Monday, 6 October 2014

LEGO Star Wars: Jedi Starfighters Episode I

 It’s scary to think that it is now twelve years since fans were introduced to the Jedi Starfighter. The first time fans met this vehicle was not when the second Star Wars prequel, Attack of the Clones, was released to cinemas nor on the main product launch day. The Jedi Starfighter was the sneak preview vehicle from LEGO and Hasbro, released ahead of the movie to give fans an early toy to get their hands on.

If the prequels have a signature vehicle it is arguably the Jedi Starfighter. It was more closely attached to the heroes than the Naboo Starfighter, and didn’t get swept into the fast paced battles featuring hundreds of Clone vehicles. What probably cemented its iconic status is its regular appearances in The Clone Wars TV series. Over the last twelve years, LEGO have certainly made sure it was available. Rather than be a frustratingly repeated craft like the Snowspeeder, the Jedi Starfighter has come in different colours and iterations.

The first Jedi Starfighter (7143) was released in January 2002, and featured the first mini-figure of Obi-Wan Kenobi as a Jedi Knight.  It is a fair representation of the ship from the film, the proportions of the droid within the fighter don’t necessarily make sense, which is a holdover from the design in the movie rather than the fault of the LEGO designers. It was the first time fans would see the Republic logo on a Jedi ship, foreshadowing the rise of the Empire, on a LEGO set.

Inbetween movies, LEGO were a little lost at this time and a theory emerged that in on-movie years, Star Wars was not as relevant and fewer products were needed. How times have changed. This meant that the next Jedi Starfighter was the Delta fighter from Revenge of the Sith, released in April 2005 as the Jedi Starfighter and Vulture Droid (7256). Cynics might suggest than changing the design so radically just three years later was a way to sell more toys, but the elements of Imperial TIE Fighters added to the design show how the Republic crafts would gradually become those of the Empire.

That first Revenge of the Sith Starfighter was the yellow ship belonging to Anakin, one of four that prominently appeared in the movie. The companion Obi-Wan Kenobi red Starfighter was released late in 2005 as a Toys R Us exclusive in the Ultimate Space Battle (7283), with the exact same build as the Anakin counterpart. The snag was that the box also included Anakin’s fighter again, along with the Vulture and Tri-Fighter Droids that had also been released in April. It suggests that this exclusive was quickly thrown together to meet the insatiable demand that Revenge of the Sith created.

Check back later in the week as we look at the Jedi Starfighters released from The Clone Wars.

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