LEGO Star Wars Imperial Light Cruiser review: Exclusive minifigures steal the show

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We began taking a hands-on look at the new summer LEGO Star Wars sets yesterday with the Slave 1, and are now continuing onto another Mandalorian-themed set. Stacking up to over 1,300 pieces, the new Imperial Light Cruiser looks to deliver as the largest kit in the collection and several exclusive minifigures. But will that be enough to justify its steep price tag? Head below for all of the details in our LEGO Imperial Light Cruiser review.

Hands-on with the LEGO Imperial Light Cruiser

Joining most of the summer LEGO Star Wars lineup for 2021, the Imperial Light Cruiser enters with theming around the second season of The Mandalorian. Playing a pretty crucial role in the latter half of the story arc, the ship made its debut into the series as a new iteration of Star Destroyer introduced into the world. And now it’s marking the first time we’ve seen the ship in LEGO form with a massive new model.

As the largest set in the collection, and most expensive at the $159.99 price point, the LEGO Imperial Light Cruiser enters with 1,336 pieces alongside five minifigures from the second season of the Disney+ show. Its exterior is almost exclusively light grey with some dark grey accents, which is about par for the course for these kinds of Star Wars ships. With nearly 2-feet of ship to assemble, the LEGO Group had plenty of room to pack details and play features into the Imperial Light Cruiser. So how did that all take shape? Let’s dive in.

Starting with the exterior, there are plenty of little greebles around the edge of the ship that manage to give it a larger sense of scale that’s fitting for something that’s supposed to be a behemoth in the Star Wars universe. There are some little cannons on the side which are joined by some even larger ones on the front deck complete with spring-loaded shooters.

The back of the ship is a little less interesting, as the details drop off in order to accommodate many of the structural workings of the ship. Its entire bridge serves as a handle for the model, so that you can actually pick it up and swoosh the LEGO Imperial Light Cruiser around. That aspect of the build does work quite well, as the entire package is very sturdy despite its larger size.

There are however two notable sections on the rear of the ship worth highlighting. Its engines are pretty novel and do a great job at giving the build its ionic look. I’m also a big fan of the two miniature TIE Fighters which are stored in hangers towards the back. Before we make our way inside the limited interior of the ship, those TIE Fighters will come in handy again as there’s a little section at the front which lets you launch them out the ship like in the Disney+ series. The mechanism is fairly simple, but does get the job done.

As for that interior, there’s just a single large section at the front which can fold open to reveal some space inside. It certainly isn’t the most spacious, but does give some room to recreate scenes from The Mandalorian. In the center is a navigation table and there are some control panels around the edge, but otherwise not too much to spark your imagination. This is one of the bigger letdowns of the set, as it would have be nice to see some additional furnishings to round out the build and make it feel more substantial.

Three exclusive minifigures stand out

It feels like we’re saying this more and more lately with the latest waves of LEGO Star Wars sets, but the included minifigures are certainly one of the highlights this time around for the Imperial Light Cruiser. And with six characters from The Mandalorian, there is certainly plenty to like here.

Let’s start off by checking out three of the build’s exclusive new minifigs, which make their debuts into the brick-built world. Given that this is his Imperial Light Cruiser after all, Moff Gideon is being included in the kit for the first time. The figure rocks his black suit from the series alongside a two-tone cape and double-sided head. There’s also Dark Saber for Gideon to wield, but more on that later.

Even more exciting for the set in my book is the inclusion of Fennec Shand, who has become more and more of a fan-favorite character since debuting in season 1 of The Mandalorian. Now having shown up in The Bad Batch, Star Wars fans will certainly be excited that we’re finally getting a minifigure version. She has an all-new dual-molded helmet to go alongside a pretty nice print job on the torso with details on the arms.

As for the third exclusive minifigure, the fearsome Dark Troopers have finally taken LEGO form in the Imperial Light Cruiser and steal the show. There are not only some new prints, but also a new helmet piece in order to pull off the unique look which is captured quite well by the shoulder armor piece and other detailing.

Rounding out the cast of characters is the Mandalorian himself as well as Baby Yoda and Cara Dune. We’ve seen them before in other sets, so there isn’t all too much to write home about here other than that all these are expected inclusions for the build.

Only the best is good enough not always the case

While there is certainly a lot to like about the set, there are some decisions that sour the notes on the flagship summer LEGO Star Wars set. Given that the LEGO Group’s slogan is only the best is good enough, I was honestly expecting more from some of the smaller aspects of the set.

The big one for me, and I am sure other LEGO fans will be the omission of a new Dark Saber mold. Season two of The Mandalorian introduced the weapon into the live action Star Wars canon, and likely isn’t going to be going anywhere any time soon. So now was the perfect chance to introduce a more accurate piece for the relic rather than relying on a black bar. It would have been such a small tweak that would have gone a long ways towards making this more appealing to older fans that was unfortunately overlooked.

9to5Toys’ Take:

As the most expensive set in the entire summer LEGO Star Wars wave, there are some pretty high expectations for the Imperial Light Cruiser to live up to. It’s over 1,300 pieces and 22.5-inch build certainly start things out on the right foot, with the minifigure lineup following through to deliver an enticing kit, for the most part. Though the more simplistic build does stop the set short of delivering fully on those presumptions.

At the end of the day, the Imperial Light Cruiser is just an expensive play set and doesn’t go too far beyond that. Sure it has some display presence and is the first of its kind in the LEGO world, but the real appeal of this set is going to be towards younger builders I suspect, rather than fans like myself who are more interested in collectible and display-worthy builds.

Even so, the exclusive minifigures are likely going to be the main driving force for this one even if it is a $160 set. If you can wait, it likely won’t be too long until Moff Gideon, the Dark Trooper, and Fennec Shand make appearances in more affordable LEGO kits, so it’s unlikely these will only ever be available in the Imperial Light Cruiser. If you can’t wait, there is plenty of value in the set for those who look for it, just know there’s surely better buys to be had from other sets in the summer LEGO Star Wars 2021 lineup.

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