Retro Review: 10198 Tantive IV Blasts In From The Past!

For a large number of Star Wars fans the first starship ever seen in the saga was the Rebel Blockade Runner which was carrying Princess Leia and the stolen plans of the Death Star on its ill-fated rendezvous with General Kenobi on Tatooine. The first rendition of Leia’s consular ship was the UCS Rebel Blockade Runner (10019) which came out eight years ago, so it is very exciting to now have a System (a.k.a. minifigure) scale version of this iconic ship.

The Star Wars™ saga begins!

Blasting through space with Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer in pursuit, the Tantive IV blockade runner carries Princess Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2 on a vital mission for the Rebel Alliance. Celebrate the entire Star Wars saga with this all-new version of the very first starship seen in the films! The Tantive IV features an opening cockpit, rotating and elevating turbo laser cannons, rotating radar dish, removable roof section and interior command center. It also includes an opening compartment with removable cargo transport vehicle and 2 detachable escape pods for the droids to make their getaway with the Death Star plans! Includes Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Captain Antilles and Rebel Trooper minifigures. Measures 20.5″ (52 cm) x 7.5″ (19 cm) x 5.5″ (14 cm).

  • Includes 5 minifigures: Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Captain Antilles and a Rebel Trooper!
  • Open the cockpit and place 2 minifigures inside!
  • Turbo laser cannons on top and bottom can rotate and elevate!
  • Features a removable roof!
  • Lots of interior details including Leia’s desk and command center with seats for 2 minifigures!
  • Open the storage compartment to reveal the cargo transport vehicle!
  • Features rotating radar disc and 2 detachable escape pods!
  • Measures 20.5″ (52 cm) long, 7.5″ (19 cm) wide and 5.5″ (14 cm) tall!

The first thing I noticed about this set is how much of an improvement the graphics and art work on the packaging is compared to the UCS Rebel Blockade Runner, which just had a simple shot of the ship. The box for the new set is alive with inspiring photographs that make you feel part of the action, while the inset images show off all the great play features the Tantive IV offers (but more on those later). Graphics-wise it sports the original LEGO Star Wars logo that first appeared in 1999, and again in 2009 for the 10th anniversary of the LEGO Star Wars license. With a third quarter release, this set marks the culmination of the LEGO Star Wars Tenth Anniversary celebrations.

The two thick instructions books, which are perfect bound and can be opened flat without creasing the pages or damaging the spine, still suffer from the usual problem with black and gray and builders will need a keen eye to differentiate the bricks on some of the pages.

If you follow the instructions page for page, the first stage of the build is to put the minifigures together. To do this you’ll have to sort through a handful of baggies to get all the elements in one place. But why aren’t they all in one bag? Sadly there are a few unfortunate LEGO fans who have found that the minifigures were missing from their new sets. In order to prevent this the LEGO packing robots split the elements across different bags so that it reduces the chances of a whole minifigure being lost.

Up until now Princess Leia has been infrequently represented in terms of minifigures. It wasn’t until 2003 — with the release of 10123 Cloud City and 4504 Millennium Falcon — when the Rebel Alliance’s most glamorous leader last appeared in minifigure form. The long six-year wait has been worth it because this year we’ve been rewarded with not one but two Princess Leia’s — first in her Endor battle poncho and now the original Princess Leia from A New Hope (if only LEGO Group would treat us to a Padmé revival the galaxy would be in balance again).

A hidden surprise lurks behind Captain Antilles’ helmet. Like the Zam Wessel minifigure in Bounty Hunter Pursuit (7133), you’ll find a double-sided head depicting his normal visage on one side and the anguish of being choked on the other. Ingenious! Also included is R2-D2 with a new(ish) medium gray dome, C-3PO and a grim-faced Rebel Fleet Trooper.

The set’s pieces are a medley of elements including loads of plates, fiddly bits for greeblies and plenty of Technic beams that act as a superstructure. And when you’ve built the stiff Technic spine you’ll begin to get an idea of how long this set is (20.5″/52 cm). The set lacks landing gear, but that’s OK because the legs included with UCS Rebel Blockade Runner were a little goofy, so this set sits on its ventral guns and aft engine and allows for a realistic shelf display.

There are two escape pods included, one for C-3PO and R2-D2 (who look like they are riding a log flume ride), and another for Imperial target practice. The detachable escape pods limit the set’s “swoosh factor” because it is hard to pick up. The natural tendency is to lift it up from the mid-point but the pods come off if you do this, so be careful.

The aft engine section is made from stacks of round pieces (my favorite kind of brick) for the engines and is particularly well built and stable, and won’t suffer from the same sagging problem that owners of the UCS version have encountered. Even the most repetitious part of the build (the eleven engine nacelles) is therapeutically calming, and detailing on the engines shows off the turbolaser damage that the Tantive IV suffered during its capture.

The small hover transport with its cargo space for all of Princess Leia’s diplomatic baggage adds extra play value without hugely affecting the cost of the set. And it looks like it could have been taken straight out of A New Hope, so kudos to all the LEGO employees who had a hand in designing it.

One particularly special element is the four half-cones which make up the hammerhead cockpit. Eagle (or should that be falcon)-eyed LEGO builders might recognize it as the piece used as the cockpit canopy in the Millennium Falcon (4504) set. The flip-top cockpit is very cool. One quick flick opens the top half of the canopy to reveal two seats, some instrument consoles and a pair of flight controls. And just in case the pilot has to reverse the Tantive IV the cockpit cones have rear windows.

Thankfully the graphics are printed onto the plastic so you won’t have to worry about applying it yourself and getting air bubbles and creases in the most prominent feature of the set. In fact there are no stickers anywhere because all the graphics have been printed onto the bricks. This might have an effect on the overall price of the set but the value of not having to look at peeling decals is incalculable.

The main compartment of the vessel houses Princess Leia’s office complete with a Senatorial desk, where she presumably pens stern letters to Emperor Palpatine and Captain Antilles’ computer console. Leia’s desk is a clever touch and surprisingly it is built using the SNOT (studs not on top) technique, a construction method that is common amongst custom LEGO creators but is very rarely seen in official LEGO sets. The exotic blue tiles that decorate the floor were probably imported from Naboo. As nice as the office is it just isn’t one of the Rebel Blockade Runner’s famous white corridors, and a lot of Star Wars fans and LEGO collectors are going to notice its absence.

It’s sad to think that even though Leia claimed “diplomatic immunity” the Tantive IV is ultimately destined to be blasted into its constituent bricks by a shot from an Imperial turbolaser. But then you’ll get to build this set, or concoct something of your own creation, all over again so all is well. You can find this set exclusively at LEGO brand stores and the LEGO.com website.

This post originally appeared on Starwars.com on the 9th of December, 2009.

Entertainment Earth

Be the first to comment

Thoughts, comments or opinions? Share them!