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The best Lego sets 2021: the best new builds, from Star Wars to Super Mario

Best Lego sets
(Image credit: Lego)

With a new wave of local and national lockdowns being imposed the world over, it's the perfect time to think of ways to occupy yourself at home. And the best Lego sets one very good way to happily wile away the hours inside.

Whatever kind of Lego you're looking for, there's a huge variety available right now, for all ages and ability levels, ranging from famous buildings to pop culture tie-ins. But some Lego sets are better than others, so in this article we've brought together the very best on the market right now for you to choose from.

Lego Star Wars Cantina set

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego Star Wars Mos Eisley Cantina

A wretched hive of scum and villainy (but in a good way)

Specifications
Pieces: 3187
Dimensions: 58 x 52 x 19cm
Age rating: 18+

As the place where Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first met Han Solo, the Mos Eisley Cantina is dear to the hearts of Star Wars fans the world over, and this detailed Lego set plays brilliant tribute to it. It's not the first Lego set to tackle this iconic venue, but it is the most beautifully designed to date.

The set includes 21 characters, including unique minifigures of Ponda Baba, Dr. Evazan, Garindan and Kardue’Sai’Malloc. With a 408-page instructional manual, we won't sugar-coat it: this is a challenge to put together. But for any Star Wars fan who wants to renact the scene whether either Han or Gredo shot first (the choice is yours!), every hour you spend doing so is time well spent. In short, this is our favourite Star Wars-themed Lego set to date. 

Buy the Lego Star Wars Mos Eisley Cantina

Best Lego sets Mario

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Adventures with Mario Starter Course

Here we go... it's Mario!

Specifications
Pieces: 231
Dimensions: 32 x 9 x 26cm
Age rating: 6+

Bringing a videogame favourite to life, the new Super Mario starter kit is one of the hottest Lego sets of 2020, and is set to be the start of a new collection of sets. It's way more than just a build to leave on your shelf – thanks to a companion app, you'll be able to collect virtual coins, while the Mario figure has LCD screens in his eyes, mouth and belly to display over 100 different instant reactions to movement. Also included is a speaker that plays iconic sounds and music from the classic game. It's all pretty reasonably priced at $59.99 / £49.99 (roughly AU$100). 

Buy the Adventures with Mario Starter Course

Best Lego sets

(Image credit: Lego)

The Upside Down from Stranger Things

A demogorgon and everything

Specifications
Pieces: 2287
Dimensions: 32cm x 44cm x 21cm
Age rating: 16+
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Stranger Things has been a global phenomenon, and this set from Lego allows you to have a little bit of Hawkins and The Upside Down in one set. All your favorite characters are included here too, with a special demogorgon minifigure as well. This is one of the more creatives Lego sets we’ve seen in recent years, and it’s a must-have for any Stranger Things fan. Maybe setting this up can keep your nostalgia buzz going until Stranger Things season 4 lands.

Buy the Lego The Upside Down set

Lego Central Perk set

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Lego Central Perk

For when the rain starts to pour

Specifications
Pieces: 1070
Dimensions: 29 x 22 x 11cm
Age rating: 16

There's something warm and inviting about Central Perk, the coffee shop that formed the focus of the much-loved sitcom. And Lego have done an amazing job in bringing it to life in this set. All six main characters have been recreated brilliantly in toy brick form (there's no problem in identifying which is which), along with owner Gunther. And the cafe itself is stunningly well designed. 

We particularly love the furniture, which is instantly recognisable, and functional: up to four characters can sit on the sofa. And everywhere there are lovely, accurate little touches from the series, including flowers, a black napkin dispenser and the reserved sign. You even get two studio lights to get that true 'on set' feeling.

Lego Taj Mahal

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego Taj Mahal

A challenging but rewarding build

Specifications
Pieces: 5923
Dimensions: 40 x 25 x 15cm
Age: 16

With all the fun TV and movie related products released in recent years, it's easy to forget that Lego was originally about building, well, buildings. So it's great to see that this latest version of Lego's Taj Mahal model is more accurate and beautiful than ever. 

It's not, however, for the faint hearted: Lego's second biggest set ever is a lot of work to put together. If you're willing to invest the time (and money), though, you will really feel the benefit, as this is truly the jewel in Lego's architectural crown. And usefully it's been designed to be modular, so although it's a hefty model, it's relatively easy to move and transport if you need to.

Best Lego sets

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego Creator: James Bond Aston Martin DB5

No water guns, though

Specifications
Pieces: 1295
Dimensions: 10cm x 34cm x 12cm
Age rating: 16+
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James Bond’s most iconic car was the Aston Martin DB5, although it only appeared in eight films (including No Time To Die). You can make a Lego version of the car as it appears in Goldfinger, complete with all the tricks and gadgets.

Sadly, there’s no James Bond minifigure here (as none officially exist, yet), but if you’re a fan of the books, films, or even video games, this is a nice exhibit for your home.

Best Lego sets

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego International Space Station

Space Shuttle included

Specifications
Pieces: 864
Dimensions: 20cm x 31cm x 49cm
Age rating: 16+
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If you've been steadily building a NASA collection or just want to get a bit more galactic in your Lego aspirations, then this fine recreation of the International Space Station could be for you.

A good-value set, the ISS has eight adjustable solar panels and a mini NASA space shuttle with two astronaut minifigures. It also comes with a display stand, so it can sit on your shelf as a fine background piece for your YouTube channel.

Best Lego sets

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego 1989 Batmobile

You wanna get nuts? Let's get nuts!

Specifications
Pieces: 3306
Dimensions: 12cm x 60cm x 22cm
Age rating: 16+
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Well, crikey. Sometimes looking at a Lego set just does something to you inside, and this expensive set offers that experience. Based on Michael Keaton's Batmobile in the 1989 Tim Burton movie, clearly this is a more of a collector's piece than something you'd let your kids get toffee stains on. 

It's a serious investment for a Lego set, but you can see the appeal. The stand enhances the collectors' appeal, and inside the cockpit, you'll find details accurate to the movie's depiction of Batman's iconic vehicle. You get three lovely minifigures, too: a very Nicholson-esque Joker, Bats and Vicki Vale.

Best Lego sets

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego Creator Old Trafford – Manchester United

The theatre of Lego-based dreams

Specifications
Pieces: 3898
Dimensions: 18.5cm x 47cm x 39cm
Age rating: 16+
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Tired of watching Ole Gunnar Solskjaer painstakingly rebuild the Manchester United football team? It's time to do some building yourself with this spectacular 1:600 replica model of the English Premier League team's stadium.

As you'd hope a set this expensive, there's some serious attention to detail in this Lego Creator set. The Stretford End has been faithfully reproduced, while you also get statues of Sir Alex Ferguson, Matt Busby and the United Trinity (former players Best, Law and Charlton). With the old players' tunnel included too, even non-Manchester United fans might be tempted to build it.

Best Lego sets

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego Technic Catamaran

A functional and floating lightweight sailing craft

Specifications
Pieces: 404
Dimensions: 32cm x 22cm x 44cm
Age rating: 8+
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The Lego Technic Catamaran is a brilliant set that shows off exactly what the Technic line is intended to do: teach builders how complex machines work and let them explore how they function first-hand. 

Even though the resulting model is dominated by twin pontoons and the large sail, the Catamaran set is deceptively intricate, with a linked rudder to steer and two retractable ‘daggerboards’ that keep the craft stable in the wind. But best of all, the completed model even floats, allowing builders to see their catamaran set sail.

Best Lego sets

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Lego Stormtrooper Helmet

A brand new model for Empire loyalists

Specifications
Pieces: 647
Dimensions: 18cm x 13cm x 13cm
Age rating: 18+
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Lego's Star Wars helmets are so new that they're currently only available for pre-order, but they'll be shipping very soon. Alongside the Stormtrooper model, you'll also be able to buy Boba Fett and TIE Fighter Pilot helmets too.

Part collectible, part display piece, the Stormtrooper Helmet has the signature menacing black eyes and white armor. It's designed to be a challenging build for Star Wars fans who are 18 years old or over, but there's no doubt it's likely to be a hugely satisfying dark side project.

Pre-order the Lego Stormtrooper Helmet

Best Lego sets

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego Technic App-controlled Top Gear Rally Car

Time to burn some Lego rubber

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Now here's a proper challenge for those who really miss the days of doing real rally track days – a fully-working model of the Stig's rally car from the BBC's Top Gear show.

The build itself looks fun and challenging, but what's particularly cool is the attention to detail in the accompanying app. There are pedals, gear changes and gyroscope-based steering, along with sound effects. Once you've mastered the controls, there are also racing challenges and real-time feedback on your driving.   

Best Lego sets

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego Iron Man Hall of Armor

There was an idea...

Specifications
Pieces: 524
Dimensions: 32cm x 44cm x 21cm
Age rating: 16+
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Iron Man has become one of the true icons of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and you can now own a variety of his suits and his lab in Lego form. The Hall of Armor – which looks similar to how it appears in the Iron Man movies – is a great cheaper set if you’re looking for an Avengers themed choice.

You’ll get a variety of different armors from the film alongside the lab where he stores them itself as well. The best part is you can design the lab yourself with the ability to stack the suit displays high or in a semi-circle.

Best Lego sets

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego AT-AP Walker

Return to the Clone Wars

Specifications
Pieces: 689
Dimensions: 24cm x 29cm x 15cm
Age rating: 9+
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Lego's been making high-quality Star Wars merchandise for over two decades now, and it was so popular it kicked off both the trend of making themed Lego videogames and producing tie-in products based on popular franchises. There are dozens of sets you could pick up, but if you want something that's only moderately challenging and not eye-wateringly expensive, consider this Clone Wars-era set. 

The two Kashyyyk-themed Clone minifigures have a swampy, worn color palette, which is a nice detail. You also get Chewbacca, too, and two battle droids for the wookiee to throw around. Sadly none of Chewbacca's Kashyyyk-dwelling family members from the Star Wars Holiday Special, like Lumpy, make the cut. 

Best Lego sets

(Image credit: Lego)

Lego Tree House

With some eco-friendly plastic

Specifications
Pieces: 3,063
Dimensions: 37cm x 27cm x 24cm
Age rating: 16+
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The Tree House set from Lego ideas is the kind of set you can play with but also leave lying around your house on a shelf, looking good. It’s a fairly big set, with different openable areas and levels, and comes with different sets of leaves that you can mix and match to fit the season.

A highlight of the set is that the leaves are actually made from leaves – well, plant-based plastics – showing an admirable move on Lego’s part towards eco-friendly and sustainable materials.

Buy the Lego Tree House

Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is the Cameras Editor for TechRadar at Future. He writes and oversees reviews of the latest camera gear on TechRadar and looks after all the photography tutorials. Mark was previously Digital Editor (Cameras) at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine.