Hands-on with LEGO’s 2021 X-Wing Starfighter: What’s old is new again

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LEGO kicked off 2021 by launching a collection of new kits, including a handful of new Star Wars models. Today, we’re starting to go hands-on with the entire lineup of builds from a galaxy far, far away by taking a look at the latest version of the X-Wing. After receiving an all-new, more affordable design and some exclusive new minifigures, how will LEGO’s most recent attempt at the classic starfighter stack up? Head below for a closer look and all of our thoughts on the new LEGO 2021 X-Wing.

Hands-on with the refreshed LEGO X-Wing

The X-Wing Starfighter may very well be the most recognizable vehicle from the Star Wars universe, and LEGO has now debuted its most recent version to start off 2021. LEGO always likes to have an X-Wing on store shelves. After all, it’s one of the most iconic things from the entire Star Wars universe. But how does the most recent implementation stack up?

This time around, LEGO is taking a different approach to its latest X-Wing with a slimmed-down design that’s notably smaller than the previous version in both part count and overall size. Clocking in at 474 pieces, it’s still the largest of the new LEGO Star Wars kits, but is a scaled-down version of the iconic ship in just about every sense.

A closer look at what’s included

The design tweak and new direction for the Star Wars theme comes with its perks, but isn’t without some drawbacks. There’s plenty to praise about the latest version of the X-Wing, as well as some areas where LEGO didn’t quite live up to its usual standards for the starfighter.

But first, we’ll start with all of the good things about the latest LEGO X-Wing. Those who already have a version of the ship in their collection are sure to notice the smaller design here, which more effectively utilizes pieces to assemble the starfighter.

It seems a bit strange to say, but LEGO has actually managed to shrink the model in a way that’s more accurate in comparison to the onscreen inspiration. At least when scaled for minifigures, that is. The engines in particular have been a bit too large over the past few iterations, and here LEGO scales them back to be more true to actual design. 

Following from the smaller design comes the more affordable price point, which is surely one of the set’s strongest points. For as strong as the LEGO X-Wing is as a set, everything is amplified by how much less expensive it is compared to previous models. But more on how good of an actual value this set is in a moment. 

There’s also an all-new mechanism at the center of the build here to pull off the X-Wing’s signature X design. In the past, LEGO has leveraged some rubber bands and an overall clunky build to lock the S-Foils into attack position, but here there’s a much simpler assembly of Technic bricks to achieve a similar effect.

Actually, it’s a much better effect this time around. LEGO’s refreshed design allows the wings to open in a noticeably smoother fashion. And when you close them, the wings don’t just snap right into place. So when you land the starfighter, everything eases back into place.

It’s not without some drawbacks, though

The more budget-conscious design isn’t without its drawbacks, as LEGO’s refined approach ultimately yields a design that’s not quite as display-worthy as previous versions of the iconic starfighter. 

On the flip side of the model having more accurate overall size, the smaller build means that other authentic aspects had to be excluded. They’re generally small omissions, like the lack of retractable landing gear, but inclusions we’ve seen previously that are missing nonetheless. 

The trade-offs aren’t purely cosmetic either, as the underlying structure of the build isn’t nearly as sturdy as we’ve seen in the past. It isn’t exactly fragile, but younger builders may very well find it doesn’t survive through more intense swooshing sessions. 

Then there are some areas where LEGO attempted to be more accurate, but the translation from the Lucas Film vault to its latest brick-built form just isn’t quite right. The nose is a spot-on example of this, as it’s close to nailing the look, but is a bit too bulky underneath and connected to the rest of the starfighter with some techniques that throw off the overall look. 

My last gripe with the new design is arguably the most noticeable, as R2-D2 doesn’t quite fit into the build as well as we’ve come to expect from LEGO X-Wing in the past. The new mechanism and smaller size leaves less hollowed-out space to achieve the play feature, but it’s something that I think even builders without as critical an eye as myself will notice. It’s far from a dealbreaker, but just another mark on an otherwise pretty solid report. 

LEGO delivers on the minifigures

Alongside the X-Wing itself, LEGO is including a refreshed selection of minifigures this time around for the new 2021 model. Of course, you’ll still find a pilot version of Luke Skywalker alongside R2-D2, which have become something of a staple for kits like this. Both Luke and R2 are the same versions of that we’ve been seeing for quite some time from recent kits. But with LEGO really hitting it out of the park with the latest pilot design, there’s no complaints here. As for the second pair of characters here, LEGO is mixing things up with two rare inclusions.

In the past, LEGO has opted to include a second X-Wing pilot and astromech droid like Biggs Darklighter or some other named Rebel from the Star Wars universe. But here, LEGO is leaning into the A New Hope theming here to offer two minifigures from the original film that aren’t exactly affiliated with X-Wings.

First up, we have a Princess Leia minifigure that has only appeared in a single other set before. Donning her iconic white robe seen in Episode IV, this exact printing and design was only previously included in 2019’s Tantive IV. And now that the set has been retired, this is another way to score the figure. Not to emotion a more affordable way at that.

And in an even rarer occurrence, LEGO is introducing an all-new character into its Star Wars theme with the 2021 X-Wing in the form of General Dodonna. Sporting a khaki coat with printing that continues down onto the legs, this minifigure has some nice included details that make it worth the wait. Considering we’re into the 22nd year of the Star Wars theme, it’s great to see LEGO finally include the character.

Should you buy it? 

Clocking in at $49.99, the latest 2021 version of the LEGO X-Wing is quite a solid kit all around. The part per dollar breakdown only further accentuates that, with the new starfighter entering at just over $0.10 per brick. That makes it a pretty exceptional value considering you’re getting the four minifigures here, including a pair of exclusive ones.

Whether or not you should buy it ultimately comes down to whether you already have an X-Wing in your collection. Believe it or not, this is one of the first versions of the starfighter I’ve picked up in years, aside from the Christmas version. So it particularly caught my eye as a chance to finally grab a modern version of the kit. But if you already have one, it really depends on whether the figures are worth the cash.

9to5Toys’ Take

X-Wing kicks off LEGO’s new focus on making more affordable sets, and the first flagship of the winter 2021 wave is a good look at the compromises that are being made now, and likely those that’ll be made again. The emphasis on a lower price tag is going to make this a massive hit with builders, and the fact that LEGO actually delivered on a solid model makes that even more of the case.

So while we’ve seen more faithful recreations of the starfighter in the past, this is easily the best value to date for bringing a LEGO X-Wing to your collection.

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