Geek Gifts 2010: LEGO TIE Defender

The LEGO TIE Defender is aimed at kids ages 8 - 14, though Wally Bahny says adult fans of LEGO or Star Wars should not be quick to dismiss it.

Another in the long line of Star Wars LEGO sets, the TIE Defender comes to us from computer games and comic books set during and after The Return of the Jedi. According to the Wookieepedia, the TIE/D Defender was a "high-performance TIE series starfighter developed... shortly before the Battle of Endor." The TIE Defender was unique in the TIE line of vessels in that it had both hyperdrive and deflector shields, which allowed it to operate independently and at long ranges. Like its sister models, the TIE Defender was agile and had very good firepower.

Specifications and features

What I like

  • It's LEGO: I've loved LEGO since I was a kid.
  • Good replica: The LEGO model does a great job of simulating the ship depicted in the games. While the original ship had a spherical cockpit, LEGO has done a good job of making its model as rounded as possible using squared and angled bricks. The ship's wings are nearly an exact replica, only changed slightly to follow LEGO's more straight-line approach.
  • Missiles: This LEGO model comes with working, wing-mounted missiles (which are human powered) that emulate the missiles on the ship in the games.

What I don't like

  • Limited: This is a complaint with most LEGO sets, but there is only one model plan in the instructions, which means once you've built it, there's little to no more fun left, unless you want to create your own. For the price, another optional model would give this more value.
  • Model not from a movie: I'm a fan of the Star Wars movies, but I rarely delve into other Star Wars media, so I had no idea where this model was from until I did some research. The ship appeared in several games and comic books.

Geek bottom line

Any geek who is interested in LEGO or Star Wars will find this model a welcome addition to their collection. For those geeks who are not interested in LEGO or Stars, they will find little use for it unless they are also a parent. LEGOs, especially basic kits such as this one, are generally meant for children, as this product states in its age range. Nevertheless, assembling LEGOs can be a relaxing and sometimes cathartic experience for adults and should not be dismissed out of hand.

Geek gift score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ***
  • Geek factor: *****
  • Value: ***
  • Overall: ****

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2010.