Best Cheap Lego Sets
Our buying guide to the best Lego sets for $40 or less includes cheap Lego Star Wars sets, cheap Lego City sets, a minifigure pack, and more.
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.
We Looked At
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.
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.
Our Top Pick
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.
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.
Instruction book doesn't include all the models displayed on the box.
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.
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."
Some reviewers consider the build a little tedious and repetitive.
Wheels are visible and detract from the illusion that the legs are moving.
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.
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.
No girl figure included; only a boy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some sections of the build feel a little flimsy, reviewers say; pieces may occasionally pop out.
Price per piece is a little high.
Lego Minecraft The Nether Railway Review
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.
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.
Cart doesn't run across the tracks as smoothly as some buyers would like, although most reviewers say it works fine.
Other Products We Reviewed
Luke's Landspeeder (starting at $25, Amazon) passes muster with both serious collectors and kids who love Star Wars. The Landspeeder itself isn't aesthetically perfect, according to fastidious collectors, with an asymmetrical layout and a design one consumer posting on the Lego site likens to a bathtub. That said, parents who have posted Luke's Landspeeder reviews on Amazon report that the vehicle's compact size and relatively sturdy build help it hold up to the rigors of playtime. It's designed for children 7 to 12.
Luke's Landspeeder has a lot going for it, as evidenced by high ratings on retailer sites and a few hundred positive reviews. The most attractive aspect of this sleek little kit is the five included minifigures: Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, R2D2, C-3PO, and a sandtrooper -- all of which are fairly rare. Reviewers on several sites say purchasing this Lego set is the most economical way to acquire all of these characters, especially for novice collectors. Overall, users appreciate the look and styling of the minifigures, according to reviews, though some point out Luke's hair is a little on the feminine side, and others note that Ben Kenobi is missing a hood and cape.
The Landspeeder itself is lauded in reviews for being more streamlined than previous versions. Set owners like the hidden compartment for lightsaber storage but grumble that the blades must be separated from the hilts in order to fit inside. Purists posting Luke's Landspeeder reviews appreciate the detail and accuracy of the design, down to the vehicle's damaged engine. Another user who posted a review on the Lego site wishes that this accuracy extended to the sandtrooper's pauldron, or armor, which many reviewers note should be orange.
Another minor critique in Luke's Landspeeder reviews is that there isn't enough room for R2D2 and C-3PO to perch in the back, as they did in the movie. On the plus side, however, this 163-piece build includes no stickers -- something Lego collectors consider a huge perk.
All told, the Luke's Landspeeder set gives Star Wars enthusiasts a satisfying build at an affordable price. Some gripe that $25 is still a lot to pay for a little bit of plastic, but that's a running theme in Lego reviews. The set also may not hold as much appeal for consummate collectors who already own most or all of the five minifigures. However, beginning Lego Star Wars hobbyists and kids who gravitate toward pretend play will find a lot to love about Luke's Landspeeder.
The Lego City Power Boat Transporter (starting at $34, Amazon) set doesn't have any fancy features to recommend it, but the set attracts vehicle lovers with its watercraft/big rig combo. Adding to the allure is the fact that the speedboat is actually seaworthy, extending opportunities for play. A grandparent who posted a Power Boat Transporter review on Amazon remarks that the set holds up well against the daily abuse kids dish out. Others reviewers point out that the 254-piece build is easy and the directions clear, making it a good choice for younger children. It's intended for ages 5 to 12.
Recently released in 2011, the Power Boat Transporter hasn't racked up near the number of reviews that some of our other picks boast. That said, early reviews indicate it resonates with users and experts. The Brick Life, a Lego blog for parents, places the Power Boat Transporter on its list of the top five Lego City sets of 2011, calling it engaging and an absolute winner when it comes to playability. It is the only set under $40 that makes the list.
An AFOL, or adult fan of Lego, who posted a Power Boat Transporter review on the Lego site Brickset likes the versatility of the truck and its sturdy tow but wonders how the boat's stickers will hold up if it spends much time in the water. Users posting reviews at the Lego Shop register disappointment that both minifigures can't ride in the cab together but find little else to complain about.
The consensus so far seems to be that this kit is a solid purchase. Although it's a little on the generic side for hard-core hobbyists, the set is ideal for children focused on the play experience.
Hagrid's Hut Review
For about 9 cents per piece, Hagrid's Hut (starting at $40, Amazon) gives collectors a prime Harry Potter landmark, resplendent in detail, and a solid set of in-demand minifigures. These include Rubeus Hagrid, Aragog the spider, Norbert the dragon, and the famed trio of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley, clad in their Gryffindor uniforms. One user notes in a Hagrid's Hut review at Toys R Us that this is the cheapest set out there that offers Harry Potter fans all three main characters.
In Hagrid's Hut reviews, owners of this Lego set are enthusiastic about features such as the light-up fireplace and the fact that the hinged hut opens and closes for more accessible play. Seasoned builders are impressed by the use of Lego weaponry to craft Aragog's spider legs, according to reviews on the Lego site.
All this isn't to say the Hagrid's Hut kit is fault-free. One user who posted a Hagrid's Hut review on Amazon says the build is too tiny for a quality play experience. Others posting reviews on the Lego site call the set delicate, saying it collapses easily and the roof tends to cave in. Some caution that it may be too complex for younger kids to assemble, although one parent who posted a review on Amazon calls it a good project for parents and kids to tackle together. It's designed for children 7 to 14.
With plenty of tiny accessories and a compact layout, not to mention an involved, 442-piece build process, this is one case where the age recommendation on the box should be heeded. The 7-and-up crowd is the best audience for this cheap Harry Potter set.
Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter Review
The November 2011 release is far from the first Jedi Starfighter Lego (starting at $40, Amazon) has produced, but it gives both kids and collectors plenty to like. Because it's new to market, Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter hasn't racked up many comments on retail sites, but those reviews have been resoundingly positive. It also earns a recommendation from The Brick Life, a blog for parents of young Lego enthusiasts. It's designed for children 7 to 12.
As with all Lego sets, brand loyalists posting Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter reviews pick apart each aspect of the 309-piece set and find both areas of brilliance and room for improvement. In the case of the set's minifigures, reviews are split. Users who have posted reviews on the Lego site Brickset are impressed by the look and detail of the TX-20 tactical droid and R8-B7 astromech droid but are less taken with the battle droids; one calls them chimp-like in looks and zeroes in on their lack of painted eyes. On the plus side, another user who posted a Mace Windu's Starfighter review at Brickset gives Lego props for including battle droids that come with alternate arms designed to hold included blasters.
Consumers posting Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter reviews at the Lego Shop call the flick-fire missiles relatively good, although some say the missiles don't work as well as they should. One user indicates that the ship's landing gear can interfere with missile function. Another niggling complaint is that the ship's cockpit isn't hinged, requiring that it be popped off to insert or remove minifigures. Reviewers are also dismayed by the number of stickers and find them hard to position properly. Feedback varies where overall appearance is concerned, as well. Some call the color scheme bland, while others commend its accuracy.
Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter lets Star Wars fans add the Mace Windu character (played by Samuel L. Jackson in the films) to a collection or to a Clone Wars play scenario. All told, a versatile and highly playable lineup of vehicles and a stellar cast of minifigures make this a solid starter set.
Lego users love the idea of Creationary (starting at $35, Amazon) -- a family-friendly, Lego version of Pictionary -- but find it flawed in practice, according to Creationary reviews. A consumer who posted a review at Toys R Us suggests that the card illustrations could offer more guidance and muses that the odd collection of Lego pieces gives the impression that bricks were haphazardly tossed into the box. Both are complaints commonly seen in reviews. Users also gripe about the number of Legos provided, calling the 341 pieces insufficient. One parent who posted a review on Viewpoints notes that this can encourage creativity but ultimately limit what children can create. Many players find themselves borrowing pieces from other Lego sets or supplementing the game with basic build kits, according to reviews.
Others reviewers grouse that trickier objects take too much time to make, leaving everyone else bored while they wait for the builder to finish. Despite these negatives, Creationary does have its fans, as well as some notable high points. Reviewers attracted to the premise of the game appreciate that it inspires creative thinking. A user who posted a comment on the BoardGameGeek forum prefers Creationary to traditional Pictionary because even people who are not especially artistic can put together a Lego model.
Creationary reviews often suggest eschewing the rules and making up your own to eliminate frustration and tailor the game to those playing it. One user who posted a review at Toys R Us incorporates a hint system for younger kids, while a user with mixed feelings who posted on Amazon introduces time limits so the game doesn't drag.
Several consumers posting on BoardGameGeek question the longevity of the game, saying an expansion pack of cards is needed. Lego recently began selling the Lego Games Creationary Booster Pack (starting at $4) to meet this request.
Lego Creationary has its fair share of problems, but it may still appeal to those who like to make their own rules or don't mind being flexible with the way the game is played. While older kids accustomed to bigger and more complex Lego builds will take the challenge of the game in stride, younger, less experienced builders are likely to get discouraged. The game is intended for children 7 and up.
Minotaurus (starting at $22, Amazon), a Lego game that gets near-universal kudos from users, combines Sorry-like strategy and pure Lego creativity for a gaming experience that appeals to a wide range of players.
Minotaurus does particularly well in ratings on retail sites such as Walmart, Amazon, and the Lego Shop. Minotaurus reviews report that the game is a hit with children. A mom who posted a review on Amazon says her 4-year-old demands to play the game daily, while a pile of presents from Santa sits untouched.
Users posting Minotaurus reviews on the BoardGameGeek forum, who tend to be adults, rank the game significantly lower than reviewers on other sites. The consensus with this group seems to be that Minotaurus is good for family play but repetitive and somewhat lacking for adults serious about Lego games. It's intended for ages 7 and up.
The game is actually simple enough for kids under 7 but can easily be switched up to make it more challenging, according to a Minotaurus review at Viewpoints. Users who have posted reviews on Amazon indicate that the game that can be adapted to and enjoyed by all ages, even college students and adults with a bent for game design.
Satisfied purchasers appreciate the strategic elements of this little game, and a parent who posted a Minotaurus review at Toys R Us likes that it teaches kids to be strategic. A couple of reviewers warn that the game can become cutthroat and might not be ideal for kids whose feelings are easily hurt.
Reviewers like the fact that players assemble their own die and game board, which can be stored in the box fully assembled. However, the compact board and smaller-than-standard microfigures (which are smaller than minifigures) make it hard for large hands to maneuver pieces through a game, and the small pieces are easily misplaced, according to a user who posted a Minotaurus review on Amazon.
Minotaurus is priced well for a Lego product, and its short ramp-up time and variable game play gives it an edge on family game night. Despite its broad appeal, hard-core gamers and sensitive souls should probably consider a different style of game.
This Lego game is easy enough for preschoolers to grasp yet engaging enough for grade-schoolers, according to Magikus reviews. It includes an element of good, old-fashioned Lego building, requiring players to put together the game before they begin. Add to that a dash of strategy, a pinch of wizardry, and a price well below $10, and Lego has brewed a winning combination, reviews say.
To play the game, players roll a die and rush to collect the ingredients required for a magic potion. In a Magikus review on Amazon, a parent notes that it's difficult for children to cheat; the game has taught her 5-year-old how to lose gracefully, she says. Others posting on Amazon call Magikus (starting at $8, Amazon) an excellent tool for helping young kids learn to follow rules, take turns, and acquire other skills involved in basic game play. Although reviewers report that children as young as 4 can play the game successfully, reviews on Amazon and Buzzillions warn that the small pieces are easy to lose and could be a choking hazard. The game is intended for children 6 and up.
Parents posting Magikus reviews on Amazon find that the short game play makes it easy to find time for a quick round. Additionally, they appreciate that Magikus can be played according to different sets of rules and that many children don't need adult help to play.
Most players who don't like the game are adults posting Magikus reviews on the gamer site BoardGameGeek and older kids who find it less than challenging. Parents report that younger kids want to play over and over again.
Lego Basic Bricks Deluxe Review
This isn't so much a Lego set as it is an affordable collection of spare bricks for Lego lovers to raid for free building. It's best to consider your audience carefully before purchasing this set, according to Lego Basic Bricks Deluxe reviews. A dad who posted a review on Amazon says the kit helps young Lego architects do more with an abundance of specialty parts from other sets. (The product he reviewed is listed under a different name but has the same model number.) Lego Basic Bricks Deluxe (starting at $30, Amazon) can also breathe new life into other sets after children have lost the directions or a few crucial pieces or simply lost interest. However, builders seeking wheels, flat pieces, or any sort of specialty offerings may want to pass this set by, according to another user who posted a review on Amazon.
Children are likely to appreciate the wide array of colors included in the 650-piece set -- red, blue, yellow, green, white, brown, black, orange, and light green -- but a collector who posted a Basic Bricks Deluxe review on the Lego site bemoans the lack of newer, more natural colors. A couple of other reviewers lament that the set doesn't come with a base plate to build on.
Piece by piece, Lego Basic Bricks Deluxe is far cheaper than Lego's Pick a Brick solution, which lets consumers buy individual pieces. However, this set may not be the best way to meet the needs of expert builders who create large-scale Lego models. Collectors will want to supplement one or two of these kits with Pick a Brick favorites for maximum versatility. For children getting into playing with Legos, this inexpensive set can expand the building possibilities and encourage kids to come up with their own designs.
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.
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.
Some buyers question the value for the money.
Same pilot minifigure as the U-Wing set.
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.
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.
Instructions are a little more confusing than those of a typical Lego set, according to reviewers.
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.
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.
Sometimes the blocks don't click together as tightly as reviewers would like.