Made some progress on the 10179! The Landing gear is quite a bit taller then Han:
Under the port forward frame superstructure:
Top View with the engine and forward port frame in place:
Higher resolution photos are at Flicker:http://www.flickr.com/photos/27495078@N08/sets/72157632136506578/
I reached a stopping point since several of the hinge bricks had a vertical instead of a horizontal tab for attaching the forward frame section. The seller shipped the wrong pieces since they look very similar.
I am not sure on the total cost since I had ordered parts for another model at the same time and had some from another kit. I would guess in the $5-600 range. The most expensive part was the radar dish. I found it on eBay for $30. Sellers on BrickLink have listed them at $90 now. I just didn't want to go with the plain dish even though it was a dollar. Used sets are going for ~1500 and new for 2000+! The longer you wait the more expensive it will get.
Other part substitutions:
The full grey levers are also expensive and hard to find in bulk. I bought levers with a black base and grey arm and ones with a grey base and black arm. I just swapped the bases to get the full grey lever for a fraction of the cost.
Check out this post on Rebel Scum Forum:http://forum.rebelscum.com/t1055998-17/
There is a link to an Excel spreadsheet that has recommended substitutions posted by user btoTHeg "Rob". I used it to keep track of my orders and additional substitutions. He listed the number of black technic pieces you need that are not visible from the outside.
Also check out Lego's "Pick A Brick" purchasing site for parts that are over 20 cents on Brick Link to see if they are more economical. You may have better luck calling Lego Direct. http://shop.lego.com/en-US/Pick-A-Brick-ByTheme
If you have never used BrickLink before, I would start with a smaller project. I am sure I could have reduced costs now that I know how to use it better. If you are making a bulk order, consider selecting "By Shop" and then "Show All Items this store has on my Wanted List (All Items)". That way you can get a partial order of difficult to find parts across multiple orders to save shipping costs. Of course you have to manually update the spreadsheet and your BrickLink wish list. You can spend a lot of time trying to find the best combination of price vs. shipping costs.
Hope this helps! It is a blast putting it together!
Boomers: Wow - All black looks wild!