Like last year, this year I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the 2019 Employee Gift from LEGO, for being an ambassador. All the ambassadors from around the world received one, and it was super exciting to open the box! I’ve been saving it up for Christmas Day, so yesterday I sat down with my niece to build it.
For those few of you that haven’t heard about these sets before, let me explain. Each year The LEGO Group designs a rare, unique and exclusive set just for the employees. Some end up on the secondary markets for a crazy amount of money, so if you’re not under the employ of TLG, and you have a chunk of change to spare, you might be lucky enough to snag one, but be prepared to spend big if you want the current year’s one! I received my first Employee Gift last year as an ambassador, which was incredibly special, and the following article was huge – a lot of you enjoyed reading it! Getting another one this year was incredible – a massive thank you to LEGO!
This year, as I’m sure you all know by now, we got the Yuletide Squadron Xmas-Wing, to celebrate 20 years of LEGO Star Wars. The box, in true Employee Gift form, is beautiful. It’s glossy and bright, with stunning LEGO greebling detail on the edges. You know these are special sets – they go full tilt on the detail.
Open the lid and inside the left interior panel you’ll see how it’s meant to be packed away. This isn’t a regular set that the box can be discarded – it’s intended to be packed away until next December. The model has been designed to pack away nicely. I’ll get into that later.
Inside the box will be a loose 16×16 white plate, eight numbered bags, three instruction booklets and a folded pamphlet that looks like some Christmas mail. The instruction booklets include one for R2-D2 and the sleigh, one for the toy cave and a big one for the X-Wing. Inside the X-Wing one will be some history of the LEGO Star Wars licence, in a bunch of different translations.
Dotted throughout the instructions are the minifigures helping out! They’ll either peek out from behind a parts box, help out with measuring parts, or even giving QR codes out, for more videos of the set. There’s also a walking minifigure at the bottom to show how far you’ve got to go. I like it.
The minifigures are awesome – R2-D2 is standard, but the Yuletide Squadron Pilot is meant to be Santa, with his beard and green sack, and Yoda has a Santa costume on too – I’m guessing he’s the elf. We’ve seen Yoda’s torso before, in the last three years of LEGO City Advent Calendars, but the Pilot is all new!
Let’s look at the builds one at a time. The sleigh is pretty quick, but looks very Star Wars-y and festive at the same time. There’s wheels underneath so it can roll, and a couple of angled panels with gold trim are used to hide them, so it appears to be hovering. There’s four presents at the back as well – two green and two yellow. Inside one of the yellow ones is a silver rollerskate, and one of the green ones has a minifigure statue in gold, presumably C-3PO. R2-D2 can also go for a ride!
The toy cave is pretty simple to start – a symmetrical build of bricks on bricks. Inside is where it gets interesting. There’s a drill press on one side, and a duck and blue rollerskate on the other.
To be honest, it took me a while, but I reckon this is a nod to LEGO’s origins in the early 1930s, when they created wooden toys. One of the most famous of toys (and also the most popular) was the wooden duck.
Combine the duck and skate, and you’ve got a ducky pull toy! This was a very pleasant surprise. Little easter eggs are so great to find, and this is a ripper.
The top of the toy cave brings in some Technic for the X-Wing stand. It can also fold down for better storage in the box. Clad the outside with some white slopes and you’ve got a wintery cave full of LEGO nostalgia.
For a finishing touch, there’s a printed 2×4 tile with the 20th Anniversary of Star Wars on it. A couple of little trees and torches later, and we’re done.
While I’ve built an X-Wing a long time ago, I don’t actually own one in my collection (until now!), so this build was a lot of fun for me. My niece was amazed at how big it was, and how many parts it used up. Just before we had finished building one of the new Friends sets together, so this was a serious step up. She loved every minute! As the nose of the iconic craft grew, she got even more curious.
The rear of the craft has some Technic hidden away, to open up the wings or close them, whatever your preference. flick the top lever forward to open them, and either push it back to close, or press the axle underneath to snap them shut.
The wings are very repetitive, but it was still a blast – adding the candy cane cannons was very enjoyable. Rubber bands are used to hold the wings on each side together, and then a couple of axles and beams are used as pins to hold them to the body. these are easy to remove for storage later.
Add on a few more details such as engine covers and rears, and you’re done! Its big, it’s bold, and it’s a freaking X-Wing! The angled mount is perfect – it feels like it’s doing a low sweep past the cave.
I didn’t add them, but the presents are also able to be added underneath the cockpit, so they can be dropped to kids everywhere, but I like leaving them on the sleigh. R2-D2 can of course take his place behind the cockpit, when he needs to.
When it’s sadly time to pack it away, it’s a matter of dropping the stand, pulling the pins on the X-Wing and removing the wings. It all packs up very nicely.
Overall, this is a spectacular set. I’m so happy I have a copy, and am once again so thankful to LEGO for sending me one. It looks beautiful on display, and yes I certainly have flown it around the room!
This is my new favourite set, and I reckon will be one of the best employee gifts yet. It’s an iconic craft from an iconic theme, with a brilliant Christmas twist. The link back to the wooden toys is genius, and it just makes me smile every time I see it.
If you want to get a copy yourself, prepare to spend big – at least AU $350. If you’re a Star Wars fan and have the cash, it’s definitely worth getting if you can.