The Quest For R2-D2: The Malevolence

After a year-long marketing campaign that started with a printed comic series, moved on to an eight-part web-comic, was followed by a mini-movie that aired on Cartoon Network and culminated in a web-based video game that had a very special “prize” at the end, LEGO Star Wars fans could complete The Quest For R2-D2 by building an all-new LEGO model: the Malevolence.

Making its original appearance in the premiere episode of the first season of The Clone Wars animated series, broadcast in July 2009, the quest to find and destroy the Malevolence formed a three-part storyline that culminated in October 2009 when Anakin Skywalker, in the fourth episode (titled Destroy Malevolence), caused the ship to crash into a moon.

According to The Clone Wars series creator Dave Filoni, the Malevolence’s story arc was inspired by the German battleship Bismarck, the infamous World War 2 vessel that was on the wrong end of a lot of attention from the Royal Navy and whose end was equally ignominious.

Initially designed by concept artist Erik Tiemens and modified by development artist Atsushi Takeuchi as General Grievous’s flagship for Revenge of the Sith, the original concept art had it looking more like the Nautilus from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It was dropped in favor of the smaller Invisible Hand, which served as Grievous’s personal cruiser at the Battle of Coruscant.

Adapting the unused artwork produced by Takeuchi, Lucasfilm concept artist Russell Chong combined the curvature of a Mon Calamari cruiser with the boxy bow of a GR-75 medium Rebel medium transport.

“It’s like an evil, monstrous version of the Rebel transport, with a lot of jagged edges on the body panels. I wanted it to be intimidating and sleek, like a mega-mouth shark.”

Source: Russell Chong via The Nexus Route

Designed by Erik Varzegi, one of the designers in the model building workshop at the LEGO offices in Enfield CT, the gestalt Malevolence was a LEGO Star Wars promotion that has never been repeated.

Combining elements from ten sets (7748 Corporate Alliance Tank Droid, 7749 Echo Base, 8016 Hyena Droid Bomber, 8017 Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter, 8018 Armored Assault Tank (AAT), 8019 Republic Attack Shuttle, 8036 Separatist Shuttle, 8037 Anakin’s Y-Wing Starfighter, 8038 The Battle of Endor and 8039 Venator-class Republic Attack Cruiser) released as part of the Summer wave in 2009, the Malevelonce was one that had a dual purpose: it encouraged LEGO fans to build outside of the box as well as promoted sales of the Summer wave,

Revealed after the player had completed The Quest For R2-D2 game as each of the four characters – Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Asajj Ventress and Count Dooku – were four sets of instructions that allowed for the 749-piece midi-scale model of the Malevolence to be assembled.

This alternate build was one that very few LEGO builders ever achieved, which is understandable given the cost involved in accumulating all the parts to build a starship that received limited screen time, and a model that has never been fully reviewed.

Starting with the base and the stand, this model immediately gives off an Ultimate Collector Series vibe – a quick and easy mod to add a stand for a data plaque completes the look – before moving on to the girder-like superstructure and the stern with its very bunch-of-grapes engine cluster. And just like the Invisible Hand, which serves as Grievous’s next command ship (and suffers a similar ending as the Malevolence), the poop consists of a “wizard’s tower” that houses the bridge.

The casual builder should note that the maroon 4 x 6 tiles with studs on the edges with the two white 2 x 6 plates underneath are just for positioning the elements that make up the forward structure. These can be replaced with pieces of any other color – which will come as a relief for anyone who knows how brittle +10-year-old maroon plates can get.

With the first two instruction books completed the next build stage sees the construction of the forward structure and dual mega-ion cannon superweapons. Though it isn’t a super-complicated section, its inverted lower decks are the most difficult part of the entire model – watch out for page 16 with its out-of-sequence steps.

Lastly are the hull plates that cover the Technic beams of the superstructure. Like mega-greeblies, these add a layer of detail that finishes off this model.

Searching for the Malevolence on Google produces very few useable results and most of it relates to 9515 Malevolence, a minifigure-scale set that was released in 2012. The scant tidbits of information on and the Eurobricks forum are contemporaneous with the release of the game and quickly peter out, and only two other references (on Youtube and Eurobricks) to the final model exist. With much of the information in these links lost or broken, accumulating all the necessary files and pieces would normally be a formidable task.

If digging out your old sets or breaking down your display is not an option then purchasing the necessary pieces through Bricklink is an option. Currently, the cost of buying all the parts is US$170, through seven separate sellers in the United States, or €65 (US$80) utilizing nine different Bricklink retailers in Europe. Of course, these estimates don’t include postage.

However, there are options to make this process significantly cheaper.

With roughly 25% of the cost being made up of the three sticker sheets, removing these from the cost calculation drops the price of building the Malevolence to a more realistic budget and the singularly best way to do this is to purchase elements with the stickers already applied.

As luck would have it designer Varzegi opted to use quite a few pieces with their original stickers applied, meaning that building the model from existing sets wouldn’t require the reapplication of the stickers. Taking advantage of this, the savvy Bricklink buyer could substitute a number of unadorned elements with parts from the original set’s inventory, a practice that is not only convenient but saves money in two ways: buying two of the sticker sheets is no longer necessary and pieces with stickers already applied are noticeably cheaper than those without.

Making use of this hack means that the 7778 Midi-scale Millennium Falcon sticker sheet, which is the hardest to find (with Bricklink only showing three available globally), is the only one that is required. Alternatively, if you are a non-purist, reproduction stickers can be bought on eBay or you can download a copy and print them off yourself.

As for assaying the Malevolence’s quality as a collectible, it’s impossible to gauge.

Though this model is made up of common LEGO elements it was – until now – relatively hard to complete, so any intrinsic rarity comes from the difficulty in accumulating the necessary elements. However, it isn’t a one-off like the promotional builds – such as 8 foot long Venator that Varzegi built for the LEGO booth at Star Wars Celebration 3 in 2005 – that have come out of the LEGO model team so putting some kind of rating or metric to this set is impractical.

Perhaps one way to determine its place in the LEGO Star Wars community is the fact that so few fans and collectors have made this model. Despite the effort LEGO put into The Quest For R2-D2 marketing campaign, the likelihood that only a dozen or so midi-scale Malevolence models were ever constructed is a reasonable assumption.

And that’s a shame because as LEGO Star Wars oddities go, this set is right up there.

Entertainment Earth


  1. Awesome Jeremy, saves me doing the legwork. I have 8/10 sets needed, but I think I will just start from scratch and source my own pieces. Can’t wait :p

    • Hi David, great to hear you’re starting your own quest! See you at Brick Resales one day soon 🙂

      (I have a spare of one of the pre-stickered pieces – LMK if you need the windshield piece.)

  2. Nice article, Jeremy. Interesting piece of Lego history here. Quick question: where did the data plaque sticker come from?

  3. Fantastic research Jeremy! I played the Quest for R2-D2 game when I was a kid and only just remembered this fascinating alt-build while researching the Unity game engine. I definitely want to try my hand at building my own version of this model (I’ll probably try color-swapping a lot of the parts in order to achieve cleaner color blocking).

    I’d also love to get my hands on the alternative to the multiple sticker sheet sets that you mentioned in a previous comment. Any update on how that little project is coming along?

    • Hi Dan, I’m glad that you enjoyed the article. I was pretty pleased with the results.

      I’m hoping the alt-sticker sheet will be ready really soon. I’ll try and remember to message you.

  4. Hello there! Is there an updated link for the parts list? It seems all the links are broken/don’t lead anywhere. Thanks!

    • Hey Matt! Thank you for catching that. When we switched domains some things got lost. I have fixed all the links!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.