LEGO is killing the Star Wars aftermarket with its magazines
With every new issue of the official LEGO Star Wars magazine, the aftermarket for the theme's minifigures takes another hit. The LEGO Group appears to be actively destroying the aftermarket for LEGO Star Wars minifigures through its official magazine, published by Immediate Media in the UK, which continues to make sought-after characters more easily accessible. Case in point: by February, two of the three exclusive characters in 2021's 75316 Mandalorian Starfighter will have shown up in foil bags on the cover of the LEGO Star Wars magazine.
The Mandalorian Loyalist was included in Issue 86, while Bo-Katan Kryze is scheduled to appear with Issue 92. That only leaves Gar Saxon from the now-retired Clone Wars set, and the safe money is on the Mandalorian minifigure showing up somewhere down the line. If and when that happens, the aftermarket price of the minifigure - which is currently hovering at around two-thirds of the RRP of 75316 Mandalorian Starfighter - will surely plummet.
That's despite the LEGO Star Wars magazine only being readily available in the UK and a handful of European countries, and for the proof we need only look at the other rare characters included in the mag over the years.
The Mandalorian Loyalist, for example, is available for as little as GBP4.27 brand new on BrickLink, while Bo-Katan Kryze can be had for GBP10.25. By contrast, Gar Saxon starts at GBP23.49 - and the average new price is currently GBP40.22. We can look further back for an even clearer example of how the magazine affects the aftermarket prices of exclusive characters: in 2020, the title offered a cheap and easy way to pick up Luke Skywalker in his Bespin outfit, which at the time was only available in 75222 Betrayal at Cloud City.
That minifigure can now be purchased on BrickLink for as little as GBP4.75 new. The other exclusive named minifigures in 75222 Betrayal at Cloud City, on the other hand, command astronomical fees: you'll need to pony up at least GBP54.16 for Princess Leia, GBP70.46 for Han Solo and an incredible GBP168.40 for Lando Calrissian. If Luke hadn't shown up in the LEGO Star Wars magazine, it's not hard to imagine that he would have been fetching similar amounts by now.
The same minifigure was subsequently released in 75294 Bespin Duel later in 2020, but that Star Wars Celebration-exclusive was only distributed through select channels in the US, so its impact on the aftermarket price of Luke Skywalker was probably not quite as totemic as that of the mag.
If the LEGO Group continues its policy of including rare and desirable characters in the LEGO Star Wars magazine - particularly from retired sets, as is about to happen with Bo-Katan Kryze - the aftermarket for LEGO Star Wars minifigures will likely continue to suffer, if only in small bursts. There's clear potential for wider impact, though - especially if a minifigure like Gar Saxon does show up in a future issue. How long do we have until LEGO Star Wars investors decide that speculating on these minifigures becomes too risky, given any one of them could show up in a future LEGO Star Wars magazine, subsequently bottoming out the price?
That doesn't necessarily mean the current prices of older minifigures will come down, of course - so hard luck if you were hoping for a cheaper way to get your hands on Grand Admiral Thrawn or Darth Revan. Unless one of those randomly returns as a foil-bagged freebie...Images: Jan Sprmyr
The latest issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine includes a mini 75315 Imperial Light Cruiser, while Issue 91 - on shelves later this month in the UK - will come complete with Luke Skywalker in his Hoth fatigues, a minifigure otherwise only available in the retired 75298 AT-AT vs. Tauntaun Microfighters and 75340 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar.
Featured image: Jan Sprmyr