LEGO is a huge hobby to get into as an adult. There are hundreds of sets available at any given time and they vary greatly in size, complexity and price. However, there is a nice selection of sets available that balance these factors, which are the ideal sets to pick up if you̵
What makes for a good beginner’s set?
So, how do you know which sets strike that balance? There are a few things to keep in mind.
- Difficulty: On LEGO.com, under each set you will find a rating of “Difficulty”, determined based on customer reviews. This is a great way to see how difficult it is to build a LEGO set, but keep in mind that the answers are going to be skewed. There are many LEGO sets aimed at younger children, which make up the lower levels of difficulty. You’ll want to see more in the 2.5 sets of 5 and up. You can also rely on LEGO’s official age ratings included in all of their sets (some of the 18+ in particular are really challenging). We’ve focused on sets that don’t go too far in the difficulty of either direction for this list and rely more on smart, simplistic designs than complex ones.
- Price and quantity: The bigger and more complex a LEGO set, the higher the price. This is usually measured by the number of pieces (which we will list for each set), with a standard conversion rate of about 7-11 cents per brick. But some builds have a big focus on smaller or larger pieces that can greatly affect the price / piece ratio, and minifigs (the small figures that come with LEGO’s sets) can drive up prices too. Branded sets (Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.) are also usually more expensive because LEGO has to pay for that license.
- Aesthetics: Of course you want something cool for all your efforts during the construction process, so we also paid a lot of attention to the finished products. Whether you want to put these building blocks on your shelf or not, the sets we’ve picked all showcase the creative potential of LEGO’s building system. This can then inspire you to come up with your own LEGO builds – if you’re interested in that side of the hobby.
Real Cities: LEGO Architecture Skyline Sets (varies)
The Architecture theme is home to tons of cool sets, the most important of which is the Skyline series. These take cities from the real world, bring them together into their most iconic landmarks, and merge them into a relatively small, but highly detailed building. These sets are great to display, are reasonably priced and are a great introduction to the creative thought it takes to make a quality LEGO build.
Currently, the Skyline series includes Dubai (740 units), New York City (598 units), Tokyo (547 units), Paris (649 units), San Francisco (565 units), London (468 units), Shanghai (597 units) units), and Las Vegas (501 units).
Unique: LEGO Creator Expert Bonsai Tree (878 Pieces)
As for one of LEGO’s more recent experiments, the Bonsai Tree set is a very different type of building than what LEGO usually offers. Still, the process of building the base, pot, and tree itself is a great time, and the ability to switch the tree from normal green leaves to cherry blossoms is a nice bonus. And the more unique aspects of this construction, such as the loose bits that simulate dirt in the jar, only go further to make sure the finished product looks great.
For Star Wars fans: LEGO Star Wars Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing (474 pieces)
There are one a lot of Star Wars moves from the massive Star Destroyer to the more affordable micro builds. And those sets are great, but if you’re just starting out, you probably want something that’s more of a middle ground between the simplistic and expensive. Fortunately, the latest series of Star Wars sets offered a great option: Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing. Based on the iconic ship from the original trilogy, this build does a fantastic job of getting the ship’s look back without inflating the price too much – and that’s without mentioning the awesome minifigs. For Star Wars fans new to the world of LEGO, it’s hard to think of a better starting point.
Ancient: LEGO Ideas Dinosaur Fossils (910 pcs)
These brick displays have some great builds with intricate detail. The box contains parts to build a Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex and Pteranodon in skeleton form, as well as a paleontologist minifigure. These builds look fantastic and with a lot of smaller details, the build process is a great time too.
For Marvel fans: LEGO Marvel Iron Man Helmet (480 pcs)
While most of the superhero sets LEGO makes are aimed at the younger audience, this Iron Man set offers a fun replacement for older fans. It’s a fairly simple build, but the excellent styling and clever use of greebling (a LEGO building technique that exposes studs for added texture) makes this a satisfying build to complete and a welcome addition to any Marvel fan’s room. . The included stand is the icing on the cake and cement this as a fantastic presentation piece.
Simple displays: LEGO Brick Sketches Theme (varies)
If you especially like LEGO for displays, you should consider the Brick Sketches theme. These builds are pretty basic, but the way they approach the re-creation of iconic characters through a mix of is undeniably charming. The characters literally jump off their bases, and the variety of different parts used and the heavy use of greebling keep these simplistic builds looking interesting still. The theme only includes Batman, Star Wars and Mickey Mouse characters for now, but there’s a decent chance of expansion over time. It’s also nice to see that the base you create these builds on comes with a simple kickstand for display purposes
Start your engines: LEGO Speed Champions 1974 Porsche 911 (180 pcs)
The entire Speed Champions theme is a great resource of smaller but still accurate reproductions of real cars, but we went with the Porsche 911 specifically for this list. This inexpensive model has a fun minifigure, functional wheels and a sleek design. For those interested in cars, it is a great set to rest on the shelf. And if you end up enjoying this set, then LEGO’s more recent set, the LEGO Creator Expert Porsche 911, is a great successor that is much larger and more detailed.
A classic: LEGO Ideas Ship in a bottle (953 pcs)
When it comes to office decor, few things are more iconic than a ship in a bottle, so it’s great to see LEGO’s interpretation of it in this Ideas set. The bottle, mini-ship and detailed stand all come together to form a great construction, and the smaller details like the stone-built water and the little spheres on the stand really finish the deal. This set is great for almost everyone and is quite unique compared to the rest of LEGO’s catalog.
Out of This World: LEGO Ideas International Space Station (864 pcs)
Who doesn’t like space? This build of the Ideas theme faithfully mimics the International Space Station for your office, and also includes a nice display stand, a few astronaut microfigs, and a few smaller builds like the space shuttle. While the final product is a bit fragile, that should be fine given its display-focused nature. For those interested in modern space programs, this set covers all bases well.
For Harry Potter fans: LEGO Harry Potter Hedwig (630 pieces)
There is a good selection of LEGO Harry Potter sets out there, and while the real prize is certainly Hogwarts Castle, beginners may want to start with this feathered friend first. This set includes a fully brick-built model of Hedwig, complete with a sleek display stand and even some movement functionality (turn the crank on the stand and Hedwig’s wings will flap). It looks cool, the build is fun to complete and it makes for a great showpiece for fans of the series. It checks all the boxes for a great LEGO display and the included Harry and Hedwig minifigs only sweeten the deal.
A Taste of Technic: LEGO Technic Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (579 pcs)
Although LEGO’s Technic system differs from the standard bricks, it still embodies much of the same creative spirit. So if you want to give this alternative build system a spin, the Chevrolet Corvette model would do well to introduce it. There are some nice touches like the engine pistons that move as the car rolls around, and the finished product is pretty accurate considering the number of pieces. The main feature of Technic is its complex internal mechanisms, and while this set doesn’t go quite as far as others, what’s here is still fun to figure out and is a good taste of what Technic has to offer.