Some sets you buy because the model makes for a lovely display piece, even though it doesn't have much for play features or interactivity. #10143
Death Star II is an example. Set these types of sets aside for now....
Some sets you buy because the minifigures are awesome, though the model is lacking; many early superhero sets are characterized this way. Set these aside too.....
And then there are some sets that have the magic combination of eye-catching design, clever minifigures, and wildly fun play features. These are the sets that highlight everything Lego can be when it is hitting on all cylinders. These are the sets that are so good, you might buy them even though you don't necessarily collect their themes. These are the sets that are so much fun, you just can't keep your hands off them. Remembering that Lego is first and foremost a TOY and should be played with, I call these the "All-Time Classics", and here's my list so far:
Black Seas Barracuda -- THE classic pirate ship, loaded with figures, features, and even animals. Even if you're not a Pirates fan, you have to admit she cuts a pretty profile.
Haunted House -- When October rolls around, everyone who doesn't have this set (including me) wishes they did. A gorgeous, gothic masterpiece.
Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! -- The actual physical embodiment of "Swoosh!", with great minifigures to boot.
Ewok Village -- A boatload of furballs and core characters packed in a set that's filled with play features and has an obvious vintage Kenner influence. The design was great in 1983, and got even better in 2013.
Medieval Market Village along with #7189
Mill Village Raid -- Proving that there was more to the Castle theme than just castles. Now the Kingdoms have actual peasants to fight over!#8635
Mobile Command Center -- It's a vehicle! It's a base! Wait, it's actually a whole bunch of vehicles! It even lights up!
Temple of Airjitzu -- Even if you're not into the Ninjago storyline (like me), you have to admit this is a beautiful set. I've seen plenty of folks on the boards saying this will be their first and only Ninjago purchase, and I'll likely soon be joining them.
Town Plan -- Just look at that Art Deco movie theater! This is Anytown USA writ small, and there's so much to do, you'll never be bored.
As you think over the entire history of minifigure-based Lego sets, what ones do YOU consider to be All-Time Classics?
#8635 looks to be a really great playset. I'm maybe 2/3 through building it, slow going because most of it is mixed up with several other sets, AND some parts are not in the pile I'm working with.
#6970 Beta I Command Base - For me, personally, the greatest set ever. It has a moonbase, a monorail, a buggy, half a crater AND a spaceship. If you got one Classic Space set, it absolutely had to be this.
#70816 Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! - A modern take on #928, with incredible detail, loads of places to place your figures, hidden mini-robots, expanding wings and also those detachable mini-flyers on the wingtips. It needs to be played with separately from all other Classic Space though, as it makes even #928 look a bit under-sized! ;-)
#21118 The Mine - I'm adding this as a self-confessed LEGO Minecraft fan, but it is a great set, with spiders, zombies, skeletons, a mine track with cart, exploding TNT and it is on 4 levels, including the surface! It's very customisable with all the modules that make it up able to be set up in many different ways.
#70751: Temple of Airjitzu - Although an incredible display piece, the amount of play features are fantastic as well. Firstly, you have the three main buildings and the bridge. The main building contains three main levels, for general use, weapons training and more artistic pursuits, there is also the hidden roof space and the light theater below. The two smaller buildings also contain a lot of nice features, with the shop full of goods and a hidden stash of weapons, plus the blacksmith with its workshop and ninja flyer stored on the upper floor.
#70738 Final Flight of Destiny's Bounty - This would be a great ship without all the extra features that transform it into a great playset. You have the adjustable "wings / sails", the stud-firing mini cannons, plenty of storage space, a flight control room, deployable workshop and the engines redeploy in a fantastically-designed manner. Oh, plus you get a dragon, ghosts and loads of minifigs.
#9474 The Battle Of Helm's Deep PLUS #9471 Uruk-Hai Army - You need both of these sets to create the best possible playset with plenty of figures, lots of walls, siege engines, towers and bombs.
For a location-based set, I really like #76051 : Super Hero Airport Battle - there's plenty of figures to play with, there's an aircraft, a ground vehicle and a building, and there's a GIANT ANT-MAN.
My son loves to play with this set, and every adult who sees it is fascinated by Giant-man.
For spaceships, there's not much that could compete with #928 : Space Cruiser And Moonbase, but #6980 : Galaxy Commander gives it a damn good run for it's money. Ok, so the vehicles can't fit into the ship, but it separates! And it looks the business - classic blue/white scheme and sleek where it matters.
Also, a mention must be made for #76042 : The SHIELD Helicarrier - the building experience is advanced, clever and satisfying, the finished model is impressive to look at (and obviously a Helicarrier) and all the micro-builds and statuettes make it fun to play with on a scale you can't normally achieve.
Even if you were not into Star Wars, as a set it had enough going for it to keep builders happy and technically with the figures you got in the set, you wouldn't have had to buy anything else in the line to have hours of fun with it.
The fact that it was around for ages must also mean it did something right. Other sets may have had better builds or better minifigures but this thing just kept going.
hearing some of you mention Benny's spaceship is making me mad all over again that toys r us cancelled my order the last time they had it at sale price.
If I added smaller sets, I would add Scooby Doo's Mystery Mansion and TLR Silver Mine.
But if we're considering building value as a component of play value, I agree that #70751 Temple of Airjitzu is a good candidate. It's probably too advanced for some younger builders to do all the building without at least a little bit of help, but it's an engaging build broken up into sections, with some really creative techniques. The set has enough space, characters, and accessories for some good role play, plus the shadow puppet theater function for those with a taste for moving parts. Its biggest drawback is a lack of real "action play" features, which is where the earlier #2507 really shines (the whole temple splits apart to reveal the dragon, which has a fireball-shooting function).
Another Ninjago set that I don't have yet but that looks like a great set for play value is #70590 Airjitzu Battle Grounds. Themes like Ninjago and Legends of Chima have had lots of similar sets based on competitive gimmicks in the past, but this one stands out due to its great architecture (which, in terms of colors and motifs, would fit in well with the aforementioned Temple) but also multiple ways to play, since the Airjitzu fliers come with both standard "air launchers" for flight and Technic based "ground launchers" for arena-style battles. Also, with 666 pieces for $60, it's got a better value than many other sets with these sorts of specialized action gimmicks.
The Elves theme is another of my favorites. It leans more towards role-play than action play but it's very colorful and elegant, and the designers put a lot of thought into the play features to really give it a prevailing sense of magic. #41180 looks like a standout set with great building value and a "livable" interior, in addition to all the features you might expect of a LEGO castle like a throne, dungeon, traps, and a siege engine. Considering the LEGO Castle theme often includes these sorts of things at the expense of a more livable interior, this is perhaps my favorite LEGO castle to date.
#70323 Jestro's Volcano Lair from LEGO Nexo Knights is one of the sets this year that I was most pleasantly surprised by, because despite its aggressive design language, it excels in many of the same ways as Ragana's castle from LEGO Elves, plus includes a hover-horse, a flier, and a zany cast of characters. #70317 The Fortrex was a tough act to follow with its detailed interior and multitude of play features, and I'm tempted to say it still comes out ahead of the Volcano Lair in terms of sheer style. But the Volcano Lair handily surpasses it in terms of play potential.
I would be remiss if I didn't include a Bionicle set, especially considering that's the theme I have probably played with the most over the years! However, Bionicle sets often have fairly similar play features so it's hard to narrow it down to just one. My favorite Bionicle set is #70786 Gali - Master of Water. That's as much based on looks as anything, but she also has a great multi-function weapon (an axe that converts into a spear and fins or a monofin), an alternate mask, and of course a pop-off mask function and gear function. #70795 Mask Maker vs. Skull Grinder is another real contender. It's got two figures with 13 points of articulation. Both Ekimu the Mask Maker and Kulta the Skull Grinder have gear functions and pop-off masks, and Ekimu also has a spinning shield and a shooter in his hammer. The set even includes the Mask of Creation for them to fight over, as well as a display stand.
There are a few standouts from older Bionicle series as well. #8538 Muaka and Kane-Ra are a tiger and bull with little posability but great competitive play functions — squeeze the midsection to make the head lunge forward and bite down, and pull off the opponent's masks to make their legs fall off. #8811 Toa Lhikan and Kikanalo both looks great and has lots of play value, since you can use the two figures as rider and mount, as allies, or as adversaries. Both have pretty good articulation for their time, Kikanalo has a pretty engaging build, and Lhikan has most of the play features you might expect from a Toa like a gear function and swords that convert into a shield or hoverboard.
The 2008 and 2009 Bionicle vehicle sets often have great play features but they don't tend to compare that favorably to smaller sets, since the pilots they include tend to be kind of ugly and boring (the vehicles come at the expense of accessories and play features that would give the pilots more personality and play potential). The Hero Factory set with the best play value IMO is #44009 Dragon Bolt. It's extremely swooshable, with lots of posability, and the wing-flapping function is really user-friendly. I built him at BrickFair Virginia in 2012 and had lots of fun zooming him around the expo center.
And of course I agree with many of the other sets suggested in this topic like Benny's Spaceship and Final Flight of Destiny's Bounty. Might as well throw in #70728 Battle for Ninjago City (another playset that is both surprisingly livable and incredibly action-packed).
If it feels like my list is skewed towards recent themes, some of that is deliberate. A lot of my childhood sets were strong in terms of play value (at least for their time) but a bit meager in terms of building value, like #6195 and #6198 from the Aquazone theme (a childhood favorite of mine) or #6769 from the Wild West theme. Perhaps part of why I never had a "dark age", besides being young-at-heart and having Bionicle to carry me through my teen years, is that sets have generally been improving for most of my lifetime as a LEGO fan.
Anyway I've rambled enough here when I should be packing for BronyCon. There are plenty of other good sets I've probably omitted, but they'll have to wait for another time.
- it's a friggin pyramid.
-a car and guns for the adventure
-a giant stone scorpion
-4 mummies and one of them flies.
-plenty of treasures to loot.
-many action features like a mechanism to open door and a wall to blow off.
epic dragon battle.
it has a big 4 headed dragon that can shoot balls and quite a worthy opponent as a massive snake that can really eat minifigs. also there is a prison, which is quite large, but more of a background piece. 3 figs on the good side and 4 on the baddies side including 2 snakes with tails.
#9464 The Vampyre Hearse: Load the minifigure into the coffin inside the hearse, then flip the lever to make the roof open and the coffin flip up, ejecting the minifigure forward. It's gimmicky but more replayable than a "dumb" projectile because different minifigures can be used.
#70704 Vermin Vaporizer: What looks like a typical vehicle with a big turret on the back is actually a pseudo-base. The front opens into a ramp to allow the cockpit-that's-actually-a-buggy debark, there's a "lab" area for minifigures to sit, and the turret on the back is actually a separate mech.
#70708 Hive Crawler: It's a glorified catapult that launches eggs that break open on impact to reveal little aliens. The mechanized walking feature is just icing.
#41074 Azari and the Magical Bakery: Unlike the above, there's really no gimmick here. All of the features add up to make it the perfect platform for a kid to role play baking or cooking and selling to customers.
1. #10243 - Parisian Restaurant - Modular Buildings are typically very repetitive due to the nature of architecture however this product has the least amount of repetitiveness and minimal mirroring which adds to the building and visual experience. Not only is this the best Modular Building, it’s the best product LEGO has ever produced!
2. #71016 - Kwik-E-Mart - This pretty much sums up the traditional LEGO building experience with it's simple geometry. It's also full of references and Easter eggs from The Simpsons TV show. It's essentially a 'Modular Building' for a younger audience with much more access for play experience.
3. #70708 - Hive Crawler - The building creativity for the product is extremely fascinating, it's design and two outstanding play features make this set easily emulates every other LEGO set. The crawling leg movement is very intimidating and perfect replication of real creepy crawlies, I cannot imagine if someone was to add Power Functions to this model! Additionally, the cocoon launcher is equally as fascinating as it launches the cocoons; causing them to break on impact which hatches the creepy insectoids causing total mayhem!
4. #75075 - Microfighters, AT-AT - I absolutely adore this model. It’s a very unique and fresh addition to the Star Wars theme given that it’s fully poseable as well being so cute, having a sense of character and emotion. Without a doubt it's the best Microfighters released and one of the best LEGO products in this price range!
My Review: http://brickset.com/reviews/50352
5. #5004419 - Classic Knights Minifigure - It’s a perfect example of what a faithful homage and promotional product should be; from its packaging imitating boxes from 1960 – 1965, replication of the 1980s Castle Minifigure and the tribute to #6012 - Siege Cart.
My Review: http://brickset.com/reviews/50390
#75828 - Ghostbusters, Ecto-1 & 2
#76039 - Ant-Man Final Battle
#31039 - Blue Power Jet
#70816 - Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP!
#9500 - Sith Fury-Class Interceptor
Each of them makes one normal thing and then rebuilds into a flying fighter jet contraption to take on the evil micromanagers.
The beauty of it is that they make pretty good "normal" models, the ice cream truck and the garbage truck especially. So if you only build what's on the box, you can get a really nice City vehicle, OR a crazy aircraft, using the same parts. The garbage compactor even has a chomping mechanism that's surprisingly fun.
Also, the police dropship and benny's spaceship are great large aircraft. They are very swooshable and have lots of shooty things. I think they are better made than most Star Wars ships.
The Lego movie was okay, not as good as I'd hoped, but still good. But the tie-in Lego theme is one of the best themes Lego has ever made in my opinion.
#70816 : Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! is more fragile than you might think: The two craft on the outer edges of the wings can fall apart if detached quickly (i.e.: by a child), the wings themselves can fall off if you hold it the wrong way underneath (if you need two hands because you're a child), the two robots included do NOT stay assembled longer than 30 seconds when played with (or even just held by an adult), Space Kitty's head falls off easily, and the canopies over the large missiles also fall off - especially if the wing/booster mechanism is used.
I still love it, but if my youngest is playing with it, I can't hoover afterwards without a 15 minute surface check for all the missing pieces!
the play features on this one are insane!!! monsters gotta eat and drink too!
battle for ninjago city deserves a honorable mention here. ITS GOT THE OVERLORD!!!
These are great toys. Set the wheel spinning, take aim at whatever the target(s) are and let go. They are great fun to play with if you have wooden floors. If you can do one stunt, line up another and try to do two at once, then three if you succeed. Or alternatively, just race them.
Crap building experience, and the speedorz are not much use for the parts (although some of the small builds are great parts packs) but great fun as toys.
- Ewok Village - Definitely.
- The Black Pearl - Great if few figures, impressive looking model and well, being a pirate ship is a playfeature in itself.
- 4842 Hogwarts - Lots of excellent figures, looks surprisingly good on display and each room is loaded with features. Maybe Diagon Alley as well, but I can't remember if it has any play features really.
I love anything to do with underwater exploration, and I agree these three Atlantis sets are gems. All three on on my Want To Buy list.
The Medieval Market Village I already have, and I can attest to the fantastic play value. I thought we'd get enjoyment purely out of building and displaying it, but at 33 and 40 (then) we spent ages getting the minifigures into trouble. It ended up like that village in The Wicker Man; there was a LOT of weird stuff going on there... actual children might have been slightly less subversive with it, but there really is a lot to fiddle with!
When I was a kid I was drawn to playsets (Lego or otherwise) that came with some kind of setting with lots of hiding places/secrets/traps - Castle and Pirate bases are naturally appealing in that way.
As for today's stuff, the Nexo Knights sets I've seen so far come with a lot of stuff to do, and the different ways you can connect them seem to add to the play value. It's funny; when I was a kid, at a certain point I cared much more about building than playing, but now I get the urge to actually play with the sets again...
Also, not sure if it counts for the purposes of this discussion, but my partner chimes in the Fabuland was great for actually playing with. The characters were very engaging, and it seems to have been a very complete, internally consistent world. That's cosy and inviting somehow. He also mentions the knights from the late 70s - very simple designs, but this made you project your own ideas onto them...