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The space engineers have finally completed their latest project, the LL 75181 BTL-L1 Y-wing Starexplorer with detachable exploration/research module. The Y-wing is heavily modified in the rear to make room for the docking port and necessary reinforcements. The docking system is based on a design used on several older space ships in our fleet. The new module has room for two researchers. On the outside you can see the foldable antennas, an extendable air lock and a small transport ship. Inside you'll find all necessary functions for extended research missions. New adventures await us, beyond the stars! It's considerably smaller than LL 10179...
Latest up in the fourteen-year cycle of remakes of the original Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series is the BTL A4 Y-Wing Starfighter. I reviewed the 2004 original back in 2010; it suffered for being over-long but scored praise for the use of gruelling on the ship's exposed innards. We’ll see here if the new offering has addressed the issues of the earlier version and how it compares to the movie original. Review: 75181 UCS Y-Wing Starfighter Name: Y-Wing Starfighter Number: 75181 Pieces: 1967 Figures: 2 Year: 2018 Price: GBP £169.99 | USD $199.99 | EUR 199.99 | DKK 1799.99 The Box A dramatic view of the Y-Wing in the obligatory Death Star Trench setting makes for a bold and attractive front. The box has the same frontal dimensions as that of the set’s predecessor 10134 - shown behind - but somewhat surprisingly it is deeper that the earlier version. The ‘ULTIMATE COLLECTOR SERIES’ designation has returned to prominence; it disappeared from the boxes quite early in the series’s run, around 2002 if I remember. Normally Star Wars sets share a box logo with all contemporary merchandise, LEGO or otherwise; this set’s logo is currently shared only by the new UCS Millennium Falcon, possibly indicating that it is expected to have a longer run than the regular sets. We shall see if this trend continues, and if subsequent UCS sets use the same livery. For a square-on frontal image click here. The ship is shown from a similar angle on the back, though the angle is reversed: There is less drama here. The ship sits on its stand in what appears to be a hanger, though the ground looks suspiciously like floorboards; I’m surprised that more wasn’t made of the Y-Wing’s return to prominence in Rogue One. A few features are demonstrated in insets. It’s a smart-looking box, and understated, with minimal clutter; on the top is a line-drawing of the ship with dimensions and a photograph of the figures, but there’s little on the sides worthy of comment. Contents I was surprised to find a smaller box inside the outer carton, and very pleased to find this delightful line-drawing of the set gracing the front and extending to the bottom and sides. There is a further outline sketch on the bottom, this time showcasing the ship's underside: Whilst it is not unheard-of for larger sets to contain inner boxes, I've never seen one with decoration before - a nice touch, though I suspect fans would rather pay a little less for a plain box, or at least one that doesn't require destruction with thumb-tabs. Accompanying the inner box inside the outer are eight polybags - numbered 2 to 6, 8, 12 and 13; insider the inner are a further seven (1, 7, 9, 9, 10, 10, 11 - 9 and 10 are duplicated) and the large black tile for the stand. There doesn't seem to be much logic to the packaging, and you need to open the inner box to start building. Instructions Also in the outer box can be found the single instruction manual wrapped in plastic with the sticker sheet: The front view is a cut-down version of the box front, though they have managed to avoid cutting off parts of the ship. There's no cardboard backing, which seems no longer to be a thing, but the Perfect-bound manual has remained reassuringly crumple-free without it. Inside are some four double-pages of information not unlike the manual that comes with Architecture or Ideas sets. It opens with a foreword from the head of the Star Wars design team, Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, who I believe designed the earlier 2004 version. There follows a double-page spread of trivia about the Y-Wing itself: I'm not sure of the value of list of fictional statistics, but the schematics and cutaways, and Ralph McQuarrie concept art on the facing page are nice. The model shown bottom left in the picture shares several features with this LEGO version and I'm sure was used as a reference. Next follows an interview with set designer Jordan David Scott in which he is asked the question, 'How accurate is the LEGO Y-wing, compared to the real in-universe vehicle?' I will not spoil his answer, but will attempt to answer it myself during the review. There is also an interview with graphic designer Madison O'Neill, part of which is reprinted below: Mostly I showed this page for the further reference models; I will make reference to the top right picture later. The studio models (bottom right) appear to be in the process of being painted; they are largely coated in (presumably) a primer which looks to be a lovely sand blue colour: sand blue features quite prominently in this and the current System versions. The set construction is modular with two or three polybags per module, counting the engines separately, and a single bag for the stand; there are two pages demonstrating the modules so you can plan your build accordingly. The instructions are clear with call-outs and sub-builds (example), and I encountered no colour-differentiation issues. I felt it important to show that real starfighters wear pink, or at least contain pink as filler. I like the plain grey background, with white for the module header, blue for part call-outs and tan for sub-builds: smart and clear. The obligatory decal sheet isn't too terrifying this time, and unlike 10134 there isn't a large and fiddly cockpit canopy sticker - the sand-blue decals go on the cockpit sides, but the top and front are printed. The console is unfortunately stickered too (12 and 13). The information sticker contains similar information to 10134's, though rearranged somewhat, and it's a little less fussy. Parts The spread of parts is shown below in thumbnail form; you can click each for a close-up. They are divided according to module, which corresponds to polybags 1, 2, and 3; 4, 5, and 6; 7 and 8 respectively: I haven't found any parts which look new or especially rare; there are however a larger number of sand blue plates in 1x3 and 1x4 which I am pleased to see. There is a useful quantity of jumper plates, and some 80 1x1 round plates in flat silver, along with 22 grille tiles in the same colour. I like flat silver - it is an inexpensive way to make something look metallic when bluish grey won't cut it. There are also 26 light bley ingots, used to good effect here and useful for paving. Disappointingly, there are fewer pieces of flex-tubing than I would like (or expected, after the multitude of copper and long dark bley tubes of 10134); here there are only 6 in reddish brown, and most of the pipe-work is achieved with 3, 4, or 6L bars. Bags 9 and 10 are duplicated; one of each is shown here, along with bag 12: bag 11 is the same as 12 minus the figures. I wonder why they did that. The 6x6 round brick is new in light bluish grey and sand blue; it is previously available only in 2015's 60080 Spaceport. The corresponding 6x6 round plate is common but this is its first appearance in yellow. The large Viking Wagon Wheel is new in light bluish grey. The right-hand picture features bag 13 which builds the stand; of note here is only the four black 1x2 - 1x2 SNOT brackets; only two are necessary so you can easily pilfer two if you need to. Figs Two unique figures are included: a flat silver and dark bluish grey Astromech droid, and Gold Leader. The droid is unnamed in the manual, but the box top reveals him to be R2-BHD ('Tooby'), and who featured in and was created for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. His body is, I believe, the same as that of the droid R3-S1 who features in the latest System 75172 Y-Wing Starfighter, but the head is unique. Gold Leader, aka Dutch Vander, has a beautifully detailed torso with leg printing to match - vastly superior to the previous generic Rebel pilot torso, and the helmet is a thing of beauty with olive green printing on the top, crest, and even sides. No wonder he's grinning! He also has a scared face on the rear; his head also sports a detailed visor and microphone. The torso rear-printing is also an improvement over the older design, with a more detailed tabard and a buckle. He comes with a small blaster, not shown here. Here is Dutch (centre) next to his earlier incarnation from 9495 (left) and Jek Porkins from 9493 X-Wing fighter: I'm sure you will agree the new design is much more detailed and a great improvement over the older torso; whether it will remain unique and exclusive to this set remains to be seen. I'm still unsure whether I like minifigures in UCS sets, but they make nice extra collectors items, and in the case of this set you can actually seat the figure in the cockpit. Whether you should remains unanswered. Build Rather than an exhasutive trawl through the build process, I have selected a few pictures to demonstrate important features of the construction or interesting techniques; for a more complete set of pictures, see my flickr album. Like her older sister 10134, we start by building the main body of the ship. Here, midway through module 1, the large Technic block is lined with cross-axle bricks (green), and flanked with further Technic bricks; this will form the main receptacle for the wing pylons: Some greebling and an axle connector is left dangling at the front. Already some detail is added to the underside; the square hole will of course receive the stand, and some flat silver Technic connectors at the rear look like they should have some function, but they don't. Maybe they are bomb doors (it's a bomber, after all). See their construction here. It is not until module 2 that we start to add the serious greebling to the top of the body. The reddish-brown whip piece will fold forward and clip into two of the grey clippy tiles to make an interesting feature. Note the Ingots of Bley which are used instead of 1x2 tiles to add texture, and to good effect. Also note the 4x2 bley SNOT area at the side towards the front ... ... this is built on sideways to add bulk, with some nice usage of various SNOT parts: It is nothing ground-breaking, but adds interest to the build, and reflects the build-process in general which is never dull. You can also see here where the whip got clipped. Next we see how the wing pylons are attached: slotting into the Technic bricks on long axles and secured with pins: To see inside the pylon, click here. Much like 10134, the pylons are a sandwich of bricks inside plates, but the attachment with Technic axles is much more secure in this version. They are stop-end axles, so they will stay in position if you want to dismantle the set. Removing the pylons from the body will however not be easy, because the join gets built on. Under the dark tan jumper plates and dark red grille tiles at the rear are several long 1-wide plates placed over the join: The jumper plates are used to good effect to add features to the top. The 1x3 double-inverted slope in the inset will be attached upside down into the centre jumper plate, using a 1x2 round tile with bar and pin holder as a stud reverser. Just in front of the centre jumper plate is a shield under an inverted 2x2 round tile with hole, attached via a clip in a technique similar to the headlights of the CREATOR Mini and VW Beetle. Every so often you have to flip the body to add details to the underside, and this is done gradually so that you're building on a flat, stable surface ... ... at least until you add the two 1x4 arches via SNOT bricks to make yet another interesting feature. This is not done until the end of module 2 - and it's a good thing, as this little add-on is somewhat fragile. Module 3 builds the cockpit section. The angled sides of the head are attached via hinge-plates at the rear, and skeleton arms at the front, to make a reasonably secure connection. The sudden appearance of some minor Technic here surprised me; the axle at the rear will insert into the dangling connector we met at the beginning. Note the brown and yellow double-headlight brick constructions, which produce some downwards-facing studs ... ... allowing the whole underside to attach, studs-down. This leaves only a few available connections on the top surface; the 2x3 white slope attached to only one stud on its base, but it will be secured with a tile on top. The engines are formed from a central stack of SNOT bricks and green cross-axle bricks, to which will be attached some side panels; note the use of headlight bricks to reinforce the connection on the sides with the green bricks. The clever part is that the engine needs to be rotated through forty-five degrees relative to the pylon attachment for the long axles to sit correctly, and this is achieved using a large 4x4 turntable at each end - a wonderfully simple solution; see here for more detail. At the end of the long engines, the Viking Wagon Wheels are attached using pneumatic T-pieces pushed into the little holes in the front, and marrying up to Technic crankshaft parts which allows a half-stud offset. The remaining point of the T-piece is used to attach a curved slope to neaten the join, though it remains rather flimsy. Note the flag pieces, which form the 'thrust vectrals': the instructions are very specific about placing the pole half-way into the upper clip (inset) - the free end of the pole needs to be long enough to insert into the centre holes of the wagon wheel. The construction of these thirst victuals seems rather inelegant, but we'll see how well it works later. Finally, some panels will add detail and texture to the sides of the engines. Panels 2 and 4 in the picture below sit higher on four 1x8 plates; these connect to the headlight bricks on the green cross-axle brick faces of the engine centre: the sides that will connect to the wing pylons. Panel 4 has a hole ready for the attachment; panel 3 has the landing gear. There now just remains the stand, and we're done. I thoroughly enjoyed this build; little details and surprises abound, and keep it interesting at every stage. Even the repetition of the engines isn't particularly tedious. On a personal note, I found the construction of the side panels of the engines and the SNOT underside of the cockpit reminded me greatly of building the Bullfrog all those years ago. The Complete Set First impressions: the set looks smart, which is no mean feat for a ship with all her innards on display. The colour scheme works well; the flashes of white, yellow and sand blue stand out against the grey, with pipework nicely picked out in brown. The shape is good, and looks about right, but we'll compare in more detail later. Incidentally, the stand can be attached in-line (as here) or transversely, and has two positions: upright - as here, although it doesn't lock in this position - and tilted to about 20 degrees. From the front, and slightly above - the ship almost disappears when viewed directly from the front - we can admire the shapely head, although I am not sure the shape is quite right, and should perhaps be two studs wider - compare to the reference picture I pointed out in the manual earlier. I'm also conscious that the wing pylons are a little fatter than they ought to be, though that may have been a compromise necessary for strength; I do like the use of 1x4 groove bricks to make a stripe at the front of the pylons. Perhaps my favourite angle is what I might call 'Darth Vader's view': Like the 2012 X-Wing, the ship's exhaust is (correctly) pinky-red. Here we get our first look at the thirsk victories on the rear of the engines, which seem to have come out quite well, but we'll look more closely later. I was looking forward to see if this set had addressed perhaps the biggest issue of her predecessor: the length of the engines. I am pleased to find that it has: they look about the right length. The smartness of the colour scheme again stands out in this view; note the sand blue stripe along the side of the cockpit. From the top, the relative proportions of body, pylons, and engine look pretty good: Compared to the schematics, the proportions seem about right, though the head still looks too small. The front of the engines should perhaps be more conical (I think they are parabolic in cross-section) rather than flattened hemispheres as the are here, but that's a minor point. I don't think I've ever seen so much detail on the underside of a set before: Hats off to the designer for going the extra mile here, and acknowledging that it's nice to have something that looks good even on the top shelf! You can also see that the landing gear sits unobtrusively when folded. Take a moment also to appreciate the smooth SNOT of the cockpit underside, seen more closely here. Here is the 'real thing' for comparison: Picture from starwars.wikia.com You can see here that the overall shape is good. The engines in LEGO's version should perhaps be a little fatter, but the length is about right; as you can see the wing pylons should be thinner and mounted towards the top of the engines rather than on their midline. Features Let's now take a closer look, starting with the head. No LEGO UCS ship would be complete without cockpit detail, though not much is possible at this scale; there are stickered panels, a seat back cleverly made from a flag piece, targeting computer, and I love the bucket handle control stick: And it will seat the figure! It shouldn't, of course; the scale is all wrong. The cockpit should also open sideways rather than backwards; no official LEGO Y-Wing has tried to correct this. There should ideally be more of a curve to the cockpit canopy, but this would be difficult to render with existing pieces. As it is, the cockpit comes out a little boxy - but the sand blue colour works well. There's a little surprise in the turret, which is otherwise similar to the System version. Remember the surprising Technic in the head section? It connects to the turret: Turning the turret moves the little 8-tooth gear in the neck; or, you can move the gear with your finger and the turret turns. It's not much, but I appreciate the little extra. The silver droid gets a little lost in amongst all the grey; and like all UCS ship droids he's still too small. However, let's not focus on him; as we move back, the greebling detail becomes quite impressive. The pipework steals the show here, but there are some small features at the side of the neck, and even the rear of the head section gets some greebling via a hinge brick sandwiched between two white flags. The flags don't quite line up with the slopes, but I can forgive this. Note the droid body forming some extra detail at the back of the neck. Now we come the really good bit. The use of various parts to form arcane equipment on the body of the ship is superb. I've taken guesses as to what it might do. Moving backwards from Tooby, there's a couple of bley ingots (battery?). Behind this, a couple of wheels on a Technic pin sit within some tan wall elements (starter motor), all a few layers deeper in the model. Behind this are two dark tan bucket handles sitting in corner wall elements, which look like switches or circuits and between them bley binoculars on a round tile with stud (distributor cap - you can see where I'm going with this). Over all of this runs the brown whip piece (HT cable); this passes rearward past a hinged grille tile (carburettor) and between an inverted ice skate (oil filler cap) and what looks like a cylinder head from a two-stroke engine to the shield-disc (air filter). I'll dispense with the lame analogy now. Moving ever-rearwards, you can admire the inverted double-slope, in front of a wheel hub and two binocular pieces sandwiched in. Either side of the flywheel are two mechanical claw parts best seen in the picture above, and another shield-disc behind. There is an incredible amount of detail covering every part of the body with barely a stud left exposed, and what is more, the height/depth of the features varies considerably: it is not simply a plate with lots of small parts stuck on. Round the back are two frames constructed from handlebars and fire hose nozzles, resembling rear-end bull bars; I hadn't noticed them on the real ship, but they are supposed to be there. Notice the vertical brown 4L pole on the right - there is space for one on the other side, but the instructions don't have you place one there. This is an opportunity to compare again to the 'real' ship, this time in the form of the Bandai 1/72 model: Looking towards the rear of this model, you can hopefully recognise several of the features I have pointed out on this LEGO version: the shield-disc, binoculars, flywheel, inverted double-slope, cylinder head, oil filler, carburettor etc. are all there in as much detail you could render in LEGO pieces. A splendid effort. I bet the Bandai model doesn't have landing gear. LEGO's does! It looks totally flimsy, but it is really quite sturdy, and does the job well. I don't recall any other UCS set having retractable landing gear; I'm sure I will be corrected if I'm wrong. The ski parts work well ... ... and the gear sits at a slant which looks better than the vertical stanchions you tend to see on System sets. As I have already shown, they fold quite neatly and are unobtrusive when folded; click here for a further picture. Now let's look again at the thrush vegetables, er, thrust vectrals: Despite the rather Heath Robinson construction, I think they work quite well. The curved slopes at the edge of the wheel are a little flimsy and easily knocked out of alignment, but the flag pieces are reasonably sturdy. I believe those parts are like rudders and should tilt around 'y' and 'z' axes rather than rotating around the long axis of the ship, but I can live with that - certainly a better solution than any other LEGO Y-Wing set. Comparison to 10134 I dug around in some boxes and rescued 10134 from retirement especially for this moment. The senior UCS Y-Wing was notable at the time for the extensive use of greebling, but when I reviewed her before I worried that the proportions were out. Principally, 10134's engines are far too long; 75181 gets it right here: I was surprised to the new set had used grey rather than white for the long engine struts, but I think this gives a smarter finish; they are attached more neatly to the nacelles too. The engine greebling on 75181 better resembles the original ... ... as does that of the body, and by a country mile: 10134's detailing is very much parts-stuck-on-a-plate, and there is minimal attention to accuracy; 75181 is the winner hands down ... ... as she is again on the underside: 75181's belly is remarkably detailed, almost pretty. Little effort was made on 10134 where plain plate undersides are all that is to be seen. Note also the colour schemes; again 75181's smart livery is a vast improvement over 10134's blocky, almost random colours. If there is one way in which 10134 edges it slightly over her younger sibling, it is the shape of the engine cones - closer to the real thing, though still not perfect. There isn't so much difference in the cockpit design, compared here without stickers. I prefer the tapered outline of the newer set, and the sand blue canopy, but if anything the scale is worse, going from a three stud to a two stud wide seat. Compare to this movie still (featured in the manual of the set): I think the System version is a better representative of the ship's size relative to a minifigure, and I would rather have had a wider cockpit on this UCS set and forego the figure altogether. Conclusion I confess I didn't have particularly high expectations for this set, mainly because the Y-Wing itself isn't the most interesting ship, but what 75181 lacks in functionality it certainly makes up in style and detail. The designer has gone to extraordinary lengths to recreate every mysterious lump or bump on the surface of the original in as much painstaking detail as possible with LEGO bricks, and for the most part has done a fantastic job. The colour scheme is smart, and attractive, and going by the various models around is close to the original; the scale of the LEGO version is much closer to the real ship than the older set, and it's a thousand times better overall. There remain some issues: some fixable, some less so; it may be difficult to render the thrust vectrals better, and the nacelle cones aren't perfect but probably optimal with the parts available; however, I would have traded in the new figure for a new side-opening cockpit mould, and I think the head shape could be better. Design & Accuracy 8 A great-looking set that is for the most part a faithful rendition of the original, with some wonderful detail. I remain uncomfortable with the scale, and I think the cockpit needs to be bigger; the shape of the entire head section isn't quite right. Build 9 An entertaining build process with minimal repetition and no frustration and several interesting techniques; it is well-structured allowing for you to pick up and leave off with ease. Parts & Figures 7 I don't think there are any new parts in this set, but there are older parts in new colours. The selection is all generically useful without being exciting. Some may be excited by the unique figures; they look great, but that's not why I buy UCS sets. Display & Function 8 The ship looks great on the shelf; it's one of those set that is a little tricky to tell from a distance that it is LEGO. There are a number of display options, with two stand orientations and two configurations; thanks to the landing gear, you can dispense with the stand altogether. The ship is well-balanced, sturdy, and reasonably swooshable; of course, there's also the turret function! Value 9 The older set 10134 cost £109 in 2004; that equates to about £165 now - for some 500 fewer pieces than 75181. £170 for 2000 pieces in a licensed set seems like good value; throw in a smart and informative manual and the price starts to look very good. Overall 41/50 (82%) This is an excellent rendition of the Y-Wing, good value, and a great addition to the collection. I wouldn't say it's a must-have, though sadly that's the problem with the Y-Wing herself - not perhaps the most sought-after of Star Wars ships. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the review. Comments welcome! Rufus With thanks to the LEGO Group for the review set. My flickr