Pick the LEGOs you'll put under the tree this year
LEGO unveiled all of the biggest new sets that it will release through the end of 2018 at a big preview event in New York City last week.
Fans of Harry Potter, the MCU or DCU, Star Wars or the Incredibles can buy some amazing buildable sets from their favorite films (or pretend they're buying them for their kids).
And parents of tech-minded kiddos can pick from a ton of connected toys, from app-controlled cars to customizable roller coasters, that will both entertain and teach young ones about coding. These could easily vie for a spot on our best toys list!
We've got the lowdown on the pricing, release dates, and number of pieces in each of the coolest LEGO sets we saw this week. Read on to get your block on!
LEGO App-Controlled Batmobile
321 pieces | Ages 8+ | $99.99 USD | August release date
The LEGO Batmobile was the star of the show, and the flagship of LEGO's new Powered Up series.
I had the chance to drive the Batmobile around the show-room floor. You have control of the left and right motors for forward and backward acceleration, which gives you precise controls over its movement.
Special buttons let you send the Batmobile into a wheelie or launch little plastic missiles at your target. Talk about living out your Batman fantasies!
While I had a blast driving it around, the best feature is yet to come: after its release, but sometime before the end of 2018, LEGO will add block coding features, which will let your kid program and save specific series of actions for cool automated stunts.
LEGO's onsite PR rep said that this won't specifically use or integrate with LEGO Boost tech, but that the coding interface will be similar.
LEGO Creator Expert Roller Coaster
4,124 pieces | Ages 16+ | $380 USD | August release date
This massive bundle of parts will satisfy the most avid and dedicated of LEGO fans—and it runs the same Powered Up functions as the Batmobile: the motorized chain lift will carry your coaster car up the tracks.
The Expert Roller Coaster has a set layout (you won't create your own crazy roller coaster layouts that send figurines flying to their fates), but it does incorporate Boost coding features.
You'll be able to add movement sensors that, when the coaster passes over, generate custom sounds like screams.
LEGO City Passenger Train
677 pieces | Ages 6+ | $160 USD | August release date
Another Powered Up set, the LEGO Passenger Train comes with a set of customizable tracks that your first grader can build into any pattern he or she likes.
The remote controller lets you speed up your train fast enough to potentially derail if tracks aren't well placed, which could help teach your child the beginnings of physics.
LEGO Cargo Train
1,226 pieces | Ages 6+ | $230 USD | August release date
Like the Passenger train, the remote-controlled Cargo train runs on a Powered motor and battery, but comes with a larger selection of trains and support vehicles, as well as switch tracks for more complicated track layouts.
LEGO previously released a very popular Cargo train set, but without any motorized functions. It's highly likely that your kid's favorite set that involves wheels could soon see a re-release with remote-controlled elements.
Hogwarts Great Hall
878 pieces | Ages 9+ | $99 USD | August release date
Harry Potter fanatics finally won't have to build their castles out of whatever random colored blocks they have available.
This massive set comes with the pointy pieces that will give your castle the movie-quality finish it's been missing.
The photo above actually depicts the Great Hall set combined with another piece of the castle, from the Whomping Willow set (see next slide).
LEGO may have plans to release even more parts of Hogwarts in 2019 that will all link together into one monstrously large, authentic school of witchcraft and wizardry.
Hogwarts Whomping Willow
753 pieces | Ages 8+ | $70 USD | August release date
This set includes everything your kid will need to recreate scenes from Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. Thankfully, it won't swing its branches like the Whomping Willow featured in the books and movie.
Harry Potter Quidditch Match
500 pieces | Ages 7+ | $40 USD | August release date
Completing LEGO's 2018 Hogwarts trifecta, the Quidditch pitch will likely most excite younger kids trying to throw Quaffles through the hoops.
Movie fans will likely also get excited to have their very own Hogwarts Express set, an $80 USD set that launches in August with 801 pieces for ages eight and up.
LEGO's PR rep mentioned that one of LEGO's goals with the Powered Up line is to give kids the power to add motors to their own creations. Perhaps you'll be able to attach a real engine to your Hogwarts Express one day?
Snoke's Throne Room
492 pieces | Ages 8+ | $70 USD| August release date
With this set, your kid can relive the most epic scene of The Last Jedi with this Sith throne room recreation.
For fans more interested in nostalgia trips, LEGO will also release the Hoth Medical Chamber this August, complete with bacta tank, or a massive 1,239-piece Sandcrawler ($140 USD) for all your droid-kidnapping needs.
Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Y-Wing Starfighter
1,967 pieces | Ages 14+ | $200 USD | August release date
Measuring in at 24" x 11" x 9" on its stand, this ginormous Y-Wing belongs on the shelves of only the most avid of collectors.
It comes with an openable cockpit, wheel-activated rotating ion cannons, retractable landing skids, and a compartment for your R2-BHD astromech droid.
It's the latest in the Star Wars Ultimate Collector's series. Some of our favorite Star Wars LEGO sets come from this collection.
Anakin's Jedi Starfighter / Imperial TIE Fighter
Jedi Starfighter: 247 pieces | Ages 7+ | $20 USD | August release date
TIE Fighter: 519 pieces | Ages 9+ | $70 USD | Available now
Along with sets from the newest Star Wars films, LEGO continues to release classic designs for loyal fans of the original movies (and prequels).
Smaller vehicles like the Starfighter will be great starter choices for younger fans before dropping the big bucks on 500+ piece sets.
LEGO City Arctic Scout Truck with BOOST
322 pieces | Ages 7+ | $60 USD | August release date
While the highlight of LEGO's show was the app-controlled Batmobile, it also took time to show off its latest Boost toy.
The arctic truck links into LEGO's coding platform, which lets kids use a block-coding interface to program specific actions.
The truck will drive around, pick up objects using codeable attachments, and react to movements or voices.
One of our favorite toys at Toy Fair 2018, the Ninjago Stormbringer (493 pieces, 8+, $40 USD, available now), also uses Boost coding to respond to your voice or recognize and respond to "good" or "evil" figurines with cries or attacks.
100-250 pieces | $10 USD each | ages 10+ | Most sets out now; Harry Potter sets out this July
Fans of upcoming films like Jurassic World and Incredibles 2, or recent releases like Infinity War and Solo, can quickly put together their favorite protagonists and villains in giant blocky form.
Lego BrickHeadz are the Pop! Vinyls of LEGOs. They're fun to have on your desk, and you have a ton of famous characters to choose from—Batman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman and more, about 64 so far. But they're quick to build and may not play well with other sets.
Predicting LEGO in 2019
When speaking with LEGO's PR rep about the Batmobile, he said that this year's tech offerings were just a "trickle" of toys compared to the non-connected toys available.
But, he implied that by next year, LEGO will be adding smartphone connectivity, remote-controlled motors and more block coding support than ever before.
We'll no doubt see plenty more LEGO creations puttering around on wheels in the near future. And, its popular coding tech will continue to expand along with these Powered toys.
LEGO sets without some kind of bells and whistles could soon become the minority.
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Michael Hicks began his freelance writing career with TechRadar in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars. Nowadays, he works as a staff editor for Android Central, but still writes occasional TR reviews, how-tos and explainers on phones, tablets, smart home devices, and other tech.