In 2003 a NIB LOTR was around $4k. In 2020 dollars $4k is $5477. So we could say that Stern's base games have really only gone up say $300 right? No. Think about how much more in regards to features is in LOTR compared to today's Stern Pro's. Think of the cabinet head being changed from wood to mostly metal, cheap decals being used versus direct cabinet printing, removal of the lockdown bar, removing the backbox lock mech, etc. Finally toss in the cheaper parts often being used such as the coil stops. Only then does it become clear just how much Stern has increased their prices and lowered their build of materials cost.
That same LOTR from 2003 for $4k should be compared to a Stern Premium today. At that point the real price increase to get a game with similar features is $3,000. What's even more eye opening is that's a $3,000 increase for similar features yet lower quality parts and build quality.