad.
This 'plan' view shows the scale nicely: in fact, the proportions look right, and is anything it's the real model that appears disproportionate. However, the cockpit of Lego's version is definitely too small for the size of the ship.
There's no greebling on the bottom, which is largely a collection of plates:
Some close-up shots of the greebles on the main body of the Y-wing:
I remember reading an interview with designer Jens Kronvold Frederiksen in which he said that the UCS Y-Wing is his favourite of all the sets he has designed, because of all these little details. Unfortunately, I can no longer find the complete interview, but a shorter version is available here.
Here's the Y-wing compared to her little sister, 7658:
In terms of scale the System-scaled version is possibly a better representation, but the detail and colour of the UCS variant still wins.
If you can bear the clash of old and new grey, you can compare the set to her earlier UCS cousin, the 7191 X-Wing:
The X-wing shouldn't be much wider than the Y-wing, so the two are obviously built at a very different scale. As shelf-mates the two don't sit quite comfortably together, although that may be the effect of the colour clash. The R2 units are the same size in these two sets: this says more about how ridiculously small the droid is in the X-Wing; it the Y-Wing it's probably about the right size.
Lego obviously employed a little licence in the design of this set, but, like any work of art, the results should perhaps be judged by their effects. While there may not be too much attention to scale, the designer has created a beautiful, sleek ship, with wonderful details, that I think has improved on the design of the Y-wing without losing touch with its basic appearances. It is sturdily constructed, and well balanced, being easily swooshable if you so desire.
Design: 17/20 A great-looking, svelte (the adjective, not the administrator!) ship, with amazing details that really bring to life the machinery at the heart of a working starfighter. I can forgive the inaccuracies of scale, as the overall result is superb, but it does lose a few points for this reason.
Build: 9/10 Interesting and varied, and mostly thoroughly enjoyable, despite the repetition. However, pushing small pieces of tubing onto technic axles does get tiring. There's a little technic employed in the construction, but it is necessary for strength and doesn't detract from the overall experience.
Parts: 8/10 A good selection of useful bricks and plates, with a few rarer parts, but little you couldn't find elsewhere.
Price: 9/10 The original price of £109 for nearly 1500 bricks seems fantastic to me now. $120? If I were American, I'd be laughing, and would have given this 10.
Overall, 86%. An underrated set, but it's a classic, and fully deserves its spot on the shelf.
I hope you enjoyed reading the review; please do let me know what you thought of it, and of the set itself.
Read about the Y-Wing Starfighter on Wookieepedia.
Edit: updated with where the parts were made.
Edited by Rufus, 25 March 2010 - 08:48 PM.