What makes the best Lego sets of all time so incredible? To qualify, we think the best Lego sets ever need to offer a brilliant combination of thrilling construction process, tremendous play value, display-worthy looks, and innovative bricks that let your imagination run wild with your own builds. There are also those Lego sets that were pivotal moments in Lego’s forward journey, and some understated examples that perfectly capture the magic of this wonderful toy. With that in mind, read on to discover Wargamer’s picks for the best Lego sets of all time.
Some fantastic builds didn’t quite make this list, of course. If you secretly feel that when it comes to Lego, bigger is better, check out our guide to the biggest Lego sets ever released. Looking to upset your wallet with an eye-watering purchase? The Wargamer breakdown of the world’s most expensive Lego sets should help (spoilers: there’s some Star Wars Lego sets in there). Or maybe you’re after one of the greatest, latest Lego for adults? We’ve picked this year’s finest in our run down of the best new Lego sets of 2023.
These are the best Lego sets of all time:
- Lego King’s Castle (1984)
- Lego Ford Mustang (2019)
- Lego The Lord of the Rings Rivendell (2023)
- Lego Black Seas Barracuda (1989)
- Lego Millennium Falcon Ultimate Collector Series (2017)
- Liebherr R 9800 Excavator (2019)
- Space Buggy (1979)
- Lego 90 Years of Play (2022)
Lego King’s Castle (1984)
While Lego has been making studded interlocking plastic bricks since the late 1940s with sets like ‘Automatic Binding Bricks’, it was a few decades before the concept hit a true golden era. In the late 1970s, the iconic Lego Castle and Space themes debuted, and by the 1980s they were a stalwart of toy shop shelves globally. And few sets capture the Castle theme better than the famed King’s Castle. A joy to build and play with, it packed in a good number of features for a set of its era, and is now remembered as a true icon of Lego.
Its 1978 forebearer is now worth a great deal more, and 2023’s Lion Knights’ Castle remaster elevates the concept with more minifigures and detail. But as a classic set that defined the thrill of playing Lego in one of its greatest eras, you simply can’t beat the original King’s Castle theme. We wanted it back then, and we want it right now.
Lego Ford Mustang (2019)
There have been countless automotive Lego sets over the years. In fact, it’s generally agreed that Lego is the world’s most prolific producer of tyres on Earth, and by a considerable margin; they have a lot of vehicles to serve with their tiny tyres. The best ever Lego car? It is surely 2019’s Ford Mustang.
The Ford Mustang is very much a modern era Lego set in terms of nuance, complexity and creative building techniques, and it handsomely reproduces the form of the real muscle car it’s based on. Yet the Mustang also has a classic Lego feel to it, thanks to the chunky form and boxy lines.
And as well as being a wonder to build that brims with detail, it comes with a collection of extra elements that let you customise your Mustang. We’ll be honest; we added the spoiler, supercharger, and so on straight away, and they’re never coming off.
Lego The Lord of the Rings Rivendell (2023)
Demonstrating Lego’s snowballing evolution over recent years, 2023’s ginormous The Lord of the Rings Rivendell set brings an incredible amount of intricacy, and looks utterly gorgeous, effortlessly capturing the look and feel of the films based on Tolkien’s most famous works. It’s a reminder of what is possible with intelligent, creative Lego building.
From the tiling on the rooftops to organic forms like the trees, via an abundance of tucked away detail inside, it’s one of the most striking Lego creations ever released. At 6,167-parts, it takes many hours to build, but it’s a pleasure to assemble, and the end result is utterly spellbinding.
Lego Black Seas Barracuda (1989)
It’s back to the 1980s and another classic Lego theme for this entry, with the perennially popular Black Seas Barracuda. Then the flagship set of the Pirate theme, it was ahead of its time when it was released, offering up impressive styling and size, and a swashbuckler’s bounty of playability. Like the original King’s Castle, it was reimagined by modern Lego designers in 2020, as a towering shipwreck desert island, in a set that brought plenty to beguile.
But the original Black Seas Barracuda has an unbeatable magic. It was perhaps the most desirable set of 1989, and all these years on, its appeal hasn’t waned one bit. It also set a new standard at the time, progressing what the public expected from Lego sets, making it one of the Danish firm’s more significant, influential releases.
Lego Millennium Falcon Ultimate Collector Series (2017)
If this set feels a little familiar, we admit it – it has made our Lego round ups before. The Lego Millennium Falcon Ultimate Collector Series’ 7541-part count and $849.99 / £734.99 price tag made it a necessary inclusion on Wargamer’s recent guides to the biggest and most expensive Lego sets ever. And it had to be on our look at the best Star Wars Lego sets. So we almost left it out this time.
But the fact is, it is utterly remarkable as a piece of toy design, staggeringly ornate and detail-rich, brilliant to build, mesmeric in replicating one of Geogre Lucas’ most famed starships, and an incredible way to top up your parts supply. In other words, it’s the ultimate Lego kit, and effectively the flagship set for the entire toyline. It simply had to grace our guides once more.
Lego Technic Liebherr R 9800 Excavator (2019)
Most Lego fans pay little mind to Technic, but it has developed into something quite remarkable of late, with a level of complexity that even the most intricate System builds can’t touch. And the Liebherr R 9800 Excavator, based on the real and monstrously large mining hardware of the same name? It might be the ultimate Technic set.
The Liebherr is powered by a staggering seven interconnected motors, which can be connected by Bluetooth to a customisable remote control app. Everything is managed through remote control, from drive and steering to rotation and the boon arm. That arm has multiple moving sections and a precisely controllable bucket.
It looks fantastic, and to build it is to experience a playful education in mechanical engineering. The whole thing is powerful, gargantuan and menacing, and in the box you get enough Technic to get you started in what might be the most hardcore realm of the Lego hobby.
Lego Space Buggy (1979)
There is, perhaps, no more iconic Lego theme than the original Lego Space. It was front and centre of the Lego Movie many years on, with the Space minifigure serving as the most iconic there is. There were so many great Lego Space builds, and yet for our list of the best sets ever, we’ve selected 1979’s Space Buggy, a tiny build with just 20 parts. But let’s face it; how many of us had every giant set growing up? Most, surely, saved morsels of pocket money for little, affordable kits. Sets like the Space Buggy were actually what a childhood love of Lego was built on (pun only slightly intended).
And with this tiny set, you get the iconic minifigure, rocket-pack, ray gun and all; the vintage space packaging and parts, all in a set that captured the spirit of the mighty Space theme in the most minimal manner.
Lego 90 Years of Play (2022)
Did we really choose a pile of bricks for our final entry on the list of the best Lego sets of all time? Absolutely, we did. Because what says ‘Lego’ more than a pile of mixed bricks waiting to be sifted through, tempting your imagination to run wild, unshackled from the tyranny of instructions? That’s what Lego is really about; a palette of colours that lets you ‘paint’ in bricks. Not one of the sets above would exist without Lego’s early work on mixed brick sets either. And the 90 Years of Play Classic mixed brick box from 2022 is a particularly amazing example.
That’s because it delivers a little more than the other Classic boxes. Inside, along with a generous spread of various parts, you get instructions and elements included that let you build miniaturised versions of some of the most iconic Lego sets there are. There’s the original wooden Lego duck and 1978 Castle as seen in our list of the most expensive Lego sets ever, a homage to Bionicle, and even the Barracuda pirate ship we highlighted above.
Maybe, just maybe, this simple box of bricks is the best Lego set of all time. OK, maybe not – but it still deserves the final spot on this list.