So it is no small surprise to me 3 regular readers, that I am a bit of a Star Wars fanatic.
So it should come as no shock at all, that when one of the largest brick sets ever made by the Chinese block-off community dropped I would be on it like white on rice. HA!
I had been eagerly awaiting The Monarch since about Sept 2019. The big (only by piece count) brother to this ship came out in the fall, and though similar to the Monarch, it has a full interior.
Since I only intended for this to go up on a shelf for all of eternity, it made little sense to waste an additional few hundred bucks on a ship that had an interior, especially when in my opinion, the Monarch looks better overall.
So I snapped it up the first chance I had in mid-January, right before the Chinese New Year shutdown occurred.
When the set arrived I was a little worried, for the first time since I have been ordering from China, the box cam badly damaged.
I had actually been re-taped by DHL as it had split one side completely in two.
My biggest worry here was could there be some missing parts? Unlike Lego sets, all these sets come jammed into a box as tight as possible, so if they pop open, they could go everywhere.
I spoke to the seller and he assured me if anything was missing they would make it right, but on a set that is nearly 12000 pieces, it could be a week before I would notice anything missing, and even so, when looking through 12000 bricks to find a single piece you may need, it can take a while, and who knows if it is even here.
Luckily he had a suggestion, the box weighed 13.95kg. He suggested I weigh the set and see if it is the same, if it is, then nothing should be missing.
Thankfully he was correct, and it indeed did come complete.
So first off, this box is HUGE, I propped up a brick puller for scale, but this by far the largest set I have ever seen packaged.
So after cracking the package open, in true “Lepin” style, the pile was infinitely bigger out of the box, than in the box, taking up over half the kitchen table (that is over 10 ft long)
Even the manuals are massive, if I had to guess, combined they are about 5 lbs.
Since this is a MOC, there was sadly no numbered bags to speak of. They are technically numbered, but those numbers mean nothing, I think it is simply a way the factory sorts them.
So unfortunately this meant having to resort to the old “tupperware” method.
When doing MOCs I try and keep things how they were packaged, this has always made the most sense, as bricks tend to be packaged in a logical grouping. So while bricks may not be in the same step in the same cup, they do tend to group with each other on some level.
Another method I have seen used but I do not employ is the true sorted method, whereby you would put each group of like pieces together, a full 100% sort.
This in my opinion is a colossal waste of time, you would likely be looking at half a day just getting things sorted into their own groups. Time I would rather spend building personally.
So with everything sorted it was on to the frame.
The base is incredibly well made, solid and even uses a lot of tricks I see in the engineering world
If I was a betting man I would say the creator (OneCase) has some sort of structural engineering background.
The base frame is a little deceptive in its size, as once it is complete, it is not the overall length of the set.
For that dimension you need to finish the skirting on the left and right sides.
Another nice touch is the docking bay below the ship, it is build right into the base to add to the stability of it.
Now there is a true sense of scale here, and a realization I may have a set bigger then I can accommodate in my display room.
Next up was the massive bottom panels
They too are very well designed. The use of the flat bricks a really give the ship that model like quality.
They are almost too big for the build space
I wish I had taken a pic of the connection method, because it was perfect, the panels use 5 techic rods to attach to the frame on the outside, and another 2 on the under belly, plus and additional 4 connection points along the bottom.
This made things rock solid and line up with ease, though it did take the help of my wife to hold the panel while I inserted the rods.
When complete the bottom looks almost seamless
The docking bay is showcased nicely and would look great lit up.
Once the base is done the back of the ship gets finished.
I screwed up here in my build and it cost me a fair amount of time and frustration.
The upper and lower back panels are suppose to be assembled in pairs.
I did not see this, I only made one of each, left and right, and presumed that the upper 2 would come into place once the top two panels were ready, this however was not the case.
They all should have gone in together at the end of book one.
With the back out of the way, it is on to the 2 massive top panels.
There went together in a similar manner to the bottom, very flat and smooth.
The side cannons were a real unique design that I am not too sure if I like.
When fully assembled they look decent, but they just seem a little flimsy compared to the rest of the build.
The finished top is very well detailed.
From here on out it is just layers on a cake.
Each was pretty straightforward though a little tedious and time consuming.
The steps in the remaining sections were a little grindy by the end, so many just require one of two small parts.
This took forever to search for, as there were space over 20 different containers typically.
To finish out the build was the 3 mini ships.
This is the only part of the build that was a little weak.
The ships being so small are often held together with just a single little element.
Especially the blockade runner, which had a great look to it, but it is extremely fragile.
That was it for the build, total time taking about 35 hours I guesstimate, I did not time it, but it seems about right, took me just over a week, building every eve and through 1 weekend.
But the finished product is a sight to behold.
No major hiccups or errors, only a couple steps that specified one length of brick but required another. Careful reading with make these evident.
Only a couple pain points for that required kragle as well.
The dome under the ship would not stay on, it is well designed, but the gravity of the panels apply a bit too much pressure to the dome and it kept popping off, so a small dot of glue here fixed the issue.
The only other spot of contention was the nose of the ship. I like my points to line up, and originally they did not, they left panel was a bit warped it seemed, so to rectify this I took some grey sewing thread and made a loop around the front.
Unless you are less than 1ft away you cannot tell at all
Lastly, there was a TON of spare parts on this one. They give you close to 100 tool sheets, with 9 parts each, the entire build only require 1 part from each sheet, and a couple spare wrenches. So the other 900 odd pieces are spare.
Not sure if they count the sheet or each piece for the total part count in the set.
All in all not a set for the faint of heart (and those lacking in space) as it is a very time consuming and at times tedious build.
But if you are looking for the best ISD on the market today, the Monarch is it, and at less than 50% of what Lego is charging for their far inferior model.
A solid 10/10, no questions asked.