It’s still another six months to go before the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, arrives in theaters. Lego fans will have new sets to look forward to closer to then, but in the meantime they’ll have to content themselves with some original trilogy action.
New this month is the Death Star Final Duel, featuring the iconic scene at the end of Return of the Jedi where Luke Skywalker fights Darth Vader to the death while the sinister Emperor Palpatine looks on.
This isn’t the first time the scene has popped up in Lego. It’s also featured in the massive, 3,803-piece Death Star, released in 2008. The new set, however, expands on what was just a small piece of that much bigger whole.
Here are nine ways in which the Death Star Final Duel improves on its previous Lego incarnation.
9) It’s Bigger
The original Death Star’s duel section is rather cramped, with the Emperor’s throne sitting atop a small floor section, across from a collapsible balcony. There’s hardly enough room for the five minifigures: Palpatine, Luke, Vader, and a pair of Imperial Guardsmen.
The 724-piece Death Star Duel features a lot more real estate, with a large staircase leading up to the throne and a retractable drawbridge that leads to sliding doors with their associated guards. A pair of side sections also swing out from the main trunk.
8) It’s Cheaper
The Death Star Final Duel runs $79, a far cry from the whopping $399 price tag of the full Death Star.
Of course, the Death Star is perhaps the ultimate Star Wars Lego set, but still, this is a far more affordable chunk.
7) Luke is Better
The new Luke Skywalker minifigure has been completely redesigned, so much so that the older Death Star version looks positively ancient.
Luke now has more details on his outfit, including a pretty boss belt buckle. His eyes are more two-dimensional, rather than just black dots, and it almost looks like he has a goatee. His hair is also a little more brown than blond.
Most importantly, his lightsaber is green, rather than a greenish yellow. The online protests can finally end.
6) Better Imperial Guard
Purists will love this one. Palpatine’s bodyguards are largely unchanged in this new set, except for two slight details that are more faithful to the movie. Gone are the black hands in favor of red, and the black staves have been replaced by two-piece black-and-grey polearms, which look more like what the guardsmen actually carry.
Star Wars nerds can sleep easier now that this travesty has been corrected.
5) Those Terminal Things
Who can forget Vader looking for Luke in the movie among the darkness and those weird blue-glowing terminals underneath Palpatine’s throne?
They’re under-represented in the cramped quarters of the Death Star set, but here they’re fully realized. We’re still not quite sure what they’re for, but they look cool nevertheless.
4) Palpatine is Ghoulish
The Emperor is largely unchanged from the older Death Star, although the new version has a few more details in his robe. His face is no longer a sullen grey but rather a ghoulish flesh tone.
He still has the same attachable lightning bolts, which are as inventive a design as Lego creators have ever come up with.
3) More Destructability
The original Death Star designers deserve kudos for fitting in a collapsable balcony, a key part of the film’s duel segment. But the new set has three such action areas: a fall-away balcony, exploding stairs, and an ejecting floor near the drawbridge. More space equals more action, if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s probably more of a draw for kids.
2) More Shaft
What fun is killing the Emperor off when there’s no electrical shaft to throw him down?
The Death Star Final Duel has one, complete with decals that provide all the piping and wiring details on the inside. Now you can replicate your own blood-curdling screams as Vader tosses his boss to his death.
1) Vader’s Mask
Hands-down the new set’s coolest feature is Darth Vader’s two-piece mask. Take the helmet off to reveal the pale, scarred head and face of Anakin Skywalker, so he can say, “Let me look on you with my own eyes.”
As an extra bonus, the Death Star Final Duel doesn’t feature George Lucas’s edited-in Anakin ghost at the end. This is Return of the Jedi as it was meant to be. In Lego form, of course.
Photo by Peter Nowak