Wednesday, September 18, 2019

My thoughts on the LEGO UCS Star Destroyer 75252


Today marked the public release of the second LEGO Ultimate Collector Series Imperial Star Destroyer, the hollow, but beautiful 4,784 piece behemoth.  If you have any interest in it whatsoever, you've surely already been soaked in news announcements and "analyses" in addition to full-fledged (and fully positive) reviews since LEGO shipped pallets of them out for free to generate praise.  As much as I used to wish I had the original mega-model from 2002, I won't be buying the new one.  At $700 USD, it costs too much and more importantly, at over 2 feet wide and 3.5 feet long, it's too dang big.  I do rather like it, though...


Critics who didn't get the set for free complain about four things:
  1. It's just a big gray triangle
  2. No interior whatsoever
  3. Only two (2) minifigures, not even particularly interesting or memorable ones.
  4. It costs $700 USD (and more in most markets)
I personally love the big gray triangle-ness of it.  It's fantastically accurate.  Having seen the old one in person I didn't expect significant visual improvement to be possible, but I was far off the mark.  The gaps are tighter, proportions are superior, and surface textures are refined & advanced.  They only thing I dislike about the appearance is the design of the main engine nozzles, which strike me as being just too thick around the edges.  I do appreciate the detail of the 3 vanes per on this I-class model.


I'm also fine, if not delighted with the lack of any attempt at a detailed interior space.  My 10221 Super Star Destroyer has a comically out-of-scale bridge scene area and I've only looked at it once since I built the thing.  The acclaimed UCS Millennium Falcon is lauded for its significant interior investment because it can be (and is) well-integrated in a minifig-scaled model.  For a model depicted at such a small scale as the ISD, I prefer that the designer dedicate the parts budget to maximizing the size and outward-facing detail, and that's exactly what was done with 75252.

The new one is not only explicitly promised to be stronger for long-term display than its progenitor (thankfully), it's fully optimized to deliver the biggest visual bang for your part count buck.  There's a strong central spine, limited Technic framing, and then a brick- & plate-based skin that's only as thick as it needs to be to cover everything up.  It's a truly unique design for LEGO, and it works well.

The two minifigs?  Well, yeah, they're a disappointment, unless you again make a comparison to the 2002 model that came with zero, just like the rest of the first half-decade worth of LEGO's special edition, collector-focused Star Wars sets.  I'm fine with no figures, myself, but one unnamed & forgettable "Imperial Officer" and one overly detailed, yet canonically generic "Imperial Crew Member" is not the right complement if you're going to include minifigs at all.  This is supposed to be the Devastator; it's depicted chasing or capturing the Tantive-IV.  It should at least include an awesome version of Vader.

As for the price, let me first establish some context.  Adjusted for inflation, the original 39" long 10030 UCS ISD would be $385 USD [corrected 9/24/2019, originally quoted wrongly], with a price/part ratio of $0.09.  The new 43" long ship is $700 with a $0.15 p/p.  I think those numbers paint a clear picture.  I've seen people make wild comparisons with the Falcon or try to say that LEGO prices its sets by weight of the plastic (which is utterly illogical and demonstrably false).  Some say the new set's overpriced because it only has 2 figures, or no "usable" interior (that nobody would use).  No, just no.  Compare apples to apples, UCS ISD to UCS ISD, adjusting for inflation as must be done, and any objective argument is brought to a nice, neat conclusion.  

Subjectively, I'd be more than willing to allow this set $500 or even $550 for its over 4,700 pieces, including plenty of larger plates and an unusual number of large Technic panels for the core.  There are no set-exclusive or complex molds, no expensive one-off prints other than maybe the two gray minifigs, no electronic components.  At $600 USD this set would be sporting a significant prestige premium.  At $700 it's not a purchase you can logically justify.  You'll buy it simply if you look at it and really want it, and you're rich (by the standards of most of the world).

Beautiful set.  Do want.  Will not get.

25 comments:

  1. it's not often I agree with you 100% but your analysis is perfect. I did go to look at it in the store and it's just massive in person. yes, i'd like one but it's just too big to display properly

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  2. Jang, how come you didn't get a free set to review when you have more subscribers than those who did get ones?

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    1. He’s made it clear many times he refuses to accept free product (with very few exceptions) from LEGO or other companies for review purposes. The integrity of his content is of upmost importance to him and he feels incorrect assumptions could be made if he reviewed sets he received for free. I feel this sets him apart and I have so much respect for him because of it.

      Here is his official stance:

      Q: Do you review free products given to you by manufacturers like LEGO?
      A: No. I do not accept free products to review. I buy all of my sets to review at full price from public sources as a normal consumer. On the rarest occasion that I do accept a free product these days, I do not use it for any video or post with "review" in the title and I am very explicit about the circumstances under which it was acquired.

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    2. "Jang, how come you didn't get a free set to review when you have more subscribers than those who did get ones?"
      my thoughts exactly.... jang's is the only review i truly cared about because he offers such honest criticism... but RIP that review ever coming out... im sure lego denied jang receiving one though cause they knew hed tear them apart for the price to part ratio

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    3. Jang only reviews sets he purchased himself, he doesn't take handouts

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    4. My guess is they either offered and he refused (he doesn't review gifts), or they've gotten used to the idea he doesn't accept these sort of thing and have stopped offering.

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    5. Jang has addressed this before, goes back to when he did RC Cars and would get them for free to review and started to have issues with the companies expecting him give favourable reviews instead of honest because he got the set for free. So he buys all the things he reviews outright himself so does not feel pressure or in some way beholden to a company to give anything other then an honest review. Hope that helps answers your question.

      It's a commendable quality that probably hurts him in recent years with these larger D2C sets being sent out ahead of there official announcement for reviews to quickly follow from fan sites and channels. Personally wouldn't mind if he did start taking the free sets to review as I usually don't have the sets before he reviews them anyway and as long as he didn't feel any pressure from Lego to do anything different in reviews to he does now, then I'd say go for it, save yourself some money on large sets that could go to either doing more smaller ones or expanding New Jang City.

      Either way, love the reviews, the humour in them and the honesty that they have. Often find they line up with how I feel about the sets too and have lead to me buying some sets I wasn't planning to (like the friends boat he just reviewed, helped it was about 40% off though lol!) and pass on things I was considering. Just find them very well made, very informative and the setting fantastic to showcase the sets and give them scale with the hand waving around!

      Keep up the good work Jang, fingers crossed that whatever Youtube is doing won't affect Lego channels and keep enjoying sharing your passion for Lego with the rest of us AFOL's out in the world :)

      Cheers from Australia!

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    6. One word: integrity

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  3. Not worth it. I'll just admire it and let someone else pay that price.

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  4. Exactly. $500-$600 would've been fine. And people bringing up the weight to price ratio is absurd.

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    1. I'm NOT starting an argument, but please educate me as to why you and JANG (and probably others) don't think price-to-weight ratio is relevant. Really, I'd like to know because it makes more sense to me than price-per-part data.

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    2. Because you're not buying a mass of plastic. You're buying an interlocking brick set designed by a master builder. Especially USC sets, which also introduce a scarcity/prestige component to the price.

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    3. That argument makes sense from a consumer perspective as you are buying LEGO to build but it doesn’t make sense value/ pricing of the set. Plastic is plastic and the molds have little to no impact on production, what does is the amount of plastic injected into the mold itself. The only argument that makes sense piece wise is the abundance of unique or specially designed pieces for the sets. Price per Piece should be taken extremely lightly and only serve as a simple guide for what your getting loosely. I respect Jang and all of his opinions but people like him pushing the ancient price per piece law are really screwing with peoples minds in how they view LEGO sets. Rather than people judge LEGO on it’s size, accuracy and overall footprint of said set, they rather just look at the price per piece and judge a set solely on it which is a flawed way of thinking. There’s many factors that go into a LEGO sets beside price per piece.

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    4. Ok. I'll buy that. Thank you for explaining that view to me without making me feel like an idiot.

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    5. To Sanges, in terms of production costs, price of the raw ABS that goes into each set is miniscule. In a quick search as a consumer, not even having access to true high-volume industrial pricing, the price of ABS looked to be around $1/lb. in moderate bulk and I'm sure with the outrageous volumes LEGO deals with, they get a significantly better deal than that. Looking at it from a completely different angle, the smaller the pieces, the *more* they weigh for a given volume of completed set; a 2x4 brick weighs less than 8x 1x1 bricks, and a 1x1 brick weighs less than 3x 1x1 plates. In other words you can make things simultaneously smaller and heavier with LEGO, or the opposite, larger and lighter. Finally, value the end consumer derives from a set has nothing to do with its weight. We care about its size, its play features & fun, its level of detail & displayability, its construction, and its durability.

      To anon Sep. 21, I don't push a price to piece "law" and quite to the contrary, use it as a baseline guide just as you yourself suggested, and with great frequency I go to great lengths defend seemingly high P/P numbers or blast seemingly low ones when the actual, as I always say, "price to volume of stuff" ratio is quite different. I even do so *in this very article you're commenting on.* Perhaps you're confusing me with someone else entirely.

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  5. What I can't get over is the patchwork look of the top surface. Feels an uncomfortable mixture of studs and plate smooth surfaces. Methinks had it been all studs, it would look MUCH nicer. I have the Super Star Destroyer and that is just a dream to look at. (I use the "hidden" bridge as a money hide-e-hole.:)

    btw: have you thought of doing a gofundme project, where we can all give you money to buy the set, and video your build and review - maybe giving only those who sponsor you the vid link. (though methinks this idea is totally not what you want your youtube channel to do.)

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  6. ps. Had they given us an updated Super Star Destroyer, methinks I'da been queuing overnight to get me one - I could live off bacon and rice for a month or so to recoup the cost. :D

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  7. IMO I think it is good that you don't buy or review. Lets face it: This set is for rich people and investors. Thats it.

    The real lego fans want to see reviews of all the sets from $5 upward, not a review of a complete over priced set.

    This set puts lego in the realm of Apple with their golden "edition" watches as catering to big whales. Its sickening.

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  8. That last paragraph. Mic drop. Great review Jang. I'm bummed that we won't be getting your video review on this set, but i respect your stance.

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  9. Nice analysis. But flabbergasted by people asking why you did not get a free copy. From other reviewers who indulge in the whine when they don't get their free stuff, I find it refreshing and more reliable to turn to you for a non-influenced opinion.

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  10. Not sure how you got $308 for inflation value, if you use https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/ then it comes to $385 which, based on your logic, would put the equivalent price for the current model at $595. The mechanical engineering design behind the new model is clearly superior, as is the packing, and MOST importantly (in my opinion) the packaged build makes for a MUCH more enjoyable building experience compared to the way I built the original 10179 and 10189 sets. Both were a royal pain (especially 10189 due to the all-white construction and extreme number of 1X1 and 1X2 pieces).

    I guess that makes me one of the suckers who's willing to pay an extra $100 for a significantly improved model and building experience. Of course, thanks to all the complainers it probably would have been wise to wait for a year or so and hope for a discount like what happened with Assault on Hoth.

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  11. One more thing to consider, perhaps Lego decided to stop letting scalpers have a portion of their profits. Given that the going rate of a clearly inferior MISB 10030 is around $1,000 would it not be reasonable to assume that there are plenty of people out there willing to spend $300 less than that on an upgraded version?

    In other words, it's possible we have the outrageously overpriced (and unfortunately flourishing) secondary market to thank for influencing Lego's pricing scheme.

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  12. Thank you a lot for your thoughts Jang, I wanted to add this to my collecion but it's simply not reasonable at that price point.



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  13. Just based on Jangs opinions alone, I plan to buy this set. I do agree with the price to part anaylsis...it doesn't make sense to judge a set based on weight...one could always go buy yourself a big bag of only 1x1 plates....or equally a bag of asorted...more useful parts. I do admire your stance on reviewing purchased product...that I think delivers the most honest unbiased review.... Jang I also like your playmobil reviews too btw..love'em.

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  14. I can't believe your only issue with the set is price. Lego is supposed to be a toy company, and therefore, build things with a playable aspect. The lack of minifigs and interior space are the biggest issues, not price. Your comment, "no 'usable' interior (that nobody would use)," assumes no one that would buy this set ever reproduced. Because kids (and some adults) do play with things. If you make a product and put a premium on the price, but include significant play features, it could be worth it. The price isn't just in raw materials, something your review seems to miss. The set is a complete miss because it's no different than buying a plastic model and gluing it together, except you don't use glue here. It's not a LEGO product in my opinion and that's why I won't buy it, not because it's $700. Same reason I didn't buy the SSD, or the Death Star 2, not any of LEGO's other dust collectors.

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