Which LEGO Death Star is Better?
One of the most iconic vehicles (if you can call it a vehicle, and not just a ‘location’ given its scale!) from the Star Wars Saga is, of course, the Death Star. Playing a prominent role in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, the location also made a return in the most recent Star Wars entry, The Rise of Skywalker. With this considered, it seems like the perfect time for us to sit back, and look back through the three different versions of this iconic location which LEGO have brought to the Star Wars line over the years, to see if we can work out which is best! Join us, as we talk all things LEGO Death Star!
You Mean There is More Than One?
Before we can conclude which LEGO Death Star is the best, it makes sense to breakdown the three different versions which have been released over the duration of the LEGO Star Wars line. It’s important to note that for this comparison I am referring to whole Death Star builds – and not individual components of the Death Star, like the recent Death Star Cannon or Death Star Trench Run sets which we have received from LEGO recently. Whilst these sets are nice and have their own merits, they do not represent the whole of the location in one set, and so cannot really be counted for this comparison. With that out the way, we will move on and breakdown the first set – the Death Star II.
10143-1: Ultimate Collector Series: Death Star II
Up first we have the oldest rendition of the Death Star to be released by LEGO – the Death Star II, which released as a UCS set in 2005 retailing for £249.99. It’s important to note, right out the gate, that this set has become incredibly popular – with aftermarket prices on both Bricklink and eBay sometimes up to three-times the original value of the set when it released.
This is usually a good indicator of a popular set – and I think it’s fair to say that this set is popular for good reasons. Unlike the later variations of the Death Star which would be released, this set is an entirely aesthetic-focused build. This means that LEGO’s design team worked hard to create a round-feeling build which had a focus on the external aesthetics of the Death Star. For the most part, they could achieve this to an incredibly high standard – with everything from the paneling designs to the super-laser dish feeling authentic to the design which we see in the films.
Where this build really stands out, however, is in the fact that this is the second rendition of the Death Star. This is the version which is being constructed near Endor in Return of the Jedi, and therefore is still under construction when the Rebel Alliance can take it out within the film. LEGO have done an incredible job here of capturing this sense of the death star under construction – with various plates and other details layered expertly on the second half of the sphere to give it it’s non-complete appearance. This works incredibly well in really emulating the design of a partially built Death Star that we see within the film, and looks fantastic for a display piece.
My only concern would be how this would potentially impact the structural integrity of the build itself, however, so if you have owned the Death Star II then I would love to hear your thoughts on the durability of this build in the comments below, as I am really interested to see how it holds up.
With all that said, the Death Star II is a nice example of an aesthetically pleasing build from LEGO which matches up nicely with the source material and creates a compelling model. So, the first LEGO Death Star to be released really hit it out the park – but how does it compare to later renditions of the same structure?
10188-1: Ultimate Collector Series: Death Star
Following on from the success of set 10143-1, LEGO decided to release their second Death Star set in 2008 – just three years after the first one. With this set, however, they decided to go back to the drawing board so that they could create something brand new inspired around the same source material. This time around, LEGO opted to create something which was much more aligned with their principles of play, creating a Death Star with a fully minifigure compatible interior which represented the best scenes from the Original Trilogy.
Want to recreate Luke and Han’s daring rescue of Princess Leia? The detention block is included and connects to a trash compactor on the lower level! Want to recreate the infamous briefing room scene with Vader? The top floor features a recreation of that iconic scene! Set 10188-1 really was a masterclass in incorporating good levels of fan service into a set – including many of the scenes and sequences which were memorable for many fans. The level of functionality and playability really is second-to-none with this set – and to achieve it all in a spherical build is a real triumph for LEGO engineering.
The love for this set doesn’t end there, however, as it also incorporated some smaller builds and a plethora of great characters who really helped to add real value and depth to the playability of this set. LEGO went the extra mile by including a smaller-scaled Tie Advanced build with this set for Darth Vader – not only including the vehicle, but creating a Death Star hangar space where the vehicle could be docked. Being able to incorporate a feature like this was incredibly innovative at the time – and really added value to the overall set.
This, combined with the massive roster of minifigure included (3 versions of Luke, two of Han, Chewbacca, Leia, Ben Kenobi, Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine to name but a few), really made this the be all and end all when it came to a definitive set representative of the Original Trilogy. When I look at this set I get nostalgic in the best possible ways, as it takes me back to the times when LEGO were willing to pack lots of value and depth into their sets for a really, good price point.
So, I know what you’re thinking. How on earth can LEGO top that?
75159-1: Ultimate Collector Series: Death Star
Well, truth be told, LEGO didn’t really top it. 75159-1 was meant to be a refresh of 10188-1 – incorporating new and more detailed minifigures, alongside some brand-new characters and smaller builds. The key thing to note here, however, is the massive increase in price from the original set. 10188-1 retailed for £274.99, whilst this set retails for £409.99. Even considering adjustments in inflation, and the fact that the set includes slightly more in the characters, there really is not enough different here to justify the set’s price difference. I appreciate LEGO re-releasing the set for fans who were unable to get it during its 2008 heyday, but the change in price is not massively reflective in a change of quality and improved quality – and that, overall, prevents this from being the best LEGO Death Star.
So, which set wins?
Well, in my opinion it is a toss-up between 10188-1 and 10143-1, and ultimately, 10188-1 wins. Whilst I absolutely love the build for the Death Star II set, and feel like the level of depth and detail with the build is phenomenal, I feel like 10188-1 is a masterpiece of a build which really highlights how a build can appeal to both adults and kids when done well. The unique scope of characters and features included really is like nothing we have ever seen in a LEGO set before, and really paved the way for some of the fantastic D2C sets we have seen since. Whilst the refreshed set features some nice updated characters, it cannot match up to the creativity and love which went into creating the original concept for the play-set, and that is, ultimately, why 10188-1 wins.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this breakdown of the different LEGO Death Star sets which are out there. Don’t forget to leave a comment below if you’ve enjoyed it, and let me know what your favourite Death Star is in the comments below! You can also click here to read more of my articles, if you like what you’ve read so far!