The whole concept of gift-giving around Christmas seems to get tougher with each passing year. It’s not that I have trouble figuring out what to get friends and family – that’s usually pretty easy – it’s the reverse that’s always a challenge. I’ve been pretty lucky in life, so I have most of the things I want or need. The few things I do desire are usually so expensive or frivolous that I have no business in asking anyone to get them for me.
Case in point: the Star Wars Lego Super Star Destroyer. Here’s a $500 toy that no sane adult really should be playing with, much less coveting. Yet, if you’ve followed me on Twitter at all this year, you probably know that Star Wars Lego is something of an obsession for me (original trilogy only, none of that Jar Jar-era or Clone Wars crap for me).
It turns out I’m not crazy – or alone – in having this offbeat hobby. I wrote a story about adult Lego aficionados earlier this year and, in speaking with company designers and toy industry analysts, found that the brick sets are actually pretty popular with more than just kids.
Adults like Lego for the same reason that other grown-ups are attracted to gardening, car mechanics or wood carving – it’s a physical hobby that lets you work with your hands. For those of us who deal in the digital world and stare at screens all day, it may be even more important to actually exercise our tactile capabilities. Yes, it’s nerdy, but it’s better than completely zoning into the Matrix, right?
I put all that together as my official rationalizations for finally buying the Super Star Destroyer a few weeks ago. So yeah, I’m not ashamed.
Regular readers may remember my adventure earlier this year with the Lego Death Star. With a similar price tag and total pieces (3,803 compared to the Star Destroyer’s 3,152), the two sets represent the height of Lego’s Star Wars line.
I’m pleased to report that building Darth Vader’s flagship was almost as fun as the Death Star. As with that set, the Star Destroyer comes in a giant box that actually houses four sub-boxes:
It’s a little intimidating, given that most Lego sets come in just one of these, but for us Death Star veterans, it’s not as daunting once you learn that the fourth box is just for the instruction booklet. The book itself is a whopping 221 pages, but it’s shorter than the Death Star’s 260. Still, it’s no less impressive to dump the box contents out. This is the first box only:
The Death Star took me about 15 hours to build. Halfway through, the Star Destroyer started to take shape:
One thing that quickly became apparent about the ship is that it’s hard to photograph – at least with the lens I have – because of its length. It’s hard to get the whole thing in focus:
How long is it? It’s about four feet, or the entire length of my desk:
After 10 hours or work, I finally finished it. I had originally planned to put it on one of my book shelves but I grossly underestimated its size. Fortunately, I had some free-floating shelves lying around, so I put them up as the perfect stand:
The detailing on the ship is pretty impressive, even though some of it was a little monotonous to put together. Over all, the lower number and variety of pieces explains why it only took about two-thirds of the time to build as the Death Star:
The underside is just as cool as the top, with the support legs being a nice touch. They make the ship feel more like a model than a toy, as in more respectable?
For the uber-nerds, there’s also a plaque describing the Executor’s technical specifications. This is a little overboard, even for me:
The engines were among the most fun parts to put together. They sort of invoke the opening scene from the very first Star Wars movie, where the giant Star Destroyer flies overhead for seemingly forever:
It wouldn’t be a proper Star Wars set without some mini-figures. Here, you get Darth Vader, Admiral Piett, Bossk, IG-88 and some other dude. It’s nowhere near the 23-minifigure haul of the Death Star, but it’s impressive the designers managed to work in a bridge at all, given that the ship isn’t built in minifigure scale:
All told, the Super Star Destroyer was great fun to build, although with fewer pieces and less variety than the Death Star, there was a bit of repetition in some of the detailing. And with very complex interlocking pieces built into its supporting structure, I’m not sure how I’m ever going to disassemble the thing.
If I had to settle for one or the other, I’d go with the Death Star. But, if anyone out there has their eye on both, I’d get the Executor first – it’ll serve as a nice warmup to the main event.
And no, I have no intention of crashing one into the other, like in the movies. The lunatics over at Tested have already done that.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012