It was November 28th, 2014 when BB-8 made his debut in the trailer to The Force Awakens, and since then he’s secured a place in the Star Wars pantheon by appearing in two (plus one upcoming) Star Wars movies, two TV series, a video game, any number of animated shorts, two (and an upcoming) novelisations and a comic series.
Nowhere has BB-8 been more prevalent than in merchandising – Amazon lists nearly 1000 different products in their toys and games section alone, and making their top Holiday Toy List is none other than the subject of this deep dive into the LEGO BB-8 builds.
Photo credit: Rancho Obi-Wan
Making his first appearance in a LEGO set, the BB-8 droid figure could be purchased in 75102 Poe’s X-Wing Fighter in 2015. Since then this rolly-polly character has arrived in nine more sets – including one that is entirely in the first person (or first droid as the case may be) – a watch, an advent calendar, as two brick-built versions, a key chain and an LED torch.
The focus of this review is those builds that are BB-8, rather than the BB-8 as an ancillary character in the persona dramatis of the set.
The first of which is the last Star Wars Bricktober Make & Take held at branches of Toys “R” Us in the US, and later followed up by an overseas tour in Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
The simple and free Make & Take events invited children to collect the required 39 pieces and a set of instructions from totes set up in a designated build area, where they could make the set. And because LEGO provided the pieces to Toys “R” Us at no cost, attendees could take their build home with them.
The completed model was very simple – a basic and blocky structure with some round plates on the side to create the illusion of BB-8’s round body, and a dome on top for the head unit. Without any printed pieces or stickers the completed model wasn’t a particularly exciting set for collectors but a great chance for children to own a BB-8 that was a bit bigger than the pea-sized one that came with the available LEGO sets.
To add this set to your collection you can use the part list in the instructions above and Bricklink to buy up the parts for around $5, or head over to eBay, where it is available – with original instructions and baggie – for around $9.
The second BB-8 offering from LEGO was a Gift With Purchase (GWP) during the May The 4th Be With You 2018 celebrations that LEGO held in their brand stores in the USA.
Though the main draw was the new 75181 Y-Wing Starfighter, its $200 price tag didn’t compare to the free (with $75 LEGO Star Wars purchase) brick-built 40288 BB-8 polybag. The dished plates, printed details and overall correctness of this build had kids entranced, and those with the previous year’s Toys “R” Us version soon had a new favourite.
Only officially available at LEGO brand stores during the May 4th (through 6th) weekend, it isn’t a hard one to add to a collection with both Bricklink and eBay offering them at $9 and $25 respectively.
The little droid who could got up-sized in 2017 when LEGO came out with 75187 BB-8, a nearly 3:1 scale replica that is fully brick-built.
Though it arrived amidst a certain amount of consternation emanating from the AFOL crowd, it proved to be popular and those who wanted it branded with the Ultimate Collector’s Series badge soon – because of the complexity of the build, display stand and data plate – toned their murmurings down to a background level and got on with the build.
However, the UCS reference isn’t an easy one to escape because if you’ve been into LEGO Star Wars building for long enough you will have come across three previous sets that are akin to this set: the 7194 Yoda and 10018 Darth Maul busts and 10225 R2-D2 statues.
If you suffered through the first two aforementioned sets you’ll recall the difficulty in following the layered construction through the instruction manual. Thankfully this set is not as mind-warping, and while 75187 BB-8 has nearly half the parts as the Darth Maul and R2-D2 builds, it packs in four times as much detail and with its mechanisation is much more rewarding as a result.
The core of the construction is a Technic frame that houses the mechanisms that allow for the set’s motions and allows five panels and the head to attach to. Crucially the build makes use of colour referenced bricks throughout so that you can keep the build orientated correctly, a technique any time-travelling LEGO set designers should take back to the early 2000’s and retcon into the two earliest character sets.
All told it takes around four hours to put it together so you can enjoy the two action features – the bobble-head and the flame thumb, both of which are pretty nifty. This set looks great on display (when the sloped bricks don’t come off) and the spinning head and pop-out limb are great for when you want to show this set off. And if you really want to make this little guy pop then look to Light My Bricks, who have a lighting kit (which we will be reviewing soon) that really brings the set to life.
If none of the above catch your eye there are also a number of ancillary items that can help you feed your appet(BB-)8 for this mischievous droid.
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Fervent documentarian, effusive AFOL and founding partner, Jeremy manages the daily news content and set reviews.
Having enjoyed playing with LEGO from his earliest years, Jeremy started collecting LEGO Star Wars in 1999 when the theme was first released. He has shared his thoughts and opinions on LEGO via a number of websites – including starwars.com, rebelscum.com and brickset.com – contributed to the LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary series and served the LEGO Ambassador Network as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media representative.