Forty-two years ago, the very first Star Wars movie hit the cinema screens. Even though Episode IV was added to its title later, A New Hope was the first glimpse of the adventures in a galaxy far, far away. It was the first time the audience learned about the droids, Jedi, and, of course, about the Force. The film also revealed dozens of starships and land vehicles. Two of the most important ships appeared in the film’s opening shot. The first of them was the Tantive IV, released in LEGO-form this year as set 75244 Tantive IV. The product contains 1,768 pieces and retails for US $199.99 | CAN $269.99 | UK £179.99. Today, we are taking a closer look at the “consular ship on a diplomatic mission” and searching for intelligence stolen by the Rebels…
Box and packaging
The newly introduced design of the direct-to-consumer LEGO Star Wars products looks stunning. Black and white design elements of the box give the set a premium appearance.
A glance at the back of the box reveals the set’s secrets and play features. The only thing missing is information about the dimensions of the assembled model. This seems a bit odd, considering that the ship is among the longest LEGO Star Wars builds.
Opening the box reveals over a dozen plastic bags, a massive building guide, and four 10x5x6 cone halves, which appear in white for the first time ever. Considering the set comes with 1742 pieces distributed among 13 bags (not counting the cone halves), each bag consists of around 130 pieces; this is about the size of a small Creator set. Of course, the idea behind this trend is to make the assembling process as easy and enjoyable as possible, even for the least experienced builders. Having completed the model, most of the building stages felt very short; once you have learned the pieces you’re building with in a given moment, it’s time to open the next bag with completely new pieces. It’s definitely not the most relaxing LEGO experience.
The sticker sheet is much smaller than one might expect. The design team did a wonderful job of replicating the patterns on the body of the ship with LEGO elements in different colors and shapes. Thanks to their efforts, you don’t have to apply stickers that often during the build.
The building guide
One of my favourite trends in recent years are the interviews and insights included in building guides of the larger and exclusive sets. It makes me feel that I’m not just purchasing small pieces of ABS plastic, but rather I’m getting a unique experience of building and learning about the model. The building guide for Tantive IV includes the following informative pages….
Despite the fact that the movie scene on Tantive IV doesn’t feature that many characters, the set includes some brand new characters and designs. No doubt, the leading minifigure here is Bail Organa, a completely new exclusive one. The Q&A section at the beginning of the building booklet tells us about how the decisions on Organa’s look were made. For instance, his final design is based on the character as seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I must admit, the olive green cape looks very impressive.
For many Star Wars fans, another solid reason for purchasing the set may be the new version of Leia Organa. What makes it special is the relatively new skirt piece with printing on the front and back. While the torso can be found in two other sets, the skirt is exclusive to this one.
The Princess is accompanied by Captain Raymus Antilles and a rebel trooper. Just like the design of Bail Organa’s torso, designs of these torsos are based on combinations of muted colours including tan, dark orange and shades of blue. These minifigures are more detailed than their previous versions.
Besides the human characters, the ship also carries two droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO. However, both figures are exactly the same as ones found in other recent LEGO Star Wars sets.
It doesn’t take many building steps to discover how large and massive the ship is. It comes as no surprise that the core of the model is a “sandwich” of Technic bricks and longer plates. A bunch of modified plates with vertically oriented studs mark spots for the ship’s outer shell.
However, the large model’s charm is very soon distorted by a very dynamic build experience. Just an hour later, you’ll find yourself finishing many parts of the ship’s body. On the bright side, the building is hardly boring with a lot of small parts and various techniques used here and there.
Despite the sheer length of the model, the part right behind the cockpit feels a little bit underwhelming. It is quite small and is covered with just several panels, wedges and slopes. It looks akin to a midi-scale model, which doesn’t go well with minifigures inside.
The massive part in the back of the ship is the base for 11 iconic thrusters. They are assembled and attached layer by layer, starting with four beneath the structure. The most fascinating thing about the thrusters is that you won’t find two of the same kind in this set. The differences between the engine blocks are as subtle as a couple of plates of different colours or a small sticker, but every one of them is unique.
By the eighth engine the building becomes pretty tedious. When the finished model is just three or four practically identical builds away, it takes some patience to finish them. The engines are fixed with a just a couple of Technic pins, which allows for both a sturdy structure and easy assembly.
Once the final engine is assembled and attached, the iconic Tantive IV emerges in all her glory. It’s a huge, highly detailed and robust build, that looks impressive from any side.
Despite her smaller scale in relation to a regular minifigure, the Tantive IV easily houses all six minifigures included in the set. The first two spots are right inside the ship’s cockpit. The interior is quite plain, with nothing but a couple of seats and control panels. The 10 x 5 x 6 cone halves offer a lot of space inside the cockpit, but the vast white surfaces inside makes it look unfinished.
The minifigures of rebels behind the wheel would be quite comfortable if it was not for the high backs of the seats. Because of the helmet’s unconventional shape, the very back of the headgear is pushed up by the back of the seat each time you place a minifigure. It’s certainly less than ideal, considering the Imperial ships are about to capture you…
On the picture above you can also spot a couple of spring shooter darts loaded between the halves of the cockpit. We are going to discuss these in a bit.
Other than that, the cockpit looks neat and the seats feel very sturdy. You can hardly damage anything when seating or removing minifigures.
Behind the cockpit is a rotating tower with a couple of stud shooters. These remind us that the set doesn’t belong to Ultimate Collector Series, but is rather the next Master Builder Set — just like LEGO Star Wars 75222 Betrayal at Cloud City. Sets like these include way more play features, such as stud shooters and dart shooters. I can hardly imagine a kid running around the house with the ship in their hands while trying to shoot some studs and darts. Considering the concept of the model it would have made more sense to use more tiny exterior details instead of pretty useless play features.
The central part of the ship is yet another centre of attention. Beneath the removable roof is a neat conference room.
Since A New Hope doesn’t feature any scenes of the characters holding meetings while under the Imperial attack, we can only imagine what kind of briefings took part here. Functionally, this is the room for yet another couple of heroes, namely Princess Leia and Bail Organa. You should watch out for Bail’s cape when sitting him behind the table, and since Leia’s dress is a single tall piece you’ll have to use a spare pair of minifigure legs to make her sit on a chair. Fortunately, a set of white minifigure legs comes in the set.
To be honest, what impressed me the most of the section is the roof itself. Its irregular shape fits the ship’s body just perfectly, and I’m absolutely in love with the way the design team handled the elements of greebling here. Notice that tiny Technic tread link in light bluish gray. I’m sure many fan builders have used the piece the same way many times, but it’s always exciting to discover another nice part usage in an official set.
Yet another compartment can be found right behind the conference room. As the back of the box advertises it, a couple of spring shooter darts can be stored there. This is definitely not the most elegant solution, but at least you won’t have to deal with loose darts lying around.
As we continue our way to the thrusters, here comes a couple of evacuation pods. These tiny round builds would be simply great if they were not trying to imply yet another play feature. We’ve seen enough escape pods since the start of the theme in 1999, and those sets are great (check out 75136 Escape Pod, for instance). But the pods included in this set look just ridiculous. They are way out of minifigure scale, are sorely lacking in exterior details, and were obviously implemented to keep the droid minifigures inside the ship. In my opinion, this is one of the weakest spots of an otherwise great model.
The most surprising function of the set is a handle disguised as the main radar on top of the ship. Because of the ship’s irregular and pretty fragile body elements, carrying it around might be a problem. Kudos to the design team for inventing and smoothly incorporating this fascinating feature. It works like a charm and, in fact, allows you to move and display the model easily.
Despite the brilliance of the handle idea, it is not placed above the center of mass. Although the thrusters may look massive and heavy, the long front of the model weighs significantly more, so you should not expect a perfectly horizontal position when moving the ship around using the handle.
Last but not least is the massive block of eleven thrusters. As mentioned above, each of the engines has a unique exterior thanks to subtle changes in colors or positions of the smallest pieces.
It’s either the back of the ship or the top of the thrusters that look the best. From above you’ll notice a whole bunch of specialised pieces that perfectly depict various pipes, wires or antennas. Bonus points to the design team for a brilliant mix of white, sand blue and bright yellow pieces.
The engines look very impressive from every angle except from the side. This is the one area you can spot the inner Technic elements. I believe a couple of plates could solve the problem, but this might make the assembly much more complex.
Final thoughts and recommendations
For every LEGO Star Wars fan the beginning of May is like having a second Christmas, as the new ultimate LEGO Star Wars set is being revealed. However, this year’s surprise, LEGO Star Wars 75244 Tantive IV, brings a lot less excitement than the previous sets. No doubt, it depends on what you expect from the model. As a display set, the new Tantive IV is an amazing build, which features many tiny details. Unfortunately, the rest of the model is spoiled by unnecessary playability. Multiple parts of the ship could have been improved if it were not for the requirement of fitting the minifigures, which could have been displayed on a separate stand (see LEGO Stranger Things set, 75810 The Upside Down). Fixing most of the model’s drawbacks would require serious structural improvements, and its not clear how you can upgrade the model with the minimum piece investments. All in all, we recommend to think twice before purchasing the set, especially since new brilliant LEGO sets are already available in stores.
LEGO Star Wars 75244 Tantive IV comes with 1,768 pieces and six minifigures and is available from the LEGO Shop Online for US $199.99 | CAN $269.99 | UK £179.99, as well as from third-party sellers and Amazon and eBay.
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with a copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
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