LEGO sets are brilliant for boosting building skills, co-ordination, patience, concentration – and of course, keeping ’em busy when your own hands are full.
There’s LEGO DUPLO (for 18 months and up) and Juniors (for ages 4 to 7) for when they’re little, and as they get older, they can graduate to LEGO City (ages 5 to 12), Friends (ages 6 to 12), Ninjago (ages 7 to 14), Creator (ages 7 to 16), Technic (ages 8 to 16), and more complicated branded sets, such as the popular Star Wars series.
Check out our 10 favourite sets for girls and boys of all ages and stages from the list below…
Age: 18 months to 5 years
What it is: A 29-piece DUPLO set that builds into a moving food truck. Comes with a market stall, a crate, food bricks, 2 mini figures and a white cat.
Why we love it: It’s a really ‘proper’ build for small hands, this one – and, for that very reason, it won big at our 2016 MadeForMums Toy Awards. It also offers tip-top play possibilities once assembled: our child judges loved playing shopkeeper and delivery driver and had loads of mix-and-match fun with the differently coloured pairs of food bricks. And that cat is CUTE.
See the award-winning features of the LEGO DUPLO My First Truck
What it is: A 516-piece set that builds into a siege machine with spiked wheels, catapults, monster teeth and a disc shooter. Comes with 3 shields (which you can scan for a related free app game), 3 mini figures and various accessories including stuff to fire from those catapults.
Why we love it: Some LEGO gets built quick, but our MadeForMums Toys reviewer Arjun found this one to be a proper (but enjoyable) challenge. And the pay off (especially all that catapulting) is definitely sweet!
Watch Arjun, age 9, review the Siege Machine Of Doom on our MadeForMums Toys YouTube channel
Age: 8 to 12
What it is: An 824-piece set that features a ‘mobile operations centre’, an excavator, a wheeled dumper, a drone with spinning rotors and a volcano that actually erupts. Comes with 6 mini figures, and accessories including boulders, a camera, a pickaxe and a walkie talkie.
Why we love it: Well, what’s not to love about being able to make a volcano erupt and shoot fireballs? But we also rate this set for its awesome play potential, once built: lots of scope for sciencey story-telling and lava-topped action drama.
Age: 4 to 7
What it is: A 66-piece Marvel superheroes set featuring Iron Man’s car, with rolling wheels and cosmic-cube container. Comes with Iron Man and Loki minfigures and magic sceptre.
Why we love it: This is a nicely priced set and the car has a nice big base piece to make assembly a bit easier for younger fingers. And, of course, the inclusion of our favourite Marvel superheroes (and villains) opens up the potential for lots of imaginative, world-saving play…
Age: 6 to 12
What it is: A 292-piece LEGO recreation of everyone’s fave movie castle! Comes with Elsa, Anna and Olaf mini figures, plus skis, ice skates, glittery wall elements, decorative stickers, 2 capes, a tiara, a hair bow and – of course – a carrot nose for Olaf.
Why we love it: We also love the disappearing ‘secret’ staircase and the princess-worthy snowmobile. Unlike some other of the bigger sets, Elsa’s castle doesn’t seem too difficult to build, either – so you won’t be frozen (arf) in the construction stage for too long.
Age: 7 to 12
What it is: A 726-piece tree house with a climbing wall over a waterfall, a turning bridge obstacle, a slide, a tire swing and a house with kitchen and sleeping area. Includes Stephanie, Emma and Joy mini-figures, plus an eagle and a fox.
Why we love it: Summer camp isn’t a huge part of our lives here in the UK but your little one and their friends can vividly imagine what it’s like through the 5 human and animal characters and let them take part in traditional US summer activities, such as climbing and tyre-swinging. It’s a tough build but worth it – and is one of the most colourful sets for older kids we’ve seen.
Age: 8 to 14
What it is: A 355-piece set that builds into The Inquisitor’s top secret starship, packed with advanced technology, like folding wings, 2 spring-loaded shooters and an opening top hatch. Comes with 3 minifigures and assorted weapons, including blaster pistols and, of course, a double-sided lightsaber.
Why we love it: The LEGO Star Wars range has some really impressive pieces. We love the impressive Death Star… but we don’t love the £400 it costs. The TIE Advanced Prototype combines the cool factor of the bigger pieces with a more purse-friendly price tag. We think it’s much easier to play with, too – with the foldable wings, minifigures and blaster pistols. Watch out, rebels!
Age: 18 months to 5 years
What it is: A big box of 95 brightly-coloured DUPLO pieces, including 2 figures, a turtle, a rabbit, a wagon base, 2 window elements, and a door.
Why we love it: The variety of blocks in this particular set is perfect for growing minds – we like the numbered blocks, in particular. As with all DUPLO bricks, they’re easy to grasp and move around, and we’re definite fans of the big, LEGO-shaped storage box (so you can avoid standing on left-around bricks – ouch!)
Age: 8 to 12
What it is: A 528-piecelighthouse (complete with light brick) and a lightkeeper’s cottage. It can be rebuilt to create a house with pier and speedboat or a boathouse. Includes 2 minifigures, an orca and 2 seagulls.
Why we love it: We love how the lighthouse actually lights up! And we also love this kit’s 3-in-1 versatility, so when your child is done rescuing boats, they can rebuild the set into the pier house or the boathouse. There’s also an interactive 3D app you can download, which provides building instructions.
Age: 7 to 12
What it is: A 237-piece set thatbuilds into a 3-in-1 Future Flyers robot – it remodels a futuristic jet with forward sweeping wings or a futuristic sports car with spoiler.
Why we love it: All 3 of this set’s configurations are great – and a good size (the robot is 17cm tall, and both the jet and the car over 14cm long). The orange, white and black colouring is cooly futuristic – and we particularly like the robot’s posable joints and awesome armoured shoulder pads.