Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Reaction: LEGO Star Wars Planets

Images of the LEGO Star Wars 2012 line up have started showing up around the web, including one shot of the new Planets range. So what is the full line-up for Star Wars Planets? What do they include? And will the new range be a success?

The image below comes courtesy of eos512 at Eurobricks, and shows that the following sets will be coming in LEGO Star Wars Planets:
Series 1 (January):
9674 Naboo Starfighter and Naboo Pilot
9675 Sebulba’s Podracer and Sebulba
9676 TIE Interceptor and TIE Pilot
Series 2 (Summer):
9677 X-Wing Fighter and Pilot 
9678 Twin-Pod Cloud Car and Lobot
9679 AT-ST and Driver

Provided by eos512 at Eurobricks.
This new range was first rumoured here at All About Bricks

Each of these new sets will include a mini vehicle to build, a mini-figure and a hollow planet (or moon, or space station…). This will undoubtedly prove a popular way to get specific mini-figures, and the hollow planets will look great hanging above any Star Wars collection. The mini vehicles will be neat to new collectors, but will be more of the same for those who have been in this for the long haul.

The mini-figure line up for Series 1 is noteable in that all three of the characters are also available in currently available or soon to be available regular sets. This is clearly to reduce costs by simply increasing the production run on mini-figures already being produced, whether it will always be the case remains to be seen (and if it does, that means a Cloud City related set and another AT-ST are on the cards). It could be that Series 1 is simply a trial, so it didn’t make sense to take a financial risk on unique mini-figs.

The question as to whether these Planet sets are a must-have comes down to price. In the UK it will be £9.99, with the Battle Packs increasing to £11.99. This makes the Planet sets look a very unattractive deal. A Battle Pack includes four mini-figures, whereas a Planet set only includes one. For an extra £2.00, I’d take the extra three mini-figures. Perhaps when it comes to the price, LEGO are competing with their more competitively priced products. The thing that may tip the balance the other way is the prospect of getting a mini-fig such as Sebulba for £9.99 instead of around £80.

I feel that another mistake in this line is the belief that fans are ready to pay this amount of money for a mini set. The history of mini Star Wars sets is not a successful one. In 2003 two waves of Mini sets were released, and they were clearanced the following year. The Entertainer chain of toy stores were selling them for half of the original price. Since then, Star Wars Mini building sets have been used as promotional items or Brickmaster exclusives. Reportedly the same sets that are free with a newspaper here in the UK are sold for $4.99 in the USA, although there is a much more collector-orientated culture around Star Wars there. 

As for the packaging, it seems like LEGO were dreaming of Revell’s line of Star Wars model kits when they came up with it. This won’t be terribly noticeable to the casual LEGO collector, but it feels like laziness to anyone who is familiar with the line of model kits. Would more LEGO-istic packaging make them more appealing?

Admittedly my analysis of this new line is rather negative. Perhaps now, unlike in 2003, the LEGO Star Wars collector base is large enough to absorb a product that seems to me to be less appealing than the rest of the range. Although the mini set and planet would be unlikely to set any sales records, the added mini-fig may make these worth the plunge for many. What will most likely be the deciding factor is whether collectors and children are savvy enough to notice that other LEGO products offer more bricks for your buck. 

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