Re-released sets

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USS Constellation

USS Constellation

©2003 LEGO Group

The Return of the re-releases article that we published last week, following news that the Taj Mahal is making a comeback, generated a lot of interest and comments. Among them was one by Dude45 who suggested that we should take a look at sets that have been re-released in the past.

Identifying such sets is fairly easy because we have a table in the database that is used to record relationships between sets, so it was possible to create a query that shows 46 of them.

This article, then, examines a dozen or so of the more interesting ones and explains, or speculates, why they were re-released.

In the Return of the re-releases CapnRex101 defined three types of re-release. This article will be considering just direct re-releases and revised re-releases.


10000-1Guarded Inn
10000

The first significant re-release was in 2001 when 1986's 6067 Guarded Inn returned as 10000 Guarded Inn.

LEGO started to engage with online communities in the early 2000s and sensed that many Castle fans were frustrated that the current sets were all based around conflict and none of them provided any civilians or peaceful pursuits.

The company had also recently launched its online shop at home service so had an opportunity to produce more sets that could be sold directly to consumers. As 6067 Guarded Inn was one of the most highly regarded classic castle sets it made an ideal candidate for the first in a new line of direct-to-consumer sets, numbered in the 10000 series.

10000 is a direct copy of the original set, although the BrickLink inventory suggests it has one more part than 6067.

The following year 6074 Black Falcon's Fortress reappeared as 10039 so presumably 10000's rerelease was deemed a success.


8464-1Pneumatic Front-End Loader
8464

2001 was the first year in a period of decline for the Technic theme. The range of sets released that year are perhaps the worse ever, surpassed only by 2002 when no new sets at all were produced.

8464 Pneumatic Front-End Loader was a re-release of 8459 from 1997 and presumably made a reappearance in order to fill a gap in the product range which contained no new construction vehicles that year.

It was joined in the line-up by 8463 Forklift, which was a re-release of 1998's 8248.

8459 is one of just a few sets that have been re-released twice. It made a third appearance in 2004 as 8439.


10040-1Black Seas Barracuda
10040

The Pirates theme died a death in 1997 but such was the demand for the sets in the early 2000s that three sets were re-released in 2001, including 6291 Armada Flagship, and the best one of them all, the Black Seas Barracuda from the theme's original 1989 lineup, as 10040 Black Seas Barracuda in 2002.


10001-1Metroliner
10001

It was in the early 2000's that many AFOLs started to organise themselves into LUGs and in particular train clubs. There was thus a large demand for train sets but very few decent ones in LEGO's product lineup. This led to the appearance of 10020 Santa Fe Super Chief and 10133 Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Locomotive later in the decade and before that the re-release of two of the most sought-after 9v train sets.

In 2001 4558 Metroliner and 4547 Club Car returned as 10001 and 10002 respectively and so filled a gap in the market. Even today 4558 in particular ranks as one of the most attractive, realistic and coveted train sets of all time.


8431-1Pneumatic Crane Truck
8431

2002 marked the low point in Technic's history. No new sets were released at all; instead efforts were transferred to the new Racers theme that comprised both sets built with System parts and with Technic elements.

The year's entire line-up consisted of three old sets from the 1990s, but they did include 8431 Pneumatic Crane Truck which was originally 8460 released in 1995 and one of the finest Technic sets released in the 1990s.

Like 8459 discussed above, 8460 was also re-released twice, the second time as 8438 in 2003. The piece counts recorded at BrickLink and here are slightly different so there are presumably some minor differences between them.


6762-1Fort Legoredo
6762

1996's Western sets were hugely successful but the theme was very short lived with just 17 sets released over two years.

Demand was presumably perceived to endure in the early 2000s because three sets were re-released during that period, including the largest, 6769 Fort Legoredo, as 6762.


7142-1X-wing Fighter
7142

The X-wing is perhaps the most popular of all Star Wars vehicles so it came as no surprise when 7140 X-wing Fighter was released in the very first year of the theme.

This was soon retired only for 7142 X-wing Fighter to arrive in 2002. The two sets are completely identical, perhaps suggesting that the designers felt the original model could not be improved upon using contemporary parts. 4502 X-wing Fighter was then released in 2004 and took advantage of several new curved slopes which had come into use a couple of years earlier, but after the release of 7142.
Black Falcon's Fortress
10039


10037-1Breezeway Café
10037

Like Technic, the Town (later World City) theme was in a very bad place in the early 2000s, with dumbed-down sets and not many of them.

There were certainly no new civilian sets in the range so some of the best from the 1990s were re-released in 2002: 6376 Breezeway Café from 1990 as 10037 and 1994's 6350 Pizza To Go as 10036.

As far as I can tell from the BrickLink inventories they were both exact copies.


10021-1USS Constellation
10021

2003's 10021 USS Constellation takes the prize for being the set re-released the longest time after the original was produced. 25 years separate its release with the original from 1978, 398.

Unfortunately it was not a piece-for-piece reproduction, most notably the long-out-of-production yellow 1x1 windows were replaced by 1x1 headlight bricks, a substitution that many were unhappy with.


10041-1Main Street
10041

Personally I've never seen the attraction of 1980's 6390 Main Street but it seemed to have some sort of cult following, particularly in the USA, which presumably was the reason for its re-release in 2003 as 10041 during the Town theme's doldrums.

The new set has around 40 more parts than the original although it's not immediately clear why as, superficially, they look identical.

One element that's missing from the re-release is the cypress tree which went out of production in 2001 and last appeared in 10113 Cypress Tree before the worn-out mould was destroyed.


10155-1Maersk Line Container Ship
10155

I remember when pictures of 10152 Maersk Sealand Container Ship first surfaced in 2004 and the subsequent disappointment when it was found out that it was produced as a promotional item for Maersk and wouldn't be sold to the public.

Thankfully, a few months later, LEGO announced on Lugnet that it would be sold at Shop at Home after all but that only 14,000 would be made because "this new set uses all the Maersk blue ABS pellets we have left". Clearly the company went out and purchased more because new versions of the set (with the same number) were produced in 2005 and 2006, the latter with new stickers reflecting the new name of the shipping line.

In 2010 another new version was produced with a different set number, 10155 Maersk Line Container Ship which, according to the inventory at BrickLink, has 2 more pieces than its predecessors.


10249-1Winter Toy Shop
10249

The re-release of the first Winter Village set, 2009's 10199 Winter Village Toy Shop, as 10249 in 2015 was met with almost universal disappointment. Not because it's a bad set -- it isn't -- but because it meant that a new one would not be produced that year.

Jamie Berard has since stated that this was simply because the designers were very busy and that there was not time to create an entirely new model. Morten Rauff therefore took the opportunity to make a number of improvements to the set, as explained in the designer video at the end of the press release news article.


42041-1Race Truck
42041

The appearance of 42041 Race Truck in the Technic assortment for 2015 remains a bit of mystery. The original model, 8041 from 2010, was not exactly a stand-out set and probably not a best-seller either, so is a strange choice to reproduce.

Presumably it was needed to fill a particular price point in the product line-up that year.


75159-1Death Star
75159

10188 Death Star was released in 2008 and subsequently proved to be one of the most popular Star Wars sets ever, remaining on shelves for almost eight years before finally being retired in the spring of 2016.

Rumours quickly began to circulate that a new Death Star would be released later in the year but the announcement of 75159 disappointed many fans as the set offered little innovation in relation to its predecessor. However, of all the re-released sets on this list it is perhaps the easiest to justify as 10188 Death Star continued to attract new buyers but was also looking rather dated by 2016 so an updated minifigure selection was a necessity.


10256-1Taj Mahal
10256

We end with 10256 Taj Mahal, a re-release of 10189 from 2008, which, until this year's 75192 Millennium Falcon, was the largest set ever made.

After-market prices of the original have remained high which suggests there's still demand for it. I guess we'll have an indication of just how much from the time it takes to sell out at shop.LEGO.com...


So, what conclusions, if any, can we draw about why LEGO re-releases sets?

One thing that is interesting is that the highest concentration of re-releases coincided with the time when the company was in dire straits in the early 2000s.

Although Star Wars, Harry Potter and Bionicle were performing well for the company at the time many other themes were being neglected or simplified which left gaps in the product lineup that could be most easily and cheaply filled by re-releasing old sets. Perhaps, then, they are a sign that all is not well within the company.

Alternatively, the latest crop of re-releases might signal LEGO's current confidence. The toy has many more fans today than at any point in the past and the growth of the adult market following The LEGO Movie has fostered a busy secondary market for the most popular past sets. Bringing some of those back in an official capacity therefore makes perfect sense and the fact that LEGO is willing to expend resources on such products is testament to their confidence that the market for past sets remains strong.

41 comments on this article

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By in Poland,

There was also an airport set and a yellow truck I believe.

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By in United Kingdom,

Indeed there was. Check the list we link to for all we know about.

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By in United States,

While I acknowledge that the sets Brickset classifies as "Technic" were not in a particularly strong place in 2001 and 2002, I think I should point out that these were very successful years for Bionicle, which in its launch year was still branded as LEGO Technic. Even the packaging of the Rahi sets featured an almost identical box layout to other Technic sets at that time: a curvy gray border with a yellow bubble containing the set number. The biggest difference was logo placement, with the Bionicle logo elevated to the upper left on Bionicle sets, and the LEGO Technic logo pushed to the lower right.

2002 saw the Technic category break apart in more ways than one. Not only was LEGO Technic branding removed from Bionicle boxes, which were then essentially treated as their own theme, but the relaunched Racers series encompassed both System AND Technic builds. While most of the Technic-based Racers sets shared the sci-fi styling and simple, play-focused functionality that was characteristic of many Technic sets of that era, there was a notable exception in the form of the https://brickset.com/sets/8461-1/Williams-F1-Team-Racer. I wouldn't be surprised if the somewhat stagnant condition of the Technic theme in those years had to do with designers being pulled away to work on Technic-based sets for these two themes.

I think something that's missing from this article is discussion of the "LEGO Legends" series in more detail. There are two particular points that I think are worth bringing up. One is that the series as a whole was not particularly successful, which has been part of the reason for the LEGO Group's long reluctance to directly re-release popular sets specifically for the AFOL market. Another is that some of the LEGO Legends sets were actually selected by user voting on the LEGO Club website. Black Falcon's Fortress was one of these, edging out other possibilities like the Blacktron Battrax. I can't remember which others were selected in this manner, though, since the Wayback Machine is not working at the moment (and the old LEGO Club pages are difficult to navigate anyhow).

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Scott, thank you. You make a very valid point about the fragmentation of the Technic series and I have to admit to totally forgetting that the cars had been included in the Racers branding. Nevertheless there were no new 'traditional' Technic models that year.

Also, I have to admit to not recalling much about the Legends series and how it came about so will research, and look forward to hearing what you find out, too.

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By in United Kingdom,

Re-releases, even updated ones, are cheaper to produce than completely redesigned sets. So the margin per set for that year will be boosted.

The downsides to that strategy are that (1) LEGO will be perceived as not innovative and (2) sales may not be as high due to people already having the original.

Issue (1) can be countered with greater emphasis in its marketing to consumers and the toy trade of the innovation it is already doing. And issue (2) may not be significant if there is remaining demand - which LEGO is able to determine through market research.

It seems from the recent change of CEO and the laying off of 1400 employees at LEGO that the company is shifting its focus from growing sales to increasing margins. If so, we can expect more re-releases in 2018 and beyond, and maybe price increases across some or all ranges.

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By in Poland,

We want Radio Controlled Cars again, IR remotes are for watching TV. ;]

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By in Australia,

Ahh, the golden age of trains. So sad it passed.

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By in United States,

Yet the only way to get a new hospital was to buy the Friends one, it is interesting that the Falcon obviously has recieved the most updates as well the various police cars.

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By in United States,

It looks like there's definitely one pattern emerging, and that's one of mass-appeal. A Christmas set, a Pirate ship, several large-scale models for the TFOL/AFOL community, and of course Star Wars. I don't think we're going to see many niche re-releases like Classic Space or anything--Lego is definitely not prioritizing collectors looking for vintage sets here (nor should they be), so anyone with a particular set they're hoping for should keep this in mind.

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By in Canada,

If Lego wants to revive the "Legends" concept again, I'm OK with this providing they don't focus too much of their time/resources into this thus taking away from other themes. As well I imagine if they are going to re-release sets they will do substantial research into which ones are chosen and hopefully they won't flood the market with them. Perhaps 2-4 a year at most.

I think this new "Legends" theme would be similar to Lego Ideas you have a few releases a year that appeal to many and most people will pick up at least one of them.

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By in United States,

I still think it would be nice to have a semi-regular article featuring a vote on the 5-10 "Legendary" sets fans would most want to see rereleased, and the results of the poll could be shared w/the LEGO Group. Like they originally did for the Legends series, however I believe w/Brickset there would be a wider audience and more participants in the poll. Bring on the early Modulars w/necessary improvements!

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By in United States,

Hopefully someday they will re-release that cypress tree element. I'm really suprised they have never done so actually.

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By in United States,

While the re-release of some sets is nice, what I really wish they would do is a revisit of some of the old themes/sub-themes, keeping the aesthetic of them but using new, modern building techniques and pieces. For instance, Blacktron, Ice Planet 2002, M-Tron, and the first two Space Police sub-themes (just to consider Space sets) have some great coordination of color and design across the theme that I feel like is lost in a lot of the more modern sets, which are trying to be more futuristic or different. I think the Galaxy Squad theme is a good example of this. I like the sets and the builds, and there are a lot of great ships and stuff as PARTS of sets (the tank in 70709, the ship in 70705, etc.), but the theme as a whole has the bugs and everything... which are great, don't get me wrong, but they cause the sub-theme to feel different than the older themes.

I don't quite know where I was going with that argument, but the heart of what I'm saying is that I feel like there are some amazing sets to be created out there with old aesthetics and modern pieces and techniques in quite a lot of the themes that have been used at one time or another. Personally, I feel like some of the late 80's-early 90's space themes and the Western theme are ripe for a revisit. And I also feel like such a revisit of sub-themes, as opposed to single sets, would allow LEGO to continue to innovate while still recapturing a lot of their history and the nostalgia that drives a lot of the collectors market for those older sets.

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By in New Zealand,

I just really wish they'd re-release set 10113 Cypress Trees. I need hundreds of them for my 1980's catalog type scenes. Surely at some point they could justify a new mould?

It's interesting some of the sets that were re-released. The likes of the Metroliner would easily appeal equally well to a child today, so seems a good candidate, whereas say, 6390 Main Street, is a quirky 80's set and would only appeal to nostalgic afols who don't own the original, not so much a new generation.

I'm expecting the Taj to meet with limited success - again, the market is AFOLs who missed out the first time around. Perhaps they deliberately chose this as a candidate though as if this is a success, then other sets may be more successful.

In any case, we know that many of the original 80's/90's parts, the moulds no longer exist; and as such, many sets are not going to be re-released unless they've found a new way to produce quality parts in a low-volume manner.

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By in Canada,

Would polybag sets like 20016 and 30246 count as re-releases based on this criteria? Very different parts list but both are based on the same ship at the same basic scale.

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By in Germany,

There was also an early re-release of the "statue of liberty" and other sets. After the complete sell of the 1st run of this set, there was still a demand and after some months break finally a new release.
Some early sets had a 1st release "black box version" (e.g. the UCS Rebel Blockade Runner, the sopwith camel, ...) and later releases with colour boxes.
After the 1st run of the maersk ship (which was complete sold in only three days), there was a LEGO voting which colour a new release should have. As far I remember "dark green" won, and LEGO published photos of the dark green maersk ship. But the new releases had still the maersk blue colour, because even the maersk company needed new LEGO ships for promotion.

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By in United States,

Excellent write-up and analysis, Huw. I believe the market will always be strong for past sets released. It is also a great testament from LEGO of their confidence in their past products and legacy.

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By in United States,

Be careful with using Bricklink inventories to judge differences between original and re-release sets. I found a number of errors in the Main Street 6390 inventory when I bought my copy last year, mainly because when BL first started only the re-release 10041 was available, so the original inventory for 6390 just copied the 10041 (they were just assumed to be the same...lack of cypress tree and pig-tail hairpiece in 10041 notwithstanding...). Over the years the 6390 inventory has been ironed out through numerous change requests (for the most part), but I'm now wary of any accuracy concerning original and re-release BL inventories unless they are closely analyzed...

As far as the absence of Cypress trees are concerned, here's my take: once upon a time, almost every Town set with a baseplate (large or small, see 6363 and 6364 as examples) included a molded tree of some type. Nowadays, there is very little foliage included with City sets (due to lack of baseplates to put them on, maybe?), and the lack of Castle/Pirate sets means there is no ready-made forest to be filled. And the only current non-urban theme, City Jungle, leans toward brick-built plants anyway. TLG must figure that it's both cheaper to brick-build instead of provide one-piece plants, and the AFOL community generally clamors for brick-built structures over large single-piece molds anyway, so why bother with specialty plants that many builders could complain about, and that TLG won't use in too many sets anyway? They won't make an exception for trees, because that would open the floodgates for 100 other requested exceptions. Besides, it would take design and tooling money away from the ever-unique minifigure designs...

Old man rant over. Oh, and get off my lawn!

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By in Belgium,

They should re relaese the DUPLO Thomas the tank engine sets. They are very popular but rare in my region.

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By in Russian Federation,

I always wanted the pizzeria one.

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By in Canada,

10041's extra parts are due to a lot of pieces in the original Main Street not existing anymore and needing more parts to make substitutes, mostly the one-piece road signs and 2x14x2/3 tiles (made as center caps for old 4.5v level crossings) I'm pretty sure this is one of the big roadblocks to rereleases of old sets nowadays (aside from poor sales of the Legends sets); there are so many old parts that just don't exist anymore, even Cafe Corner has a fair amount of out-of-production parts which the set won't work without

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By in United Kingdom,

Cloud city please

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By in United Kingdom,

Umm. Shouldn't the UCS Falcon be in that list?

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By in Australia,

As I left my dark ages and became an AFOL, I bought several of those re-releases: Fort Legoredo and the city cafes were favourites. I remember thinking it was good to get hold of a set that was suddenly available again. I bought them for building (and playing) and I expect that's what Lego has in mind when they re-release sets. I also remember thinking that there was probably much less resale value in those sets, compared with the originals, and I wonder if, fifteen odd years later, that's still the case.

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By in United States,

They need to take the spin that Disney uses with their movies and the 'vault.' I'd love to see some sets released again, they could make big hype about limited time, then put away again and be fine. I got in to modulars late and would love some of them to be released again. I have friends who's children are just old enough to be enjoying Harry Potter now, and they'd love some sets for them. There' always new kids and popular lines always survive.
Also, we need some classic castle again. The evil creatures in Nexo are cool figs, but I dont really count those as castle sets.

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By in United States,

I guess the moral of the story is that if we want to see more re-releases in the future we need to buy the Taj. Like others have stated elsewhere, I worry that most of the luster surrounding these retired sets is that they are hard to get. Once they become readily available we (AFOLs) will change our minds and spend our money elsewhere. I am a perfect example as I've fantasized about dropping thousands on the Taj but wonder if I will buy it now instead of sets like Ninjago City, Assembly Square, the new Carousel (another revised re-release), Disney Castle, etc, etc.

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By in United Kingdom,

Still have the OG Fort Legoredo and I won't be giving that one up for a re-release that's for sure. I still prefer dramatically upgraded designs or new innovative ideas though. Considering many of the 'evergreen' themes are present on the outspread branches of the Tree of Creativity in the Lego House, it would suggest (and I would hope) that some core themes like Space aren't forgotten.

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By in Australia,

Looking at the images for 10021 it's interesting they used the same box art image as 398 (note the other Hobby set in the background 395-1: 1909 Rolls-Royce and the teen who definitely dates the image as 1970's), but it looks like they've photoshopped in the headlight bricks in place of the 1 x 1 window pieces.

I don't know if it falls into the re-make category, but Coast Guard Station 369 (1976) was re-released for the US market in 1978 as 575. But as the changeover from "stiff" minifigs to articulated minifigs had just occurred, the new minifigs were added to the set, along with some changes to the watercraft/aircraft to better accommodate them. There were some colour changes as well and the addition of an American flag, but the building remained in the old Legoland style (four walls, no interior detail and a small old type door).

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By in United States,

I'd really like to see a monorail re-release. Those sets were pricey and I regret never getting one as a kid.

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By in United States,

@Lordmoral: I mean, it's not like it's ever been particularly common for LEGO to have hospitals in more than one theme at the same time. And I don't think LEGO has ever been all that committed to making hospitals a staple product. In the past 30 years there have been only like seven hospital sets that weren't a new version of Arkham Asylum (which, in the context of the Batman mythos, really functions more as a prison). And two of those seven were education sets that didn't even appear in regular stores or catalogs.

@tomenadi: Unfortunately, the Thomas and Friends brand belongs to Mattel ever since they bought HIT Entertainment six years ago. A few years later they acquired Mega Brands. Getting Thomas & Friends sets is about as unlikely as getting American Girl or Barbie sets.

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By in Australia,

I missed getting all the Duplo Thomas and friends sets, but I think that's just gone the way of the dodo.

Although I will remain ever hopeful that Lego will release some of their older train sets. I know the odds aren't good, at all, but it'd still be lovely if they ever did.

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By in United Kingdom,

@BooTheMightyHamster, "Shouldn't the UCS Falcon be in that list?" No, as it's a remake rather than a re-release as it's vastly different to the original.

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By in Sweden,

Thanks, great read. Glad you liked my article idea.

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By in Netherlands,

Nice article. I like that the actual query is included on the page with all re-released sets :)

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By in United Kingdom,

I have the original of the "Constellation" - I think there may be others where there are two codes - not all are re-releases there are cases where US/UK set numbers appear to differ although the sets are the same.... this happened a lot in the 60s/70s....

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Absolutely there is but we didn't include them as they are not re-releases as such but, as you say, just given different numbers for different markets.

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By in United States,

The Burj?

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By in United States,

Why is 10231 not on the list of re-releases? It's listed as a replacement for 10213 which looks identical.

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By in Netherlands,

"I worry that most of the luster surrounding these retired sets is that they are hard to get. Once they become readily available we (AFOLs) will change our minds and spend our money elsewhere."

Copy that!

Also, while I think it would be very hard to find proof, the article doesn't mention the possibility that LEGO nowadays(!) might be re-releasing sets to a) influence crazy prices of specific 2nd hand sets or b) prevent Lepin from taking advantage of the markets needs. I don't know how much truth there is in either statement but at least both possible reasons are being discussed in the community.

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By in United States,

@msmcintire It's interesting that you say that, because I just got an ad in the mail for Black Friday, and it is actually listing the Taj Mahal with a little circle label saying 'Out of the Vault!' I wonder if this is an indication that they ARE planning on following the Disney Vault method, or even if, as mentioned above, this is a test for a wider roll out of such a program.

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By in United States,

I never realized the Constellation set was that small! In the catalog, it looked enormous. But I suppose that's the point of a catalog.

In the same vein as the 7140 X-wing being re-released as 7142, the 7150 TIE Fighter and Y-wing set was also re-released as 7152 in 2002 with no changes.

This set was released again in 2004 as 7262, but with some significant changes. The Y-wing was the same model as before, but the old grays were replaced with 2004's new bleys. Darth Vader's TIE Advanced was an entirely new model, and would appear later that same year in 10131 TIE Collection. The Vader minifig was unchanged except for a new light bley head (also appearing in 10131).

As for why Lego didn't completely redesign the Y-Wing for 2004 to match the X-wing, TIE Fighters, Falcon, and Snowspeeder, we might never know. Maybe they believed that there weren't enough new pieces to make a more accurate design, at least, not until 2007.

@BeaR the Builder: I believe that both of those reasons are part of it.

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