The Beginner’s Guide To LEGO Star Wars Collecting 102: Planning

The next step in committing yourself to collect LEGO Star Wars sets is understanding when they are released – getting to grips with this will help you grow your collection at a sustainable rate.

When it comes to releasing new sets LEGO has a very carefully maintained schedule it sticks to that ensures a wide variety of sets and different themes are available all year round.

In broad strokes, there are two distribution periods which tie in with their catalog release programs: 1HY and 2HY (being the first and second halves of the year). Within these periods there are a number of product release points, the main ones of which are late December/early January for the Winter wave and July/August for the Summer wave.

These may vary depending on regional markets – for instance, Europe may get Winter stock just before Christmas, while in North America – where Black Friday is a bigger shopping event than the run-up to Christmas – the Winter wave drops in early January. This marks the start of 1HY, while the Summer wave, which comes out in June in Europe, and the start of August in North America is 2HY.

This helps LEGO meet peak demand periods (such as Christmas), the retailer ensures that its stock is frequently refreshed, and the general consumer can enjoy an ever-changing selection. For the collector – whether it is of Star Wars, Ninjago or any of the other themes – this means that there are several points of the year where LEGO releases waves of new sets, instead of being spread evenly across the calendar.

With regards to the Star Wars theme, there are a number of additional release occasions – such as the yearly May The 4th Be With You promotion and pop-up global release events like Triple Force Friday or Mando Mondays for new movies or TV series – as well as outlier releases that occur when a product is coming from a different department, such as Star Wars-themed BrickHeadz which don’t fall into the regular cycle or the expensive Ultimate Collector Series sets which are scheduled outside the Winter/Summer wave pattern for cost reasons.

On rare occurrences, retailer or event exclusives will add further collectibles to your shopping list. During most years this includes San Diego Comic-Con, when Star Wars Celebrations are planned and – on extremely rare occasions – New York or Fan Expo Comic-Con.

Armed with the knowledge of when new sets are expected to come out, you’ll want to know which ones and exactly when they hit the shelves. The obvious answer is to visit popular LEGO websites such as Brick Fanatics, Stone Wars, The Brick Fan, Hoth Bricks, Promo Bricks, and Brickset.

If you are only interested in collecting LEGO Star Wars sets then there is only one website dedicated to covering this theme – and you’re already at it.

In addition to specialist LEGO blogs, you can also sign up for the LEGO VIP Rewards program. It sends out regular news blasts and product updates, as well as information on special offers. On top of keeping subscribers up-to-date, VIP members also earn reward points for online and brand store purchases. Certified stores, LEGOLAND parks and Discovery Centers are not included in the scheme, however.

If you are trying to track the release of something specific, rather than a general set release, you can set up a Google Alert using suitable keywords to get notifications sent to your inbox.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, the final level of attentive scheduling is finding out about release times. In basic terms, waves available at general retail are generally under an embargo date and time and only become available to purchase after the embargo has expired. This requirement isn’t always adhered to and shops often put sets out early, particularly around Christmas.

Bigger exclusives like the Direct-2-Consumer (D2C) sets that LEGO sells excluisvely on its website and through its brand stores have variable release times. Most commonly these coincide with the first midnight of the region, for example North America would normally be able to start buying a set at midnight on the east coast.

With all this knowledge you’re ready for a toy run – the subject of our next installment in our The Beginners Guide To LEGO Star Wars Collecting series, so join us next week for chapter three.

Entertainment Earth

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