I found out about this via Boing Boing yesterday. Some website called Brickstructures is selling LEGO sets that are models of real life architectural monuments. They have four sets currently available: The Sears Tower, the John Hancock Center, the Empire State Building and the Seattle Space Needle.
The concept itself is not new, and you can find the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal on sale at the LEGO website. But these Brickstructures sets are microscale, meaning that they tried to use as few bricks as possible. From an artistic standpoint (which is very important to the creators at Brickstructures), this is commendable. You don't get the detail that a larger model would, but the skill that it takes to create a recognizable model with such few basic parts is nothing to sneeze at.
However, what is not terribly commendable is the price. The sets contain between 69 and 77 pieces and cost fifty dollars each (shipping not included). 50 bucks for sixty some odd pieces is pretty damn steep, even if you do get a snazzy booklet with it. Normally, the only LEGO sets that have anywhere near this steep a ratio of brick to dollar come with a remote control motor.
If you look at the aforementioned larger LEGO sets, their prices are also pretty steep. The Eiffel tower is $200 and the Taj Mahal is $300. But you get between 17 and 20 bricks per dollar. That ain't bad. With the Birckstructures sets, you're closer to a dollar a brick, which is nearing ridiculous.
As I said before, these guys see their work as Art (with a capital "A") and the prices are probably indicative of that. Still, given that the raw pieces (which anyone can shop for on the LEGO website) can be purchased for a fraction of what they are asking, it's still a hard pill to swallow.