Building the Dark Side: 75304 Darth Vader Helmet [Hands On Review]

The Darth Vader Helmet Box and instructions, with a minifigure (not included) for scale.

The LEGO Group have recently announced the LEGO® Star Wars Helmet sculptures for 2021: 75304 Darth Vader and 75305 Scout Trooper, as well as 75306 Imperial probe Droid (not an actual helmet).

Today, I would like to look at the 75304 Darth Vader Helmet .Couretsy of the AFOL Engagement team at the LEGO Group, I have been fortunate to receive a prerelease copy to build prior to its release on April 25. The set has 834 parts and has a recommended retail price of: $69.99 USD/ €69.99 EUR/ £59.99 GBP/ 89.99 AUD / 99.99 CAD. It should be available for pre order now, in some markets (unfortunately, not Australia).

Darth Vader was the first character from the Empire that we met, within the opening minutes of Star Wars/ Episode IV/ A New Hope – and we never see his face until the closing minutes of Return of the Jedi. In the mean time, all of his characterisations can be attributed to his posture, camera angles, and the voice of James Earl Jones, added in Post Production. As such, his helmet is an integral part of his character.

Let’s take a look at what’s involved in putting it together…

The set comes in a tall rectangular box with popout tabs. It which is the same size as the boxes from last year. There is a relatively low profile instruction booklet, 160 pages this. The instructions are printed on a light grey background.

Opening the box up, we have 6bags of elements, encompassing 5 states ofncobstruction, the small instruction booklet, and one small sticker sheet with 4 stickers on.

The first bag, like most of the bags for this set, contains a lot of black: most elements I have encountered before: 3×3 corner slopes, 2×2 corner slops, and several 18º 4×3, and inverted 1×3 and 2×3 slopes.

A few teal plates, as well as some ‘log’ bricks will be concealed as the build proceeds, as will the technic lift arms…

There is a small sticker sheet: I have to admit, this is one occaision where I wish the elements were printed, especially the triangular tiles that will make up the breath mask: poor alignment of the 2 stickers here will really show.

We commence work on the main part of the build: the final base measures 10×10 suds, with a small 1×2 stud plate reaching out from the middle on the front side: I presume to attach the name plate to at a later stagee of the build. We build up around the margins of the base of the base with 33º slopes.

The lift arms are held in place by an axle at the base of the medel, and surrounded by slopes. The base is built p, and we start work on Vader’s chin plate. A 4×4 18º wedge/corner slope is used for the lower aspect of his breath mask, and is positioned by ensuring it is aligned correctly from its singular point of connection.

Bag 2

In Bag 2 & 3 we work towards building the the main form of the face and head.

Between the two bags, we have a varietyu of elements: the fact that they are many colours is a good marker that most of these elements will go towards consrtucting the intervals of the head. We have lots of SNOT 2x1x1 2/3 bricks with studs on the side, as well as the 1×1 equivalent bricks in red and black. Lime green and bright yellowish orange plates will also be concealed within.

Black plates and bricks set up the base, and some brackets allow some front-facing studs on the lower aspects of the breath screen. SNOT Bricks line the back of the structure, and we place some tiles onto hinges to form the upper ‘lip’ of the breath mask. I’ll have to admit that I was not a big fan of the stickers used on the front of the breath mask: alignment is critical to ensure the display piece is good, and I would have like to have seen these elements printed.

A round tile with pin and bar holder is used on either side as we start to build up Vaders cheeks: the elements used to build the distinctive profile here are actually positioned upside down. Long slopes are used to add depth to Vader’s cheeks, and extra lines are enhanced by the use of mixel joints to position lance elements, which point down towards the front of the mask. This subbuild is placed on top of the stand, and the lift beams from the stand are secured to the 2 tan 1×4 Technic bricks.

The final aspects of this step sees contruction begin on the posteriar aspect of Vader’s head.

Bag 3

We have already seen the elements of bag 3 in the earlier picture.

We build up the structure of the posterior (rear/back) side of the head, and place some green bar elements, secured in the holes of some studs.

These bars become the point of attachment for clips on the back of the eyes, whose shape is made using a curved slope, bracket and ‘gold ingot’ elements (in black). The ingot is useful, beacuse the edges are better with that slightly chamfored look, rather than if a tile were to be used. A mudguard over the eyes ensures the rounded shape with which we are familiar.

OInce the eyes are built, and swept back, we continue to build up the bulk of the head and helmet. At this point I am reminded about that thing my Art Teachered mentioned to me, back in grade six, when she pointed out to be that a person’s eyes are roughly at the vertical midpoint of a person’s head – from chin to vertex. I do appreciate the little window, as a break from the SNOT Bricks on the back of Vader’s heard.

Bag 4

With Bag 4, we aim to build the centre of Vader’s helmet, with the sides and the ‘skirting’ made using elements in the last two bags.

On the whole, this bag contains black plates of various sizes, however there are some coloured elements to build up internals, some shiileds, which I suspect will be used as tiltable platforms, as well as arches, which I expect to form the distrinctive brow line. Curved slopes are used, as well as tiles, to contruct the distinctive centre strip that runs along the midline of the helmet.

In this bag, we build up 3 distinct panels, which then plug onto the top, back and foinally the fron of the model so far.

of the model so far.

On the front, we add the brows, and then place the main plate of the front, before placing the centre strip:

Bag 5

Bag 5 goes towards the side of the helmet, while bag six builds the skirting of thehelmet. We have lots of plates in black, including lots of wedge plates. Some are well known to us: 2×3, 3×5, some more recent additions: the 2×3, with the sharp point, while we have a new element: the 2×6 wedge plate, both left and right.

After adding on the side panels to the head, we see several bars, onto which we clip the left and right ‘ skirts’. The new 2×6 wedge plate is used to achieve the appropriate downward slanting of the lower edge of the helmet from front to back.

The rear of the helmet is clipped in on a couple of the shields that we have seen previously in this build.

Finally, we add the printed name plate: 4×6 with studs around the edge. And we are done.

Here is the Darth Vader Helmet, displayed with the 20th Anniversary Darth Vader minifgure. There was a deliberate decision on the part of the LEGO Star Wars Team NOT to include minifigures with the helmet builds.- while they are part of the Droid builds, as well as the figure builds, it was felt that they detracted somewhat from the nature of these sculptures.

Overall Impressions

The final model, in impressive and imposing: it’s not too big – about 20 sm tall, and a little over 15cm wide – it just looks at me in that way that makes me feel that I dont want to try hiding something unnecessarily, lest I be found out, and dealt with accordingly. I really like the way that the curves around the eyes are achieved. There are so many different angles, as well as directions of studs. I am really impressed with the way that the studded panels mesh together: while it is obvious, when you are looking at the model, to see the directions of studs changing, it does not feel at all contrived.

On the subject of studs, I actually quilte like the studded look of the model. The LEGO Star Wars Team have stated that leaving visible studs in the model is important, as it ensures that the model’s LEGO DNA is on display.

If the build were totally studless on the outside, it might not be identified as a LEGO build by the casual viewer.

If I could find any gripe with the overall design, it is the final shape of the maxilliary region of the helmet. In the source material, the front of the cheeks tends to curve as you move laterally, as well as having a slight downwards twist. The ‘lower eyelids’ also tend to slope upwards a little bit more, rather than the stepping that we see in the model. While this might detract from the screen realism of the sculpture, I think it is in keeping with the ‘LEGOness’ of the model, and it does not detract from my enjoyment of the build or final product.

As a display model it is awesome. As a plaything, it is a bit flimsy, with some parts likely to fall off if too much time is spent flicking them back and forth (year, I’m looking at the eyebrows and eyeballs.

HOWEVER despite these relatively minor criticism, I really enjoyed the build: there are some ingenious techniques used, particulatly to ensure the eyes and brows are angled back appropriately. I like the way that the centre stripe on the helmet is smooth, rather than just raised, in contrast to the studded surface of the rest of the helmet.

I give this build 4.5 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise units. It looks great on the shelf, is a challenging build and bears a good resemblance to the source material, regards of the angle you approach it from.

The 75304 Dath Vader Helmet goes on sale April 25, and will be available for preorder from March 26 (AEST), from LEGO.com

You can preorder the Darth Vader Helmet at the LEGO Store online in the USA, UK/Europe and Canada. Australians will just have to queue up on the 25th of April. ( any purchases you make might result in the Rambling Brick receiving a small commission)

Thanks for you time. Look out for my reviews of 75305 Scout Trooper Helmet, as well as the 75306 Imperial Probe Droid over the next few days.

What do you think of the Darth Vader helmet? Too studful? Too smooth? Why not leave your comments below, and until next time,

Play Well.

This set was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

2 thoughts on “Building the Dark Side: 75304 Darth Vader Helmet [Hands On Review]

  1. Thank you for this review. Opening my box, I only discovered 5 bags numbered from 1 to 5.
    I also checked the instruction manual and discovered that there are only 5 sections to complete the build. The beginning of the instruction manual also shows only 5 sections to be completed.
    Your review mentions 6 elements. I dont know if this refers to 6 bags? I got a little worried as I thought if it means/refers to 6 bags, I have one bag missing.
    I am about to start bag no. 3. Of all the Star War helmets I have so far found Darth Vader the most challenging to build.
    Thank you.once again for a in depth/accurate review.

    Like

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