Jump to content
  • LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector's Series

    Ed Mack

    Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the LEGO STAR WARS Ultimate Collector's Series(UCS), let me tell you how a UCS set helped create Brickpicker.com...

    Adult LEGO fans(AFOLs) often talk about their “dark ages” when referring to their LEGO collecting hobby. Basically, the term “dark ages” refer to the time a LEGO fan stops playing with LEGO bricks(usually around the age of 12-14) and when they rediscover LEGO bricks(usually when they have kids or are old enough, with enough discretionary income, to buy some expensive STAR WARS Ultimate Collector's Series LEGO set). The end of my personal “dark age” was when I purchased the 10030 UCS Star Destroyer about five years ago. My brother Jeff and I were at work one day and he showed me a picture of the 10030 off of some STAR WARS site and I said I gotta have it. It was Christmas time and I told my wife that's what I wanted for Christmas. She was like, “What the Hell is a 38-year-old man going to do with that?” I said, “Build it.” And so it began...I received the 10030 for Christmas, then continued to purchase all the UCS sets in existence at the time. I even bought the 10179 for $399.99 from Amazon.com(I should have bought more, but that's another story). Then something happened...

    We had our son Max, and my LEGO collecting took a hiatus for two years. I stopped collecting LEGO sets completely for those two years...No eBay...No Amazon...No LEGO...Nothing...Nada. Two years quickly passed and I was messing around on eBay, looking for something for my son and decided to take a look at some LEGO set auctions. What I saw left me speechless. The 10179 Millennium Falcon that I bought two years previous for $399.99, was now selling for close to a $1000.00. I started going through the various LEGO sets that I owned and saw huge gains in all the sets. I mentioned this amazing appreciation to Jeff and we started to formulate the basis of an internet LEGO Price Guide, with an emphasis on investing. The rest is history and Brickpicker.com was born. So there you have it, a couple of Ultimate Collector's Series STAR WARS sets were the spark to the BrickPicker idea. But what about all the UCS sets? Are they all investment winners or are some underachievers or even outright flops? Let's take a more in-depth look at the Ultimate Collector's Series STAR WARS sets.

    The LEGO STAR WARS Ultimate Collector's Series began back in the year 2000, with the release of the 7181 TIE Interceptor and the 7191 X-wing. Both sets were a huge change from the typical STAR WARS themed set, which began in 1999. It was the first time that LEGO designers developed a set geared to the adult LEGO collector market. I get the sense that a change took place with the LEGO company itself around the year 2000. LEGO sets in the year 2000, with the UCS sets leading the charge, became more complicated, original and just downright cool. In 2000, LEGO dropped the “System” nomenclature from the STAR WARS sets and were just known as STAR WARS sets, as if to let fans know that the STAR WARS line was to be taken seriously. The UCS models were such a breath of fresh air from the stagnant, childish line of LEGO sets that encompassed the previous 20 years(with the exception of the 3450 Statue of Liberty of course...) It was as if a light bulb went on in LEGO Corporate Headquarters and said enough already...we can build realistic looking models with LEGO bricks, cater to both the younger and older LEGO fans and make money doing it. Maybe George Lucas had something to do with the improvement in creativity and quality of the STAR WARS theme, maybe not. Regardless, it was a welcome change of pace from basic Space, Castle and City themes and the boring first year models of the STAR WARS “System” theme.

    LEGO investment and collecting is a phenomenon that has grown in popularity over the last several years. I highly doubt that in the year 2000, LEGO thought about developing a theme geared towards LEGO “investors,” but they inadvertently did. The recent amazing appreciation of the UCS 10179 Millennium Falcon and other large LEGO sets has brought much attention to the LEGO secondary market and the UCS theme in particular. The UCS theme consists of some of the largest and well known LEGO sets in existence, but does that popularity convert into successful investment sets? Do UCS sets appreciate any better than the average LEGO set(Average CAGR, Compound Annual Growth Rate, for all LEGO sets is 10.81% as of 8/7/12)? Are the STAR WARS Ultimate Collector's Series really the “ultimate” LEGO investment? Let's take a look at the 19 existing UCS sets and their investment data and BrickPicker analysis for each:

    Mean/Average CAGR = 10.81%

    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The 7181 TIE Interceptor is the oldest of the UCS sets. Released back in 2000, this set was a bold and fresh idea for The LEGO Group. A theme designed for the LEGO “collector.” The 7181 was the first of many top notch STAR WARS UCS sets, but it never really got enough love from the LEGO collectors out there. The returns on this set over a ten-year span are very close to the average LEGO set “mean” or 10.81%. The 7181 has averaged 11.0% annually over its lifespan on the secondary LEGO market. That is certainly not bad in the investment world, but for LEGO sets, it's just average. On a positive note, these sets are still reasonably priced, even MISB sets. The 7181 appreciated 15% last year, so maybe now is the time to pick one up and see stronger returns than previously seen with this set. Overall, a very nice display set that is an easy build and decent investment.


    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: Beautiful LEGO model. To me, this is where the LEGO designers really started doing a fantastic job with the UCS sets and in LEGO sets in general. The X-Wing is just a gorgeous display model and looks just like the real thing. No STAR WARS LEGO collection is complete unless you have this set in my opinion. Although the current MISB sets are quite pricey(in the $800 range), a used 7191 in good condition can still be bought around $300. This set has seen very strong and steady growth since EOL, around 14.0% annually, and it looks to continue. If you have a chance to buy one of these sets, new or used, do so. You won't be disappointed.  
    7194 YODA
    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The 7194 Yoda is a set very similar to the 7181 TIE Interceptor in annual growth(CAGR) and price. Both sets sold for $100 new and both are selling around $300 currently for a MISB set. This is another set that is still affordable to the new LEGO investors out there. Although this set has not received as much support from the LEGO community as other UCS sets, it did appreciate 29% last year, so now might be a good time to pick one up. A very nice UCS set in appearance and build. Makes for a perfect shelf display. If you are a Yoda fan, this set is a must have.

    10018 DARTH MAUL
    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The 10018 Darth Maul is one of my favorite sets, in case you haven't noticed. The finished display model is quite realistic and downright scary at times. I find that the model watches me when I walk around my office. A very tedious build, with mostly black pieces, it is worth it in the end. As an investment set, the 10018 Darth Maul is just coming into its own. The set grew 34% last year, a very impressive growth number for any investment. A MISB set is selling for well over $500 currently(more like $800+), with the used sets around $300. Although these prices are high, they are not as high as some as the other UCS sets and the 10018 is showing some big time growth as of late. If you are a Darth Maul fan like myself, maybe now is the time to pull the trigger and buy one before they appreciate any higher.


    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: Another of the iconic STAR WARS ships, the 10019 Rebel Blockade Runner(also known as the Tantive IV), blasted onto movies screens in the mid-70s in the first scene of the STAR WARS series. The ship itself is all engine and makes for an impressive LEGO display if viewed from the rear. Interesting design and dark red and white color scheme, this set is another beautiful display set that will contrast well with the gray 10030 Star Destroyer. The 10019 has appreciated well over the years and is selling MISB for $800+. No longer a cost effective set new, used ones are still available in the $400 range. Be careful. This set has a ton of stickers and they are getting old. Some used sets have them applied and are falling off. The 10019 returned 17% last year, so there is still solid growth if you are interested in adding one to your UCS collection.

    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The smallest and cheapest of the UCS STAR WARS sets, this set is not small in appreciation. Current values for a MISB set are in the $300 range and the set has been averaging over 20% growth annually since EOL. Last year alone, the set grew 29%, which is outstanding. A very small set, it is a nice change of pace from the gray and white ships of the STAR WARS UCS theme. The set is a bright yellow with very cool chrome pieces, which makes for a bold little model. An easy build and a perfect shelf piece, it is a nice addition to any LEGO collection. But the prices for a new one are a bit high for what you get, so see if you can locate a used one in good condition for around $100. Obviously, the set is still appreciating well, but with a small set such as this, who knows if that growth will continue.
    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: One of the “Big Boys” of the UCS theme. The 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer is one large and in charge STAR WARS set, maybe the largest in physical size. “Impressive” is its middle name. With well over 3000 pieces, this set will be a jewel in any LEGO investor's collection. This is my favorite all time LEGO set and was the set that brought me out of my “Dark Ages.” I could not believe that you could reproduce a Star Destroyer and sell it to the public. When I saw this set, I was amazed. I was used to childish sets in the Space theme and the like and really opened my eyes to LEGO sets again. From an investor's standpoint, this set is still appreciating very, very well. Last year alone, it increased 32%. There is no getting around spending a chunk of change for this set, new or used. New, they are selling well above $1000, used...around $600. If you are fortunate enough to afford one, buy one...you will not be disappointed.
    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The 10129 is a sharp UCS set. I really like the look of the orange and white bricks. Different look. The cockpit is top notch in this set. Nice details. This set has sky rocketed into the $800 range, but has leveled off as of late. As a matter of fact, the set actual decreased in value over the past year. This might be a warning to those still interested in buying this set as an investment...the party might be over. Then again...it might not be...LOL, what do I know? If you like the set, buy the set. It is very unique looking and is a nice addition to any collection. There are plenty of quality used 10129s, so keep an eye out for one in the $400 range. All in all, a solid UCS set in style, substance, and playability.

    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: A UCS set very similar in size, price and growth to the 10129 Rebel Snowspeeder. Although this set did not appreciate as well as the 10129 over the long term, it is a year younger and did appreciate 8% last year. The overall 20% annual growth is excellent and it is one of those under the radar UCS sets that get overshadowed by the flashier 7191 X-Wing and 10030 Star Destroyer. A very nice display set, as are most UCS sets, the 10134 will not overly impress anyone, but there is great detail to the set and a STAR WARS fan will approve. You might be able to find one for $300+ used and in the $500+ range MISB. Overall, another solid, non-flashy set that has had nice gains since EOL and might continue to do so, but on a reduced level in my opinion.

    10143 DEATH STAR II
    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The “non-minifigure” Death Star, this set is nevertheless, still quite a sight. This is another tedious and difficult build in that it is basically all one color...gray. There are almost 3500 gray pieces. LOL. It takes some time and patience to complete this UCS model. As stated earlier, the finished product is another impressive UCS display, but this is one of the larger ones and needs some space. The 10143 Death Star II took some time to catch the eye of the LEGO collector and investor. I guess people were putting their investment dollars into the 10179 Millennium Falcon and other popular UCS sets early on, but with a 34% growth rate last year, I guess the 10143 Death Star II has found some fans. If you like the accurate version of the Death Star, then this set is for you. If you like the “diorama” Death Star, the 10188 is for you(and a better deal at this point).
    10174 IMPERIAL AT-ST
    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: Very underrated UCS set, but now is the time to buy one of these sets. If you look at the data, this set appreciated 49% last year. That is Cafe Corner type of numbers. It is a decent-sized set at a little over 1000 pieces and is actually quite large when completed. Although the 10174 Imperial AT-ST is never going to win a popularity contest, a smart LEGO investor and collector will see the value in this set. The prices are still very fair and you can find a used one for less than $100. I highly recommend this set as a buy before they get too pricey.

    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: If you thought the recent gains of the 10174 Imperial AT-ST were extraordinary, then the 10175's data will really excite you. The 10175 Vader' TIE Advanced went up 78% last year!!! That is better than Cafe Corner's numbers last year! You can see how these UCS sets explode in growth at some point after EOL. Some might take a little longer than others, but most of the sets have a value spurt at some time, you just have to figure out when that will be and buy them before they start appreciating too high to be worth investing in. As a set, the 10175 is an excellent replica of Darth Vader's ship from STAR WARS IV, The New Hope. The one issue I have with these older UCS sets is that they do not come with minifigures or are exactly to scale for them. They could be, but the designers chose against it. This set craves for Darth Vader to be sitting at the controls. Overall, this set is a great choice. Buy one now before they hit $500.   
    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: Here we go...What can you say about the 10179 that hasn't been said before. THE SET IS A JUGGERNAUT!!! The terms amazing, incredible, unbelievable, impressive all apply to probably the greatest LEGO set ever produced for retail. In every way, this set is a winner. The 5000+ pieces is second only to the 10189 Taj Mahal. This is the first LEGO set to reach an average MISB set price of $2000. What surprises me the most about this set is that it appreciated 58% last year. 58%!!! That's not 58% from $100 or $200. That is a 58% increase from $1300 or $1400!!! At this point, I really don't know when this set will stop its ascent, but you can argue that there is still room to increase and that a 10179 selling for $1800 is a bargain. A couple of points about the set. It's massive. It needs the proper place to be displayed or it will get destroyed. Believe me, you do not want to repair this ship if damaged. You might as well start from scratch. Another important point is that there are two versions of the 10179, a “First Edition” which included the first 10,000 sets made and a regular version. The “First Edition” comes with a numbered envelope in the box that states which set of the 10,000 it is and a letter and “Certificate of Authenticity” from LEGO stating this fact. Also, the box has a special marking indicating it is a “First Edition” 10179. Prices for the First Edition 10179 usually are $200-$300 more than a non-First Edition set. All in all, if you can afford this set, buy this set, it is that special. Who knows, the 10179 might be the first LEGO set to hit the $3000 mark this time next year...LOL.


    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The interest in this set amazes me. Although we have seen a nice increase in value in the set in the past year, up 35%, the current value of the set is around the MSRP price of $89.99. So in other words, this set dropped 35% in value around the time of EOL. That is some pretty steep discounting for a UCS set. Now most LEGO sets see some kind of discounting around retirement time, but this set really took a hit. That being said, it is a very cool set and a decent size to boot. Once again, an excellent display set. General Grievous is a nasty character and this set does him justice. Unique to the UCS STAR WARS sets, this set is a hybrid of Technic and conventional parts in that it shares building techniques and pieces with both themes. There is even a taste of Bionicle/Hero Factory thrown in. I really like this set and foresee some really nice gains in the near future for this set. Priced at around $100 for a MISB set, it is a great set for the novice LEGO collector and investor. Pick one up, you won't be disappointed.


    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The 10212 Imperial Shuttle is still for sale on LEGO.com and other primary sources(Amazon, Toys 'R Us, etc..), so the data for the set is not relevant at this time. If you use the older, retired UCS sets as a guide for the current models that are still being sold in stores, you can expect to see nice gains for this set in the future. The 10212 looks to be discontinued shortly and there have been numerous discounts for this already. It is a beautiful and graceful set, that is stunning up on a shelf. First UCS set to include minifigures on a large scale. Several sets had droids previously, but they were actually part of the model and not meant to be taken out of the set. See if you can locate a discounted 10212 Imperial Shuttle for around the $200 -$220 right before EOL and you might stand to make a pretty penny in the secondary LEGO market.


    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The 10215 Obi-Wan Jedi Starfighter is suffering from severe discounting right now. The set is discontinued and might start seeing a rapid increase in values when most AFOLs realize the set is retired. This set looks cool on display, but is not a LEGO fan favorite, at least not yet. Sometimes it takes awhile for LEGO fans to come around and get interested in a LEGO set and this might be such a case. It is an interesting looking set and different from most UCS sets. The lime green bricks is a nice touch. Now is the time to pick one of these sets up. They are well less than $100 for a MISB and can double in value in a short period of time once a little buzz starts on a set. Take a chance on this colorful UCS set, I don't think you will be disappointed.


    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: Another new UCS with no data that is relevant at this time. Beautiful set. I believe this set will do well in the secondary market, yet my gut tells me this set will not be as popular as the 10030 Star Destroyer. I could be wrong, but I really don't like the way LEGO throws in minifigures into sets like this. Call me a nudge or just anal, I really don't like when LEGO designers feel they need to toss in some out of scale minifigures to make some fans happy. There are plenty of other UCS sets that could have had minigures...7181 TIE Interceptor, 7191 X-Wing Fighter, 10129 Rebel Snowspeeder, 10134 Y-Wing Attack Starfighter, 10174 Imperial AT-ST, 10175 Vader's TIE Advanced, 102015 Obi-Wan Jedi Starfigher, yet they decide to throw them into a model that is supposed to be 19,000 meters long...LOL. Maybe they could have put some mini Star Destroyers in the hanger bays or made a separate bridge model for the minifigures. Just my two cents...All in all, it will be a very successful UCS set and I would recommend buying at least one.

    10225 R2-D2
    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: Another new UCS set with no relevant sales data as of yet. This is one set the LEGO designers did a fantastic job with. Retractable leg, rotating head, panels that remove with the interface arm and saw...WOW. Plus the UCS display plaque has a R2-D2 minifigure attached. How cool is that? Needless to say, I love this set and will buy multiples for my own collection.
    10227 B-WING
    Year Released Pieces MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR









    BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: Not released as of this date. Fantastic looking set. Another winner in my opinion. I like the B-Wing ship and think it displays better in the vertical position. Seems like there is some negative feedback on the forums about this set, but until you actually build the set, how can you really complain about it? I look forward to buying a couple for my collection.

      CONCLUSION: As a whole, the STAR WARS LEGO sets that make up the Ultimate Collector's Series are and have been solid investment choices for the LEGO collectors who have bought them. Each and every set, from the 10179 Millennium Falcon and earlier, has yielded better returns than the average 10.81% CAGR of the standard LEGO set. The newer UCS sets have not fared that well, but that is to be expected. All new LEGO sets go through a period of heavy discounting before the set goes into EOL, or retirement as some would like to call it. Even the 10179 Millennium Falcon was discounted 20% before it was retired for good. The one thing that I noticed with these UCS sets is that they take a little longer to rebound from these discounted prices than some other themes. Maybe it's because the sets are pricier than most other themes and the discounts are larger, thus taking longer to get back to the original retail price.  Whatever the reason for the delay, once the UCS sets start appreciating, they take off like the Millennium Falcon in Hyperdrive.  Now, not all UCS sets are created equal.  Some sets like the 7181 TIE Interceptor and 7194 Yoda have not exploded in growth like the 10179 Millennium Falcon or 10026 Naboo Starfighter, but they all yielded better than the average LEGO set.

    As with any sort of investment, say stocks for instance, picking the right stock(even within the same category or class), can mean a huge difference in profits and losses.  It is no different with LEGO sets.  You can see the large differences between some sets within the UCS theme.  Some appreciated well, but others exploded in growth.  Size didn't matter.  The largest(10179) and the smallest(10026) UCS sets both had the best yields, it's just that the 10179 started at a much higher price point, so the end results seemed so astronomically high in comparison.  The high original cost of these UCS sets is another reason why they appear to be such great investments.  When a $300 set averages 15%-20% annually, it doesn't take long for a set to hit $1000.  In all honesty, the UCS sets are not even close to being the theme with the best CAGR returns.  Even though on average, the UCS sets gain around 15% annually, there are many non-STAR WARS UCS based LEGO themes that  have better annual percentage yields and better percentage growth from retail, but they don't get any love because they sell for $20, instead of $2000.  As I referred to earlier, the high current prices of most of the UCS sets gives this theme a certain swagger and sexiness that other themes don't have.  Without a doubt, they are my favorite LEGO sets and these sets not only led me out of my “Dark Ages,” they also enabled LEGO to become relevant again to a lot of adults out there.  But they are not the “ultimate” investment(maybe with the exception of the 10179 Millennium Falcon) as the article title asks.  The LEGO STAR WARS Ultimate Collector Series sets are solid, above average investments that cost a lot new and sell for even more years later, if you choose to utilize them in that manner.  But it is my belief, regardless of your investment preferences, that these UCS sets are too fantastic and fun not to build, and that if you have to make a choice between keeping the UCS set sealed or building it...build it.  You won't be disappointed!

    Please Note: If you do decide to open and build your MISB UCS set, keep one thing in mind...You might lose more than 50% of the value of the set if it is unsealed and built.  Although the “used” set is still worth more than the retail price of the set in most cases, losing out on hundreds of dollars might be a hard pill to swallow.  A possible solution for the LEGO investor and collector that wants to “have a sealed set and build it too,” would be to buy a cheap “used” set that does not have a box or instructions, just the pieces.  You can always go to LEGO.com for the instructions.  Sometimes you can save more than 50% on a UCS set in this condition.  Just my final two cents...

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...