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The Force Awakens Millennium Falcon
1:144 Bandai


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It may have escaped your notice that there's a new Star Wars film coming Christmas 2015, which is set 30 years after the original, with new peril, new characters and new hardware. It also marks the return of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy – The Millennium Falcon, which is perhaps the most widely recognised and iconic space craft, even though it's pure fiction!

I'll not bore you with the history of this customised Correllian cargo ship, but in the years since she last graced our screens by participating in the destruction of the second Death Star with Lando Calrissian at the controls, there have been some changes, the most notable of which is the replacement of the old circular dish that got knocked off escaping from the Death Star inferno with a brand new low-profile rectangular unit. There have also been some minor detail changes to the "greeblies" that festoon the exterior of the ship, but from a distance she's pure nostalgia. Han is dead-on when he says "Chewie, we're home".


The Kit
Bandai have the license for Star Wars model kits in the Far East, and they have been trotting out kit after kit, beginning with some 1:12 figures that you really should check out if you haven't already. Some original series kits in 1:72 and 1:48 followed, and now the hardware and figures from The Force Awakens (TFA) are starting to appear. The Millennium Falcon is the second of the 1:144 range, pipped to the post by Boba Fett's Slave 1, and it arrives in a much deeper box that has the same footprint as the other kits, which is handy for stacking. A member of staff at Hermes (who we shall call "buffoon") had used the box as a stepping stone in the warehouse however, and the box had been badly crushed, but the contents were surprisingly unharmed apart from one of the sprues having a broken intersection. Inside the deep black box are seven sprues in light grey baboon…sorry, styrene (in-joke), although one of these has the clear and transparent blue parts moulded into it, which is a technique that Bandai use a lot in their kits, injecting one colour and then changing the configuration of the gates to inject further colours, which adhere to the other styrene and make up one multi-colour sprue. If you've not seen it before, it's quite a cool technique. Another sprue in a sandy yellow holds the base and stand parts, with both decals and stickers included to cater for the modeller and the younger audience that perhaps just want to knock up a kit with their dad to play with. The instruction booklet follows the design cues of the box, and is printed on glossy paper in colour.

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With this being intended for a Japanese audience, the instruction booklet is understandably almost totally written in Japanese, apart from a few key portions, such as headings and so on. The kit is designed to snap together without any glue, but don't be fooled into thinking that will mean a compromise in detail, because I was utterly stunned by the level of detail that Bandai have achieved with this kit. Having built the older Finemolds kit of the original Falcon that purports to be 1:144, it is officially left for dead in the detail department. The first thing I noticed about the Bandai kit is that it is substantially larger and deeper than the Finemolds kit, with a distinct curve to the top and bottom surfaces that is much greater than the older kit. I did a little looking around, and it would appear from the data held on the Star Wars Wookipedia here, that the Finemolds kit is underscale by quite a margin, leaving it 2cm shorter from the rear to the tips of the loading mandibles up front. It is also shallow, but as the figure included the dish that isn't present on this kit, it's more difficult to decide by how much.

Another thing to notice is that the new kit is designed to accept a lighting kit that is available separately, although supplies of these are currently scarce, but our good friends at Japan:cool are trying their hardest to source some to ease the way. Basically, there's a battery box that slips into a receptacle in the underside, with a number of LEDs threaded through holes in the model to clip into holders within the important areas such as engines, cockpit and gun turrets. There are also some fun poseable parts such as the crew access ramp, the turrets, dish, and the option to install landing gear or have the bays closed over.

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How does it go together? It starts with the cockpit, which is although comprises only two parts, has a full cockpit tub with four chairs and instrument panel, plus a busy bulkhead and access door that will look great painted up. There are also a set of seated figures that are surprisingly recognisable at the scale, but Bandai have been producing these tiny figures for their Gundam kits for years. You also get a set of the same folks in the standing pose if you wanted to put the kit in a diorama setting. You get two each of Chewbacca, Han, and the new characters Rey, who appears to be the female lead, and Finn, the outcast First Order Stormtrooper, who turns out to be brim-full of Midi-chlorians and becomes a Jedi. The cockpit interior slots into the lower part of the cabin, which has a separate conical nose part, is joined by the upper tunnel that disappears into the hull, and then you have a choice of either a clear canopy with decals applied to the raised framing, or a styrene part that has no glazing, which is more true to the original filming miniatures of the first trilogy.

The loading mandibles are next, with each one almost a mirror image of its opposite number. The two circular cut-outs are filled top and bottom by an assembly that snaps together from three highly detailed parts, which give a busy, layered look, and are held between the top and bottom halves, with the sides filled by detailed inserts, over which additional pipework and detail parts are installed. These parts are incredibly delicate, so will need handling with care when removing and cleaning them up.

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The lower hull has various cut-outs for access areas and the battery box, which receive the same treatment as the cut-outs on the mandibles, after which the side detail parts are clipped into the hull on each side, with the lower gun turret detailed with a tub into which a seat is dropped, then covered with the clear glazing. Detail in there is superb for its size, and it really deserves some lighting. The docking ports on the sides are built up from an inner and outer part, which again has two layers of detail moulded in, and they clip neatly in place in their recesses. At the rear is the engine exhaust, which after the first films, had a design done by ILM that is replicated here by a styrene outer part with rows of rectangular holes, through which the inner clear blue part will be seen. If the kit is subsequently lit, the blue glow will flood from the rear, amplified by the tubular ridges moulded into the blue part. If you elect to depict the engines shut-down, you replace the blue panel with three styrene parts that have extra detail moulded in that represent the exhaust ports. At this stage, the battery box is inserted if you have one, and the LED holders are slotted into position, which the LEDs push into, holding them firmly and directing the light accordingly. Fine exhaust petal actuators are added to each section of the outer, as well as the larger parts that appear along the underside, and the battery box lid is slotted into the aperture, with details added around it.

The upper hull's turret is identical to the lower, and fits into the central hole in the same fashion with the cabin and seat under glass, which have decals on the sheet if you don't feel like masking and painting them. The upper hull has cut-outs to fill with equipment from layered parts, and the six circular vents on the rear deck, which surprisingly have some nice detail moulded into the hull under them, so it's a shame and a bit of a head-scratcher that it'll never be seen again. More detail is added to the engine deck in the shape of actuators and general greeblies, and it's then time to bring all the assemblies together after threading an LED through a pre-cut hole for the cockpit lighting. The mandibles are trapped between the two halves on sturdy pins, which are also used to hold the hull halves, and the cockpit assembly in place, relying on friction-fit to hold them together. This of course means that you could build your Falcon now and add lights later as and when they become available.

Final construction begins with the new three-part dish, the cannon ports top and bottom, and ends with a choice of gear up or gear down. If choosing the gear up option, simple clip-in blanking plates are installed over the five bays. The gear down option is more complex, and involves building up seven two-part legs, then joining them to the upper gear legs and bay insert pieces, to which you add the gear bay doors. The double legs have one slightly different leg each, but the same process applies. When they are complete, you just slot them into the bays, and they're done, remembering to keep the gear-up covers in case you change your mind. The crew access ramp has a gear-up cover too, and a three-part assembly that includes the ramp walls, actuator struts and the walkway itself. Detail here is great, and looks just like the movie, and as with the landing gear, you can swap and change at whim.

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The stand is typical Bandai, and although it only consists of four parts, it allows movement in all axes to pose your Falcon as you wish. There is a removable panel in the lower turret under which you'll find the socket for the stand – another nice touch from Bandai. The counter-balance base has moulded-in sand dunes, and is of the interlinking type that is seen throughout the whole range, so you can link some or all of them together for a display, using the little clips supplied in the box.


Markings
There's not a huge amount of visual information available out there at the time of writing, as the film is still over a month away, but I hope we can rely on Bandai to have got the details right. As already mentioned, there are decals and stickers, but we'll concentrate on just the decals for this review, which are of good quality, if a little thick. They respond well to decal solution, but their thickness can limit your success, and I'd be a little wary of using the decals for the cockpit glazing. As well as the usual accent panels of various shades of grey, yellow and red there are also small decals not seen before, and six dark grey circles to use on the engine deck vents, which I'd much rather paint from a personal point of view, as the detail of the mesh is very fine and would be prone to catching bubbles.

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Stickers

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It's possible to build and decal the kit without a single lick of paint if you're minded, but most modellers will probably give her a lick of paint, as the light grey styrene is a little stark to my eyes, and paint would give a better key for any weathering. I used Xtracrylix Light Gull Grey (XA1137) on my old Finemolds Falcon, and was very happy with the results, which you can see by following the link in my signature strip.

If you've got access to any stills of the new movie, or can freeze frame her appearances so far, you should be able to get a handle on whether she's taken any more damage during the intervening years if you're going for ultimate authenticity, as some of the weathering on the build-up kit in the instructions looks a bit vague.

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Conclusion
If you want a 1:144 Millennium Falcon from the new film, this is definitely the way to go, as it's the only one that's true to the published sizes. It also knocks the Finemolds kit off its perch as the best 1:144 Falcon model, with massive detail improvements, even ignoring the underscale aspect of the older kit.

I'm massively impressed with the kit, and have a growing respect for Bandai as a company. Their designers have incredible talent for easing construction, using clever techniques to do so, and their implementation of detail is out of this world. Putting the two kits together is very telling. I for one would be very interested in another kit of the Episode IV Falcon, if anyone is listening?

These kits are imported by Japan:cool in small quantities that are manageable for their business, and due to Bandai's recent embargo on selling directly to the public outside the Far East, their availability in the rest of the world has diminished somewhat. Shane has tried to keep the prices sensible of course, but has to pass on the additional costs to the purchaser, who then has the benefit of knowing that if they're in the EU, there will be no customs charges and collection fees to pay before they can get their hands on the new Falcon.

Get out there and buy one before they're all gone! Extremely highly recommended.



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Review sample courtesy of
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Cheers chap - great kit! I struggled to stop going on about how good it was ^_^

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wow... that detail looks very tasty! Any idea how available this will be in the Netherlands or do I have to absolutely get it at Japan:cool ?

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I would say that you absolutely MUST! :fight: But seriously, you have free-will, so I'll leave it up to you. Japan:cool give good service though, which I can attest to as I'm a customer of theirs, but ultimately you are your own man :)

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Great review Mike, mine is still on its way from Japan.

Interesting to see it is designed to take lights and that there is a hidey hole for the batteries. Many a happy hour running round the lounge pretending to do the Kessel run!!

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I would say that you absolutely MUST! :fight: But seriously, you have free-will, so I'll leave it up to you. Japan:cool give good service though, which I can attest to as I'm a customer of theirs, but ultimately you are your own man :)

My Jedi mind tricks clearly not working very well... :D

Edited by ShaneS

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Great review Mike! I'm surprised to read that its bigger and deeper than the Finemolds kit. It would be interesting to find out what Bandai used as reference. It would seem they had direct access to the Disney model department plans and information. This will be my December must build kit for sure!

It looks to me like there is a lot of additional piping all over this new version. Not just along the sides but the area above the cockpit tube too. I wonder if this will be explained in the new movie?

Does the cockpit glass area appear a fraction too short? And the framework a little on the thick side I wonder?

Another mystery that I can't work out is the cockpit door area. It looks like it is half open and half closed? Is that the case?

Love all the options for this kit. Bandai do an excellent job on these Star Wars kits!

Cheers

Richard.

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I think maybe the cockpit door is like that to cast the light up into the cockpit area, rather than allow the bulb to shine directly through the door. As to the piping, I suspect it'll just be there, hardly explained, if at all. The expected accumulations of the years. When Han says "Chewie, we're home", they're coming into the cockpit for what must be the first time in a while, so perhaps the Falcon's been in other hands in the meantime? Who knows?

Not sure what you mean about the cockpit glazing. Do you mean too snub-nosed? That could just be the photos, but nothing really stood out while I was sprue fondling :)

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Not sure what you mean about the cockpit glazing. Do you mean too snub-nosed? That could just be the photos, but nothing really stood out while I was sprue fondling :)

Yeah snub-nosed. But you've got the Finemolds kit to compare it to, so if you haven't noticed an issue then yeah, it must be the angle in the photos.

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:lol: If she likes Star Wars, how could she refuse? The best way is just to blame me. I'm used to it ;)

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:lol: If she likes Star Wars, how could she refuse? The best way is just to blame me. I'm used to it ;)

How many SWMBO's have you on the #1 position on the Most Hated Friend of Husband-list?

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I just received my kit through a well known trader from Hong Kong and a couple of days ago ordered a set of photo-etch grills for the exhaust vents from the company Greenstrawberry. The covers in the kit completely cover the detail contained underneath and it seems to be pointless exercise when you put detail in the kit and then cover that detail with parts that are moulded solid.

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Got a link for that please Mick? :)

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I would very much like to get this kit. :)

I did see there that the quad blaster cannons are molded in place, unlike the ones on the Fine Molds kit.

The photo etch that Mick4350 linked to looks great! Much better than the ones I used for my falcon model some time ago.

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