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Difference between 5-12 & 6-12 Sets

keenasmustardkeenasmustard Member Posts: 2
edited November 2012 in Building and Techniques
Hi, I'm a mum looking to buy her son some Lego- therefore I'm not a guru like I'm sure you all are, so be kind to my seemingly daft question! I'm just wondering what the actual difference is between the sets mentioned above. What makes the 6-12 year old kits too presumably "advanced" for a 5 year old? My boy is turning 5 in March and we're looking at Lego as a Christmas present. Not sure whether to go for a kit or just one of the general packs of bricks. Any tips most welcome!


  • JenniJenni JapanMember Posts: 1,390

    It really does depend on the kid. My daughter is 8 but has put together most of the 12+ Winter Village sets with a very little help over the last two years. I wouldn't give them to some of her friends though, I know they wouldn't be able to do it.

    The age levels are a guide to how complicated the sets and instructions are, not really an overarching statement of the actual ages they're appropriate for.

    So, not knowing your kid it's hard to say, we had a little friend over recently who is very into LEGO. He will be five in January and had no idea what to do with instructions, for him LEGO is about a big pile of bricks he can build what he wants. I put his polybag set together for him and he was very happy to play with it. Another friend who'll be 5 in July loves to sit down with his mom and they build sets (Cars and Friends) together.

    When you start on sets you're probably going to have to be involved in the building for a while, I've only just got my daughter to where she'll mostly find her own parts.

    Maybe a box of bricks and really small kit to see how he goes. Then if it's all good you can start him off with some bigger sets on his birthday.

    Hope that helps.
  • AmberylAmberyl Member Posts: 193
    It's the complexity of the instructions and the build itself.

    Many of the sets that are 4+ do not show the specific parts used in each step, for some reason -- so it's purely a visual comparison from step to step. (I personally think this makes things harder, not easier, actually, since it's more difficult to tell whether or not you missed anything.) Starting with the 5+ sets, you'll start seeing, with each instruction step, a list of the specific parts used in that step and how many of each of them are used. The sets that are 7+ typically use some Technic parts and techniques, although there are occasional Technic parts in the 6+ sets as well.

    If your child has never had a Lego set before, I'd recommend a modest-sized City set (something 300 pieces or less, probably) or Superheroes set, marked 5-12 or 6-12. I think that these sets are more attractive than the Creator sets, and the instructions will ensure that they put together something that looks good. While kids may have fun just mashing bricks together, getting them some small sets so they can see how Lego is used to create things and the technique used, should help considerably.
  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    That's a very interesting question! It would be fascinating to know LEGO's research behind when to include the 'parts list' in each step. I did notice when I gave my 4yo nephew some polybags that he was much more comfortable just looking at the final step of the instructions and attempting to build it just looking at that! Following instructions was too much it seemed, so maybe 'parts lists' are even harder for younger kids.

    As for set recommendations, I'm quite a fan of Fun with Vehicles. They are simpler cars than usual City sets and unlike many basic sets it's not overloaded with large bricks. It has been put together very well with one bag per vehicle plus an extra bag to just encourage free building. Plus a brick separator to encourage kids not to use their teeth!
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 844
    edited November 2012
    The difference is mostly in the types of elements used, and how they're built. For instance, younger kids often don't have the physical dexterity needed to attach a bushing onto a technic axle, so you won't see them used in sets under a certain age range.

    Also, you'll see some things like this:

    That type of piece is sometimes made by combining two elements:

    However, younger kids have a difficult time grasping the small elements, so LEGO has made the "simpler" element to allow the same type of *connection*, but while making the elements easier to use for younger kids.

    They also use more diverse, brighter colors at younger ages. Young kids may not as easily tell the difference between gray and dark gray, or light blue and sand blue. So you'll find that sets for younger kids generally try and include a simpler color palette.

    The instructions themselves may involve some other things, like more elements per step (although even that is pretty tame these days), or unexpected rotations of the model. For instance, if you need to rotate the car to put a piece on the bottom, a younger kid may simply be confused by that, and skip to the next step where it's familiar again. Hence, sets for younger kids don't (as often) have complexities in the instructions.

    As for how LEGO does this research? They're pretty thorough. They routinely take kids that have NEVER played with LEGO before, and have them follow building instructions to build various models. They'll closely observe the kids, and see what's easy for them to do, and what's difficult. Which types of connections do they get wrong? Which types take them a long time? Which ones do they understand easily? Etc.

    When all is said and done, they classify the types of elements and connections, and try to limit their current lineup accordingly. That means that year-by-year, their classifications may change. What was acceptable for a 5-year-old in 2002 may be totally different than what's acceptable in 1992 or 2012.

    As stated, all kids are different, too. The more experience a child has with LEGO, the more likely they are to be able to build "beyond" their age level. And furthermore, the better they are with spatial relations, fine motor skills, and the more determined they are, the better they'll do.

    Hence, the age range on the box is catered to the "general" kid of that age range when the set was released. It's constantly in flux, and it's never a clear-cut line that applies to all kids.

  • BuilderMomBuilderMom Member Posts: 21
    While DaveE gave all the great technical lowdown, I'll give you the "mom" perspective. My son is 5, to give you some idea of where I'm coming from. As has previously been said, it all depends on the kid. We started with Duplo at an early age and did a lot of free-building with Duplo, so my son had that experience coming in. If you skipped that step, it may modify your path now for where to start.

    My kid loves the minifigures more than action figures and he's a Star Wars nut. So when we first moved into the "little" legos for bigger kids, we primarily focused on battle packs. They are great for getting a lot of minifigures and you also get a small a speeder or something related. It introduces the set building techniques and instructions while also adding the playability element of the minifigures.

    My 4 year old nephew, on the other hand, is not such a freak for the minifigures and never had a huge pile of Duplo. So, I am starting him out with some loose bricks for freebuilding and then a few of the smaller vehicle sets (2 of the smallest City sets and two of the Creator 3-in-1 sets). He hasn't gotten his birthday box yet, so time will tell how he responds to this choice.

    One factor in choosing the Creator 3-in-1 sets (we have none) was my love for the DK Brickmaster book sets. Last year, we picked these up at Costco for $15 or thereabout (they had them again last month, don't know if they still have them). Each box gives multiple builds with the same 100-200 pieces. My son loved the concept of multiple builds so much that I stocked up on these sets for birthday party gifts all year long. At this point, I've probably given out 15 of them (to kiddos turning 5 or 6) and can say that, almost without exception, they've all been hits. By showing multiple builds with a small number of pieces, it introduces kiddos to the concept of making new stuff from the same pieces. Also, it helps with the idea that you don't have to just build a set and leave it alone -- you can get creative and modify. Now, may AFOLs will hate this concept. But, as far as using Lego as an educational toy -- it's great.

    At this point, my 5 year old is doing very complicated "set" building (we recently finished Destiny's Bounty together) but we also have a big box of loose Legos for free building. Don't skip the loose Lego. It allows the imagination to run wild. However, you can amass that gradually using Craigslist or Ebay and it will be cheaper than buying new brick.

    Suppose that's more than $.02 worth...
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,986
    Another 2 cents...
    Yes, it completely depends on the child.

    My son started at 3, and his initial sets were the 80-225 piece sets. We started with smaller, and went bigger. The critical part is it was something that he loved the look of. He quickly moved to larger sets, and has loved them since them. For him, playing with the sets was as critical as building, so loose Legos did not have too much hold until recently. (Oh, my son is also 5 now).

    The Master Builder line, is for older kids, but... I love that first set. It has a sorting tray a detailed book, so I could read tips to him. It also has three separate builds, and then he wanted to do his own builds. My son adores space, so that space designer kit was one of his favorites.

    For us, the key is theme and interest. Show him a magazine or some pics online, and see what captures his interest level.

  • keenasmustardkeenasmustard Member Posts: 2
    OMG thank you so much for everyone's advice! I'm a big user of a photography forum and loved (and was constantly surprised by) their willingness to offer tips. You Lego fans didn't disappoint! Thanks again! :)
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,404
    ^ You're most welcome!

    Now just don't leave, stay awhile and enjoy, there is much love of LEGO here, many great suggestions and deals to be found, and we all love the Brick! :)

    I second and third the DK books, those are overlooked which is a shame. The ability to make 8 different things out of 120 bricks is LEGO at its finest! The 3 in 1 Creator sets are great, but I do wish they did more 5 in 1 and 7 in 1 sets like they used to.
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,986
    *cough* Master Builder *cough* ;-)

    Obviously not quite the same, but sets 7-9 have the large build and a ton of springboard models. I think there are 9?

    Even the first 1-6 sets, while they had the 3:1 builds, they also had directions online for a few additional builds. Set 2 is probably the most difficult set for young kids, but my son was 4 at the time, And still enjoyed that build.
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