Ratings and Reviews for 10174-1: Imperial AT-ST

10174-1: Imperial AT-ST

Overall Score

8.00
View Price Guide Review this Set
  • First Impression Does the set "WOW" you? 9.00
  • Unique Parts/Minifigures Unique parts? Increase resale? 5.00
  • Playability/Build Experience Is this a "FUN" set to build? 7.00
  • Value for money (NEW) "Bang for your buck"? 9.00
  • Theme Popularity Will theme help with resale? 10
  • Exclusivity Unique production aspects? 8.00
  • Packaging Does this set stand out? 5.00
  • Growth Potential Possibility of revenue growth? 10
  • Display Attributes Does this set stand out? 8.00
  • Conclusion Your final analysis.. 9.00
Review from: Grolim
Reviewed on: Jul 3, 2013
Avatar for: Grolim
Join Date: 12/10/2012
# of Reviews: 41

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FIRST IMPRESSION | Score: 9

The 10174 AT-ST set was released in 2006 as part of the Ultimate Collectors Series (UCS) subtheme of Star Wars.  This “Chicken Walker” vehicle made its appearance mainly in Return of the Jedi the third film in the Star Wars original trilogy.

It’s a relatively well known vehicle.  Star Wars fans will instantly recognise it and even some non-fans will know where it’s from if not what it is called.  Being a UCS set you expect a model with ‘Wow Factor”, this set certainly has it, but perhaps not quite as much as some of its UCS peers.  It is a little smaller than some of those, and its monotone grey color doesn’t help it stand out.  Mine looks great sitting on a speaker with its UCS name plaque in front.

The set makes a good first impression on those who come to see it.  It may not be the largest or most detailed Star Wars model around, but it does have a decent amount of wow factor and rather than just being a generic ship, it has a bit of an X-factor by being a walking typ fighting vehicle.

UNIQUE PARTS | Score: 5

The UCS line of sets do not generally include minifigures.  Apart from a couple of ship pilots we didn’t really have any until the 2007 release of the 10179 Millennium, where 5 minifigures were included and the ship itself was at supposed minifigure scale.  It would have been a nice touch to have a pilot or perhaps even a Chewbacca minifigure included, but this was back 7 years ago and those kind of additions were not thought of at the time by Lego.  The UCS line was seen as a display subtheme for the serious Star Wars collector.

In terms of parts there are very few rare parts in this set and no unique parts that I could find.  This makes the set a prime candidate for being “Bricklinked” from individual parts to make a whole set.  This really should only effect the market for used sets though you would logically expect that to flow though a small amount to the new sets as potential buyers opt to not purchase a sealed one and make there own from parts.

There are a no printed pieces in the set either.  There is the standard UCS sticker template for making the information plaque and this is worth around $20 on the parts market.

The rest of the set comprises of light and dark bluish grey pieces.  There are a few black parts that make up the internal structure but that’s about it.  There may have been some initial value here for parts collectors who wanted a lot of grey given the very good value for money which I’ll outline in a section below.

PLAYABILITY/BUILD EXPERIENCE | Score: 7

Building the set from the 1068 pieces takes a few hours if you are taking your time.  There are some interesting techniques as you build the legs then attach the “head”.  There is a good mix of technic framing elements and traditional plates that are combined to give the proper angles required on the model.  There is that familiar feeling of accomplishment when done as you look upon your work, something that Lego builders will know all about in ways that are difficult to describe.

UCS models are not generally designed for playability, as you would expect they tend to put display qualities over play features.  There is perhaps some opportunity with this set over and above the average UCS set.  The head does rotate and you can move the legs to different positions to simulate walking or slightly different poses.  The hatch on top can be opened to reveal the interior, but the interior lacks any real detail, again emphasising that this is a display model first and foremost.

VALUE FOR MONEY | Score: 9

Retailing at $80 new this set is well under the accepted benchmark of $0.10 per piece at $0.075.  On first glance that represents excellent value for money.  However, price per piece is often not a fair reflector of the production costs and subsequent pricing of a set.  If there are many large pieces present it can make the set look costly on a per piece basis but the amount of raw Lego material used can be very high, Therefore the true value for money of the retail price may be better analysed by comparing the price based on weight.  Lets compare the 10174 AT-ST to its UCS peers:

As you can see from the above comparisons, the AT-ST set is ranked 1st out of 20 against all the other Star Wars UCS sets produced in terms of price per piece – top of the pile, a great result!  Then when comparing on weight and using price per gram, our AT-ST set slips a few ranks lower to be 5th out of 20.  Still a good result.  There are quite a few smaller parts included, especially to make up the legs of the model.  Many other UCS models feature large panel parts on the ship type models and that isn’t really part of the design here so we can see why on price per gram the set has slipped a little.

Will parting out the set pieces as well as the 3 minifigures provide any profit?  Lets examine that: 

Part (new cond) Price estimate
Sticker sheet $20.00
Box $42.42
Instructions $43.09
Other Parts $177.54
Total $283.05

So the total of $283.05 is more than 20% above the current market price for a new set of $234.17 on Brickpicker.  This would suggest that there is potentially a profit to be made in buying a new set and parting it out.  One caution here though is that the box itself has only had a couple of sales averaging $42.42 and may be an unreliable price.  Even accounting for that it still looks like there could be some profits in parting out.  Though you would have to take into account possible selling fees and the opportunity cost of the time involved to do so – which would most likely deteriorate that margin.  If this is an option you’d like to explore more then I’d suggest reading this excellent article on Brickpicker posted by Strytlr that can be found here: http://www.brickpicker.com/index.php/blog/view/lego_investing_complete_sets_vs_parting_out   

 

THEME POPULARITY | Score: 10

The Star Wars theme is very high in terms of popularity I think only City outperforms it in sheer numbers sold.  Also the Ultimate Collectors Series subtheme is probably the most sought after for collectors.  It really does provide the definition of good theme value.  All retired sets apart 10215 Obi-Wan’s Jedi Starfighter have achieved positive rates of return.  Only the 10186 General Grievous has CAGRs below 10%.  In fact the straight average of the retired UCS CAGRs is 14.88%, a great rate of return.  Even more impressive, if you were to buy just 1 of each of the 16 retired UCS sets and hold them for 1 year, assuming the CAGR remains the same, you would average a return of 16.99% (this is sometimes referred to as the “Weighted Average CAGR”).  Take out the poor performing 10215 and that jumps to a 17.66% return on investment.  Not many invest vehicles can offer that sort of premium return.

All the numbers can get a little overwhelming, but suffice to say that Star Wars UCS models are considered the cream of the investment crop for very good reasons.

Star Wars Lego appeals to two main collector groups.  Star Wars fans and Lego fans.  Sets from this theme have the ability to pull in non-traditional Lego buyers who collect Star Wars toys or memorabilia.  There are a lot of them out there; Star Wars would have to be one of the most collectable franchises around the world.  Therefore this drives demand for Star Wars Lego beyond the normal Lego fan.  UCS sets are at the front of the queue for both collector groups.

EXCLUSIVITY | Score: 8

UCS sets often begin as exclusive to Lego stores or a specific retailer, before then being released to a wider group of retailers.  Because of the large physical size of the set and the associated higher price tag it is often not carried by all stores.  Internationally the UCS sets are often a little harder to find.  This means the set does have an amount of exclusivity that drives value. 

PACKAGING | Score: 5

The box depicts the AT-ST standing on the right upon a background image of the forest moon Endor which is where we see the AT-ST fo the most part during the movies.  There are two inset pictures on the bottom left, both quite large, that show the “play” features of the model.  Not a very inspiring box for a UCS model and the inclusion of the play feature pictures is puzzling given its lack of real playability in favour of display attributes.

As previously mentioned there have only been a couple of sales for the box recently averaging $42.  There are no current listings for it either new or used at time of writing, so the value could vary a lot from that stated average.  Never the less, it seems there is inherent value in the box itself and this has to be a factor when considering the value of a new sealed set.  Choosing one with a well preserved box condition may make a difference to your final profitability here. 

GROWTH POTENTIAL | Score: 10

This set has had a CAGR of 16.58% over the 7 years since its release, which ranks it 6th out of the 16 retired UCS sets we have.  That is an excellent growth rate over a sustained period.  This represents a return of 193% on initial investment (ROI) if you bought one at retail (or 2.9 times retail price if you prefer that measure).  Not many Lego sets have sustained that level of price growth for such a period after the end of its retail life.  If you bought the set at a discount, lets conservatively say 20% off, then that would mean an ROI of 266% (3.7 times the price you paid for it).  No doubt this set would have seen such discounts and perhaps more over its retail life.  In fact, as an exercise, lets look at a realistic best case scenario; 2 year shelf life at retail and a 25% off (it could even have been more perhaps?) sale at the end of its life to clear stock.  So you buy it at that time and your CAGR would be 31.3%, ROI of 290% (3.9 times retail).  A very good result indeed. 

Looking a little closer you can see that the return over the last 12 months has actually been 49.42%.  A fantastic growth over just one year for a set that has been retired for some time now.  That is on a sales volume of 193 new units sold on Ebay US so it’s not a small volume issue playing with the results here.  In fact there was an 8.72% increase in the last month alone.  What we are seeing here is a renewed price spike for this set.  It’s something  haven’t really seen in any other Lego set to date and I really want to know how long it will continue for.  Lets take this opportunity to investigate a bit further by graphing the price of the set over time using the data points we have available:

The graph shows just what an extraordinary second wind this set has got over the last 2 years.  I’ve taken the liberty of assuming a 25% price drop in the first year to simulate the discounting that was most likely on offer at the time.  The line then climbs steadily over time to reach our first “real” data point that we have available from the 2 years ago time period.  The price then climbs steeply over the next two years to reach our current market price.  Care must be taken when interpreting this trend line as the time period scale on the x-axis is not linear i.e. the gap from 2010 to 2011 represents 1 years growth whereas the gap from 1 month ago to current is growth for just one month.  To try and illustrate this better I’ve taken the liberty of annualising the percentage changes from one period to the next e.g. the growth of 8.72% for the last one month gets multiplied by 12 and the gap from 6 months ago to 1 month ago gets divided by 5 (because of the 5 month gap) and then multiplied by 12.  In this next graph I’ve plotted the results:

The recent growth spike is very evident in the above picture.  Incredible stuff for a set that has been retired this long.  It’s almost been a “sleeper” type set for a long time and now people may have awaken to this relatively cheap older UCS set as more and more become interested in Lego investing.  My thoughts are that this growth will continue in the short term and slow as the set reaches 4 to 5 times its retail price before then entering a more normal average to low long term growth phase.

I’d also like to examine the volatility of prices on Ebay US using recently added data information on the sets Brickpicker page.  Below is a simple “Stock Chart” that shows the minimum, average, and maximum prices that the set sold for in new condition in the past two months.

We only have two months to work with so there isn’t much in the way of time trends to analyse yet, but our ability to do so will improve as we move forward gathering more of this data.  What we do see is a fairly wide gap of sales points for April and the narrowing for May.  Condition of new sets can vary somewhat and will account for some of that price variation as a mint set will probably sell for more than a set with plenty of wear or damage to a box.  Though the information does tell us that buyers are willing to pay up to perhaps $290 or more for a good set.  If you had a set to sell you could price it accordingly along the scale depending on your sets condition and possibly other factors such as your Ebay reputation.  The graph also represents the 8.72% growth that was mentioned above by an increase in the mean (Current Market Price) from $215.67 to $231.56.

From the evidence presented I think it is safe to conclude that this set looks like continuing growth in the short to medium term and I would recommend obtaining one or more if you can get it for the market price or below in good condition.  It make be a riskier investment than some others out there as the growth spurt may disappear as fast as it appeared, but I don’t think losing value is something to be worried about at all as this set has plenty of room to move upwards.

 

DISPLAY QUALITY | Score: 8

This set looks great on display as you would expect from any UCS set.  It is a very good replica of a well known vehicle from the Star Wars universe.  The traditional UCS information plaque sits in front and it’s always one of my favourite things about the UCS themed sets.  It’s design means it stands tall upon a shelf and doesn’t require a space as large as most 1000 plus piece sets would usually.

The monotone grey color scheme does mean it can get a little lost on a shelf if crowded with other grey vehicles or ships, so make sure to give it a prominent position.  Mine looks great sitting atop one of my floorstanding speakers next to the TV.  It’s perhaps not one of the flashiest looking Lego models and is definitely not able to compete on size with some of its UCS peers.  But it does look good as a stand alone homage to a quirky fun vehicle from movie series plenty love.

CONCLUSION & FINAL ANALYSIS | Score: 9

I have enjoyed taking a looking at this set in detail and revisiting a set from my past that I have again come to value.  I took it out of storage and rebuilt it before this review and I instantly wanted to display it again.  How long it stays on display may be the question though as there are plenty of Lego sets competing for my display real estate.

From an investment standpoint there are some good points that have or should drive investment value:

  • Very good value for money at retail
  • Excellent display qualities
  • A fun and interesting build
  • Part of the coveted UCS subtheme
  • Very good price growth over a long term
  • A recent spike in demand and prices – a second wind

On the other side of the scale there are some negatives, though they seem minor.  Namely the smaller size and lack of a little detail compared to some UCS sets, and the monochromatic look.

On balance though I would conclude that the positives far outweigh any negatives and this set looks like a solid buy recommendation, even at current secondary market prices.  Catch this current wave of growth while you can!  Get an AT-ST STAT!