My wife, daughter and mother-in-law - as annual pass holders - are regular visitors to Legoland near Windsor. As such, it was inevitable that, at some point, I would receive a Lego-related gift for a birthday or Christmas. To be fair, it was a welcome change from ties, cufflinks and novelty socks, after all, I am still a big kid at heart - for example, I have already bought my three month old son his first Scalextric set despite the fact that he won't be old enough to play with it for a fair few years yet (I'll have to break it in for him of course...).
As such, I was quite pleased to open a birthday present from my daughter this year to find a Star Wars themed Lego set - the "V-Wing Fighter" to be precise. As a fan of the original trilogy, I was hoping for something more familiar - an X-wing or TIE fighter perhaps - but I was more than happy with the chance to muck about with some bricks and quickly forgot that I could not recall where or when this particular vehicle had made an appearance in the Star Wars saga (I later found out it made a fleeting appearance in Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith).
The set is No. 6205 in the Lego catalogue and comes in an approximately 9 inch by 5 inch box with attractive, stylised and slightly embossed artwork. It is ideal for ages six to twelve and retails for around £24.99. For that price, you get 118 parts which will build a completed V-Wing fighter and a detailed 22 page booklet with step by step pictorial instructions on how to build the model.
The back of the booklet also features a parts inventory. A Clone pilot figure and the top half of an astromech droid (think R2-D2 but in red and black) is also included. The back of the box features two representations of alternative models that can be built with the parts, but instructions for these are not provided - you just have to use your creativity and imagination (which, in my book, is the whole point of Lego).
The set is currently out of production, which means you won't find it in the usual toy shops. However, it is available on eBay and various other on-line shops - both new and used - but given its Star Wars pedigree and its scarcity, you'll pay at least a £5 premium on RRP to get it. As such, it's probably more of interest to collectors and die hard Star Wars fans than the general paying public.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
The instructions are very easy to follow. Each stage is represented in pictures which are colour-matched to the parts you need to use. There were one or two stages in the construction which needed a closer look (i.e. younger builders may need some help) but the whole thing came together in about ten minutes.
Having had a look on-line at a picture of the "Alpha-3 Nimbus V-Wing Starfighter" (courtesy of www.starwars.com) allowing for the necessary limitations of Lego bricks, the model offers a fairly good representation of the original (the main areas that depart from the "real" thing are the landing gear, the cockpit and the canopy).
The pilot figure sits neatly in the cockpit with a one-piece specially moulded canopy that sits over the top of him. The canopy has no hinge, so it comes off in one piece. The ends of the wings are hinged and adjustable on the vertical axis as is a pair of stabilisers just behind the cockpit. All in all, the constructed set feels fairly robust and none of the parts seem in imminent danger of falling off.
A minor irritation is the construction of the box itself. Although it is robust and nicely illustrated, Lego, for a reason only known to them, have failed to make the box re-sealable. Given the number of parts made specifically for this model, it would have made sense to be able to store all of the parts in the box, but that is simply not practical given the flawed design.
At £24.99 the model was already quite expensive (as a rough order of measure if you divide the number of parts by the price you get a return of just over 20p per piece). If you add the premium placed on this set because of its scarcity and novelty value, in my view, the increase in an already high price takes it out of the orbit of kids and the casual Lego lover.
As such, this excellent little set is really only for fans of Star Wars or avid collectors, as there are plenty of other Lego sets currently in production and freely available which offer much better value for money.
Recommended - with reservations if cost is an issue.
© Hishyeness 2009