From 7146 TIE Fighter back in 2001 through 75101 First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter in 2015, the iconic Imperial starfighter has evolved significantly. The latest incarnation in nearly two decades is 75211 Imperial TIE Fighter released to support the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story in May. This latest TIE Fighter set includes 519 pieces and 4 minifigs, and retails for $69.99.
Let’s dig in to find out how this latest TIE stacks up against its predecessors — the 2015 LEGO TIE Fighter from The Force Awakens in particular. Minifigures may reveal SPOILERS ahead of the movie’s release, so you’ve been warned!
The box & instructions
75211 Imperial TIE Fighter comes in a standard mid-sized LEGO Star Wars box, which contains five bags — numbered 1 through 4 with two identical third bags — plus the instruction booklet in its own sleeve.
As with all but 75212 Kessel Run Millennium Falcon, this Solo set does not have a sticker sheet. In fact, besides the minifigures there are only four printed elements: the canopy, the centers of each solar array wing, and the canopy hatch, which appears here in light grey for the first time. Every previous TIE has used a dark grey hatch.
A surprisingly quick build — particularly when you’re mass-producing wing sub-sections in quadruplicate — the command pod is the first and most intricate section of the build. The first bag includes the lower half of the pod, built largely studs-out.
The second bag includes the parts for the remainder of the command pod and wing attachment pylons.
The cockpit itself includes a control yoke, but the Imperial TIE Fighter is obviously intended to seat only the pilot — we’ll look at more of the differences from the First Order TIE Fighter later in this review.
The rear of the command pod is built from stacked radar dishes, and it’s a little disappointing that the solar ionization reactor in the center isn’t more detailed or prominent.
Two bags labeled 3 complete the central portion of the wing panels, including angled wing braces.
The final bag includes subtle details on the surface of each wing, as well as the outer wing braces. The wings then attach via clips to the pylons.
The finished model
TIE fighters are mass-produced, unshielded, essentially disposable fighter craft that reflect the Galactic Empire’s total lack of respect for sentient life — even their own pilot’s lives. In the movies, they’re flimsy vehicles that simply swarm the Rebellion’s sturdier, shielded starfighters with overwhelming numbers. Appearances and movie lore to the contrary, this LEGO TIE fighter is an incredibly sturdy model, capable of being swooshed around the room as you try to make its unmistakable screaming sound.
The TIE looks fantastic from just about every angle, well-proportioned at minifigure-scale with all the right detail.
We’re less impressed with the rear of the command pod. The stacked radar dishes lend the proper round shape to the back of the pod, but TIE fighters should have a ring around the reactor, with the namesake pair of ion engines on either side. While the twin ion engines are present (highlighted by red 1×1 round plates in transparent red), the shaping around the reactor just isn’t correct, and I have to think that a brick-built solution resulting in a higher part count could have been better.
The round command pod is built from various stepped bricks and small slopes, which works reasonably well.
The TIE pilot sits comfortably inside the command pod with the control yoke in front of him. The upper hatch opens, but the front viewport also folds down to let you seat the pilot inside more easily.
Spring-loaded missile launch bricks are integrated well into the hull, with just the tips of the red missiles showing, exactly where the laser cannons should be.
Like the First Order TIE from The Force Awakens, 75211 Imperial TIE Fighter includes four minifigures — a TIE Fighter pilot, Han Solo in Imperial gear, Tobias Beckett in Imperial gear, and a Mimban stormtrooper. (The product description on LEGO.com calls Han’s & Tobias’s outfits a disguise, thus the spoiler warning…)
The backs of both characters are printed, though Han Solo’s back is obscured under his poncho.
Han Solo wears gray armor shaped like the armor that General Veers wears while commanding AT-AT walkers on Hoth, including a helmet with goggles printed on top. The helmet itself is new, with more details that are both printed in multiple colors and molded as part of the underlying LEGO accessory. Han also wears a cloth poncho printed with folds and a hood that’s thrown back.
Tobias also wears similar armor, with a standard Imperial officer’s cap. His torso has what appears to be a colonel’s rank badge, partially obscured by a long coat that extends down to his legs.
We’re not sure what a Mimban stormtrooper is yet, but he (the head underneath the helmet is the standard stormtrooper dude) wears gray armor spattered with mud or dust, as we’ve seen on numerous minifigs from Solo. The TIE fighter pilot is the only clean character of the bunch, with a pristine black flight suit. The pilot’s flight suit is identical to the one worn by the TIE Striker pilot from Rogue One, but the helmet has subtly different printing.
The Mimban stormtrooper appears to be a standard Imperial stormtrooper covered in dust or caked mud. However, like Han Solo’s helmet, the stormtrooper’s helmet includes several new knobs, ridges, and recessions that previous stormtrooper helmets have not (in addition to the new color and printed design).
Comparison with 75101 First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter
Without seeing them side by side, it might be easy to assume that this latest version of the venerable LEGO TIE fighter is just a recolor of the First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter set released in the first wave of The Force Awakens sets back in 2015. This latest TIE fighter does certainly share some design elements with its immediate predecessor, not least of which is the use of the shallower viewport compared to the big round bubbles that all TIE variants sported, back to Darth Vader’s TIE in 1999.
Our infographic shows just how much LEGO Star Wars TIE fighters have evolved over the past 17 years (click to see a larger version).
Despite superficial similarities, the two-seater First Order TIE has a substantially larger command pod and much thicker pylons, thus necessitating a very different build between the two LEGO versions.
Both TIE fighters attach the wings to the pylons using rod and clip connections, with part of the pylon slipping into the wing assembly for extra sturdiness. However, the attachment points and actual connections are completely different, as are the areas surrounding the connection.
The new TIE fighter incorporates trap door pieces into the wings, with horizontal clips on the pylons that clip onto the bars that allow the doors to swing up and down when used “normally.”
This is very different from the First Order TIE fighter, which has vertically oriented clips that attach to modified 1×2 plates with handles.
Conclusions & recommendation
Even though it’s being released to support a non-trilogy Star Wars Anthology movie, 75211 Imperial TIE Fighter is the first “true” (or classic) TIE fighter that takes advantage of the new viewport element — an element that’s central to the basic shaping of the craft. It’s a marked improvement over the previous standard TIE fighter, 9492 back in 2012 (one of the last TIE fighters to use the old bubble canopy). As such, it’s certainly a welcome addition to the currently available range of classic LEGO Star Wars vehicles.
And there’s no denying that the LEGO set is sturdily built, fun to swoosh, and an accurate representation of the movie vehicle. But at $70 for just over 500 parts — with a build that took us no more than about 30 minutes (most of the complexity is in the small command pod and pylons) — we’re having a hard time recommending it at full price. This was exactly the case two and a half years ago with the First Order TIE fighter, and one of the reasons we didn’t recommend that set until it went on sale at a pretty consistent 20% off in the months following The Force Awakens‘ release.
Minor quibbles with certain details aside, this is a well-designed set with an interesting minifig selection. Honestly, we’d be calling it a must-buy at $50 or $55. So, give 75211 Imperial TIE Fighter a few more weeks on store shelves, and we expect you’ll be able to find it at a more reasonable price than $70.
75211 Imperial TIE Fighter includes 519 pieces with four minifigures. This new set is available now from the LEGO Shop ($69.99 in the US | £64.99 in the UK | $89.99 in Canada), Target, eBay, and BrickLink.
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
Read our other reviews of LEGO Star Wars sets from Solo: A Star Wars Story:
- 75209 Han Solo’s Landspeeder
- 75210 Moloch’s Landspeeder
- 75207 Imperial Patrol Battle Pack
- 75212 Kessel Run Millennium Falcon