LEGO Star Wars design pros Michael Stockwell and Nathan Clark reveal how they brought back midi-scale into a galaxy far, far away with 75356 Executor Super Star Destroyer…
Dwarfing Star Destroyers in its vast shadow, when the Executor is introduced in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, everything about Darth Vader’s flagship is meant to intimidate. From its harsh arrowhead angles to its sheer size, the Executor is unmistakable. It has already become a LEGO Ultimate Collector Series (UCS) set in 10221 Super Star Destroyer with a highly collectible Admiral Piett minifigure. Now, as Return of the Jedi celebrates its 40th anniversary, the Executor is back and bringing with it a scale that hasn’t been seen in over a decade.
Midi scale was introduced in 2009 as a way to offer Star Wars ships at a more accessible price range that would take up less room on display. There were only ever two sets, 7778 Millennium Falcon and 8099 Imperial Star Destroyer, before the format was dropped.
‘The inspiration to do this set was influenced by the very positive reaction to  Medical Frigate that was available at San Diego Comic Con,’ explains Design Manager Michael Stockwell. ’And so we started thinking about what else we could do, bouncing ideas around and we got some sketch models done.’
Bringing midi scale back appealed to the designers because the Executor would now be extremely large if offered as a UCS model. With the range regularly pushing piece counts and boasting the most expensive LEGO set yet, the team were aware that a Super Star Destroyer would likely be inaccessible even for the most ardent collectors. ‘This is the kind of set that in typical UCS scale would be very, very big,’ continues Michael, with the recent 75252 Star Destroyer sitting just behind him. That set measures over a metre long, so a Super Star Destroyer would be at least double if aiming to offer something even more impressive.
‘Scale also comes down to just looking at what elements will actually allow us to capture certain details,’ adds Michael. From the sketch models, the Super Star Destroyer was chosen simply due to it being an icon of the Star Wars universe. Even people who haven’t seen the films will likely recognise its silhouette. Yet shrinking down one of the biggest ships in the galaxy was no easy task and it was up to Designer Nathan Clark to create a version impressive enough for a Sith Lord.
Having come from working on LEGO City sets, Nathan had to learn a whole new set of techniques for 75356 Executor Super Star Destroyer, including embracing all the grey plates that are famous throughout the theme. And with a slim, triangular shape, a lot of different angles were required. ‘I had to achieve those angles while making sure there were no collisions within the internal structure, so it doesn’t damage any of the bricks,’ he explains.
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‘It was a bit of a challenge in some aspects. But it actually proved a nice challenge,’ continues Nathan, who was determined to use the LEGO parts catalogue to its fullest potential. In the centre of the Super Star Destroyer is what is known as the cityscape, where the thousands of Imperial officers aboard live and work, which is the most textured section of the ship. ‘We have so many detailed 1×2 and 1×1 elements that the city skyline in the centre is able to be represented. I just had this huge library of elements that I could pull from and hopefully the fans agree that we were able to successfully achieve this uneven landscape.’
Another challenge presented by the Super Star Destroyer is the fact that it is heavier at the tail, especially with the addition of its 13 ion engines. It meant that the designers had to ensure the model was counterbalanced correctly, which influenced the addition of the display stand. ‘It’s about making sure all the plates are locked down tight and that the internal structure is strong,’ explains Nathan. ‘Then we found the balance point, and thankfully for this model it’s very close to the centre, and so it looks very nice on the stand.’
75356 Executor Super Star Destroyer is a display piece that proves the might of the Empire doesn’t have to break shelves or budgets. A smaller scale makes it no less interesting or detailed. ‘It’s about a great building experience that doesn’t require you building a new display cabinet,’ Michael laughs.