LEGO® Star Wars: Death Star Trash Compactor Diorama [Hands On Review]

When Star Wars was released back in 1977, I did not get to see it straight away. “Wait for your birthday,” I was told in July 1977. My birthday is in March.

And so I read the paperback (ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster), I bought a couple of action figures (Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. My brother got Princess Leia and R2-D2. Eventually, we worked together to buy the Landspeeder, with its authentic floating motion), and started to collect the Scanlen Trading Cards (On license in Australia from Topp’s).

In the absence of a colour picture book, streaming services, Blu-Rays, DVDs or a VHS copy of the film, the next best way to visually experience the movie was to collect these screen shots. As far as I can tell there were at least 4 series releated to the film subsequently known as a New Hope. I only ever found the first in our local shops. Back in the day, I am pretty sure that I collected all of these blue bordered cards, as well as the series of 144 Battlestar Galactica cards, and subsequently the Return of the Jedi Cards. As a kid, It made no sense to try and purchase an entire box. Why would I do that? I only wanted one piece of bubble gum. Unfortunately, I do not know what happened to my series of Star Wars or BSG cards. I still have those from ROTJ, and secretly hope that there will be a diorama related to that in the future, so I can wax nostalgic about them…

However, I was specifically reminded of the sequence of cards related to the Trash Compactor scene as I put this final Diorama set together. And so, to fill the gaps in my memories, I set about locating the cards on the internet.Several people have a full sets for sale on eBay. A bit more than I wish to pay, however!

After freeing Princess Leia from her cell, our heroes are seemingly trapped: stuck in a cul-de-sac, with an ever-increasing crowd of Imperial Stormtroopers bearing down on their position. Han is planning to shoot his way out of the situation or, at least, to keep shooting while someone else comes up with a clever idea.

Frustrated by her rescuer’s lack of sound planning, Leia takes Luke’s blaster and shoots a hole in the detention block wall.

It rapidly turns into a case of ‘Out of the frying pan and into the fire’ as Leia, Luke, Han and Chewbacca land in the trash compactor, full of the total variety of waste you might expect to encounter on a vast space station with inadequate drainage: metal waste, gloating chunks of foam, water…things living in the water. For the first time in the movie, we get a truly suspenseful moment. The droids were distracted by an imperial patrol, Luke is dragged into the muck by the dianoga and then the walls begin to close, threatening to crush them all in a mess of recyclable metal, and other assorted effluent. All while held back by the bulky Stormtrooper’s armour.

Will they escape? The film has another 45 minutes to go, so the odds of survival are pretty good. but this is probably the first prolonged moment of suspense. that wasn’t dismissed with a quick ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for, or Han’s more standard response…’Pew. Pew! PEW!!’

With Lucas displaying his cliffhanger matinee roots, this scene is perfect to use in the third and final diorama in this first wave in the LEGO® Star Wars Diorama Collection. We have already explored the Death Star Trench Run as well as the Dagobah Jedi Training Ground, and today we look at the LEGO Star Wars Death Star Trash Compactor Diorama.

This set has 800 pieces, 6 minifigures, and is the most expensive of the series, coming in at $149.99AUD/$89.99USD/£79.99/€89.99. But does it deliver the goods? So far I have been impressed with the experience of putting these sets together, and while they might not represent great value for money at full retail price, I suspect they will be on sale at many retailers over the next year or so.

The Minifigures

With 6 minifigures, including multiple new (and exclusive for now) prints, this set presents the best of our episode 4 main cast.

Leia and Luke (Stormtrooper disguise) –

Leia is unchanged from the Death Star Escape Swing set from 2019’s 75229 Death star Escape, while Luke has the same head print, although the hairpiece is dark tan here, compared to ‘regular tan’ previously..

Chewbacca is unchanged since 2014, while Han features the same ‘Disguise’ armour worn by luke. His hair and face have been well used since 2016.

Artoo Deetoo and See threepio both feature new prints. For the first time, Artoo has printing around the rear aspect. The head is pearl silver. C3PO has a new torso print, new printing on his arms and additional printing on his legs.His chest features new patches of golden printing, compared to the previous version from 2018, and the line work is a slightly different shape, as well as featuring more exposed wiring. The printing on the rear is slightly wider than on the older version. The legs feature additional printing compared to the older version, and the line work has been revised here too. – including silver patches on the right leg. I would like to see future versions of this figure to feature dual molding on the right leg, as well as side printing, which has been teased in the Skywalker Saga video game.

See Threepio through the years, as featured in Original Trilogy sets.

Here’s a quick comparision between the ‘Disguise’ Stormtrooper armour and the previous version: the big change is the substitution of the hips from black to white, while here is more pronounced shading present on the new print. Additional shading, implying greater buildup of the back unit, in included in the new version. Again, the legs have been generally updated in their design since the last major armour update in 2014 (plus the helmet in 2019)

Lets move onto the build. Lots of Grey, black and reddish brown make up this model. As we build up the base, there are plenty of plates to build up the base, and unlike the other dioramas we have looked at, the frame is held off until after the sides are installed.

The baseincludes a number of transparent brown tiles to repesent the water in the trash compactor. Along the front and back are bricks with slots in the sides.

Bag 2 brings us some more of the base, as well as the back wall.

We build up the back wall, including the mgnetically sealed door, preventing easy escape for our heroes. the overall design matches as well as the scale allows with the cource material.

On the flip side is a data access point for R2-D2 to plug in to turn off the compactor.

The next bags bring us Luke Leia, Han and Chewie, as well as bring us the detail for the sliding walls at either side of the diorama.

I love the shape of the walls, designed to interlink with the opposite number, wrapping around some central detritus.

Each of our figures has a place to stand in here, so that they dont get dislodged as you bring the walls in together.

Fortunately, nobody gets severely squashed here, even when the walls are fully collapsed..

I’ve not really mentioned the quote tile here, but suffice to say, its one of the great lines from the scene.

This set has a lot to recommend itself: the building experience took several hours, and was quite ‘mindful’ in nature: a lot of stacking plates or bricks, in a way thay produced satifying clicks, with a satisfying rythm.

Like the other diorama sets that we have looked at over the last couple of weeks, the Trash Compactor fits into a similar volume. There are a few strategically placed greeble elements that give the feeling of a well filled garbage disposal facility,especially in the closed position.

From a ‘nostalgia embracing’ point of view, this is possibly my favourite. Having the key Good Guys from Episode 4 all in one sets is awesome. I was a little surprised at the list price for this set: 149.99 AUD / 119.99 CAD / 89.99 EUR/ 79.99 GBD / 89.99 USD. This set has around 800 elements (compared with the trench run’s 660 @ AUD 90 and Dagobah’s 1000 elements for $120 AUD.) But it also has 6 minifigures, with 4 of them exclusive to this set, at this point.

I suppose, part of the point is that this is a special set: while it has a play feature with the closing walls, it is not really a play set. It is to display, and perhaps manipulate occasionally, as you might adjust a picture frame hanging on the wall. I spread the build out over a couple of evenings, and it was engrossing – seeing how the interlocking garbage fitted together without dislodging the figures. And now that it is finished, I find myself pushing the walls together and opening them again, just about every time I see it.

For someone of a certain age, it pushes all the right buttons, as do all of the dioramas: they are well presented, interesting builds, and all have their own special feature – be it organic growth, a greebled surface or this mixture of the two. I don’t this this set represents bad value, but If you can get the set at a discount, I think it would represent better value – and it would appear that these dioramas will be released beyond the confines of the LEGO sales ecosystem, so a better price is likely at some time between now and Christmas.

The set is now available for preorder, and should be shipping sometime between the 27th of April and the 5th of May. I give this set a 4.5 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise units. Value for money might be the biggest question. And as I said, I don’t think that is too bad… it could be better, however.

I love the new figure prints – they add a level of detail above that seen before, and make this feel like a premium product.

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I’d love to know what you think of this set. Please comment below, or reach out on social media to comment, and until next time,

Play Well!

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