Does this model really need an introduction? I mean, come on, it’s so iconic! And now it’s finally ICONX, too! Okay, sorry, sorry, sorry! I’m a dad, what do you expect? Dad jokes come with the package. Anyways, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to build this model, and amazingly enough, Fascinations sent me one to review! I feel so honored and humbled that they would do that.
Okay, yeah, that’s not my usual Solar Spinner video. But I just couldn’t pass up trying to throw together a flyby video. And you know what? Spare desk drawer slides make for a halfway decent way to move something past a camera. My speed wasn’t terribly consistent, but it was fun. Okay, now for the normal Solar Spinner 360 video:
If you can’t tell, I’m kinda in love with this model. And amazed as how detailed it is. It’s honestly hard to decide what to take photographs of on this because there’s so many details that I would have way to many photos in the gallery below. There’s great layering, overhangs, and greeblies almost everywhere you look. It does a great job creating a sense of depth to the model. Add in the beautiful etching pattern, and the light-touch paint job adding another “layer” of depth, and it’s just stunning. I should mention that I’m a big Star Wars fan, and it was actually the Star Wars models that tempted me into the hobby in the first place. So I might be a little biased. But it’s freaking awesome, and gorgeous. Just look at all of these photos:
Alright, so it’s obvious that this is one amazing, awesome and super-duper-detailed model, right? Well, you wouldn’t expect it to be an easy build then. And it’s not. All that detail and beauty comes at a cost. But that’s okay by me, because I enjoy a challenge. Unfortunately, there were also a few issues with the instructions, and a small issue with the actual model itself. These are all things I was able to work through without much trouble, so it’s not worth getting upset about. These things happen, but the wonderful people over at Fascinations are great about listening to feedback.
In fact, when I was halfway through the build and encountered the problem with the model itself, I sent over some feedback on what I had reviewed up to that point. I’ve heard back that they are not only working on updating the instructions, both online, and in future prints, but fixing the model issue as well. Unfortunately, they can’t update the already printed instructions (or fix the existing cut models), so I’m including the details here, just in case you get a “first print” edition. If your instructions are better, or you use the ones online, feel free to ignore when my review doesn’t match up (and that pretty much goes for all my reviews, cause Metal Earth will update / clarify the instructions from time to time). Just another reason they are an awesome company!
Now before we get to the build review itself, I want to throw a couple more pictures at you, to emphasize just how tiny the details on this model can get. I took these “photos” with a very basic endoscope/microscope gadget. The first is of one of the smaller pieces with some filament-like strips of metal. To give a proper sense of scale, I put the hand from my Lego Chewbacca in the shot. Yeah, it’s that small. And, while I was at it, I also took a super close-up photo of a small section of the model. You can see the fold perforations (black circles), and the “paint” job as individual “drops” of ink, so to speak. Just kinda fun to see that, at least for me.
One more thing before we jump in. I know, I’ve done this a little too much with this post. But hear me out. As I was working through this build, I learned that AnimateOrange was building it, too. So we exchanged messages during the build, helping each other out, giving advice, noting things to watch for. He was a great help, and I’ll probably mention some of his feedback throughout this post. But I would also recommend that you go check out his build videos and review on his YouTube channel, as we both have different viewpoints and approach things differently, so he might be able to help you out in ways that I don’t.
First Build Session (Steps 1-10)
I was lucky enough to avoid the first potential confusion on this model, thanks to @AnimateOrange’s warning about Step 3. He warned me that parts 9 and 13 need to be swapped to actually fit on the model as directed. As I looked further, I realized that, if I’m correct, it’s actually that the parts sheet incorrectly identifies parts 9 and 13, swapping one for the other. He’s been kind enough to contact Metal Earth, and they may be updating the online instructions (can’t really update the already-printed-and-in-the-packages-on-shelves instructions, though).
There is another bit of confusion in Step 3, though, and it has to do with parts 10/14 and their orientation. Namely that the instructions indicate one thing, and the example photo on the Metal Earth website shows it a different way (rotated 180 degrees). Luckily, I went with what the instructions show, even though it seems odd that the orientation results in part of it sticking out past the front edge. That’s lucky because a fellow builder went with the other orientation, and it makes attaching later adjacent assemblies a very tight fit that can mangle these delicate parts.
Also in Step 3, be careful to fold the rear tabs on the side walls (parts 8/12) outward when attaching them to roof (part 18). This is another pro-tip coming to you, through me, from AnimateOrange. If you fold them in (towards the middle of the roof), they will block you from cleanly attaching a couple of greeblies later on (parts 17/18).
Attaching the part 19 sub-assembly in Step 4 is a little difficult, getting around the tab slots (and possibly tabs, if you folded those tabs outward like I did) in the root of the smaller section. Not sure there’s a good way around this, but thought I’d warn you.
In Steps 5 and 6, do not twist the tabs. There’s not enough room for a twisted tab when attaching this sub-assembly to part 30 in Step 9. Furthermore, I would advise that you go ahead and fold the outer and rear edges (only) of parts 22/24 before attaching parts 21/23. With the overlap on the rear edge, it’s hard to get in there to get a good fold after attaching those parts. And folding the outer edge first helps you line up the correct angle for the rear edge. After you’ve attached the parts, the other two edges are easy enough to fold over.
When it comes to forming the little ball-like structures in Step 7, the resulting shape didn’t look at all like the instructions. The bottom half was almost flat, and I spent a lot of time trying to get the overall hexagon of the shape to be balanced and even. I never could quite get it right. But don’t expect your results to have the bottom section as wide angled as the instructions show.
I had a couple of sticky points in Step 9. First off, I chose to attach the sub-assembly from Step 8 with the tabs facing forward, because I couldn’t get it to stand up straight when they were facing backwards (too tight a space for the tabs on the bottom to be next to the sub-assembles from Steps 5/6). And when forming part 32, I folded the “flaps” down 90 degrees on the thin sections that stick out on either side. Just like the instructions say. But then when I attached it, the top flap was too long, and caused it to be all wonky. So I angled that top flap out (incrementally) until it sorta fit. Well, turns out that was all a mistake, as I learned when I got a response to my initial feedback I sent to Fascinations, showing the proper forming of that part. It turns out that the instructions were missing a secondary fold, where that section with the two flaps folds over. It’s really hard to explain in words, but hopefully the picture below, alongside the snapshot of the instructions, will make sense:
And I finished off my first build session with Step 10, completing the command tower. Forming the support pillar for the tower is fairly straight-forward, albeit with a few very delicate pieces. However, this tower structure does lack a design tweak I’ve mentioned before, with the classic Metal Earth Imperial Star Destroyer, and it needs it twice. There are two sections where the metal could be cut back in a triangular fashion to accommodate other parts. The first is in Part 33, the bottom of the center panel (or front, when folded) could have a cutout similar to the one at the top of that same panel. This would make room for the peak in the hull it will eventually attach to, and allow you to seat those tabs flush. Since this part of the tower is not visible from the outside, I used my snips to make my own little “triangle of accommodation.” In similar fashion, the top/front of part 34, where it meets the back of the command deck could also use a triangular cutout. The back of the command deck also comes to a peak, but in this case it is not hidden away, so clipping out my own triangle was not an option. Despite just how hard it made getting the bridge attached to the support pillar (Super hard. Super-duper hard. That’s how much).
I do have one more note about Step 10: the front of the command deck does not want to line up with the rest of the command deck hull; the right side wants to pull up, leaving unsightly gaps on top and bottom. I ended up wedging my hobby knife into the crack above this side and levering it down so that I could push the top-right corner of the face to sit just barely underneath the “roof” hull of the bridge, which helped keep it mostly in place. As my good friend AnimateOrange suggested, an extra tab here would go a long way. But lacking that, go for wedging it in place (my suggestion)!
Second Build Session (Steps 11-22a)
The build process is fairly straight-forward for Steps 11 and 12, though there is some confusion with parts 39-41. These parts are duplicates, used in both steps. However, since these steps are constructing mirrored structures, the etching pattern on the parts are “wrong” for one of the steps. And in this case, it’s the first step you use them in. And on part 40, the etching doesn’t match the pattern shown in the instructions – go by the little dots in the strip across the top of the part.
Skipping over Steps 13 and 14 (challenging tab seating, but nothing really worth mentioning). But then we get to Steps 15 – 18. I haven’t checked yet, but I’m pretty sure this model has to be labeled as expert difficulty. Because these little guns have some of the tiniest folded sections ever (Just look at the size of these guns in the macro photo below; that’s a Lego hand in there!). But also be careful here with the tabs! All of the tabs should be marked as folds, not twists (in my opinion). There is definitely not enough room for twisted tabs, at all.
Oh, and the instructions don’t really specify this, but I think the front section of part 50 should be bent down a little. And there’s a slot in Part 53 that is very close to the perforated fold lines. I would suggest folding the nearest edge flap first, while pinching over the slot with pliers or tweezers, so that the slot doesn’t get mangled. I also folded down just the “front” flaps before attaching part 52, then folded down the rest of the flaps. It made it a lot easier to fold the tabs.
I had a little trouble in Step 19 with parts 56/57. They form easily enough (be careful not to fold down that little tip that sticks out on the back, it almost looks like it should fold, but don’t), but attaching them to the hull is challenging. I couldn’t get them to sit straight, as indicated in the instructions. Instead they twist in towards the center, because the small greeblie on the vertical hull beside it gets in the way of it sitting flush against the vertical hull.
Steps 20 and 21 are fairly straight forward, with exception of a few tabs that are marked for twisting, but should be folded in Step 21. The edges around the edges of most of the pieces in these steps are a challenge to fold over, sometimes. Especially with the little flaps that go around the corners. I did, unfortunately, encounter an error in the etching/cutting of my model, in this section, though. One of the edges on Part 62 had the perforated fold line follow the wrong path, which made the fold a little difficult to execute. It was at this point that I decided to go ahead and reach out to Fascinations with my “feedback so far,” and have gotten a response saying that they will fix this in future “prints.” Go Fascinations! But don’t worry if you got a first-run copy! I was able to fold it over at the right location anyways, and it’s kinda obstructed when attached, so you can’t really see it
I finished this build session with the first half of Step 22, so that I could be finished with the top half of the Star Destroyer. You should have no trouble with getting it assembled. I decided to put off attaching part 66 until the end of the build, during the final assembly. I found it easier to build that way with the classic Metal Earth model, so I thought it would be appropriate with it’s big brother.
Final Build Session (Steps 22b-35)
I built this section out of order, but I’ll try to review it in order. Why did I do it out of order? Well, I wasn’t sure I would be finishing the model is a single build session, and I thought the sessions would be more even if I swapped some stuff around. Sometimes it’s worth it to consider your options and sometimes do things out of order to fit your schedule.
Anyways, the second half of Step 22, and then Step 23 are fairy straight forward. The fold lines are not perforated, though, so it can be hard to sure you are folding the correct spot. Just look for the two vertical lines close together in approximately the right place with no etching between them. I would still recommend, even if you have the time to build this model all at once, that you consider delaying attaching these long strip sub-assemblies to the upper hull section, until after you’ve attached the engine section. I’ll explain that later. But when you do attach them, you can use the barest, lightest of twists to temporarily secure the tabs (all in the same direction, such as clockwise). That way, after you have slotted the opposing tabs into the lower hull section, you can untwist and fold all these tabs flat, for a better appearance.
In Step 24, you’ll encounter a few more instances of tabs being marked as twistable, but really need to be folded. And more of the delicate edge flaps. But the most diabolical part of this step is the dome-like structure, part 71. Forming the dome is like any other dome, challenging. Of course this one is really shallow, so that makes it a little easier (for me at least). But the real challenge is attaching it to part 69, because the dome is straddled over the fold, and it doesn’t really want to attach very well. On top of that, I had folded part 69 much too sharply, so I made that extra hard on myself. To that point, please note that the edges that fold down adjacent to to the central fold of part 69 do not indicate how much you should fold it. Do not “close” the gap up, or the fold will be too much.
Steps 25 – 27 are fairly smooth sailing, and shouldn’t present much trouble for you, other than those thin edges, and the question of how to orient the larger hanger bay. I decided, personally, to heck with it, and just picked one. But it would be nice if they showed the etching on that part when attaching it to the lower half of the hull.
Steps 28 – 32 have you building out the engines, and I was expecting this to be super tough, as it was one of the most challenging parts of the classic Metal Earth models. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The designers over at Metal Earth really proved their worth with how this is constructed. I especially like how the smaller engines are attached. It’s brilliant. I will warn you, though, that inserting part 66 into part 65 is not easy, and can be made easier by bending one of the tabs on it laterally (see the “diagram” below) so that it is angled towards the slot you need to seat it in. And that tab should be the second of the two that you seat. It’s not easy to bend the tab that way, but it’s worth it. Also, pay close attention to the Engraved vs. Not Engraved markings. I forgot to check that in Step 28, and it turns out that if you get it wrong, the difference it makes in the circumference of the part really shows.
Step 33 really shouldn’t give you any problems, as it’s a fairly straight-forward assembly for the stand. I wish, though, that when they make the ships and stands separate assemblies, they would make it a little easier to know where the stand is supposed to align underneath the ship. Maybe cutouts on the top of the stand that line up with features on the bottom of the ship or something? I have a lot of trouble balancing the ships on the stands sometimes, including with this one. However, I was able to solve that problem by gluing some really tiny, really string magnets on the inside of the stand, a trick I learned from @iwallod on Instagram. Check it out below. Oh, and I want to point out the etched blocks on the stand… I don’t know if I’ve seen Metal Earth do anything like these blocks, but they are really different… it’s a deep etch, but with an almost matte surface, which really makes it pop, in a way.
And now we come to the most difficult (to me) part of this build. I was sure I was going to break a tab or two off in Step 34. What’s so hard? Attaching the engine section to the top half of the hull. Something about how I assembled the decks on the top half caused it to bend more at the crease than I think it was designed to bend. Which made seating the two tabs (and only two) of the engine section into their slots on the top hull. It took me a long time, with a lot of slips, pseudo-curses, and mangling of some of the more delicate parts on the top deck (along with some janking of the large engine cones, unfortunately). But it did eventually happen, despite my concerns that I would break a tab off in the process. I did twist these tabs, rather than fold them, even though they were external tabs. I was concerned that the strain would pull it apart, unfolding folded tabs. I came back later and cleaned it up, though. I am really, really thankful that I hadn’t attached the strips (66/67) along the edges. All the manhandling of the two sections would have severely mangled those two sub-assemblies. As for the stuff that I did mangle, I was able to straighten that all back out, at least to an acceptable state.
After that, I attached parts 66/67, and then the little corner pieces, parts 101/102, to the top hull section. Those corner pieces are don’t really seem like they are properly shaped to fit in where it says they go. I don’t know if I misunderstood the directions, didn’t shape it enough, shaped it too much, or just flat out shaped it wrong. But as they are, they just kinda hang out there, on one tab, until you attach the bottom hull. Which is the very next, somewhat painful, part of this step. And they still attach rather awkwardly. And just now, as I was clipping out the bit of the instructions for below, I thought… maybe I folded the flaps towards me, when they were supposed to be folded away! But I checked the subsequent graphic, and it clearly shows that the folds are “outward.” I think. haha.
Next up was a repeat of the madness of attaching the engine section to a hull section, but with the side strips thrown in as well, and those little corner pieces. Given the difficulties I had with the engine section on the top, I decided to tackle attaching that first, because I wanted as much freedom of handling as possible. So I could more easily convince those two (again, only two) tabs to align and seat properly (or at all). I will say that this process went much more quickly than connecting to the top hull section. Not that it was by any means easy. It was still a struggle, I just didn’t come as close to ripping a tab off as I did with the upper hull tabs.
After managing that, I secured the second tab on both of those corner pieces (101/102) to the lower hull, then proceeded to align and slot all the tabs on the strips (66/67) along both sides. Once they were all aligned and seated (but not secured), I proceeded to untwist the light twist on the top tabs and fold flat both top and bottom tabs, pair by pair. This seemed to work out well, though I did have one section of the strip bow backwards into the body of the ship somehow. I’m not sure when it happened, but I was able to pull it back into alignment, when I did notice it. I slid my hobby knife into the crack between the strip and the hulls and levered/pulled it forward. I then went all around the edge and tried to adjust the hull edges to be straighter, and popped out the strip at the back side, where it had also plunged towards the inside of the ship. I also went back and folded over the tabs I twisted that hold the engine section to the top and bottom hulls (without untwisting them, I think the twist is crucial for structural integrity).
And then I finished the build with the final step, Step 35. Which is really a pain. I’m not sure if there is any other way to attach the two pieces (103) that wouldn’t be a pain, though. I did the best I could, but it’s near impossible to insert slots opposite of each other through slots that are fixed in place, without mangling the piece you are inserting. Since you can’t spread the slots apart to slide the piece into place, you have two options. I tried both. Neither worked out well. On the first one, I folded the folds in the part at a greater angle than needed, slipped it in, and attempted to “unfold” those creases in place to get the tabs into their slots. This proved to be messy. So I tried folding it less for the second one and just manhandling it into place with brute force. The result was even worse. I wish I could give you some sort of advice for how to do this, but I never figured out a good way to do it myself.
And that brings us to the end of the build. It’s a tough build, no question about it. And it has some issues, and could be improved (I wouldn’t be surprised if Fascinations makes some improvements in the short term). But it is oh-so-freaking worth it. This is, as I’ve said, one freaking gorgeous, detailed, amazing, and wonderful model. The results are completely worth it. All told, this build took me a little over 7 hours, and though I got frustrated at times, I really enjoyed building it. If you want to see any of that, I’ve included the YouTube playlist of the build below, as usual.
P.S. I’ve sent more feedback to fascinations, a summation of the review after my encounter with the misaligned fold perforations. Unfortunately, my contact over there has been rather busy with some high-priority projects, so I haven’t heard back yet. I wanted to wait and update this post with their feedback, but I’d like to go ahead and get this out there in the meantime. If I do hear back, I’ll post a followup with what I learn from that.