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by Artemis

Let's hear it for the humble Y-Wing - if it hadn't been for them, there'd never have been an Alliance for Luke and his flashy X-Wing to save.

"We're using Y-wings because of their greater firepower. But they move like a sleepy Hutt, so watch it."
-- Luke Skywalker, during the Battle of Kile II

He obviously never met R3-Y5, but never mind. Y-Wings are, for the most part, the Redshirts of Star Wars starfighters - they're not the hero's X-Wing, they're not the cool Falcon, they're not the evil TIE Fighter swarms... they're just the poor bastards that get blown up to prove how dangerous the Trench Run is. Which wouldn't have happened had the X-Wings being doing their bloody jobs and escorting the bombers like they're supposed to... sorry, I flew way too many X-Wing (the game) missions in the Y-Wing with incompetent computer-piloted escorts, it's a sore point.

The Koensayr BTL Y-Wing Starfighter is a neat design - not so exciting-looking as the X-Wings they shared their debut in Star Wars (or A New Hope if you want to be picky) with, but much more intricate, and fully embedded in the "working class technology" idea of the movie, and the cash-strapped Rebellion in particular. Unlike the X-Wing, the Y-Wing - or "wishbone," as the Rebels nicknamed it - is clearly a spacecraft, with virtually no concessions to atmospheric aerodynamics. Instead of a streamlined outer hull, the Y-Wing has all its technological workings on show - evidently because they're a bugger to keep tuned, and maintenance crews universally got so sick of taking off the hull plating to get at their innards that they eventually just stopped putting it back on again. And in place of the X-Wing's wings, the Y-Wing has blocky pylons mounting its distinctive R200 Ion Jet engines.

Construction is fairly straight-forward. The set is packaged in half a dozen bags, but they're not numbered, nor are the parts really divided up according to which section of the vehicle they form. A quick count of the parts listing adds up to 454 pieces - not so many that they can't be tipped out onto a reasonably modest area, and you're unlikely to find yourself playing hunt-the-part very much during the build.

The main fuselage goes first, a fairly simple ground-up construction, with most of the intricacies being to provide the necessary level of visual detail on the exterior of the vehicle. Once the basic fuselage is done it's time for the engine pylons - symmetrical, so you can do them both at once if you like - which plug into the body of the craft. Further fuselage detail then goes on over the top of them, locking them in place, and then it's onto the engines. These are pretty ingenious - the front and rear of the main body sit base-to-base, kept in position by an internal plug and secured by the outer struts. It's a neat way of being able to use the rounded dome and the rocket exhaust both facing outwards. The engines plug into the pylons, a little fine detail in the form of the forward lasers and the ion turret are added, et voila, you have a fighter/bomber.

So far as accuracy to the real Y-Wing goes, this is kind of the "playability" version of it - it takes liberties in a number of areas, mainly in the interests of not falling apart if you grab it by the fuselage and swoop it around the room. The engine pylons are thicker than usual, the main fuselage shorter and less bulky compared to the cockpit section, and it's a one-seater rather than the twin-seat Y-Wings we're used to. There's evidently a single-seater Y-Wing variant (the A4, rather than the S3) so maybe it's one of those. There's an Ultimate Collector's version of the Lego Y-Wing, which is obviously more accurate - with three times as many pieces and a considerably larger price tag, it'd better be - but the difference is accuracy, rather than sheer scale. The two sets even share many pieces, including the canopy; the UC set simply preserves the proportions of the real thing, resulting in a longer craft.

Still, this Y-Wing is no slouch in terms of accuracy - when you look at it, you see what it's meant to look like, not the various small ways it deviates from the original. The fuselage and pylons are a mass of exposed bits and bobs, the cockpit makes good use of smooth angled pieces, and the engines, despite simplification, really nail the hollow frame look of the real thing. The cockpit contains space for a single pilot - the seat is a smooth surface, with no pegs, and the pilot sits leaning back rather than straight upright - and has a cute little 2x2 slanted block printed with the Trench Run targeting graphic. The astromech sits in its droid bay behind the cockpit, with two 2x1 single peg flat pieces fitting into its feet, keeping the droid in place while still making it easy to remove without pulling out bits of the vehicle with it. Due to the droid figure's bulky legs, it has to sit sideways - the head can be fixed at any 90 degree angle, so it can still face forwards, or if it really bothers you, just take off the legs, put it in facing ahead, and fill in the extra space in the bay with spare parts. The squadron colours - yellow, obviously - are confined to a handful of blocks, so if you have spares of them (or reasonable approximations) in other colours, it's a simple matter to reassign your Y-Wing.

The ion cannon turret tilts, and rotates 360 degrees, and there are two flick missiles stored in the engine pylons - another concession to playability, the actual Y-Wing's ordnance bay is beneath the cockpit. Built into the rear fuselage - round about where the power generator should be - is a bomb bay, containing two spherical bomblets, released by withdrawing a rod mounted in the fuselage back. There's nothing securing this rod in its "play" state, so if you tilt the Y-Wing back it'll slide open and the bomblets will fall out. Fortunately there's a sliding disc mounted on it, and by sliding that back against the bomb bay interior, the mechanism can be locked closed. Sadly there's no way of locking the missiles in place - they're fairly snug in their tubes, but if you tilt the Y-Wing forward and jar it, they could come loose. While we're on minor irks, the canopy's ratcheted hinges are a bit stiff, and it's possible to accidentally lift up the hinge housing while trying to open the cockpit - it's not an invariable flaw, just something to be careful of.

So far as disassembly and re-use goes, all the technological whatnots on the fuselage and engine pylons are a wealth of tiny parts. The canopy and domes are a bit specialised, but there's nothing in this set besides the targeting computer block that's really specific-purpose. For a spaceship set its size there are relatively few angled panels and bricks, so the Y-Wing won't be transforming into any super-sleek vehicles, but there's plenty of versatility in the included pieces nonetheless.

The Y-Wing comes with two figures, a Rebel pilot and an astromech. The pilot is your typical grinning Lego figure, albeit flesh coloured rather than yellow, with the body molded in day-glo orange, and the vest and life support module printed on the front (the back is plain orange). The helmet is quite nice, duplicating the flight helmet design pretty well between sculpt and printed graphics. He (or she, who knows with Lego) has a sidearm, a short-stock version of the usual Lego Star Wars blaster, which can fit loose in a little cavity behind the flight computer, but personally I'd have rather seen a clip somewhere on the side or underside of the vehicle to stow it properly. The astromech, a red R2, is a nice attempt, but handicapped by the effort to make it work with Lego proportions. The body is a 2x2 base cylinder, and just about right - aside from the graphics on the head being printed high up, presumably because the printing was done from above, rendering the sides of the dome off-limits - but the legs, as mentioned above, are enormously bulky, in order to accommodate 2x1 feet that'd fit onto a Lego "floor" with the droid body between them. All up the droid's twice as wide side to side as it is front to back - but though the legs are detachable (they're on standard Technic plugs), I can't think of a replacement that'd work any better, so I guess you just have to put up with this being what Lego astromechs look like.

In the end, it's a good ship. If strict accuracy is what you're after, the Ultimate Collector's version is the way to go - though that was a 2004 set, so it may be difficult to find - but this is by no means a poor second-best, and it makes a very respectable display model, in addition to its play value.


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