Star Wars: Republic Striker Class Starfighter (#9497) by Lego

Oh, Christ, it’s another Star Wars Lego set. But wait… let me explain. This one here is from the Old Republic. I fell in love with the ship designs from the Old Republic back when I was playing KOTOR and KOTOR II like crack. I would have gladly sliced off both my ears and mailed them to Hasbro if they would in return have made toys out of the Old Republic ships. I don’t want to tell you what I would cut off in exchange for an Ebon Hawk. Instead, all we got was a grab bag of hard to find figures. I had no idea Lego even made Old Republic sets until I was in the aisle looking for another Star Wars set to buy just passing quickly through the aisle, not looking for any new Star Wars sets to buy, and happened to spot this one. It was also ten dollars off and in truth… I’M WEAK… OH, GOD, I’M SUCH A SAD, WEAK, AND PATHETIC MAN!! Thankfully, Lego is my only real vice… well, Lego and any other kinds of toys… and alcohol, but that goes without saying because I’m kind of a functional alcoholic… and cigars, I really enjoy a good cigar… oh, and pizza and cheeseburgers… and cake, pretty much any kind of cake… let’s get on with the feature…

Damn, this box is awesome. It’s got a cool, darker motif than the other Star Wars sets and it brandishes the “Old Republic” logo right on the front. Alas, it still has Darth Maul’s friggin mug on the box as his agent is clearly working overtime to make him relevant. The box shows off photos of this seriously awesome looking ship along with some minifigs of characters I’ve never seen or heard of before. Inside, you get a meaty instruction book and three numbered baggies containing a total of 376 pieces, which build the three all new minifigs and the starfighter itself. Time to brew up a pot of coffee and get building!

The minifigs are Satele Shan, a Republic Trooper, and an Astromech Droid called T7-01. I had to consult the Wookipedia to see who the hell Satele Shan was, and it turns out she’s a descendent of Bastila Shan furthering the idea that everyone of any notoriety in the Star Wars universe is related to each other and possibly Kevin Bacon. I’m not a big fan of the way her ponytails are printed on her torso, but you have to look pretty closely to even see them. Nonetheless, she’s a pretty cool little figure and includes two printed faces and a double bladed lightsaber.

I really dig the Republic Trooper as well. His body features a colorful and highly detailed printed outfit, and he’s got a scruffy face and he’s all scarred up. The Republic Trooper also comes with one of the most complex and badass guns I’ve ever seen in a Lego set.

And lastly, there’s T7, who is no slouch either. I really love the primitive Astromech Droid designs from the Old Republic period and this minifig is a great recreation of it in Lego form. He’s also a far more complex build than I suspected. For a group of characters that mean nothing to me, this lot of minifigs is still a win.

The Striker is a wonderful and original Starfighter design. The dual position wings make it feel like the melding of an A-Wing with a Z-95 Headhunter. With the wings closed, the ship has a vaguely triangular configuration with two engines protruding off the back and the single-pilot cockpit right in the center of the ship. This mode is so well designed that it’s almost impossible to tell there’s a second configuration. It just looks like a forerunner to the A-Wing and it would have been a perfectly serviceable model even if this were the only mode it had.

The ship makes use of some printed detail on the hull, rather than stickers. There are also a bunch of bricks used to reinforce the plates of the wings, giving the model a lot of depth and complexity to the design. I consider these Lego’s answer to sculpted panel lines, and they go a long way to make the ship look more detailed and convincing, while actually serving to strengthen the model for playability. Yes, this is one solid build, which holds up really well under handling. There are two small articulated stabilizer pieces on the nose of the ship and a pair of clips concealed between the engines to store Satele’s lightsaber pieces. In this mode, the Striker’s armaments consist of two forward laser cannon positioned under the wings.

To put the Striker into its attack mode, you unclip the wings on either side of the Starfighter’s main body, just in front of the cockpit. The wings swing back on hinges and lock firmly into place near the engines. Then all you have to do is swing the laser cannon forward and now you have a completely different looking ship with similarities to the Z-95 design. This mode also gives the Striker a little more firepower by revealing a bank of two proton torpedoes under each wing. Holy crap, I can’t say enough about how much I love this ship!

While I would still prefer Hasbro to do some of these ships for the 3 ¾” figures, I’ll happily take the Lego versions instead. The Striker offers a fun and satisfying build and the end result is a really well-engineered model and definitely one of the coolest designed Star Wars ships I’ve seen since the V-Wing. The only odd thing about the set is that since the ship is a one-seater and it isn’t slotted for an Astromech droid, the extra minifigs feel out of place. Still, that’s the way the ship was designed and it isn’t Lego’s fault. Besides, I’m not about to complain about having extra minifigs in a set. As far as value goes, I’ve seen this set sell for as much as $55, which is really pushing it. My local Target offers it for the more reasonable $45, and I was able to pick it up on a Price Cut at $35. Not bad at all!

I’m taking tomorrow off so I can get some last minute stuff done after work and before Christmas, but I’ll be back on Monday to kick off the last week of 2012… Marvel style

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