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Hi all! I'm new here, but I've lurked for a while. My first exposure to LEGO was the first two games from Traveller's Tales, and I always found it interesting how the creators took time to design their own versions of ships that hadn't yet gotten official sets. Now, much older (and with a love for the first/second generation LEGO sets) I'm trying to get into reverse-engineering and building a fleet of similarly-styled ships. My question is, has anybody here tried this out themselves? And if so, what ships? My first crack at it (and one of the comparatively easy ones) is the Naboo Starfighter, based on the UCS set from 2002 but now able to set a single minifigure. (I also did a palette swap for the two different versions of Player 2, though these two are unfortunately impossible to build). I'll be willing to trade the stud.io or ldr file with anyone who wants it!
Inspired by the FBTB contest "Star Wars Evolved", where entrants had to build new versions of iconic Star Wars ships, I thought I'd try my hand at updating some of my favourite ship designs in the Star Wars galaxy. First up, the Naboo Starfighter. Naboo N1 Starfighter Evolved MOC Overhead by R4canine, on Flickr I decided to get rid of the yellow colour scheme of the N-1 (only partly because I don't have many yellow bricks) to make the craft look more rugged and used. I imagine this is a much bulkier craft, packing heavier lasers and engines as well as a tail gun at the back controlled by the astromech. All this ensures the next in the line of Naboo Starfighters is more powerful than its predecessor, able to contend with pirates and other attackers when the New Republic military can't. Naboo N1 Starfighter Evolved MOC Side 2 by R4canine, on Flickr Naboo N1 Starfighter Evolved MOC Side by R4canine, on Flickr Naboo N1 Starfighter Evolved MOC Side by R4canine, on Flickr Naboo N1 Starfighter Evolved MOC Side 3 by R4canine, on Flickr
In honor of the impending marketing bonanza that The Force Awakens will inevitably inflict upon the world, I'd like to take a trip back in time. Just imagine... it's 1999: the release date of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is dawning. A new Star Wars movie? Can you believe it?! The trailer had everything you could ever dream of: heated space battles, a demon with a double-bladed lightsaber, a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, a little kid, a cartoon rabbit... oh, wait. So on May 3, 1999, the entire population of the Earth was subjected to a marketing campaign unlike anything ever seen before (or since). Star Wars was everywhere! Everywhere. And in the immortal words of little Ani, "it [was] working!" I apologize, that reference was a bit of a stretch. So anyways, put yourself back into the shoes of your younger naiveself, before May 19, 1999 - before the deepest core of your being was challenged by The Phantom Menace. The Naboo Starfighter was the first in the new line of LEGO sets based on the film to be revealed, teased in a little catalog included with the early 1999 releases. As the catalog suggests, it was "so wizard, Ani." * (*Is the slogan "It's so wizard" an early reference to Episode I? Or was that just a random coincidence?) This tease blew me away as a kid. But did the model follow through? Was it wizard? Or did it suffer the same fate as the film it was based off of? Without further ado... Name: 7141 Naboo Starfighter Year: 1999 Pieces: 179 Minifigures: 4 RRP: USD $19.99 Links: Brickset, Bricklink 7141: Instructions Scan by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr PACKAGING I don't have any of the packaging for this set anymore, but I can extrapolate from other sets in the line that the box was rectangular and included a slide-out cardboard tray. Boxes in this era were a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the cardboard trays were a wonderful way to store parts and had a classy(ish) feel. On the other hand, the actual boxes were extremely flimsy and cheap in comparison. They were paper thin and ugly shelf wear was almost guaranteed (even with the utmost care). The actual graphic on the box/instructions portrays the scene where Anakin finds himself trapped inside the hanger of the Trade Federation doughnut. Subsequent versions would stray from this and instead focus around the blaster fight in Theed Hanger. The classic LEGO Star Wars logo is beautifully nostalgic - it's a shame that this type of logo was abandoned for the post-2001 releases. (Courtesy of toysperiod.com) The back of the box is typical for the classic line. On the left the figures are building the model. How nice of the Battle Droids to help little Ani and R2 out. Or they could be disassembling it. Whatever. The right showcases two alternate models: a racecar and a mech. Unlike the larger sets in the classic line, a comic highlighting various other alternate models is not included at the end of the instruction booklet. 7141: Instructions by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr The 1999 Episode I wave is curious in that it does not show screencaps from the film in the instruction manual like the first OT wave did. This is most likely because Lucasfilm wanted to keep Episode I a mystery... even though they released a novelization for the film on the same day as the rest of the merchandise. Later, the 2000-2001 sets would add in the screencaps. Something else of note: the little graphic behind the step numbers changes based on what you're building. Nifty! MINIFIGURES The set includes four minifigures: Anakin, R2, and two Battle Droids. Below I'll highlight some fairly wizard details about each. 7141: Anakin Skywalker by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr 7141: R2-D2 by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr 7141: Battle Droid by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr THE CART 7141: Cart Build by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr The build begins with this little tan cart for the Battle Droids. It's quick, only 10 steps, and it isn't too complicated either (unless you consider a two-piece hinge mechanism complicated). But there's a nice selection of parts here, including a tan 4x4 wedge (which is exclusive to this set!). 7141: Cart by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr The final product is... interesting. I don't really understand it and I don't remember it from the film, that's for sure. In a previous review by Mischa07, a user posted that it could be seen in the background somewhere. I can't confirm nor deny this claim as I haven't gone frame-by-frame through The Phantom Menace (because I value my sanity). If someone could provide a screencap to solve this sixteen year-old mystery, it would be most appreciated. Taking the cart by itself, I suppose it's a decent enough model. The top hinges up to reveal two printed 1x4 tiles which represent the engines. There's an awkward bare black bracket on the back (I'm proud of that sentence). I thought maybe it could serve as a gun rack by putting the handle into one of the hollow studs, but alas, it doesn't fit. So it's useless. Without any context to what this cart is or what it's supposed to do, this is the best I could come up with: 7141: Cart (2) by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr People probably didn't buy this set for the cart, though; they bought it for the real meat: THE NABOO STARFIGHTER 7141: Starfighter Build by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr The build is just as memorable as the cart's which is to say it isn't. It's a lot of stacking plates and slopes. There is one clever building mechanic used, however, which will be covered later on. Now some may label me something along the lines of a "hatorz" for my opinions on the prequels, but I'd like to think they're fair and balanced. Not everything The Phantom Menace did was terrible; in fact, one thing it excelled at was ship design. Doug Chiang deviated from the utilitarian and practical design of the Original Trilogy and instead (at the behest of ol' George) opted for a beautiful hand-sculpted look. The Naboo Starfighter is a great example of this: the craft is truly majestic in its simplistic, natural elegancy... 7141: Front by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr ...and the LEGO version is not. The shape of the Naboo Starfighter is very dificult to capture in this medium, and in 1999, LEGO's parts catalog and engineering was nowhere near sophisticated enough to pull it off. Most of the early Episode I sets suffered from the same problem:while the OT's angular vehicles were perfect for the simple and blocky design philosophy of the era, vehicles from The Phantom Menace were too complexly rounded. Now, keeping all that in mind, let's delve into what works and what doesn't: 7141: Dynamic Front by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr The model is accurate enough to be recognizable, but it has some flaws. Namely, it’s far too stubby; the back of the nose should really be extended by a few studs so the cockpit and the rest of the ship is shifted further back. It just doesn’t manage to capture the sweeping, smooth hood of its source material, no doubt due (in part) to the twin trans-green cones meant to represent the laser cannons. They look out of place and break up the flow. I see what the designer was going for, but I would’ve preferred additional slopes with a print of the barrel. I recognize that a fourth exclusive print is a lot to ask for in a $20 set though. 7141: Side by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr Moving farther back, we arrive at the cockpit. The printed parts provide some much needed detail and bring a modicum level of believability. I hate the use of 4x3 yellow slopes. A nice part to have, sure, but they bring an unnecessary width to the midsection. 7141: R2 Slot by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr Behind the cockpit is a slot for Ani’s Astromech aid. Unfortunately, while the “real” ship covers the droid up to the dome, the model leaves R2 almost entirely exposed. It’s extremely awkward. But, to be fair, although later versions have come close to achieving this effect, none have been completely successful. 7141: Cockpit by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr Inside the cockpit, things start to look up again. I love everything about the interior. It might be simple, but something about it feels real to me - I think it’s the consistency of the color scheme. Having recently bought its 2015 successor, I can say for certainty that the 1999 version’s cockpit is superior in almost every way. 7141: Dynamic Back by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr This is by far my favorite angle. It (mostly) hides the lack of length and the jagged slopes, and emphasizes its relatively smooth tapering on the engines and main section. For 1999, it’s rather impressive. 7141: Engine by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr The engine tails were accomplished using a simple but effective technique: a black technic bar is inserted into the end of the engine and allows for the 2x2 cylinder to be placed in the opposite direction. 7141: Bottom by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr Finally, we go below the ship, revealing another misstep - a confusing misstep as it sort of adds to the model in a way. This odd missile construction looks like garbage when the fighter is in the air (where it’ll be most of the time during play), but when it’s on the ground, it produces a nice levitating effect. It’s extremely flimsy as well; I imagine it would be a nuisance to kids who want to play with this thing. FINAL THOUGHTS 7141: Complete Set by montgomery.cloud, on Flickr All in all, this is a decent set… by 1999 standards. The Naboo Starfighter has already been remade three times... so which version should you buy? Well, it all depends on what you’re looking for. Are you a classic LEGO Star Wars fan? Do you have an odd fixation of the hype leading up to The Phantom Menace like me? Then you most likely have this set. Do you want an accurate representation of the ship? Are you interested in dozens of pointless side builds? Then there’s an excellent version in stores now that I wholeheartedly recommend buying. The point I’m trying to get at here is that you probably own this set if you have any interest in it. But, if you’re a relatively new collector with an open mind (and an open wallet), there’s a lot to like here. It’s one of the cheapest ways to get Anakin, there’s some Battle Droids to add to your collection, and most importantly, the Naboo Starfighter is arguably the most iconic vehicle from Episode I. If you’re looking for a set to represent the first wave of Episode I products, then look no farther: this is the set to get. It isn’t accurate, even considering the time period, but it’s charming. FINAL SCORES Playability – 8/10: This thing has everything you would want in a play set. I suppose instead of a useless cart LEGO could’ve given the droids some sort of attack vehicle. Minifigures – 10/10: Everyone integral to the scene is represented here. The battle droids are wonderful (and the set includes two!). Design – 7/10: Apart from the flimsy missile, the model is very sturdy. My issues mainly lie in the aesthetics of the Starfighter, which are just “okay” even by 1999 standards. Price --- 10/10: $19.99 for a ship… a cup… a ship… a speeder… what a bargain! Overall --- 8/10 And with that, this review has been concluded. If you’re nostalgic for the good ol’ days of hilarious Episode I speculation or just extremely curious like me, then check out the links below. I hope you enjoyed the review as much as I enjoyed writing it (which I did not). Be sure to tell me what you think of the set and my review of it. I'm a big boy, I can take the criticism. Probably. Prequel Rumors Dark Ocean Spider Butt The Silencer