The Imperial Landing Craft was added to the Star Wars canon with the 1997 “Special Edition” re-release of Star Wars: A New Hope. The recent release of 75221 Imperial Landing Craft marks the second time LEGO has produced a version of this vehicle, despite very limited screen time — the first 7659 Imperial Landing Craft was released in 2007. This latest LEGO Sentinel-class landing craft set includes 636 pieces and 5 minifigs (counting Artoo) and retails for $89.99 in the US ($109.99 in Canada | £79.99 in the UK).
The packaging & instructions
In spite of the $90 price tag, the Imperial Landing Craft comes in a relatively small box, taller and more square than the rectangular box for 75218 X-wing Starfighter in the same wave of new sets. The parts also come in just five bags compared to the six for the X-wing, reflecting the inclusion of larger parts like panels and wedge plates used to build the fuselage and wings.
The sticker sheet includes several identical stickers for panels, and I would argue that they’re unnecessary for the finished look of the model — if we weren’t building this set for a review of the product as designed, I would likely have left off the stickers, saving both the unstickered parts and the unused stickers for my own custom creations.
There’s very little that’s noteworthy in the build process other than the vertical stabilizer, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
- Bag 1: Includes the two Sandtroopers, along with the parts for the basic structure of the main fuselage, featuring lots of bracket bricks for attaching the large fuselage panels.
- Bag 2: Includes the Imperial Shuttle Pilot and extends the fuselage forward for the lower section of the cockpit.
- Bag 3: Adds layers to the main fuselage and extends it backward for the engines.
- Bag 4: Attaches the vertical stabilizer (discussed below) and both wings to the fuselage.
- Bag 5: Includes Ben and Artoo, completing the build with the top sections of the fuselage and cockpit.
It’s tempting to lift a vehicle like the Imperial Landing Craft or Shuttle Tyderium by the large vertical wing that extends up from the fuselage. With the otherwise excellent 75094 Imperial Shuttle Tydirium released in 2015, the reinforcing Technic beams didn’t extend all the way to the top of the stabilizer, and I’ve personally dropped my Tydirium several times, with much weeping and gnashing of teeth as it nearly smashed apart on the floor. Although the Sentinal-class landing craft and the Lambda-class shuttle share many design elements, the new landing craft uses a different LEGO design for its upper stabilizer, incorporating long Technic beams to strengthen the wing (much like the Tydirium), but also bricks with studs on both sides.
Wedge plates then sandwich the wing, attached to the bracket bricks, creating an incredibly sturdy structure that can safely be lifted without worrying about the top flying off in your hands and the rest plummeting to the floor below.
The finished model
The idea of an orbital dropship or space-worthy troop transport is a common concept throughout science fiction, from the Cheyenne dropship in Aliens to the D77-TC Pelican dropship from Halo. Indeed, Star Wars is no stranger to the concept, with vehicles like the Republic Gunship, Resistance Troop Transporter, and U-wing Gunship. As one of the first “improvements” made by George Lucas back in 1997, this vehicle hasn’t received much love from Star Wars fans, but it’s been incorporated since then in numerous other media, from the Rebels TV series to various video games over the years.
The bulbous shape of the fuselage and the stubbier wings don’t recommend themselves either, compared to the sleek, angular lines of the Lambda shuttle. So, in LEGO form, this set already has a number of marks against it, through no fault of the LEGO designers themselves. But as a minifig-scale recreation of the source material, the finished landing craft isn’t half bad. The rear view in particular highlights the rounded engines where the wings attach.
The wings flip up and down on click hinges, which keeps them secure even while swooshing. This photo also shows one of the stickers, affixed to a 2×4 white tile, which I think doesn’t add much to the look of the finished model.
While the overall shape of the shuttle may largely reflect its inspiration, it’s not without its flaws. The fuselage opens up like a clamshell, and all of the panels are on hinges, making the entire structure rather wobbly.
There is a rather odd mechanism in the center of the fuselage, whose purpose is unclear during the build — a two-stud-wide hinged thingie that flops back and forth.
Upon completion, it turns out that this is a gangplank for the shuttle. Both sides of the shuttle open and when you pull the gangplank out you can fold it down. It’s an … interesting solution to create a ramp that works on either side of the shuttle.
The top of the shuttle’s cockpit flips up and the pilot fits inside.
At first glance, the landing craft does share many similarities with the shuttle released in 2015. This makes sense, since the landing craft itself is based on the Lambda shuttle. However, from the upper stabilizer to the structure of the cockpit, these two LEGO sets are actually very different.
In profile, the differences are even more evident. We discussed the stronger structure of the vertical stabilizer in the build section of this review, and of course the fuselage is composed of large, curved panels. But there are more subtle differences. For example, the cockpit only fits one crew member rather than two in the shuttle. The landing craft also has fold-down landing gear.
Overall, the landing craft may match the shape of the movie vehicle, and it does have some great shaping on the engines, but the floppy clamshell with its gaps and the underlying unattractiveness of the movie vehicle itself all contribute to a less-than-perfect finished model.
75221 Imperial Landing Craft includes five minifigs — Obi-wan Kenobi, a Sandtrooper squad leader, second Sandtrooper, Imperial shuttle pilot, and R2-D2.
The version of “Old Ben” included in this set is identical to the version that’s appeared in several previous sets, starting with 75052 Mos Eisley Cantina back in 2014. Similarly, Artoo has appeared in nearly a dozen other LEGO Star Wars sets, including the recent 75218 X-wing Starfighter.
The three Imperial minifigs are also not unique — this Sandtrooper design first appeared in January 2018 in 75205 Mos Eisley Cantina, though the orange pauldron is a new version for this set. The pilot is identical to the Imperial Shuttle Pilot minifig in the Microfighters version of 75163 Krennic’s Imperial Shuttle released last year.
Don’t get me wrong — Sandtroopers are my favorite storm trooper variant, and there’s no denying that these are fantastically well-designed Sandtroopers. And their inclusion with this particular vehicle is of course correct and inevitable. However, the fact that they’re not unique means the minifigs aren’t a reason on their own to purchase the set.
Conclusions & recommendation
So, let’s recap what we’ve learned about this set so far: The build isn’t particularly interesting, resulting in a finished model that leaves a lot to be desired, based on an unpopular movie vehicle. Oh, and the minifigures aren’t unique to the set. And what about the price? At $90 for 636 pieces, this set is more expensive than the X-wing at $80, with nearly a hundred fewer parts. If most LEGO builders buy sets for one of several common reasons — great parts selection, an interesting build, cool minifigs, or even just value for the parts — there just isn’t a whole lot to recommend about 75221 Imperial Landing Craft.
Is this the worst LEGO Star Wars set of all time? Absolutely not — that distinction is reserved, in my personal opinion, for 75201 First Order AT-ST. Is it even bad? No, not necessarily. But most builders’ LEGO budgets aren’t infinite, so it’s just hard to recommend a set with so many flaws when you could choose the excellent 75218 X-wing Starfighter instead.
75221 Imperial Landing Craft includes 636 pieces, 4 minifigs, and 1 astromech droid. The set is available now from the LEGO Shop (USD 89.99 | CDN 109.99 | GBP 79.99), 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