We'll if you've been hiding in your underground bunker with no access to the interwebs for the past few days, then you are likely to NOT have heard that Amazon France appears to be releasing six of the Summer 2010 Star Wars sets into the wild.
Admittedly I thought this would be revealed to have been an error on the part of Amazon France, but as a few more days go by with no reports of LEGO corporate descending on zip lines to halt this madness, it makes me think its legit. There have even been reports on Eurobricks of members who placed orders receiving shipment confirmation e-mails.
What other evidence is there of this being a legitimate launch? Well 30 years ago The Empire Strikes Back was released in theaters on May 21st, 1980. LEGO may have moved the launch date up to coincide with the anniversary.
We had reports of French retailer catalogs surfacing with "June" printed at the top and pictures of the new sets on the page.
LEGO Ambassador CopMike was provided with an early copy of the new Slave I set a few weeks ago. Given that LEGO is likely not running its production lines for a handful of sets, they may be ready to go. Why let them sit in a warehouse for three months?
The really strange thing is how this appears to have been a surprise to most of the online AFOL community. I have yet to see anyone come forward stating that LEGO had this in the works for quite some time and 'secretly' announced it at one of the European toy fairs.
Also, why France and why Amazon? If I understand correctly, you can live in the EU and have items shipped from Amazon France without huge shipping fees. The US, however, is another story. Might this anger other European retailers if Amazon gets a three month jump on them?
Without combing through last year's LEGO annual report, I would have to guess that the US is the largest market for LEGO. Now it hasn't been stated that these sets won't be available in the US until August, but it just seems odd not to launch in your biggest market first unless there are logistics issues that make it difficult.
I think the next few days may be telling. If LEGO doesn't clamp down on this early release, and those who ordered via Amazon France receive their sets, then what's done is done.
May 1st we expect to see the both the Toy Story 3 sets and the Collectible Minifigures released in the US through select outlets. Could these new Star Wars sets become available here too? Only time will tell...