Sponge Dashkar fought desperately with the controls, trying to stop his crippled Y-Wing from crashing into the gleaming, steel surface of the Death Star. If only the designers of the Y-Wing had actually built in space for a gunner so someone could operate that turret. Sponge narrowly evaded a blast from a turbo laser as he listened to his R5 droid muttering to itself while it tried to repair the ship. Just then a strange, black TIE fighter slid in behind Sponge and he found himself unable to evade, as if in the grip of some mysterious force. A few seconds and a big explosion later, it was all over for Sponge and R5...
Does anyone else find this set weird? Wouldn't it have made more sense to package Vader's TIE with the X-Wing and the Y-Wing by itself? Or the Y-Wing with a normal TIE fighter (like the set that's due out in 2001) and Vader's TIE by itself? I guess I shouldn't complain, because this is a great stand-alone set. They may as well have called it, "Dogfight in a box." The logical way to review this set is to break it into two sections, so we'll pretend I'm logical and do it what way.
We'll start with the TIE. First off, despite what the box says, this is Vader's custom TIE and not the normal TIE Fighter, although you can make it into a TIE Fighter with minimal effort. This is definitely the weaker of the two ships. The color scheme is a little off. (As far as I recall, no TIE in the movies ever had blue highlights.) The body is a little blocky and the construction is a little flimsy. This last fault is due to Lego making the thing excessively modular, like the Sith Infiltrator. The wings come off, the things connecting to the wings come off, and the back section comes off. I can't imagine what the purpose of this is. Is it to give the ship more function? Is it to simulate explosions? Whatever the intention, all it accomplishes is giving the TIE an overall shaky feel.
But hey, it comes with VADER! A little Lego Vader with a removable helmet! For years I searched for a Hasbro Vader with removable chapeau, with no success. Then along comes Lego with a great Vader mini-fig, complete with wrinkly gray Anakin face underneath. He has a lightsaber and a cape. For some odd reason, the TIE seems designed so that he has to fly it standing up, but this is fixable with a single 2x2 brick. Unique-ish pieces include the view-glass and the braces that hold the wings together.
Now, on to the Y-Wing! I always liked this ship, and feel that it consistently gets the short end of the gaffi stick in the games and movies. The Lego model is pretty sweet, although as I mentioned above, a little flat. It might benefit from having a little more bulk added underneath, and it's a little on the colorful side, but not too garish. The only real complaint about the design is that the turn-table they used for the turret is too loose. Granted it's just your standard 2x2 flat swivel, but it'd be nice if Lego developed a high-friction turn-table like the black high-friction pins. As it is the turret wobbles all over the place in a very undignified manner, which I guess is somewhat realistic since the Y is supposed to have a 2nd seat for a gunner. However, no Y-Wing in any game or movie seems to have more than one occupant, so I guess the turret really would flop about like that.
One of the things I like best about this set is the total lack of unnecessary crap. No Rebel Command Porch, no hovering tool train, no tool-trees shaded by wireframe radars, just two guys, two ships, and a whole lotta FUN! That was cheesy and I apologize, what I meant was, this set is a class act and is definitely worth buying. Enjoy.