[REVIEW] LEGO Star Wars UCS Tie Fighter

Lego-Tie-Fighter-UCS-2The Ultimate Collector Series TIE Fighter set has been out for a number of months now, but I finally got around to putting it together over the last few nights. So, like before with the Red 5 X-Wing, and Slave I, here’s a quick rundown and review of the build, and the final results.

While the Empire’s TIE Fighter may not be the most sleek looking of the ships in the Star Wars universe, it’s still iconic. I’m sure most of you reading this already know that TIE actually stands for Twin Ion Engine – so it’s name has nothing to do with neckwear or how they attack people. I honestly don’t know what the Empire was thinking when they designed these things because the giant solar panels on each side of the cockpit keep the pilot from seeing anywhere but in front of him. Serious tactical disadvantage there. But, they’re bad guys anyway so who cares, right?

Alright, on to business.

The instruction booklet is beautiful just like all the previous UCS ones – giving lots of details about not only the ship itself in the Star Wars universe (as if it were real) but also information from the designer of the model at LEGO. Some kids may not care, but to adults it’s a quick interesting read and I’m glad LEGO goes to the lengths they do to make the entire process engrossing right from the start. The directions are easy to follow, as usual. However I think one of the reasons these last few UCS booklets have been so big is because each step only adds between 1-5 pieces at a time. Most instructions add a lot more per step depending on the model. This isn’t a drawback because it helps me make sure I didn’t miss anything – which I often do.

OK, onto the build pictures…
Read the captions beneath each photo for more information about each!

As usual there were lots of bags to start off...

As usual there were lots of bags to start off…

The cockpit was really neat because I love how they made the pilot's chair. There were no special computer consoles or anything just a stripped down bare necessities cockpit.

The cockpit was really neat because I love how they made the pilot’s chair. There were no special computer consoles or anything just a stripped down bare necessities cockpit.

The frame of the ship begins to take shape around the cockpit area.

The frame of the ship begins to take shape around the cockpit area.

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Now the cockpit window has been attached and the entry cap as well. It does lift up easily (pictured) should you want to put the pilot minifig inside.

Now the cockpit window has been attached and the entry cap as well. It does lift up easily (pictured) should you want to put the pilot minifig inside.

Here is the reverse side showing the engine compartment.

Here is the reverse side showing the engine compartment.

This part was probably the most fun of the entire build. Putting the final details on the wing panels and attaching them to the main body was a close second. There are a lot of little pieces and details here, but it’s fabulous once the shape starts to come together. When you built out the support struts for the large panels you start to wonder about how they are going to attach to each other securely.

The large side panels were quite tedious, actually. The directions had to be repeated numerous times since you were creating multiple copies of a number of the components. The payoff is good in the end, but it takes some of the fun of watching things come together when you do the same thing over and over again. Here’s a closer look:

As you can see the top/bottom of the panels are assembles 4 times. The middle piece that connects them is created twice.

As you can see the top/bottom of the panels are assembles 4 times. The middle piece that connects them is created twice.

Here is one of the panels connected, before all the outer coverings have been added.

Here is one of the panels connected, before all the outer coverings have been added.

With one of the panels outside covering complete, here it is compared to the still in process second one.

With one of the panels outside covering complete, here it is compared to the still in process second one.

This is the back side of the completely covered panels. The details of the 6 struts are being attached. At first after attaching them I thought they were very flimsy and just flopping about and was curious how they were going to stay in place.

This is the back side of the completely covered panels. The details of the 6 struts are being attached. At first after attaching them I thought they were very flimsy and just flopping about and was curious how they were going to stay in place.

Then after attaching the details on the front side of the panel, this little piece clasps at the bottom of each of the 4 main corners connecting the front and back struts, securing them. Genius!

Then after attaching the details on the front side of the panel, this little piece clasps at the bottom of each of the 4 main corners connecting the front and back struts, securing them. Genius!

Sorry that last one was a little out of order - here are the two panels, front side up, with all their outer coverings on.

Sorry that last one was a little out of order – here are the two panels, front side up, with all their outer coverings on.

After the outer panels were constructed I was curious how they were going to securely connect. Needless to say I wasn’t disappointed. The arms from the main cockpit body slid nicely into the opening on the inside of the panel, and locked into some bricks. To further secure, there were two flaps that swung up and also locked in place to the body’s frame. Overall, the connection feels very solid.

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Here is the connection point. You can see the flaps that lock securely on the right and behind left.

Here's an up close look at the outside center of the panels on the Fighter. Looks great!

Here’s an up close look at the outside center of the panels on the Fighter. Looks great!

All done! Head on view. Note the minfig for scale.

All done! Head on view. Note the minfig for scale.

As you can see, like previous UCS ships, it's pretty good sized!

As you can see, like previous UCS ships, it’s pretty good sized!

Here is the connection point. You can see the flaps that lock securely on the right and behind left.

And here are some more detailed views of the finish product. Sorry for the shitty lighting. But you get the general idea.

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So there you have it, the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series TIE Fighter. It’s a simplistic build in the end, but has some interesting LEGO mechanics to get it to work. Frankly, I love that they have minds that can come up with ways to connect simple blocks to produce these things. Either way, it’s a must have for your Star Wars collection!

Oh, and one last word of advice – make sure you try to put the stickers on before you put the pieces onto the model because some of them are hard to get at, and then you end up with crooked stickers. I HATE STICKERS.

Build Experience: C+
Build Time: A
Price:  C ($200 – a lot for limited complexity)
LEGO Star Wars UCS Tie Fighter Overall: B-

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