Path to the Falcon: A History of the Marketing Behind LEGO's Largest and Most Expensive Set to Date
In the Fall of 2007 LEGO released what was at the time the most expensive and largest (in terms of piece count) LEGO set in history. The LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon (10179), the first UCS Millennium Falcon to ever be released by LEGO, was released and came with a record-breaking 5,197pieces along with a whopping retail price tag of $500 USD. I'm sure that at the time of release there were plenty of casual LEGO observers that thought anyone willing to fork over that much money on a LEGO set certainly had to be mad or, at the very least, wasteful with their money. The decade which has past since the release of the first LEGO UCS Millennium Falcon, however, has made I'm sure at least a few of those who initially scoffed at anyone willing to buy this set wishing they had not only bought one - but maybe a few.
After the release cycle for the first UCS Millennium Falcon had run it's course (the set was available through LEGO from October 2007 until May 2010), the set hit the secondary market and quickly and very dramatically increased in price. In fact, the set began selling through popular auction websites, such as eBay and Catawiki for thousands upon thousands of dollars. There's at least one instance where the set sold for well over $5,000 USD. That's a 900% increase over the original retail price in less than ten years. Stories of these absurd prices yielding successful auctions spread throughout both the LEGO fan community and the general public. The set rose to the status of legendary among the fan community and gave rise to the "LEGO Investor" among the general public. Suddenly, you started seeing YouTube videos and podcasts on how to make it rich by buying and selling LEGO. In fact, even well-known publications, such as Wired and USA Today, started running articles outlining the potential success of LEGO investing along with guidelines on how you too could strike it rich with bricks.
For the LEGO fan community, on the other hand, the set had a different impact. The UCS Millennium Falcon displayed that LEGO was willing to create and release very large and expensive sets marketed essentially toward their adult audience. It created the hope and the demand for ever more complicated and expensive LEGO builds. As the interest in larger and more detailed sets rose within the LEGO community so did the legendary status of the largest Star Wars set in history - the UCS Millennium Falcon. The Falcon became the set that every LEGO fan wished they had purchased, and this wish led to a high demand from the fan community for LEGO to rerelease the Falcon as an updated Ultimate Collector Series set.
Throughout the years since the original UCS Millennium Falcon was retired by LEGO in May of 2010, rumblings and rumors have run wild on sites like Reddit and LEGO fan sites like Brickset that LEGO was working on a new UCS Millennium Falcon. It was a safe bet each and every April Fools that a photoshopped "announcement" or "leak" hinting at a new Falcon would litter the LEGO fan community. It seemed that if you could group the LEGO fan community into one large room and ask them all "What would you like LEGO to do next?," the answer would have been a unanimous "Falcon!"
The first inkling that LEGO might actually be releasing a new Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon came in October of 2016 with the release of the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Death Star (75159). The box art for the Death Star set displays a busy Star Wars scene with Death Star torrents firing, an attacking Advanced TIE flying in from the left, and the Death Star set itself with all the many included minifgures placed throughout the set. The portion of the box for the UCS Death Star which started the rumors, yet again, to fly about a new UCS Falcon is located just behind the Advanced TIE and just above the Disney logo. In the bottom left-hand corner of the box is the silhouette of what is clearly the Millennium Falcon. That's all it took to send the LEGO fan community into high alert for a new UCS release of the Star Wars ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs. As it turns out, LEGO wasn't done using box art to tease their fans about a potential new Falcon.
On June 2, 2017 LEGO officially released a new Star Wars LEGO set for the Star Wars film The Force Awakens. The set is called Rathtar Escape (75180) and depicts a scene in The Force Awakens where the character Han Solo is caught between two evil space gangs (the Guavian Death Gang and Kanjiklub) from which Han has borrowed money and has yet to repay. While the two gangs threaten Han to repay his debts to them or else, Rey and Finn accidentally let loose vicious beasts known as Rathtars upon Han's freighter. Han, Chewbacca, BB-8, Rey, and Finn eventually escape the Rathtars and the space thugs by making a quick and timely get-away aboard the - you guessed it - Millennium Falcon. Thus, the box art for the LEGO Star Wars Rather Escape set featured, albeit very subtly off in the distance on the right-hand side of the box, the cockpit and just the "nose" portion of the Millennium Falcon.
What was particularly intriguing to fans concerning this subtle inclusion of the Falcon on the box art for Rathtar Escape was that it displayed a very detailed, brick built Millennium Falcon that no one had ever seen before. The small portion of the Falcon displayed on the box was not a Falcon that LEGO had previously released. It looked like something very detailed and…new. Things were starting to look very good that 2017 would finally be the year LEGO rereleased the Millennium Falcon. Finally, in early August of 2017 LEGO began teasing a new set in an uncharacteristically dramatic fashion.
Starting on August 1st, LEGO began teasing fans via social media about the details of an upcoming and apparently very large set. The first post included a picture of the Creator London Bus (10258) box displayed next to a much larger box draped in and hidden behind a white covering bearing the LEGO logo on the front. The post teased that a new set was coming and the size of the box for the set would be 4.86 times bigger than that of the fairly large box for the London Bus. Of course, this set the LEGO fan community a blaze with buzz of "is finally a new UCS Millennium Falcon coming?" comments, posts, blogs, etc. Whatever it was - something clearly very large was coming very soon from the LEGO Group.
The London Bus comes in a box that is over 20,000 cm³ but something BIGGER is coming... 4.86 times bigger, to be exact! -LEGO Group [August 15, 2017]
On August 8th, the LEGO Group followed up the box-size teaser with a new post teasing the size of the instruction booklet for yet-to-be-announced set. The post contained a picture of the instruction booklet for the recently-released Creator Carousel (10257) resting on top of a much larger spiral-bound book with a white cover bearing the LEGO logo. The post teased the size of the instruction booklet for the upcoming set, stating that the instruction booklet for the soon-to-be-announced set would be 2.56 times bigger than that of the substantially-sized booklet for the Carousel.
The instruction manual for the LEGO Carousel contains over 194 pages but something BIGGER is coming… 2.56 times bigger! -LEGO Group [August 8, 2017]
A week later on August 15th LEGO released what would be their first of two promotional videos for the build-up to the announcement of the UCS Millennium Falcon. The first was only 20 seconds long and revealed that the set would be LEGO Star Wars set. Of course, the Millennium Falcon rumors hit a fever pitch, as a result. The short video showed images of outer space with LEGO pieces suddenly flying in from off-screen and starting to connect. The LEGO pieces were beginning to build...something. At one point, you can see a BB-8 minifigure fly past the frame confirming at least one of the minifigures to be included in the set. The video ends with the release date for the set panning toward the screen in white font backed by a black background. Very dramatic. This was our first confirmation that the set would be released to the public on October 1st. There was still no confirmation as to whether or not the set would be made available at an earlier date to VIPs. That confirmation would not come until later when the official press release for the Falcon went public.
Get ready! LEGO Star Wars is assembling its biggest set yet! We just can't wait for October 1st! -LEGO Group [August 15, 2017]
Below is the video LEGO for their "Teaser 3" post:
Next, on August 22nd LEGO shared the most jaw-dropping detail regarding this new LEGO Star Wars set - the piece count. The largest LEGO set to ever be released currently is LEGO's Taj Mahal set which was released in 2008 and included an astounding 5,922 pieces. Well, in LEGO's "Teaser #4" LEGO revealed that the upcoming LEGO Star Wars set would be 1,619 pieces larger than the Taj Mahal, qualifying the new Star Wars set to be the largest LEGO set in history upon its release in early October.
The biggest LEGO set to date is the 5,922 piece Taj Mahal but, brace yourself! The newest LEGO Star Wars set is 1,619 pieces bigger! -LEGO Group [August 22, 2017]
Finally, as if the set did not already seem massive enough based upon all of LEGO's teasers, LEGO's fifth and final teaser for the next big release in the LEGO Star Wars theme was posted on August 29th and highlighted the sheer comical size of the box in which the new set would come. The post showed a picture of the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Death Star (75159) all neatly tucked inside a large LEGO retail shopping bag. Next to the neatly-tucked away Death Star set, however, was a gigantic box with the LEGO logo on the back and side with a large protruding cardboard handle at the top and two industrial-looking wheels on the bottom of the box. Apparently, the new LEGO Star Wars set was going to be so large that LEGO Store employees would need to apply wheels to the bottom of the box in order to allow those that purchase the new set a way to transfer the humungous set from the store to their car. It seems that in the LEGO community size does seemingly matter.
Now that the final teaser post had been released by LEGO, the LEGO fan community sat back with high anticipation eagerly awaiting the official press release from LEGO announcing exactly what the new set would be along with official high-resolution images of the set and additional set details. By the time the official announcement was close, the fan community was already 99% certain [in part due to online leaks] that the new set was, in fact, the much-desired updated UCS Falcon.
Still, nothing had been confirmed and the official press release from LEGO was tentatively scheduled for September 1, 2017. This was the date on which most fans expected the press released to be posted. Since September 1st also coincided with Disney's Star Wars The Last Jedi merchandise marketing extravaganza known as Force Friday II where all the new Star Wars merchandise for the upcoming Star Wars film The Last Jedi would be released, September 1st seemed like the best date for LEGO to unveil such an important LEGO Star Wars set.
Nevertheless, the LEGO Group surprised us all by releasing the official announcement via social media a day earlier than expected. On August 31st, LEGO tweeted the below tweet:
LEGO's Official Announcement
At 7,541 pieces, the new LEGO Star Wars UCS Millennium Falcon just might make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. -LEGO Group [August 31, 2017]
The tweet included a promotional video which seems to be a full-length version of the 20-second teaser video LEGO released with teaser #3 back on August 3rd. The video opens with the same scenes of outer space, astroid belts, and flying LEGO, but this time we get to see what the flying, self-connecting LEGO pieces actually build, once they're done flying about. They, of course, come together to build an incredibly detailed and very large Millennium Falcon. In true Falcon style, as soon as the ship is built and the attempt to jump to hyperspace is made, the ship coughs and wheezes, the lights on the ship flutter on and off. It seem like the Falcon might just die right there in the middle of space. Luckily, as is usually the case with the Millennium Falcon, the hyperdrive kicks in and off into hyperspace goes the new 7,541-piece LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon. Below is the video released by LEGO as part of the official announcement:
As is usual with any set release from LEGO, the reveal of the UCS Millennium Falcon also included the release of a handful of high-resolution photographs of the set along with any minifigures and/or mini-builds included in the set. I've compiled all of these images in a photo gallery below. Once the LEGO fan community saw the images, all of their hopes for the set were confirmed to be a reality. The two most poplar items on "the wish list for the next UCS Millennium Falcon" among the fan community was 1] the set would include both a circular radar dish to represent the original Star Wars trilogy and a rectangular dish to represent the sequel trilogy* and 2] that the set would include minifigures from both the original and the sequel trilogy. Both of these boxes were checked for the new Falcon.
*These are the set details written and released by LEGO for the Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon (75192)
Welcome to the largest, most detailed LEGO® Star Wars Millennium Falcon model we’ve ever created—in fact, with 7,500 pieces it’s one of our biggest LEGO models, period! This amazing LEGO interpretation of Han Solo’s unforgettable Corellian freighter has all the details that Star Wars fans of any age could wish for, including intricate exterior detailing, upper and lower quad laser cannons, landing legs, lowering boarding ramp and a 4-minifigure cockpit with detachable canopy. Remove individual hull plates to reveal the highly detailed main hold, rear compartment and gunnery station. This amazing model also features interchangeable sensor dishes and crew, so you decide whether to play out classic LEGO Star Wars adventures with Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO, or enter the world of Episode VII and VIII with older Han, Rey, Finn and BB-8!
- Includes 4 classic crew minifigures: Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia and C-3PO.
- Also includes 3 Episode VII/VIII crew minifigures: Older Han Solo, Rey and Finn.
- Figures include a BB-8 droid, 2 buildable Porgs and a buildable Mynock.
- Exterior features include intricately detailed and removable hull panels, a lowering boarding ramp, concealed blaster cannon, 4-minifigure cockpit with detachable canopy, interchangeable round/rectangular sensor dishes, upper and lower quad laser cannons, and 7 landing legs.
- Main hold features a seating area, Dejarik holographic game, combat remote training helmet, engineering station with turning minifigure seat and a doorway build with passageway decoration.
- Rear compartment features the engine room with hyperdrive and console, 2 doorways, hidden floor compartment, 2 escape pod hatches, engineering console and an access ladder to the gunnery station.
- Gunnery station features a minifigure gunner’s seat and detachable hull panel with fully rotating quad laser cannon. An additional quad laser cannon is also mounted on the underside.
- This model includes 7,500 pieces.
- Also includes an informational fact plaque.
- Features a new-for-October-2017 cockpit canopy element.
- Classic crew weapons include Han’s blaster pistol and Chewbacca’s stud-firing bowcaster.
- Episode VII/VIII crew weapons include Han’s blaster, Rey’s small silver blaster and Finn’s medium blaster rifle.
- Change out the features and crew characters to switch between classic and Episode VII/VIII versions of the Millennium Falcon!
- Open individual hull panels to access the detailed interior while retaining the overall exterior appearance.
- Slide the panel to reveal the concealed blaster cannon.
- Turn classic Leia’s and Han’s head to reveal their breathing mask decoration.
- Makes the perfect intergalactic toy or flagship display model.
- Measures over 8” (21cm) high, 33” (84cm) long and 22” (56cm) wide.
UCS Millennium Falcon LEGO Designer Video:
The LEGO Designer Video released in conjunction with the announcement of the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon. This video features the model designer and the graphics designer that worked on the set, and they both walk us through the features, designs, and elements of the new UCS Millennium Falcon:
The UCS Millennium Falcons: A Side-by-Side Comparison
2007 UCS Millennium Falcon
- Pieces: 5,197
- Minifigures: 5
- Retail Price: $499.99
- Price per Piece: 9.6 cents
- Dimensions: over 33" long (84cm) x 22" wide (56cm) x 8" tall (21cm)
2017 UCS Millennium Falcon
- Pieces: 7,541
- Minifigures: 8
- Retail Price: $799.99
- Price per Peice: 10.6 cents
- Dimensions: over 33" long (84cm) x 22" wide (56cm) x 8" tall (21cm)
Like the rest of LEGO Star Wars fan community, I've been reeling with excitement over the latest announcement from LEGO concerning what will not only be the next LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series set but will also be the largest (and most expensive) LEGO set in the history of the company. Many of us who either missed out on purchasing or were deep in our dark ages and were not aware of the Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon (10179-1) were desparetly hoping that all the rumors which have been circulating and seemingly gaining traction throughout the year - that a new UCS Millennium Falcon would be released this year - were true.
Not only is it true that LEGO will be releasing an updated UCS Millennium Falcon [75192-1], but LEGO is not holding back in any way concerning the detail and design of the new Falcon. At 7,541 pieces and measuring over 8” (21cm) high, 33” (84cm) long, and 22” (56cm) wide, the new Millennium Falcon is the largest LEGO set in history and is truly a remarkable LEGO model and Star Wars collectible.
*the circular radar dish was part of the design of the filmed model of the Millennium Falcon for all three films from the original trilogy. In the final film of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi, the circular radar dish is knocked off of the ship during the Battle of Endor; thus, the dish was replaced with a rectangular dish for the Force Awakens.
More Fun with the Falcon
This section houses additional marketing/promotional posts from LEGO regarding the UCS Millennium Falcon (75192). This area will be updated as LEGO posts new material.