Writing about the best Lego sets for adults for GQ is a true pinch-me assignment, considering the chokehold they had on my childhood growing up. I’ll admit that I’m not as passionate about Legos today as I was as a nine-year-old in Charlotte, NC. But back then, I vividly remember saving up my allowance and lawn-mowing money for an intricate underwater Lego building set at Target. I also loved the Wild West sets, and there was even once an exploding jail building kit that was the site of many epic, Toy Story-esque adventures. (If you stuck a block of dynamite into the jail, a hidden spring would blow off the cell doors. Jealous much?)
So why is GQ counting down our favorite Legos for adults in the year of our lord 2024? It’s not a case of arrested development, we swear. In the past couple decades, Legos have transcended the world of toys and left indelible marks on the culture at large. For starters, it’s launched a booming franchise of excellent animated movies. They also inspired Bearbrick, which GQ called “streetwear’s most enduring icon” in 2019. Even younger generations are propelling their Lego fandom to new heights, like the 14-year-old creator who made a Lego animation sequence so good it landed him a job on the Across the Spider-Verse production.
But unless you’re the type of person who attends toy conventions and builds intricate, life-size models of your own creation, you’ll need to follow the directions like the rest of us to get started. These Lego sets for adults let you put down your screens and lose yourself in the moment. So even if your passion for building miniature worlds faded with puberty like mine did, you can still tap into your nostalgia and try your hand at any of these extremely grown-up, not-at-all-for-children Lego sets.
The Best Lego Sets for Adults, at a Glance
We’ve gathered the best Lego sets for every type of builder, from architecture lovers to pop culture obsessives. First, skip right to the good part with our top picks:
The Best Lego Set for Writers: Lego Ideas Typewriter
Not all former Lego kids grow up to be engineers and builders. Some of us become writers. If you have literary inclinations of your own, or simply appreciate old-school memorabilia, this moving Lego typewriter is an excellent little memento of bygone days. You won’t be able to write the next great American novel on this 1950s typing device, but you can press the keys and watch the carriage slide with each keystroke. You can even feed a real letter into the roller. As one of the most intricate mechanical Lego sets ever created, it’s a marvel that it only requires 2,079 pieces.
The Best Lego Set for Musicians: Lego Ideas Fender Stratocaster
The coolest Lego sets for adults look good enough to display on your desk or in your living room, and it doesn’t get much groovier than a Jimi Hendrix-approved 1970s Fender Stratocaster and matching 65 Princeton amplifier. This kit includes some other realistic elements, including a textile guitar strap, footswitch, and rubber cables. But like all of the best Lego kits, you have to look beneath the surface to fully appreciate this model. When you take off the panel on the amp, you can even peep a miniature motherboard, reverb tank, and speaker tucked inside.
The Best Lego Set for Space Nerds: NASA Space Shuttle Discovery
Discovery flew more missions than any other shuttle. Now in Lego form, it’s one of the largest models on this list in terms of sheer size. Like the popular $850 Millennium Falcon Lego set, this model is meant to be proudly displayed in your home as a work of art and science. The shuttle doors swing open to reveal the payload, a model of the Hubble Telescope (launched into orbit by Discovery in 1990) which attaches to the shuttle through a robotic arm. After you’ve delivered your payload, step back and appreciate your creation. Two display plaques come with the model, one for Discovery and one for Hubble.
The Best Lego Set for Design Nerds: A-Frame Cabin Collectible Display Set
Lego’s very involved architecture building kits are always a hit amongst grown-ups with lots of time on their hands. Take this charming A-frame cabin that’s equally as enticing for the guy with a Dwell subscription or the one who’s always hankering for the outdoors. The model comes with four minifigures and 11 animals that are ideal for reenacting a day out on the lake, almost as relaxing to build as a weekend in the woods. And the cabin interior is just as endearing as the surrounding landscape. Maybe it’ll even inspire you to book an Airbnb and plan your own mountain getaway.
The Best Lego Set for Gamers: Nintendo Entertainment System
Lego has made building sets for lots of different pop culture franchises over the years (see also: Star Wars, Disney, and Harry Potter Lego sets for adults), but the toymaker’s Super Mario-themed sets are particularly popular right now. This model lets you build your own Nintendo Entertainment System, complete with a classic NES controller and a TV screen depicting Mario himself. This moving Lego set is more than meets the eye, as the 1980s-style TV features a small hand crank. When you turn the handle, the 8-bit Mario on the screen moves and jumps. For gamers, it’s the epitome of a buildable, displayable retro throwback.
The Best Lego Set for History Nerds: Titanic
This legendary, nearly 10,000-piece model is one of the biggest LEGO sets ever made, coming in third place behind the Lego Art World Map and the massive Eiffel Tower set. The Titanic model measures in at 54 inches in length and comes with a built-in display stand (which you also have to build, naturally). There are no Kate or Leo minifigures here, so history nerds only, please. The Lego Titanic also pulls apart so that you can see all 10 decks inside the ship. Be warned: This build is not for the faint of heart.
The Best Lego Set for Photographers: Creator 3-in-1 Retro Camera Toy
Advanced Lego sets for adults can cost upward of $600, but this budget buy is less of a commitment, budget-wise or time-wise. For just $20, you can actually build three pieces of retro technology using the same bricks, so it offers more than a quick diversion for brick builders. Because this model only has 261 pieces, it’s also a great project for parents and kids to tackle together. You can pass on your love of Legos and explain what a camcorder is, all at the same time.
The Best Lego Set for Star Wars Nerds: Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter
There are a lot of Star Wars Lego Sets for adults to choose from, but we like the simplicity of this classic X-Wing. Look closely and you’ll see R2-D2 tucked into his usual perch. The wings open and close just like on the real starfighter, and the kit comes with a Luke Skywalker minifigure and a display plaque. With 1,953 pieces in total, it’s just involved enough for aspiring Jedis to build while screening the entire original Star Wars trilogy in the background.
The Best Lego Art Set: Modern Art Modular Wall Art
We all know the old joke about modern art: My kid could make that! Well haters, Lego says this newly launched building kit is for ages 18 and up, so there. Unlike a typical Lego set with step-by-step instructions, this one encourages creativity with modular pieces that are infinitely customizable. That means you get to create an abstract work of art that’s uniquely you, while every one else has to ponder what exactly it all means.
The Best Decorative Lego Set: Orchid
Lego makes several different botanical building kits, including some nifty succulents, flower bouquets, and bonsai trees. However, none of them can top the classic Orchid, which comes with its own very own Lego vase. The completed plant is a helluva lot easier to care for than the real thing, and it makes a thoughtful gift for the partner who doesn’t mind DIY-ing their own present. You might even find that building it is a meditative process, with a fairly accessible 608 pieces to muddle through before you’ve completed your masterpiece.
Plus, 6 More Adult Lego Sets We Love
Read the full article here