Luke's Landspeeder Review

From $25 Best

Star Wars fans on a budget will appreciate the play experience and minifigure lineup of this set. The per-piece price of 15 cents is relatively high, but the set comes with five Star Wars minifigures, including young Luke Skywalker, R2D2, and the hard-to-find C-3PO and Obi-Wan Kenobi, plus a security droid. For ages 7 to 12.

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.

Power Boat Transporter Review

From $34 Best

The Power Boat Transporter from the Lego City series is a top choice for children who prize fun over collectability. Its 254 pieces build a boat-toting trailer rig and a sporty speedboat that really floats, opening up more possibilities for play. Users like the level of detail and the accessories, as well as the fact that the trailer accommodates other Lego watercraft. For ages 5 to 12.

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

From $40 Good

Harry Potter followers get a lot of bang for their buck (or should we say Galleon?) with this six-minifigure, 442-piece play set. Online reviews enthuse about the level of detail. Pleased reviewers point out that the set comes with Harry, Hermione, and Ron minifigures, something that can't be said of either (pricier) Hogwarts castle kit. For ages 7 to 14.

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.

Where to buy

Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter Review

From $40 Good

New to the Lego Star Wars family as of November 2011, this 309-piece kit builds a well-reviewed starfighter, along with a Separatist speeder and two Single Trooper Aerial Platforms (STAPs). Minifigures include Mace Windu and several droids. The set satisfies collectors looking to pick up the Mace Windu character and offers children plenty to play with. For ages 7 to 12.

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.

Where to buy

Creationary Review

From $35 Think Twice

This Pictionary-style game challenges players to use Legos to replicate illustrations of everything from a parachute to a dinosaur to the Sydney Opera House. While most agree the idea has merit, reviewers grouse that the game doesn't come with enough pieces. Other disappointments include ambiguous directions and the game's tendency to outlast the patience of young players. For ages 7 and up.

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.

Buying Guide

When it comes to both the promise and the price of Legos, the sky is the limit. Each glossy block holds the potential for boundless creativity and staggering feats of engineering. The cost of a set can reach into the thousands. For most consumers, though, Lego is in a class of its own and cheaper competitor brands are not an option. Lego sets also rarely go on sale, so cheap Legos can be hard to come by. Any Lego discounts or promotions typically emerge during the holiday season, making it a good time for serious collectors (or their parents) to stock up. During the rest of the year, and when it comes to popular collections such as Star Wars and Harry Potter, budget-conscious builders should focus on value over price.

Cheap Lego Buying Guide

Taking into account things like the number of bricks and other pieces in a Lego set, the number and rarity of included minifigures, and the number of possible builds the set offers, we zeroed in on cheap Legos high in function and reasonable in price. Luke's Landspeeder from the Star Wars collection (starting at $25) is a Lego iteration of a popular Star Wars vehicle. Its star-studded cast of Lego minifigure characters gives it broad appeal. Serious hobbyists will want to display the rare Obi-Wan Kenobi and C-3PO minifigures, while children will love acting out classic movie scenes with their favorite characters.

The Power Boat Transporter from the Lego City collection (starting at $34) offers a lot of variety for a relatively small, cheap Lego set. With a boat that really floats and a tractor-trailer rig that begs to be steered along homemade highways, little drivers can journey across land and sea. Collectors will find that the pieces mesh well with a number of other sets, and the blocks can easily be reconfigured or repurposed toward custom builds.

Two other good cheap Lego sets have a narrower focus. Hagrid's Hut from Lego's Harry Potter collection (starting at $40) has many specialty parts and accessories that might not adapt well to free building, but the set should please anyone who's into Harry Potter. It's the only one that features the characters of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley together in their Gryffindor uniforms. Those minifigures, along with the hut's meticulous finishes, propel these cheap Legos to a spot on our list. Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter from the Lego Star Wars collection (starting at $40) gives collectors a hard-to-find Mace Windu minifigure (known to moviegoers as the character played by Samuel L. Jackson) and offers young pretenders their choice of four battle stations to operate. Collectors posting reviews seem a little underwhelmed by the Starfighter itself, saying it's nothing new, but parents report that these cheap Legos clock a lot of playtime.

Aside from traditional cheap Legos, we found two low-cost Lego games that caught our attention. Minotaurus (starting at $22) is easy to play and easy to explain to others, according to reviews. Players must navigate their way through a maze to the center before they cross the path of the mythical Minotaur. The game introduces grade-schoolers to the concept of strategy and can easily be tailored to different ages and abilities. In the Lego game Magikus (starting at $8), players scramble to collect all the ingredients needed to make a magic potion. Like Minotaurus, Magikus has a strategic element and can be modified depending on who is playing.

The Lego Creationary game (starting at $35), on the other hand, doesn't live up to expectations. It's basically Pictionary with Legos, but non-specific picture cards and minimal instructions leave players confused. The lack of a timing element means the game can drag on, trying the patience of many children, and reviewers say it doesn't come with enough Lego blocks.

Before choosing any cheap Legos, think about function: Will this be a child's plaything or a hobbyist's showpiece? Some sets are more interactive, while others are best for display. Our favorite cheap Legos have characteristics that appeal to both collectors and kids in search of a fun toy. Do the Lego lovers in your life prefer to construct by the book or build their own designs? If the answer is the latter, it can be cheaper to buy blocks in lots -- either new ones through the Lego store or website or used ones through a venue such as eBay or Craigslist. Is the Lego owner attached to a particular theme, such as Lego City, or will any engaging set do? Read on for a breakdown of other key things to consider when choosing cheap Legos and to see exactly how our recommendations stack up.

Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

Lego Reviews

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. Regardless whether a set is purchased by a Lego connoisseur or used as a traditional toy, it should be fun and versatile. Lego reviews by experts and users also note each set's theme and the number and rarity of included Lego minifigures.

Lego Playability.

Many Lego aficionados thrive on the thrill of the build and the pride of creating display pieces. For children, however, playability is a key concern. Sets that 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 in Lego reviews have a few things in common. First, they are designed with multiple builds in mind. The Lego City Power Boat Transporter (starting at $34) covers both land and sea, letting kids drive up ramps, transport precious cargo, and navigate bathtub waters with their creations. The mom and blogger behind The Brick Life includes the Power Boat Transporter in a roundup of the year's top five Lego City sets. She especially likes how the boat handles in the hands of a child, according to her Lego review. A consumer who posted a review on the Lego site appreciates that the Power Boat Transporter works well with vehicles from other sets.

Hagrid's Hut from the Harry Potter series (starting at $40) is not only a good value but also highly playable, according to Lego reviews. Lego has outfitted the hut with impressive features, such as a light-up fireplace and a swinging cauldron, that add to the make-believe experience. One consumer who posted a Lego review on Amazon reports that the structure holds up well even with daily play, although a user who posted a review on the Lego site opines that the hut is too small.

In the realm of Star Wars, Luke's Landspeeder (starting at $25) appeals to consumers with its easy-to-manage size and details such as a secret compartment for lightsabers, according to Lego reviews. The five included Lego minifigures add to users' enjoyment. A consumer who posted a Lego review at Walmart notes that five is an impressive number of minifigures for the price.

Another Star Wars set, Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter (starting at $40), offers not only a well-designed starfighter but a Separatist speeder and two STAPs (single trooper aerial platforms) for more battle scenarios. Kids appreciate the fairly simple build and parents, such as this one who posted a Lego review on Amazon, note that the set's multiple vehicles reduce squabbles over sharing.

Lego Minifigures.

Kits such as Luke's Landspeeder increase their value by featuring a higher-than-expected number of Lego minifigures. Rare figures up the value of a set to the collector. 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?

Luke's Landspeeder comes with five sought-after Star Wars minifigures: a young Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, R2D2, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and a security droid. The only other way to acquire some of these Lego minifigures is by investing in a high-end set such as the Death Star (starting at $400), which makes Luke's Landspeeder a bargain for collectors.

Hagrid's Hut is another such case. Nearly every Harry Potter set includes the boy wizard himself, and a few include Hermione Granger, but Ron Weasley is inexplicably harder to track down. This kit includes all three Harry Potter minifigures for about $40 -- and throws in Rubeus Hagrid, baby dragon Norbert, and giant spider Aragog for good measure. One aspect of the Lego minifigures that contributes to the play experience is their changeable facial expressions, as detailed in a review on the Lego site. A few consumers on the Lego site and on Amazon would have liked to see Hagrid's dog, Fang, in this set as well.

One common issue that comes up in reviews is minifigure theft. It's not unusual to see Lego buyers post about compromised boxes and missing characters. One self-described AFOL, or adult fan of Lego, writing a review on the Lego site Brickset reports that Lego seems to have wised up to this problem and changed the way it packages minifigures so as not to tempt thieves.

Star Wars Lego Sets, Harry Potter Lego Sets

Lego covers a range of themes, with something to appeal to devotees of all ages and interests. Star Wars buffs can stage epic battle scenes with cheap Star Wars Lego sets; muggles of all ages can explore the wizarding world with cheap Harry Potter Lego sets; and wannabe architects can construct New York's Guggenheim museum in their living rooms.

Of the many collections available, Star Wars Lego sets are the most sought-after by far. This wildly popular Lego franchise was launched in 1999 and comprises about 250 sets and mini-sets, featuring builds from every movie in the series. Star Wars Lego sets command prices of around 10 cents per piece on average; licensing costs make them more expensive than many other Lego kits. The cheap Star Wars Lego sets on our list start at $25.

After Star Wars, Harry Potter Lego sets and Lego City sets seem to attract the most attention. More than 50 Harry Potter builds have been brought to market since the first release in 2001. Harry Potter Lego sets also average around 10 cents per piece, though there is more price variance from kit to kit than with the Star Wars products. Hagrid's Hut, our pick for best cheap Harry Potter Lego set, retails for 9 cents per piece, as does the Walmart-exclusive Lego Harry Potter Construction Set Bundle (starting at $69). The bundle packages together the 281-piece Knight Bus (starting at $26) and 466-piece Hogwarts set (starting at $45) and contains 10 Harry Potter minifigures. Although the price tag puts it out of our budget range, the cost per piece is competitive and the set is a good start to a Harry Potter collection.

Lego City is one of Lego's most enduring non-licensed lines. Designed for ages 6 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 more than 400 Lego City sets. Surprisingly, they run about 13 cents per piece on average, more than the Harry Potter and Star Wars Lego sets.

Lego Set 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.

The specialized boat bottom of the Power Boat Transporter contributes to playability by making the watercraft seaworthy. It isn't terribly versatile, however. The turrets and accessories of the Harry Potter Lego sets also may be difficult to adapt beyond that collection.

One way die-hard Lego lovers increase their architectural arsenals is by purchasing bulk bricks. Lego stores and the online Lego shop peddle supplementary building kits, such as the Lego Basic Bricks Deluxe set (starting at $30). Basic Bricks Deluxe contains 650 pieces, which works out to a cost of between 4 and 5 cents per piece. These work well for children who aren't picky about color and theme, as well as building enthusiasts looking to expand their inventory.

Those who need particular types and colors of blocks can buy them on a one-off basis through the Lego Pick a Brick program. Individual Legos run anywhere from 5 cents for a 2x2 plate with a ball socket to just under $4 for a 16x16 plate.

Another way collectors bolster their supplies is by purchasing used Lego lots on Craigslist or eBay. We've seen Lego lots selling for $6 to $8 a pound on Craigslist and bulk Legos ranging from 2 to 8 cents apiece on eBay.

Lego Set Construction.

Not surprisingly, users are most impressed by cheap Lego sets that fit together smoothly and stay that way unless purposefully disassembled. We saw no prevalence of complaints about Legos being questionably constructed or of poor quality, but some sets seem more breakable than others once assembled.

The Harry Potter Lego set Hagrid's Hut does get dinged by users posting reviews on Amazon for roof panels that detach easily when opened, but a consumer who posted a review at the Lego Shop says the kit is sturdy when carefully assembled. Commenters on the Lego site also complain about the number of stickers, a gripe often heard about Lego products. Lego purists prefer pre-printed bricks or more realistic building techniques, such as using Lego grille and light pieces instead of stickers on a Lego vehicle.

Lego Board Games

Introduced in 2009, Lego board games don't quite fall into the same category as traditional Lego sets but are worthy of mention for their engaging play and usefulness as add-ons to other sets.

We like the Lego board game Minotaurus (starting at $22) for its simple, easy-to-grasp game play and strategic element. Online reviews draw comparisons between Minotaurus and the Hasbro classic Sorry. The Lego board game has players construct their own game board, then strategically block opponents and send them back to start. According to moms posting reviews on the Toys R Us site, part of the beauty is that the rules can be altered to make the game harder or easier. Another parent who posted a review at Toys R Us appreciates the educational facets of the Minotaurus game. A potential downside to this Lego board game is the very small size of the microfigures that act as game pieces, which are smaller than minifigures. Minotaurus is intended for two to four players ages 7 and up and averages 20 to 30 minutes per game.

The Lego board game Magikus (starting at $8) also involves strategy but is a quicker game that younger kids can enjoy. As with Minotaurus, the rules are flexible and are easy to adapt. Players build an ingredient rack and race to collect all the items they need to complete a magic potion. The first person to successfully acquire all the necessary ingredients is the winner. One consumer who posted a review of the Lego board game on Amazon cautions that, while children under 6 may be able to play Magikus, the small game pieces may make parents think twice about letting them. Parents posting reviews at Toys R Us like that the game can be played in short spurts, rather than dragging on for hours. Magikus is for two to four players ages 6 and up, and game play is estimated at 10 to 20 minutes.

One Lego board game that falls short of expectations is Creationary (starting at $35). This version of Pictionary has players craft objects from Lego bricks and have teammates try to guess what they are. Critics of the game say the clever concept has some shortcomings when put to the test. A user posting on Amazon laments the frustrating game play and vague instructions but takes comfort in the fact that the game pieces assimilate nicely into the household Lego collection. A consumer who posted a review at Target says there needs to be a set time limit, and points out that when players guess the object too soon, children don't get a chance to finish building their creations. The reviewer's son simply uses the cards as inspiration for independent building. Several consumers remark on Amazon that not enough Lego building blocks are provided, although others see that limitation as part of the challenge.

Additional Products We Considered

Minotaurus Review

From $22

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.

Magikus Review

From $8

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

From $30

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.

Where to buy

$27.99   $34.99