Ratings and Reviews for Fcbarcelona101

10179-1: Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon
10179-1: Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon
Reviewed on: Jul 3, 2013
View All Reviews

Overall Personal Score

10.00

DIRECT LINK TO REVIEW:
View Review

MEMBER OWNS SET: NO     MEMBER HAS BUILT SET: NO


FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 10

This is it, the most amazing, detailed and impressive model LEGO has ever released, in my opinion. I got the opportunity to see this set completely assembled a couple months ago and have to say that I was completely blown away at the size and the level of detail it included. I have several of the Star Wars UCS sets, and even though they are all amazing looking, none of them seems to even get close to how well designed this piece is. With over 5,000 pieces, this is the second largest model LEGO has ever produced, and actually the largest when it comes to actual dimensions.

In this case, size is not the only factor that makes the set so impressive. As said before, every single detail of the actual ship seems to have been included on the set. Even more, the MF is completely built minifig scale, so the 5 characters that are included in the set look really small and just the way they would look if the thing was actually real.

The Millenium Falcon is more than likely the most iconic ship of the entire Star Wars franchise, and its LEGO recreation matches that by being the single most iconic model the Danish company has ever produced as well. This is one of the sets I am sure almost every single person craves to own, and judging by the eBay sales activity, a lot of those actually go ahead and purchase the set even at the current extremely high prices.

Even if you have one of the largest LEGO collections in the world, this set will stand out over every single other set you could possibly own, even the Taj Mahal, ISD, etc. There is just none like it and probably never will.

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 10

Unique Parts

The set comes with almost 5,200 pieces, and you can be sure a lot of those are very rare or even completely exclusive, making this set one of the most expensive ones out there to recreate by purchasing individual parts (not to mention extremely time consuming). The couple of exclusive parts include a medium stone grey tube and the famous printed radar dish. This part alone will cost you no less than $ 40 on Bricklink, and if you want to accurately recreate the model then that is definitely a piece you will need to get. There are just too many pieces to list all of the very expensive ones, but just think about how expensive can it get to get the 60 levers you need (no less than $60, and to find that many sold by one store will certainly cost you more than that). So, just in those 61 pieces you have already spent around $100 at the minimum, at that is only close to 1% of the total part inventory.

If you are a true collector, I am sure you will be wanting to also get the UCS sticker fact sheet, the instructions and the box (let's just assume you are not interested in the certificate of authenticity for the 1st editions). Those three very important add-ons will run you about $180, $200 and $150 (used). Right there you are spending enough money to buy one non UCS Death Star and one R2-D2.

These expensive and hard to find parts and add-ons are just one of the reasons this set became so highly valuable in the secondary market. We'll talk about some of the others later on.

Minifigures

The UCS Millenium Falcon is one of the few sets to have been built actual minifigure scale, which makes the 5 characters included to look a lot better when placed in the model. As you can imagine, the characters included in this set are pretty much the protagonists of the whole original trilogy, so none of them is actually exclusive to the set. Included, you get Luke, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia and a exclusive variation of Ben Kenobi. Place them right next to the model and you will see just how big the thing really would be and how accurate it looks when compared to the one in the movies. The minifigures by themselves may not be that special, but they complement the ship EXTREMELY well.

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 10

Unfortunately, I don't own this set so I can't really comment that much about the build experience, however, I did take a detailed a look at the instruction manual just to get a basic feel of the building process. As with pretty much all large UCS sets, the interior frame of the set is built with the use of a lot of technic pieces, and overall the model seems to not be repetitive at all, impressive for a set with over 5,000 pieces. Even more, the sheer size of the set will guarantee you at least several hours of building fun, and even several day if you don't push to complete it all in just one day. Large sets are the most satisfying to build for me personally, and spending such a long time to then see the model completed and get to admire every little detail feels like a great accomplishment.

Other than the great building process, there is really no playability with this set that I can think of. I guess you could sort of play with the model stationed and use the minifigures around it, but then I don't consider that to actually be a feature of the model, just a constraint of because of its size, weight and original intention as a display piece.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 10

Let's now evaluate the value for the money of this set, while it was still on the shelves:

Model MSRP Number of Pieces Price Per Piece (Retail)
10221 - Super Star Destroyer  $ 399.99  3,152  $ 0.13
10030 - Imperial Star Destroyer $ 298.99 3,096 $ 0.10
10179 - Millenium Falcon
$ 499.99 5,195 $ 0.10
10143 - Death Star II $ 298.99 3,441 $ 0.09

I selected the top 4 largest UCS sets (not counting 10188, if you consider it a UCS) to compare with the 10179 Millenium Falcon, and even if none of them really gets closer than $100 when it comes to MSRP, I think the comparison is very interesting.

Taking a look at the table above you will notice the Millenium Falcon is actually pretty well price relative to some of the other larger sets of the Series. The most expensive of the 4 is actually the newer SSD, but the rest of them are actually pretty close when considering the Price Per Piece ratio. One thing that the MF has than neither 10030 nor 10143 have is the inclusion of minifigs, and that really adds a lot of value for a set that easily compensates any difference the set may have in PPP, especially with the DS II. Having 5 very popular minifigs to me has more weight than having a bunch of bricks for a slightly lower price and helps the buyer feel better for spending such a large amount of money for just one set. In retrospective, we can safely say that the price per piece was even more justified just for the fact of having so many hard to find and expensive pieces, but at the time of its release and during all of its production cycle there was really no way to determine how rare those same parts would become. Now it seems like a great deal, but at the moment it was just unknown.

Now that we have evaluated PPP, let's see about Price Per Gram

Model Price Per Gram (Retail)
10221 - Super Star Destroyer $ 0.057
10179 - Millenium Falcon $ 0.049
10143 - Death Star II $ 0.044
10030 - Imperial Star Destroyer $ 0.033

Once again the SSD ends up being substantially more expensive than the rest of the sets, while the ISD is one of the greatest values. As for the Millenium Falcon, the set places in second place from high to low, but really close to the Death Star II. I would say that both sets, 10143 and 10179, are priced at about average for these kind of sets, while each of the star destroyers are either overpriced, 10221, or an extremely good value, 10030. Putting PPP along with PPG allows us to conclude that the Millenium Falcon was a pretty good value for the money while it was still available.

One thing that we need to consider when examining these numbers is the popularity of the ships. I think it is pretty obvious that more people would be willing to pay 5 cents per piece when purchasing the Millenium Falcon rather that getting the Death Star II, even if the latter is somewhat cheaper. The iconic nature of the set really gives it an edge over the rest of the sets in the Series, meaning that people are probably getting a better value just for the fact that they are also paying for the Millenium Falcon "brand" and design, just as it happens in some other aspects in life. When you consider all of these factors together, I think you can see why this set gets a 10 in value for the money.  What's more, for people who paid $1,000 or so for their copies the set ended up still being a great value considering on where its current market value is.

Parting out this set at this point makes completely no sense whatsoever.

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 10

The UCS line of the Star Wars theme is a completely different type of performer than the average SW set. Even though the numbers are included in the theme overall CAGR of around 9 %, this is one line that has seen great returns on every single set that has been released under it, with the exception of Obi Wan's starfighter that still sells pretty much for retail on eBay.

The Ultimate Collector's Series is the single most amazing collection of sets LEGO has ever released. I would say that every single set since its original introduction has been way above the average and of an outstanding level of detail and overall value. This is one line that would make for an excellent choice if you could only collect one type of LEGO to display in your home. So, having said that it should not come as a surprise that the target audience for this line of sets is more than any other the AFOL and the hard core Star Wars fan and collector. Given the high price point of most of the sets included in the series, you will be hard pressed to find kids able to afford even one of these sets.

We often see in the forums stories about how a particular set of this line brought some of the members out of their dark ages back into LEGO or at least made them take a look at the world of LEGO investing. The overall returns but in percentage terms and in actual dollar amounts is just something that can not be ignored, this is probably the most popular type of sets in LEGO's portfolio, and as such we are constantly seeing news sets almost on a yearly basis.

Just to give you some perspective about how good and popular these sets are in the secondary market, the average % change over retail of all of the retired sets is currently over 300%. I think it would be really hard to find a single theme that gets even close to that number.

Finally, with the new Star Wars movies coming out in the next couple of years, LEGO will not be short of content to continue the production of UCS sets. Even now with the first 6 movies having been released for a relatively long while LEGO has probably hundreds of ship and location designs that have never been produced, and in the case of the most popular ships like the X-Wing, they have even gone back and re-released a similar model, so that is also a card they may be willing to keep playing in the future.

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 10

This set was a LEGO exclusive and it was only available through LEGO and some of the online shops of large retailers. The set is also part of the Ultimate Collector's Series, a fact that in and on itself makes it more exclusive than the average LEGO set. As far as production run and length of availability, the set was on the shelves for a little over two years according to Brickset information, so above the average for most sets.

One thing I need to mention in this section that usually I do not include is the price of the set. This model had a retail price of $ 500 when it was readily available, a price point that I think kept a lot of people who would otherwise want it from actually purchasing it. Not everyone has half a grand to spend on what most see as a "toy", and this expensive price tag meant that the set, even if a great seller, did not reach as many homes as it would have if it had been cheaper. All of those people that at that point had not enough money to spend on the set but that really liked it and wanted to have it may now come back and get one in the secondary market.

Lastly, even if LEGO decides to do a remake of this set like they did with the X-Wing this same year, I am almost certain that it won't be anywhere near as impressive.

PACKAGING | Score: 10

As you can imagine, the box for this set is pretty large. The design of the package itself is not the old UCS type, but rather the more colorful and newer version., that unlike some of the newer sets does explicitly state that the model is actually part of the UCS. Other than that, I am not sure if it is because I know how great the model is or what, but the box of the 10179 MF has always seemed impressive to me for some odd reason. The graphics are pretty much like those of every other Star Wars set, so I guess it is just how greatly detailed the model looks even in the big picture in the box.

There are actually two versions of the package, but they mostly differ in that the first ones had a small "badge" down and to the left of the box that identified the First Edition of these sets, while obviously the later models did not have this denomination.

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 10

Let's now take a look at the historical performance of the set since its retirement:  Data from Brickpicker

Model Release Date MSRP CAGR Market Value (New) HPR*
10179 - Millenium Falcon  2007  $ 499.99  31.19%  $ 2,622.00  424.41%
10030 - Imperial Star Destroyer  2002  $ 298.99  12.40 %  $ 1,102.47  268.73 %
10143 - Death Star II  2005  $ 298.99  14.95 %  $ 1089.19  264.29 %

*HPR: Holding Period Return, assuming the set was purchased at retail on the day of released and sold today.

I selected the same sets from the value for the money section for comparison. What we have to evaluate in the table above is not so much the CAGR of the sets, since they have been retired for very different time periods, but rather the Holding Period Return (equivalent to % Change Over Retail). In this category, the UCS MF completely crushes any of the other two large sets by more than 100% in each case, a number that is very impressive when you consider the other two have had more time to grow AND had retail prices $100 less than the MF, so they would need to sell for not even close to what the MF is selling now to reach the same HPR. Also as said above, the average HPR for UCS sets is around 300%, so once again the MF is above average by a wide margin.

It is really not that much of a surprise to see that this set has outperformed most others, if not all the sets in the UCS. This is by far the most popular ship of the entire Star Wars universe, and that popularity translates to A LOT of people willing and able to make this set a part of their collection. You can be sure that any hard core Star Wars fan will need to get one of these to be able to say that the collection is complete, there is really no way around it. Another strength the set has going for it is how hard, expensive and time consuming it is to recreate 100%, as we examined on a previous section. Some parts are just extremely expensive, hard to find in the desired quantities, and the add-ons like the box, stickers and the instructions already cost more than most currently available UCS sets.

Now, I want to show you a graph that shows the % increases of each set above over the past two years to compare where the sets have been going in the relatively short term:

 

You can see in the graph above that the three sets have been experiencing similar trends when it comes to % changes. Logically, the farther back we go in history the larger the % change increase or decrease should be. If we go to where the MF was around 2011 we will see that of the three sets this was the one that grew the most in that period (2011-2013) with a % change of over 100% that, considering it was selling for around $1,000 by that time, is extremely impressive. It seems that over the past year the MF has increased more than the ISD (that has more years retired) but less than the DSII, that it's doing pretty well itself. Again, we have to remember that a 1% increase in the Millenium Falcon is almost double the amount of the same % increase in the other two sets.

With that out of the way, let's see where the Millenium Falcon has been going over the course of the past two years, as well as its sales trends over the past 12 months to figure out if it still is a worthy investment even at current market prices.

Very interesting graph. You see that the Millenium Falcon was selling at around $ 1,300 back in 2011 and in that short period of around 2 years the set has already doubled in value yet again. Those investors that had the foresight to invest in the set even when it seemed to be extremely expensive are now rewarded with a very nice ROI that at the same time is equivalent to a pretty substantial dollar amount. You can also see that the trend of this set continues to move up even in the short term, with it going up almost 6% relative to the past month alone. Of course, there are some fluctuations and periods of time in which the set has taken a dip in value as well, but overall the trend is upward and not the other way around.

Let's add this graph up with the one about sales numbers over the past 12 months:

In the graph above you will be able to see that even at this very expensive price the set continues to sell a very respectable amount of both new and used copies every single month. The lower we have seen over the past 12 months was in the past month of May, with "only" 6 new sets sold and around 7 used ones. For a set with such a high price tag I think that the eBay activity is another indicator of its huge popularity. What's more, as the holidays approach we will start seeing this number rise up again in the same way it did in 2012 (you can see the growth in sales in the graph starting in September and peaking in December). One thing I do want to mention is that as mentioned in one of my recent Blog Articles this type of sets is vulnerable to what I called the December Effect. Let's see the value changes over the past 12 months so you can see what I mean:

Take a look at the December values and you will clearly see that the set dropped to its lowest point in the last 12 month period. In fact, the set lost over 12% of its value between the month of November 2012 and December 2012. This seems to be a constant trend with this very large and expensive sets, as I explained in my article, probably as a result of the collector and AFOL spending most of the money in holiday purchases and gifts as well as a larger supply of sets in the market that occurs in part for the belief that December usually is the best time to sell. If you are interested in more detail you can go ahead and read the blog, but for now I just wanted you to see that for a seller of a UCS MF, December may very well be the worst time while for the buyer it may very well be the best.

Taking all the above information and putting it together leads me to believe that this set's future growth prospects continue to be outstanding. With the release of the new Star Wars movies and possibly other movies dedicated exclusively to the Millenium Falcon storyline the ship is probably going to be in the big screen yet again in the following years, increasing its popularity and therefore market demand even more. Another thing I wanted to mention is that even if LEGO goes ahead and decides to do a re-make of the MF as they did with the currently released X-Wing, I see very unlikely that they will produce a model that is even close in piece count, size, detail and price as the 10179. Even if the model is a $400 set with around 4,000 pieces (something that in and on itself I see unlikely if we take a look a TLG past releases over the last few years), the new model will still be short by more than 1,000 pieces and will more than likely be smaller in size and detail as well.

Furthermore, this set will continue to be the Top Choice for the hard core collector and AFOL, that I think is for sure the audience purchasing it now at over $2,000. Most of those people willing to pay that much for a LEGO set will continue to exist in the future and demand for this set will continue as a result. What's more, every single month we know that AT LEAST six news sets are sold and I would say that at least half of them gets opened and built, in turn reducing the future supply of sealed 10179s.

I really see this set continuing is fast growth for many years to come, and someone willing to take a risk with the expectation of a very big reward should consider putting some money into this set now before it gets even more expensive. What's the limit with this thing, you say? Of course, no one knows for sure, but history has proven that those who though $ 1,500 for a LEGO set was the highest it would go were very very wrong. $ 4,000, why not?

This set is a perfect 10 in growth potential, both for its past performance and its future prospects.

 

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 10

As said over and over in previous sections, this is probably the best LEGO display set you can get for your money. The size of the thing is completely unbelievable and will dwarf sets even as big as the Imperial and Super Star Destroyers, plus it is built to minifigure scale, something we don't get to see much and that makes the sets look even more real when placed along with the characters. Once you get over its size, if you ever do, you will start noticing just how greatly detailed the ship really is, with almost everything you can remember from the movies in its proper place.

There is really not much more I can say to describe just how cool this set is when completed, you have to see it for yourself.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 10

What else there it is to say about this set? I really feel I have expressed pretty much everything I can about this model in the above sections. But for those of you who only read the conclusion, let me summarize some of the most important aspects:

  • HUGE set. In fact, this is the largest set when it comes to dimensions LEGO has ever released.
  • Amazing level of detail. It looks just like the real thing.
  • Minifigure scale
  • Includes 5 of the most important characters
  • IMPRESSIVE display value
  • Good value for the money, even at current prices.
  • Very long build. More hours of fun.
  • Investment potential and past performance unmatched by any other set ever released.
  • Collector's dream

I will leave you with this:

The 10179 UCS Millenium Falcon is the only set I would ever consider giving a perfect 10. And it has earned it.


79000-1: Riddles for the Ring
79000-1: Riddles for the Ring
Reviewed on: Jul 2, 2013
View All Reviews

Overall Personal Score

5.70

DIRECT LINK TO REVIEW:
View Review

MEMBER OWNS SET: NO     MEMBER HAS BUILT SET: NO


FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 6

This set is the smallest one of the entire first wave of The Hobbit theme, and that helps make it the less impressive one of the bunch as well. Most of the set consists of a "rock" structure and small boat along with the couple of minifigs included that even if fun, they really don't make this set iconic or one that could be one of the centerpieces of your LOTR/HOBBIT collection.

Something that this set may have going for it is that it recreates one of the very first scenes where Gollum appears in the new trilogy, as well as being the scene where Bilbo initially gains control of the One Ring. For a hardcore LOTR collector this may very well be one of the most important pieces.

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 5

The set comes with a little over 100 pieces and the only really exclusive parts are a couple of reddish brown 4x2 roof tiles used to build most of the boat. The rest of the bricks are a combination of mostly dark, medium stone grey and black pieces, without any of them being particularly rare or hard to find.

The minifigures included are Bilbo Baggins and Gollum. The Bilbo fig is a variation that appears in one ther set other than this one (Barrel Escape), while Gollum is mostly the same as in Shelob Attacks other than a different printed face expression, so kind of exclusive. These small sets are usually bought for the minifigs included, and therefore they will be carrying most of the investment performance of this set in the secondary market over their "shoulders", I just don't think they are that impressive to really boost growth too much after retirement.

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 6

The build experience is pretty short as you can imagine, and very similar to building the rock formation included in Shelob Attacks. There is really nothing especially interesting when it comes to playability features, again because of its size, but there are a couple of things. There is a compartment where the Ring can be hidden and the boat, along with some accesories that include the Ring, bones, a fish for Gollum and Sting.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 7

Let's take a look at the value for the money charts:

Model MSRP Number of Pieces Price Per Piece (Retail)
 9469 - Gandalf Arrives  $ 12.99  83  $ 0.16
79005 - Wizard Battle $ 12.99 113 $ 0.11
79000 - Riddles for the Ring $  9.99 105 $ 0.10

As you can see from the table above, Riddles for the Ring is the cheapest of the comparable sets in its same theme. The newly released Wizard Battle is very close in PPP ratio, while Gandalf Arrives is by far the most expensive of the three. We will need to see if these differences are explained by the weight of each set. For now, when we take into consideration PPP alone and we remember that all of the sets showcased above had the same quantity of minifigs and similar amount of pieces, I think we can safely say that 79000 is actually a pretty good value for the money when considering PPP ratio in isolation.

Let's now take set weight into account:

Model Price Per Gram (Retail)
9469 - Gandalf Arrives $ 0.100
79000 - Riddles for the Ring $ 0.082
79005 - Wizard Battle $ 0.076

You see that taking into account price per gram puts 79000 in between the other two sets, with Gandalf Arrives once again being the most expensive. The difference between Wizard Battle and Riddles for the Ring is not really that significant, and seems to suggest once again that the set was "fairly"priced when considering comparables.

What you have to remember when considering a set like this is that most of the price you are paying is for the minifigs rather than the pieces. The two included here are not that special, but are still main characters that will be easily sold for close to the original MSRP themselves.

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 9

The Hobbit theme can be easily considered an extension of the LOTR as far as LEGO is concerned. The popularity of both can be therefore assumed to be very similar, so I will go ahead and analyze it from that perspective.

If you have read some of my other reviews about the LOTR sets, you will remember that I really like to make the comparison between it and the Harry Potter theme. I do this because it seems pretty clear to me that both of these themes share some of the same characteristics, and with that we can safely assume that the LOTR/Hobbit theme will probably perform at least as well as HP.

Let’s summarize some of the similarities between those two themes:

  • Both Harry Potter and LOTR/Hobbit have their beginnings as a series of highly successful fantasy style books
  • Following the success of the books, both franchises then became the target of Hollywood producers, something that ended up with adaptations of the books being released on movie theaters
  • The popularity of these themes has been great over the years, especially during the period when the movies came out, as evidenced by the extremely similar box office numbers for all the movies.
  • Both themes caught the attention of TLG, who ended up producing sets under the licenses that so far have proven to be very successful with both investors and collectors.

Besides these similarities, there is one aspect that in my opinion gives an advantage to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit theme, and that is the length of time they have been popular. Unlike Harry Potter, the LOTR/Hobbit have been around for well longer than a decade, more like half a century, and the fact that it has stayed popular up to this point gives me confidence when expressing my belief that those themes will be outperforming Harry Potter in the long run.

The Harry Potter theme, according to Brickpicker’s data, has an overall CAGR of around 16 %. That is an extremely good number when considering the large amount of sets that were released under the license. If we take that number as a base, I think we can probably expect that the LOTR/Hobbit themes’ CAGR could very well be a number around 18 % by the time production is stopped. That is a very great figure for themes with several set released and that span more than a couple of years. Investors should really be happy to be given another opportunity of what I think will be very good returns with minimal risk!

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 4

This set is not exclusive to any retailer and as a virtue of its size it can be found pretty much on every brick and mortar store that carries LEGO in multiple quantities. The production run will probably follow that of the Lord of the Rings theme, so it may place this set on the shelves for aroun 1.5 years, a pretty average period of time.

PACKAGING | Score: 6

Packaging is pretty standard for a set this size and other than The Hobbit brand there is not really anything that would make this set stand out in the shelves.

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 5

Let's take a look at the performance of some sets that could be compared to 79000: Data From Brickpicker

Model Release Date MSRP CAGR Market Value (New) HPR*
 4736 - Freeing Dobby  2010  $ 10.99  9.83%  $ 14.56  32.48%
 79000 - Riddles for the Ring  2012  $ 9.99  N/A  N/A  NA

*HPR: Holding Period Return, assuming the set was purchased at retail on the day of released and sold today.

Since I feel that Harry Potter sets are very comparable to Hobbit/LOTR, I found one set that has been retired fairly recently and that presents some similarities with the focus of our attention and that in my opinion will provide us with at least a guide of where this set may be going once it goes EOL. Both of this sets present similar MSRPs, number of pieces and include minifigures of important characters of each franchise, however, Freeing Dobby does include one more minifig than 79000, so take that into consideration.

Freeing Dobby has not done particularly well since it was retired, with a relatively low CAGR of 9.8% for a set that has retired recently and a HPR of around 32%. These small sets usually take a long while to appreciate unless they include a very exclusive minifig or some other unique feature. In case of Riddles for the Ring, none of these is present and for that reason I feel the set will be performing in a very similar way to Freeing Dobby. The current planned release of the movies may have some influence and give a slight boos to the set's growth, but for that of course we will have to wait and see.

Value Prediction: I see the set as being the worst performer of the first wave of Hobbit sets, with a probable 12% CAGR by the time the set has been retired for two years, and a more long term CAGR of around 10%.

 

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 4

As said on the first impression section this small set will really not be one of the most impressive pieces you will have on display. The set itself is basically a grey rock formation with some accesories and the brown boat, that even if interesting it is certainly not unique. The minifigs will help give this set the character it needs to be somewhat easily recognizable from the movie scene, but other than that I consider it to be the worst set to display of the whole Hobbit first wave.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 5

I am not particularly fond of sets of this size, but there are usually some that I like more than others. In this case, even if the set recreates the scene it is based in somewhat decently, I can't seem to place it on my list of "good" small sets. The question mark on its investment potential is another black mark in this set's record, and even though it may be wise to pick up a couple to hedge your risk, I would not stock up on it unless I saw a crazy good deal.


21001-1: John Hancock Center
21001-1: John Hancock Center
Reviewed on: Jul 1, 2013
View All Reviews

Overall Personal Score

7.10

DIRECT LINK TO REVIEW:
View Review

MEMBER OWNS SET: NO     MEMBER HAS BUILT SET: NO


FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 7

These small Architecture sets I can't really say are particularly impressive, their size really does not lend itself to that. However, once you get past that you get to see that they are very well designed and look really similar to their real counterparts. This particular model looks pretty good, as do all of the Architecture sets that are done mosly with black shiny bricks, but it won't be the center of attention in any collection, in my opinion.

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 6

This small set comes with 69 parts, of which only the baseplate with the printed name of the landmark is exclusive. This really comes as no surprise, as most of the sets of this theme are severely lacking on the exclusive parts department. Even more, all of the pieces are very basic bricks mostly in black, so there is no variety either. Some people may consider the big instruction manual/fact sheet an interesting an exclusive part, since it is unique to each set and holds more information rather than just the directions, so in a way I guess that is also a plus.

As all of the sets in the Architecture theme, there are no minifigures included.

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 6

There is no playability with this set, as it is a dedicated display piece. Most of the fun you will have on the building process, that in and on itself is pretty short and basic. These smallest Architecture sets really don't hold much value in any of these two categories, but what they lack here they compensate with their displayability.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 6

Let's take a look at the value for the money charts:

Model MSRP Number of Pieces Price Per Piece (Retail)
21001 - John Hancock Center $ 19.99 69 $ 0.29
21000 - Willis Tower $ 19.99 69 $ 0.29
21002 - Empire State Building
$ 19.99 77 $ 0.26

You can see from the table above that the JHC and the Willis Tower share exactly the same numbers on all of the three categories. As most of you probably know, the Architecture theme is characterized for pretty high price per piece ratio given the fact that it is targeted mostly towards AFOLs and overall collectors.

Relative to similarly sized sets in the theme, the JHC seems to be priced along the average range, with it being significantly above what the Empire State goes for. I am tempted to believ that it is the ESB the one that is priced under what most sets in the theme are when considering PPP. What it stroke me as interesting is that considering the popularity of the Empire State and that of the JHC and even the Willis Tower, in my opinion the sets with the higher PPP should be the last two and not one of the most famous buildings in the world. Even when considering the Price Per Gram you will notice that the ESB places below the JHC, so the difference is not due to overall size and weight of the pieces.

Model Price Per Gram (Retail)
21001 - John Hancock Center $ 0.12
21000 - Willis Tower $ 0.12
21002 - Empire State Bulding $ 0.11

As expected, the JHC is along with the Willis Tower more expensive than the Empire State. This is one of those cases in which a set is more expensive than the comparables in both PPG and PPP. Again, I tend to believe that in this case it is the Empire State the one that is a better value for the money relative to the rest of the theme, but the JHC is nonetheless at least a decent bang for your buck.

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 7

Usually, to determine how popular a specific theme is, we take a look at how some of the already retired sets have performed in the secondary market, but unfortunately at this point there is really no much information of that sort for the Architecture theme, since only one set has really been retired (John Hancock Center). For information purposes only, the current CAGR of the overall theme as of 6/13/2013 is 5.18 %, but don't let this figure guide your decision to buy or not sets in this theme, since as said before most of them are still in production and available pretty much everywhere, bringing the figure down.

From what I can gather from the forums and the overall LEGO community, this sets are expected to perform really well in the secondary market. If you take into consideration that it is a line mostly designed to appeal to adults, it would make sense that those who missed out on some of the sets they wanted will go to outlets like ebay in hopes of completing their collection or getting that one building they always wanted but for some reason didn't purchase before retirement. Plus, you also have the fact that the majority of the sets in this theme are very affordable to begin with, meaning that once the sets go EOL in theory even if they double in size they will not become prohibitive to most people.

If you take a look at today's Amazon Best Sellers list for LEGOs, you will notice that there are currently 4 sets in the top 100. That can help you determine that the sets on this theme are selling well, and probably most of the ones that are not in the top 100 are very close to that number anyway. If the theme is selling well when it is still in production, I would say that it will be as popular once the sets start retiring. Even more, you know that LEGO is probably not going to remake any of the structures that they have released before, since they should have plenty of material to replicat

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 5

This set, and others from the theme, are not exclusive to any particular retailer. Most of the time you will see these in their own section separate from most of the other LEGO sets, especially true in the case of Barnes and Noble B&M stores. The JHC was available in stores for around 3 years, that's above the average LEGO set. Interesting to note that even with such a long production run the sets has still produced some very positive returns.

PACKAGING | Score: 9

The packaging of these sets is very elegant and different to all of the other themes available. The boxes are all black with white colored font, that looks extremely good and elegant. They reflect the adult focus of the theme.

Most of the time, this sets are placed on their own section in the stores. I have never seen the Architecture themed sets placed along with the rest of the LEGOs in the toy section. Usually they have their own black colored stand with the LEGO logo and the Architecture title in big white letters. This feature allows them to really stand out and help even more to differentiate them from the toys. I assume that LEGO had that planned by designed, as having this set along the rest of the themes that are usually considered for play may have hurt the image they wanted to get out for AFOLs.

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 8

Let's evaluate this set's historical performance, since it has been retired for a while now:

Model Release Date MSRP Current Market Value (New) CAGR HPR *
           
 21001 - John Hancock Center 2008  $ 19.99  $ 59.59 24.50 %  199.15 %

The JHC was the first, and so far only, set retired from the Architecture theme, and it has done very well since. Because of being the only retired set of the theme it is completely impossible to compare its performance to comparables, but I believe that even when seen in isolation the numbers are very impressive. A CAGR in the mid 20s and a HPR of almost 200% are both great figures to have for a set that has only bee retired for around 1.5 years.

Something I have said in some of my other Architecture reviews is that one of the most favorable aspets this set enjoys is being based on one of the most acclaimed buildings when it comes to its architectural design. The JHC is a really popular structure, and I really think that had a lot to do with how well it has performed in the secondary market. Its performance may also be a factor of serious collectors purchasing this set to complete their Architecture collection, and I feel this is something that will continue and will actually be replicated by most of the sets in the theme.

Now, let's see where this set has gone in the last couple of years and where it may be going in the future:

You can see in the graph above that the set experience some rapid growht ever since it was retired but that in the last month it has actually lost some value. In fact, the set has maintained a pretty stable price since December 2012 that makes me think this has already matured and reached some sort of ceiling. From here, it may continue to go up slowly or just hover around the $60 level. In this case, I would really be hesitant to recommend you purchase this set as an investment at the present time. A lot of times investing in somewhat recently retired sets is a profitable strategy, but this is not one of those cases., in my opinion.

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 9

As said in previous sections, here is where this sets gets most of its points. Even though it is one of the smallest sets in the entire theme, this set really captures the most characteristic factors of the building it is recreating, and the black and shiny bricks really make it look good and modern. What I like about this set the most is the fact that you can place it virtually anywhere and it will have no problem standing out while not taking up too much space. Perfect for an office or even the home desk.

Another thing this set has going for it is how good it looks while displayed along with the other Architecture sets. The size of most sets in this line make them prime candidates for the collector to pretty much own and display as a complete collection.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 8

Pretty above average set that presents positive aspects in several of the categories the matter to me the most. This set has a lot of things going for it, and one thing I can say if that its performance in the secondary market is a preview of what we can expect from the rest of the theme, then we might have one of the most succesful themes ready to explode in the next couple of years.


79010-1: The Goblin King Battle
79010-1: The Goblin King Battle
Reviewed on: Jun 29, 2013
View All Reviews

Overall Personal Score

7.30

DIRECT LINK TO REVIEW:
View Review

MEMBER OWNS SET: NO     MEMBER HAS BUILT SET: NO


FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 7

This set is not one of the most positively talked about ones in the entire Hobbit theme, pretty much in the same way Mines of Moria is for the LOTR. I actually quite like the set and feel that is one of the most important and fun scenes of the first movie of the trilogy, and the included minifigs and maxifig are very nice as well. What makes it a lot better in my opinion is just how different the sets is just by the nature of the scene it recreates. The Goblin King scenes take place inside a mountaint and consist mostly of wooden bridges that connect the larger ground pieces, and to me LEGO did a great job designing something that capture the most important aspects of this.

Of course, this being a "common" playset will more than likely not be an iconic set in the future, but it will be a very cool and popular set to own.

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 8

Interesting thing about this set, and somewhat dissapointing, is the fact that despite being the largest set of the first wave of The Hobbit, it really only includes one really exclusive piece (6x6 sand yellow corner plate x4). This lack of exclusive parts may be one of the other reasons that some investors and collectors overall don't have a very good appreciation for this set, but I believe that the minifigures included really make up for the lack of parts.

There are 8 minifigures included in the set, a pretty good quantityof minifigs if you ask me!. Of these, 7 are completely exclusive to the set.

First of all, you get 3 goblin variations that I feel you won't be able to find in any set after this one, so they should be at least somewhat valuable once the set retires. Also, the set includes 3 dwarves from the Company, Nori, Ori and Dori that are necessary for those wanting to complete the whole collection, but that in all honesty I would expect to be released again on a future wave. The most appealing fig of the set would be the Goblin King maxi-fig that will for certain stay exclusive and currently sells for around $14, pretty good considering the set is still readily available and deeply discounted most of the time. The 8th minifig is just the very common Gandalf the Grey.


So, even though when it comes to parts it will be very hard for this set to receive a push in value, the minifigs included will definitely help carry the set. To what extent remains to be seen and will greatly depend on how many of them stay exclusive.

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 8

I have not built this set, but by reviewing the instructions and based on my experience with some of the other Hobbit sets, I can say that it looks to be really fun and varied. Of course, the set may not be one of those advanced builds that will satisfy the most hard core builder, but you have to remember that that is not its intended target customer anyway. The small bridges look to be especially fun, and there are a lot of playing features that usually are interesting as well.

Play value is pretty strong. There are a number of features like a catapult, a collapsable bridge, hidden treasures,etc. So pretty much things that we have seen on some other sets in the past applied very well to the movie scene this set recreates. Even more, the set includes a pretty good quantity and variety of weapons for both the Goblins and the Dwarves, certainly enough to add a couple of more of each race without issue.

This being the largest set of the bunch definitely gives it an edge on the playability side of things. In fact, this is my favorite play set of the ones currently available on the theme, even if not the one I like the most overall.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 6

Let's take a look at the value for the money charts:

Model MSRP Number of Pieces Price Per Piece (Retail)
       
79010 - Goblin King Battle $ 99.99 841 $ 0.12
79003 - Unexpected Gathering $ 69.99 652 $ 0.11
4840 - The Burrow $ 59.99 568 $ 0.11
9473 - The Mines of Moria $ 79.99 776 $ 0.10

It is obvious from the the table above that compared to similar sets of the same theme and comparable themes, Goblin King Battle is actually not a great value when considering solely the price per piece. Even though all of the sets in the list are comparable, I feel that in this case the Mines of Moria gives us the best chance to determine value for the money.

Both sets come from what it is basically the same theme, share a similar amount of pieces, have one cool maxi-fig, and include very close to the same amount of minifigs overall. We will be analyzing the price per weight of boths sets a little later in this section, but based on the statistics mentioned before I really think both sets should have been priced at close to the same per piece, and not with a $0.02 difference like they actually were.

Let's now evaluate the price per gram metric:

Model Price Per Gram (Retail)
79010 - Goblin King Battle $ 0.068
9473 - Mines of Moria $ 0.061

So, even when evaluating the price per weight Goblin King Battle ends up being more expensive than the most similar sets. Putting this together with its PPP ratio allow us to conclude this set was definitely priced well above what it should have been. Another thing that kind of proves our point is the fact this set has been discounted several times and for very long periods of time for around 25%, meaning that stores probably need to discount it a lot to move them out.

As far as parting out goes, like with most sets that are currently available you should be able to make a decent amount of profit. A caveat in this case would be the need to get this set during one of those periods of large discounts to be able and make that profit easier to get given the high MSRP of the set.

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 9

The Hobbit theme can be easily considered an extension of the LOTR as far as LEGO is concerned. The popularity of both can be therefore assumed to be very similar, so I will go ahead and analyze it from that perspective.

If you have read some of my other reviews about the LOTR sets, you will remember that I really like to make the comparison between it and the Harry Potter theme. I do this because it seems pretty clear to me that both of these themes share some of the same characteristics, and with that we can safely assume that the LOTR/Hobbit theme will probably perform at least as well as HP.

Let’s summarize some of the similarities between those two themes:

  • Both Harry Potter and LOTR/Hobbit have their beginnings as a series of highly successful fantasy style books
  • Following the success of the books, both franchises then became the target of Hollywood producers, something that ended up with adaptations of the books being released on movie theaters
  • The popularity of these themes has been great over the years, especially during the period when the movies came out, as evidenced by the extremely similar box office numbers for all the movies.
  • Both themes caught the attention of TLG, who ended up producing sets under the licenses that so far have proven to be very successful with both investors and collectors.

Besides these similarities, there is one aspect that in my opinion gives an advantage to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit theme, and that is the length of time they have been popular. Unlike Harry Potter, the LOTR/Hobbit have been around for well longer than a decade, more like half a century, and the fact that it has stayed popular up to this point gives me confidence when expressing my belief that those themes will be outperforming Harry Potter in the long run.

The Harry Potter theme, according to Brickpicker’s data, has an overall CAGR of around 16 %. That is an extremely good number when considering the large amount of sets that were released under the license. If we take that number as a base, I think we can probably expect that the LOTR/Hobbit themes’ CAGR could very well be a number around 18 % by the time production is stopped. That is a very great figure for themes with several set released and that span more than a couple of years. Investors should really be happy to be given another opportunity of what I think will be very good returns with minimal risk!

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 6

This set is not exclusive to any particular retailer and it is available at every major retailer. Regarding production run, the set is expected to last around 1.5 years, so around the average for most LEGO sets.

PACKAGING | Score: 8

The packaging for this set is pretty nice looking, but other than The Hobbit branding and the graphics there is not really that much that make it stand out in the shelves.

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 7

Let's evaluate the potential investment value of the set using Brickpicker's Data

Model Release Date MSRP CAGR Current Market Value HPR *
           
 4840 - The Burrow  2010  $ 59.99  38.20 % $ 158.35   163.96 %
 4738 - Hagrid's Hut  2010  $ 39.99  17.80 % $ 65.37  63.47 %
           

*HPR: Holding Period Return, assuming the set was purchased at retail on the day of released and sold today.

As I feel this set is extremely comparable to Mines of Moria, it seems pretty safe to use the exact same Harry Potter sets I used to project 9473s performance for Goblin King Battle. If you read the theme popularity section you will be able to see why I decided to compare sets from this two themes and use them to project growth.

Of the two HP sets included above, I think that The Burrow may allow us to make some sort of approximate prediction about Goblin King Battle. Even if The Burrow is usually considered a sleeper whose performance has been above the average one for Harry Potter LEGO sets, we may still use it along with Hagrid's Hut to establish a range where the CAGR of GKB may set itself in the near future.

The inclusion of the exclusive minifigs and the Goblin King maxifig will more than likely be the factors that will carry this set once it is retired. For someone that gets the set at the usual 25% discount I really see no way they would not make a substantial amount in this set in a relatively short period of time. Having said that, this will not be one of those sets that sell for $400 by any means, so as long as you keep realistic expectations you should be satisfied with its performance.

Value Prediction: I see this set with a CAGR over its first 2 years after retirement, putting it around $200 by 2015 if if ends up retiring by the end of this year. However, if several of the figures stay exclusive, especially the dwarves, then we might see it grow at a faster rate.

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 7

This being a playset and a somewhat messy looking set I would not say it is a particular good display piece, pretty much in the same fashion as Mines of Moria. Overall, as long as you keep in mind that this is supposed to be a playset first you will be satisfied by how it looks displayed as well. Actually, as much as I like sets that are designed entirely as display pieces, some times I feel that the playsets look just as good once you place the minifigures in a way that recreates what happened in the actual scene. Even if the level of detail is not as high, the fun factor make them look very appealing to me.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 7

In summary, this is a pretty decent set that includes some very high quality and exclusive minifigs, great play features and a decent investment potential that may be hold a little back by its apparent over pricing relative to similar sets. I would definitely grab at least a couple once the set hits the usual 25% discount, as I feel comfortable enough that such a discount will provide the possibility for a relative quick sale for a decent profit once the set goes into retirement,


7194-1: Yoda
7194-1: Yoda
Reviewed on: Jun 26, 2013
View All Reviews

Overall Personal Score

8.40

DIRECT LINK TO REVIEW:
View Review

MEMBER OWNS SET: NO     MEMBER HAS BUILT SET: NO


FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 8

The Yoda bust was only the second one LEGO released back in 2002, after Darth Maul's. The set does look impressive, since instead of being only the head and shoulders of Yoda it actually is a full body recreation. The only issue I have with how this set turned out is that it looks a lot more blocky than Darth Maul, and that detracts some of the appeal, in my opinion.I can't imagine how hard it is to design a set like this, so I understand LEGO probably did the best they could.

Other than that, the set is pretty large and has a nice amount of detail. Even more, the character on which it is based in is probably one of the most popular and iconic ones of the whole Star Wars franchise, so I would definitely say this is one of those sets any collector needs to have!

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 7

There are around 200 parts missing from Brickset's inventory for this set, so I can't tell with 100% certainty that there are no exclusive parts included, but from the 800 parts that ARE listed, I could not find any. There are, however, a bunch of parts and colors that can be considered somewhat rare as they are only found in less than 10 sets in total. Most of these pieces are those in the sand green and dark orange colors.

There are no minifigures included in this set. I would have really liked if they included a Yoda minifigure to go along with this set, pretty much in the same fashion they just did with the newer 10225 R2-D2.

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 7

The build experience is one of those interesting processes where you are building the set from a top down perspective, just like the Statue of Liberty and the Darth Maul bust. Some sections are explained in the more traditional method you are probably accustomed to, but the vast majority of the set will be built using the top down approach. I can say, from the intructions and some videos, that the build experience seems to be a little more varied than that of Darth Maul's, and at least there is some color variety as well.

There is no playability with this set, it is entirely a display piece.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 9

Let's take a look at the value for the money charts:

Model MSRP Number of PIeces Price per Piece (Retail)
7194 - Yoda $ 99.99 1,075 $ 0.09
10225 - R2-D2 $ 179.99 2,127 $ 0.08
10018 - Darth Maul $ 149.99 1,868 $ 0.08

 As you can see from the table above, the Yoda bust is the higher priced per piece of the three that have been released so far. The difference is not, however, what I would call significant enough to actually come out and say it was overpriced. It is my opinion that the set was priced along the normal range LEGO has usually done with this type of set, and that more than likely the difference will be explained below once we get to the price per gram metric. What we need to consider in this case is that, unlike 10018, 7194 actually includes some rare parts that make it more appealing and valuable both for the MOCer and the hard core collector.

Another factor that may be of value for the LEGO investor or collector is that more than likely LEGO won't be re-releasing this set for a long time, if ever, opposite to what may happen to some of the most popular ships. There are just way too many popular characters that LEGO can do without having to resort to previously released ones to make this an issue in the short to medium term. What's more, bust releases are not really that common when you consider that only three have been released in around 13 years.

Let's now evaluate the Price per Gram metric:

Model Price Per Gram (Retail)
10225 - R2-D2 $ 0.069
7194 - Yoda $ 0.048
10018 - Darth Maul $ 0.040

Now, you can clearly see now that the Yoda bust is a lot cheaper per gram than R2-D2 and only slightly more expensive than Darth Maul. With this set, then, you are getting a pretty nice number of large and "heavy" pieces for a very good price relative to the newer set. In fact, the Yoda bust is one of the cheapest sets per weight of the entire Ultimate Collector's Series.

The set is not worth parting out at this point.

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 10

The UCS line of the Star Wars theme is a completely different type of performer than the average SW set. Even though the numbers are included in the theme overall CAGR of around 9 %, this is one line that has seen great returns on every single set that has been released under it, with the exception of Obi Wan's starfighter that still sells pretty much for retail on eBay.

The UCS line caters mostly to AFOLs and Star Wars fan in general, since the sets are often priced high and offer highly detailed models mostly designed for displaying purposes. This can be considered a good thing since most of the time it is adults that really are willing and able to spend large amounts of money to get a ship or character they really like, or just to expand their current collection. It is often said on the forums that some of the ships released under the UCS brought back some adults from their dark ages back into LEGO or at least introduced them to the specific area of LEGO investing.

There is still a great amount of content that LEGO has never released under the UCS line, so we can expect this sub-theme to continue for the years to come, even more when considering that the new movies produced by Disney will be coming out in a couple of years, providing even more content and bringing new fans into the series.

Even more, this sets form part of a somewhat rare type of UCS set, character busts. Along with Yoda, R2 and some Technic sets, this has been one of the few of its kind.

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 8

I could not found even approximate information on when this set was retired, so I can't really comment on the lenght of its production run. Other than that, the model was a LEGO exclusive and part of the SW Ultimate Collector's Series, two denominations that make it more limited than your average LEGO set.

PACKAGING | Score: 9

The box design is one of those early ones that actually showcased the Ultimate Collector's Series denomination along with pictures of the set. I really like that old box design as it made the sets look a lot more exclusive and higher end than the ones that have been released more recently. The box is mostly a dark blue and black scheme with some Dagobah graphics in the background and the set placed in the front.

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 9

This model has already been retired a long time ago, so the best thing we can do at this point is check its historical performance and compare it to Darth Maul's bust. Data from Brickpicker

Model Release Date MSRP CAGR Current Market Value (New) HPR*
           
 10018 - Darth Maul  2001  $ 149.99  13.31 %  $ 727.33  384.92 %
 7194 - Yoda  2002  $ 99.99  12.04 %  $ 349.07  249.10 %

Retired for at least a decade, the Yoda bust presents a pretty healthy CAGR and a very impressive holding period return closing in 250%. The performance relative to Darth Maul's bust is very similar, even if the higher MSRP of 10018 makes it appreciation look a lot more impressive. Now, simillar does not mean equal and you can see that a small diference in the CAGR of both sets translates to an even larger difference in HPR, especially when the older set presents a higher number.

I find interesting that the Yoda bust is trailing Darth Maul in the secondary market, but it just proves the point that there are a lot of prequel trilogy fans since it was released more recently and that drive up demand for arguably its most popular character. Having said that, evaluating the current trends we also notice that there are a lot more Yoda sets sold per month than 10018, and that the set continues to go up in value by a higher rate than Darth Maul as well. What this means is that there is a possibility to make an investment in 7194 at current market values and reasonably expect a very decent ROI in a couple of years if the trend continues to hold. Let's take a look at the grap so you see exactly what I mean:

You can see in the graph that the growth of this set over the past couple of years has been outstanding, jumping almost 77% in two years and 34.5% in the past 12 months.The growth trends for this are more evident and sharp than those of 10018, and its relatively affordable market value still make it a viable investment for even the casual investor. In my opinion, this set will continue to increase significantly in value over the coming months a couple of years, and will more than likely reach the same or close value as 10018 presents at the moment. I would suggest this set as an investment to those who can afford it, since with over 10 years out of the shelves and being relatively rare you are almost certain to make some significant profits.

Just as a reference, this set increased over 4% in the past month alone and consistently sells around 5 new copies every month.

 

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 9

Display value for this set is also really high, as it happens with most UCS models. What makes this particular one to look a lot better than some of the others is the fact that it recreates the complete character, even if small, and before R2-D2 this was actually the only set that went and did this. The only issue this set presents has to do with something I have mentioned before, once built it becomes very apparent that it is built with LEGO bricks. The lines are very marked and not as smooth as the most recent models, but considering how long ago it was released and how things have changed, I would say that if LEGO were to released this set now the end result would be even better.

Along with Darth Maul and R2, this set would make for a very nice bust display as well.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 8

As it happens with the other two Star Wars busts, this set is very different to what we are accustomed to. The fact that it is a complete body recreation of one of the most popular characters of the entire franchise, and one that makes an appearance in every single movie released to date, make this a great candidate for both the Star Wars collector and the LEGO investor. As a result, the performance of this set has been great, and may still continue to go up in value sufficiently to make it a good investment even at current market prices.


10018-1: Darth Maul
10018-1: Darth Maul
Reviewed on: Jun 25, 2013
View All Reviews

Overall Personal Score

8.50

DIRECT LINK TO REVIEW:
View Review

MEMBER OWNS SET: NO     MEMBER HAS BUILT SET: NO


FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 9

The Darth Maul UCS bust is a really great, and somewhat creepy, looking set. What makes it even more interesting is the fact that differently from almost every other Star Wars set LEGO has released, this one is not based on a ship but rather on an actual and very popular character. The level of detail of this set is really remarkable, and it captures the original character extremely well. In my opinion, this set has already become iconic as far as LEGO sets is concerned, as it has performed very well in the secondary market and is a somewhat rare set as well.

 

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 6

The set includes almost 1,900 pieces, but among that high piece count there is really only one exclusive part (a couple 4x6 bright red bricks). Even more, color and part variety are also below average for a set of this size, as the great majority of the pieces are either black or red and encompass a relatively small number of different brick designs.

There are no minifigures included in this set.

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 6

The building process of the set seems to be really tedious from what I have read and am able to see in the official instructions. The set follows the same process as the Statue of LIberty did, in the sense that you are presented with a top down view of the building plane for most of the time. You will spend several hours building the set, and most of that time will be dedicated to putting black and red bricks on top of each other over and over again, so a really basic process.

Another "negative" is the fact that there is no playability possible with this set. Not only it is a huge model, but not being a ship really makes it hard to find ways to play with. Can you imagine playing with a sculpture in a museum?...you get the point, this is a display set.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 9

Let's take a look at the value for the money charts:

Model MSRP Number of PIeces Price per Piece (Retail)
7194 - Yoda $ 99.99 1,075 $ 0.09
10225 - R2-D2 $ 179.99 2,127 $ 0.08
10018 - Darth Maul $ 149.99 1,868 $ 0.08

As you see from the table above, the Darth Maul busts is tied for cheapest set with the more recently released R2-D2, an it is around one cent cheaper per piece that the Yoda bust. In my opinion, these three busts are actually a good deal for your money when you are just considering this metric, but as we will see below, there are some other factors that have to be considered.

So, now the we have seen that Darth Maul is priced along the same lines of the comparable sets based on price per piece, it is time to get a little more into detail. There are a couple things that need to be considered when comparing the sets above, most especially the variety of parts and colors each provides you for your money. While each Yoda and Maul's sets include a relative low variety on both of these fronts, the newer R2-D2 set comes with pleny of different colors and types of bricks (Technic, for example). The inclusion of these parts give the set a lot more appeal, in my opinion, than the older two when you consider you are paying pretty much the same amount per piece in each case.

Let's now evaluate Price Per Gram

Model Price Per Gram (Retail)
10225 - R2-D2 $ 0.069
7194 - Yoda $ 0.048
10018 - Darth Maul $ 0.040

 So, based on weight of the pieces of each set the Darth Maul once again ends up being the cheapest of the three. Actually, if you were to go ahead and compare the price per gram of all of the UCS sets, 10018 would be very close to being the cheapest of the entire line!. This set was really an excellent value for the money while it was still available.

 One of the thing that you can clearly see from the three released busts is that LEGO has opted for recreating very popular characters, and that is really no surprise as they need to sell as much as they can. Darth Maul is one of those few things that Star Wars fans liked about The Phantom Menace, so its popularity remains high despite it being featured in probably the worst movie of the series.

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 10

The UCS line of the Star Wars theme is a completely different type of performer than the average SW set. Even though the numbers are included in the theme overall CAGR of around 9 %, this is one line that has seen great returns on every single set that has been released under it, with the exception of Obi Wan's starfighter that still sells pretty much for retail on eBay.

The UCS line caters mostly to AFOLs and Star Wars fan in general, since the sets are often priced high and offer highly detailed models mostly designed for displaying purposes. This can be considered a good thing since most of the time it is adults that really are willing and able to spend large amounts of money to get a ship or character they really like, or just to expand their current collection. It is often said on the forums that some of the ships released under the UCS brought back some adults from their dark ages back into LEGO or at least introduced them to the specific area of LEGO investing.

There is still a great amount of content that LEGO has never released under the UCS line, so we can expect this sub-theme to continue for the years to come, even more when considering that the new movies produced by Disney will be coming out in a couple of years, providing even more content and bringing new fans into the series.

Even more, this sets form part of a somewhat rare type of UCS set, character busts. Along with Yoda, R2 and some Technic sets, this has been one of the few of its kind.

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 8

This set was an exclusive and part of the Star Wars Ultimate Collector's Series, making it more limited in availability than the average LEGO set. I could find no accurate information about the time it spent available on the shelves, but apparently it lasted just under 1.5 years, so around the average.

PACKAGING | Score: 9

The packaging of the set looks to be very unique, as it is just a very unique set. The color scheme of the box somewhat follows the pattern of the ealier UCS sets, something that made them stand out a lot more and that I really wish LEGO had kept doing with the new ones. The colors followed mostly a "star" pattern with black, grey and some white being the most visible colors, along with the set graphic place on one of the sides.

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 9

As this set has already been retired for several years, we only need to evaluate its historical growth pattern and compare it to the other main UCS bust that has been retired so far, Yoda:   Datat from Brickpicker.

Model Release Date MSRP CAGR Current Market Value (New) HPR*
           
 10018 - Darth Maul  2001  $ 149.99  13.31 %  $ 727.33  384.92 %
 7194 - Yoda  2002  $ 99.99  12.04 %  $ 349.07  249.10 %

So, as you see from the table above both of the busts that have been retired so far have been great performers over the past decade, with Darth Maul's being a couple steps ahead of Yoda.

A CAGR of over 13% for a set that has been retired for more than 10 years is an outstanding number that easily beats the average return of more traditional investments over the same period of time. Not only that, but the set presents a holding period return that is closing in 400%. The popularity of the represented character and the uniqueness of the model relative to some of the other sets of the line more than likely played a large part in the set's secondary market performance. There is also the possibility that the number of Darth Maul's produced was significantly lower than some of the other models, therefore increasing its rarity and desirability, and as a consequence its price.

What we would like to know at this point is just how much more can this set grow in value in the coming years, and if it is worth to get even at several times over retail to capture the possible future yield. For that, we will need to evaluate the most current trends, with data from the past 2 years taken from Brickpicker's price guide:

So, if you take a close look at the graph you will notice that in 2011, almost 9 years after retirement, the set presented a dollar value of under $400. Even at that apparently extremely expensive price relative to retail it would have made sense to acquire this set and reap the benefits at this point, with a market value of over $700!. Over the most recent past, however, the set appears to have stabilized around the same market value for a while now, and this leads me to believe that maybe the window opportunity with this set may have passed. There is one caveat to this, and it relates to the rarity of the set and its relative low number of sold copies per month, that in the end may jumpstart its growth once again. Let's take a look a the sale numbers over the past 10 months:

The graph above demonstrates that New sets of this model are not sold very often, and that fact alone may have an impact in how much the price of the model goes up in the coming months. Only time will tell.

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 10

This section, like most other UCS sets, is where this model really shines. The bust is very accurate and the fact that is based on one of the most interesting looking characters of the whole franchise just makes things even better. If you are lucky enough to own one of these, I am sure I don't have to tell you how many interesting conversations this thing gets started. There is just something about Darth Maul's stare that I guess gets people interested!.


The set is impressive for its detail, and if displayed along some of the other busts like Yoda and R2 it can look even better.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 9

I can't stress this enough, this bust is one of the most unique and cool looking sets that LEGO has released up to this date, and I really wish they haven't dropped the idea of doing more like it in the future. The growth of the model has also been outstanding over the past several years, and make it one of the best investments of the entire UCS line, a fact that as you can imagine is extremely impressive considering the large amount of great performing sets. Even more, the display value and rarity of the set make this an outstanding choice for the collector and the risk tolerant investor.


21000-2: Willis Tower
21000-2: Willis Tower
Reviewed on: Jun 21, 2013
View All Reviews

Overall Personal Score

6.90

DIRECT LINK TO REVIEW:
View Review

MEMBER OWNS SET: NO     MEMBER HAS BUILT SET: NO


FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 8

This is another one of the smallest sets of the Architecture theme, but that does not mean it does not give a very good first impression. What I like the most about this model, as wells as the John Hancock Center, is that the color and design of the building look pretty modern and elegant on display. Most of the pieces in the set are very basic ones, but they do the job they are supposed to perfectly by recreating one of the tallest and most popular buildings in the world. It's worth noting that this set is a re-release of the older set "Sears Tower". There is really nothing different betweent the two, other than the different name.

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 5

There are absolutely no exclusive parts in this set other than the traditional Architecture nameplate.With only around 70 parts, there is also not that much variety included, so the value as far as this section is concerned is pretty low.

There are no minifigures included in this set.

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 5

Being one of the smallest sets of the theme normally comes with a really short and basic building process. As said on a previous section, most of the bricks included are very typical and basic ones mostly in black color, and the fact that there are only around 70 pieces in total does not help make a better experience either. I am sure people who buy a set like this do so knowing that they probably won't be spending hours of fun building it, but even considering that I can't give this set more than a five in this category.

Building the set, as short as it lasts, is probably the only time you will be "playing" with this set. As display pieces, these sets do not lend themselves to be played around with.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 6

Let's take a look at the value for the money charts:

Model MSRP Number of Pieces Price Per Piece (Retail)
21001 - John Hancock Center $ 19.99 69 $ 0.29
21000 - Willis Tower $ 19.99 69 $ 0.29
21002 - Empire State Building
$ 19.99 77 $ 0.26

According to the data in the table above, you will be able to see that the Willis Tower is almost an exact copy of the John Hancock Center when it comes to number of pieces and the price per piece ratio, at the same time making it more expensive than one of the other popular models in the same price range, the Empire State Building. As most of you probably know, PPP ratios in the twenties are pretty standard for the Architecture theme, as LEGO seems to have targeted the AFOL and collector community that is the one with the actual purchasing power to spend a little more money for those things that satisfy them personally, so the numbers above are not really surprising in that respect.

What I find interesting is the fact that LEGO seems to have decided to price both the Willis Tower and JHC several cents above a set that is arguably more popular and more relevant both inside and outside the United States. Even if the Willis Tower is one of the tallest structures in the world, I really see no way that it compares to the Empire State Building in any respect, as the latter is more popular and at least equally admired when it comes to its architectural design. One would think that the difference in price would come from the difference in weight of the sets, but as you will see next the Empire State ends up beign cheaper based on that metric as well.

Model Price Per Gram (Retail)
21008 - Burj Khalifa $ 0.12
21000 - Willis Tower $ 0.12
21002 - Empire State Bulding $ 0.11

So, as you can see from the chart above, the Willis Tower is price along the average range for similarly sized sets of the theme when taking into consideration the weight of the pieces. This information further confirms our assumption that the Empire State Building is definitely the best value for the money of these sets, but also that the Willis Tower is not so overpriced either.

In the end, you are getting a very popular building and a very nice model for a somewhat decent price. There are better choices inside the same theme when it comes to value for the money, but the Willis Tower is most definitely not one of the worst ones.

There is no point in parting out this set. Without any exclusive parts you will be having a hard time just breaking even.

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 7

Usually, to determine how popular a specific theme is, we take a look at how some of the already retired sets have performed in the secondary market, but unfortunately at this point there is really no much information of that sort for the Architecture theme, since only one set has really been retired (John Hancock Center). For information purposes only, the current CAGR of the overall theme as of 6/13/2013 is 5.18 %, but don't let this figure guide your decision to buy or not sets in this theme, since as said before most of them are still in production and available pretty much everywhere, bringing the figure down.

From what I can gather from the forums and the overall LEGO community, this sets are expected to perform really well in the secondary market. If you take into consideration that it is a line mostly designed to appeal to adults, it would make sense that those who missed out on some of the sets they wanted will go to outlets like ebay in hopes of completing their collection or getting that one building they always wanted but for some reason didn't purchase before retirement. Plus, you also have the fact that the majority of the sets in this theme are very affordable to begin with, meaning that once the sets go EOL in theory even if they double in size they will not become prohibitive to most people.

If you take a look at today's Amazon Best Sellers list for LEGOs, you will notice that there are currently 4 sets in the top 100. That can help you determine that the sets on this theme are selling well, and probably most of the ones that are not in the top 100 are very close to that number anyway. If the theme is selling well when it is still in production, I would say that it will be as popular once the sets start retiring. Even more, you know that LEGO is probably not going to remake any of the structures that they have released before, since they should have plenty of material to replicate before going back to already done structures. that way helping maintain the value of the original sets higher.

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 5

This line of sets is not exclusive at all. It is really available at every Barnes And Noble store, as well as pretty much every online store of the major retailers. What's more, so far it seems that sets under this theme enjoy of somewhat longer production runs than your average LEGO set.

PACKAGING | Score: 9

The packaging of these sets is very elegant and different to all of the other themes available. The boxes are all black with white colored font, and looks extremely good and elegant. They reflect the adult focus of the theme.

Most of the time, these sets are placed on their own section in the stores. I have never seen the Architecture themed sets placed along with the rest of the LEGOs in the toy section. Usually they have their own black colored stand with the LEGO logo and the Architecture title in big white letters. This feature allows them to really stand out and help even more to differentiate them from the toys. I assume that LEGO had that planned by designed, as having this set along the rest of the themes that are usually considered for play may have hurt the image they wanted to get out for AFOLs.

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 8

Let's evaluate the numbers of the only set that has been retired at this point and try to make a prediction about how the Willis Tower will compare.

Model Release Date MSRP Current Market Value (New) CAGR HPR *
           
 21001 - John Hancock Center 2008  $ 19.99  $ 59.59 24.50 %  199.15 %

So, the John Hancock Center has been an outstanding performer over the relatively short time that it has been retired, with a CAGR of almost 25% and a HPR of close to 200%. Being the only set that has been retired from the shelves at this point gives us some insights about how well some of the other sets may perform once they follow and go EOL.

It is important to remember that the Willis Tower set is sort of a re-release of the original Sears Tower set that was realeased a few years back. I don't think that we will see the older model move much until this exact replica is retired as well. Other than that, I believe that based on the popularity of the building and the set's similarities with the JHC we might actually see it perform in an equal fashion once the set goes End of Line. As it happens with the Empire State building and some of the other sets, I have the feeling that this model will be one of the most sought after by collectors of the theme.

Value Prediction: Based on the performance of the John Hancock Center, I would expect the Willis Tower to present numbers a little lower in general based on the longer time it has been on the shelves. In my opinion, this set will probably trail its older version by a couple of dollars just like some other re-releases have done in the past, but it may still get to around $ 50 once it has been retired for a year and a half.

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 9

Most of these Architecture sets really shine while on display, either by themselves or as a part of a larger collection. The models stay true to their original counterparts and even the smallests sets manage to get a lot of detail in only a few bricks.The size is also just right for those people with a lack of sufficient space for the larger LEGO sets.

About this set in particular, I really like how the set looks mostly due to its simplistic design and its nice black color. As it happens with the John Hancock Center, the color of the bricks really make the set look elegant and as something you would be proud to display at work or at home.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 7

The Willis Tower is a really nice looking set, and what it does not have in exclusive parts or size it does in appearance. The set also presents a very decent investment potential based on the historical performance of the John Hancock Center, but until more sets are retired it is really hard to present a safe projection about where some of these sets might be going. Hopefully this set will be the next one to go, considering that it has been on the shelves for way too long (between this and the original version).


21002-1: Empire State Building
21002-1: Empire State Building
Reviewed on: Jun 20, 2013
View All Reviews

Overall Personal Score

7.00

DIRECT LINK TO REVIEW:
View Review

MEMBER OWNS SET: YES     MEMBER HAS BUILT SET: YES


FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 6

The Empire State Building is probablt in the Top 5 most well-known structures in the whole world, and this small model really captures the main design features of the building, namely the general shape and the antenna on the top. This set is one of the smallest ones part of the Architecture theme, so you should really not expect it to give a first impression that will blow people away. Having said that, the model does look really sleek and modern, and despite it being built mostly with very basic bricks I think that the importance of the structure it represents really picks up what it lacks in size and detail.

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 4

The set consists of only around 80 pieces in total, so we are talking about a really small model. What makes things worse in this case is the fact that absolutely none of the pieces needed to build it are exclusive to it, other than the traditional Architecture nameplate.

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 5

Most Architecture sets are really lackluster when it comes to providing a fun building experience, and as much as I like this building 21002 has to be one of the most basic and boring builds in the whole line. The bricks used are really really basic ones, and considering it has way less than one hundred pieces there is not really that much time spent completing either. I understand that this sets are small and basic by nature, but I am just not able to get over the fact that sometimes they feel just a little to simple.

There is no playability whatsoever. Only display value.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 9

Let's take a look at the value for the money charts:

Model MSRP Number of Pieces Price Per Piece (Retail)
21001 - John Hancock Center $ 19.99 69 $ 0.29
21000 - Willis Tower $ 19.99 69 $ 0.29
21002 - Empire State Building
$ 19.99 77 $ 0.26

As you can see above, all of the sets in the table have a Price per Piece between the mid and high 20s. This really comes as no surprise, since the Architecture line is known to be one of the most expensive ones when it comes to this metric, especially when considering the smallest sets. The sets selected above for comparison share a number of similar features that go from the exact same MSRP, to being very close in quantity of pieces, so I think the comparison will be a useful one.

From the table above, you will be able to see that the Empire State Building is actually the cheapest of the three by a pretty significant margin. What makes this more significant is the fact that the other two sets above also are pretty basic when it comes to included pieces, so the difference in price really has nothing to do with that. We still need to check the price per gram metric to be sure and get the complete picture, but of all the Architecture sets priced at around $ 20, this one seems to be the best value.

Let's now take a look at price per gram:

Model Price Per Gram (Retail)
21008 - Burj Khalifa $ 0.12
21000 - Willis Tower $ 0.12
21002 - Empire State Bulding $ 0.11

Once again, the Empire State ends up being the cheapest choice. This statistic on its own may not mean too much, since the margin is pretty close, but coupled with the excellent price per piece we examined before I think we can really make the case that the Empire State is definitely the best choice for your money if you are looking to get a great set for a great price.

Not only based on statistics I think this set is a good value, but when you consider the popularity of the building relative to that of the other choices, I thik there is just no contest. The Empire State is as iconic as it gets around the world, and that fact alone makes a big difference when deciding which Architecture set to invest in. After all, it is popularity that drives most of the growth in the secondary market.

I really don't think this set is a candidate for parting out. The lack of interesting pieces and the small quantity of those that are incuded make me suggest you to look elsewhere.

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 7

Usually, to determine how popular a specific theme is, we take a look at how some of the already retired sets have performed in the secondary market, but unfortunately at this point there is really no much information of that sort for the Architecture theme, since only one set has really been retired (John Hancock Center). For information purposes only, the current CAGR of the overall theme as of 6/13/2013 is 5.18 %, but don't let this figure guide your decision to buy or not sets in this theme, since as said before most of them are still in production and available pretty much everywhere, bringing the figure down.

From what I can gather from the forums and the overall LEGO community, this sets are expected to perform really well in the secondary market. If you take into consideration that it is a line mostly designed to appeal to adults, it would make sense that those who missed out on some of the sets they wanted will go to outlets like ebay in hopes of completing their collection or getting that one building they always wanted but for some reason didn't purchase before retirement. Plus, you also have the fact that the majority of the sets in this theme are very affordable to begin with, meaning that once the sets go EOL in theory even if they double in size they will not become prohibitive to most people.

If you take a look at today's Amazon Best Sellers list for LEGOs, you will notice that there are currently 4 sets in the top 100. That can help you determine that the sets on this theme are selling well, and probably most of the ones that are not in the top 100 are very close to that number anyway. If the theme is selling well when it is still in production, I would say that it will be as popular once the sets start retiring. Even more, you know that LEGO is probably not going to remake any of the structures that they have released before, since they should have plenty of material to replicate before going back to already done structures. that way helping maintain the value of the original sets higher.

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 5

This set, and others from the theme, are not exclusive to any particular retailer. Most of the time you will see these in their own section separate from most of the other LEGO sets, especially true in the case of Barnes and Noble B&M stores. The Burj Khalifa is getting really close to the two year mark since it was originally introduced, and as it has been the case with most Architecture sets it will probably be around for longer than average.

PACKAGING | Score: 9

The packaging of these sets is very elegant and different to all of the other themes available. The boxes are all black with white colored font, that looks extremely good and elegant. They reflect the adult focus of the theme.

Most of the time, this sets are placed on their own section in the stores. I have never seen the Architecture themed sets placed along with the rest of the LEGOs in the toy section. Usually they have their own black colored stand with the LEGO logo and the Architecture title in big white letters. This feature allows them to really stand out and help even more to differentiate them from the toys. I assume that LEGO had that planned by designed, as having this set along the rest of the themes that are usually considered for play may have hurt the image they wanted to get out for AFOLs.

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 9

At this point, only one set of the theme has been retired, so that is all the data we have to analyze the possible future performance of the set: Data From Brickpicker

Model Release Date MSRP Current Market Value (New) CAGR HPR *
           
 21001 - John Hancock Center 2008  $ 19.99  $ 59.59 24.50 %  199.15 %

So, on some of my other Architecture reviews I have always pointed out that the John Hancock Center's performance can't be directly transferred to every other set because of the building's high popularity. Well, in this case I do believe that its performance can be easily replicated since we are talking about a structure that is several times more well-known and admired in the world. It is very hard for me to imagine a person that has never heard of the Empire State Building, and that level of popularity will definitely favor the set once it is retired. I would think that every Architecture fan and collector will NEED to have the Empire State in order to consider its collection to be complete.

The Architecture line seems to be very popular with LEGO fans, most especifically the AFOL community. What makes this even more significant is that the theme lends itself to be collected, with most models being affordable and with small footprints that allow them to be placed comfortably around the house or office without needing to dedicate a piece of furniture only to LEGO. I do believe that the Empire State will be one of the top performers based on its popularity (the set is almost always in Amazon Top 100 Best Sellers), its value for the money and its overall look and feel. I would definitely invest in several of this, and expect it to get very close if not better results than the JHC.

Value Prediction: At the least, this set should perform as well as the John Hancock Center, and it actually has a pretty good shot at surpassing it. For now, let's assume a 21% CAGR by the time it has been EOL for as long as the JHC. (Assumes 2013 retirement)

 

 

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 8

Being one of the smallest Architecture sets there is really not much room for outstanding detail. Having said that, the set does represent very well the general look of the actual building and will look really nice displayed both alone and next to some of the other sets from the theme. As said before, size is really not an issue, making this set a very convenient and flexible one to choose for those without enough room for sets the size of Tower Bridge or some of the others. The Empire State will not be one of those sets that will get people talking, but it will look elegant wherever you want to place it.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 8

Even if this is not one of the most impressive sets out in the market at this point, I do believe that it is a very good choice for both the collector and the investor. The set has been discounted several times for long periods, so I would at least grab a couple a wait until next year to see if it ends up going the same way the JHC did.

Above Average.


21008-1: Burj Khalifa
21008-1: Burj Khalifa
Reviewed on: Jun 13, 2013
View All Reviews

Overall Personal Score

6.40

DIRECT LINK TO REVIEW:
View Review

MEMBER OWNS SET: NO     MEMBER HAS BUILT SET: NO


FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 7

The Burj Khalifa building is currently the tallest structure in the entire world, so it is really hard to capture the impressive magnited of such a large building with just a couple hundred LEGO pieces. Having said that, the model does capture the most striking details and the shape of the original buildin pretty well, so I would say that it does have a pretty good first impression, always considering we are talking about small architecture sets and not huge large scale models. 

Of all the architecture models, this is one of my least favorites. I am not really sure it has anything to do with the size or something like that, but more with how the set is designed using basically just one type of brick. I understand that LEGO did as well as they could to capture the original design, but that does not take away the fact that the set is really not one of the most appealings of the whole theme.

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 3

The only real exclusive or even rare part that is included on the set is the typical Architecture nameplate. Other than that, more than half of the set consists of medium stone grey 1x1 round bricks, that give the shape and the character of the original building to this smaller recreation. The rest of the pieces are mostly medium stone grey and some black very common pieces, so this is definitely not a set that will get any value from its piece content.

There are no minifigs included in this set, as is the case with every single other Architecture model

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 6

I think that by looking at any picture of the completed model you will be able to arrive to the same conclusion I did: this is a really repetitive and basic model to build. The whole building process basically comes down to setting up the base of the building with some plates and a technic rotor blade that holds the thing somewhat together. Once you are done with that, you will onto assembling the several dozens of 1x1 bricks one over the other, until the whole thing is completed. That's just a quick summary, as there are a couple other pieces, but I think that will give you a pretty good idea. This is definitely not a really fun set to build, and even when it is completed it feels somewhat unstable. Anyone who has built one of the Death Star lasers with the 1x1 bricks knows why they may be a problem.

There is no playability with the set, as they are mostly designed with the collector who is going to only display the set in mind.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 6

Let's now take a look at the value for the money charts:

Model MSRP Number of Pieces Price Per Piece (Retail)
21004 - Guggenheim Museum $ 39.99 208 $ 0.19
21007 - Rockefeller Center $ 39.99 240 $ 0.17
21008 - Burj Khalifa $ 24.99 208 $ 0.12

Based on the price per piece metric the Burj Khalifa seems to be a very good value for the money relative to other similar sets, based on piece count, of the Architecture theme. Even if the price per piece seems to be really high, you have to remember that these sets can be considered niche, somewhat more high end than most other LEGO sets, and they usually command a price per piece that is, well, above average. At $ 0.12 per piece, the Burj Khalifa is actually not that expensive when compared to some of the others.

Having said that, you really have to think about what you are getting for your investment dollar when acquiring this set. As said before, there are really no interesting pieces or even a nice variety of basic bricks on which you could fall upon if it turns out to be an investment loser in the secondary market. What's more, the design and stability of the set are really not up to the standard of most other Architecture sets, and that may somewhat reduce the actual bang for your buck, even if on paper it looks to be superior to some of the others.

So, we have taken a look and compared the Burj Khalifa with sets of the same theme and similar piece counts, and I can't really assure you that you are getting a good value based on this alone. As you know, weight of the pieces may actually play a more important part in the pricing of LEGO sets, and I think this is especially true of the smaller sets, so let's now evaluate and compare the price per gram with that of sets with similar weights from the Architecture theme:

Model Price Per Gram (Retail)
21008 - Burj Khalifa $ 0.12
21000 - Willis Tower $ 0.12
21002 - Empire State Bulding $ 0.11

The two other sets above share a similar weight with the Burj Khalifa, so they serve us well for this type of comparison. When it comes to weight, the Burj Khalifa set now ends up being the higher priced of the above models, a factor that coupled with the lack of variety of pieces really push me closer to concluding the set is not really a good value for your money at retail pricing.

Finally, and for the reasons explained above, there is no sense in parting out this set unless you were able to really get a good price for it on a very rare clearance or similar sale.

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 7

Usually, to determine how popular a specific theme is, we take a look at how some of the already retired sets have performed in the secondary market, but unfortunately at this point there is really no much information of that sort for the Architecture theme, since only one set has really been retired (John Hancock Center). For information purposes only, the current CAGR of the overall theme as of 6/13/2013 is 5.18 %, but don't let this figure guide your decision to buy or not sets in this theme, since as said before most of them are still in production and available pretty much everywhere, bringing the figure down.

From what I can gather from the forums and the overall LEGO community, this sets are expected to perform really well in the secondary market. If you take into consideration that it is a line mostly designed to appeal to adults, it would make sense that those who missed out on some of the sets they wanted will go to outlets like ebay in hopes of completing their collection or getting that one building they always wanted but for some reason didn't purchase before retirement. Plus, you also have the fact that the majority of the sets in this theme are very affordable to begin with, meaning that once the sets go EOL in theory even if they double in size they will not become prohibitive to most people.

If you take a look at today's Amazon Best Sellers list for LEGOs, you will notice that there are currently 4 sets in the top 100. That can help you determine that the sets on this theme are selling well, and probably most of the ones that are not in the top 100 are very close to that number anyway. If the theme is selling well when it is still in production, I would say that it will be as popular once the sets start retiring. Even more, you know that LEGO is probably not going to remake any of the structures that they have released before, since they should have plenty of material to replicate before going back to already done structures. that way helping maintain the value of the original sets higher.

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 5

This set, and others from the theme, are not exclusive to any particular retailer. Most of the time you will see these in their own section separate from most of the other LEGO sets, especially true in the case of Barnes and Noble B&M stores. The Burj Khalifa is getting really close to the two year mark since it was originally introduced, and as it has been the case with most Architecture sets it will probably be around for longer than average.

PACKAGING | Score: 9

The packaging of this sets is very elegant and different to all of the other themes available. The boxes are all black with white colored font, that looks extremely good and elegant. They reflect the adult focus of the theme.

Most of the time, this sets are placed on their own section in the stores. I have never seen the Architecture themed sets placed along with the rest of the LEGOs in the toy section. Usually they have their own black colored stand with the LEGO logo and the Architecture title in big white letters. This feature allows them to really stand out and help even more to differentiate them from the toys. I assume that LEGO had that planned by designed, as having this set along the rest of the themes that are usually considered for play may have hurt the image they wanted to get out for AFOLs.

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 6

Let's now evaluate the possible future performance of the set: Data from Brickpicker

Model Release Date MSRP Current Market Value (New) CAGR HPR *
           
 21001 - John Hancock Center 2008  $ 19.99  $ 59.59 24.50 %  199.15 %
21008 - Burj Khalifa
2011 $ 24.99 N/A N/A N/A

*HPR: Holding Period Return, assuming the set was purchased at retail on the day of released and sold today.

At this point, the only set that has been retired on this theme has been the 21001 John Hancock Center, so that is really the only actual performance information we can work with. I do want to point out that the JHC is one of the most admired architecture pieces in the US, and even the world, and I believe that Burj Khalifa's popularity does not really match this.

So, the first set that was retired on the theme has turned out to be an extremely good performer in a relatively short time, with a high CAGR and a HPR of almost 200%. I don't really see the Burj Khalifa getting even closet to that level of performance, mostly because some factors I have already talked about before, like its design issues, low value for the money and lack of interesting pieces. I really have to say that from all of the sets in the Architecture theme, this is definitely one that I consider will underperform in the secondary market relative to the others. Having said that, I do think you can expect a pretty decent return in the long term, as is the case with most LEGO sets, and considering the fact that sets in this theme are very collectible, there will always be a lot of people needing this set to complete their collection. In the short term, however, I don't really see it spiking in value that much after it is retired.

Value Prediction: one of the weakest sets in the Architecture theme, in my opinion, this set will more than likely underperform most of the other models, especially those that sit at around its same price range like the Empire State and the Willis Tower. Still, I can see it with a CAGR of around 12% by the time it has been retired for as long as the JHC.

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 8

All of these Architecture sets look really good on display, and even though this particular model is not one of the best ones out ther in mi opinion, it still looks very elegant and nice either alone or as part of a larger Architecture collection. As said before, there are not that many interesting features that make the set look more appealing than some of its theme siblings, as the pieces used on it are extremely basic and make the set look somewhat monotonous. There are not really that many ways this set would have looked as similar to the actual building than how LEGO did it, but that does not take away from the fact that in the end it looks kind of boring.

Having said that, setting it up along some of the other small Architecture sets like the Empire State and the Willis Tower can enhance its look, as it makes it part of a larger and better whole instead of a just "ok" unit.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 7

As you are aware at this point, this is really not one of my favorite Architecture sets, but that does not mean that I would not recommend it to both collectors and investors. From a collector's standpoint, this set represents the talles building in the world and that is something that anyone considering collecting these mostly little sets should not forget. If you really want to have the most important structures in the world displayed in your home or office, then this set has to be a part of it. In the other hand, investors should not expect an explosion in value from this set once it goes EOL, but I do believe that in the long term it will become a little more appealing.


10174-1: Imperial AT-ST
10174-1: Imperial AT-ST
Reviewed on: Jun 12, 2013
View All Reviews

Overall Personal Score

7.90

DIRECT LINK TO REVIEW:
View Review

MEMBER OWNS SET: NO     MEMBER HAS BUILT SET: NO


FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 8

The AT-ST 10174 forms part of the Star Wars Ultimate Collector's Series so the high level of detail and collector's value is present, but at the same time this model is one of the smallest ones produced under the line, a factor that has some impact on how impressive the set actually looks. The AT-ST Walker is one of the most well-known and popular vehicles from the Empire, and it plays a major role in the last movie of the series, so I would say that it is iconic to some extent. The size is somewhat of an issue to me, just because I am getting used to really large models and this one does not fit the bill entirely.

If you are a collector of SWs or specifically the UCS, then this is definitely a model you need to buy, but bear in mind that there are some others that I would get before this one.

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 5

The AT-ST has a little over 1,060 pieces, and among those there are only a couple of parts that are really exclusive and a few other rare parts. Most of the set is built with two basic grey tones, medium and dark stone grey, so there is little variety as far as colors are concerned. I will now list the exclusive parts of the set, that as said before are only two:

  • Two medium stone grey 3x8x2 right shells with bow
  • Two medium stone grey 3x8x2 left sheels with bow

So, this is a pretty mediocre set when it comes down to exclusive parts, so you would be wise to take that into consideration.
 

As it is the case with most of the UCS sets, this model does not come with any minifigs.

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 7

The model's build experience seems to be less advanced than some of the other UCS models, and it also has a decent amount of repetition since some major parts are symmetric builds, most notably the long legs. You will be spending one complete instruction manual just building the legs and the "connection" betweent the two, while on the second one you will focus more on the "head" of the AT-ST (the most fun part, it would appear). As it is usually the case, there is some technic building mixed in with regular bricks.

The completed model has some features that could be used in play, like the opening hatch and the rotating weapons. Having said that, the model is too large to be used on some of the other LEGO playsets, especially the Endor ones, so that reduces some of the play value. Anyway, the set is mostly designed as a display/collector's piece, so any extra features that it may bring go mostly towards enhancing those aspects instead of the play value.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 9

Let's now take a look at the value for the money charts:

Model MSRP Number of Pieces Price Per Piece (Retail)
7181 - TIE Interceptor $ 99.99 703 $ 0.14
10175 - Vader's TIE Advanced $ 99.99 1,212 $ 0.08
10174 - Imperial AT-ST $ 79.99 1,068 $ 0.07

So, based on the chart above, the Imperial AT-ST is the cheapest UCS set among those of similar style and size when it comes to price per piece based on retail. This is actually quite telling, especially considering the fact that the AT-ST is one of the smallest sets of the entire series, and that is something that usually comes with a higher price per piece. In this case, the Imperial AT-ST was priced significantly lower than most of the other UCS sets, with a retail price of only around $ 80. Compared to the TIE Interceptor, an even smaller set, the AT-ST looks as an extremely good value for the money, but it is very important to remember that the TIE Interceptor was one of the two, if not the first, sets to be released under that name, and as such it would seem somewhat logical that the price is higher than those that came after.

In relation to Vader's TIE Advanced, the price per piece seems to be much more consistent, and even though 10174 is the smaller of the two, it still manages to beat 10175 by $ 0.01 per piece. We will see later if the difference in price can be attributed to the weight of each set. For now, it is safe to say that the AT-ST was a very good bang for your buck, and considering the low MSRP, it continues to be on of the most affordable sets produced as part of the UCS.

Let's now evaluate the price per gram:

Model Price Per Gram (Retail)
 7181 - TIE Interceptor  $ 0.064
 10175 - Vader's TIE Advanced  $ 0.047
 10174 - Imperial AT-ST  $ 0.044

Taking into consideration the weight of the sets we arrive at the exact same conclusion. The TIE Interceptor is significantly more expensive than the other two, and once again the Imperial AT-ST manages to beat the other two and consolidate as the cheapest of the bunch. Price per unit of weight is sometimes considered one of the best metrics to measure real value of a LEGO set, as it gives you an idea of how much you are actually paying based on the size of the pieces. In this case, the Imperial AT-ST is the best choice based on both metrics (Price per piece and per gram), indicating that at retail it was definitely a great value for the money.

Before I finish this section, I do want to say that even at current prices (around $ 200) the case could be made for the purchase of this set, but that is something we will be getting into in the growth potential section. What is most important to note here is that you were getting one of the most popular ships of the entire series, recreated on high detail, for a very good price. It will be a long time until we see a UCS set with over 1,000 pieces at around this price. If ever.

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 10

The UCS line of the Star Wars theme is a completely different type of performer than the average SW set. Even though the numbers are included in the theme overall CAGR of around 9 %, this is one line that has seen great returns on every single set that has been released under it, with the exception of Obi Wan's starfighter that still sells pretty much for retail on eBay.

The UCS line caters mostly to AFOLs and Star Wars fan in general, since the sets are often priced high and offer highly detailed models mostly designed for displaying purposes. This can be considered a good thing since most of the time it is adults that really are willing and able to spend large amounts of money to get a ship or character they really like, or just to expand their current collection. It is often said on the forums that some of the ships released under the UCS brought back some adults from their dark ages back into LEGO or at least introduced them to the specific area of LEGO investing.

There is still a great amount of content that LEGO has never released under the UCS line, so we can expect this sub-theme to continue for the years to come, even more when considering that the new movies produced by Disney will be coming out in a couple of years, providing even more content and bringing new fans into the series.

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 8

This set was a LEGO exclusive and part of the Star Wars Ultimate Collector's Series, a couple of denominations that make it more exclusive than the average LEGO set. 

 Production run seems to have been around the two year average.

PACKAGING | Score: 7

The box of the set does not seem to have been particularly big, and it also did not have the typical UCS packaging some of the earlier sets of the series enjoyed.  This last aspect made it a little harder for the set to be identified as UCS to the casual fan.  The graphic is pretty cool and depicts the AT-ST where it was seen the most, Endor. 

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 9

Let's now evaluate the historical performance of the set and where it may be going from this point forward: (Data from Brickpicker)

Model Release Date MSRP CAGR Market Value (New) HPR*
 10175 - Vader's TIE  2006  $ 99.99  17.31 %  $ 345.27  245.30 %
10174 - Imperial AT-ST  2006  $ 79.99  13.12 %  $ 215.38  169.26 %

*HPR: Holding Period Return, assuming the set was purchased at retail on the day of released and sold today.

The Imperial AT-ST and Vader's TIE Advanced were both UCS sets released on the same year, so their performance is highly comparable. Even more, they both share similar number of pieces and retail price. It is pretty clear that even though both sets have performed very strongly over the years since they were retired, Vader's TIE holds the upper hand based on the numbers, with the AT-ST a couple of steps behind. The CAGR of the sets is very different, as is their Holding Period Return, with both statistics favoring the TIE by a wide margin. Even though I don't consider the TIE Advanced as popular as the AT-ST, it seems that has been the case so far in the secondary market.

This analysis is very telling, in my opinion. I really believe that the AT-ST set should be performing a lot closer to what the TIE has been demonstrating since retired, and in my opinion that means that there is the possibility to profit significantly from this set even at the present time (we will be analyzing the past trends shortly). The current market value of the set is around $ 215, a number that despite being high, it is still reasonable and not prohibitive for most LEGO investors. Even more, it is sometimes the case that an already retired set with a proven record of performance may end up being one of the best choices out there to invest your money, because while a currently available set may indeed prove popular in the secondary market, there is always the chance it won't. In the case of the AT-ST, the vehicle has already proven to be popular and selling very well on eBay and similar outlets, and as you will see in its current trends, it appears to be climbing very consistently in value. It was also retired fairly recently, so there is no real need to worry about possible re-releases as with some of the older UCS sets.

Let me now present you with the most recent growth trends of this set:

The Imperial AT-ST has seen steady growth over the past two years, almost doubling in value relative to the beginning of that two year period. What is interesting to note, however, is that the rise in value is not limited to the not so recent past, but also to the past year (39%) and the last six months (24%). Even taking a look at the value for the last month we saw a rise of around 2.4%, a number very positive for a set that has been retired for a while now. The trend for this set continues to be a positive one, and I believe that there still is plenty of room for growth.

For example, over the past six months the set has increased in value by 24%, so an average of around 4% per month. Assuming this trend slows down some to around 3% per month over the next 6 months, we should see the set sitting at around $ 255 by the time the holidays are upon us. What's more, I don't think the growht of this set will slow down too much, mainly because at some point investors and collectors will notice that the set is still a good value for the money even at secondary market prices, and that may push demand once again for this set resulting in a more rapid increase in price. But even making conservative estimates like we did above, the AT-ST can still provide the LEGO investor with some very nice returns without as much risk as some of the currently available sets.

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 8

As most UCS sets, the Imperial AT-ST is a very good display model. As it happens in the movie, the vehicle is mostly grey, so its color will certainly not be the most appealing feature of the set. The most impressive factor is, of course, the high level of detail LEGO managed to include in this 1,000 piece set.

This model will probably not be the centerpiece of your UCS collection, mostly due to its relatively small size, but it is a great addition and will definitely stand out from most other LEGO sets out there. 

Note: this is one of the few UCS sets that don't include a stand, as the model stands on its own two legs.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 8

The AT-ST may not be one of the most impressive models in the Ultimate Collector's Series, but still it is a very solid choice both for investing and collecting. At this point in time, both of these type of persons will benefit from the relatively low prices of the set in the secondary markey, but I expect this to stop being the case by the end of this year. I would recommend anyone considering purchasing the set to do so now before prices start getting more in line with some of the older UCS sets. Acting quickly can even guarantee some nice post-EOL profits to those willing to take a chance.


  1   2   3   4   5   6   Next Page