Best LEGO Sets 2018: The finest brick-built toys around

Fact: LEGO is the best toy. It’s for the young and old alike. It’s for those who like to follow instructions, and those who prefer to go freestyle. It can be both engaging and therapeutic.

LEGO’s more recent good fortunes can be largely attributed to the number of licenses it’s picked up over the years. The LEGO Movie, LEGO Batman Movie certainly helped. Then there’s Star Wars. Most recently it’s been The Last Jedi and the Freemaker Adventures TV series inspiring a huge number of great LEGO Star Wars sets.

Related: Best Star Wars toys

Trying to choose with between so many different versions is always going to be tough. The costs ramp up if you start going down the road of wanting everything in a specific LEGO range, be that Star Wars, Marvel Super Heroes, Creator, City, Architecture or Ninjago. Then there are the ranges for younger kids, like Duplo. Older kids might enjoy the more engineering-focused LEGO Technic, and collectibles crowd will no doubt be drawn to the BrickHeadz range. And that’s just a small sample.

There are new sets arriving all the time, too, with some real stunners already turning up in 2018. The new Creator Expert: Downtown Diner is one of the best LEGO modular buildings so far, and the LEGO Ideas: Ship in a Bottle is just such an inspired idea for a build.

Here we run through some our favourite LEGO sets on sale right now. Looking for further inspiration? Watch out for dedicated LEGO events, such as BRICKLIVE in London, Belfast and Birmingham. They’re great gatherings for fans, or those simply looking for brick ideas and news.

Key features:

  • Price – £69.99/$69.99
  • Set number – 21313
  • Number of pieces – 962

The LEGO Ideas platform is amazing. Brick-building fans can submit a design and, with enough public votes, that idea becomes the basis for an official LEGO set. And that’s what happened with the Ship in a Bottle.

This is a really inspired idea, and the finished set is a showstopper. Both the bottle and the display stand have been nicely refined from the original concept and look gorgeous. The ship itself has been a little oversimplified maybe, but the overall effect is still amazing.

Buy exclusively from LEGO from February 1, 2018

Read the full LEGO Ideas: Ship in a Bottle review

Key features:

  • Price – £129.99/$169.99
  • Set number – 10260
  • Number of pieces – 2480

Every year LEGO announces a new addition to its Modular Buildings range, and for 2018 we have the Downtown Diner. If you believe in omens, it seems we’re in for a very good year.

Beautiful 1950s Streamline Moderne design is brought to brickville, with a three-storey building comprised of a whopping 2480 pieces. The build is satisfyingly lengthy and fun, with very little repetition, and the end result is a stunner.

In addition to the ground-floor diner, you get a boxing gym in the middle, and a recording studio up top. Six minifigures are included, and there’s even a bonus build for a pink soft-top car.

A perfect way to start your modular LEGO town – and the new year.

Buy exclusively from LEGO

Read the full LEGO Creator Expert: Downtown Diner review

LEGO Star Wars: Kylo Ren's TIE Fighter

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Key features:

  • Price – £74.99/$79.99
  • Set number – 75179
  • Number of pieces – 630

After the initial discussion about what the hell they’d done to the AT-AT (that new AT-M6 just be ugly yo), the vehicle that drew the most pre-release interest from The Last Jedi with Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter. Turns out it’s actually called a TIE Silencer, but let’s not be picky, eh?

LEGO’s lovely recreation of this ominous craft is truly superb, showing off its jagged, purposeful design. It’s like the love child of a TIE Interceptor and TIE Advanced X1, but with moody red cockpit glass that somehow fits the teenage-tantrum vibe of its owner.

The build is really fun, although a little repetitive when it comes to the four wings. The final model comes out a bit bigger than last year’s TIE Striker, so justifies the extra cost. The two spring-loaded shooters are activated by buttons that are neatly hidden, like those on Vader’s TIE Advanced from set 75150.

Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter also comes with possibly my favourite minifigure of all time: a First Order TIE Pilot. The moulded breathing tube and red-striped helmet look ace. You also get Kylo himself, obviously, plus a random Stormtrooper and BB-9E, the Darkside version of BB-8.

Buy now at Amazon

LEGO Star Wars: Resistance Transport Pod

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Key features:

  • Price – £39.99/$29.99
  • Set number – 75176
  • Number of pieces – 294

This may be the smallest and cheapest of the first batch of sets released for The Last Jedi, but it still offers a fun build and packs some interesting features. Some Technic cogs mean that turning a wheel on the rear makes the stud gun swivel, while turning another wheel makes two spring-loaded shooters fire in succession.

In addition to a removable canopy, there are a pair of useful storage hatches – one of which provides a home for the supplied BB-8.

The other two minifigures, both of which can happily sit in the cockpit, with space for their blasters, are Finn and a new character, Rose. The former we all know from The Force Awakens, but the latter plays an important part in Episode VIII. Detail of both minifigs is decent, with different expressions on either sides of their heads.

The Resistance Transport Pod itself is chunkier and more substantial than pics convey, and the asymmetrical design is pretty cool. The only bummer is the number of stickers involved, with seven just for the canopy.

Buy now at Amazon

LEGO Creator Expert: London Bus

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Key features:

  • Price – £109.99
  • Set number – 10258
  • Number of pieces – 1686

London has been getting a lot of LEGO love in the last few years. Tower Bridge and Big Ben are some of the greatest architectural sets out right now. But it’s time for one of the city’s great vehicles to get the brick treatment.

The iconic London Bus, the original AEC Routemaster, is the latest entry in the LEGO Creator Expert series of vehicles. Although it isn’t designed to the same scale as the VW Beetle or Mini Cooper – that would be way too big and expensive – it’s large enough to do justice to its life-size counterpart.

The roof and the top deck can be removed for a closer look, and you’ll find the key things everyone remembers about the vehicle. Peek through the rear opening and you’ll see the spiral staircase, along with a fire extinguisher and a bin for used tickets. There are long, sideways seats above the back wheels. The bonnet can be flipped up to reveal a small engine.

Even the litter is detailed: you’ll find an abandoned umbrella, a drinks can, a newspaper – and a piece of gum under one seat. There are some great stickers, too. The destination signs have some excellent brick puns. There are two sets of adverts and number plates, so you can choose between modern and retro.

This set is even responsible for the creation of some new moulds: a fresh style of tyre and a vertical 2×1 brick, which allows for some complex sub-assemblies and help with the tricky rounded edges. Don’t let the boxy shape fool you – LEGO has thrown in some seriously clever techniques, which keep things challenging and fun for adults.

A thing of beauty and sophistication.

Buy now at Amazon

LEGO Batman Movie: The Batmobile

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Key features:

  • Price – £54.99
  • Set number – 70905
  • Number of pieces – 581

There have been many Batmobiles, but the Speedwagon from the LEGO Batman Movie has one unique party trick: parallel parking. Those wheels can fold out 90 degrees for sideways manoeuvring because, when Batman is fighting crime, the last thing he needs is a parking ticket.

Other highlights: the suspension, spoiler wings and jet propulsion units are all adjustable, and there’s a mechanism to make the roof fly off. Minifigs include Batman with an actual utility belt, Robin, Man-Bat and two Kabuki Twins.

Don’t let the mostly dark exterior fool you – just as Batman is a weird mix of gritty and camp, some of this Batmobile’s internal bricks are more colourful than Adam West’s underwear.

Buy now at Amazon

LEGO City: Volcano Crawler

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Key features:

  • Price – £24.99
  • Set number – 60122
  • Number of pieces – 324

I don’t know what geologists actually do, but I’m pretty sure they don’t haul molten rock out of volcanoes and smash them with pick-axes. Then again this is LEGO, and anything goes.

You get three mini-figures in this set – two vehicle operators and one flame-suited explorer. There’s an ATV for dragging around that boulder, which can be ‘smashed’ open or stored in its own little boulder holder. The best part is the crawler itself. The links needed to form the crawler’s tracks are a bit fiddly to assemble, but it’s worth it, because it rolls nicely on most surfaces – very satisfying. The jack hammer on the back is a lovely extra detail. An excellent stocking filler for Christmas.

Buy now at Amazon

LEGO Batman Classic TV Series – Batcave

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Key features:

  • Price – £229.99
  • Set number – 76052
  • Pieces – 2,526

It will take a while to digest the level of detail and the sheer number of elements that combine to create this classic. Although LEGO has released a modern and moody Batcave set before, this one is homage to the TV show that was far more camp.

Here you see Bruce Wayne’s study, where there is a button beneath a Shakespeare bust and a sliding bookcase exposes two batpoles – one for Batman, the other for Robin. Down in the Batcave you’ll find all manner of Bat-gadgets and a selection of vehicles – the Batmobile, Batcycle and Batcopter. There are nine mini-figures too. Time to stream the classic TV theme tune and appreciate song lyric simplicity of old.

Buy now at Amazon

LEGO Ghostbusters: Firehouse Headquarters

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Key features:

  • Price – £285.99
  • Set number – 75827
  • Pieces – 4,634

The Ghostbusters Firehouse is one of the most iconic buildings from the big screen, and this three-storey LEGO brick does it justice. There is a containment unit at ground level, a functioning fire pole, and a testing lab on the top floor. This is a substantial and satisfying set to construct, standing 36cm in height on completion.

You also get nine mini-figures, including the original cast and a Slimer. The Firehouse even has a space behind the garage doors for the LEGO ECTO-1, enticing you to part with a further £40 to complete the set.

Buy now at Amazon

LEGO Creator Expert: Ferris Wheel

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Key features:

  • Price – £179.99
  • Set number – 10247
  • Pieces – 2,464

There are a couple of fairground pieces in the Creator range, but upon completion this model has a smaller footprint and is likely to remain on show for longer. It stands an impressive 60cm tall, with a dozen colourful gondolas for your mini-figures to ride. Give it a whirl with a turn of the crank.

What really brings this set to life is the detail provided by the ice-cream stand and ticket kiosk – and the bonus of the rarely seen LEGO pretzel. Add your own DC and Marvel mini-figures for a splendid Superhero day out.

Buy now at Amazon

LEGO Creator Expert: Big Ben

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Key features:

  • Price – £189.99
  • Set number – 10253
  • Pieces – 4,163

Big Ben actually refers to the bell, but we’ll just let it go and marvel at the contents of this set instead.

This model of the Queen Elizabeth tower and East wing of Westminster palace has a considerable footprint of 44x20cm, and the tip of the tower tops out at 60cm. The clock features four superbly crafted dials with movable hour and minute hands. The tower top lifts up to reveal the world’s most famous bell. Down at ground level, there is decent detail too. It’s time to clear some space on your shelves: I think this one deserves a decent display spot.

Buy now at Amazon

LEGO Technic: Porsche 911 GT3 RS

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Key features:

  • Price – £259.99
  • Set number – 42056
  • Pieces – 2,704

One of the best collaborations I’ve seen from the Technic team – and there have been many impressive ones. The manual included is worthy of its own space, with a history of LEGO Technic and Porsche GT cars (plus build instructions) included.

The lava orange ride is highly detailed and replicated with aplomb. Superb alloys have with yellow calipers for the disk brakes. The steering, suspension and gearbox are all fully functional. There’s even an adjustable rear wing. Each 1:8-scale GT3 gets a unique number on a laser-engraved plaque. Just think: you get to own a Porsche VIN plate but at a fraction of the real cost of the car.

Buy now at Amazon

LEGO Creator Expert: Tower Bridge

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Key features:

  • Price – £259.99
  • Set number -– 10214
  • Pieces – 4,295

Quite likely the most iconic bridge on the planet – well, maybe if you don’t count the Golden Gate in SF, although it’s yet to be immortalised in LEGO. A weekend-filling build with more than 4,000 pieces, the Tower Bridge set weighs in at over 4kg. When completed, it stands at an impressive metre long and almost half a metre high. In addition to the many one-off bricks designed simply for this Creator set, there are also four vehicles including a black taxi and double-decker bus. This is an absolute stunner of a set that even non-AFOL’s will admire.

Buy now at Amazon