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  • LEGO Star Wars Investing Opinion: Always in Motion Is the Future


    The universe of LEGO Star Wars is changing. Some of the changes may be too subtle to notice at first, but it began more than a year ago. Before we look into the changes taking place now, and influencing the future, let us take a look at the way things have always been.

    Historically the LEGO licensing of the Star Wars brand has always been consistent. Star Wars had a three-year cycle between movies starting with The Phantom Menace in 1999, the year that LEGO acquired the rights. There were theatrical releases of Star Wars films in 2002, 2005, and 2008. Three years was sufficient for LEGO to create new sets and visit new ideas. Enough time passed to fully explore the themes presented in each film, and supplement them with Original Trilogy sets. In 2008, The Clone Wars presented an opportunity for an ongoing series to promote and stimulate sales of sets. The continued Media support gave the creators time to revisit and update older sets. The continued use of the same, or similar vehicles, allowed The LEGO Group to refine older designs, while simultaneously experimenting with a few new concepts.

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    TLG created sets based on The Old Republic and The Yoda Chronicles. Those sets that performed poorly post retirement. Star Wars: Rebels received a limited number of sets. Presumably LEGO learned from the lower popularity of Intellectual Properties that were not live action Star Wars films. Each time that Lucasfilm expanded the brand, LEGO was there. (Look for the Freebuilder sets on clearance at stores near you within the next year)

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    There was no pressing for LEGO to completely turn over all of the available products. They could phase out the previous film slowly to prepare for the next one. Original Trilogy sets could bridge the gap between the last of the previous film and the first of the new.

    That's most of LEGO Star Wars history.  Before we proceed, let's take one last detour to the not-too-distant past. December 2014, the Millennium Falcon 7965 and X-Wing 9493 retired after nice, long runs: the TIE Fighter 9492 had also retired only a few months prior. The resellers were prepared for steady gains, because collectors that missed out were scrambling to find something that would fill a collection. It should have been at least 2 years before the next version of these iconic, and frequently remade, ships hit stores again. June 2015 rolled around and a very similar Millennium Falcon was leaked. The steady growth stalled and then fell. A new X-Wing and TIE Fighter also accompanied the Falcon, and the values stalled (momentarily) for their recently departed relatives. In December 2015, a bunch of Star Wars sets that had only been out for a year unexpectedly retired instead of reaching the average 18 month life span.

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    In my opinion, the one year life cycle will not be an anomaly, it will become the new normal. We live in a universe where Disney is going to be releasing one Star Wars movie a year for the foreseeable future. For the first time in LEGO history, a new film will demand new product every Christmas. Long time collectors will want the new ships and characters, and new collectors will want whatever is most current. Turnover will be accelerated. I foresee the last of the Rebels packaged sets retiring in June 2016.

    Going forward, I believe that we'll see predominately Sequel Trilogy and Anthology sets. Refreshes will come, but they will be aligned with the film releases. Rogue One should facilitate the return of classic Original Trilogy sets. So, people who went deep on AT-ATs should be prepared for a quick return of this popular vehicle, and plan accordingly. The new version will probably have Stormtroopers and/or Scouts instead of Snowtroopers.

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    We are less likely to see the return of Clone Wars or Prequel Trilogy sets. Some PT will be released, but they will be fewer and further apart. The fans that were kids in the PT era will have aged and become AFOLs in this new universe. They may be on the lookout for neo-classic PT sets. I'd almost expect some movement on these in the coming years. People who snapped up discounted Jedi Interceptors, Grievous Wheelbikes and other "Hero" vehicles with main characters should see good returns. The 75019 AT-TE and the 75021 Republic Gunship which featured prominently in both the Clone Wars and two of the Prequel Trilogy, are likely to gain demand.

    brickpicker_set_75019-1_6.jpg.54c7670313brickpicker_set_75021-1_2.jpg.d971207622

    LEGO has also shown they are willing to release variations within a year; with the release of both 75102 Poe's X-Wing and 75149 Sacking of Jakku, we will have 2 concurrent X-Wings on shelves. (Although my force sense says that the Sacking of Jakku will be a store exclusive.) Some people are even speculating about a third X-Wing, a classic one, for the launch of Rogue One. Although I think that's less likely to happen in 2016.

    brickpicker_set_75102-1_2.jpg.0fb0f1851c

    In summary, my intuition tells me that we will see faster turnover (to keep up with the new films), fewer sets from movies that do not feature events or vehicles in the new films, and potentially faster remakes of popular ships specifically because they will be featured in an upcoming films. We're also less likely to see Prequel Trilogy sets in heavy rotation as Disney moves forward with OT era and ST era sets.

    What does this mean for the future? "Difficult to see . . . Always in Motion is the future." We will need to look at new factors. Look for the one offs. If there is an important character that doesn't make it out of the movie alive, any set with that character will become a key later on. If there is a vehicle that is used prominently in a single film, it will become desireable later. Rey's Speeder will do nicely post retirement. It is well made, represents the vehicle nicely and is unlikely to be used in another film. It's also a cheap set that many will have ignored. It will be revisited eventually, because LEGO is never completely done with remakes, but it will be years, unlike the TIE Fighter, X-Wing, Millennium Falcon, AT-AT, etc. Will the old Han in 75105 be enough to lift that set up when another Millennium Falcon will (almost) definitely be out in 18 months? It's possible. . .

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    Looking at recently retired, or in production Prequel Trilogy sets the Jedi Interceptors (75038, 75135) and Grievous Wheel Bike (75040) are likely to be steady gainers. The Naboo Fighter (75092) and Sith Infiltrator (75096) will probably fly under the radar for a little while before picking up steam when fans realize that they missed their last chance at retail. Did anyone notice that the AAT 75080 quietly retired? Scene builders will want some of these, and won't be able to get them from retail. The Republic Gunship and AT-TE (75019 and 75021) will probably be highly sought in the near future.

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    Only time will tell if my predictions are right. I feel strongly that the old model has been destroyed by the (Disney) Empire. For better or worse, we should anticipate changes. In the past, OT sets were the safest bets, but with the anthology films coming, we'll see more and more of those. In addition, We'll likely see some movement on a few sleeping dogs. Imagine a Han Solo film or even one about Boba Fett without a hint of Jabba the Hutt. Unlikely I think. Now, imagine those disappointing Jabba's Palace and Sail Barge sets when TLG makes a smaller "Encounter with Jabba" set.

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    Really, it is better to anticipate change than to be caught unaware and have to catch up. If nothing else, it's all food for thought.

    One addendum, premium sets like the UCS sets will always have their place and demand. That is unless The LEGO Group continues to dilute the brand with inferior playsets or future remakes.

    May the bricks be with you . . . always.

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    Great read!

    I was just telling my family a few days ago "My gut tells me Rey's speeder is going to do well after EOL", its got some nice greebling to it, and is an iconic ship in the new series.  19.99$ is a steal.  Only the future will tell.  Thanks for the write up Oken.

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    Good read. I have a bunch of these sets that I bought with the intention of building but never got around to it, so I think they might do well given a bit more time. I generally only invest in Star Wars, a few modulars and some Architecture sets as I haven't really been doing this for long enough to assess what else is a good hold. Of those things Star Wars as least seems like a safe bet to at least get your money back. I mean even the maligned Jabba sets still sell at RRP, so if you bought at a good discount (which I always try to do) then you should be fine. Though it does seem like playsets in general do badly for SW over and above the bigger ships and sets.

    Nice to see you think the AAT might do well. I have a bunch of them that I snagged at deep discount just after retirement. It's a nice little set.

    Edited by jackanape

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    Great article.

    The "what sets would the kids of today like tomorrow" approach is very interesting and well thought.

    Also good heads-up about the Disney strategy of siding Prequel sets in favor of OT and TFA sets. The duds of today could be the winners of tomorrow and the actual winners (like AT-AT) could be stomp on by remakes sooner than expected.

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    4 hours ago, RGriebling said:

    Great read!

    I was just telling my family a few days ago "My gut tells me Rey's speeder is going to do well after EOL", its got some nice greebling to it, and is an iconic ship in the new series.  19.99$ is a steal.  Only the future will tell.  Thanks for the write up Oken.

    I think the smaller sets, especially based off the movies are good bets.  Sometimes the smaller sets are much better than the larger sets.  For example, if you spent 200.00 on red 5, or that same money on buying 10 jedi interceptors, etc when they were discounted down to around 17.00 during walmart clearance, you would right now be almost doubling your money after fees with less than a 2 month hold.  It may take a little bit for Rey's speeder bike to disappear, but I suspect the same will happen.  I'd buy a lot more of those than MF's.

    Even prequel sets are starting to show excellent promise now.  The gunships, like stated here are looking very good.  I've snagged those for 85.00 over the last year, and now they are up over 230.00 on the lower end.  I can see those hitting 350 to 400 if they don't make a new one in the next few years.  The gunship is just loaded with great minifigs and is just a solid ship design.  If you reread the gunship thread back during the middle of last year, some of us speculated these would hit 200, and they've gone well past that, quicker than some would have guessed.

    Honestly though, I don't think sets like the AAT, Darth Maul's Sith Infiltrator, the MTT, or half the other Episode 1 sets will be made again in a long time.  I think we will see OT sets rehashed to death though.  And with each new Anthology film that comes out, i'm sure we will get a mix of OT designs along with new ships just to keep a little freshness to keep star wars collectors shilling out the dough..
     

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    Regarding the AT-TE (75019) ... It kind of has already been remade, in the form of the upcoming Captain Rex's AT-TE (75157).

    75019-1.jpg

    vs

    75157-1.jpg

    Not a true remake, but rather an evolved version... Including of course a nice price-increase... ;) 

     

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    6 minutes ago, Haay said:

    Regarding the AT-TE (75019) ... It kind of has already been remade, in the form of the upcoming Captain Rex's AT-TE (75157).

    Not a true remake, but rather an evolved version... Including of course a nice price-increase... ;) 

     

    Yeah, I kind of glossed over that due to it being a hybridization of rules. I think it will fall under the category of other IPs that don't do so well as the live action stuff. The minifigs are a mishmash of Clone Wars and Rebels and it has the prominent Rebels logo. Treat it like the Malevolence or Pre Viszla's fighter.

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    6 minutes ago, thoroakenfelder said:

    Yeah, I kind of glossed over that due to it being a hybridization of rules. I think it will fall under the category of other IPs that don't do so well as the live action stuff. The minifigs are a mishmash of Clone Wars and Rebels and it has the prominent Rebels logo. Treat it like the Malevolence or Pre Viszla's fighter.

    Agree with you. At first when I only knew the title of "Captain Rex's AT-TE" I was curious whether it would be an improved remake of the 75019. But then I saw the box, the Rebels logo, and the picture of the heavily modified AT-TE and I lost interest in it right away. Only interested in the movie sets for myself.

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    Great article!  It's an exciting time for Star Wars fans. The only worry I have is about the new films. I hope the constant releases don't dilute the franchise like what's happening with all the mediocre forgettable Marvel films. If you release too many too often it can become white noise, or it can just be bland like the prequels.

    I hope we see some unusually exciting, potentially iconic ships, locations and characters for the new films. Could create a Lego Star Wars collector paradise. 

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    1 minute ago, Steve Brule said:

    Great article!  It's an exciting time for Star Wars fans. The only worry I have is about the new films. I hope the constant releases don't dilute the franchise like what's happening with all the mediocre forgettable Marvel films. If you release too many too often it can become white noise, or it can just be bland like the prequels.

    I hope we see some unusually exciting, potentially iconic ships, locations and characters for the new films. Could create a Lego Star Wars collector paradise. 

    I'm afraid that more the former than the latter. As much as I love Star Wars, including Episode VII and the prequels, the lack of effort to make bankable designs for TFA show that they were more interested in recapturing lapsed fans than in promoting anything truly new and interesting. George Lucas filled the PT with new designs and bankable variations of themes. His eye was towards merchandising. They need a production designer that can step up and demand new ships and ground vehicles.

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    1 minute ago, Deanfjr said:

    I'd like to see a re-release of an AT-ST it has been many years since we had a good one 

    I may be wrong, I feel like one may show up within the year.

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    8 minutes ago, thoroakenfelder said:

    I may be wrong, I feel like one may show up within the year.

    I hope you are right, i would buy a few to pair with my EV

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    1 hour ago, thoroakenfelder said:

    I'm afraid that more the former than the latter. As much as I love Star Wars, including Episode VII and the prequels, the lack of effort to make bankable designs for TFA show that they were more interested in recapturing lapsed fans than in promoting anything truly new and interesting. George Lucas filled the PT with new designs and bankable variations of themes. His eye was towards merchandising. They need a production designer that can step up and demand new ships and ground vehicles.

    Very good point.  The ship designs for TFA were so very forgettable to me unlike the prequels.  The only thing they had going for them was nostalgia with the MF, X-wings, and TIE Fighters.  One thing I did like was the evolution of the TIE Fighter to have a pilot and a gunner in the cockpit.

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    35 minutes ago, dcdfan said:

    IIRC, I thought there was a rumor of one....

    There has been a rumor on Eurobricks going around that an AT-ST will be one of the Rogue One sets released this fall.

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    I agree with this on the shorter retail life of these sets. I would add that this doesn't appear to be solely restricted to Star Wars though. Many superhero sets that came out last year are already gone, and Jurassic World will apparently be completely gone after less than a year. I've had to buy a few sets for personal use from various themes at manageable markups as they have disappeared completely from stores. On balance this is a good trend for us as it limits supply and increases demand.

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    I'd be very surprised if Lego released an At-at so soon after retiring the last one. Yes the cycles are quicker now but they still need variations on a theme. I think it's more likely at-ats, mf's and other classic vehicles will be on a 3 year cycle, so I think the sweet spot for selling will be 1 yr after retirement. The x-wing is kind of a special case given that two different versions appeared in the new film, which justifies having two out, after all that's the same strategy that other SW toy makers have taken. 

    I do think a new at-st is overdue though and there are other big OT sets that are due a revamp. Given that Rogue one is supposedly about stealing the plans for the Death Star could we be in line for a new £100-150 Tantive IV for instance? And what impact would this have on the prices of the two older models?

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    Some footage of Rogue One trailer & images were leaked this week which show scenes of a different style AT-AT tan/beige in color with a door on the side.Lego's seemingly dumb move of retiring 75054 just as they release a UCS Hoth set could be because they have plans to release this tan version as part of the Rogue One sets.Rumor is a trailer of some sort will be shown during the previews of Superman V Batman.In the snippet of footage leaked there is a watermark across the top "Rogue1__BvS" so it seems believable.

    Also some great pics of black Stormtroopers/Deathtroopers

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1accCVkaRk

     

    Rogue 1 AT-AT.jpg

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    I don't know if I'm blind, but I really am not seeing any 'winners' in the current crop of releases, other than maybe Ezra's speeder. 

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