Take any preconception that Lego is just for kids and toss that in the garbage. These days Lego is as much for adults as it is for kids, with an entire catalog of high-end pop culture licenses that are way more geared at you or your parents than your kids and their friends. We’re talking Star Wars, we’re talking Batman, we’re talking Harry Potter, and we’re talking...Friends?
Yes, it’s a very interesting, sometimes surprising list. So if you’re looking for a nice quarantine project and have already put together all your puzzles, Lego might just be the answer. (Plus, a bonus with Lego is that the sets hold value incredibly well, even if they’re opened and put together. So think of it as an investment too! Or at least explain it to your friends and family like that, when they ask why your shelves are full of plastic brick spaceships.) To help, we’ve compiled all the coolest pop-culture Lego sets you can order and build right now.
(Unless otherwise noted, all of these sets are currently available, if not temporarily sold out, on the Lego Shop page.)
Lego has full licenses for DC and Marvel, and while most of those sets are a little smaller and more like playsets, the crown jewel that’s currently available is a stunning recreation of the Batmobile from the 1989 Batman movie. I’ve built it. I love it. And we wrote all about it here.
With new Jurassic Park movies back in theaters, it’s no surprise that Lego is making Jurassic Park sets. And there are plenty of smaller ones. But, again, one set stands out above the rest: A full-scale recreation of the park gate from the first movie, including articulated T-Rex, mini-figs, and scenes from the movie too. It’s an awesome, awesome set.
If there’s a product the characters from Stranger Things would absolutely endorse, it’s this excellent Lego set based on the show’s first season. You basically build Will’s house in our world, and the Upside Down, in the same structure, then display it however you want. It’s a slick-looking set with lots of different bells and whistles.
No, Friends isn’t an io9 franchise—but if you want to talk about how cool and weird Lego sets are these days, look no further than this set of the coffee shop, Central Perk, from the 1990s sitcom. And let’s try to forget that, a few years back, the company also did one for The Big Bang Theory.
Some franchises out there simply don’t scream “Lego.” Everything is too familiar. To based on reality. But once cars started flying and villains started upgrading their bodies, it suddenly made much more sense to take one of the most iconic Fast and Furious cars, Dom’s Dodge Charger—set to drop at the end of this month—and build it out of bricks.
Considering Lego has licenses with Disney-owned brands like Star Wars and Marvel, it makes sense that it would have general Disney sets too. There are lots of little princess sets, and sets for animated films like Frozen if you want something you can build with the kids—but if you want to go big, you can get a stunning build of the castle at Walt Disney World. Or the train that goes around Disneyland. Or, if those are too expensive, take Disney back to its roots with a set based on Steamboat Willie.
Much like The Fast and Furious, you don’t think “Lego” when you think “James Bond.” But Bond is well-known for having all sorts of designer gadgets and few toys show that kind of thing better than Lego. And so the Aston Martin James Bond Lego was born.
The latest addition to Lego’s pop culture resumé is Nintendo, one of the world’s most iconic and recognizable gaming brands. And what better Nintendo brand to start with than Super Mario? However, Lego didn’t just make Mario something you could build. It’s something you can build and play with, a real game-changer. You’ll have to hold off on this one for a bit: you can pre-order the starter set now ahead of its release this August.
These days, Star Wars is probably one of Lego’s most popular lines. There’s something for everyone, from tiny sets under $10, to the largest set Lego has ever made, costing $800. Sets come and go though so while lots of very cool ones (large X-Wings, Death Stars, etc.) are no longer in stores, the available sets right now are excellent as well.
There’s a full line of stuff from The Rise of Skywalker (including a smaller Millennium Falcon), there’s a very large Star Destroyer, an equally impressive Tantive IV and, of course, that ultra huge Millennium Falcon, if you so desire.
Much like its other name brand, there are a ton of Harry Potter Lego sets. You could build the Knight Bus, the Quidditch pitch, or, if you want to really want to ace your OWLS, there’s an incredible set of the entire Hogwarts castle, from the Whomping Willow to the Great Hall and back again. It’s a stunning, standout piece.
Yabba Dabba Yes, you read that right. Lego made a Flintstones set for fans of the iconic cartoon. It’s a small, but beautifully detailed, take on the Flintstone home and family car.
As a man in his 40s, I don’t know much about Minecraft. I just know it’s a massive multimedia pop culture brand and that the Creeper Mine is the biggest Minecraft Lego set you can get right now. It looks awesome, like a block castle, perfectly matching together the game’s aesthetic with the building bricks that inspired it. And it’s just one of the dozens of sets based on the brand.
One of the few places Marvel comes up a little short compared to other brands these days are its Lego sets. Over the years there have been a few very cool standouts (the Helicarrier, Milano, etc.), but most of its newer sets are aimed at younger audiences, more for play than display. Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it’s another major Lego brand—and that the Hulkbuster is the biggest set currently on the market
Since so much of pop culture is based in science, we figured it was also worth pointing out that Lego has a strong selection of science and space sets for anyone who wants a little more reality and fewer name brands in their toys.
The Lego City line has plenty of space-agency-themed sets, from shuttles to rocket launch pads. But in the higher end range, as of now, there’s an Apollo 11 set, a set of dinosaur fossils, and even the International Space Station. These sets are all beautiful for display but also slightly more challenging builds.
The thing that makes Lego so collectible is that sets aren’t available forever. So after an undetermined amount of time, sets can just disappear from shelves and stores, never to be found at retail price again. At that point, you’ll have to turn to the secondary market and you may want to do that right now. In the past decade, Lego has made some outstanding pop culture sets that have since been retired—and if you’re fan of the franchise they were made for, you may want to seek them out. That includes, but is not limited to: Ghostbusters (Ecto-1 and Firehouse), Back to the Future, Voltron, Tron, The Simpsons, The Lord of the Rings, Wall-E, Doctor Who, and Adventure Time. Good luck hunting some of them down!
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