Last Friday I got a very large package delivered to my flat. A supposedly child-friendly package, before anyone starts asking about porn-based innuendos. Inside was the latest edition to Lego's product line, a set that makes fans of Lego Star Wars simultaneously marvel at its grandeur and shriek with abject horror.
I am of course talking about the Ultimate Collector's Edition Millennium Falcon, revealed a couple of weeks ago as part of Force Friday.
And when I say very large I mean very large. With a total of 7,541 pieces this is the largest set Lego has ever made, and thus probably the heaviest. The whole thing, inside its many boxes, weighs about 13 kilos - which is worth bearing in mind if you plan on buying this from a brick-and-mortar shop, or you're having it delivered to a flat complex that doesn't have a lift.
Not that many people can actually afford to buy it, seeing as how it costs £650, which is more than a month's rent for my one bedroom flat half a mile from the centre of the southern English town I call home.
Lego is at its core a product for kids. Lego Ideas insists that all projects submitted must be suitable for kids of all ages (which is why there's a blanket ban on Firefly submissions), and most regular people will probably tell you that it's a toy for children. That is true, though this set proves that it's also not true. Basically what I'm saying is that the new Millennium Falcon is definitively not for kids, and I am of the strong opinion that anyone buying this for a child is a idiot.
Unlike the Lego Death Star, which is designed to be a bonafide playset, this is the kind of set that you build, put it on display, and hope you never have to build again from scratch. It is enormous. 83 cm x 60 cm x 22cm according to the box. The instruction book is 466 pages long, which is longer than the last actual book I read, with 17 different sections - all of which had about three or four bags of pieces each.
All of that took me around 17 hours and 21 minutes to put together, and I dare not move it out of fear that pieces start falling off. I'm not sure if I can move it, though, because I have a feeling that my desk is the only flat surface big enough to accommodate it. I even shot a selection of timelapse videos to show just how much work went into putting this together:
It's fair to say that the building process is not for those of you who lack patience. The 17 1/2 hour build time should tell you that much, and it seems as though I got through the process relatively quickly. io9's German Lussier took nearly twice as long, and I'm not entirely sure how.
There are plenty of big pieces that go together quite easily, but the further along you get through the build the more time you have to spend on smaller pieces that contribute to the finer details of the set. I made my fair share of mistakes along the way, including one point where I had to backtrack because the lower turret fell apart in my hands. Suffice to say, that orange tool got plenty of use here so I'm glad it was included - even if I do already have about six of them lying unused in my box of random Lego bits.
For the most part, though, the whole thing was fairly painless. There were some awkward moments attaching new sections to the underside, which you can probably see in the timelapse, but I'm not entirely sure that could be helped on a set of this size with this level of detail.
The build was a bit hellish on my knees (even though I was kneeling on two pillows), but that was more the result of my choice of desk chair. A lounge chair may be comfortable to work from, but was too low for me to be able to build properly. But while my knees may hate me now, my back is already eternally grateful.
There weren't a great many stickers either. Stickers are the bane of any Lego set since nobody can get them on properly. There were only 12, two of which are designed as facsimiles for the ship's corridors. Apparently the intention was to ensure there are as few stickers as possible, which explains why the likes of the cockpit and deflector dish have the designs printed on them.
But putting the time investments aside and knee torture aside, this is a damn nice set. It looks to be almost to scale with the minifigures, not quite all the way but enough that you can fit Han and Chewie side-by-side in the cockpit. The amount of detail is ridiculous as well, which you would hope for a set with this many pieces. Across the top you can see all the different pieces and components that make up the Falcon's junk-like exterior, which shows that a hell of a lot of care and attention to detail has been put into this. Even on the underside, which nobody's ever going to look at once the building has been completed.
It's not identical to the ship from the films, but for a Lego set this is probably the best you're ever going to get. That said, if they re-release this set in ten years time, they could do with improving the look of the area around the main turret. It's almost completely flat and looks very out of place with the rest of the hull.
It's also worth mentioning that anyone expecting a faithful interior is going to be disappointed. Four films and many a blueprint later, we have a pretty good idea of what the interior of the ship looks like, but the designers didn't transfer that to the model. There are two main rooms (the chill out area with the Dejarik table and what appears to be the engine room) which can be accessed by removing a couple of the top panels, but that's about it.
Lego did have to put the frame and all the connecting pieces somewhere, so this is to be expected. Not that it really matters anyway, since getting the exterior plates on and off is a massive pain. Thankfully it was deliberately designed to let people access the two interior rooms without having to take the whole thing apart - as you can see above.
Another thing that's nice about this particular set is that it doesn't pick one era of Star Wars. Whether you're more a fan of the classic original trilogy, or the Disney saga, you can configure this whichever way you like. There isn't much to be said, seeing as how the ship is nearly identical in both eras, but it does let you swap the deflector dish and it has the appropriate minifigures.
That means you get young and old versions of Han Solo, a single ageless Chewbacca, young Leia, gold-arm C-3PO, Rey, Finn, BB-8, one of the mynocks from Empire, and two of The Last Jedi's porgs.
One thing I feel is missing, however, is the option of lighting up the rear engines. You know, the blue bits. The SHIELD Hellicarrier has the option to buy extra components that add motorisation and lighting effects, but this one does not. Apparently this would fit inside the structure, but as of yet there are no official instructions on how to do it. So keep an eye out on the net, because someone is bound to rig something together.
Going back to my point about this not being a set for kids, the amount of money and effort required to get this together means any sane individual would keep it out of the reach of a child's destructive hands. I was a child with Lego, and I can confirm that I did not look after it properly - much to the disappointment of my mother. Would you trust a child with a brand new £699 iPhone 8? Of course you wouldn't.
The size of it also means that it isn't really for playing with, and to be honest it probably shouldn't be moved around unless absolutely necessary. Lego dedicates a whole page to imagery showing you how to correctly handle the finished set, and it looks like it came out of a BBC health and safety handbook. The difference being that any mishaps will only scar you emotionally, rather than causing any physical damage to your person.
So basically if you're looking for something for a kid, or that can be played with, let me draw your attention to the regular Millennium Falcon that was released two years ago. It's still pricey, but it's designed to be played with: you can tell by the missiles shooting out from the side. The box won't cripple as you attempt to get it in your car boot either.
- 100% not for kids, as if the price tag didn't tell you that already
- Ridiculously detailed everywhere except the area surrounding the main turret
- Interchangeable deflector dish and minifigures from both the original trilogy and the new Disney saga
- Expensive as hell
- Huge. Too big for 90% of the flat surfaces in my flat. Also heavy and difficult to move around
- You'll need a lot of patience and free time to put it together
- Surprisingly small number of stickers for a set this big
- Did I mention it's expensive?
The UCS Millennium Falcon goes on sale for Lego VIP members today, and is set to go on general sale on 1st October.