Star Wars: TIE Advanced Prototype
Mini Figures: 3
3 numbered bags of Lego bricks
The TIE Advanced Prototype is the ship of the Inquisitor, the main villain of the first series of Star Wars Rebels, the new Disney era Star Wars cartoon.
The ship itself retains the familiar looks of the traditional TIE fighters except for curved wings which have been interpreted by Lego to be folding as depicted in the box art. Interestingly, the design by the Lego team looks more like the TIE Advanced x1 which Darth Vader flies in Episode IV than the ship that can be seen in Star Wars Rebels. While the Rebels show did make its first appearance before the release of this set in January, it was only by a few months, so it is perfectly possible that Lego had to make their designs based on early concept art or even a reasonable guess based on the name.
The set contains three minifigures which are all unique to the set. The first is a standard TIE fighter pilot in the familiar all black uniform and helmet. The new version doesn’t really offer anything radically new. There is a little more detail in the printing. In particular, a lot of details have been highlighted in dark gray which used to be just black plastic. The mould of the helmet itself looks the same. Interestingly, the UCS Tie Fighter released in May 2015 (75095) contains another new design of the TIE fighter pilot which has better definition to the details and the colour of the highlights looks a little lighter. It is likely though that the UCS version will remain as a one-off collectors piece while this pilot will become the new standard going forwards.
The main problem with the pilot is that the head is now completely flesh coloured and does not wear the ‘black hood’ like in the previous versions. The helmet leaves a big gap at the back and the resulting visible ‘neck’ does look a little out of place.
The next figure in the set is named only as an imperial officer. The officer in this case is wearing a brown uniform. This seems an odd choice as I couldn’t find any reference to a brown Imperial officers uniform anywhere. Again, this might be based on concept art and you could argue that the officer represents Cumberlayne Aresko, the commander of Imperial troops at Lothal where much of Star Wars Rebels is set. Aside from the colour, the printing otherwise looks similar to the other current Imperial officer figure released in the Imperial Star Destroyer (75055) set last year.
The final figure is the owner of the TIE prototype and the main villain of the first season of Rebels, the Inquisitor. The figure is very nicely printed and comes with a shoulder armour piece and a separate helmet. The helmet is probably the best Lego helmet produced so far. The helmet is almost entirely black with good quality mould, but what makes it unique is the opaque red visor which covers the eye hole. The overall effect works really well and certainly looks the part. The main problem with the inquisitor figure really is that the art style of the Star Wars Rebels and Lego don’t really go together very well. The characters in rebels are almost all tall and thin and the inquisitor more so than most. However, the Lego minifigure dimensions are always going to look short and wide and therefore the Inquisitor is almost unrecognisable. As he doesn’t have the familiar helmet of Darth Vader or even a really recognisable costume, his face really is the one thing that separates him. While the printing of the tattoos on his face are visible it really is hard to imagine the figure as the Inquisitor.
The build of the TIE Advanced Prototype itself is certainly straightforward to the extreme. The design of the TIE fighter is never going to produce an exciting build and this set really proves the point. The first bag deals with the cockpit which is the best part of the build with some interesting details. There is an interesting mechanism here that allows the new style missiles to be fired by twisting a piece in the back of the cockpit. The canopy and windshield are also nicely printed which is great as it saves us from some potentially very complicated stickers.
However, after the cockpit build the next stage is to build the left and right ‘arms’ that hold the wings. These are simple to put together and acts as a prelude to the final stage of repetition in the form of the four identical wing pieces.
The potential benefit of the boring build is that the whole set can be put together very quickly indeed. If you build the four wing parts at the same time you can save a lot of time.
There are a few stickers, but nothing that would pose a problem for even younger builders.
As mentioned in the introduction, the TIE Advanced Prototype doesn’t really match the look of the ship in Star Wars Rebels. It must be said though that a true curved surface is a very difficult shape to create in small scale in Lego and the designers have done a good job in the circumstances. I don’t particularly like the folding wings as a look, but this of course is optional and therefore shouldn’t put anyone off the set. The set could do with a little stand though which would help it remain with the wings bent open. As it is, you can’t display the set with its wings open as they will always close under the weight of the ship. A simple stand should be easy for anyone to design though so this should not be considered a big issue.
The look of the TIE fighters in general is going to be divisive. They are a simple design in shades of gray and black which is not everyone’s cup of tea, but as someone who grew up with Star Wars I do tend to like these sets.
The size of the ship is pretty small compared to the previous TIE Fighter set (9492), but the design is vastly improved and the smaller size does improve playability. The mechanism for shooting the spring loaded missiles is great as well, so I would think this will appeal to the younger fans.
The minifigures are all unique, but probably not quite exciting enough to make this desirable to anyone but the fans of the Star Wars Rebels series. The designs are good though, so it’s a little shame if these would get overlooked by collectors.
So if you are looking for a TIE fighter set, you could do worse than this model. However, for fans of the original trilogy only there probably isn’t too much to see here.