I’ve done it: I’ve acquired the Lego Star Destroyer — model number 10030. This is one of the Lego models I wanted but thought I couldn’t afford, and yet here it is. How is it possible? I didn’t buy it MISB (mint inside box1), I didn’t even buy it new; I bought it used. It was a partial model where the seller sourced all missing pieces and finished it herself. (Piece inventories and building instructions are available online for the ambitious). But as a Frankenstein-ian build it has a few minor issues, namely a missing piece (only one, and it wasn’t a build-stopper *phew*), discolouration in some pieces, the bottom halves of the shield generators are the wrong colour grey (but barely noticeable), and it has no box (therefore no mints inside). Collectively these ‘issues’ brought the price down from $1500 to just under $450. Bargain? Probably not. Happy? Hell yes!
This thing is incredible. It’s massive. It’s imposing. All the hallmarks of an actual Star Destroyer. And it’s in my living room. The star Destroyer is my favourite ship from the Star Wars trilogy and having a Lego model of it in such size and detail is a physical manifestation of my love for this iconic ship.
It took approximately 11 hours to build2, and only because I’d read many reviews of this model, particularly this one, where I was given the heads up on the repeating elements so when needed I could make multiples of parts at the same time. For example the internal frame is made from two identical frames joined together, and the 32 greeble pieces along the sides were made in a sort of production line. Probably saved me a good hour and a half. Still, after 11 hours, my fingertips were pretty sore :(
During the build it became apparent how much work goes into designing such a model. I’ve seen a couple of videos where the designers of Lego sets talk about the challenges of designing and adhering to Lego’s specs, part counts, and budget caps — it’s not as simple as a guy playing with bricks then Lego commercialising the set.
The design of the Star Destroyer is more mind boggling than it appears on the surface:
- The four outer wedge plates are held in place by magnets!
- Each plate has been designed with existing Lego pieces and allows for the super structure and stands to sit on and poke through respectively, all while staying true to the shape of the ship. This would’ve taken a few attempts to design.
- The model is built in three sections, the dismantling of which allows you to reach in and grab the inner frame for easy-ish transportation
- The angles are spot on, not just in the overall shape of the ship, but also in the details of the super structure and bridge
- It’s weighted and balanced well3
All these things were designed into the model while paying attention to piece counts and final retail price. Amazing. I’d love to see a video of the designer talking about this model. It must’ve taken a full year to design.
The attention to detail is extraordinary. For example, take a look at the shield generators (second image at the top) and compare them to the shield generators on the ships in the films. Also, the gun turrets on the side of the ship (fifth image above) are true to the film, and the way they’re built out of Lego is quite clever. SNOT indeed! There are many examples like this which make me love this model even more than I thought I would.
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For the AFOLs reading this (and anyone who owns this model) there’ve been reports of the magnets on the bottom disconnecting from the bottom plates. To counter this, I took some time to manually match the strongest magnets for the bottom sections — the top section magnets only need to hold the plates in place so they can be weaker. Also, some magnets were pushed down/recessed past the edge of the plastic rim that surrounds the magnet itself, making it difficult to get a physical connection between two magnets. I pulled these apart and pushed the magnet back out past the plastic rim to guarantee a magnet to magnet connection. These things seemed to help.
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I considered making a stop-motion video of the build, but there are a bunch of them on YouTube already. I also considered live-Instagramming the build but I thought that would get annoying for the few followers I have.
If you want to see what goes into building the Star Destroyer, watch this:
Table not included
It’s a mammoth effort to put it together, not the least of which is sorting the pieces into logical groups before you begin. Luckily for me my seller had done about 75% of this for me :) Had I bought this MISB, without researching building shortcuts, I reckon the total build time would be closer to 14 hours. Still doable in a day, still disappointing to Kelly ;P It also helps if you have a big table on which to build it.
So there you have it, my 10030 Lego Star Destroyer.
Not cheap, but worth every cent.
I’ve added a couple of custom pieces which I think the nerdy of you will appreciate (warning, Blu-Tac involved):
- Two formations of three TIE Fighters flying past, including a formation led by Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced
- A Millennium Falcon sneakily hiding at the back of the Star Destroyer’s bridge
Both additions are roughly to scale — maybe the Falcon is a tad big, but it’s as small as I could go. The Falcon design is by TsoAutTmo.
And the missing piece has been replaced. Nootch.