When, at the finale of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, the evil Emperor Palpatine goads Luke Skywalker to "witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station," he could easily have been talking with pride about Lego's new Star Wars playset. The Death Star Final Duel is, in my opinion, easily the best Lego Star Wars set yet.
Depicting the climactic battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker on the second Death Star, it's a fantastic, charming representation of one of the series' most iconic scenes. Complete with five minifigs (Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, two Imperial Royal Guards and a Force-shocking Emperor Palpatine), it's an expertly crafted set that folds out from a compact scene to a sprawling playset. And all without a Special Edition "nooooooooo!" to be heard!
The attention to detail is superb -- the Emperor's throne is perfectly recreated, there's the electrically charged drop into which Vader makes his last saving throw, and the Dark Lord of the Sith's helmet even comes off, revealing his scarred and pale Anakin face:
The Best Lego Star Wars Set?
For those that like to use Lego as it's intended (as a playset, as opposed to a Will Ferrell- like trophy piece), there are plenty of interactive "action" elements too: the two included Imperial Royal Guards flank a sliding blast door entrance to the Death Star throne room, reached by an extendable draw bridge; there's a "force jump" spot where Luke can be propelled up into the air; a secret pop-up lightsaber can be activated from a button behind the Emperor's seat and there's a collapsible platform just like the one Vader uses to catch Luke off guard in Return of the Jedi's tense lightsaber battle.
A pretty hefty set, it took this rusty master builder around three or so hours to fully construct the Emperor's throne room, and there are a couple of relatively complicated sections to complete. Aimed at ages 7 to 14 according to the box, if you're getting this for a younger Lego fan you'll probably want to sit with them and help put it together. That's no bad thing -- I felt like a big kid building it this weekend past, so there's a lot of fun to be had for grown ups too.
Hitting shelves from today (June 1st 2015), the Death Star Final Duel will set you back £69.95 which, considering the complexity of the set and excellent minifigs, seems very a reasonable asking price.