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The LEGO Star Wars Master Builder Series

When the #75222 LEGO Star Wars Betrayal at Cloud City set was announced a few days ago (see: LEGO Star Wars Betrayal at Cloud City), there were questions from the LEGO fan community about the statement in the description that the set is “part of the LEGO Star Wars Master Builder Series“. Was the Master Builder Series title replacing the previously used Ultimate Collector Series title? Or, was the Master Builder Series a new sub-theme of LEGO Star Wars? Below is a bit of history on why this was such an important question for LEGO Star Wars fans, and the response from the LEGO Star Wars design team about the new title. 🙂

LEGO has been releasing large LEGO Star Wars sets for collectors since the year 2000. They were originally referred to as LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series sets – a line that the LEGO Star Wars fan community enthusiastically embraced. The original LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series included larger-than-minifig-scale versions of Star Wars vehicles, as well as sculptures of Star Wars characters. LEGO continued to release one or two large display models every year, which long-time Star Wars fans and adult collectors eagerly looked forward to. While LEGO fans have been consistently referring to the line as LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series, LEGO themselves haven’t been using the designation with such regularity.

The Ultimate Collector Series title was prominently displayed on the first large LEGO Star Wars sets, like the #7181 LEGO Star Wars TIE Interceptor (see above) and the #7191 LEGO Star Wars X-Wing Fighter (both from the year 2000), however, LEGO later either dropped the title name from the boxes, or used some other designation, like the LEGO Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition on sets such as the #10134 LEGO Star Wars Y-Wing Starfighter from 2004, and the #10143 LEGO Star Wars Death Star II from 2005 (see below). Even though LEGO no longer used the title, LEGO fans continued to refer to large LEGO Star Wars sets as parts of the Ultimate Collector Series.

One of the reasons LEGO may have dropped the title is because they branched out to different types of large LEGO Star Wars sets. For example, the #10179 LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon from 2007 included “Ultimate Collector’s” in its name, but it also featured minifigs. The #10186 LEGO Star General Grevious from 2008 was a large sculpture, and the #10188 LEGO Star Wars Death Star, also from 2008, was clearly meant to be a playset instead of just a display model for adults.

A couple of years later, LEGO added a buildable plaque with a sticker to large LEGO Star Wars set displaying the stats of model. Such a plaque was included with the #10215 LEGO Star Wars Obi-Wan’s Jedi Starfighter from 2010, the #10221 LEGO Star Wars Super Star Destroyer from 2011, the #10225 LEGO Star Wars R2-D2 sculpture and the #10227 LEGO Star Wars B-Wing Starfighter from 2012, the #10240 LEGO Star Wars Red Five X-Wing Starfighter from 2013, the #75095 LEGO Star Wars TIE Fighter from 2015, and most recently, the #75144 LEGO Star Wars Snowspeeder and the #75192 LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon from last year, and the #75181 LEGO Star Wars Y-Wing Starfighter from this year. Some of these sets are minifig-scale, some are larger than minifig-scale but include minifigs, and some don’t include minifigs at all.

The earlier large LEGO Star Wars sets with plaques weren’t officially labeled Ultimate Collector Series sets, however LEGO Star Wars fans referred to them as such, as they were clearly meant for collectors. In the meantime, LEGO also released a couple of large LEGO Star Wars playsets; the #10236 LEGO Star Wars Ewok Village in 2013, and the #75059 LEGO Star Wars Sandcrawler in 2014. Interestingly, with the #75059 LEGO Star Wars Sandcrawler, LEGO also brought back the Ultimate Collector Series designation with a golden logo prominently displayed on the box with the title “LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector’s Series”, but there was no included plaque. This gave LEGO Star Wars fans hope that LEGO will once-and-for-all clearly separate and label sets meant for display and those meant for play. Sets for collectors will have the golden logo and no more plaque, and sets for play will have neither the logo nor the plaque.

However, once again, LEGO threw Star Wars fans into confusion. The plaque was back with the #75095 LEGO Star Wars TIE Fighter released in 2015, which was happily accepted by LEGO fans. But in the next couple of years LEGO also released two playsets with the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector’s Series golden logo and no plaque; the #75098 LEGO Star Wars Assault on Hoth, and the #75159 LEGO Star Wars Death Star re-release. In addition, they also released sets with both the golden logo and the plaque. In other words, the designation between display models and large playsets continued to be muddled.

Another interesting development is that the last two large sets – the #75192 LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon and the #75181 LEGO Star Wars Y-Wing Starfighter – no longer come with the golden Ultimate Collector’s Series logo, but the title is spelled out on the box, just like in the earliest sets in the series.

And here we are, with the latest large LEGO Star Wars set, the #75222 LEGO Star Wars Betrayal at Cloud City. The box does not indicate that this is an Ultimate Collector Series set, or a set belonging to any other series, however, the description does state that the set is considered part of the LEGO Star Wars Master Builder Series.

After LEGO Star Wars fans spending a few days in nervous confusion and speculation about the new designation and what it means to the LEGO Collector Series line, the LEGO Star Wars design team made the following statement via the LEGO Ambassador Forum: “The Master Builder Series models are meant to be large playsets. Besides being complex builds, they are characterized by having many play features and functions, interior details, as well as a range of minifigures. The Ultimate Collector Series will remain highly detailed display models providing complex builds with a focus on authenticity. Both the Ultimate Collector Series and the Master Builder Series will continue as a way to highlight the unique characteristic of each style of model.”

So, LEGO Star Wars fans can now breathe a sigh of relief that the Master Builder Series playsets are not replacing their beloved Ultimate Collector Series display models. LEGO is just finally making it more clear which large Star Wars sets are primarily meant for play and which are display models for serious collectors. Of course, knowing the history of LEGO and how they name and categorize things, this may change yet again, but in the meantime, enjoy both the LEGO Star Wars Master Builder Series and the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series!

What do you think? Do you have any of the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series sets? Do you prefer them to be primarily display models, or you don’t mind if they also include lots of play-features? And what do you think of the new LEGO Star Wars Master Builders Series designation? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below! 😉

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • brickmaster September 4, 2018, 1:08 PM

    I think this is a good direction overall. LEGO wanted to make large SW playsets, and AFOLs wanted display sets. Now there are two categories to make everyone happy.

  • DavidH September 4, 2018, 1:22 PM

    I wonder if this means a hard separation between display sets and play sets. Having minifigs and some play features in the UCS sets was kind of nice.

    • admin September 4, 2018, 4:16 PM

      Hm… that’s a good question. I guess we will just have to wait and see. It’s very likely that LEGO will continue to experiment with what works best in each category.

  • TomTom September 4, 2018, 1:47 PM

    I’m curious what other big sets they have planned for this new series. Playsets so far have been the Death Star, Hoth, Cloud City, the Ewok Village, and maybe the Sandcrawler. What other big playsets would make sense?

    • Rob September 4, 2018, 3:45 PM

      I can see them doing one for Mos Eisley spaceport.

  • Legostuff14 September 4, 2018, 4:40 PM

    All in all, Lego sets has been always known as play sets but, because adults got in involved , Lego decided to branch out. So , not just kids can build but, adult can too. I think that when Lego expanded on the star wars theme it started off for kids and that theme started to do bigger sets . Until it got into more complicated and so it became ultimate collection . I’m think maybe want got confusing for the fans is just because it’s going to be a big set that it’s automatically going to be an ultimate collection for adults with not having a play set in mind. I think maybe Lego also realized that kids would love to have a large “play set” to build and have lots of fun with it . The fact that Lego maybe dividing these set ( some for adults and some for kids) is a great idea because Lego ( yet again ) is trying to be fair with it’s fans. My problem is of course the price . It seems like the price is the same as if the set was an ultimate collection. Nevertheless, I like the sets and how Lego might be going about it . At least I think that’s what Lego is doing ?

    • admin September 4, 2018, 8:20 PM

      LEGO actually did have sets for adults even in the early days. They were under the Modulex line, and they targeted architects and they were really meant for modeling. But as far as the regular sets, yeah, there is more demand now than ever both for display sets for adults and play sets for kids. And yes, there is some overlapping that can make things confusing. It’s nice to see that LEGO is listening to feedback from the community; both kids and adults. It’s probably not easy to juggle all of that. 😀

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