LEGO Star Wars VIP Black Card Gift 5005747 VIP Frame – Was it worth the wait? [Review and Editorial]

Earlier this month, LEGO announced the one and only promotion so far for LEGO VIP Program “Black Card” holders. The Black Card is a special VIP card given to people who’d purchased 75192 UCS Millennium Falcon the first several months that it was available after its release last September. The Black Card and this “exclusive” promotional gift is limited to a relatively small number of LEGO builders and collectors — even among the “hardcore” LEGO builders on staff here at The Brothers Brick, only two of us purchased the UCS Falcon last year during the time when LEGO was issuing Black Cards — so we wanted to share our observations about the promo set as well as our experience as Black Card holders so far.

The Black Card VIP frame

The Black Card frame comes in a resealable polybag with the instructions and parts loose inside the bag. LEGO typically uses this type of packaging for low-volume sets that they pack by hand rather than spinning up full manufacturing lines in their factories. This was the case, for example, with the interior bags in the limited-run New York Toy Fair exclusive Boba Fett & Han Solo last year, ahead of the mass-market LEGO Star Wars BrickHeadz released this year.

One immediate surprise is that the package includes a copy of a Black Card. Before the set arrived, I was wondering what the point of the frame was, since most people would probably carry their card in their wallets to actually use in person at LEGO Stores. We’ll come back to the card in this promo set in a moment.

The instructions are in a staple-fold booklet that isn’t anything particularly special. Rather strangely, the Black Card in the instructions themselves is printed at an oddly low resolution, appearing smeared or blurry.

And yes, you build the copy of the Black Card right into the frame — there’s no slot as such to insert it or remove it from the frame.

When complete — and it’ll only take you four or five minutes to build it — the frame stands at an angle, with a spot for the unique minifigure included in the set.

Let’s take a closer look at the unique elements of the set. The most notable element that’s completely unique to the set is the black minifigure with a torso printed with the Black Card logo (a silver Millennium Falcon logo sweeping upward).

The otherwise all-black minifigure has yellow hands. At first, we thought this was extremely odd — LEGO, after all, does indeed make black minifig hands and even black torsos with black hands as recently as 2012. But one thing LEGO builders love doing is creating minifig avatars for themselves, and it seems likely that we’ll be seeing lots of LEGO “sigfigs” featuring this new torso. Still, the otherwise all-black minifig feels a little, uh, gimpy… The minifig carries a 1×2 black tile, which presumably represents the black card. As such, it’s a little disappointing that the Black Card design isn’t also reproduced on this piece.

Black Cards sent earlier this year to LEGO VIP Program members who’d purchased the UCS Falcon have their names printed beneath the VIP Program logo, and the back of the card features unique identifiers like a bar code and a spot to sign your name. This “reproduction” Black Card meant for the frame is generic, with the LEGO Star Wars logo on the back instead of the unique details that would be on your personal card. Otherwise, the front of the card is indistinguishable from cards issued previously.

Overall, the build itself feels slapdash, with the absolutely minimal number of unique parts necessary. Similarly, whereas the sleeved box that contained the hand-picked parts for the NYTF-exclusive Boba Fett made that set feel “artisanal,” the same type of interior bag used as the set’s outer packaging makes the whole thing feel cheap. If we were designing something like this ourselves, we would also have included a message of appreciation to Black Card holders for their loyalty.

More about Black Card promotions for VIP Program members

It’s important to acknowledge up front that LEGO had no obligation to provide UCS Falcon purchasers with anything special at all. And yet, LEGO made a number of promises after the release of the Falcon — again, promises that they were under no obligation or expectation to make. First, they promised to send everyone who was part of the LEGO VIP Program at the time they purchased the UCS Falcon a special, new VIP card that would come with a number of special benefits over the following twelve months. (I ordered my UCS Falcon in early December, but didn’t receive my Black Card until several months later.)

Then, in early February 2018, five months after the release of the UCS Falcon, LEGO sent Black Card holders a message titled “<your name>, your first LEGO VIP Black Card offer is here!” The special offer was simply double VIP points on LEGO Star Wars purchases. Like many LEGO Star Wars builders and collectors, I had already purchased all of the LEGO Star Wars sets released in 2018 that I wanted (in my case in particular, to review the sets for TBB), so double VIP points off the usual schedule of (fairly frequent) double VIP point sales didn’t get me to click through to spend more money on sets I didn’t need.

The email also promised “Exclusive contests, Exclusive rewards, Exclusive access” and encouraged recipients to stay tuned for more.

Many LEGO Star Wars fans expected some type of major promotion for May the 4th, but “Star Wars Day” came and went with the only promotion being a free Y-wing blueprint that you had to use a special code for on purchases over $35, with a chance to win 18k white gold R2-D2 minifig.

Both of these promotions were so utterly forgettable that nobody we talked to in our circles of fellow LEGO fans remembered them, invariably calling the Black Card frame promo we reviewed above the “first Black Card promotion in 15 months” (see the comments on Facebook in response to the frame’s announcement for more discussion). This promo was also rolled out inconsistently, with some Black Card holders never receiving the notification email from LEGO. Since that email also included a unique code in order to have the frame added to your shopping cart, this inconsistency forced Black Card holders to contact LEGO Customer Service in order to get their code or have the item added to a qualifying order. This Black Card promo also required a separate Star Wars purchase. Again, many of us already have all the Star Wars sets we want from earlier in the year, and forcing us to make a purchase in order to redeem our promo item resulted in many orders like mine: The cheapest possible item in the Star Wars category, purchased with existing VIP points (I still had to pay shipping).

So, let’s summarize what LEGO has delivered in the past 15 months to VIP Program members who purchased the UCS Millennium Falcon:

  • Unique Black Card (generally delivered several months after purchase of Falcon in 2017)
  • Double VIP points on Star Wars purchases (once, in February 2018)
  • Y-wing blueprint with $35 Star Wars purchase (on May the 4th 2018)
  • Black Card frame with Star Wars purchase (in December 2018)

Overall, then, the promotions that LEGO promised in the months following the UCS Falcon’s release — “Exclusive contests, Exclusive rewards, Exclusive access” — have arguably not come to pass. We can’t emphasize enough that LEGO was under no obligation to make any promises to begin with, but one tangible reward in the 15 months after the Falcon’s release feels like an utter failure to execute on unasked-for promises. In other words, LEGO set high expectations and failed to deliver much of anything at all.

One of our readers responding to the extremely brief LEGO Star Wars box promotion noted correctly that, if LEGO had wanted to unload a backlog of minifigures in polybags (several of which were only available as part of previous LEGO Star Wars promotions and are thus indeed “rare” as I described them earlier this week), they could certainly have sent Black Card holders a box without forcing yet another purchase. There is certainly an element of privilege in being able to afford the UCS Millennium Falcon to begin with (as we noted in our original review). It’s a prestige set, and it seems like LEGO intended the Black Card program to reinforce the elite nature of their most loyal customers who’d purchased the Falcon. But by forcing a new purchase to get each tiny little (forgettable) promotion, the whole enterprise feels much more like a cash grab than a reward.

Over the past 15 months leading up to the most recent Black Card promotion, the entire program has been disappointing. We can only hope that LEGO will learn from this process and improve on the delivery of promises that they make (or simply not make unnecessary promises) for future programs like this one.

9 comments on “LEGO Star Wars VIP Black Card Gift 5005747 VIP Frame – Was it worth the wait? [Review and Editorial]

  1. Jim

    Sigh, this Black card promotion fiasco is sad for all the reasons you mentioned and more. I have one and these two tangible promotions but neither have been worth the effort of the marketing hype Lego put in place. Disappointing.

  2. Brian H.

    Black Card Holder – I was one of those who had to call to get their code. Definitely didn’t come via email. My original card has my name on it. I was kind of happy to get a separate card for the holder and my ultimate goal was the MINIFIGURE which I intend to keep for many years. My bag didn’t have the right parts too. I was given a 1×2 flat with studs when I should have been given a plain 1×2 studless flat. I was worried that little piece, which goes in the minifig hand, was printed but it looks like it was blank. No real loss in that case. This is the first time I’ve ever been given a wrong piece in any set I’ve obtained and your explanation of the hand pack makes sense.

    5 Pack Minifig Promotion XMAS – I had occasion to go visit Lego Land California in December and some of the minifigs they offered in that late 5 pack box they had PLENTY of for sale at the park so I found ZERO need to pick up the late December box.

    VIP Program Thoughts – After reading your site and others for the last year or so and seeing as how Lego operates I get the sense Lego is an inclusionary style company meaning they provide for the many not the few and they never want to exclude anyone from anything they do. I get the sense they may be wrestling with the idea of providing elite style items and systems which by their very nature exclude all but the very fortunate or lucky sometimes. I was lucky to be included in the black card. My wife stayed up past 3am trying to obtain the set on launch day and she managed to get it. She goads that over me all the time and I gladly thank her every time.

  3. Andrew Post author

    I wholeheartedly agree with those of you making the argument that LEGO shouldn’t be doing something super-exclusive like this in the first place (a broader point about LEGO I’ve made numerous times previously, including in the article about the NYTF exclusive Boba Fett). But it just seems silly that they made a bunch of promises and hyped the exclusive nature of the Black Card, only to fail miserably at actually delivering anything meaningful.

  4. R

    The Whole concept of the Black Card was an elitist idea to begin with. It’s simply Legos way of sucking up to those with $800 in cash just lying around to spend on this just as the Christmas season was getting into full swing.

    Now a person would think that the company had learned its lesson regarding this type of promotional issue, being as how it has been a major marketing catastrophe, but then they go and release the New Years sets for China only, which has been executed in the same exclusionary vein as the Black Card promotion. Now granted one is arguably different from the other, but the same basic tactics exist. Instead of ponying up to money, Lego is now giving exclusives to a Communist and Socialist regime guilty of numerous human rights violations, supporting N.Koreas dictatorship, being one of the worst polluting countries on Earth, and committing the daily suppression of free speech and thought. This is also the first time that Lego has gone and made a specific set for a particular country or region. Yeah, way to go guys! You picked a real winner to start off with!

    One last thing. Why is it that every other country seemed to get the Marvel Bricktober packs but not the US? Does Lego understand that Marvel came from here?

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Lego really needs to massively overhaul their marketing department in the sense of firing everyone. Immediately.

  5. Jelle

    I agree that I do not much like the elitist idea of the black card, but there are numerous other elitist Lego promotions, which differ in that they get less attention, like the set received during a Lego inside your, or even the solid gold Lego brick that has been given to a happy few.
    Or Lego employee Christmas gifts, to name just one other.

    Regional exclusive sets like the one for Chinese New year aren’t that exclusive, since they should become widely available through bricklink. The are not limited in production, so the prices are likely to be reasonable.

  6. Håkan

    I Think there have been indications that the Chinese sets would be more widely distributed. At least online…

  7. Jamie Morton

    I can’t believe they made you buy another set just to receive the card holder! That is just so cheap and tacky. Particularly as you say anyone serious enough to buy the falcon would have bought all the other sets they want already. For the sake of a few dollars (the world’s largest toy manufacturer) has alienated their biggest fans Poof form.

  8. Purple Dave

    I only mentioned the Hoth Han as being handed out to the crowd waiting for the Falcon launch, but the store manager did indeed bring out old GWPs and such to hand out to line-waiters. And it’s important to note that it wasn’t just for those of us who got there early enough to secure one of the coveted dozen Falcons they had on hand (which he had to beg them to send him, as he says they didn’t believe he could move that many by the end of the year). I don’t remember what all was given out, but it included Falcon prints from shortly before launch and polybag SW minifigs from a few different years. Every so often he’d head back into the store and bring out some of the old items and walk the line with them. Anyone who stayed got one, unless he ran out.

    One other member of my LUG showed up hoping to buy the Falcon, but seeing that there were at least 14 people in front of him for 12 sets, he left before they started with the freebies. I know at least two other people walked up, counted the line, and immediately turned around. So some people missed out, but we had several people who only walked away with the free stuff.

    @Briah H:
    *coughSDCCcough* Some years ago, I had an enlightening chat with Kevin Hinkle about this sort of thing. I was pointing out that the SDCC minifigs showed up on eBay in droves, that they regularly started selling at $300+, that they were pissing off fans who were giving up on trying to stay complete in either of the Superheroes themes, that they were inspiring a huge market for repro and counterfeit SDCC minifigs, and I kept getting the same answer: “They just don’t care.” He wasn’t talking about the company in general, but the team that manages the SDCC promos. All they see is that there’s tons of chatter about the Superheroes themes that they can tie back to the SDCC minifigs, and that means they did their job well. I recently took the Forma survey, where they asked us for our feedback both good and bad, and I basically took the opportunity to unload on them about the SDCC minifigs.

    Yeah, the Boba Fett is a sore spot for me (but it was NYCC, not NYTF), as is the Boba Fett microfighters tin set. At least they released a standalone Boba Fett Brickheadz set, and with the impending release of a Darth Maul microfighters set (one of three that released as an exclusive tin set) there’s hope that they _may_ get around to general releases of Luke’s Landspeeder and Boba Fett’s Slave I for that line.

    Bricktober sets were probably being developed before TRU announced they were going out of business. TRU still exists in other parts of the world, and probably still had deals in place to receive those sets. Reportedly, TRU Canada is responsible for the Marvel pack not showing up anywhere in the US.

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