There was a short rumor period surrounding this set before it was officially revealed by Lego this week. Weighing in at 1,060 pieces (a respectable $0.12 per piece), Darth Vader’s Castle is now available for preorder exclusively through Amazon and Lego stores. The importance of this castle is being expanded upon as we speak through comics, novels, and video games since the lair’s first appearance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. And there’s a lot to love in this big set. Let’s break it down and see what Castle Vader has to offer. . .
Lego has released full box pictures as well as play features and minifigures.
The castle stands tall, around 16 inches to be specific, and features a stony foundation and flow of lava beneath the stained glass-looking windows. We can track this structure all the way back to Ralph McQuarrie concept art of Emperor Palpatine’s throne room, and elements of that art have carried over into the final design. Like many Sith structures, there’s also some ancient Egyptian design themes such as the pyramid-like structure.
Here we have the back of the box, which breaks down play features. The castle, from bottom to top, features a hangar space for Vader’s iconic TIE advanced x1 starfighter with stud shooters, the bacta tank chamber from Rogue One, Vader’s meditation chamber from The Empire Strikes Back, and lastly an outward-facing stud shooter turret.
To the left side of the box we can see a chamber with an altar containing Sith relics and what appear to be tapestries or carvings on the wall. There’s also a hidden lightsaber within the wall and a light purple Sith holocron atop the altar. I love the design of the altar, especially that holocron and the tiny Sith statue microfigures.
It’s difficult to see in the images from Lego’s site, but the chamber opposite the relic chamber looks to feature some computers, a hiding place for a red kyber crystal, and storage for extra stud shooter ammo. In the center of the base we have the hangar for Vader’s TIE with a stairway leading up to the next floor. You can’t make out much detail behind the TIE but expect either stickered or brick-built wall elements with a flair for the Imperial.
Going up we have the bacta tank chamber. From here you can see outward somewhat through the red stained-glass windows, and there also appears to be a computer terminal to the right. The bacta tank is a fully-enclosed light trans blue tube, which appears hinged at the top to allow Vader to get inside. (The piece could also just pull away and pop back into place, it’s difficult to tell) There’s also room for Vader’s red royal guards to stand and protect him while he takes a healing dip in the blue cure-all liquid of the tank.
The next floor up is Vader’s iconic meditation chamber, which in-universe creates conditions that allow Vader to remove his mask without harm. The chamber itself does appear to have the pieces lock together in a jaw-like fashion, with black ‘teeth’ sealing the spaces to create a spherical shape. From the pictures it looks good, not perfect, but good. And a great bonus to this space is the hologram of the Emperor to interrupt Vader’s meditations.
It’s the top floor of the castle which is, in my opinion, the weakest part of the set. Lego’s site describes it as a circular meeting area with defensive turret. Really, it looks like just enough space to hold the blaster turret and a gunner. It’s fair, given the shape of the castle, since pyramid-like structures don’t lend themselves well to putting a lot of things at the top. But there are positives here. Turrets are a staple playset feature and putting one at the top of a pyramid makes 10-year old me giddy.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the figure selection. Here’s the lineup –
First off we have Lord Vader, who appears to match his recent appearances in other sets. He features a cape, lightsaber, and the recently-updated helmet that splits into two parts. Next is a welcome exclusive, the bacta tank Vader. He wears a respirator and much of his armor is stripped away, revealing a metal arm, metal hands and lower legs, and numerous scars and bits of machinery. The royal guards appear to be the same as their recent updates as well. I have several now from the battle pack a few years ago, but seeing them in sets is always welcome as they were relatively rare figures until that battle pack came out. They feature the face-concealing helmets, capes to add to their robes, and force pikes as weapons. Last but not least is the transport pilot, or as I recently found out, actually a representation of a named character. Those who have played the Secrets of the Empire virtual reality game may recognize this blue and white armored trooper as Athex. Athex is a rebel agent in disguise, and though technically listed on the box art as Imperial, he could be thought of as the sole good guy character in this set. He wears the armor of an Imperial tank pilot with blue markings and carries a blaster rifle. Also included in the set, though technically not a named character or a minifigure, is an updated mouse droid model.
I want this set.
. . .
Alright, alright, I’ll actually elaborate on that. The set looks great. I’m a big supporter of Lego Star Wars sets being based on locations rather than every single set being focused on a spaceship or other vehicle. The structure of the castle and it’s rooms feels like a good representation of many elements from the comics, films, and games that Vader’s lair has appeared in. My only real gripe is that I would’ve liked one more figure in the set, namely Vaneé, the briefly-seen attendant that informs Vader of Director Krennic’s arrival in Rogue One. Director Krennic also would’ve been a nice addition since he’s only in one other set, but I would’ve put the more mysterious alien attendant in the set first. However, the set itself features two exclusive figures, a big and fun-looking build, and what will doubtlessly be a great display piece. I probably won’t buy this day-one but it’s on my list for sure. It’s Vader’s castle, my Empire won’t be complete without it!
Thanks for reading!
-Supreme Leader David