I don’t know how else to put it. I’ve been sitting on images of 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer images for a couple of days ahead of the official reveal date of September 5th, allowing me more time to marinate on the news than most people. I’ve tried to write down my thoughts a couple of times and I finally put something together that sounded cohesive. So here it is.
The most offensive thing about this set is the cost. The $700-dollar price tag is just… gross. It’s $100 less than the 75192 Millennium Falcon UCS set, and comes with 2,700 less pieces. You’re still getting a ton of parts for the price you pay, but the value suffers when comparing just the price-per-piece ratio to the UCS Falcon (about 15 cents per piece on the ISD compared to 11 cents per piece on the Falcon). The Falcon is more expensive and I don’t feel nearly the same level of off-puttingness about its price than I do about the ISD. I actually like the Falcon and the set that represents it for reasons outlined below, and liking something tends to afford it more leeway than not liking it. I don’t like the ISD in the same way; I doubt many people do.
Other than the actual value for the money, there’s also the perceived value too. The Falcon is a much more visually interesting ship. I can see what I’m getting for $800: the details, the size, the minifigs, the interior, all of it adds up. And it makes sense. It resolves in my head as, “Yeah I can see why it’s $800”. And plus the Falcon just looks awesome! That’s what I’m paying for, this little bit of awesomeness that you can build with your own two hands and proudly display in your home, this iconic ship that saw adventures on Tatooine, Bespin, and beyond. She helped save Luke and the Rebel Base in ANH. She evaded Imperial forces while flying through an asteroid field in Empire. She helped take down the fully functional second Death Star in Return. She’s just as much of a hero in the original trilogy than any of the named characters.
The ISD on the other hand, is the exact opposite. It’s imposing, lifeless, and threatening. Its biggest impression came from the opening scene in ANH when it flies in from overhead. There’s nothing awesome about it other than its size. It’s just not the same. Also, I don’t see what I’m paying for in the ISD. It looks like a giant wedge, and that’s part of the problem. When I first saw it, I’m being honest when I say that my first thought was, it looks like the old one. I showed it to a friend and, I kid you not, he said the exact same thing. This should tell you how good the original one was.
After you get past the initial half second and really look at the model, yes, you can distinguish how much bigger it is but does that make it better? No, it doesn’t. Considering the source material, there really isn’t a whole lot of detail that I could see that would warrant it being so large because at this scale the amount of you detail you gain doesn’t make the model better or visually appealing than something that could have come in at half the size and cost. You can view the Falcon up close and from far away and your eyes can pick out details here and there and see things from one perspective that isn’t obvious with the other. I’d argue that that doesn’t happen with the new ISD. You’re just blown away by the size and that’s it; beyond that it doesn’t have much going for it.
The perceived value suffers more when you compare the number of minifigs you get with this set against what you get with the Falcon (6). Other $200 UCS sets come with two figures. So clearly adding minifigs to this set adds no additional value. I mean, if LEGO is including minifigs with UCS sets as an extra incentive to buy it, they absolutely failed miserably here. There’s only two very generic minifigs: Imperial Officer and Imperial Crewmember. Um, yay? Nobody’s going to be pining over getting these guys. Yes they may be unique with different prints but I’m pretty sure collectors will be okay not getting these guys. No Vader? No Stormtroopers? Those would have been obvious inclusions based on the source material.
And why didn’t they include the Devastator name on the outside of the box? It’s on the UCS label, why not put it in at the end of the official set name: 75252 Imperial Star Destroyer Devastator? For a set lacking panache, this simple detail would have elevated its appeal little.
It honestly seems like the decision behind re-making this set was driven the original’s secondary market value. I have no proof of this of course and I doubt LEGO would even admit to it if were true. Just a gut feeling. Because, again, this set didn’t need to be made at this scale at this cost. The high price will put this set out of reach for most fans; it would appeal to those who have deep pockets that were considering the obtaining the original from the secondary market. My theory is that LEGO saw 10030’s value, and wanted a piece of that action. I’ve seen other toy companies re-release popular, retired toys every now and then, but not charging more than double the original cost, no matter how many more accessories they pile on.
One could argue that a UCS ISD should have been made since the first one was discontinued so long ago. I wouldn’t entirely disagree with that statement but there are so many other UCS sets that have yet to be made why spend the time and effort on a re-release/remake? Also, why does it have to be so big and expensive? There is no reason why this ship had to be done at this scale and at this price point. NOBODY who wanted a chance at owning a UCS ISD wanted it to be $700 with two generic minifigs.
I don’t think I would have had such a reaction if the set was smaller and priced at $500. At $300, proportionately scaled of course, I think I would have been praising it. But $700? Nah. Super easy pass. Things like this make re-affirms my decision to stop collecting LEGO.