As we continue our reviews of summer 2020 LEGO Star Wars sets, we’re moving on from The Clone Wars and Original Trilogy to the third wave of sets from the final movie in the Skywalker Saga, The Rise of Skywalker. 75284 Knights of Ren Transport Ship includes 595 pieces with three minifigs, and will be available September 1st (US $69.99 | CAN $99.99 | UK £64.99). The set rounds out the full group of Knights of Ren minifigures, but is it more than a cash grab for minifig collectors?
The box & packaging
The set’s 600 or so parts are spread across four bags, with the instruction booklet loose in the bag. There is no sticker sheet on this nearly all-black (and sometimes very very dark gray) vehicle, so the lack of sleeve on the instruction booklet certainly reduces packaging waste.
The front of the box features minifigure Darth Vader in the corner, sharing a design with the box for 75291 Death Star Final Duel. The appearance of Darth Vader rather than a character from the Sequel Trilogy is another odd choice, just like the difference in character style from the Clone Wars sets. The back of the box shows the set’s limited play features
What becomes evident fairly quickly during the build is that the LEGO version of this transport ship is not just much smaller than it would be at “proper” minifig scale but essentially just a black shell of plates surrounding a rather flimsy Technic frame.
The sub-assemblies for the engines attach to the fuselage via Technic axles, but the hoses (much less prominent on the movie vehicle) that connect forward from the fuselage push against this fairly loose connection, forcing them out at a slight angle. Similarly, the forward armor is connected with click hinges, which have a small amount of “give” between each click, resulting in somewhat loose sections near the front.
The finished model
Although the finished model is certainly recognizable as the Night Buzzard seen briefly in The Rise of Skywalker, the LEGO version leaves much to be desired. The menacing Night Buzzard is certainly angular, but its angularity stems at least partly from sleek lines and minimal greebling on the armored surface. At this scale, the studded surface of plates and wedges — studs that fade into the background on much larger vehicles — are distracting.
The dark gray and dark tan surface details also distract from what is a fairly uniform, “stealth” style of ship (plumes of black smoke spewing from engines with a rattling sound loud enough to hear in space notwithstanding).
The ship’s dorsal laser cannon turrets are present, but do not rotate. Instead, they have hatches where you can place minifigure gunners. With the scale mismatch between the vehicle and the characters, this means that the Knights of Ren are sitting outside the surface of their spacefaring vessel.
Both turrets have clips on the inside, though they’re placed in such a way that there’s no use for them when a minifig is in the turret — you can’t attach and store their weapons, leaving them to wave their guns around in space while ignoring the turrets they’re manning.
A larger forward hatch opens to reveal a space that can fit a seated minifig, but it’s just a box, lacking any controls or other sense of purpose. Perhaps this is where you can throw their weapons so they can focus on firing their turrets (though exposed as they are in space perhaps they should be focusing on breathing).
The final play feature is a pair of spring-loaded missile launchers attached under the forward armor plates, activated with Technic axles that extend out behind the armor.
Three landing pads are some of the sturdier components of the ship, built with Technic liftarms attached to skis.
Four other Knights of Ren minifigures have appeared in the two earlier waves of LEGO Star Wars sets from The Rise of Skywalker, with the final two in this set completing the crew of six. The set includes Cardo and Kuruk, each with their distinctive helmets and weapons, plus Rey.
The Rey minifigure is the same as the white-robed version in 75250 Pasaana Speeder Chase
Kuruk and Cardo are of course the big draw of this set. Each wears a helmet unique to the figure (and this set), with unique torso and leg printing. Kuruk’s slit blinder panels are particularly interesting, while Cardo wears a helmet that looks more like true knight’s armor. His arm cannon is brick-built, though considerably over-sized like most brick-built minifig weapons.
The minifigs’ heads are plain black under the helmets. Although Kuruk’s is a full helmet, the black head piece shows through in the eye slit for Cardo. The torsos are also incredibly detailed, with a mix of robes and additional weaponry or ammunition, like plasma bolt shells on Kuruk and thermal detonators on Cardo.
Their backs are more plain, printed with cloth and shoulder pauldron patterns.
For those interested in completing their collection of Knights of Ren minifigures, here is the list of LEGO Star Wars sets you’ll have to purchase, totaling $370 (USD):
- Ap’lek & Ushar in 75256 Kylo Ren’s Shuttle at $130, or $28.38 and $27.01 individually on BrickLink (at average prices).
- Vicrul in 75273 Poe Dameron’s X-wing Fighter at $90, or $33.17 individually.
- Trudgeon in 75272 Sith TIE Fighter for $80, or $28.87 individually.
- Kuruk & Cardo in 75284 Knights of Ren Transport Ship at $70, with an unknown future price individually.
While I’m not necessarily suggesting that LEGO should have released a $15 “Knights of Ren Battle Pack” (no, we’ve heard no rumors of any such thing) with at least four of the six knights, spreading them across three waves — October 2019 ahead of the movie, January 2020 after its release, and now September 2020 — and only including them in sets above $70 is an obvious tactic to drive sales among collectors. It’s also worth noting in this context that LEGO themselves now directly profit from exorbitant secondary market prices, through the LEGO Group’s acquisition of BrickLink late last year.
Conclusions & recommendation
At $70 for what amounts to a flimsy, undersized vehicle and just two unique minifigs, it’s hard to recommend this set at anything other than deep discount — or buying the minifigs individually on the secondary market after the set’s release, if you’re willing to pay about $30 for each of the six Knights of Ren minifigs from across four sets. The set has the feeling of a product designed by a committee to fill an empty price point in a lineup of sets while drawing in collectors with otherwise unavailable minifigs. In other words, it feels less like a labor of love from the incredibly talented LEGO Star Wars design team or a gift to fans — as many LEGO Star Wars sets truly do — than the cash grab I feared it would be when I opened the set.
Others’ opinions may vary, and are certainly welcome in the comments. But as one of the few people outside LEGO so far who’s had an opportunity to actually build the set ahead of its release in September, it would be irresponsible for me as a reviewer to express anything other than disappointment.
LEGO Star Wars 75284 Knights of Ren Transport Ship includes 595 pieces with 3 minifigs and will be released Sept. 1st from the LEGO Shop (US $69.99 | CAN $99.99 | UK £64.99), Amazon.com, and from third-party sellers on eBay 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.