The return of the Taj Mahal under its new brand – LEGO Creator Expert – has fans discussing whether re-releases are a good or a bad thing. It is an easy question to answer, as I am a huge fan of LEGO re-releases. Far from being disappointments that steal valuable slots in the product portfolio, I see them as fantastic opportunities. My opinion is influenced greatly by my own experience and how I have benefited from the LEGO Group’s long history of bringing sets up out of the vault. In my mind there are three primary reasons why re-releases such as 10256 Taj Mahal and the rumoured UCS Super Star Destroyer should be celebrated.
These sets allow folks who missed, or perhaps were not even alive, for the original release to have a crack at a set they may really want. As a child of the 1980s there was no set I wanted more in the world than 6285 Black Seas Barracuda. Adjusted for inflation that set cost £170 ($225) in today’s currency, no small price tag for a working class family. I never got it. Then, in the early 2000s, amidst the LEGO Group’s mad dash to save themselves from insolvency and the time I was starting college, it was re-released as 10040.
My mother sent it to be me as a birthday present and it was proudly displayed on my college desk in my dormitory all four years I was there. This was a time before the LEGO aftermarket really existed, and even today prices for either the first or second version of this ship new will go for hundreds of dollars. The chance to score it for MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) so many years after it was discontinued, in this case well over a decade, was an amazing opportunity.
Re-releases are also are a great opportunity to add a second copy of a beloved set to your collection. As a child I did have 6278 Enchanted Island and it was one of the prides of my collection. One of its distinctive characteristics was the half lagoon depicted on its two baseplates. My 9 year old self dreamed of adding a second copy to my collection so that the lagoon could be completed into a full circle.
Of course asking for a second copy of a set in childhood was not an option. However, in 2001 the object of my desire was re-released as set 6292. I was able to acquire it and finally complete that circular lagoon that I had dreamed of for years. It turned out to be a very good decision to pick up that set as years later I displayed that circular lagoon in a large convention build as part of an Islander archipelago.
Finally, these re-releases serve as course correction to what can be an outrageous re-sellers market. Let us be honest for a moment, sometimes the aftermarket pricing of LEGO can get a bit ridiculous. Who are these people that can afford to purchase an original Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon for thousands or drop £500 on an exclusive minifigure from Comic Con? I am certainly not one of them. Wide re-releases of desirable sets can go a long way to making treasures affordable to the masses.
10249 Winter Toy Shop is a great example of this. I joined the party late with this theme, long after the original model had vanished from shelves. However, the whole point of this line is to collect each annual model, ultimately completing your winter village. Re-sellers knew this and the aftermarket prices of that first offering were accordingly elevated. Then came the slightly updated re-release, which provided the perfect opportunity for me to obtain that missing piece in my collection.
This all adds up to a solid argument for re-releases being only a good thing. I truly hope that 10256 Taj Mahal is the start of a new season of re-releases like the one that occurred in the early 2000s. Everyone should have a chance to get classic sets, extra copies and pay somewhat reasonable prices – and re-releases allow collectors to do just that.
Convinced – not convinced? Read the other side of the debate, in which Graham argues that re-releases are a terrible thing.