As an avid LEGO collector and investor, I like to read as much as I can about the various LEGO sets in existence, both new and old. I try to keep informed by reading the multitude of quality LEGO sites, forums and blogs out there. One such quality site is the Brickset site. Brickset has a nice review section for a lot of the sets and I was sifting through some of the reviews for the LEGO 10188 Death Star and found a review by a Brickset member(Chills) that mentioned that the reviewer's wife thought the 10188 Death Star was a "STAR WARS Dollhouse." I thought that was an excellent description and analysis of this wonderful LEGO set from a non AFOL. But does this LEGO "dollhouse" have what it takes to be a good LEGO "investment"? Let's take a look at the set itself, starting with the actual LEGO marketing description:
Battle inside the Death Star™!
Recreate the action and adventure of the STAR WARS movies with the ultimate Death Star playset! This amazingly detailed battle station features an incredible array of minifigure-scale scenes, moving parts, characters and accessories from Episodes IV and VI on its multiple decks, including the Death Star control room, rotating turbolaser turrets, hangar bay with TIE Advanced starfighter, tractor beam controls, Emperor’s throne room, detention block, firing laser cannon, Imperial conference chamber, droid maintenance facility, and the powerful Death Star superlaser…plus much more! Swing across the chasm with Luke and Leia, face danger in the crushing trash compactor, and duel with Darth Vader for the fate of the galaxy!
- Includes 24 minifigures and droids, plus all-new Dianoga™ trash compactor monster!
- Includes 6 new and exclusive minifigures and droids only found in this set: Luke Skywalker™ (Stormtrooper™ outfit), Han Solo™ (Stormtrooper outfit), Assassin Droid™, Interrogation Droid, Death Star Droid and 2 Death Star Troopers™!
- Also includes Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi™, C-3PO™, R2-D2™, Princess Leia™, Chewbacca™, Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight), Darth Vader™, Grand Moff Tarkin™, Emperor Palpatine™, 2 Stormtroopers, 2 Emperor's Royal Guards™, R2-Q5™, and mouse droid!.
- Movie-authentic Death Star environments include the Superlaser control room and target monitor, Imperial conference chamber, TIE Advanced hangar bay with moving launch rack, Emperor's throne room, droid maintenance room, detention block, trash compactor, and much more!
- Rescue Princess Leia from the detention block cell, then escape through the secret hatch to the trash compactor below!
- Reenact the final duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in the Emperor's Throne Room!
- Death Star measures 16” (41cm) tall and 16½” (42cm) wide!
- TIE Advanced measures 3½" (9cm) wide!
A very impressive description of an equally impressive LEGO set! Let's go over the "investment" basics of the 10188 Death Star. The first thing that comes to mind is the size of the set. It is the fourth largest LEGO set currently in existence at 3803 pieces. The 10188 also contains 24 collectible STAR WARS mini figures and droids, the most of any STAR WARS themed set or any other non-Chess or community LEGO set. Along with this large piece and mini figure inventory comes a hefty price tag.......$399.00(US). Comparing the 10188 to another current large STAR WARS themed set, the 10221 UCS(Ultimate Collector's Series) Super Star Destroyer, the 10188 Death is a bargain. The 10221 sells for the same $399.99(US), yet only has 3152 pieces and only 5 mini figures. Big difference and a much better bang for your investment buck.
I guess even at close to $400(US), the 10188 Death Star is a bargain. That is one of the reasons why this set is still being produced after 4+ years. The 10188 was released in 2008 and LEGO is still selling them. One of the most common topics on LEGO forums is when will the 10188 be discontinued? Needless to say, most forum posters have been wrong, as the set is still being produced. The 10188 Death Star is one of the most popular LEGO sets of all time, even at $400 a pop. The secondary sales market is salivating at the discontinuation or EOL(End of Line) of this set, yet LEGO is making a substantial amount of money from the sales of this set, so why stop? Eventually, LEGO will stop production of this set and the prices will head northward on auction sites like EBAY.
What kind of returns can a LEGO investor/collector expect when the 10188 is discontinued? Let's look at some pros and cons of the 10188 Death Star:
- 10188 is a STAR WARS set...Need I say more?
- 4th largest LEGO set in existence with 3803 pieces
- 24 mini figures and droids...Most of any STAR WARS set or non-Chess/Community set
- Fantastic playability...A “dollhouse” for AFOLs.
- Is well built and displays well. A very detailed and accurate LEGO set.
- A very popular set...4+year production run!
- Expensive...$400(US)...But not bad when comparing to the 10221 Super Star Destroyer, which is the same price.
- A non-UCS(Ultimate Collector's Series) STAR WARS set. UCS sets sell for more money and appreciate quicker. Some AFOLs might argue that it is indeed a UCS set, but I say, without the UCS plaque that comes with each UCS set, it is not a UCS set.
- The 10188 is not rare. 4+ year production run means there are plenty out there to possibly reduce prices and interest in the secondary market.
- Besides a couple minor modifications to a few of the mini figures, there are really no unique LEGO bricks to a set of 3800+ pieces. This is not a major issue, but some other LEGO sets increase in value off of their rare pieces. One such example is the UCS 10026, Naboo Starfighter. The set contains 187 pieces, yet sells for $300(US)+ because it is a UCS set and has special “chrome” bricks.
All in all, I love this set. UCS set or not, it is a must have for the LEGO investors and collectors out there, especially if you are STAR WARS fan. There is tremendous value in this set with the amount of pieces and mini figures. There are some people on EBAY currently that are taking new sets, removing the mini figures and reselling the mini figures and Death Star separately for more than $400. Although there will be a ton of these sets available after they are discontinued, I still look for this set to appreciate very well after it is discontinued. It might not be on par to the 10179, Millennium Falcon, but this set's value in the secondary market should keep pace with the other UCS sets...and that's good enough for me.