Grand Designs Outer Rim – Darth Vader’s Castle [Review]

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Darth Vader was a promising Jedi, when a gymnastics accident left him with third degree burns to 90% of his body and several missing limbs. With the support of his good friend Sheev, Darth Vader endured months of rehabilitation and has quickly made a name for himself in the Galactic Empire. Refusing to let his accident define him, Lord Vader has returned to Mustafar and found a fantastic block of high ground to build his dream home.

It’s fair to say this this was a unique construction project. Lord Vader’s initial brief was just a single word – monolith.

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“I wanted something that was going to stand out on the landscape, something tall. Height was very important to me”

The architects opted for a unique design that uses large triangular panels around a steel and concrete core. This design allowed for the panels to be fabricated off-world and then shuttled in.

Lord Vader was initially sceptical of the design.

“I’m sure the architects dreaded our meetings in those early stages of the process. There was plenty of force choking going on back then.”

It was actually another construction project Lord Vader was working on that helped him come around to the triangles.

“The construction project I’m dealing with at work is a giant sphere, and with so many curves the project is a real pain. Straight sharp lines became a lot more appealing.”

The construction itself was surprisingly quick and without any major complications. Lord Vader puts that down to personally managing the project.

“I found that the tradespeople responded quite well to threats. Early on somebody arrived an hour late so I cut off their hand. There were no further delays.”

Now that Lord Vader is settled in, he’s going to give us a look at how this castle in the lava turned out.

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From the outside the architects clearly met the monolith brief. With its stark black finish and towering height this Castle is a testament to it’s owners status and power. It’s audacious, and in any other setting it would probably be too much. Here on Mustafar it works though.

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When you are building on a lava planet there is a temptation to treat the lava as a nuisance, but this build celebrates it. Making use of the natural landscape this Castle was able to feature a wonderful lava waterfall. Something that puts any water feature to shame. Having the lava flowing through the building also provides environmentally friendly heating at no cost.

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Lord Vader has always had a penchant for vehicles, so rather than relying on a nearby landing pad the basement level features a single shuttle hanger.

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“I travel a lot for work, and when I get to come home the last thing I want is a long walk from a landing pad.”

The large beams are not a design that Vader was particularly keen on, but safety regulations around hanger design dictated a lot of how this looks.

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The lower level also features a study where Vader keeps his prized possessions.

“Growing up I was a slave, then I became a Jedi. Neither of those situations really lend themselves to having a collection of nice trinkets. Now that I’m a homeowner I wanted somewhere to display things that are important to me.”

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Even the most ambitious builds need to have some element of practicality to them. This brings us to the second level of Lord Vader’s Castle. This upper floor features a huge bacta tank right in the centre.

“I need to be in the bacta tank quite a bit. Some people see a bacta tank as something that should be hidden away, but I’m not ashamed of needing it.”

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The central position also allows more room for Lord Vader’s security detail to do their work.

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The interior walls are left quite bare, showing the construction materials in a very raw way. It’s not a look that appeals to everybody. One fantastic addition to this area of the castle is the three triangular windows with red glass. While they don’t provide a lot of light, they do wonderfully match the exterior of the building.

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Our next stop on the tour is an area with a unique mix of business and relaxation. The main feature of the room is a large meditation chamber that allows Lord Vader to escape the daily grind of Imperial politics.

“With my position within the Empire this place is always busy with people coming and going, not to mention security. The meditation chamber allows me to shut all of that out and reconnect with the dark side.”

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Unfortunately for Lord Vader his work doesn’t fit the traditional nine to five schedule and being able to keep in touch with his boss is critical.

“This room serves double duty as my home office too, as it houses the holigraphic communicator. It might seem strange to keep that with my medication chamber but it’s a nice private area where I can have secure discussions.”

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As the exterior of the pyramid reaches its peak we find a round platform that Vader used to entertain and threaten guests.

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“I like to come up here and watch the sunrise. I think to myself – this is my castle and everything the light touches is my kingdom.”

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This building is not going going to appeal to everybody. It’s certainly not a family home. That doesn’t bother Lord Vader though.

“I don’t have any kids, so I was able to make this place very utilitarian.”

On the whole, Darth Vader’s Castle is an impressive architectural achievement, perfectly suited to its occupant. It’s hard to think of many people that would feel at home here, but it’s clear that this place is perfect for Lord Vader.

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When Darth Vader’s Castle was announced the idea of homeowner Darth Vader was hilarious to me, so I decided to go with something a bit fun and different for this review.

Overall I really like this set. The build is really enjoyable and the minifigures are fantastic. My only complaint would be the interior walls look a bit messy.

Darth Vader’s Castle is exclusively available from LEGO Online and Amazon, with an RRP of $199.99

15 Responses to Grand Designs Outer Rim – Darth Vader’s Castle [Review]

  1. Phil says:

    Well done. Clever review!

  2. Monty says:

    Thoroughly enjoyable read/review !

  3. Manny says:

    Love the review, I’m sure they can’t all be this witty and funny, but wherever possible yes please.

    I think you’re on to something here, well done!

    • Michael says:

      I’m definitely looking to add some more personality to reviews. The purely factual ones can be a bit dull.

  4. Dave says:

    Thank you! Most entertaining thing I’ve read in ages- especially the ‘my other project’s a sphere ‘

  5. Teee says:

    Love your sense of wit and humour! Clever review :)

  6. Simon says:

    Great read :) Grand designs + Star Wars + Lego… what a combo!

  7. Andrew says:

    Best Lego set review I’ve read, well done Michael. I don’t collect Star Wars but this is good enough to make me want the set anyway. Looking forward to more reviews in the same vein.

  8. rebelpilot says:

    Agreed regarding all the praise for this imaginative review. Great work Michael.

    Totally read it hearing Kevin McCloud’s voice :)

    A stark contrast to the typical Brickset review using the same old superlatives – Brilliant, Magnificent, Superb!….

  9. Wimma says:

    Awesome review :)

  10. Rex says:

    this is fantastic :D Creativity, humour, and good info!!

  11. Charlotte says:

    Haha this is great! I love this style of review, you definitely have the Grand Designs lingo down pat!

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