Monday, 3 December 2012

One Hundred Percent

One hundred percent complete. 100%. It's the holy grail for some collectors - a 100% complete collection.  As a huge fan of both LEGO and Star Wars. I decided one fateful day almost exactly four years ago that I'd like to try and collect a boxed example of every single LEGO Star Wars set ever made, and it's been an expensive millstone around my neck ever since.


Admittedly, many of the sets were actually quite easy to track down, through eBay mainly. Some of them were even quite cheap - while they had to be boxed, and all the pieces, minifigures and instruction booklets had to be present and correct, I had at least thankfully decreed that the sets didn't have to be sealed. I was however forced to carefully ponder on exactly what I'd actually meant by '100% complete' and 'all the LEGO Star Wars sets ever made' at an early stage. You'd think it was pretty self-explanatory, but a look at Brickset's listing of all the sets in the LEGO Star Wars theme, which you can see here, soon suggested that things might not be quite as simple as they had initially seemed....

According to the Brickset database, the LEGO Star Wars theme consists of a total of 334 sets at time of writing, although since that total includes 15 unreleased 2013 sets I think it's probably more accurate to say 319 sets, for now at least. So you'd think it would be pretty easy to figure out which sets you'd need to track down in order to complete your collection, right ? Not necessarily.... Take a look through the list of those 319 sets, sort them by set number, and you'll find that after you get past the latest UCS offering, Set 10227 B-wing Starfighter, the set numbers take a big jump into the 20000's and things start to get decidedly less straightforward.
Brickmaster Set 20006 Clone Turbo Tank - rarer than hen's teeth....
Sets 20006 (above) to 20021 are so-called Brickmaster Exclusives; while a couple of them could for a limited time be purchased at LEGO brand stores and via LEGO S@H, most of them were only available via LEGO's subscription-only Brickmaster service which was restricted to folks in the U.S.. Next are a series of sets numbered from 30004 to 30059. These are all small models packaged in poly bags, and their availability has been highly variable, having appeared in some countries but not in others (e.g. to date, Set 30059 MTT has only been available in Japan and possibly Canada). Then there are various set collections and 3-in-1 Superpacks which occupy set numbers in the range of 65081 to 66432; these have only been available from certain retailers (typically Toys R Us) in certain countries. Therafter the set numbers start to get just a little bit silly and you're on to some of the rarer promo sets, starting with Set 2853835 White Boba Fett (below) and beyond this the likes of Set 4521221 Gold Chrome-plated C-3PO; these poly bagged minifigures were given away free by LEGO at various points, e.g. hidden within random retail sets, or given away free with a specified minimum spend at LEGO S@H.


Soon the set numbers run out and you're really in the wild country - sets which don't even have an 'official' number and which Brickset thus somewhat arbitrarily designates with an alphanumeric identifier and lists alphabetically. These sets include CELEBVI, a Mini Slave 1 model only available to visitors to the Star Wars Celebration VI event in August 2012, and COMCON019, a Mini Sith Inflitrator model only available at this year's San Diego Comic Con (below).


The bad news if you're a completist, particularly one who is just starting out now with few if any sets already acquired, is that even some of the 'regular' retail sets from past years are painfully expensive now. Consider for instance Set 10123 Cloud City, released in 2003 at an RRP of $100. A complete, boxed example will currently set you back at least £550 / $1000 plus shipping if you buy through Bricklink. Just to make matters worse, once the set numbering stops and the letters start, you may be looking at an even more serious financial investment if you want to get hold of some of the items. And then there are some rarer items still that aren't even included in the Brickset database and which will cost you literally thousands to aquire, assuming of course that the few who own them would even be willing to part with them. Such obscure items include the fabled 14-carat gold C-3PO minifigure (below) of which only 5 were ever made.
14-carat gold C-3PO minifigure (from Brickipedia)
So for the aspiring LEGO Star Wars collector, where does '100% complete' end ? Is it just the retail sets ? Or maybe it also includes all the stuff like LEGO Star Wars key chains and/or magnet sets as well ? And what about all the rare promo items which don't even have proper set numbers ? Not to mention the set collections and 3-in-1 Superpacks which are just collections of standard sets in a bigger box. Or even the multiple versions of the same sets with the same set number but with different packaging. And do all the sets have to be boxed to count....?

There's no 'right' answer. I've seen these questions debated endlessly on the various online LEGO forums and everybody it seems has a different definition of which sets to include and what it means to be '100% complete'. For what it's worth, and it's not really worth much at all, I arbitrarily take '100% complete' to mean just sets which you can actually build and which were, or still are, available at retail. So not key chains, nor magnet sets, nor rare promo items. Sure, if I can get these ancilliary items without killing myself then that's great, and I certainly do when I can, but they don't count towards my own personal 100% tally. You may well disagree, but that's fine - each to his own, and whatever works for you is good. Just don't tell me that you're 'right'....!

9 comments:

  1. I definitely feel your pain. I've collected things all my life, and putting together a 100% is a daunting task. Kidrobot dunnies are what finally broke me out of my completionist mode, since the cost of putting together a complete set was too much.

    I'm currently doing the same thing with the Architecture series. There aren't nearly as many as the Star Wars collection, and they're some really fun builds. The fallingwater set that I just finished was particularly impressive.

    Good luck in your goal, where the heck do you find the room for so many boxes?

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    1. " where the heck do you find the room for so many boxes?"

      They're taking over the house !

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  2. You will now feel obliged to keep the collection complete, no matter what they release under the SW banner in the future.
    I am go glad I'm not a completist!

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  3. i have one thing to say.
    NEVER COLLECT GOGOS CRAZY BONES
    80 per series
    3 per pack
    random packs

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  4. Anonymous10/12/12

    Wow! This is quite a feat; very impressive. I'm primarily a SW LEGO collector, and I've got a whopping 54 sets. I can't imagine how much it cost to get them all.

    Have you been collecting SW from the beginning, and getting most sets as they were released?

    -Chills

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    1. I wish ! I started collecting LEGO Star Wars in December 2008, so actually 4 years ago. That's a lot of retired sets to track down....

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    2. That's quite a mission and one that I initially started back in 1999. At the time I dutifully bought all the sets (except Watto's junkyard..) but since I was collecting lots of other Lego themes too and the Star Wars stuff kept coming and coming, it just became too much! So I have systematically rid myself of all Ep 1-3 sets and have just sold my "built once" 10123 on Bricklink (Less than $1,000 - had to be reasonably priced to attract buyers since I live in NZ). I will just keep(and buy) sets I like or aren't worth selling!

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  5. I'm no completionist but it is nice to achieve. Thankfully the only mild desires to complete that I have had have been for single-year themes like Alien Conquest! Not that I've even completed that. Stupid polys.

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    1. Completionist or completist ? ;-)

      And as for Alien Conquest, I'm assuming it's the ADU Walker you're after, in which case there's sufficient supply for you to hit 100% for one theme at least.

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