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Also, with the numbers I think LEGO did the switch of the 31 and 13 on purpose. I have noticed them do similar things with set numbers. Check out 8989 and 8998. :-)
As for the10213 vs 10231, I'm pretty sure 10213 will be the rarer set, and will fetch more on the secondary market in due time. The design flaw is really not that significant, and there are only a few extra pieces included in the new one.
Additionally, from an 'improved design' standpoint, both the X-Wing and the Snowspeeder could stand to be improved upon. Whereas I would say the UCS Falcon (at least insofar as the exterior is concerned) is a near-perfect model, I wouldn't even begin to say the same of the X-Wing and the Snowspeeder, which are really showing their age at this point.
And given that they seem to do about one UCS ship a year... I wouldn't hold my breath on the Falcon re-release.
I hope they do more of the UCS sets from the original three movies, which are all iconic compared to the ships in the newer movies.
I can only assume/hope the B-Wing coming out later this year will be of the 1400+ piece variety and will be awesome.
They'll do a 5000+ piece set again one of these days. Here's to hoping it's a giant 2+ft tall AT-AT, done to fit in relative scale with the UCS AT-ST.
But it isn't clear to me at all that LEGO Group would benefit overall from such a move. If they began removing the incentive for collectors/investors who purchase and store sets, then collectors/investors would likely reduce their purchasing activity. This would make it harder for LEGO to sell some of their products; they would lose the current market of willing buyers who will step in and consume the end of the inventory of a product that LEGO is phasing out.
There is a fine line that a company has to walk when dealing with a "collectable" product. It is to nobody's benefit if LEGO becomes the next Beanie Baby. The time to get out of collecting and run for the hills is when it becomes obvious to everyone involved that sets are being produced and bought *solely* for the purpose of getting resold at a higher price down the line, with it being clear to all participants that these aren't LEGO that anyone (even AFOL) are going to build and enjoy.
The truly ridiculous hypothetical we could see is when MISB LEGO sets are graded by some independent third-party for the quality of the box, and then sealed in a protective clear plastic overbox with a certificate of grading attached, intended only to be displayed in their clear overboxes for all time.
Buyers have their games they play too. I sold a rare guitar on eBay around 2003 to a guy from Germany. There was another guy who actually lives close by that contacted me via eBay and requested that I not sell the guitar to the winner because "all our classic guitars are getting exported to other countries." He told me I should tell the winner that I dropped the guitar and it broke, and he would purchase it for his highest bid. I told him that if he wanted it, he should have bid more and to quit bothering me. Needless to say, a very happy gentleman in Germany emailed me to express his satisfaction with his purchase.
The point is that there is always somebody looking for an angle and you have to be careful buying and selling.
There is also the consumer mindset regarding eBay - many people assume that the best price for anything is always on eBay. So if you go to eBay and see the train is selling for $150, that must by definition be the best price.
Brickset's list of UCS sets is about as near to definitive as you can get, IMHO....
http://www.brickset.com/browse/themes/?theme=Star Wars&subtheme=Ultimate Collector Series
Take 7189 Mill Village Raid for example. It has been sold out of the US [email protected] website since November 28th, but there is still at least one retailer selling them for RRP. If you know where to look you can easily buy them, and you aren't going to see any real price activity on the secondary market until the retail channels are depleted.
As a counter-example look at 10193 Medieval Market Village. It is sold out at Amazon.com but in-stock at basically every other major retailer (including [email protected]). There has been a lot of speculation that it is about to be discontinued. But can you really tell? Maybe Amazon is about to get another 30,000 units in stock?
Somewhere in the bowels of the LEGO Group a decision gets made to stop making a set. They never announce that this has officially happened, but slowly the retail channel starts drying up. When you see retailers go out of stock and not get restocked for a period of time you have to think that maybe it is going go out-of-stock everywhere.
Because so much toy buying happens around Christmas time, that is a time of year when inventories can get drawn down very quickly. It leads to many sets apparently being discontinued between November and January, when in fact production may have ended months before.
Death Star is pretty cool, but not UCS... That being said, I personally consider it to be in the same line, since it IS huge!!! :)
10188 seems like it should be UCS. It certainly is large enough. It has a 5 digit 10xxx set number. But the box doesn't have any UCS printing and it doesn't have information placard you'd expect in a UCS set.
But then last year, TLG came out with the attached promotional poster labeling the depicted sets as "Ultimate LEGO Star Wars sets", and 10188 is the centerpiece. Of course, this doesn't say "Ultimate Collector Series"... but "ultimate" is certainly a peculiar reference.
More peculiarities abound with the poster though: 7181 Tie-Interceptor, 7191 X-Wing, and 7194 Yoda aren't on the poster, and those certainly are UCS. 10178 AT-AT and 10123 Cloud City are, though. Also 10131 Tie Collection is on the poster, but not 7283 "Ultimate Space Battle", which was in the same vein as the former. Of course there's always the argument that this isn't meant to be a definitive list, but ... then why even bother?
If it's a model meant to be displayed, it's UCS. If it's meant to be played with to any degree, it's not. If it has a display plaque, it's UCS. If it doesn't, it's not.
The Darth Maul bust and Yoda don't have plaques though. However, those 2 models both come with a totally unique 1x2 lego logo stamped brick incorporated into the model, so I'm going to count those as their 'plaques'. :)
A while back, someone posted 4 National Geographic youtube video segments in one of the Brickset threads regarding the lego's operation. It's a beautiful thing to watch, and is more or less automated. It appeared that TLG can make any given set with the push of a button (so to speak). Sometimes things don't go too well and TLG makes a bad batch such as the Fire Brigade 39R1. In this case, pieces were missing due to some combination of errors in their programs and their quality control. The point is there are different batches run on different sets to meet the global demand.
You should watch the 4 National Geographic youtube videos below to see how Lego works...
Time to change the thread title again? :)
My point about LEGO is that there are no official published EOL dates by the LEGO Group. Products just suddenly (or slowly) start going out of stock everywhere.
Lego does take a different approach...at least with the end-customers. Their approach is more of the ..."SURPRISE"...approach.
But I completely understand and agree with your comment.
"Would it help or hurt the Lego market in general, or TLG directly, to simply publish EOL data?"
Any value? The store employee felt the bags and seemed to know what he was doing, he put a post-it-note on there to say what they were...
Are these worth anything? Keep? Open and give to my kids? Trade?