06 October 2020

LEGO® Star Wars review & MOCs: 75253 Droid Commander

Victor Pruvost (leewanlego on Flickr) returns today with a fresh look at an unusual set from last year: LEGO® Star Wars BOOST 75253 Droid Commander. Plenty has been written about it already so Victor takes a deep dive into its parts before using some to create original models of his own. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this.


Today we’ll take a break from our 2020 set reviews by focusing on a set released a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Okay, not so long ago, actually, because we’ll be taking a look at 75253 Droid Commander, a 2019 Star Wars set containing 1177 parts, many of which are definitely worth taking a look at!

Electric components in 75253 Droid Commander

The first thing that makes this set special is the presence of three Powered Up elements (the same as in 17101 BOOST Creative Toolbox), that let you control and program the three droids that can be built: R2-D2, Gonk Droid and Mouse Droid.


There is one Boost Hub  (6283413 | 26910), one Distance Sensor (6240610 | 26912) and one Motor (6283415 | 26913), all following the usual Powered Up colour scheme of White with Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Gray, and Bright Red / Red when it comes to motor outputs.

Although you can have three different droids built simultaneously, since there is only one Hub, one Motor and one Sensor, only one can be controlled at any time! Fortunately they have been designed so the Powered Up parts can be easily installed and removed.

©2019 The LEGO Group
Of the three droids, R2-D2 is the star of the set, and the same is true of his inventory.

R2-D2’s printed parts

Since the droids are meant to be programmed and controlled via a smart device, the set doesn’t come with printed instructions; instead, you have to follow digital instructions that can be found in the app. It makes sense since the app needs to know which droid you’ve just built to direct you to its dedicated missions. There are no paper instructions, and no sticker sheet either! All the decorations are printed, and they’re all used on R2-D2.


The first one is a Dish 6 x 6 Inverted with circle and six spokes pattern in Earth Blue/ Dark Blue (6271865 | 59938), used for the top of the head. It’s worth pointing out that the unprinted version of the 6 x 6 Dish is quite rare in Dark Blue, having appeared in only three other sets.


Another distinctive design element of R2-D2 that could not have been brick-built at this scale is the pair of distinctive blue stripes below his head. Two Slopes Curved 3 x 2 with Dark Blue Stripes in White (6271864 | 59815) are used to that effect.


Unfortunately, the stripes in my copy of the set aren’t properly aligned (and if you don’t know why this kind of issue happens, check this article).


The final printed element, one Slope 45° 2 x 2 with 7 Vertical Black Lines Print in White (6271990 | 60186),  appeared for the first time in Classic Space sets in the 1980s and was last seen in 2003. Droid Commander was the set that reintroduced it, and it looks like it’s back for good, having appeared in another 4 sets since!

R2-D2’s new elements


Given Artoo’s size, a new part was needed to recreate the shape of his head in a clean way, which led to the creation of Brick Round Corner 4 x 4 x 3 Dome Top. The set contains four of these in Light Bluish Gray (6258818 | 49612).


As you’ve seen in our review of 10271 Fiat 500, its curve perfectly matches that of the Brick Curved 1 x 4 x 3 (65734), meaning it too fits perfectly below a Brick Arch 1 x 6 x 3 1/3 Curved Top (6060).


However, it only works at the edges; if you rotate the arch, a gap will appear. This is explained by the offset between the centre of rotation (the stud) and the centre of the circle (the vertical edge of the part 49612), as illustrated below.


The centre of the circle is shown in red, the rotation point of the yellow arch is in green, and the position of the base of the arch as it is rotated is shown in orange.


More interestingly, it is also possible to match the base of part 49612 with the top of the Arch 1 x 6 since both are a 4 x 4 quarter circle.


The aforementioned Brick Curved 1 x 4 x 3 didn’t exist when this set was released, so the designer used a clever trick to close the dome: Slopes Curved 4 x 1 Double with No Studs (93273) set at an angle.


It’s not an absolutely perfect fit, but it’s quite close. More importantly, it’s really pleasing to build.


Another new element that has been created specifically for R2-D2 is the Wheel 18 x 14 with Pin Hole. Four appear in the set, in Black (6273330 | 55889).


Yes, 18mm x 14mm, you read that correctly; it may not look like it but it has the same dimensions as wheels 55981 and 55982. 


They’re used in the astromech’s feet to let him take turns or spins: because they have no tyres, they have no adherence, and the rounded shape limits the amount of surface contact with the ground.


They have a pin hole, so they can rotate freely, and they have inner teeth that let them engage with a 8T gear.

R2-D2’s parts in new and rare colours

In addition to the new prints and new elements, C-3PO’s friend brings parts in new colours as well as some existing parts in rare colours.


My favourite one is the Fez in Light Bluish Gray (6270528 | 29175).  Fezzes are cool! The set uses four of these: three on R2-D2 and one on the Gonk Droid.


R2-D2’s legs are symmetrical but not identical. To prevent assembly mistakes, they are colour-coded: one has blue parts, while the other has red. That includes two Technic Axle 1.5 with Perpendicular Axle Connectors in Blue (6270716 | 6553) and two in Red (6194075 | 6553). The blue version is completely new, whereas the red one appears for the first time since 2001.


Some of the Dark Blue parts are noteworthy including a 4 x 12 plate (6270715 | 3029), two Hinge Plate 2 x 4 with Articulated Joint – Female (6270717 | 3640) that are currently unique to this set, and three 4 x 4 Macaroni bricks, that previously only appeared in two sets from 2009.

© 2019 The LEGO Group

The Gonk Droid is maybe best known as a greyish walking box, but the designer of this set had the good idea of building it in Bright Bluish Green/ Dark Turquoise, as these images of earlier prototypes reveal. Some elements are appearing in this shade for the first time.


  • 12 x Plate 2 x 14 (6270534 | 91988) – unique to this set
  • 9 x Plate 1 x 2 (6213777 | 3023)
  • 1 x Tile 2 x 16 (6259795 | 90498)
  • 7 x Brick Curved 2 x 1 x 1 1/3 with Curved Top (6213785 | 6091)
  • 7 x Brick Curved 2 x 4 x 1 1/3 with Curved Top (6259798 | 6081) – unique to this set
  • 1 x Plate 2 x 3 (6249417 | 3021)
  • 3 x Brick 1 x 3 (6213783 | 3622)
  • 5 x Plate 2 x 8 (6257063 | 3034)

Original builds inspired by 75253 Droid Commander’s parts

I’ve been inspired by some of the new parts in the set to make some MOCs, using my own parts collection.


The first one is a Bionicle-inspired microscale temple. The idea was to use the 4 x 4 quarter domes along with other rounded parts introduced recently.


The new teal parts have been used as a water stream, the fezzes as architectural elements and the Ninjago blades (65184) as representations of elemental energy.



Then, I just had to use the fezzes as nozzles on a spaceship.



The cockpit is based upon an idea I evoked in my review of 10267 Gingerbread House from 2019.


And, finally, I used the wheels in a small drilling machine inspired by the Rock Raiders theme.



Despite its small size, the drilling machine includes a mechanism: when the vehicle is pushed, the drill rotates.

Conclusion

75253 Droid Commander contains a rich and diverse inventory with several new moulds created especially for it, some nice recolours and unique decorated elements. Even without the Powered Up Hub, R2-D2 makes a nice display model – although it’s not the kind of set you buy to put on a shelf. With three main models and a wide array of accessories, the building experience is interesting. However, I would have liked to see paper instructions or at least a link to a PDF version: my smartphone had trouble opening the app’s building instructions section, and without it there’s no way to build the models. Once I got it to work, it was fun to program the droids – especially the Gonk, which is a walker. The presence of Powered Up components, however, drives the price up, so if you’re interested in the parts alone and you don’t care about the programming aspect, it might be preferable to buy those you want separately or to get other sets that contain them where possible.




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1 comment:

  1. Oof. It took me a good five minutes to figure out that what you were trying to say with that top-down not-LDraw demonstration is not what I thought you were trying to say. I don't know if the quarter-domes are available yet, but using the plates creates confusion because there are 44 studs spread across the entire circle instead of just the four that are actually present at the center.

    Anyways, the wheels are pretty cool. I don't know of any other wheels they've made that are designed so they can be powered or unpowered like that. I'm not sure there was a huge need for that, though, since you can always just use a non-friction axle-pin to mount any axle-driven wheel if you don't want to power it. Is there a way to engage/disengage the gear inside the wheel? Is the wheel big enough to allow that?

    The angled curved slope trick would still be necessary even if that arch had existed back then. You could use the arches from two opposing sides, but from the other two sides you'd end up with intersecting parts at the center.

    From the proto-Gonks, the second image (first complete build) looks like someone tried to make an R2-colored Gonk Droid, which makes me wonder if the original intent was to reuse as many parts as possible between the three different models, before settling on three completely different color schemes.\

    Lastly, and this has nothing at all to do with the Droid Commander set, and the colors are obviously a bit wonky, but it's pretty cool that they finally have enough range that it's possible to represent all six Bionicle elements with the little trophy figs.

    ReplyDelete

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