Socks, chocolates and coffee table books with the heft of a paving slab all have their merits, but nothing is as exciting to unwrap on Christmas morning as a new Lego set. And later on, when the fire’s roaring, a turkey-stuffed grandparent is snoring over whatever Pixar film is on the telly and you need something to distract you from going up for another round of cheese, you’ll be even more grateful for an instruction manual and bags of plastic bricks.
Several years of lockdowns have seen Lego’s popularity boom like never before, mercifully helping to keep kids entertained and adults sane. The company now directly targets particular sets at nostalgic older builders, while pumping out so many sets for its core demographic that no child should ever be bored again.
To make Santa’s job easier we’ve picked out the best of the bunch for 2022. From Star Wars and sports cars, to arty tributes and, fittingly, a buildable Christmas tree, there’s something here builders of all tastes.
Lego Home Alone House
Think Disney’s Home Alone reboot is a filthy animal? For a remake that’s more faithful to your festive memories, assemble this Lego version of the McCallister mansion. Comprised of 3955 pieces, the hefty home opens up to reveal cinematic scenes in each room – from Kevin’s solo party to Harry’s blowtorched bonce. Once you’ve built the booby-trapped abode, a cast of five minifigs – including the Wet Bandits and shovel-toting Old Man Marley – can be deployed to film your own miniature sequel.
Lego Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block
Mario’s long had a thing for blocks, which makes you wonder why it took so long for the plumber to swap pixels for bricks and hook up with Lego. Inspired by Super Mario 64 (25 this year), this 2064-piece Question Mark cube unfolds to reveal multiple levels from the N64 classic: Bob-omb Battlefield, Cool, Cool Mountain and Lethal Lava Land, with Princess Peach’s castle hidden in the middle. Wrap it up beneath the tree for a surprise within a surprise.
Lego Christmas Tree
Why settle for one Christmas tree when you can have a pair of the things? The obvious advantage of this miniature Lego version is that it won’t stop dropping all over the floor mere minutes after they’ve finished assembling it, and it can even be reassembled into two smaller trees. Attempt to do that with a real Christmas tree and they’ll almost certainly be given the silent treatment until the new year.
Lego Sanctum Sanctorum
Anyone who’s been paying attention to recent Marvel fare will know that some very silly decisions have been made in the home of Doctor Strange. Luckily, you shouldn’t have to worry about accidentally tearing open the multiverse with this 360-degree Lego recreation. Measuring over 32cm high when built, the 2708-piece 3-storey Sanctum Sanctorum features a modular design that lets you completely alter the layout. Each floor is packed with details that will delight MCU aficionados, as will the assortment of superhero minifigures with which they can decorate the house’s exterior.
Given current intergalactic exchange rates, £700 won’t buy you enough credits to bribe your way out of a Stormtrooper traffic stop on Tattooine. But it will net you this sizeable scale model of the Empire’s walking weapon. With 6785 pieces, it might take a while to find the bricks you’re looking for. Once you do, you’ll be rewarded with a posable replica of the infamous AT-AT, complete with hooded Hoth Snowtroopers and a dangling Luke minifig doing his best to bring down your model. Which, come to think of it, is a good reason to whip out the miniature E-Web heavy repeating blaster. Rebel scum.
Lego Fender Stratocaster
A songwriting course might equip you with the building blocks to create a great riff, but only this Lego kit gives you the bricks to build your own Fender Stratocaster. No, you won’t get a killer lick out of its plastic parts, but with a moving whammy bar, twistable tuning pegs and a panel that can be removed to reveal the attached amp’s innards, it’s the perfect gifts for aspiring guitarists whose skills are clapped out rather than Clapton.
Lego Jim Lee Batman Collection
You can put your Lego masterpieces on the wall these days, and we can think of nobody more worthy of a spot than Gotham’s protector, as he was imagined by legendary comic book artist Jim Lee. This portrait set actually lets them choose between building an artwork of Batman, Harley Quinn or The Joker, each comprising 4167 pieces. To really get them in the zone, they can accompany their building session with a soundtrack made specially for this set, which features an interview with Jim Lee in which he discusses his long career in the business of Batman and others.
Lego McLaren Formula 1 Car
It might be time for them to accept that they’re probably never getting behind the wheel of a real-life F1 car, but assembling a frankly astonishingly detailed Lego Technic version is thrilling in its own way. This 1434-piece build features a V6 cylinder engine, just like the real thing, complete with moving pistons, steering, suspension and differential. A collaborative effort between Lego designers and McLaren’s, the replica model is based on the 2022 F1 car, so finer details such as sponsor logos are all exactly where they should be.
Lego Real Madrid – Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
This suitably epic 5,800-piece tribute to the Bernabéu coincides with Real Madrid’s 120th anniversary and the stadium’s 75th. The impressive replica features a lift-off roof and can be split in half, allowing them to really appreciate details like the four iconic towers on the corners of the ground, stairwells, the dugout and the tunnel. It’s a bit strange to no longer see Gareth Bale on the bench, though. As you’d expect, there’s plenty of authentic Real Madrid branding, too.
Vincent van Gogh – The Starry Night
They might never be able to paint like van Gogh, but luckily they can recreate his magnum opus with Lego bricks. Created in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), this 2,316-piece 3D reimagining of the enduring painting includes a handy hook for wall mounting, and they also get a van Gogh minifigure, paintbrush, palette and easel. The cultured Lego builder’s choice.
Lego App-Controlled Cat D11 Bulldozer
Moving mounds of wrapping paper is no mean feat. For heavy-duty clearing assistance, assemble this beefy bulldozer. From adjustable tracks to a swivelling cab ladder, the detailed ’dozer features a number of functioning mechanisms which are faithful to the full-sized equivalent. Pair up with the Control+ app to steer the Cat, drop the ripper or raise and tilt the blade. With some 3854 pieces to rifle through, you’ll need to create a mess before you can clear one – but the made model will make light work of living room detritus.
Lego The Mighty Bowser
Lego’s Nintendo-themed output has been consistently excellent, but Mario has tended to be the star of the show in most of it. The latest set turns the attention to the plumber’s horned nemesis. Lego The Mighty Bowser lives up to its name. Bowser stands at over 32cm high and is made up of just over 2807 pieces. His arms, hands, legs, tail and jaws are all posable, while buttons under his shell allow you to move the head. And it wouldn’t be Bowser if he wasn’t hellbent on taking Mario down, which you can do with launchable fireballs before plonking him back on his display stand to calm down.
Lego Dagobah Jedi Training Diorama
Lego’s dioramas are fantastic for displaying, and they don’t come much more iconic than this one. Coming in at exactly 1000 pieces (very satisfying), the Dagobah Jedi Training Diorama has you building Yoda’s hut and Luke Skywalker’s badly parked X-Wing (or what he can still see of it), both made famous in The Empire Strikes Back. And when done it’ll sit comfortably on any shelf to remind them of their achievement. Love it, any Star Wars fan will.
Lego Nano Gauntlet
Given how hard the Hulk found it to wield the actual Nano Gauntlet, it’s probably best that this is just a Lego replica. Not that they look different. This 675-piece brick-built tribute to the glove that saved Spider-Man and plenty of others is as authentic as you’d hope, and is yet another model just begging to be displayed. You get to add all six Infinity Stones, and the jointed fingers can be moved, though possibly not into the click position. We wouldn’t want any injuries.
Most Lego sets are impressive, but few melt our minds with their genius like the 1,508-piece Optimus Prime that we imagine most Transformers fans reading this either already own or very much intend to one day. Standing over 35cm tall in robot mode, Optimus Prime will be the star of any shelf, but if he doesn’t quite fit into a space, they can convert him into a lorry without needing to rebuild. Accessories include the ion blaster, energon axe and jet pack, and within the most famous Cybertronian’s chest chamber they’ll find the Autobot Matrix of Leadership.
Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone
The Blue Blur celebrated his 30th anniversary last year, and while his 3D game outings remain as divisive as ever, we’re glad to report that Lego’s tribute to Sonic the Hedgehog does everything right. A perfect recreation of the iconic 2D level on which Sonic has always done his best very fast running – loop included – this is the set that Sega fans will want on display. As well as a Sonic minfig, there’s also a brick-built Dr. Eggman and Eggmobile, because a hedgehog is nothing without a persistent nemesis.
You’ll be glad to learn that we have no interest in weighing in on the endlessly tedious “which version of The Office is better?” debate, but if you’re gifting a fan of our transatlantic cousins’ take on the comedy-ripe mundane 9-5, then you’ll want to get them this superb new set. Fan service-y details reveal themselves as you build, and you can slide out Michael Scott’s office to be displayed on its own. Nothing less for the world’s best boss.
Like bricks hitting bricks, the classic click-clack of a typewriter is nothing if not distinctive. Nostalgic for the noise? Based on the machine used by Lego’s founder, Ole Kirk Kristiansen, this imitation letterpress lets you relive the Fifties office experience. Feed in a sheet of paper, then watch the carriage travel across the roller as you tap on working keys. The only thing it won’t do? Actually type anything: its spools are made of fabric.
When it comes to Lego, the oldies are nearly always goodies, and that’s certainly the case with the Galaxy Explorer, a scaled-up tribute to a 1970s set of the same name. Comprising 1,245 pieces, this build is designed to bring back memories for those who have been fiddling with plastic bricks for decades, and comes with four astronauts who, somewhat awkwardly, have to fight it out for the two beds in the buildable living quarters. A perfect set for space fans of all ages.
When the imagination is running dry, flowers can be a no-brainer of a gift for your better half. But how much do you really love someone if their Christmas present is half-dead before 2023 arrives? Luckily, Lego has a solution in the shape of its 756-piece Flower Bouquet, a selection of flower varieties including roses, daisies and asters, all of which require no more attention than the occasional dusting and, of course, a look of fondness every now and again.
Retro gamers have been well served by the clever minds at Lego in recent years. We were wowed by the Lego NES a few years ago, but if their gaming history goes back even further than that, look at the brick-built Atari 2600 at your bank balance’s own risk. This stunningly intricate 2,532-piece replica features a panel complete with functioning switches, a moving joystick and a trio of buildable cartridges with art inspired by the originals. Give up on ever getting hold of the real thing again and build this beauty instead.
Lego Adidas Originals
Stepping on Lego bricks is more painful than any blister from a brand-new shoe. Luckily, this Adidas sneaker isn’t for sticking your hoof in. As cool as kicks come, the seminal Superstar took basketball courts by storm in the Seventies – and Lego’s take on the celebrated trainer wears its stripes with pride. Shipped in a shoebox, it features accurate graphics and actual laces. Buy one for hopping to the hoop – or pick up a pair for retro left and right.