In the world of building toys, nothing can compare to the expertise of LEGO. They have been making building bricks, albeit made of high-quality wood, since 1932. By 1949, they had already perfected the art of making interlocking plastic bricks-–the same building bricks that everyone enjoys playing with today. And if you are in the search for really cool LEGO sets for your kids, check out our list of the 10 most-popular and coolest LEGO building sets we guarantee your kids will love this year.
Criteria Used in Evaluation of The Top LEGO Sets
Let’s be honest: LEGO has never gone out of fashion! It never will! In fact, it has only gotten bigger with each generation! Like LEGO itself, the generations keep building on each other. Kids who grew up in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s are now adults introducing their kids to these same toys and themes! Sometimes, it’s classic set, some blast from the past! Or, it’s a new set for a new generation to relate to and build upon. The cross-generational quality even allows for some kids never to grow-up, to continue the building of their LEGO world. That’s why there are now many offerings of realistic architectural sets of historic buildings. Or artistic movie replicas worthy of display!
It has come a long way from a 1930s Danish toy workshop! From becoming just another avant-garde European trend in experimental child-rearing–to Legoland theme parks for grown-up kids; the movie and comic hero cult; to the memes of what could be more painful to a parent than stepping on a LEGO! LEGO has done more than go beyond the realm of “cool”–it has redefined it!
The research has been extensive throughout the years–more than we can, and should, cover in these brief overviews. As stated before, the sheer fact that LEGO is such a phenomena, a force even, lends itself to so much deserved credibility. The most basic aspect of these blocks can teach spatial awareness that can lead to a greater mechanical aptitude, which can eventually become more abstract in the form of geometric shapes, all the way to algebraic formulations and possibly trigonometry. There are no limits to the possibilities–but, it all has to start somewhere!
The focus can remain on the building, but also to understand fully how to build, one must also explore it’s opposite: that is, the ability to destroy; to take apart and put back together again. It’s even in our nursery rhymes! Think of Humpty Dumpty, for instance! The ability to build, sort, take apart and reconstruct, not only nurtures a budding spatial awareness, it also reinforces consequential cognition and interrelating.
Those are some of the great solitary lessons that LEGOs have to offer, but we can’t forget the cooperative aspect of building! Lego play can literally mirror how we build our world around us! Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day–and, it wasn’t built by one person all alone! No, it was a team effort! LEGOs encourage forming relationships! Relationships that can be built on just like the blocks themselves!
What Determined the Top LEGO Sets in Our List
It’s supposed to be easy choosing the coolest building sets from LEGO. Unfortunately, as the term “cool” can be very subjective, often dependent on one’s idea of the parameters or characteristics of a really cool toy or object, it was quite a challenge. We knew that we cannot be overly dependent on consumer reviews because, again, these are subjective. But we nevertheless took into consideration what countless other parents are saying about the products.
So, we had to look at the theme of the LEGO playset and try to think like kids. We had to look at the LEGO sets from the perspective of children. We then considered the different developmental tasks of children for each age group that the playset is recommended for. For example, a 4-year-old child will have a different way of looking at the LEGO set compared to an 8-year-old. They will also have different cognitive levels so this was also factored in. We also considered today’s current trends knowing full well that children typically follow a fad. So, we had to be updated with what’s new and hip and try to use this knowledge in determining the appropriateness of the building set.
The process of identifying the coolest LEGO sets was never easy. Nevertheless, our commitment and dedication eventually paid off.
Building Toys and Your Kid’s Development
There are many reasons why building and construction toys like LEGO are such a huge hit not only during the gift-giving season but also for birthdays and other special occasions. For some parents, they don’t wait for special occasions to give their kids LEGOs; they give them on a regular basis even for no apparent reason at all. And it’s easy to see why.
LEGO and other similar building toys have been described by healthcare and childcare experts as very helpful instruments in the development of the kid’s cognition or brain processing. From memory to spatial reasoning to logical reasoning to problem-solving and to critical-thinking, kids can use building bricks to harness these cognitive processes. These provide the foundation for more complex cerebral functions which can help them later in life as adults.
For instance, interlocking plastic bricks that form a certain structure will require certain parts of the young brain to process different information. It needs to recall stored information about shapes and the relationship of the orientation of individual bricks with one another. Children learn to make full use of their understanding of causal relationships. Even before they begin stacking bricks on top of the other, they are already forming a mental image of what they are going to build. They know that to attain the form or shape that they desire they have to use a certain size or shape of building brick as well.
Their understanding of spatial relationships is also enhanced. Some building models may require the insertion of bricks or other components into a particular slot. The young brain will have to make accurate estimates as to whether or not the bricks will fit into to the slot. If the brick is too big, then it will simply not fit into the slot. If the brick is too small, then it will simply fall off from the slot. Spatial intelligence also makes full use of the coordinated movements of the smaller or finer groups of muscles with feedback from both the tactile and visual senses. If children see that a particular block is supposed to be oriented in a particular direction, the brain can command the muscles of the fingers to make changes in the way the brick is to be positioned relative to the model being built.
Almost everyone knows that building bricks like those from LEGO are very useful in helping facilitate the development of kids’ counterfactual reasoning or thinking. This helps them project into the future all the potential outcomes of every action that they take. This is often regarded as very important in the development of their ability to make more or less accurate predictions. They know that “if” they position a brick one very particular way, “then” it will produce an entirely different outcome. This is the basis of their “what if” reasoning or line of thinking. If developed correctly, this can provide the foundation for the enhancement of the critical-thinking processes of the brain. They will be more inclined to use “what if” in almost all of their activities. When they grow up, they can be excellent managers as they will be inclined to look at all the possibilities before making a critical decision.
Building toys are also well-known for their ability to enhance the creative potential of kids. And where there is creativity, imagination is not far behind. In fact, these two concepts almost always work hand-in-hand, with creativity being the outcome of children’s imagination and imagination being further enhanced by children’s creativity. Kids can build fantastic creations based on their imaginations. These creations can then fuel their imaginations a lot further. This is not to mention what creations can do to a child’s self-esteem and self-worth.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of reasons why LEGO toys are always in demand even to adults. The many developmental benefits this type of play thing provides are simply remarkable if not astonishing. This coming holiday season, get your kid one of the coolest LEGO sets on our list. We guarantee they will love it. And you will be more than glad you did.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Since there are so many adult afficionados, are there ever any LEGO building competitions?
A: Yes! There seems to be several all going on at once around the country! To name a few, there is the Radley competition, the Austin Kids Fest competition, the Annual Lisle Library competition, not to mention the nightly building competitions held at Legoland itself! As pointed out, this is just a natural extension of the cross-generationality of this product and the appeal of LEGO culture. The fact that there’s even an architectural series can be seen as a testament to meeting this demand.
Q: How accurate are the details to the architectural design play sets?
A: I would have to say 95-99 percent accurate! Even though we strive to be darned close, nothing can be 100 percent accurate with historical buildings! So many factors come into play when considering the details. There are probably many details that aren’t part of historical record, for instance. Some buildings were built before the advent of photography, so we may not know for that reason. Some areas may be private that only a handful of people could know the details about. And, lastly, there’s the fact that it can be nice to keep things somewhat within the realm of fantasy, without being too detailed. After all, it’s still just a LEGO playset!
Q: What is the difference between LEGO blocks and Duplo blocks?
A: Duplo is made by the LEGO company, developed in the late ’60s. Duplo is more geared toward preschoolers. They have a tendency to be larger and width and length. Their divets are a little larger and more open than regular LEGO block, thereby making them more easily interlocking. They can be compatible with regular LEGOs, too, when it come to interlocking them. Duplos tend to come in a limited range of colors–red, yellow, blue, white–and are typically building sets like the train set we reviewed.
Q: Will LEGO ever make a playset for the Ghostbusters remake?
A: Not sure about that! The old Ghostbusters became a classic due to it’s popularity and ratings. LEGO had a deal to make the figures from the franchise going back to the mid-80s! The remake is in a different category on so many levels! The fact that the classic is still being sold has quite a bit to do with customer demand. Many of the prior generation that grew up with the old Ghostbusters wanted it back. So, if the demand is there, the product will definitely be on the shelves!
Q: Can I ever buy extra mini figures that are related to some of these sets?
A: Unfortunately, I don’t believe LEGO sells any extra minifigures! If you really like some of the figures, I would suggest that you buy other LEGO sets that are the same theme–for example the Avengers or Captain America–you can build those sets and combine them! Since the characters will be related, you can use them interchangeably! Also, who is to say that you can’t use action figures from other brands and manufacturers that you may have laying around? The whole part of imaginative play for your child can often be the creation of unlikely scenarios!
Q: Does LEGO sell any other holiday-themed playset besides the advent calendar?
A: Yes they do! Not only do they have the advent calendar, they also have a Creator Holiday train set, that’s incredibly joyous and festive complete with wreath! In addition, they sell a Holiday Bakery set. It gives an old world gingerbread house feel, complete with baker, bread, tourists, and horse-drawn carriage with driver! All three of these sets can be combined to create a joyful winter wonderland for the entire family! Did I mention that the bakery comes complete LEGO-powered light for the interior?! Something to think about!