Snow might be the coolest medium for creative winter building, but no powder palace can survive the sun that comes in spring.
For construction fun that lasts the year, Lego’s what you need – and there’s no shortage of ideas in this Christmas list: from Batmobiles and Star Destroyers to dinosaurs and rockets, these brick-built kits are sure to keep eager builders busy well into 2020.
The best bit? Whether you follow the instructions or assemble using blueprints from your brain, whatever you piece together won’t melt when you’re finished. It might be stood on by a grown-up, though.
Lego 1989 Batmobile (£220)
Michael Keaton behind the mask. Jack Nicholson behind the make-up. Tim Burton behind the camera. There are many reasons why the Batman flick of 1989 will forever be the best – and the movie’s Batmobile is one of them.
With its long nose, sweeping curves and central jet engine, it was the pinnacle of crime-fighting cool. And, besides crafting a full-size replica from MDF and a vat of black paint, this Lego reincarnation is the best homage you can build: stunningly detailed and functional, too, mount the 3306-piece set on the rotating stand and its presence alone should be enough to keep festive jokers from inflicting their heinous cracker quips.
Lego Ideas Dinosaur Fossils (£55)
Want to learn from fossils this Christmas? You could ask your grandparents about their prehistoric festive memories. Or, for an activity that won’t leave you needing a nap, piece together this giant dinosaur set instead.
A mini museum for your mantelpiece, the kit consists of three fossilised creatures reimagined in plastic: a Pteranodon, Triceratops and mighty Tyrannosaurus rex. Follow the fact-filled instruction book, before practising your palaeontology with the help of the moustached minifigure. And, at 39cm long, you won’t be needing grandpa’s magnifying glass to inspect the rex.
Lego Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer (£650)
Eschewing the festivities because you want to build a giant grey Star Destroyer isn’t exactly the definition of Christmas spirit. Finish your 4700-piece space weapon, though, and no-one will dare to criticise your decision.
A stunning replica of the angular ship seen at the start of Star Wars: Episode IV, every element of the aggressive vessel is faithfully replicated in blocky form – from the epic exhausts to the iconic bridge. And, at more than 90cm long and 60cm wide, it’s one of the biggest sets Lego’s ever made. Just as you ordered, Lord Vader.
Lego Ideas Central Perk (£65)
Bingeing with friends might be a staple of the festive season, but binge-watching Friends is the cosiest way to spend those long winter nights. Celebrate 25 years of amicable TV with this faithful recreation of the Central Perk café.
Brimming with Nineties nostalgia, the coffee shop kit features a stage for Miss Buffay’s musical numbers, a counter for unrequited Gunther to brew behind and a pop-out couch for easier play with all five friends. TV studio lights make things meta, while themed props complete the look – from Joey’s pizza to Phoebe’s guitar. All together: smelly cat, smelly cat…
Lego Tree House (£180)
There’s nothing more exciting for at-home explorers than an actual tree house, but taking your tools up a trunk isn’t the most appealing of winter tasks. Park the planks but keep the lumber fun with this forest domicile.
Born in the mind of a Lego fan, the botanical abode consists of three canopy cabins connected by a bridge. There’s no phone to call the copse, but a winch makes delivery a cinch, while the leaf pieces – crafted from plant-based plastic – can be switched from green to yellow to suit the season. The only risk? That you’ll be asked to recreate it for real come summer.
Lego Deep Space Rocket and Launch Control (£90)
After a hard week of hosting, the desire to blast your in-laws into space might well be top of your wish list. Alas, unless Elon Musk will give you mates rates, this Lego launchpad will have to do.
Man the launch control tower, ferry the astronauts out by train, before securing the multi-stage rocket with the platform’s detachable arms. Up in festive space, your plastic projectile can separate into cockpit, booster and storage sections. Sure, it won’t get you to the outer reaches of the solar system, but at least it might distract you from the familial friction.
Lego Land Rover Defender (£160)
Land Rover’s latest Defender is certainly divisive, swapping the hard-edged utility of the iconic original for softer curves and a sumptuous interior. What few have mentioned, though, is how good the new one looks in Lego form.
Hewn with Land Rover’s help, the hefty set offers builders a remarkable level of detail. From the independent suspension and six-cylinder engine to the steering and transmission system, all manner of functional elements make this Technic take on the full-size Landie a real treat for engineers and petrolheads alike.
Lego Steamboat Willie (£80)
Little Disney lovers might want to unwrap the latest Frozen sets this Christmas, but lifelong fans will surely fawn over this monochrome Mickey kit.
A retro number released to celebrate 90 years since the cartoon mouse’s memorable first appearance, the S.S. Willie might be made from several shades of grey, but it’s no boring build. Once assembled, the little ship’s working crane, rotating paddle and bouncing steam pipes will have you whistling with delight.