Introducing the LEGO Star Wars Diorama Collection: 75339 Death Star Trash Compactor [Review]

LEGO Star Wars has a long history of sets aimed at adult builders, with Ultimate Collectors Series vehicles like the 75313 AT-AT, giant playsets like 75290 Mos Eisley Cantina, and more recently, display pieces like the Helmets Collection. Now LEGO is adding a new series to the lineup, known as the Diorama Collection. Let’s start with a look at the most expensive of the series, 75339 Death Star Trash Compactor Diorama. With 802 pieces, the set includes five minifigures (plus R2-D2) and features one of the most memorable scenes our heroes encounter aboard the Death Star in A New Hope. The set retails for US $89.99 | CAN $119.99 UK £79.99 and will be exclusive to LEGO stores and Wal-Mart. It’s available for pre-order now and will release April 26.

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.

Unboxing the set and contents

We had a chance to talk with the LEGO Star Wars team about these new sets, so let’s kick off with an explanation of the Diorama Collection:

We are really, really excited about this new concept. It’s really celebrating Star Wars. The models are intended for adults and it is really about the most memorable moments from Star Wars. So what it’s about is to take those memorable moments and create display models of this. So again, it’s really something for adults. There is some complex building in it, because this is all about details and authenticity.
Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, LEGO Star Wars Creative Director

Consequently, the new Diorama Collection sets follow LEGO’s now-standard design language for sets targeting adult builders with black packaging and a greebly strip along the bottom with the product details. Around back there are detail shots of the set, as well as an image from the film scene, but overall LEGO keeps the design very minimalistic.

Inside the box you’ll find five parts bags spread across four numbered steps, along with three loose 8×16 plates, and the instruction manual. Notably absent is a sticker sheet, since this set’s few decorated elements are all printed. The set doesn’t contain any new or recolored elements that I could spot, meaning the only exclusives to this set are the printed bits and the minifigures.

There are only a few printed elements, all of which are new. The first is the black 2×4 tile printed with the LEGO Star Wars logo, which each of the Diorama Collection sets include. It’s very similar to some previous tiles such as the tile included with last year’s 40451 Tatooine Homestead set, except that this tile is the logo only, without the year of the set’s release included. Then there’s a 2×6 black tile printed with the quote from the scene that’s a hallmark of these sets.

[…] an extra little thing here on the front of the diorama, we have a famous quote from that specific movie scene. Those quotes are something we’ve been using here to figure out if the scene, the thing you are creating, this type of model, if it’s strong enough. If there is a famous quote that you can remember, that is definitely also a strong scene.
Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, LEGO Star Wars Creative Director

The last one is the Death Star computer printed on an inverted 2×2 tile.

The instruction manual is a tall booklet, and includes two spreads of background info on the set.

The build

The build begins with a base made of large plates layered together, reminiscent of the Architecture series. The base is 18 studs deep and 26 wide, with a space where it will be ringed with a nice border once finished.

[…] a signature of this model is the frame. The frame size can vary in length, but the depth is always 20 modules. And the reason for that is because we know that that’s a super good size. It’s very easy to display and it fits onto a regular bookshelf.
Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, LEGO Star Wars Creative Director

Next up comes a layer that’s almost a tiled mosaic, which will make up the mottled floor of the trash compactor.

The walls are made with plates and tiles rather than stacked bricks, which allows them to incorporate more details. The door in the trash compactor’s back wall, although built separately, is permanently affixed and doesn’t open–which makes sense because the scenes on either side of the door aren’t adjacent.

Creating the product line that is targeted adults gave us the option to then to dive into the details that we wouldn’t normally be able to do if we’re doing a set for an eight year old, because we know these scenes mean a lot to Star Wars fans. [Usually] it’s all about making a great play experience for a child, a great building experience for a child, where here we want to capture the scene in as much detail as we can.
Michael Lee Stockwell, LEGO Star Wars Designer Manager

The two side walls are built in a similar fashion with stacked plates, but they also get a ragged edge of plates along the bottom to which various debris and trash will be attached. Note the rail elements along the bottom edges, which is how the trash compactor’s mechanism will function.

The two walls get a good smattering of nondescript space junk. The rubber hose connecting the two sides is obviously only attached once the pieces are slotted into the base. However, it’s cleverly attached to Technic pins that let it bend freely.

Once the walls are in place, the build is finished. Although the set contains over 800 pieces, it’s a very quick build. Many of the elements go into detailing the walls and floor with small tiles. Although it doesn’t look it, there are places for each of the four minifigures in the compactor to stand.

The completed model

Although the original Star Wars is filled with memorable scenes, it’s hard to deny that the Trash Compactor scene is one of the best suited to a small vignette like this, since it’s a small, self-contained scene filled with tense moments. The model certainly captures the feel of the room, and even the scale seems pretty accurate. The busy mess of pieces evokes the feeling of a rubbish-filled room, while the mosaic floor breaks up the flat patches. If I had one nitpick, it’s that the default posing for the minifigures features Chewbacca holding the long bar, instead of Han Solo.

The Trash Compactor is the only one of the first three Diorama Collection sets with any play features. The walls can be moved individually, closing in on Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewy. The rubble is very strategically placed so that it interleaves, letting the walls compact in a way that feels very natural.

We have been wanting to do [the Trash Compactor] for quite a long time but it’s a little bit tricky. A trash compactor without a function isn’t much of a trash compactor, so that’s why it’s taken us a while to figure out how to tackle that.
Michael Lee Stockwell, LEGO Star Wars Designer Manager

Of course, there’s a little Easter egg around back, with a second tiny scene that’s integral to the heroes’ escape. Spin the model around and R2-D2 and C-3PO are in the hangar bay, interfacing with the Death Star computer to shut off all the garbage mashers on the detention level. The printed tile sells the scene, but there’s not much else here in the way of details, which is a bit of a shame. If the alternative was to not include this scene at all, I’m glad it’s here, but I’d have preferred it to get the same detailed treatment as the rest of the build.

The minifigures

The set includes five minifigures plus R2-D2, and most of them are new versions that are currently exclusive to this set.

Princess Leia features the same torso as a few previous sets, and appears to be identical overall to the version that came with 2019’s 75229 Death Star Escape. However, Luke and Han are sporting pilfered Stormtrooper armor, and the armor is a new design.

All three minifigures feature double-sided heads with alternate expressions.

The LEGO Stormtrooper has gone through many, many iterations since it was introduced in 1999, but still LEGO designers are finding new ways to represent the iconic armor. This time it’s been redesigned with new prints on both the torso and legs, and the belt has been moved up slightly. It’s the first version of the classic trilogy Stormtrooper to feature white hips. In the image below, the Stormtrooper on the left is the design used for the last few years, which features the torso and leg design introduced in 2014 and the detailed, dual-molded helmet introduced in 2019. The move to white hips is definitely an improvement, but the belt should have been printed on the hips rather than moved even higher.

Chewbacca is the version introduced in 2014, and seems as suitable as ever. R2-D2 and C-3PO, however, each get a little makeover with extra details. C-3PO’s printing has been subtly redesigned on both the torso and legs, and he picks up arm printing, which is a first for an original-trilogy version of the gold droid.

R2-D2 has similarly had a subtle overhaul on his body, though the head remains the same as the version introduced in 2020. Importantly, he picks up back printing on the body, which is a first-ever in 23 years of LEGO Star Wars (the new Dagobah Diorama Collection set features another new version of R2-D2 with back printing covered in mud).

Conclusion and recommendation

Adult LEGO fans love awesome display models, and Star Wars fans more than most. That’s clear to see with the popularity of the Ultimate Collector Series sets, but LEGO has had a difficult time finding the right balance for minifigure-scale sets between playsets (even large, impressive ones like 75290 Mos Eisley Cantina) and detailed scenes meant for display. There have been some great attempts like 75294 Bespin Duel, but this new series strikes the perfect balance. The Trash Compactor features parts-intensive building techniques more commonly associated with fan builds, where the focus is on the end result rather than creating an easy build or a sturdy model suitable for play.

Since the Diorama Collection sets were revealed over the past few weeks, I’ve observed a lot of fans talking about the $90 price and how the set doesn’t justify that price. Having build the set, I can say that they are right about one thing: the finished model is pretty small at just 5.5 by 8 inches. However, it’s also exactly what adult fans have been wanting for as long as I can remember: fan-build quality that focuses on details rather than play features. And if you’ve ever built your own detailed models, you’ll know that they soak up parts like a sponge, easily racking up twice the part count of official LEGO sets with a similar footprint. Consequently, this small model has just a hair over 800 pieces. When you factor in five minifigures and R2-D2, four of whom are currently unique to this set, the price of $90 ends up looking about right, if perhaps just a tiny bit high. But it’s certainly not wildly overpriced in the way a set like 75326 Boba Fett’s Throne Room is.

The one “play feature” works amazingly well (everyone who’s seen it in person has said they enjoy it more than they expected to) and the details look great. The added details on the droids looks fantastic, and the updated Stormtrooper armor certainly adds some interest, though that one seems more a lateral move than a distinct upgrade. These Diorama Collection sets fit perfectly on a desk or bookshelf and look classy; the details, fancy border and nameplate elevates them from a “toy” to a collectible vignette. If you’re a Star Wars fan, the Death Star Trash Compactor is a must-buy.

75339 Death Star Trash Compactor contains 802 pieces with five minifigures and an astromech droid. It can be pre-ordered now from LEGO for US $89.99 | CAN $119.99 UK £79.99 and will be available starting April 26, and will be exclusively sold through LEGO and Wal-Mart. It may also be available from third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

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.

3 comments on “Introducing the LEGO Star Wars Diorama Collection: 75339 Death Star Trash Compactor [Review]

  1. Jordan

    So you’re saying the juice is worth the squeeze? I’m on the fence with both this and the dagobah set, there are a lot of decent sets coming out so I don’t know where to spend my money the fact I can get two Buzz lightyear ships for the price of one of these has me a bit hesitant, that ship is a beauty.

  2. Jimmy

    ” However, it’s also exactly what adult fans have been wanting for as long as I can remember: fan-build quality that focuses on details rather than play features. And if you’ve ever built your own detailed models, you’ll know that they soak up parts like a sponge, easily racking up twice the part count of official LEGO sets with a similar footprint.”

    Thanks for including this, that’s been my take on these as well.

    It would be interesting to list the part counts of some of the MOCs you feature on the site (not necessarily Star Wars stuff), because I think fans often forget just how parts-intensive a really good detailed model is.

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