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From an AFOL viewpoint, who doesn't like to swoosh a quinjet (the original one) once in a while?
I think that is the first thing to note... generally the larger the set, the more special features it has. This is not always the case, though.
What themes does your younger brother like? I would first figure that out and then from there look at the larger sets in that theme and explore the special features in those sets.
Mys on likes the fortrex as well, or the evil
lava fortress one, that's a great set too.
The Ninjago lighthouse seige is a lot of fun too and pretty nice looking in my opinion too. And some great play features, falling through doors, flick missiles, something to slide down...
Sorry for the messy table, all the sets currently in play or not yet attributed a display space are on there for now :)
#70596 and #70323 are also very playable, though more expensive than the Fortrex or USR. Jestro's lair is noteworthy in that it has a lot of intense action features typical of boy-oriented themes, but also some dollhouse-style livable spaces of the sort you rarely see outside girl-oriented themes like Friends or Elves. In addition to the traps, dungeon, turrets, flying throne, and giant hellmouth, Jestro gets his own bed, bathtub, and kitchen! It's all suitably spooky for a villain lair, but also sort of cute and humorous.
I believe the Prison Island Police Station set is still out. My son really does not care for city, but this was a set he bought with his own money. It had a number of features to it. How did he know? YouTube video reviews. Jangbricks has some nice family friendly videos, and is our main source. That is a nice way to check out the features of these sets.
I actually picked up on a sale around Christmas a number of the sets mentioned here, because I felt they were ones he would like for their features. The Spider-Man bridge, fortrex, and the lava lair. I have these all stashed, though, so no idea if he really likes them or not.
Some of the Elves sets are also pretty awesome.
Chima Speedorz have been a favorite this week. Thank goodness they are durable enough to survive multiple collisions with walls and each other.