My point was that it was not mostly licensing. Licensing does, and will, add some cost but you need to factor into the associated supply/demand for a specialized set aimed at collectors and lovers of architecture. These were started as a project by Adam Reed Tucker and sold initially by him only. My box of the John Hancock Center has no series number on it.
The number of Architecture series sets produced and sold is not the same as other series'. The amount of cost added to the final price needed to offset design, manufacture, logistics, general operational costs, etc. is much higher than on the more popular sets like the Harry Potter series. The profit margin for those more popular series' can be scaled differently because they are guaranteed to sell and sell a very large number of units. Supply and demand, design, production, and logistics are all costs.
Also, the specialized pieces have a high cost associated with them. These sets have a lot of special pieces which cost more to produce than your normal 2x4 brick. This article is good for a more in-depth look at manufacturing costs. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/08/24/why-are-legos-so-expensive/
. There is a fun video to watch from National Geographic about the factory and entire process from soup to nuts: vild-national.geographic.megafactories.lego.pdtv.xvid.avi
The amount of cost added by licensing is less of a determining factor for the Architecture series, with the notable exception being the Frank Lloyd Wright houses. The Frank Lloyd Wright sets have high licensing fees because the images/likenesses are under the control of the Frank Lloyd Wright estate and the respective historical associations which care for them. His name on something increases the price a ridiculous amount.
The Le Corbusier house shown here is under the care of Centre des monuments nationaux in France. Licensing of its likeness is far less expensive, thus much less of a factor of cost. The Farnsworth House was also much less expensive than it could have been.
As for locking out potential customers, that depends upon the demographic spread of the average customer who purchases the Architecture series. Any set is going to be priced out of reach of some potential customers. Look at the Death Star, Executor, Sopwith Camel, Maersk Train, etc. They are all very, very expensive and priced out of reach for potential customers. Even the less expensive sets will be priced out of potential customers depending upon what those customers are able to afford.