Yesterday’s reveal of the 2022 LEGO Star Wars Diorama Collection saw some pretty polarising reactions from LEGO and Star Wars fans, ranging from “they’re too expensive” to “wow, I must have them and they’re the best SW sets in years.
Now that I’ve had time to simmer on the news, and read a whole bunch of different opinions, and read through comments, both on the blog, on the Jay’s Brick Blog Facebook Page, and even ventured into Youtube comments *yeuch* to get a sense of what the broader community were thinking.
For reference, here are the regional prices, and links to the (I hope first of many) LEGO Star Wars dioramas.
- 75329 Death Star Trench Run Diorama – US$59.99 / AU$89.99 / £54.99 / €59.99 / CAD$79.99
- 75330 Dagobah Jedi Training Diorama – US$79.99 / AU$119.99 / £69.99 / €79.99 / CAD$89.99
- 75339 Death Star Trash Compactor – US$89.99 / AU$149.99 / £79.99 / €89.99 / CAD$119.99
Are they too expensive?
In my opinion, I think it depends on which set, and where you live as well. Out of the three sets, I think:
- Death Star Trench Run is slightly overpriced (given its mostly small greebly bits, and Advent Calendar-style microbuilds). Also a killer price if you live in Australia, but we’re almost guaranteed 20% off sales at the bare minimum
- Dagobah Jedi Training Diorama is the most fairly priced with 1,000 pieces, 3 minifigures, and a great mix of playset + display diorama. Fantastically-priced for those in the US
- Death Star Trash Compactor is just incredibly poor value no matter where you live, BUT you get a ton of minifigures, and that R2-D2 with printed back.
- I feel so bad for anyone living in the UK and have to deal with these prices.
While they are part of a collection, I also don’t think you HAVE to buy them all, and can pick and choose your favourite ones to display.
The black framed base they occupy also I think encourage you to display as standalone sets – you need space around these dioramas for the best effect, and by design, they aren’t meant to be packed densely, as most of our LEGO displays seem to inevitably end up.
Case in point, LEGO’s own Lifestyle and Display photographer also wouldn’t even dare to line all 3 up together on the same plane.
Unless you’re a hardcore completionist and hoarder (aren’t we all?), I don’t think you should feel compelled to get them all, unless you can. Maybe LEGO is trying to encourage minimalism with Star Wars displays.
Who are these sets for?
The now-ubiquitous bleak black box should be an instant signal – LEGO have adults in mind (hello 18+ age suggestion!) with the LEGO Star Wars diorama collection.
The subject matter of all three sets, are also conveniently based on the Original Trilogy – A New Hope came out in 1977, so an eight year old boy or who was about to have their whole life changed, would be in their mid-50s now.
When designing a new product, or sub-theme, LEGO designers are usually briefed to think and visualise the end-consumer, who would most likely be attracted to and purchase the set, and with 2 out of 3 lifestyle models included in the press pack, it’s easy to see who LEGO want to appeal towards.
For some of us veteran LEGO fans, who have been “in the game” for a long time, the price certainly does come as a susprise, because we innately know the price of LEGO Star Wars sets, and various other mechanisms fans use to work out how a LEGO set could be valued (minifigures, price per piece etc).
With these classy and understated LEGO Star Wars dioramas, coupled with the LEGO for Adults black box, I think LEGO are trying to appeal to Star Wars fans who are drawn to these iconic scenes from the movies, but might think regular LEGO Star Wars sets are too kiddy, or toy-like.
These might not be your typical LEGO Star Wars fans who go out and buy every other set, but want that nostalgia hit (from both LEGO AND Star Wars) in one sleek black box.
That said, LEGO Star Wars fans who have larger disposable incomes are also equally excited by just how considered and classy these sets look, and may not be as sensitive to price, which is a very privileged and lucky position to be in.
Lastly, I think these also make great gifts – in the under US$100 mark, they make for fun, geeky, nostalgia gifts to other Star Wars or LEGO-loving adults.
The fork in the LEGO Star Wars roadmap
The emergence of the LEGO Star Wars Diorama Collection, further fuels what I’m going to call a fork in the LEGO Star Wars product roadmap – where we will continue to see an even greater divergence of sets aimed at adults, and kids.
For the longest time, LEGO have exclusively marketed and designed sets for adults through the Ultimate Collector’s Series (UCS) label.
These were more complex, expensive and larger builds that would be typically out of the price range of kids, and teenagers who tend to make up the vast majority of the typical LEGO Star Wars consumers.
UCS sets are tentpole releases for LEGO Star Wars, usually only happening once (now twice) a year and are typically very special occasions, but with LEGO’s continued efforts to appeal to adults, they need to release more adult-focused sets throughout the year, at different price-points to keep these adults engaged with Star Wars outside of the typical UCS release cycle.
Then came the Star Wars Helmet collection, moderately priced display pieces.
And now, the Diorama Collection, which offer up a completely different experience, for those that want more self-contained scenes, maybe with minifigures.
Look no further than the LEGO Catalogues, where playsets and kid/tween-focused sets are divided from their UCS/Helmet brethren by a few pages, and entire Technic section.
The question should be about value, not price
Ultimately, I think “sticker price” is the wrong way to measure these sets, as they don’t make sense.
When you compare the Trash Compactor Diorama against a recent set, say Boba Fett’s Throne Room, they are at about the same price range, piece-count, and minifigure-count, but they differ so much in what the set offers, with the latter being a playset, and the Diorama being a display-first playset.
It gets weirder when you compare like for like sets, like 2018’s Yoda Hut, against 2022’s Dagobah Jedi Training, where it really falls apart, when you look at price and piece count.
One’s a kids toy, and another is a kids toy masquerading as a cool adult display piece, granted with slightly more interesting and complex build techniques.
A new way to look at these sets, and gauge how well they’re priced ultimately falls to the consumer – for their intended target audience, older fans who are more financially secure, dropping less than US$100 for a jolt of movie and childhood nostalgia is a fantastic deal, even more so if they want something classy to display in their homes or offices.
But for a kid, or tween who wants playability, and a ton of cool minifigures, these don’t really work as well, as they’re meant to be seen, not played with.
I think, these will be overwhelmingly popular with the intended target audience, and it’s a really smart move by LEGO to go slightly higher up the value chain, by cloaking these dioramas with the LEGO for Adults box, a sophisticated display model, and cool features like quotes from the movie, and a black display base.
It unfortunately will have an effect of alienating some portion of younger, and less financially-secure Star Wars fans, who will admire these sets, but will have to work or save harder to afford them.
We joke a lot about the Star Wars tax, but I also think that we now have to also tack on a LEGO for Adults tax on top, because LEGO are looking to see, just how far fans will be willing to open their wallets for a slightly more elevated building and display experience.
Expect this to be the norm, and not the exception in 2022 and beyond.
What do you think of these sets, and their overall value/appeal? Are the prices a deal-breaker or do you just want these badly enough?
Thanks so much for reading this slightly longer editorial and opinion piece – I’ve been slacking with Monday Musings, but trying to make up on other days of the week, when inspiration strikes! Huge thank you to everyone who has weighed in with their opinions and thoughts on the sets!
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