Five LEGO sets retiring in 2020 that you should buy for… building

Dozens of LEGO sets are due to retire by the end of 2020, so we’ve picked out five you should buy if you love building.

You can find the full list of LEGO sets retiring this year by clicking here. But if you just want us to tell you what to focus on, read on. These sets are all must-haves for fans who love building above all else. Sure, you might like cool minifigures or interesting parts, but what you prioritise most is a great building experience. Well, dear reader, this list is for you.

If you prefer to buy sets for their minifigures, then head this way. On the other hand, if you’re after sets for parts, or even as investments, check back with Brick Fanatics soon. We’re also putting together those lists, helping you decide what to buy – before it’s too late.

For now, here’s our top picks for budding builders.

LEGO Harry Potter 75958 Beauxbatons Carriage 2 1024x720

5. 75958 Beauxbatons’ Carriage: Arrival at Hogwarts

This Harry Potter set might not look like anything particularly special from the outside, but diving into the bricks reveals otherwise. What could otherwise have been standard fare for anyone who’s built a LEGO carriage turns into something extraordinary, thanks to the addition of a dollhouse-style opening wall.

You’ll love seeing how the designers have cleverly made the rest of 75958 work around that killer feature, from its detailed interior to the structure that houses it. Plus, who doesn’t love playing around in a bright light blue sandbox?

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4. 70425 Newbury Haunted High School (review)

The entire Hidden Side theme is worth more of a look-in than its app-driven gimmick suggests, but we’re focusing on the initial wave’s flagship set. 70425 Newbury Haunted High School is the very definition of a playset, not only through its detailed interior, but also because it’s packed with functions.

Location-based LEGO sets are usually pretty static, but Hidden Side completely upends that trend. With the flip of a lever, the push of a trigger and the turn of a dial, the entire set completely transforms into its haunted state. Building and activating all those functions is a delight, and proves that mechanisms don’t need to be complex to be effective.

LEGO Creator Expert 10260 Downtown Diner

3. 10260 Downtown Diner

Modular buildings are always a treat to put together, and 10260 Downtown Diner is no exception. While the colour scheme and general ’50s aesthetic have proved divisive among LEGO fans, you won’t want to miss out on the building experience the Diner offers.

Notable moments here include the enormous jukebox-style frontage, the carefully-crafted “DINER” sign, and the curved ground floor window. But the entire set is a joy to assemble, combining the subtheme’s usual mix of sturdy structures and intricate sub-assemblies.

21039 Shanghai

2. 21039 Shanghai

The Architecture skylines present a unique challenge for even the talented LEGO designers in Billund. Not only does each landmark within a given skyline need to be instantly recognisable, but they all need to sit in harmony together. That means confronting issues of scale, accuracy, and aesthetics, all within a single, small model. Simply put, it’s no mean feat, but it’s one that 21039 Shanghai manages with aplomb.

The smaller buildings are masterworks of perception, utilising the surfaces of bricks to convey architectural detail. But it’s in those larger buildings where Shanghai really sings. The Shanghai World Financial Centre will teach you a thing or two about offset stud spacing, while Shanghai Tower is arguably the crowning achievement of Architecture’s skylines to date. We won’t spoil it for you here – just go buy the set if you haven’t already.

21318 Hero List

1. 21318 Tree House (review)

This Ideas set only launched last year, but as is the norm for the fan-driven theme, it won’t be around much longer. But if building sets is what makes you tick, you’d be remiss to miss out. 21318 Tree House is that rare Ideas set that stands entirely on its own two feet, without any licence, IP or real-world event to rely on.

Without any such reference material to recreate, Kevin Feeser was free to pour all his creativity into his project proposal. LEGO designer César Soares then transformed it into one of the greatest LEGO Ideas sets to date. Building the Tree House feels like getting to grips with nature in a way that we haven’t experienced since 2013’s 10236 Ewok Village. It might be pricey, but if you can afford it, grab it before it’s gone.

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Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then. I’m also Associate Editor for Blocks magazine, and dabble in content strategy, writing and PR for a few non-LEGO platforms. You can follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisWharfe

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