Price: $49.99, Total Pieces: 442, Set Number: 75092, Thanks to LEGO for providing the set used in this review.
The general standard among most dedicated Star Wars fans is to loathe the prequel trilogy. Even among the most stringent of haters, however, there's usually one or two things they still enjoy. In my case, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the N-1 starfighter. The other fighters from the prequels never did much for me and always kind of smacked of trying (and failing) to ape the awesome ships from the original films. The N-1 though? It was looked like a unique work and, prior to The Phantom Menance, I'd never seen anything like it in Star Wars. I still like it a lot today.
You can understand then why I was excited when I first caught sight of LEGO's most recent take on the Naboo Starfighter. The latest in a long line of brick-based N-1s, the newest set (number 75092) is primarily aimed at recreating the scene from The Phantom Menace where Queen Amidala and her cohorts bust into the hangar in Naboo's capital city so they can launch the planet's fighters against the Trade Federation's Droid Control Ship.
On the replication front, the set is quite successful. Despite only containing 442 pieces, it manages to include a healthy dose of extras. These include seven mini-figures (including three battle droids), parts to construct two Destroyer droids, missile and blaster containers, a set of stairs, a stand for the fighter itself, and even a nifty fuel pump that plugs that actually plugs into the finished model. Compare that to the recent LEGO B-Wing which costs the same as the Naboo Starfighter, contains six more pieces and only comes with three mini-figures. Granted, the B-Wing is also larger and more complex, but the N-1's extras still feel like a nice touch and add a lot of potential play-ability for people interested in using this as more than just a show piece.
That said, it goes without saying that the fighter itself is the showcase piece of the set and, happily, it doesn't disappoint either. While the finished Naboo Starfighter is only a bit smaller than some of the recent LEGO X-Wings, it feels sturdier and more in line with smaller ships like the recent A-Wing and Snowspeeder. Much of this, of course, owes to the fact that it doesn't have an abundance of moving parts. The opening and closing S-Foils on the X-Wings and B-Wing, while cool, can sometimes lend those sets a fragile, floppy feeling when you actually pick them up. The new Naboo Starfighter feels like a solid toy that you cold actually play with without much of it falling apart.
Its solid form doesn't mean that it lacks functionality either. In addition to obvious things like its opening and closing cockpit canopy, it includes some clever exterior triggers that give it some nifty abilities. The bottom portion of the ship, for instance, boasts a small button trigger you can push to automatically eject the set's R2-D2 mini-figure from its position behind the cockpit. A bit further up the fighter also includes a dual trigger you can turn from left to right to fire off a pair of built-in missile launchers. This is a step up from a lot of the other LEGO Star Wars fighter sets which mostly on pressure to fire their missiles. Those can be unwieldy at best and will often fire during unintended moments, leading to a mad scramble to figure out where the now missing missile landed. Having the cannons internalized and equipped with a reliable trigger feels like a big improvement.
The actual process of assembling the set is also one that I found to be fairly relaxing and enjoyable. Amazing as some of the larger LEGO construction sets are, I'll admit to having a feeling of trepidation when it comes to the prospect of actually building one. As awesome as it would be to have a LEGO brick Super Star Destroyer plunked down in my office, the hours it would take to build the sucker kind of stress me out. The 75092 Naboo Starfighter set, comparatively, took me about and hour and 45 minutes. It's just long enough to feel like you've accomplished something while not so long as to feel burdensome.
The building process itself also wasn't too difficult. Split into five bagged sections, the set doesn't really have any steps that should leave you feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. There were a few smaller pieces that were a bit tough for my sausage fingers to handle and I don't think I'll ever quite get the hang of accurately placing the stickers, but overall I found Naboo Starfighter to be a fairly breezy. There was no intense concentration required; I was able to watch a movie and talk to my wife the entire time I did.
The big question, of course, is whether or not the Naboo Starfighter is worth it? In terms of pure price, I'd say yes. Mind you, I'm not saying its $49.99 price tag is cheap because it isn't. That's a lot money of to spend on a toy that, save for the occasional office dogfight, will likely spend its days looking pretty on shelf. That said, you do get a lot for your money and if you can get past the prequel-ness of the set (go watch Clone Wars; I swear it helps) then this is definitely a LEGO set worth having.
Bottom Line: The new Naboo Starfighter is well designed and offers a lot of brick for your buck.
Recommendation: If you're looking for a decent building experience but don't have the time or money to pick up one of the larger Star Wars sets, the Naboo Starfighter might just be the LEGO you're looking for.