My hat is off to the LEGO Group, the slow roll out of teasers for 75192 Millennium Falcon was a display of marketing prowess. Even though many of us suspected, and by the end had seen early confirmation in the form of leaks as to what this monstrous set was, the clever visuals of big brick piles, instruction manuals, and box size were extremely well done. Now we have the official reveal, the biggest and most expensive LEGO set ever released.
The final judgement will be reserved until after building this LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series set, but it is fun to pore over the images and get a sense of what is on the way. For now I can summarise my first impressions together in three words – Death Star 2.0.
Many will remember the switcheroo the LEGO Group played upon the retirement of LEGO Star Wars 10188 Death Star. That glorious playset reigns as one of, if not the longest produced sets in the company’s history. First released in 2008, collectors and resellers waited eight long years for it to retire. It finally did last year only to be immediately replaced by a new, more expensive set that was virtually the exact same model. 75159 incorporated updated minifigures and piecess to reflect the advancements and changes in the parts catalogue realizsed in the intervening years. This appears to be exactly what the LEGO Group has done with the UCS Milennium Falcon.
Like 10188 Death Star, the initial UCS Falcon set 10179 was a nearly perfect model. One need look no further at its sustained rein as galactic emperor of the LEGO aftermarket to find proof of its quality. No other set has appreciated in value even close to its rate, leading to the much loved observation in click bait media articles that ‘LEGO is a better investment than gold’. Perfection is hard to top, and quite frankly the LEGO Group does not have to as was proved with the Death Star. 75159, the second version of the Death Star released last year, maintained everything which made its predecessor successful and simply updated it so a new generation of children, and AFOLs, could get their hands on one. Strong sales clearly indicated there was a market for the subject matter so the formula of eliminating parts which are no longer produced, updating the figures, and continuing to rake in the cash makes perfect sense. The LEGO Group has tried this more often in recent years both with Star Wars (UCS X-wing, Snowspeeder, Death Star) and the Winter Village Toy Shop.
What this means for LEGO Star Wars fans is that those who missed out on the original, like myself, are delighted. The yoke of overbearing aftermarket prices which bar us from acquiring one of the sets on our wish list is lifted. I missed out on the original UCS Falcon and I won’t be making that mistake again. However avid collectors who bit the bullet either during its run or even more painfully after retirement will likely be underwhelmed. I have the original 10188 Death Star, I feel no need to acquire the new one. I am guessing it will be that same story for owners of 10179.
Taking it one step further, I would be willing to bet that some fans out there are actually a little disappointed with this new Falcon. Even I was hoping that the LEGO Group would go all out and give this set something which would have made it a dramatic step above its predecessor – namely a full interior. The enormous leap in piece count and price meant that such a development was not beyond the realm of possibility. While more interior is included than on the original, going up from zero is pretty easy. The new interior is severely truncated and not to the proper scale. Including a full interior would have elevated 75192 from an elite class of two sets, into a perch all of its own from which it may never have been toppled.
Do not misunderstand, 75192 Millennium Falcon looks to be incredible. As one who missed out on the first round it is everything I could want – a worthy replacement of its predecessor that outdoes the competition in every way. Get this set and you will never need to look at the original 10179 with envy again; this new Falcon is clearly the superior model. However, it does not appear to be so phenomenally different that upgrading is a requirement, and there is a small part of me that sees that as a missed opportunity. A full interior would have made this set a must have for everybody instead of just the majority who missed out on the 2007 release. Still, that would likely have made the cost more prohibitively expensive than it already is.
A final note to anyone looking for me around October 1 – I’ll be camping out at my local LEGO Store, then out of pocket and then building this glorious behemoth.