Though the LEGO Star Wars line had received a star-studded launch when it debuted in 1999, their first foray into the most mammoth example of Imperial engineering is still to this day one of the simplest sets in the LEGO Star Wars theme.
7200 Final Duel I
Despite much of the Star Wars fanbase focusing on the impending release of Attackof the Clones, LEGO knew that there was still enough interest in the Original Trilogy that a smattering of sets based on the first three movies would still sell, and so this tiny depiction of the Emperor's throne - with the last yellow-skinned version of the Emperor Palpatine minifigure - was released.
Paired with 7201 Final Duel II, a small set that depicted a Luke's capture on Endor, early LEGO Star Wars fans could act out the climactic battle at the end of Return of the Jedi that saw Anakin's redemption and the death of (the first) Emperor Palpatine.
LEGO soon realised there was an untapped market of adult fans who wanted to add more complicated models to their collections. The first sets released for the more advanced builder in mind was the Technic subtheme - a line produced for older children that still projected play value - and the Ultimate Collector Series.
This second subtheme, aimed specifically at those with advanced building skills who preferred detail and accuracy over play features, quickly proved popular and soon included a number of iconic spaceships and characters from both the Prequel and Sequel trilogy of Star Wars movies.
It wasn't until early 2005 that the very first Death Star to be made of LEGO was debuted. This was at a time when the original license agreement, signed in 1998, still had 4 years left to run and the "last" Star Wars film was on the cusp of its theatrical release.
When rumours of a Ultimate Collector's Series Death Star started to trickle out it was big grey goldball with a dimple from A New Hope that everyone was expecting, but LEGO had a surprise reveal up their sleeve saved for their VIP Gala Party during New York Toy Fair 2005.
10143 Death Star II
After delaying the set's release from May to September, when it did arrive it was received by an incredulous collector-base. The impressive size of the box with its eye-catching graphics and the weighty manual all paled in significance to the thousands of small grey pieces that came out of the countless bags.
There's no getting over the fact that 10143 Death Star is actually a moon-sized build; at 25 by 19 inches (nearly 75 x 50 cm) it had - at the time - one of the largest footprints of any LEGO set. Coincidentally it was the footprint that caused so many problems with this set, because the cruciform base and spindly armature that supported the light-weight plating and exposed multi-layered superstructure of the Empire's biggest contruction project was too small in area to safely keep the set stable. If only the Rebel Alliance had known about this flaw...
When it came out its 3447 pieces earned it the title of "world's biggest LEGO set", eclipsing the previous record holder, 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer with its paltry 3106 elements.
Despite its original $269.99 price tag and the advanced level of building skills this set called for, the popularity of the first Death Star set kept sales flowing. Given that it has been over 15 years since fans have had a grown-up Death Star it's probably the right time for LEGO to start looking at this again, and with secondary market sites eBay and Bricklink prices climbing up to $3000* it is far from the reach of most collectors.
Do you own this set? Or maybe you want to add it to your collection. Share your memories in our fully armed and operational 10143 UCS Death Star discussion thread.
With the twentieth anniversary of Star Wars capturing everyone's attention in 2007, LEGO marked the occasion with their first ever Star Wars exclusive.
PROMOSW004 Star Wars Celebration IV Exclusive
Released in 2007 at Star Wars Celebration IV in Los Angeles, this 26 piece promotional piece was made available through a daily draw over the duration of the event. Limited to 500 units, only 100 per day were sold for $49.99 to winners of the lottery each day.
Encased in a clear acrylic cube a Darth Vader minfigure, accompanied by two Imperial Royal Guard and two Stormtrooper minifigures, is depicted with a Death Star background. With the figures glued to a small baseplate and each one hand-numbered, this promotional item was never made to be more than a rare collectible.
Playsets have always been popular amongst Star Wars fans and with the Death Star having so many different locations it was only a matter of time before LEGO caught on. While most Star Wars collectors were expecting one or two small (and possibly modular) rooms, no one was expecting a doll's house to hit the shelves in the June of 2008.
Taking the unprecedented step of creating an actual minifigure-scale doll's house, LEGO deemed that fans had a rotatable, multi-level Death Star on their bucket list so that's what they gave them; capturing the main elements of the battle station's exterior (i.e. the superlaser dish) while shoehorning in the key rooms and action features such as the superlaser control room (where LEGo expressed the same setiment towards worker safety as the Empire did), trash compactor, rope swing and hanger bay. Also included was Darth Vader's TIE Fighter in a scale that, the following year, would be compared to 7778 Midi-Scale Millennium Falcon and eventually replaced by the Microfighter subtheme.
Not wanting to limit play to A New Hope LEGO reached the logical conclusion that the chances of the Emperor ordering Galen Erso to include a throne room in the first Death Star would have been as high as the chances of coming out of hyperspace to find that your destination has been blown up are low and so added in the same throne room that the Death Star II had in Return of the Jedi.
Despite having a part count that beat the previous incarnation by 250 pieces it was never crowned the "Biggest LEGO Set Ever" though it did achieve the accolade as the set with the most minifigures - a whopping 24!
Regardless of how well it fit into LEGO Star Wars display rooms, it was well received by kids and sold very well. In fact it was so popular that it stayed in production for a whopping seven years - nearly twice as long as the average Ultimate Collector's Series set's shelf life of 29 months. When it finally did get retired in 2015 it was very quickly superseded by... itself.
Being one of the few large sets that has had a re-release (the others being the UCS X-Wing, Snowspeeder, Y-Wing, Millennium Falcon, Yoda and Imperial Star Destroyer) it's secondary market price took a tumble when 75159 UCS Death Star was released in 2016. Nowadays a new and complete 10143 Death Star can be purchased on Bricklink and eBay for slightly less than double its original $399 price point.
If you have an opinion on this set to share our 10188 UCS Death Star thread in the set library section of our LEGO forums is waiting for your input.
Released in the first quarter of 2012, the Planet Sets were meant to provide pocket-money sets and boost interest in the microscale end of the LEGO Star Wars theme, and to this date the only complete version of the Death Star that destroyed Alderaan in A New Hope came in two pieces!
9676 TIE Interceptor & Death Star
This highly affordable set, which initially retailed at $9.99, had three important components that meant it was destined for success: a cool minifigure, a buildable spaceship and novelty. Even though the three vastly different scales of represented by the Death Star, TIE Interceptor and TIE Fighter Pilot minifigure meant that none of the elements could interact with each other, this was one of the most popular Planet Sets produced.
Due to more Planet Sets in the pipeline, 9676 TIE Interceptor & Death Star was retired within ten months of release and since then its collector's value has been on a slow and steady upward, with it fetching around $40 on Bricklink and eBay today.
When the next Death Star set came out in the Spring of 2014 - after a six year gapt - LEGO pivotted on the scale and gave its audience a down-sized model that amounted to not much more than a battle pack, but after the expense of the two earlier models this highly affordable set, at $12.99, came as a relief to many collectors.
Armed with all new stud-firing blasters, the two Death Star Gunners - equipped with brand new helmet elements - manned the flick-missile armed Death Star cannon while (presumably) being defended by Imperial Royal Guards.
Though the year was to see another two battle packs (75000 Clone Troopers vs Droidekas and 75001 Republic Troopers vs Sith Troopers) released to retail, it was this box of Imperial army building minifigures that stole the show.
Since its retirement in October 2015, collectors have seen 75034 Death Star Troopers' value creep up from its $12.99 starting point to just over $30 on secondary market sites like eBay and Bricklink, where they are still in abundant supply.
The popularity of the first Death Star battle pack moved LEGO to up the ante, and in June 2015 came out with a proper minifigure-scale playset of the Emperor's throne room. Previously only given a token amount of attention, this pivotal location in the Skywalker saga was finally given its dues.
Packed with play features, this playset caught many a lapsed LEGO Star Wars fan's eye when it hit shelves in the Summer of 2015. Designed to recreate the Emperor's throne room, the set has all the features needed to play out the battle between the Light and Dark side of the Force - including collapsing stairs, pop-up lightsabers, bottomless reactor shafts, a Force jump function - and sliding doors.
Despite its size, 724 piece count and heavy minifigure inventory 75093 Death Star Final Duel only had a sticker price of $79.99, and nowadays can be found for slightly more than double that on Bricklink and eBay, where there are plenty of copies available.
Withdrawn from sale at the end of December 2016, presumably because having multiple Death Star sets on toy store shelves would interfere with sales, this set was forced into early retirement in order to make space for a much larger - and instantly recognisable - replacement.
75159 UCS Death Star
Even before the absence of 75093 Death Star Final Duel was noticed, the space was filled with another LEGO Death Star set - an almost brick-for-brick copy of 10188 Death Star. Dubbed "the set no one wanted" this shelf filler soon became the target of LEGO Star Wars collector's ire.
Not only did it add very little to the original 10188 Death Star, it's price jumped by 25% to $499.99 despite a mere 5% increase in the set's part count and - to add insult to injury - it received the covetted "Ultimate Collector's Series" pedigree.
When the initial announcment - which was met with mild amusment - came the more optimistic fan hoped that there would be some kind of Rogue One tie-in. There wasn't. And even though LEGO positioned the set as an updated model of their 2008 version the inclusion of 200 more bricks didn't make any extra detail or features jump out and the three new minifigures (which no-one has been bothered to work out) didn't create any excitement.
There is the justification that 75159 UCS Death Star gave fans and collectors who missed out on 10188 Death Star another opportunity to get hold of the set, though the fact is the original Death Star dollhouse was barely cold in its grave when LEGO re-released it.
The more jaded fan began to expect that LEGO was testing the water to see how the secondary market price, which was around $1300 at the time, would react. It soon became apparent that the original's price had been affected by the release of 75159 UCS Death Star and only now, with its retirement at the start of 2020, is the set's secondary market value beginning to recover.
Even with the second generation of the big round dollhouse still floating around LEGO decided to continue producing Death Star sets, and there's hardly been a year when a new one hasn't been released.
CELEB2017 Detention Block Rescue
The comeback of the mini-set began at Star Wars Celebration 2017 when LEGO produced a vignette - instead of a play set - for the Orlando event. This 220 piece scene, which included the same Han Solo (Stormtrooper) and Luke Skywalker (Stormtrooper) minifigures that had were packed in with 75159 UCS Death Star, depicts the security desk adjacent to detention area AA-23.
Similar to the last Star Wars Celebration exclusive, those interested in adding one to their colleciton had to pre-register their email address with ReedPOP, the event's organiser, who randonly selected winners who could then buy them, for $39.99, at an alloted time. Less than 1500 of the numbered exclusives were lotteried off this way, and the remainder were sold one a first-come-first-served basis on the last day of Star Wars Celebration 2017.
Despite the set's $425 value on the secondary market, and even though this set is a highly limited event exclusive it doesn't have any unique elements and can be parted out through Bricklinkfor around $40. This doesn't include the original box or the instruction book (which is available online for free).
With the Princess of Alderaan freed from her cell the adventure continues, with Luke and Leia maintaining the trend of fleeing the Death Star. Even after avoiding being flattened in a garbage masher their plans to evade the Empire don't go as smoothly as they'd hoped - and they are faced with a plunge to certain death.
As luck would have it Luke has the necessary utensil to allow them to escape, and they both swing to freedom while being peppered with badly aimed blaster fire.
Released as part of the Winter wave in Janaury 2019, this set's popularity is based equally on the dynamic play environment, action features (Which include a MSW hole) and the two iconic minifigures. With it's retirement in March 2020 the set's original MSRP of $29.99 is quickly being left behind.
Swing by our 75229 Death Star Escape discussion thread to express your thoughts on this exciting Death Star play set.
75235 X-Wing Starfighter Trench Run
Also appearing in January was the first foray into LEGO 4+ Star Wars toys. Basically a heavily juniorised version of the X-wing released in 1999, the set was promoted by LEGO as a starter set for small hands, it was designed to act as a bridging toy between simple Duplo builds and the more complicated System models.
Included alongside Luke's iconic spaceship was a Death Star turret that protected some kind of container and fired a small LEGO disc. Oddly the X-Wing didn't have any offensive features so there was no quid pro quo combat capability built into this small set - what kid doesn't like swooshing and shooting?
XWING2 X-Wing Trench Run
The first official rendering of the trench that housed the flaw that was so fatal to the Death Star was delivered to attendees of a special make & take building event held at branches of Toys "R" Us in Canada.
The free event, was only open to "R" Club members, required pre-registration to attend and spaces filled up fast. This tiny display, made of 52 seperate pieces, didn't use any special elements and can be built using commonly sourced bricks.
75246 Death Star Cannon
While the rest of the gang goes to retrieve Leia from her cell, Obi-Wan's solo mission to release the Millennium Falcon from its own confinement leads him to the tractor beam controls, which is inconveniently close (in this LEGO set at least) to a turbolaser cannon.
Released during the The Rise of SkywalkerTriple Force Friday product drop in October 2019, this unusual combination of two prominent Death Star locations was praised for its neat play features and clever use of different colours, though the low brick count and the $19.99 price tag did raise eyebrows - particularly since the turbolaser gunner's seats had been stripped out. First the handrail at the Death Star's primary ignition control, and now this. What is it with Imperial procurement that they can't award their rank and file some basic conveniences? That's the trade-off for a new hood element!
If you have some comments to share about this set we'd love for you to visit our 75246 Death Star Cannon discussion area and express your thoughts.
The latest addition to the range of Death Star sets arrived in time for the annual May The 4th Be With You and took the form of a micro-scale battle scene.
40407 Death Star II
Turning the scale down once again - though not as far to the left that 9676 TIE Interceptor & Death Star went down to - LEGO delivered a small-scale set that depicted a smallslice of the climactic battle which took place at the end of Return of the Jedi and brought an end to the evil of the Galactic Empire.
The set, which comprises the exterior of the Death Star II decorated with semi-constructed, rust-red scaffolding towers and a turbolaser cannon tower, features a TIE Interceptor pursuing an A-Wing Starfighter across the multi-textured surface.
Provided through the annual May The 4th Be With You event, shoppers at LEGO.com received the 235 piece set for free with a purchase of $75 or more in LEGO Star Wars stock.
That's the entire collection of Death Star sets - who knew there were so many of them? Don't expect this to be the full and definitive list because with the LEGO Star Wars license set to continue to 2022, at the least, there's certainly reason to expect that we will eventually see a trash compactor set, or a new Darth Vader's TIE Fighter with a slice of the Death Star's hanger.