2022 Was A Great Year for Lego Collectors (and a Bad One for Their Wallets)

2022 Was A Great Year for Lego Collectors (and a Bad One for Their Wallets)

It was a tough year to be a financially-responsible adult who's still obsessed with plastic building blocks.

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One of the world’s most popular toys has actually been entertaining kids for over 60 years, putting Lego in a unique position to not only cater to new generations, but also those who grew up with the building toy and never stopped loving it. But as 2022 demonstrated, it’s getting harder and harder to be a financially-responsible adult who still’s obsessed with Lego.

The past year saw Lego release some of the largest sets it’s ever created, including a five-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower, but also sets that lean heavily into nostalgia, including a brick-built Optimus Prime and recreations of some of the brand’s most iconic building sets of the ‘80s. They’re almost impossible to resist—or at least that’s what we keep telling our partners.

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Lego Eiffel Tower

Lego Eiffel Tower

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Officially the tallest Lego set ever released, at 59-inches from its base to the French flag flying atop it, the Lego Eiffel Tower is also the second largest set of all time, built from 10,001-pieces. The $630 replica of France’s most iconic landmark doesn’t look like the most entertaining build—there’s lots of repetition, and lots of gray—but the finished product is a veritable Lego masterpiece.

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Lego Back to the Future Time Machine

Lego Back to the Future Time Machine

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Lego’s first Back to the Future DeLorean model, released back in 2013, was a huge disappointment in scale and detail, but this year’s much larger, 1,872-piece, $200 model delivers on all fronts. You not only get the original time machine with working gull wing doors, but extra parts for recreating the various versions of the car from across the BttF trilogy, as well as minifigure versions of Marty McFly and Doc Emmett Brown.

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Lego Super Mario The Mighty Bowser

Lego Super Mario The Mighty Bowser

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Lego’s interactive Super Mario sets have been hard to resist, letting fans build their own playable levels. But this year, Lego finally did justice to one of video game’s most iconic baddies, Bowser, with a monstrous 2,807-piece model featuring moving parts, full articulation, and a fanged jaw that opens and closes. The $270 Bowser can even spit fireballs and cause (imaginary) damage to the Lego Mario, Luigi, and Peach interactive figures.

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Lego Optimus Prime

Lego Optimus Prime

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Transformers fans would have happily lined up for days for a Lego version of Optimus Prime in robot mode, or a Lego version of the Autobots leader in truck mode. But a 1,508-piece Lego Optimus Prime that actually transforms between the two? Lego could have slapped a $1,000 price tag on this set and fans would have still cleared the shelves, but at $180 it’s a little more reasonable. Does your aging car really need a new set of tires? This is obviously a higher priority.

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Lego Star Wars: The Mandalorian The Razor Crest

Lego Star Wars: The Mandalorian The Razor Crest

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Spoiler alert! The extreme secrecy around shows like Star Wars: The Mandalorian meant that by the time Lego revealed this 6,187-piece, $600 minifig-scale recreation of the Razor Crest, the vehicle had already been destroyed in the show. That probably didn’t stop Star Wars collectors from making room on their shelves for this one, as it came packed with Easter Eggs and features seen in the popular Disney+ series. This is the way.

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Lego Atari 2600

Lego Atari 2600

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It wasn’t quite as elaborate as Lego’s brick-built NES console that included a TV that actually plays an analog version of Super Mario Bros., but Lego’s Atari 2600 still delivered an impossible to resist hit of nostalgia, with swappable cartridges, a very real looking joystick, and a pop-up diorama recreating the experience of gaming in your parent’s basement. But the piece-de-resistance of this 2,532-piece, $240 set? Convincing faux wood panelling on the front, made from Lego bricks.

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Lego Marvel Black Panther

Lego Marvel Black Panther

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It was a relief that Marvel was still able to deliver a worthy Black Panther sequel after the death of Chadwick Boseman, but fans still missing the original character could build and display this 2,961-piece, $350 Lego Black Panther bust as a tribute, with or without its hands attached to an included display base recreating the crossed arm “Wakanda Forever” pose.

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Lego Galaxy Explorer

Lego Galaxy Explorer

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Lego leaned extra hard into nostalgia this year with two sets based on a couple of the company’s most memorable themes from the ‘70s and ‘80s. The first was the 1,254-piece, $100 Galaxy Explorer, with modern updates adding far more detail than Lego’s classic space sets originally included, but preserving the iconic blue and gray color scheme with transparent yellow cockpit glass.

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Lego Lion Knights’ Castle

Lego Lion Knights’ Castle

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Lego’s medieval sets were a staple of the ‘80s, and as the lavishly-detailed and sprawling 4,514-piece, $400 Lion Knight’s Castle released this year reminds us, they were some of the best sets Lego ever released. Knights and castles and archers and wizards should be a staple of every child’s imaginative play, and this set delivers them all—plus a working drawbridge.

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Lego Jurassic Park T. rex Breakout

Lego Jurassic Park T. rex Breakout

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Lego has given us no shortage of sets from the Jurassic Park sequels, but sets based on the original film have been few and far between. A crime that Lego worked to further remedy this year with a recreation of one of the film’s most memorable scenes, the reveal of the T.rex (the real star of the film) and its attack on the tour vehicles. At $100, this 1,212-piece set is an expensive impulse purchase, but how could any fan of the film resist adding another Jeff Goldblum minifigure to their collections?

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Lego The Globe

Lego The Globe

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Lego has a whole division leveraging the building toy as an educational tool through robots and complex machines, but if you flunked geography, give this globe a spin and you might actually learn something. Built from 2,585 pieces, this $230 model is one you can proudly display in your office at work without getting questionable looks. It’s also a masterclass in advanced Lego building techniques. Like drawing circles on an Etch A Sketch, we assumed building a sphere from blocky Lego bricks was impossible, but this set proved us wrong.

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Lego Marvel Thor’s Hammer

Lego Marvel Thor’s Hammer

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Marvel managed to turn Thor from a blonde beefcake into one of the MCU’s most memorable characters, but every hero needs a sidekick, and for Thor that’s a silent but deadly hammer named Mjölnir. Fans aren’t actually able to spin this 979-piece, $100 brick-built recreation around like a weapon, or do any actual smashing, unless they’re looking to build it twice. But it makes for a great display piece, complete with a hidden compartment for stashing treasures like the Infinity Gauntlet.

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Lego Star Wars Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder

Lego Star Wars Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder

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As Star Wars vehicles go, the X-34 Landspeeder barely had a cameo in the original film, helping a whiny Luke Skywalker get his droids and friend to Mos Eisley. It didn’t help destroy the Death Star, but it somehow remains a fan favorite, and it’s apparently worthy of a lavish 1,890-piece, $240 Lego model. The model features some clever use of Lego components to recreate the floating hunk of junk, and we’d really love to take it for a spin to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters.

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Lego Marvel Hulkbuster​

Lego Marvel Hulkbuster​

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It came as no surprise earlier this year that the largest Lego Marvel set ever created was a 4,049-piece version of Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor. Although articulation was limited to the upper part of the Hulkbuster so its static legs could prevent it from falling over, there were still lots of features to make it easier to justify its $550 price tag. These include three LED light bricks that make the arc reactor and repulsors glow, plus a compartment inside that’s large enough to hold the previously-released, 381-piece buildable Iron Man Figure.

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Lego The Office

Lego The Office

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The Lego Ideas platform, where fans can submit their own builds with the chance they’ll be turned into real sets one day, has yielded some memorable Lego sets, including Jaijai Lewis’ detailed recreation of Dunder Mifflin from the NBC sitcom, The Office. The 1,164-piece model is far from the largest Lego has ever released, but it undoubtedly holds the record for most Easter Eggs ever crammed into a Lego set, including Kevin’s famous chili spilled across the floor. It also comes with 15 minifigures featuring most of the series’ regular cast, which is a lot for a $120 set.

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