On September 14, LEGO Star Wars 75192 Millennium Falcon was released to LEGO VIPs. Of course, the early VIP launch is a publicity stunt rather than anything meaningful – the VIP scheme is free to sign up for and sees fans earn LEGO cashback, so in essence the early release date is the release date. But even that Thursday morning was not going to be early enough for all fans, so the LEGO Store Leicester Square opened at midnight, as Wednesday September 13 turned to Thursday September 14.
Incredibly, the turnout was better than the recent Midnight Madness events that had been held to launch the entire Star Wars: The Last Jedi range. More fans wanted to spend £649.99 on 75192 Millennium Falcon than had wanted to choose from a whole range of merchandise based on the upcoming movie. The first people had arrived in the early hours of September 13, spending up to 18 hours waiting for the midnight launch.
LEGO MASTERS host Melvin Odoom was on hand to welcome guests to the store, flanked by a pair of Stormtroopers when opening the doors at midnight. Guests were allowed into the LEGO Store Leicester Square in batches. First, they headed up the stairs to pay for their set – there they were also given a scratch card, that revealed either the grand prize of a copy of 75192 Millennium Falcon or a consolation prize of a polybag.
Once they had paid up, fans descended the stairs to select a set from the huge wall of boxes made up of 150 copies of the coveted LEGO set. At that point, customers had the chance to meet Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, Director of LEGO Star Wars Design, and Michael Lee Stockwell, Designer Manager on LEGO Star Wars. The pair of LEGO Star Wars experts signed boxes and posed for photos, seeming to be enjoying their night of fame with their adoring fans.
The first fan to own 75192 Millennium Falcon was Paul Tiner, who once he had the set signed allowed LEGO Store employees to return it to its carton. ‘It’s amazing,’ Paul smiled, as his box was having wheels and a handle affixed to it. After reading about the event here at Brick Fanatics, Paul and his friend came up with a plan to be at the midnight launch.
‘I come from Germany, we drove here yesterday, only for the event,’ he explained. But why drive all of this way for the set? ‘It’s a special product, and everybody waits for it. I want this product, I want this model. That’s why after work, we drove to London – it took 15 hours.’ Once they arrived in London, the pair joined the queue outside the LEGO Store Leicester Square at seven o’clock am. ‘It was a long time,’ the LEGO super fan laughs.
When customers had their wheels, they were all set to head home and start building the long awaited Millennium Falcon, although for most it would not take as long as it would for Paul and his friend. As he left, fans continued to be allowed into the store in batches, each guest getting time to meet the designers and savor the experience.
Glen Abell, Vice President of Direct to Consumer at the LEGO Group, was on hand to see the largest ever LEGO set launched. ‘This item has no equal so it’s a bit of an unknown. This is truly one of those iconic items that has never existed before so we just don’t know what to expect, we’re so pleased that people are queuing up at midnight on a Wednesday to come in and spend time with us. I think we’re really lucky and hopefully they’ll enjoy the experience.’
The number of fans that turned out was a pleasant surprise. ‘This is something that we’ve never done on this scale before. You go out there and now there’s over a hundred people, we’re really pleased about it.’
Another familiar face at the launch event was Ali Plumb, Radio 1 film expert and occasional LEGO video content presenter. He was as enthusiastic as anyone for the new set and eagerly chatted to fans about the new release. ‘I’ve done lots of film premieres and big events, but there’s something about the people who love LEGO enough to come to this event,’ he told Brick Fanatics. ‘Everyone’s excited and passionate, there’s just something about this set.’
The cinephile identified the genuine interest from the fans in attendance. ‘Some people are here to maybe buy the set and sit on it for a while but it all feels real, they all feel like they actually want to build it. We live in a consumerist world, sure, but people are having the best time.’
‘I’ve got to play with it,’ Ali added. ‘It improves on so much of what I found frustrating with the previous incarnation, where you couldn’t fit all the right minifigures for the cockpit shot and all the rest of it. This gets everything really nicely finessed, it’s an ornament that will become so many coffee tables up and down the land. And I think the UK price is one of the most reasonable, so wahoo.’
This kind of event is a new venture for the LEGO Group, that certainly had an atmosphere of excitement and positivity. With enthusiastic brand ambassadors like Ali Plumb and Melvin Odoom in attendance to rub shoulders with the real rock stars of the night, Jens Kronvold Frederiksen and Michael Lee Stockwell, it certainly felt like the launch of the largest ever LEGO set was being treated as a big deal.
It may seem incredible that 150 fans would be dedicated enough to queue at midnight for this LEGO Star Wars set, but as the set had sold out by lunchtime around the world the following day, they turned out to be wiser than it first appeared. Paul Tiner told Brick Fanatics something even more incredible though, when he asked when he would drive back to Germany. ‘We drive back now.’ When a set like 75192 Millennium Falcon gets released, it is time to stop being surprised by anything.