theJudeAbides wrote:My question is why they never used it again? It just seems insanely inefficient.
So, this probably isn't the case here, but there IS a limitation on elements that are deemed sufficiently "Star Wars". For example, Lego can't use a Stormtrooper helmet in a Creator set (unless maybe they gave some licensing money to Lucasfilm), because the element itself is too reminiscent of Star Wars, and is effectively considered a licensed part. Some things like lightsaber handles are generic enough to pass into other themes, and that's probably the case here-- but there's an off-chance that it falls into that category.
The bigger issue as I see it is that the X-Wing canopy is REALLY specific, considering those funky angles at the base. If Lego used it in a set, it would most likely look a little out of place. It's not a good generic canopy, even though as a model builder, you can adjust your models to use it, and make it look good. Anyway, I expect that nobody in their model department is interested in using it in their sets.
But, now we get to efficiency. Even if model designers ARE interested in using the element, they're only allowed to use a certain amount of "budgeted" parts in a given theme and/or production run. If they use the part only for ONE set, then that particular set's budget is reduced in order to 'afford' using that element. They can reduce this 'cost' if multiple sets use the same piece-- if (say) it showed up in a Star Wars set and a Space Police set, then the cost would be divided between the two, making each set cheaper to produce. And again, there's where the specificity of the element comes into play-- you might think it's perfect for YOUR set, but convincing other model designers that they should similarly use the same piece in a set that they're currently making is difficult. So you either USE the piece and have less budget for your set, or you use a slightly more generic canopy (that other sets are using), and have a bigger budget to make your set better.
There are other speculations you could make as well-- but they're purely shots in the dark. Like the fact that Lego changed its molding process in 2006 or so to inject color into the elements during the molding process rather than using pre-colored ABS pellets-- and perhaps this mold doesn't work as well with the new process. Or perhaps the mold was unreliable. I know both of my two X-Wing canopies were slightly warped when I got them so that the cockpit wouldn't close perfectly. It was a minute issue, but it could be that it was deemed acceptable for that set, but is generally too error-prone to be molded again. Could also be simply that no designer's even thought twice about using it ever again, since the canopy was so large-- it was probably designed about 11 years ago now (in "production" 9-10 years ago), and could easily have slipped off most designers' radars as a piece they'd consider using.
Anyway, I wouldn't hold my breath for seeing it again. And if we do see it again, it might not be in clear, either-- it could be in trans-green or something, which is probably even less useful to you as a modeler. My advice to you would be to be happy that they released it at all, rather than doing what they did with the UCS MF and UCS Y-wing, which was NOT to make a custom canopy.