The Empire Strikes Brick: Retelling The Fifth Star Wars Episode In The Best Way Possible!

From the very first Snowspeeder in 1999 to the latest ex-convention exclusives of 2020, minor, major and milestone sets are featured in this unique retelling that celebrates the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back using the medium of the LEGO brick. 

Launching from the hangar of a Star Destroyer, best portrayed in LEGO bricks as 75055 Imperial Star Destroyer (which included a miniature hologram of The Emperor) these automated recon agents speed off in search of the Rebel’s new bolt hole. 

On the ice planet Hoth, a frozen world that has a place in the Planetary Series as set 75009, Luke Skywalker rides his tauntaun  – a creature that has been included in seven different LEGO sets, as well as an exclusive gift given to special guests at the grand opening of LEGOLAND California’s Star Wars Miniland in 2011 – on a routine patrol that soon has him investigating a mystery object that he sees falling from the sky.

A nearby impact alerts Chewbacca and Han Solo, who find that an Imperial probe droid has discovered the Rebel’s location. Appearing in a number of sets – including 7666 Hoth Rebel Base in 2007 – the Imperial probe droid has proven to be a perennial favourite and can be found in both the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar and LEGO Star Wars Magazine (Egmont Publishing/Immediate Media). 

Meanwhile Luke attracts the attention of a hungry Wampa and, knocked unconscious, is dragged to the 8089 Hoth Wampa Cave. Quickly disarming his captor, he escapes into the sub-zero night where he receives a Force vision from his original mentor, telling him to go to Dagobah to complete his training.

Unaware of Luke’s dilemma, Chewbacca and Han head back to the safety of the hidden Rebel base, a network of tunnels carved by laser ice-cutters (a special excavator which can only be found in set 8083 Rebel Trooper Battle Pack), to learn that Luke has yet to arrive. Han immediately rides out into the night – as depicted in 7749 Echo Base – to rescue his friend, who he finds and shelters inside his expired tauntaun (which, in LEGO form, smell the same on the inside as they do on the outside).

Dispatched to find the missing heroes, a squadron of Snowspeeders – one of the most iconic Star Wars ships and so popular with LEGO fans that twenty-one different sets in five scales have been released since 1999 – find them just in time to get Luke back to the Hoth Medical Centre (75203) where he is immersed in life-saving bacta.

With their concerns about the imminent arrival of the Imperial Fleet, the Rebel command gives the order to begin the evacuation of Echo Base, a location that has been given the LEGO treatment four times, culminating in the massive 75098 Assault on Hoth. 

With their 7879 Hoth Echo Base defences primed for assault, forward observers report that Imperial forces can be seen – like the miniscale 4489 AT-AT – in the distance. With lumbering steps the four-legged Motorised Walking AT-AT (10178) moves inexorably onwards; the Battle of Hoth (75014) has begun!

The heavy laser cannons in the 75138 Hoth Attack set aren’t making a dent on the heavily armoured walkers so Rebel snowspeeders skim towards the assault force, flying over the Rebel soldiers who are pulling back as Imperial troops – from 8084 Snowtrooper Battle Pack – overrun their trenches.

In a desperate attempt to slow the Empire’s advance, Rogue Squadron’s commander Wedge Antilles, recently portrayed in the 4+ youth edition 75268 Snowspeeder, fires his tow cable and brings one of the four-legged transports down. Luke and his gunner, Dak Raltar, begin an attack run in their own Snowspeeder (75049) but are hit and crash. Lightsaber in hand, Luke positions himself below the belly of the nearest AT-AT (4483) and brings it down with a well-placed explosive charge.

Overwhelmed, the Rebel soldiers fight a last-ditch Echo Base Defense (75241) to allow the final transports to escape, and as the Empire positions its troops like playing pieces – much like 3866 Star Wars: The Battle of Hoth board game – the planetary shield falls. 

With the evacuation of Echo Base complete, Princess Leia, Han, Chewbacca and C-3PO evade Imperial troops who enter the base, and then flee in the Millennium Falcon (4504) while Luke Skywalker heads off to the mysterious planet of Dagobah.

  • 7879 Hoth Echo Base
  • 4489 AT-AT
  • 10178 Motorised Walking AT-AT
  • 75014 Battle of Hoth
  • 75138 Hoth Attack
  • 75268 Snowspeeder
  • 75049 Snowspeeder
  • 4483 AT-AT
  • 75241 Action Battle Echo Base Defense
  • 75288 AT-AT
  • 4504 Millennium Falcon

Unable to make the jump to lightspeed, Han runs the gauntlet through the Imperial armada’s blockade and hides the Millennium Falcon in a nearby asteroid field. The only time this region of Star Wars space has been interpreted into LEGO bricks was as 75008 TIE Bomber & Asteroid Field.

75008 TIE Bomber & Asteroid Field

On the asteroid field’s fringe the Empire’s fleet, including the newly commissioned Super Star Destroyer –  a set (10221) that was added to the Ultimate Collector Series in 2011 – waits and watches for the Millennium Falcon to make a break for freedom. As he waits, Darth Vader briefs a group of the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunters – the minifigure assortment of the group was finally completed when 75167 Bounty Hunter Speeder Bike Battle Pack was released – on the capture of the Millennium Falcon and crew.

Tucked away in a cave, the crew repairs the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive while explosives dropped by a TIE Bomber (4479) rock the asteroid. Han’s suspicions are aroused when Chewbacca spots a mysterious creature attached to the cockpit’s window. Realising that this parasitic Mynock – which has only ever been provided in LEGO form through 75192 Millennium Falcon and the Star Wars Advent Calendar in 2019 – means they aren’t in a cavern but the guts of an Exogorth. In a desperate attempt to Escape the Space Slug, a vignette that LEGO released as a May The 4th Be With You exclusive in 2016, Han blasts off and the Falcon narrowly evades the giant’s teeth.

Encircled by the Empire and with nowhere to run, Han hides amongst the Imperial Star Destroyers until the fleet breaks up and heads off on other missions. Unknown to the Millennium Falcon, as it slips away en-route to Cloud City (10123), another ship follows them – Slave I (7144) is in surreptitious pursuit.

Meanwhile, Luke has reached Dagobah and discovers that his journey in the Force has only just begun. Tutored by Yoda, the lone inhabitant of the mist-wreathed world, Luke finds himself squeezing into the Jedi Master’s domicile – a location that has had four versions in micro, mini, and finally as the minifigure-scaled 75208 Yoda’s Hut – while he undergoes his training. 

Having made its way to the cloud-filled skies of Bespin (another inclusion, as set 9678, in the Planetary Series), the Millennium Falcon is welcomed by local security in their 7119 Twin-Pod Cloud Car who guide them to a warm greeting from Han’s old rival Lando Calrissian. 

Unknown to all, treachery is afoot: alerted to the Rebel cohort’s arrival by Boba Fett, who’s faster 6209 Slave I arrived before the Millennium Falcon, Darth Vader captures Han, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO.

Alerted by the Force, Luke is faced with a vision that his friends are in danger and cuts his lessons short. Fresh from its watery landing site, Luke boards his weed bedraggled 4502 X-wing Fighter and heads off to the city in the clouds where Han is being taken to the Carbon-Freezing Chamber (75137). Even though his training has been truncated, Luke heeds his blossoming Jedi senses and proceeds with caution. 

But, unbeknownst to him, the Betrayal at Cloud City (75222) – a set that captured all the aspects and action of this pivotal Star Wars location – is far more evolved and Darth Vader lays in wait. Luke has walked into a trap.

As Imperial forces move in, Lando gives the order to evacuate the floating city while he helps Princess Leia and Chewbacca try to recover Han from the clutches of Boba Fett, who is boarding Slave I, a spaceship that received its 20th Anniversary addition as set 75243 in 2019.

  • 9678 Twin-Pod Cloud Car & Bespin
  • 7119 Twin-Pod Cloud Car
  • 6209 Slave I
  • 4502 X-wing Fighter
  • 75137 Carbon-Freezing Chamber
  • 75222 Betrayal at Cloud City
  • 75243 Slave I - 20th Anniversary Edition

A fateful clash between Darth Vader and Luke has important outcomes – Luke loses not only his lightsaber but his hand too and gains the knowledge that he is Vader’s son. With only one gambit left to play, Luke lets himself fall into the depths of the city in the hope that this allows his friends to escape the Empire’s clutches.

Not being the kind of heroes who leave a companion behind, Leia and Lando about-face the Millennium Falcon and pluck Luke from certain doom as he hangs perilously beneath Cloud City, before whisking him back to the Rebel fleet.

There he gets his injuries treated and the heavyweights of the Rebellion prepare to rescue Han so that the fight against the Empire – and the Skywalker Saga – can continue!

Entertainment Earth

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