The day LEGO® Star Wars™ was born

2019 marks 2 decades of LEGO® Star Wars™, that’s 20 years of awesome galaxy fun!  

It all began when LucasFilms and The LEGO® Group officially joined forces back in 1999 to release the first LEGO® Star Wars™ sets the year that the film Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released. This happened to be the first significant intellectual property licence The LEGO® Group ever signed, marking the beginning of its rise from financial doldrums. However, according to Netflix documentary The Toys That Made Us, The LEGO® Group grossly underestimated the theme’s popularity in that first year and sets sold out within a few weeks. So, in 1999, many fans of the theme struggled to find the sets worldwide. Talk about a let down! Determined not to make the same mistake twice, The LEGO® Group released far more sets in 2000 but hadn’t taken into account that no film release would take place that year. Needless to say, they were left with the opposite problem in 2000: a surplus of sets.

It took a few more years for the group to develop a deeper understanding of just how cyclicle the demand for LEGO® Star Wars™ was but ultimately, the success of the theme has meant that it has renewed its agreement with LucasFilms twice between 1999 and today, with the current agreement coming to an end in 2022. No prizes for guessing what the likely decision will be on renewal!

A collector’s item

To date, over 700 sets have been produced. While the general LEGO® Star Wars™ collections have proven massively popular, it’s the subtheme Ultimate Collector Series (UCS) which has truly defined the theme. These sets have had collector value from the beginning. They tend to be larger and pricier; more a display set than a toy you’d play with.

In 2000, the first two UCS sets released were the TIE Interceptor 7181 and the X-wing Fighter 7191. Even though UCS sets wouldn’t typically come with minifigures in subsequent releases, the X-wing included a minifigure of R2-D2. It’s become one of the most iconic of the UCS sets ever released. On a side note, did you know that R2-D2 is also the character that appears most often in the LEGO® Star Wars collection.

Other significant UCS sets worth mentioning:

  • The Death Star 75159 (2016), which happened to include all the characters necessary to re-enact almost any scene occuring at the Death Star in any of the films.
  • The Motorised Walking All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) 10178 – which you programme so that it can walk forwards or backwards.
  • The Millenium Falcon 75192 – the largest set of any LEGO theme to date. This megalith contains a whopping 7541 pieces.

LEGO® Star Wars™ in South Africa

When it comes to releases of new LEGO® sets in South Africa, our smaller market and, perhaps, relative remoteness on the map, tends to mean we typically see rather lengthy delays before we can get our hands on them. So, it’ll come as no surprise that back in 2011 when the UCS Super Star Destroyer 10221 was released, it was only in early 2012 that Kiddiwinks received its first 3 boxes. It happened to be a rather large box!

“The Super Star Destroyer was one of the biggest sets we were getting up to that point and it was taking a big chance that it would sell,” reminisces Kiddiwinks owner, Bryony Poulter.

“I decided to be bold and order 3 of the sets. They came and we sold 1. I thought, great, they’re going, this is something special. Remember at R4830, it was pricey in early 2012!”

Then, LEGO® South Africa offered Bryony the opportunity to order a few more, which she quickly accepted, only to realise too late that “a few” was actually 18 more sets. Given the nature of the order, Kiddiwinks had to make good on payment right then.

“I scraped together to pay for these sets and then they sat, and sat, and sat!”

Just 3 UCS Super Star Destroyers sold that year, and another 3 in 2013. The rest continued to sit over several months, gathering dust and serving as a reminder to Bryony of her mistake. But in late 2014, South African LEGO® fans caught wind of the UCS craze and its investment potential. Unbelievably (and much to Bryony’s great relief), between August and December 2014, the rest were sold.

“I could have sold another 18 if I had them, but they had been discontinued and I could not get any more.”

There’s no doubt that the theme’s impact on fans and small, passionate suppliers alike (often the same people, by the way!) is entwined with the main story itself, turning this exciting LEGO® theme into an epic tale of anticipation, passion, frustration and excitement.

The LEGO® Star Wars™ story is certainly far-reaching. It began a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Shop LEGO® Star Wars™ at Kiddiwinks

Love it or hate it? “Solo: A Star Wars story” film

Some say it’s set to be a disaster, while others can’t wait to settle into their cinema seats, eyes glued to the big screen to take in the latest film in the Star Wars franchise, Solo: A Star Wars story.

This anthology film (it’s not counted as part of the final trilogy), tracks everyone’s favourite hotshot pilot Han Solo and how he became a smuggler (played by Alden Ehrenreich), before we meet him in the original Star Wars trilogy where he is played by Harrison Ford.

harrison ford versus Alden Ehrenreich playing Han Solo in Star Wars
Who played Han Solo better? Harrison Ford or Alden Ehrenreich?

Is Han Solo’s story here too soon?

According to The Guardian writer Tom Beasley, there is the distinct likelihood that the film will be met by what he terms “franchise fatigue” due it being released just 6 months after The Last Jedi.

“The novelty and goodwill that helped The Force Awakens and, to an extent first spin-off Rogue One, has mostly faded to nothing – especially among fans who considered The Last Jedi sacrilege,” he argues.

Beasley’s point may ring true with many as evidenced by the number of disparaging comments on the Youtube trailer all suggesting this latest film has little of the magic essential to the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Yet, it’s a story that others will be curious to see given that Han Solo’s character is a rather charismatic one. The film will track how he comes to meet Lando Calrissian (played by Donald Glover), as well as his burgeoning relationship with the ever-lovable Chewbacca, not to mention his forays into smuggling.

The general message coming from reviewers is: “don’t get your hopes up”. Still, if you’re not a Star Wars stickler (don’t expect much mention of The Force in this film!), this will be a great one for you and the family to enjoy.

LEGO® Star Wars releases

The naysayers couldn’t keep us eager LEGO® Star Wars collectors from coveting the latest releases in the series. Han Solo’s Landspeeder, The Imperial TIE Fighter complete with an Imperial Pilot, Han Solo, Tobias Beckett (in Mimban Stormtrooper disguise) and a Mimban Stormtrooper minifigure, and a whole lot more, there’s plenty to get excited about!

Here’s a list of available LEGO® Star Wars sets:

Share what you think about the film in the comments thread below or on our Facebook page.

For the whole of May 2018, we are running a promotion that gives you 30% off on all LEGO Star Wars sets. Shop for your favourite LEGO Star Wars sets over at the Kiddiwinks online shop.