The Best LEGO Sets for Builders of All Ages

The basic concept of LEGO sets hasn’t really changed since you were a kid: They still snap together one brick at a time. But the difference between those antiques and the drool-worthy sets your children want might as well be night and day. Today’s building kits are bigger, more intricate, occasionally battery-powered, and have marketing budgets that would make a nonprofit blush, tying in AvengersStar Wars, Harry Potter, and even fan-submitted “Ideas” models that the company wisely decided to put into production. They are all on the top of your kids’ wish lists and soon to be under your bare feet one Saturday morning.

Despite the figurative and sometimes literal shooting pain they cause, parents love LEGOs because they foster creativity and group play, are endlessly modular, and are the original STEM toys. Kids explore symmetry, balance, stability, shapes, and sizes as they build castles, boats, cars, or giant spiders. And when kids mess up and skip a step, they have to logically think about what went wrong and analyze what they need to do to fix the damn thing. Sure, the company releases new sets with the frequency of Marvel blockbusters, but even the recently discontinued sets can spark the imagination of your child. Building blocks, after all, only go up.

The Best LEGO Sets for Beginners

You get three sets for the price of one, and having built it ourselves, we can attest to the fact that kids absolutely love it. It's a solid Lego set starter kit, clocking in at 233 piece. You start with a fire-breathing dragon that then can be transformed into a spider or a troll. The instructions are easy to follow, which is a bonus.

For the young astronaut and budding scientist, this NASA-inspired launch set takes kids through all the phases of deep space exploration — from launch (in a multistage rocket), to landing, to the hunt for geodes on the surface of other planets. Full of super cool and clever surprises along the way, it comes staffed with six mini astronauts, scientists, and technicians, as well as a helpful robot.

A colorful, fun set for beginner builders. A 200-piece set that's ideal for kids in kindergarten and first grade. It's something they see (and love) in real life, plus the set itself is engaging as hell.

A must-own for 'Toy Story' fans, this set even includes a Forky minifigure. Kids 4 and up build a recreational vehicle with chassis, removable roof, interior with a bed, and toilet and sink. They had us at toilet and sink. The set comes with Jessie, Forky and Rex figures.

Most Marvel LEGO sets are pretty intricate, but here's one younger kids can easily manage. Kids who love Marvel (which is basically all kids) build Black Panther's bike, which also launches missiles. Yes, missiles.

Aimed at slightly older kids, this townhouse is nevertheless a three-in-one building win for younger kids. Ideal for group play, it lets kids build a townhouse toy store, which can be rebuilt into a flower shop, which can be rebuild into a cake shop. Creator sets are whimsical, offbeat, and just plain fun.

The Best LEGO Sets for Advanced Builders

The International Space Station — the biggest spacecraft ever built! — has been floating through space and giving a home to scientists from around the world for more than 20 years. This 864-piece set commemorates that achievement. Deploy a satellite, use a robotic arm to launch a satellite into orbit, or schedule a space walk; it comes with a buildable mini space shuttle, cargo crafts, and two mini astronauts.

The iconic X-Wing starfighter from 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' gets the Lego treatment it deserves. At 700+ pieces, this set isn't for the faint of heart. But those who dig Star Wars will be into this set, which has an opening cockpit, space for R2-D2, adjustable wings for cruise and attack mode, and retractable landing gear because safety first, of course.

A glorious addition to Lego's already glorious skyline architecture collection. Another set with 700+ pieces, this one is meant for master builders who can devote the focus and time needed to make this thing. But when you're done, you have the Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel, Dubai Frame and The Dubai Fountain on display.

Some LEGO sets are truly random, in the best sense, and this one is a standout. With 404 pieces, this set is manageable. Plus, there's really no solid reason to build your very own sailboat, except that it's hella fun to do. It has moving sails, dagger boards, and a rudder.

Kids 9 and older can build a roller coaster with two three-car trains, ticket booth, pond, and concessions. With a total of 11 minifigures, including five whose heads swivel to display the terror of the plunge, it will keep your little engineer engaged for days. The kit is also compatible with LEGO's Power Functions kit, which will fully motorize the trains' ascent.

This Star Wars LEGO set lets kids build an AT-AP Walker vehicle with cockpit, articulated legs and aiming turret with a spring-loaded shooter. Get ready for serious battle with this AT-AP Walker, which features articulated legs and retractable third leg. The set includes Chewbacca, Clone Commander Gree and a Kashyyyk Clone Trooper, plus two Kashyyyk Battle Droid figures.

So you're bringing up the next Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid? Then invest in this singular Paris skyline Lego set, featuring a magnificent collection of the French city's most famous landmarks. C'est magnifique! This set includes the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées, Tour Montparnasse, Grand Palais, Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, grass and tree areas and a decorative Paris display plate. It's great for kids 12 and up, and can be combined with other cityscapes for one magnificent global skyline.

Great for older kids, this set has a modular lab that can be combined and stacked in many different ways. The set includes a rotating podium with two robotic arms for Tony Stark to get suited up as Iron Man. Fans of the 'Avengers' films broadly and Tony Stark in particular will dig this set, which includes a posable Igor Suit mech with minifigure cockpit, a posable mobile robot and six minifigures. It's a solid homage to Iron Man.

This retro '60s set of wheels makes for one hugely entertaining and eye-catching Lego set. Truly, what's not to love about this Lego set, which features a slew of authentic '60s details, including curved fenders, hubcaps, round headlights, wing-mounted turn signals, surfer accessories, opening hood, trunk and doors? It's iconic, and the surfing gear is removable. It's 1167 pieces, so definitely a better fit for experienced builders or older kids.

It seems that the vast majority of Lego sets nowadays are branded, but clever designs like this 379-piece VW-esque surfer van are a great reminder that the company can still churn out amazing, original designs.

It's not as impressive as the immense, complete Hogwarts set, but this 878-piece Great Hall is plenty complex for most kids. There are some great details included in this kit, from house banners, staircases that move, and a few different classrooms. You can combine it with the Whomping Willow for a more complete Hogwarts experience.

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