Without a doubt, the Ultimate Collector Series – or the Undefined Collector Series as some LEGO fans dub it – range of sets is one of the most contentious lines that LEGO has ever introduced; not because the sets are controversial but because they are so ill-defined.
What started out as large-scale, advanced builds meant for display, the characteristics of the UCS subtheme became muddled, and – eventually – it included a growing number of sets that didn’t fit the bill, while other subthemes (such as Sculptures) began to include models that fans wanted to incorporate under the UCS banner.
It’s been a debate that has been raging for over a decade and now one fan has tried to iron out the wrinkles.
Photographed, researched and collated by Rafael López, the Ultimate UCS Collector’s Book is a labor of love that started out as many projects do – for personal reference – and evolved into a stunning tome that encompasses the history, details and facets of the width and breadth of the high-end sets that LEGO has been releasing over the last 20 years.
“The idea for the book emerged as such at the end of a process (which I began a few years ago) to catalog and document my personal collection of sets. It was a consequence, not something sought from the beginning, it was not the initial goal, but I am very happy with the result.” author Rafael shared with us.
Having driven thousands of kilometers around Europe to find the best possible samples to photograph, Rafael set to work devising a format to represent all the sets he wanted to include. Surprisingly it wasn’t dealing with the vague definition that has been attributed to the numerous Ultimate Collector Series sets, nor was it coming up with a way of agglomerating all those sets that would/could/should fall under an umbrella interpretation that was the most difficult aspect of the book but coming up with a layout that would reflect the ultimate nature of the content.
The result of several years of work is a tribute to his dedication as a fan, as well as living up to the status of the Ultimate Collector Subtheme.
Weighing in at 4.35 lbs (which is coincidentally 1977 grams), the Ultimate UCS Collector’s Book isn’t a lightweight, and its vital statistics are equally impressive; measuring 10 x 12 inches (25 x 30cm), its height and width are matched by 1.2 inches (3 cm) or 236 pages of thickness, and its amply padded front and back is enough to keep any fan happy.
With thought and the careful application of facts, Rafael provides an introduction that discusses the history of the line, followed by an analysis of the taxonomical breakdown of the various criteria that have been applied (successfully, as well as those dropped over the years).
What comes next is an astonishing deep-dive into the UCS subtheme, with stunning photo visuals that leap off the glossy pages. These are accompanied by salient text that not only describes the set in unsurpassable detail but includes all kinds of trivia and long-forgotten tidbits of information that make the written content as lively as the imagery.
Being a self-published book with niche contents, the short print run necessitated a high price point, and so if there is any downside to the book it’s the US$78/UK£47/EU€48/AU$79 price tag.
If you’re thinking of adding this publication to your bookshelf, then don’t. In all honesty, Ultimate UCS Collector’s Book doesn’t deserve to be tucked away but left out on a coffee table so friends and family – whether they are into LEGO or not – can enjoy the effort that Rafael has put into his work, as well as to get an insight into why LEGO has such a big place in your life.
Fervent documentarian, effusive AFOL and founding partner, Jeremy manages the daily news content and set reviews.
Having enjoyed playing with LEGO from his earliest years, Jeremy started collecting LEGO Star Wars in 1999 when the theme was first released. He has shared his thoughts and opinions on LEGO via a number of websites – including starwars.com, rebelscum.com and brickset.com – contributed to the LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary series and served the LEGO Ambassador Network as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media representative.