Lego Duplo All-in-One-Box-of-Fun Review

From $24 Best

Pros:

  • Suitable for very young children, but older kids also enjoy playing with this set, according to reviews.
  • Nice variety of pieces for creative play.
  • Included storage box with room for more blocks.

Cons:

  • No girl figure included; only a boy.

Takeaway: You're almost never too young to start building, and Lego's Duplo sets cater to the youngest engineers. This starter set is designed for preschoolers, with blocks that are easy to hold and fit together.

Lego Classic Medium Creative Brick Box Review

From $28 Best

Pros:

  • 484-piece assortment of classic Lego bricks, wheels, and other pieces.
  • Low price per piece of less than 6 cents.
  • Instructions for making several critters and vehicles.
  • Includes a storage box large enough to store lots of extra pieces.
  • Keeps kids busy, parents say in reviews.

Cons:

  • Instruction book doesn't include all the models displayed on the box.

Takeaway: There are hundreds of themed Lego sets from which to choose, but for the most creative play, a basic set of bricks is the way to go. This collection includes a wide variety of colorful blocks that can be used to make anything from cars to castles.

Lego Star Wars First Order Heavy Scout Walker Review

From $35 Best

Pros:

  • Fun to play with and pretty straightforward to build.
  • Large for the price, with more than 500 pieces.
  • Reviewers admire the design, particularly the legs.
  • Inspired by the latest Star Wars film, "The Last Jedi."

Cons:

  • Some reviewers consider the build a little tedious and repetitive.
  • Wheels are visible and detract from the illusion that the legs are moving.

Takeaway: Star Wars-themed Lego sets are a perennial favorite among fans of the building sets and the movie franchise, but most of them lie outside our $40 budget. This set is relatively inexpensive, and detailed but still easy enough for most kids 9 to 14 to build.

Lego Minecraft The Nether Railway Review

From $24 Good

Pros:

  • Very good value for a Minecraft set.
  • Easy for kids 8 and older to build.
  • Parents reviewing the set report that their children love playing with the finished railway.
  • Track can be arranged in different configurations.

Cons:

  • Cart doesn't run across the tracks as smoothly as some buyers would like, although most reviewers say it works fine.

Takeaway: Lego Minecraft sets are a big hit among young fans of the video game. This set is affordable and fun for kids, who can reconfigure the railway track in several ways.

Lego City Fun at the Beach People Pack Review

From $32 Good

Pros:

  • 15 nicely detailed minifigures, plus animals such as a dog, lobster, and dolphin and buildable accessories such as a volleyball net, ice cream stand, and windsurfing board.
  • Builders can mix and match the minifigures' legs, torsos, heads, and hair/hats.
  • Augments other Lego City sets but also stands on its own.
  • Equal appeal for kids who will play with the pieces and adults looking to add to their collections.

Cons:

  • High cost per piece, although that's expected for minifigures (as opposed to bricks).
  • No baseplate to tie all the pieces together in a beach scene.

Takeaway: Minifigures make Lego sets come to life. While some sets comes with a couple of minifigures, you can populate an entire beachside town with this diverse set of Lego folks. The set includes several "minibuilds," as well.

Lego Architecture The Eiffel Tower Review

From $35 Good

Pros:

  • Fun and easy to build in about an hour, reviewers say, with clear instructions.
  • Appeals to adults as well as children 12 and older.
  • Finished tower makes a nice display piece.

Cons:

  • Some sections of the build feel a little flimsy, reviewers say; pieces may occasionally pop out.
  • Price per piece is a little high.

Takeaway: Lego Architecture sets are very popular, and the iconic Eiffel Tower is one of the best, especially at this price. Adults and kids alike enjoy building and displaying this model.

Buying Guide

Choosing a Lego Set

The sky is the limit when it comes to the possibilities of Lego -- but also the price. Each glossy brick holds the potential for boundless creativity. The cost of a set can reach into the thousands, and the company’s products rarely go on sale, so cheap Lego sets can be hard to come by. Especially when it comes to popular collections such as Lego Star Wars, budget-conscious builders should focus on value over price. Fans hotly debate what this means in terms of cost per brick, but a general rule of thumb is to look for sets priced at less than 10 cents per piece. We also took into account things like the number and rarity of included minifigures (which generally command higher prices than bricks) and dozens of online reviews for each set to build this guide to the best Lego sets selling for $40 or less.

Between its own collections and licensing deals, Lego covers a range of themes, with something to appeal to devotees of all ages and interests. DC Comics fans can fight for Gotham City with cheap Lego Batman sets; wannabe architects can construct New York's Guggenheim Museum in their living rooms; and toddlers can get in on the fun with Lego Duplo. Some Lego owners are attached to a particular theme; for others, any engaging set will do.

Lego Bricks.

Collections of classic Lego bricks are generally the best value in terms of price per piece, especially for Lego lovers who prefer to build their own designs rather than construct by the book. Our top picks include two sets that encourage creative play and supplement other Lego sets but also come with instructions for many possible builds. The Lego Classic Medium Creative Brick Box (starting around $28) provides nearly 500 bricks for putting toward feats of Lego engineering. For younger children, the Lego Duplo All-in-One-Box-of-Fun (starting around $24) features larger bricks that occupy kids for hours. Duplo sets cost quite a bit more per piece than Lego bricks, but this one gets high marks for value.

Lego Star Wars.

Of the many themes available, Lego Star Wars sets are the most sought-after by far. This wildly popular Lego franchise was launched in 1999 and comprises hundreds of sets and mini-sets, featuring builds from every movie in the series. Licensing costs make them more expensive than many other Lego sets. But our top pick, the new Lego Star Wars First Order Heavy Scout Walker (starting around $35) from “The Last Jedi,” is one of the most affordable Star Wars sets currently available. Fans willing to splurge just a little will want to check out the Lego Star Wars Y-Wing Starfighter (starting around $48) from “Rogue One.” This huge set includes desirable Star Wars minifigures, and the starfighter has a functional bomb door.

Lego City.

Lego City is one of the company’s most enduring non-licensed lines. Typically designed for ages 5 to 12, Lego City sets have a more general appeal and feature things like police stations, airports, and city transportation. The series made its debut in 1978 (back then it was known as Lego Town) and now includes several hundred Lego City sets. The Lego City Fun at the Beach People Pack (starting around $32) is a great way to populate a Lego City environment. The set includes 15 minifigures and several animals.

Lego Architecture.

Models of buildings in Lego’s Creator Expert series start at $150 or more, but there are a number of impressive sets in the cheaper Lego Architecture collection, as well, including cityscapes from Chicago to Venice and famous buildings such as the United States Capitol. The Eiffel Tower (starting around $35) is one of the most popular and least expensive.

Lego Video Game Sets.

Lego produces sets based on its own Dimensions video game and the Angry Birds mobile game, among others. Minecraft fans young and older will love playing with the Lego Minecraft Nether Railway (starting around $24), which brings to life the best-selling video game and has a track that can be put together in multiple configurations.

Lego Alternatives.

For many consumers, Lego is in a class of its own and cheaper competitor brands are not an option. But there are good, cheap sets of toy building bricks from brands besides Lego, most notably Mega. The Mega Construx Halo Warzone Wasp Strike (starting around $40) will fire up Halo fans. This incredibly detailed model has moving parts and includes two minifigures. The 80-piece Mega Bloks Big Building Bag (starting around $15) is a big bargain compared with Lego Duplo, at about 19 cents per piece vs. 37 cents for the All-in-One-Box-of-Fun.

Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

Lego Reviews: What We Considered

Lego's quality is consistent and its popularity undeniable. However, factors such as playability, versatility, and collectability make some sets a better value than others. In choosing the best cheap Lego sets, we thought about function: Some sets are more interactive, while others are best for display. Our favorite cheap Lego sets have characteristics that appeal to both collectors in search of a showpiece and kids in search of an engaging toy. Lego's own website is perhaps the best source of Lego reviews, attracting detailed feedback from customers who identify themselves as advanced or expert builders . We also read through reviews on retail sites such as Amazon, Toys R Us, and Walmart.

Construction.

At the core of Lego's appeal is the process of assembling a set. Not surprisingly, users are most impressed by cheap Lego sets that fit together smoothly and stay that way unless purposefully disassembled. Reviewers appreciate orderly instructions and marvel at sets with nondescript pieces that come together to create recognizable objects. Lego purists ding sets with stickers, preferring printed bricks and realistic building techniques, such as using Lego grille and light pieces instead of stickers on a vehicle.

Playability.

Many Lego aficionados thrive on the thrill of the build and the pride of creating display pieces. However, for children, especially, playability is a key concern. Sets that are too fragile or get tossed aside after initial assembly become nothing more than plastic playroom shrapnel, leaving both kids and parents disappointed. The sets that score the most points for entertainment value are designed with multiple builds in mind. For themed sets, functional features and accurate detail add to the make-believe experience.

Versatility.

People who are passionate about Legos are often inspired to come up with their own creations. Adult fans of Lego, or AFOLs, as they're known on fan sites, fill forums with posts about this, and parents encourage creative tendencies in their Lego-obsessed children. Free building, or building without directions, requires a variety of bricks. Some sets add more to a Lego stash than others. For example, a specialized boat bottom contributes to playability by making a Lego watercraft seaworthy but isn't terribly versatile.

Classic Lego brick collections excel here. They appeal to children who aren't picky about color and theme, as well as die-hard Lego lovers looking to expand their architectural arsenals. Those who need particular types and colors of blocks can buy them on a one-off basis through the Pick A Brick section of the online Lego Shop. Individual Legos run anywhere from 6 cents for a 1x1 round plate to just under $3 for a 16x16 plate. Another way die-hard Lego lovers bolster their supplies is by purchasing used Lego lots on Craigslist or eBay. We've seen lots selling for $6 to $8 a pound on Craigslist and bulk Legos ranging from 2 to 8 cents apiece on eBay.

Minifigures.

A higher-than-expected number of Lego minifigures increases the value of a set and, for many reviewers, justifies a higher price for a minifigure-focused set. Rare figures likewise up the value of a set for collectors. From a playability standpoint, a robust lineup of Lego minifigures lends itself to detailed reenactments, especially when it comes to licensed characters. How can Star Wars fans recreate favorite scenes without the proper characters, after all? And what's a Lego City set without people to populate it? One aspect of Lego minifigures that contributes to the play experience is interchangeable legs, torsos, heads, and hats/hair. Reviewers sometimes note when included minifigures add new facial expressions or outfits to their collections.

Additional Products We Considered

Lego Star Wars Y-Wing Starfighter Review

From $48

Pros:

  • Larger than expected for the price, with 691 pieces.
  • Fun to build and play with, reviewers say.
  • Functional bomb-dropping feature and rotating guns.
  • Five minifigures, including Admiral Raddus and Moroff, both exclusive to this set.
  • Makes an impressive display piece, with accurate details from the "Rogue One" film.
  • Suitable for adults as well as kids 8 to 14 years old.

Cons:

  • Some buyers question the value for the money.
  • Same pilot minifigure as the U-Wing set.

Takeaway: If you're willing to go just a little beyond our $40 budget, this Y-Wing Starfighter set is sure to put a smile on the face of a Star Wars or Lego fan, with exclusive minifigures, lots of detail, and functional weapons for maximum playability.

Mega Construx Halo Warzone Wasp Strike Review

From $40

Pros:

  • Lots of moving parts help make this Halo set fun to play with.
  • Easy enough for young builders 8 and older to put together.
  • Buyers appreciate the incredible detail of the model and minifigures.
  • Well-designed and sturdy.
  • Good value considering the number of pieces and quality of the set.

Cons:

  • Instructions are a little more confusing than those of a typical Lego set, according to reviewers.

Takeaway: Halo is still one of the most popular video games around, and this Warzone Wasp Strike building set indisputably looks cool. The included minifigures even have interchangeable armor.

Mega Bloks Big Building Bag (Classic) Review

From $15

Pros:

  • Large blocks are easy for kids 1 to 5 to pick up and hold.
  • Very low price for a set of 80 blocks this size.
  • Easy to clean in the sink.
  • Comes in convenient storage bag.
  • In reviews, parents report that their kids play with the blocks for hours.

Cons:

  • Sometimes the blocks don't click together as tightly as reviewers would like.

Takeaway: There are plenty of good non-Lego building blocks to be found, and this Mega Bloks set is one of the best. It's cheap, but reviews indicate that the blocks are well-made and appeal to toddlers and preschoolers alike.