LEGO Imperial Shuttle review: A downsized build that delivers plenty of value

The LEGO Group started off the year by showcasing a pair of downsized starfighters straight out of the original trilogy. Now with a new batch of builds out for March, that trend continues with the latest Star Wars creation. Today, we’re taking a look at the just-released LEGO Imperial Shuttle to see how the 660-piece kit stacks up. Head below to see if this one is worth adding to your collection. 

Hands-on with the new LEGO Imperial Shuttle

As just the latest creation from a galaxy far, far away, LEGO has expanded its collection of Star Wars kits with a new starship from Return of the Jedi. While it didn’t receive the most screen time in the film, the Imperial Shuttle has become a fan-favorite vehicle from the series and is now making its latest brick-built debut. 

This time around, the kit stacks up to 660 pieces in order to assemble the largest Star Wars creation so far this year. The build itself is pretty straightforward all told and assembles a pretty sturdy model that can easily stand up to being swooshed around, or just living up on a shelf. It stacks up to over 10 inches tall and achieves a wingspan of 14 inches wide when putting it into flight mode.

Despite continuing on with the scaled-down form-factor that the other LEGO Original Trilogy ships have seen, the Imperial Shuttle still manages to pack in all of the essential play features. The wings can fold up and down to simulate taking off or landing, and there’s also an opening cockpit with room for a single minifigure.

There’s also a pretty ingenious mechanism that allows the rear hatch to open up for placing some minifigs and accessories inside the transport ship. All of the sturdiness from the rest of the build applies here, so you can easily lift up the whole model from its center fin without opening into the interior, which is pretty neat all things considered.

Compares to the previous model 

Despite all of the highlights of this build, the name of the game of the LEGO Star Wars lineup so far for 2021 has been downsizing. This is something that’s definitely apparent when comparing the latest Imperial Shuttle to the previous model. It’s been over five years since we last saw a minifigure-scale version of the iconic ship, with the latest cutting some corners in order to enter at $30 less than its predecessor.

But even though the newest version is in fact a smaller build and comes with two less minifigures, that doesn’t mean this one is inferior by any means. The LEGO Group honed its skills will making sacrifices on its X-Wing and TIE Fighter that were released earlier in the year, and all of that expertise arrives here on the Imperial Shuttle with quite a fine model.

Sure some details are missing and the scale has been shrunk, but the overall value of the kit has certainly been maximized. All of the features you’d expect have been retained, and there are even some improvements this time around. Accessing the cargo bay in the ship’s main body is now much easier and delivers a much more playable design, even if it isn’t as accurate.

Minifigures

To round out the new LEGO Imperial Shuttle, you’ll find three minifigures included with the kit. Fittingly for the build based around Return of the Jedi, you’ll find Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, as well as an Imperial Shuttle pilot. The selection is pretty solid all around, with the pilot entering as the build’s only exclusive minifig. Printing on this character is just a tad different than previous versions, with a minimalist officer’s uniform that carries over from the torso onto the legs.

As for the other two, Vader himself shares the same design we’ve seen from the character over the past several brick-built appearances. But that’s not to say he isn’t an exciting inclusion given how solid the printing continues to be. Luke rounds out the kit’s selection of minifigures with a design that’s a bit underwhelming. The torso detailing is nice, but there’s no leg printing or anything to really elevate the figure. Still, all-in-all a pretty nice assortment of characters at the price point.

Price and value 

Clocking in as the largest LEGO Star Wars kit of the year so far, the new Imperial Shuttle matches that with a $69.99 price tag, the most expensive of 2021 for the theme. But just like we’ve seen from the other downsized models, there is plenty of value with the build that more than justifies the price.

At just over $0.10 per piece, the cash you’ll spend is pretty solid in the Star Wars realm. Not to mention, the overall model is quite appealing considering the size, play features, and included minifigures.

9to5Toys’ Take 

I’m certainly a bit biased with the Imperial Shuttle is my favorite ship in the Star Wars universe, so I can’t help but recommend this build. Being such a big fan of the ship also means that my grips with the set are a little less forgivable. I would have loved to see a more accurate cockpit with room for two figures as well as some actual landing gear instead of the nubs that currently hold up the ship.

Though even without a perfect report card, the latest version of the Imperial Shuttle certainly does the source material justice. Sure it may not be as accurate as The LEGO Group’s previous attempt, but this one hits all the right notes at the price point. The figure selection makes perfect scenes given the Return of the Jedi context, making them quite notable inclusions even if they aren’t all exclusive.

So at the end of the day, the latest LEGO Imperial Shuttle is easily my favorite build of the year so far. Anyone who doesn’t yet have the vehicle in their LEGO collections should definitely pick it up, but those who do happen to have the 2015 version already should hold off.

Buy the new LEGO Imperial Shuttle at Amazon or direct from LEGO.com

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