Every year I go through the same process: 1) avidly open my Lego Holiday Catalog, 2) plan how to obtain the $37,495 needed to get all the models I want, 3) weep in desperation.
But fear not, Lego lovers and lovers of Lego lovers. You don't have to spend a fortune to get some Lego fun this holidays. Here's a list of gifts from $2 to $260 that will make you or your gifted one very happy, straight from the 65-foot-high Lego Cathedrals that hold 19 billion pieces a year.
This is my favorite company logo in the world and the only one that is actually on my fridge. Just looking at it invokes the warmest childhood memories and it just looks great. To me, it means happiness, family and injured feet. Now it also means "there's cold pizza and mustard containers behind this door."
Also, everyone loves fridge magnets. Double-like for $2. [Lego]
When my second (ex)wife gave me my marching orders at the Madrid airport, she grabbed my hand, opened it, put my Lego Darth Vader minifig keychain without the London's house keys on it, and said "It's not going to work out" as she turned around to get into airport security never to look back. Lovely drama queen she is.
I thought about tossing it away thinking that it would always remind me of the saddest moment of my life, but I ultimately decided to keep it—as a reminder of the saddest of my life and to never repeat the same mistakes again.
But nothing is forever, and one day I got rid of it after it broke. I decided to return to basics. It doesn't get more basic than this eight-stud red brick keychain, perhaps the fundamental molecule in the Lego universe. $5 [Lego]
Here's my theory about education: it's never too early to start enjoying Lego. If you have sons or daughters, nephews or nieces, or friends' kids from 1 1/2 to 5-year-old, you can give buy them the best toy they will ever have. There's no doubt about it: it will make them smarter and more creative. They will be thankful forever. This Duplo Deluxe Brick Set is the perfect Lego virus inoculation. $50 [Lego]
If you have an iPhone or an iPad 2, you will love Lego Life of George. It's very simple: time yourself as you try to match the models that George finds on his trips. Then make a photo of the model and your iPhone would tell you how good you are. And it's for two players too. I've played Life of George quite a bit and it's really fun. I highly recommend this one. $30 [Lego]
I'm not including the Volkswagen T1 Camper because it's an intricate model with dozens of amazing details or because of its historic significance as a design icon.
I'm including it because it's the cutest Lego model I've seen in a very long time. Like the included t-shirt says: Make Lego, Not War. Also, I'm including it because Brian Lam should buy one. $120 [Lego]
6. Lego Shuttle Expedition
Lego. Space. LEGO! SPACE! LEGO IN SPACE! That's enough for me to buy the Lego Shuttle Expedition, even while the 17.5" tall model—with a 10-inch wingspan—is obviously not built to minifig scale. That's an old dream of mine: build a shuttle to minifig scale. It would be huge, yes, probably as big as the giant space shuttle in the 750,000-piece Lego Kennedy Space Center.
Until that improbable event arrives, I would play with the 1,024 pieces in this set. Bonus: the astronauts have the classic iconic minifig faces, none of that expressions nonsense. $100 [Lego]
7. Lego Maersk Train
I'm starting to become obsessed with Lego trains. I was never interested in them until now, which is weird, because I have loved both model trains and Lego since I was a little kid. I even had the Lego Monorail when I was a kid, but then I forgot about how incredible rich and complex the Lego train models are.
There's something about Lego bricks that match the design nature of trains. This Lego Maersk train is a great example of this, one that may end below my Xmas tree this year. The details are great. By the way, Lego has now flexible train tracks, which are very smart and perfect to build large circuits for your trains. $120 [Lego]
8. Lego Master Builder Academy Kits
This has been one of the greatest discoveries of this year and a must-have for serious Lego fans, kids and adults. I have been subscribed for a few months now, and the Lego Master Builder Academy Kits are great. Each of them come with all the pieces you need and extremely detailed books showing all the advanced techniques used by the most experienced Lego builders. It's really fascinating and a requirement for those who want to take their Lego skills to the top level. With this knowledge you would be able to pull models like Mike Psiaki's beautiful X-Wing. $30 (Lesson 1) and $70 (Lessons 2 to 6) [Lego and Lego]
Another thing that I used to love when I was a kid were those Caterpillar models made of iron, plastic and rubber. They looked so shiny and yellow. This Lego Tecnic Mobile Crane reminds of those, except it's a lot more fun because I get to build this. It has 1,289 pieces and fully working mechanisms everywhere. And it has that look that is screaming "get away from her, you bitch!" $100 [Lego]
The Lego Imperial Shuttle is my favorite Lego model of 2011. By far. I can also route my love for it to my childhood, when I built my own Imperial Shuttle at approximately of the same size. Obviously, it didn't look as good. And obviously, I have to deal with my Peter Pan complex.
The 28-inch tall Lego Imperial Shuttle has 2,503 pieces, five minifigures that can be posed inside—including Vader and Luke—and folding wings. $260 [Lego]
Still haven't found the right present? Don't worry, we're here all month with a new gift guide every day—right up until the last minute. To see 'em all, head on over to #GiftGuide.