Despite — or perhaps because of — the release of two different T-70 X-wings produced in support of The Force Awakens in late 2015 and mid-2016, it’s been over six years since LEGO has released a version of the iconic T-65 starfighter featured in the Classic Trilogy. With the release of 75218 X-wing Starfighter on August 1st, the most recognizable Rebel fighter in the Star Wars universe becomes available to a new generation of LEGO builders. The latest X-wing includes 731 pieces and four minifigs and will retail for $79.99 in the US (CDN 99.99 | GBP 89.99).
How does this latest LEGO X-wing stack up against the previous X-wings released over the years?
The packaging, instructions, & sticker sheet
The parts for the newest X-wing come in six numbered bags, with a single instruction booklet and sticker sheet.
The sticker sheet includes key details like the Red 5 and Red 3 markings, as well as some asymmetrical technical details.
All LEGO Star Wars sets are very modular, enabling both younger builders and adult collectors to succeed in putting a set together. The X-wing is a mid-sized set, though about half of the build process results in the fighter’s four wings. The first bag includes Luke and Artoo, with the parts for the central core of the X-wing’s fuselage. There’s not a lot that’s particularly interesting here, other than the beginnings of the Technic mechanism to open and close the wings.
The second bag adds the X-wing’s long nose section, which uses the same construction technique used in the three previous X-wings (both Luke’s X-wing in 2012 and the two Resistance X-wings in 2015 and 2016). Plates and tiles attach to Technic half-pins in axle connectors, and a slight angle is achieved with hinge plates.
The gray nose cone slides onto the end of the Technic axle protruding from the interior.
The third bag completes the cockpit and the section behind it.
The fourth and fifth bags add the four wings, including the main sections of the sub-light engines, minus the exhaust nozzles. (Biggs and his astromech droid join Luke and R2-D2 in bag 4.) The sixth bag simply finishes the engines by adding the exhaust nozzles.
The finished model & play features
When complete, the X-wing is a sturdy and swooshable model with a ton of style. Various gray, sand-blue, and even light yellow pieces add to to the asymmetrical weathered look of a beat-up starfighter that’s survived a few skirmishes against the Galactic Empire.
Even with the larger helmet, the pilot fits comfortably inside the cockpit, which has some basic controls in the form of a printed 1×2 cheese slope. The R2 unit sits behind the cockpit, with plates attached sideways to ensure the overly wide LEGO astromech can fit in its slot facing forward.
Forward landing gear pops down so that the X-wing can sit with stability on the ground.
As great as this X-wing looks “at rest,” it looks fantastic in flight, especially with S-foils locked in attack position. The new, brick-built engine design is larger than on previous LEGO T-65 X-wings, which since 1999 have always used the three-wide engine pieces.
The S-foils also use a new mechanism, rather than being opened with a knob attached to the top or back of the fuselage. Instead, you flip a lever that turns the interior Technic mechanism.
Flipping the lever forward opens the S-foils and locks them in attack position.
Technic 3-axle hubs force open the wings and locks them into place. This is also a great view that showcases the excellent, greebly detail on the back of the fuselage.
The axle hubs hold the wings at the perfect angle.
When you’re ready to close the S-foils, press a pin on the underside of the fuselage and they snap together thanks to the rubber bands.
The engines on this new X-wing are considerably larger than on previous Classic Trilogy LEGO X-wings, with 4×4 cylinders rather than the three-wide engine pieces first introduced with the original LEGO X-wing in 1999. Behind the engine intakes (retro-thrust nozzles, if we really want to be technical, since the X-wing is a space superiority starfighter, after all), three arched window pieces create the engines’ rounded shape.
My biggest complaint about the new X-wing is that the laser cannons on the ends of each wing are under-detailed compared to previous versions (more comparisons in the next section of this review). Technic ski poles serve as the long cannons, with the flash suppressors represented by the tips of the poles. The base of the laser cannons is bulked up with 1×4 spring-loaded missile launcher bricks. The anemic laser cannons combined with their overly bulky bases detracts from the overall look of the wingtips, even though they do add important play value for younger builders. For older builders and collectors, though, adding the necessary detail to the laser cannons and removing the missile launchers would be a straightforward modification with readily available parts (instructions are even available online, thanks to previous official LEGO X-wings that don’t have this design flaw).
Like the 2012 X-wing that included markings for both Luke and Porkins, the 2018 X-wing includes markings for Luke and Biggs. You apply stickers to separate 2×3 tiles, and by swapping them out you can display the X-wing as either version.
Comparison to previous LEGO Star Wars X-wings
As the most iconic starfighter and “hero vehicle” in the Star Wars franchise, the X-wing has a very long history, going right back to the first wave of LEGO Star Wars sets back in 1999. The first X-wing (7140) was built from a mere 250 pieces, and it shared a cockpit canopy until recently with the very different Y-wing and snowspeeder. The release of 75102 Poe’s X-wing Fighter ahead of The Force Awakens in 2015 followed by the recolored 75149 Resistance X-wing Fighter introduced a new canopy specific to X-wings, significantly improving the overall look.
Our handy infographic highlights the evolution of the LEGO X-wing over the years. Notice that the 2018 X-wing has nearly triple the part count as the first X-wing in 1999.
In fact, I modified my own copy of the previous 9493 X-wing Starfighter from 2012 (the one with both Luke and Porkins) to use the proper X-wing canopy. Setting the 2012 and 2018 T-65 X-wings side by side (with my canopy modification in place on the earlier version), it’s clear that the 2018 version shares a lot more with the 2012 version than it does with the more recent T-70 X-wings from the current Star Wars trilogy, down to the long sloped pieces on either side of the cockpit. One disappointing change is that the laser cannons have lost a lot of their detail, reduced from substantial weapons built from several pieces to just Technic ski poles. The extra pieces have been transferred to new spring-loaded missile launchers. I’d rather have the original design, without the bulky missile launchers.
Back in 2011, Mike Psiaki shared what would soon be considered the best fan-designed LEGO X-wing, and thanks to his instructions that design has been emulated and updated over the years by numerous other LEGO Star Wars builders. In the meantime, Mike himself was recruited by LEGO to become a set designer at LEGO headquarters in Billund, Denmark, where he’s worked on sets like the recent James Bond Aston Martin DB5. To be honest, it’s a shame that Mike’s Star Wars talents weren’t put to better use doing a nose-to-tail redesign of the official LEGO X-wing.
Mike Psiaki’s LEGO X-wing design, modified by Josh Fowler to use the new X-wing canopy
Nevertheless, the latest LEGO T-65 X-wing does include a number of design improvements over its predecessor from 2012. In particular, the rear of the fighter has a much more detailed look, with angled white windscreen pieces surrounding the hyperdrive section, and smaller, more accurate sub-light engine exhaust nozzles with smaller trans-pink cones as the exhaust itself rather than glaring orange radar dishes.
The real T-70 X-wing from the latest movies is a radically streamlined, pointier version of the T-65 from the Original Trilogy. But as I noted in my review of both 75102 Poe’s X-wing Fighter and 75149 Resistance X-wing Fighter, the T-70 in LEGO form is much chunkier. Thus, the LEGO T-70 shares much of its fuselage shaping with the LEGO T-65, although the engine intakes and S-foil wings are radically different.
Rebel pilots have been overdue for a redesign for some time. While their Resistance counterparts have benefited from dual-molded helmets, the earlier generation of Rebel pilots have plodded along with visors printed directly on the heads of the minifigures (right up through the excellent UCS Y-wing released earlier this year). Now, both Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter get brand new Rebel pilot helmets, with the new flight suits first seen in the minifig included with LEGO Star Wars: Build Your Own Adventure (which featured models designed by TBB’s own Rod Gillies). Canisters are strapped to the pilots’ legs — a detail lacking on most recent Rebel pilot minifigs. Combined with the dual-molded helmets, these new Rebel pilot minifigures are gorgeous.
According to Ultimate LEGO Star Wars (which I wrote with Chris Malloy), Rebel pilots like Jon “Dutch” Vander in his Y-wing and Dak Ralter who served as Luke’s snowspeeder gunner have had five or six variants each since 1999. And yet, Luke’s childhood friend from Tatooine hasn’t had a minifigure since 2002. Back then, Star Wars minifigures were all still yellow, and Biggs Darklighter sported a mustache face he shared with snooty LEGO City waiters. In the latest set, Biggs has alternate expressions printed on his head, and he’s accompanied by his astromech droid R2-Q2, who appeared previously in 7915 Imperial V-wing Starfighter back in 2011 (though with a slightly different design). The droid’s body is dark gray, while his legs and dome are gunmetal silver. As a result, R2-Q2 is easily confused with R2-BHD (“Tooby”) from the UCS Y-wing set.
The new helmet’s dual-molding is worth a closer look. The trans-orange visor wraps around the pilot’s head stud, with white plastic molded on top of the orange and printing on the outside.
Conclusions & recommendation
Despite some minor, easily fixable flaws with the laser cannons and rather strong similarity to the 2012 version, 75218 X-wing Starfighter is an excellent LEGO X-wing. I had missed the 2012 X-wing, and just last year at BrickCon I filled that hole in my LEGO collection at after-market prices. The X-wing itself is beautifully designed, with excellent S-foil functionality, even if we think the starfighter could have been amazing by incorporating features from Mike Psiaki’s version built when he was a regular LEGO fan. New Rebel pilot helmets, hard-to-find flight suits, and an updated version of fan-favorite Biggs Darklighter also make the set a key purchase for minifig collectors.
For both adult collectors with an X-wing-shaped hole in their collections and younger fans who’ve begun buying LEGO after 2012, this LEGO X-wing is an absolute must-buy, even at $80 for 731 pieces.
75218 X-wing Starfighter includes 731 pieces, 2 pilot minifigs, and 2 astromech droids. The set is available August 1st from the LEGO Shop (USD 79.99 | CDN 99.99 | GBP 89.99), Amazon.com, eBay, BrickLink, and elsewhere.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
Read more reviews from the current wave of LEGO Star Wars sets:
- 75203 Hoth Medical Chamber
- 75215 Cloud-Rider Swoop Bikes
- 75216 Snoke’s Throne Room
- 75217 Imperial Conveyex Transport
- 75218 X-wing Starfighter
- 75219 Imperial AT-Hauler
- 41619 Darth Vader & 41620 Stormtrooper