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It's Not Too Late: The Case for Investing in the UCS Super Star Destroyer

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More often than not, the main question LEGO investors are trying to answer is “When is this set retiring?”. As we all know, once a set is retired is when it really has the potential to start growing in value, so it is not surprising that the EOL question is as common as it is in the forums. However, focusing entirely on currently available sets may be causing investors to miss on a potentially lucrative market: sets that have already been retired for quite some time.

It is not the first time I write about this, and I know some of other members like fellow Mod Grolim used to bring up quite often in the earlier years of Brickpicker, but taking a look at my last article pushed me to write about a set that I see as a potential money maker even at its current market value. Before getting into that though, let’s take a look at some of the arguments in favor of investing in retired sets.

  • Removes the uncertainty of retirement date and, in some cases, performance. Investing in retired sets allows you to reap the benefits of growth as soon as you acquire a set, removing the need to park your money waiting for a set to go EOL.

  • Most of the already retired exclusives that are performing great are way more scarce than any of the newer exclusives will be once retired. It is pretty clear that the LEGO investing market has seen an influx of buyer over the past couple years, prompting LEGO to produce more and more of the popular sets and keeping them around longer; the older sets were not as massively produced or hoarded.

Of course, there are also a couple of arguments against this practice, and it would not be responsible of me to simply omit them. The ones that come to mind are:

  • Risk of remakes. We have seen the two sides of the coin related to this point, as the remake of the UCS X-Wing failed to completely depress the prices of the older version but the new Winter Village Toy shop completely destroyed 10199. Acquiring an already retired set increases the likelihood that investors will be holding a set at the time a remake is announced.

  • High amounts of capital are usually required. While practically anyone can invest on sets that are currently available, it becomes harder when you are targeting sets that are worth upwards of $500.

Also, it is important to mention that this article assumes readers are Buy and Hold type of investors. Flipping and selling other sets in the short term can more than likely generate the same or more returns by moving sets quicker.

The case for investing in the UCS Super Star Destroyer

Some of you may remember the good old times when we saw the Super Star Destroyer selling for $319 on Amazon. Clearly, those days are over, but that does not mean that it is too late to put some money into this impressive set with the idea of making some good money in a couple of years.

Why do I even bring this up? Well, just take a look at the following chart showcasing the performance of some of the UCS sets in the past two years1:

 fefe.PNG 

1Actual values for December 2013 and 2015. 2014 Data is just an interpolation.

Clearly, the performance of these sets has been outstanding over the past couple of years, and some of them were already extremely expensive back in December, 2013. We are talking about an average return of close to 93% in just 2 years over an average price of $750! (90% if we do a weighted average).

Even more impressive, most of the sets shown in the graph above have been retired for more than 5 years at this point. Seeing these levels of growth over just two years indicates how solid most of the UCS models are in the long term.

The UCS Super Star Destroyer is already selling for almost $1,000 based on the latest Brickpicker data. As mentioned before, investing in these expensive sets requires a certain amount of capital and a moderately high risk tolerance, but looking at how similarly valued sets have performed in the 2 years we have data for, it is a strategy with high reward potential.

Capture.PNG

Back when the SSD was available for retail it already sold for $400 most of the time, making it one of those sets that are somewhat more difficult to hoard for most investors, reducing supply in the secondary market. Besides this, the set is probably one of the most impressive in both size and detail LEGO has ever released, and one that we are more than likely won’t be re-released for quite some time.  LEGO has so many other sets to re-release before we ever see another SSD in stores (Imperial Star Destroyer, Millennium Falcon, Snowspeeder, etc.).

Honestly, I see this set with the potential to reach $2,000 in a few years, much like its older sibling the Imperial Star Destroyer. This is only an opinion, but I figured I would bring the topic up for discussion and let each investors make up their own mind about it.

Thanks for reading!

 


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I took this view when buying a used Ssd in the secondary market.  Even at a Buy In of £500 there is still profit on the table.  Ok it won't hit the heights of a bnisb version.  But at least i got to build one without it losing value and should still make a profit when the time comes to move it on. 

I use the same logic for most older ucs purchases. I'll never touch a 10179 or 10030 as they've already topped out.

I missed it on red 5 at retail but bought a few at £250 buy in as i believe in the longer term value. I still try to invest in current ucs if i can get at a decent discount but i still won't rule out the older sets.  

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This might be the last set to join the 2k club for many years, but first it has to pass the 1k mark on a regular basis. Definitely a risk to drop 1k on one but sometimes they can be snagged for less. Whether it proves to be a better investment than the current crop of exclusives is a different question.

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6 minutes ago, yang said:

Dangerous approach......

Shhhh! We need people to feel comfortable they can make their money back if they pay more than RRP or the market will collapse. Ponzi rules.

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1 minute ago, dcdfan said:

I'd rather have one of these than 4 AoH...

Or an infiinite number of Speedorz fire bikes!

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I agree folks should divest their Lego investment portfolio. Kinda like retirement investments.  Buying new and used retired sets can be a comparable strategy to adding bonds and low-risk stocks to your 401k.  Investment yields might not be as high a buying sets prior to retirement but risk is less plus less storage space is required during set ownership.

Investors should setup requirements that must be met prior to investing in post-retirement sets (new or used). Mine are...
   1) should be a good deal compared to current secondary market price
   2) needs to be a popular set / part of a popular theme
   3) the set has a slim chance at being refreshed during my ownership.

I began buying used and new retired sets 3 years ago when I wanted to fund my "build a great retired set, flip and buy another great set to build" strategy.

  • It all started with a 10185 UCS Vader Tie Advanced that was purchasd for $95 and sold 4 months later for $250.  
  • Then flipped a couple of Indiana Jones and Batman 1 sets.  
  • After that, I rolled my profits into a $550 used 10181 Eiffel Tower that sold for $800 6 months later.  
  • Then I managed to score a $1,425 used in box 10179 UCS MF when it was selling for. $1,900.  
  • After that I flipped a $750 10196 a Grand Carousel and sold it 1 year later for. $1,450.  The 10179 hasn't been flipped yet but I should be able to clear $2,500 in less than 2 years of ownership.

I have done the same with new (NISB) sets since 2013.

  •  In mid-2013, I purchased a 10 lot of new The Zombies sets for. $1050.  I just sold the 8th one for over $210.  All sales have been for over $200.  
  • Also picked up 2 new 10221 SSDs for $500 each and as you mentioned, they are selling for almost $1,000 now.  
  • Another good one was buying a new in opened box Emerald Night for $260 and it's nearing $400 two years later.
  • Not all purchases have been without loss though.  I purchased two new Winter Toy Shops two years ago for $300 total and won't be getting my money back.

With the proper strategy and some luck, @Fcbarcelona101 (and @ed_mack 's) strategy of buying retired sets can be a low risk / medium reward strategy.

 

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I guess you are betting that positive appreciation will outweigh the risk of a remake/refresh within the same period.

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10 minutes ago, jaisonline said:

Folks just need to setup requirements that must be met prior to investing in post-retirement sets. Mine are 1) should be a good deal compared to current secondary market price, 2) needs to be a popular set / part of a popular theme and 3) the set has a slim chance at being refreshed during my ownership.

This!  Great advice/strategy tips for anyone considering investing in post-retirement sets.  
Something I've looked at quite a few times now and each time i re-visit it i end up kicking myself for not pulling the trigger last time i looked.
One thing I'd add to be wary of when pursuing this approach is looking at what makes the set popular.  Sets where its the minigifs that are driving the returns are ones where I'd be hesitant to buy in the aftermarket.  Remakes and fakes are just too easy on those.  Even though no ones talking about sets driven by minifigures thought I'd just point that out :)

The thing I'd be wary on with the SSD is how long till TLG release a TFA SD.  Ok, couldn't be anywhere near as epic but it will give some people an alternative option and whilst it wont cause prices to tumble I think it will cause any future increases to slow.

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40 minutes ago, Fenix_2k1 said:

I took this view when buying a used Ssd in the secondary market.  Even at a Buy In of £500 there is still profit on the table.  Ok it won't hit the heights of a bnisb version.  But at least i got to build one without it losing value and should still make a profit when the time comes to move it on. 

I use the same logic for most older ucs purchases. I'll never touch a 10179 or 10030 as they've already topped out.

I missed it on red 5 at retail but bought a few at £250 buy in as i believe in the longer term value. I still try to invest in current ucs if i can get at a decent discount but i still won't rule out the older sets.  

That's all this is, a way to get people to think outside of the box and see if what you and I have done could work for them.

 

35 minutes ago, yang said:

Dangerous approach......

I prefer "risky". Unless you put all of your savings into one retired set I don't see how it can be dangerous.

 

23 minutes ago, jaisonline said:

I agree folks should divest their Lego investment portfolio. Kinda like retirement investments.  Buying new and used retired sets can be a comparable strategy to adding bonds and low-risk stocks to your 401k.  Investment yields might not be as high a buying sets prior to retirement but risk is less plus less storage space is required during set ownership.

Investors should setup requirements that must be met prior to investing in post-retirement sets (new or used). Mine are...
   1) should be a good deal compared to current secondary market price
   2) needs to be a popular set / part of a popular theme
   3) the set has a slim chance at being refreshed during my ownership.

I began buying used and new retired sets 3 years ago when I wanted to fund my "build a great retired set, flip and buy another great set to build" strategy.

  • It all started with a 10185 UCS Vader Tie Advanced that was purchasd for $95 and sold 4 months later for $250.  
  • Then flipped a couple of Indiana Jones and Batman 1 sets.  
  • After that, I rolled my profits into a $550 used 10181 Eiffel Tower that sold for $800 6 months later.  
  • Then I managed to score a $1,425 used in box 10179 UCS MF when it was selling for. $1,900.  
  • After that I flipped a $750 10196 a Grand Carousel and sold it 1 year later for. $1,450.  The 10179 hasn't been flipped yet but I should be able to clear $2,500 in less than 2 years of ownership.

I have done the same with new (NISB) sets since 2013.

  •  In mid-2013, I purchased a 10 lot of new The Zombies sets for. $1050.  I just sold the 8th one for over $210.  All sales have been for over $200.  
  • Also picked up 2 new 10221 SSDs for $500 each and as you mentioned, they are selling for almost $1,000 now.  
  • Another good one was buying a new in opened box Emerald Night for $260 and it's nearing $400 two years later.
  • Not all purchases have been without loss though.  I purchased two new Winter Toy Shops two years ago for $300 total and won't be getting my money back.

With the proper strategy and some luck, @Fcbarcelona101 (and @ed_mack 's) strategy of buying retired sets can be a low risk / medium reward strategy.

 

 

Yep, same here, as you know. I think we had a conversation about those Zombies sets when you originally got them too, pretty good move. 

People are just too focused on "Not paying above retail", when the really focus should be what could make them money in the future regardless of how much it is right now.

 

21 minutes ago, Val-E said:

I guess you are betting that positive appreciation will outweigh the risk of a remake/refresh within the same period.

 

That's key. I just don't think they will remake this particular set in 1-2 years, so we should be safe. There's risk in everything of course.

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1 hour ago, Fcbarcelona101 said:

That's key. I just don't think they will remake this particular set in 1-2 years, so we should be safe. There's risk in everything of course.

We will have a better idea regarding remakes by end of year this year, after TLG reveals the new grand carousel, new Death Star, etc.

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43 minutes ago, yang said:

We will have a better idea regarding remakes by end of year this year, after TLG reveals the new grand carousel, new Death Star, etc.

 

2 hours ago, Val-E said:

I guess you are betting that positive appreciation will outweigh the risk of a remake/refresh within the same period.

10221 will be refresh free for a while. i think we'll see a refreshed Vader Tie, refreshed MF, some Cloud City set, another HOTH UCS :) and an A-Wing before a TFS SSD. 

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This is a valid strategy, albeit quite risky. If you're dropping 1k on a set and it gets a remake that only costs 400€ you are in some serious s-

I've only done this with Red 5 when it was just retired (paid 255€) and some smaller sets that had unique minifigs. Check out 9488-1 on bricklink. I don't see them remaking this set anytime soon and it has really cool minifigs.

SSD is not likely to get a remake anytime soon, but I wouldn't bet on sets like the Y-Wing or MF.

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8 hours ago, jaisonline said:

 

10221 will be refresh free for a while. i think we'll see a refreshed Vader Tie, refreshed MF, some Cloud City set, another HOTH UCS :) and an A-Wing before a TFS SSD. 

Dunno, they are leaving money on the table if they don´t. Perhaps a playset will be the next one. As others say, we´ll learn more with DS, Snowspeeder, Beetle, Carousel, Xmas train - that´s already a log list of pending remakes.

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1 hour ago, Val-E said:

Dunno, they are leaving money on the table if they don´t. Perhaps a playset will be the next one. As others say, we´ll learn more with DS, Snowspeeder, Beetle, Carousel, Xmas train - that´s already a log list of pending remakes.

I think they've got ISD and MF big scale UCS to remake first.  The SSD shouldn't be due a remake for 3-4 Years minimum

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24 minutes ago, Fenix_2k1 said:

I think they've got ISD and MF big scale UCS to remake first.  The SSD shouldn't be due a remake for 3-4 Years minimum

That´s the point, though. In the current market climate, what % of chance would you give SSD to double in price during the same time span?

Assume a buy-in of 1k today and 10% in fees plus maybe some contribution to shipping costs, taxes etc and there is not much meat left on the bone if it peaks at 1.5k USD when the remake comes out.

On the other hand, if it plays a part in the new movie and demand is reignited, the 1k listings will soon disappear and then the upward spiral will recommence. Hard one to call.

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The growth over the last few years on the UCS class of sets is not likely to continue.

While I agree that the SSD set has room to grow - to extend that general reasoning to other retired UCS sets is misleading.

The graph (especially since most have been retired for more than 5 years) is based on circumstances that will not be happening again - ever.

Investing in LEGO can be a safe, reliable, and profitable investing option - Adding unnecessary risk for what would likely be a very limited gain (and even a potential loss) seems foolish.

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I guess the question is where you see this one topping out.  If you think it's going to stagnate at 2000 to 2500, that will give you about a 800 to 900 profit.  If you see it going higher, then you might do better.  The advantage of buying just one set, holding it to get 900 vs buying 20 smaller sets, holding them for 6 months to a year and doubling your money is the amount of effort it takes to sell them and then ship them.  But, many other star wars sets will easily double your money in a year or so.  And, i'm sure there will be quite a few more this year that will retire and double your cash within a year to two.  The real question is whether the SSD will go higher than 2000 so that you can more than double your money.

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And some what on topic and good timing @Fcbarcelona101 for the article is also loading up on SDCC type exclusives.  Reading the "fruitcakes on ebay" thread sounds like there's one buyer hovering up the space slug sets listed on eBay (well 4 so far).
Personally I think this is a more risky strategy as you have no idea what the true demand/opinion is for this set (vs a retired exclusive where they'll be countless opinions on the net). Thinking about it given the size of the slug there's no real way TLG can make a set out of it that wouldn't just be a scaled up version of this so i think a "remake" is unlikely.

There is a limited supply but I just cant believe the demand given how "easy" it seems to have been getting one (in terms of calling up your Lego store and getting an invite) and how the people who have opened these don't seem to be too enamored... and these are the people who went out of their way to get it!

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Not a Star Wars set, but I picked up a BNIB Black Pearl about a year ago for $275. I had actually intended to keep this set for personal use, but I just had an offer for $480 + shipping. Not a bad return for a 1 year hold.

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As this set can be bricklinked for about 500 USD with minimal effort (doing it right now), so the peak price us probably about three to four times that for a new one or double for a used one.

For me, the current price is already too much, hence the BLing.

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