As LEGO has grown in popularity, it’s acquired a status few other toys enjoy nowadays. It’s crossed both age and gender lines, and partnered with a number of beloved licensors in its pursuit of new audiences.
The LEGO ICONS branding – introduced in 2022, to replace LEGO Creator Expert – seems to reflect the LEGO Group’s new approach to selling its products. LEGO sets sold under this banner are clearly aimed at the older LEGO fan, and (in many cases) designed as display pieces rather than conventional playsets. They also feature plenty of licensed models, which is another justification for the ICONS name.
LEGO ICONS history
Although the LEGO Group has earned its reputation as a children’s toy company (something it still tends to prioritise) it’s long been making sets for the older LEGO fan. The turn of the century saw sets like 3450 Statue of Liberty, 3451 Sopwith Camel and 3723 LEGO Mini-Figure appear on shelves, with a clear emphasis on display rather than play. Similar models would trickle out throughout the ‘00s, with a diverse range of scales and subject matter touched upon.
What all these sets lacked was some kind of unifying brand. Early releases of this ilk aren’t part of an identifiable theme, and are seemingly designed as standalone models. The Creator Expert branding has (in some places) been added to these sets, but only retroactively.
Creator Expert became the branding for these kinds of large-scale, sophisticated models in 2011, when 10220 Volkswagen T1 Camper Van used it on its packaging. Practically speaking, it wasn’t a massive leap over its predecessors – but it would create a more unified idea going forward.
Sets released under the Creator Expert branding are now united by their use of more complex building techniques and a target audience that skews a little older than usual. This isn’t a hard rule, however. The Winter Village line of sets (which first launched back in 2009) is sold under the Creator Expert umbrella, and naturally has a broad appeal amongst LEGO fans.
The Creator Expert line also drew in product lines that pre-dated the branding. Modular buildings began to be sold under its umbrella in 2013 (starting with 10232 Palace Cinema), while 10220 Volkswagen T1 Camper Van was succeeded by several other large-scale vehicles. Other highlights of the theme to date include a variety of fairground rides, with 10196 Grand Carousel being the earliest example (albeit retroactively).
Recent additions to the Creator Expert line include a mix of old and new concepts. 10282 Adidas Originals Superstar is definitely one of the oddest LEGO sets in recent years, and even includes real shoelaces for that added burst of authenticity. 10302 Optimus Prime, meanwhile, is similarly unexpected, representing a partnership between two conventional business rivals in the LEGO Group and Hasbro.
Now the LEGO Creator Expert branding is being replaced by the LEGO ICONS branding, with a full rollout expected across its sets by 2023. While the current LEGO ICONS line-up overlaps greatly with Creator Expert, it still has value as a unique identifier – especially since, as we’ve established, many distinct product lines nest within it.
The LEGO Group’s use of sophisticated black packaging across multiple themes (such as Creator Expert and Ideas) can also make it hard to see where one theme ends and another begins. That’s a problem that’s now likely to be alleviated before too long.
LEGO ICONS sets
Anyone with a good understanding of LEGO Creator Expert will have a good understanding of LEGO ICONS, as one is essentially a rebranding of the other. That could change as the theme finds its feet, but for now a strong whiff of familiarity hangs over it.
Still, for the time being, the current theme description focuses on ‘impressive landmarks, modular buildings, classic vehicles, pop culture favourites and beautiful home décor sets’. In short, anything designed to be displayed rather than played with – at least as a broad rule. Most of the LEGO ICONS sets fall under one of these categories, so it’s a handy way of organising and understanding them.
LEGO ICONS buildings
Buildings under the LEGO ICONS umbrella include elaborate structures at varying scales. All of them tend towards the more expensive side, although there is a variety of different subject matters explored here.
The most expensive LEGO ICONS building is also the one that reaches back the furthest into the past. 10276 Colosseum takes it cues from the Roman structure, construction of which was completed in 80CE. In its heyday the Colosseum could hold up to 80,000 spectators, who visited the Colosseum for a variety of events. These included theatrical performances, historical re-enactments and – of course – gladiatorial contests.
The Colosseum stopped being used for these kinds of events towards the end of the 5th century. Since then, its appearance has been damaged by both earthquakes and robbers in search of construction materials. In spite of this the Colosseum remains one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions, with more than 6 million annual visitors.
The LEGO Colosseum recreates the amphitheatre as it currently appears now, albeit on a much smaller scale. While it manages to capture the broader shape of the structure, some fine details are inevitably compromised. The LEGO version has fewer arches and exaggerates the overall height, but the model remains attractive overall.
The outside of the Colosseum includes some tiny details, including trees and simple cars. Looking closely at the outer columns reveals subtle differences in construction between each level. This reflects the real-world Colosseum, whose external design has plenty of subtle variation.
The inside of the Colosseum contains several rows of ancient seats, although any LEGO character may struggle to sit in them. A mix of tan and dark tan elements lend the set some extra visual interest, while mimicking the Colosseum’s appearance as well.
Looking at the bottom of the Colosseum reveals an exposed Hypogeum, an area of space used to accommodate prisoners and wild animals. This part of the set uses some unusual construction techniques, positioning several elements upside down to capture the area’s structure properly. A small section of the Colosseum’s wooden arena floor is also recreated here.
With a footprint of almost 60cm at its widest point, 10276 Colosseum is certainly a substantial model. It also comes with a hefty price tag to match; expect to pay £439.99 / $549.99 / €499.99 for it.
LEGO ICONS football stadiums
An unexpected success in the LEGO ICONS line has been scale models of football stadiums. Three of them have been produced so far, each one focusing on the home stadium of a different football team. The first of these stadiums to be produced was 10272 Old Trafford – Manchester United, which appeared in 2020.
Named after an area of Greater Manchester, the stadium is home to the Manchester United football team. It first opened in 1910, and is one of the largest football stadiums in the United Kingdom. Just over 74,000 fans can occupy the stadium at any one time, although future modifications to the arena may increase its maximum occupancy.
During its long life, Old Trafford has participated in a number of prestigious sporting events. These include the 1966 World Cup, Euro ’96 and the 2012 Summer Olympics. It has also been used for other sports (including rugby and cricket) and even served as a concert venue for the likes of Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.
The LEGO version of the stadium focuses on its usage in football matches. It’s built in sections, using a mix of stickers (over 70 can be found here) and printed elements to bring it life. Some of these can be seen on the pitch itself; the goal nets (which use modified tile elements) are particularly innovative.
The stands of the stadium use grille bricks, whose subtle texture mimic seating at the appropriate scale. Stickered elements are also used to add branding and sponsorship to the stadium, reflecting its contemporary appearance. Specific parts of the stadium like the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand are also recreated here, as are the white roof sections.
Exterior features of the set include tiny statues of George Best, Denis Law, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Matt Busby. Other external details include memorials to the Munich air disaster (which took the lives of 23 football players, club staff and journalists in 1958).
There’s even a miniature team bus to be found here, which employs roller skate elements for the wheels. This is a common construction technique for LEGO vehicles at this scale.
With all the features you’d expect from a modern recreation, 10272 Old Trafford – Manchester United is an impressive tribute to the football stadium. It’s available for £244.99 / $299.99 / €279.99, which – compared to sets like 10276 Colosseum – may be a bit more digestible.
Two more LEGO football stadiums followed in 2021 and 2022 respectively. The first of these was 10284 Camp Nou – Barcelona, which draws inspiration from the Spanish football stadium.
Constructed between 1954 and 1957, Camp Nou (now known as Spotify Camp Nou) is the home stadium of FC Barcelona. It is capable of holding almost 100,000 football fans, making it the largest stadium in both Spain and Europe.
Camp Nou has hosted numerous sporting events over the years, including the Champions League final, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA World Cup. Streaming service Spotify acquired naming rights for the stadium in March 2022.
Like 10272 Old Trafford – Manchester United before it, 10284 Camp Nou – Barcelona uses a modular design, allowing it to be built in sections that are then connected together. It shares several other design traits, including grille bricks for seating and printed elements to depict the pitch itself. Hinge elements allow the subtle curvature of the stadium to be more accurately represented.
The stadium is decorated with various stickers, which allow FC Barcelona to be explicitly referenced. These are applied to both the stands and the flags flying above them, offering plenty of visual detail to soak in.
The exterior contains the features you would expect it to: some trees, external stadium banners and a small Barca bus. This is decorated with a cheerful sticker, and adds a welcome touch of life to a model that is largely devoid of it.
10284 Camp Nou – Barcelona is another impressive stadium model, with the expected suite of references and architectural features. But an RRP of £289.99 / $349.99 / €329.99 may restrict it to the hardcore LEGO football fan.
Rounding out the trio is 10299: Real Madrid – Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. It was released in 2022 and offers another detailed recreation of a Spanish sporting location.
The real-life stadium is the home of the Real Madrid football team. It was named after Santiago Bernabéu (who served as the team’s president for 35 years) and construction on it was completed back in 1947. Today the stadium can hold approximately 80,000 fans, and includes the UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup amongst its notable football matches.
The LEGO model of the stadium is distinguished by its substantial outer structure, which features a thick assembly of bricks, tiles and curved elements. Once more, though, the interior uses a familiar mix of printed pieces and grille bricks to produce a stadium environment. Stickers of real-life sponsors (like Adidas and the Emirates airline) help the stadium to feel more authentic.
Ironically, some of the more creative parts usage can be found outside of the stadium itself. Dark green ice cream elements are used to create trees, while white hockey sticks represent street lights. Another tiny, brick-built team bus is parked on the outskirts.
The massive size of the stadium (relatively speaking: it measures 44cm wide and 38cm deep) and density of pieces results in another hefty price tag – namely, £309.99 / $349.99 / €349.99. However, the continued appearance of this kind of set suggests it’s very popular with LEGO fans; we anticipate more sets like this in the years to come.
LEGO Modular Buildings Collection
Other buildings in the ICONS range include some entries in the Modular Buildings Collection. Launching back in 2007 with 10182 Café Corner, the collection depicts detailed, minifigure-scale buildings with a large footprint and an enclosed structure. Their modular nature and common design elements (like pavements and lampposts) allow them to be connected together in any order, which means a coherent street scene can be assembled very easily.
New modular buildings are among the most anticipated additions to the LEGO line-up. Their popularity has even inspired compatible models in other LEGO product lines, such as Marvel and the seasonal Chinese Traditional Festival theme.
10278 Police Station
10278 Police Station is the oldest modular building to be currently sold under the ICONS umbrella, released in 2021. While police stations are nothing new for LEGO, this one draws inspiration from mid-20th-century history – echoing the old-world charm of previous models. It also features two smaller buildings integrated into the broader structure. This is a common move for the collection, which often recreates multiple buildings within a single model.
The ground floor of the set offers a reception desk, a holding cell, a newsstand and a doughnut shop – which is, presumably, very popular with the three police officers. The newsstand includes a newspaper discussing a ‘hungry donut thief’, suggesting the shop’s owner needs to keep an eye out.
Other interesting features of this section include a staircase that uses perpendicular LEGO elements, as well a hidden tunnel under the holding cell. A chunk of exterior wall is cracked, betraying the activity of the cell’s various occupants.
The first floor of the set includes a couple of desks in the police station, as well as a side room for taking mugshots. The notice board is an especially nice touch here; it uses a red elastic band, stretched between three round elements, to suggest a breakthrough in a case.
A small apartment is positioned above the doughnut shop, and contains a bed, a record player and a small kitchen area. The bed can be raised up to reveal a hole in the floor, which leads into the doughnut shop beneath it. This suggests the doughnut thief is closer than we thought.
The top floor of the building is dedicated to police business, offering a toilet, an interview room and an evidence room. The interview room includes a retro reel-to-reel tape recorder, while the evidence room contains various accoutrements of the criminal world. These include a woollen cap, a frying pan and a crowbar.
Curiously, a small stack of cookies can also be found here. This may be a reference to 10246 Detective’s Office, which is set in an era when cookies were prohibited. Barrels of sweet treats are concealed in that set, as well as in complementary sets such as 40140 Flower Cart.
The roof of the police station is relatively simple, featuring nothing but a pair of antennae. The masonry of the roof also uses a quartet of heads from the Minecraft theme, reflecting the creative parts usage of the broader Modular Buildings Collection. Two printed tiles on the building’s exterior advertise Soap Suds washing powder, a nod to 10251 Brick Bank.
For modular building diehards, 10278 Police Station may prove hard to resist. However, its relatively sparse interior may make it a tough purchase to justify for the rest of us.
10297 Boutique Hotel
The only other modular building available under the ICONS banner is 10297 Boutique Hotel. A new release for 2022, this lavish building includes many exciting design choices that distinguish it from its fellows.
While the very first modular building was a hotel, it lacked any internal detail. 10297 Boutique Hotel more than makes up for that, with an extensive array of interior features. The ground floor of the hotel includes a lobby, complete with a front desk, a comfy sofa and a small luggage trolley.
The neighbouring building is a small art gallery, whose pieces pay tribute to various real-life artworks. A particularly nice feature is an abstract structure made from six transparent LEGO elements. This is an exact replica of the old Creator Expert logo, in reference to the theme’s earlier days.
The first floor contains two simpler bedrooms. The larger room includes a desk with a typewriter and a lamp, as well as an armchair. A small bar can also be found on this level, although the drinks available are all (presumably) non-alcoholic. Crown elements from the LEGO Movie 2 range add some vivid texture to the set’s palm tree.
The top floor of the hotel is dedicated to a lavish guest suite, featuring a double bed, a large wardrobe and a retro television. Fine features of this room include a pair of toiletries in pink bottles, cupcake cases for bedside lampshades, and even a complementary chocolate on the bedspread.
The exterior of the hotel uses dark orange, sand green and light nougat elements. The latter colour is especially interesting, as it’s usually reserved for minifigure flesh tones in licensed LEGO sets. The entire hotel is also built as a rough triangle, further differentiating it from its blockier fellows.
With its lavish design and various subtle references to prior LEGO models, 10297 Boutique Hotel is certainly a highlight of the Modular Buildings Collection. It’s also worthy of the ICONS name, and will likely be joined by many more modular buildings in the future.
LEGO Fairground Collection
The Fairground Collection is another regular addition to the Creator Expert line, although its sets tend to release on a more uneven basis than modular buildings. The last two fairground sets have released two years apart, and are both included in the ICONS range.
10273 Haunted House
10273 Haunted House (released in 2020) is an especially interesting addition to the Fairground Collection. While its predecessors adopted a bright, colourful aesthetic, this one goes for a much spookier feel. The set as a whole is also a love letter to ‘90s and ‘00s LEGO sets, with multiple nods to products released in this time period.
Instead of a conventional house with various rooms, the Haunted House is really just background detail for a terrifying elevator ride. Visitors to the house enter through the front doors, which can be opened remotely by twisting a dial on one wall. They then board the elevator and ride it to the top of the house’s tower.
Upon reaching the tower’s top, a pair of doors open (giving us a glimpse of the visitors’ terrified expressions) before the entire elevator plunges to the bottom again. Powered Up components and the Powered Up app allow this to be automated, while also adding sound effects to set the mood.
In addition to haunted house staples like an organ and flickering candles, the house is filled with artefacts collected by Baron von Barron – a villain of the Adventurers theme, and the house’s former occupant. Many of these artefacts pay direct tribute to Adventurers sets; the sphinx head above the elevator entrance, for example, is similar in appearance to the one in 5978 Sphinx Secret Surprise. Other artefacts like an Egyptian obelisk and jackal heads date back to this era.
The picture in the house’s rafters is particularly special. It’s created using a translucent tile, with a light brick behind it. Activating this brick causes Pharaoh Hotep (a villain of the Adventurers theme) to appear in the background, indicating a curse followed von Barron back home.
Other builds in the set make nods to Orient Expedition (a late offshoot of Adventurers), the spy-themed Alpha Team range, and Junkbot – a browser-based video game released in 2001. Two of the house’s visitors also use torso elements from the Hidden Side theme, which featured augmented-reality ghosts as a unique selling point. A pair of ghost minifigures, meanwhile, pay tribute to the ghosts from earlier themes such as Castle and Monster Fighters.
With its various nods to the past and interesting mechanical functions, 10273 Haunted House is an excellent choice for LEGO fans old and new. However, it may prove difficult to store or display due to its height.
10303 Loop Coaster
The other fairground set in the LEGO ICONS range is 10303 Loop Coaster. While roller coasters have been explored in LEGO form on several occasions, this one is particularly ambitious. It incorporates two loops into its track to give its riders a thrilling time.
What immediately stands out about this set is its height. While the mechanisms of the roller coaster can be motorised, the cars the minifigures ride in are not. Like 10261 Roller Coaster before it, the set depends on the cars building up enough momentum to complete a whole circuit under their own power.
This probably explains why the set – at its highest point – measures just over 90cm tall. But its height isn’t the only thing that’s special about it, as it also deploys some interesting parts usage: as the cars enter the sheer drop, they travel over two curved track elements mounted on their side. This helps to achieve the right angle of descent, and opens up some intriguing new options for LEGO roller coasters in the future.
Several different minifigures are included in this set, including a variety of fairground visitors and some park employees. A hot dog stand (a common feature of LEGO sets) can be found here, alongside a new pretzel wagon build. There’s also a man selling balloons to the young and the young at heart.
LEGO Winter Village Collection
10275 Elf Club House
The first is 10275 Elf Club House and it appears to be a companion to 10245 Santa’s Workshop, released back in 2014. However, it works reasonably well as a standalone model.
As the name suggests, the set is designed as a hangout for elves after their work in Santa’s workshop is ended. It comes with various features that allow them to unwind, including a waffle-making apparatus and a small dining area. The set also comes with a gift wrapping station and various toys, suggesting the elves tend to take their work home with them.
Three beds can be found in the house’s upper level, and include one of the set’s mechanical features. By twisting the clock underneath them, the beds can be made to tip forward and eject their occupants. A light brick in the rafters allows you to illuminate this part of the model.
Other accessories in the set include a large Christmas tree (each Winter Village set includes a unique design), an old-fashioned desktop computer that displays the Nice List, and a rocket-powered sleigh. This sleigh is pulled by a pre-moulded reindeer – a new addition to the Winter Village collection, which improves on previous brick-built versions.
Four elf minifigures are included with this set, and the door of the club house is a bit smaller than usual to reflect their short stature. Each elf uses a hat element with moulded ears, indicating their fantastical nature. They also wear identical green outfits – a first for the subtheme – although one also wears a red scarf.
10293 Santa’s Visit
The other Winter Village set in the ICONS collection is 10293 Santa’s Visit. This set depicts the home of a family at Christmas – one of three such Winter Village sets to do so. It benefits from a range of more sophisticated building techniques that show how far the Winter Village collection has come over the years.
Unlike previous Winter Village homes, the one in this set is built at an angle. This allows for more interesting geometry and more natural positioning of its furniture. It’s also a little more open thanks to a smaller bedroom, which lets you access the interior more easily.
The ground floor of the house contains a small sitting room, a kitchen and a dining area for four people. Each of these uses modern elements to appear more realistic. For example, a whisk is used in the kitchen’s stand mixer, while pentagonal shield elements are used to represent a fabric table runner.
The fireplace is a particular highlight of the set. Three stockings are hung above the fire, with rounded elements used to great effect. The fireplace itself (and the chimney above it) is wide enough to accommodate a minifigure.
This allows Santa to actually come down the chimney to deliver presents. Such a vital feature has never appeared in a LEGO set before now. In the event Santa (or another minifigure) gets stuck in the chimney, the top section can be removed to aid rescue operations.
A small bedroom for a girl is included in the set. This includes a space-themed poster and a tiny model of the planet Saturn. A toy rocket is also included in the set, suggesting it’ll be a very merry Christmas.
Several other wrapped gifts are included with the set, some of which are hidden within the home. The printed cookie pieces are a tribute to a real-life recipe from one of the set’s designers. Another unique feature is the Christmas tree, which uses a light brick and several transparent elements to illuminate its branches.
A mother, a father and a girl are included in this set, with a sticker above the fireplace providing a family portrait. There’s also a Santa minifigure with a sack of toys and a friendly expression. Between its elegant construction and multiple features, 10293 Santa’s Visit is a perfect standalone Christmas set.
LEGO ICONS vehicles
Large-scale vehicles have long been a staple of LEGO sets. In recent years these have continued to improve in detail, and even branch out into the realms of popular fiction.
When it comes to conventional real-life vehicles, we can find an impressive array of sets in the ICONS range. For the time being the crown jewel of LEGO ICONS vehicles is 10294 Titanic, which broke a few records upon its release.
RMS Titanic is one of the world’s most famous passenger ships – an Olympic-class ocean liner measuring almost 270m in length. During its maiden voyage in 1912 the ship struck an iceberg, which caused it to sink in the North Atlantic Ocean. Over 1,500 people on board (including crew and passengers) died, although approximately 700 were rescued.
The disaster provoked international outrage, and inspired various new regulations to prevent a repeat of the incident. These seem to have worked, as the Titanic disaster remains the deadliest event of its kind in peacetime.
From that perspective, turning the Titanic into a LEGO set seems like a curious move. However, the ship has also become an indelible part of our culture since the disaster occurred. Multiple films and books about the Titanic have been produced (one just 29 days after it sank) and it has even earned references in shows like Doctor Who and Futurama.
The LEGO version of the Titanic uses 9,090 pieces in its design (although 31203 World Map uses even more) and measures 135cm in length, making it the longest LEGO set ever created. Its RRP of £554.99 / $679.99 / €629.99 puts it in the upper echelons of LEGO set pricing, while its massive length makes displaying it a challenge. Still, that hasn’t prevented it from selling out on more than one occasion.
The model is built in three sections, which are held together with long Technic axles. This allows it to be stored or transported more easily, and also allows for some of the ship’s internal compartments to be modelled. These include lounges, cabins and steam engines, the latter of which feature moving components and can be removed for inspection.
The deck of the Titanic uses various small elements (like phone handsets and modified plates) to create the various vents, benches and lifeboats featured on the real thing. It also features era-appropriate flags positioned at various points. Red tiles give the impression of riveted metal sheeting on the hull.
A display stand built from brown elements lets you display the ship properly. The set also comes with a simple nameplate that you can position in front of it. While most LEGO fans will likely never own it, 10294 Titanic is (like its inspiration) truly unforgettable.
10283 NASA Space Shuttle Discovery
This 2021 set recreates another iconic vehicle we’ll never get the chance to ride. The Space Shuttle Discovery was a product of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program, flying into space between 1984 and 2011. During that time it was used to launch the Hubble Space Telescope into space in 1990, as well as a variety of other satellites.
Following its retirement, the shuttle now lives at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The LEGO version lets you enjoy the shuttle in the comfort of your own home, albeit at a slightly smaller scale.
While the LEGO Group has produced plenty of space shuttles (including a few with NASA branding) most of them tend to be generic. 10283 NASA Space Shuttle Discovery, then, is a welcome change of pace. It captures not just the shape of the real thing but the unique branding associated with it.
A number of stickers and printed elements (referencing NASA, the United States and Discovery’s name) make it clear this is an official product. However, there are also various points of interactivity. The shuttle can be angled upwards or downwards on display, and sections of the cockpit can be removed to access the crew compartments. Two of them (one stacked on top of the other) are included in this set, complete with tiny seats and control panels.
The landing gear of the shuttle can be deployed or retracted, and the doors to the payload bay can also be opened. This allows a model of the Hubble Space Telescope to be placed inside, or depicted as hanging above the shuttle from a crane arm.
If you prefer to show off the Hubble Telescope in all its glory, a smaller display stand for it is also provided. Its solar panels are created using flexible plastic sheeting, which are attached to a brick-built frame. The lens of the telescope is also visible, and some technical equipment is modelled on the other end.
Even without the telescope in it, the payload bay has plenty of interior detail. Small brick-built cameras are positioned at either end, and reflective stickers are applied to the inside of the bay doors.
As such, if you’ve been looking for a LEGO space shuttle, this might be your best bet.
10279 Volkswagen T2 Camper Van
Other LEGO vehicles in the ICONS range are considerably smaller, but no less impressive. One of the larger ones is 10279 Volkswagen T2 Camper Van – a successor of sorts to 10220 Volkswagen T1 Camper Van, with plenty of groovy ‘60s atmosphere.
The Volkswagen T2 is a variation of the Volkswagen Type 2, which was first introduced in 1950. This particular vehicle debuted in 1967, adding a little size and a lot of weight to the core design. The vehicle would go on to see several more modifications over its lifespan, although – regardless of the specifics – the vehicle is strongly associated with the ‘60s countercultural movement.
Measuring 35cm long and using just over 2,200 pieces, the LEGO version is a substantial LEGO set in any context. It’s notably larger than the last LEGO VW van, and puts its internal space to effective use. However, some parts of the interior (like the driver’s section) feature exposed structural elements, which is disappointing considering the set’s price.
Other parts of the van fare much better. The kitchen contains many appealing elements such as a hob (complete with gas canister), a fridge and a collapsible table. A small seat with retro upholstery can also be found here, and it can fold flat to form a sleeping area.
Fabric elements are used to produce curtains and a pop-up roof within the model, echoing similar functions on the original LEGO VW van. These add a welcome organic touch to the set, and really help bring it to life. The model also comes with an extensive sheet of stickers. These offer some flexibility in how you decorate the set, and reflect the vehicle’s association with the swinging ‘60s.
With a wealth of fine details, 10279 Volkswagen T2 Camper Van is a largely solid entry in the range of large-scale LEGO vehicles. However, some unfinished sections and odd colour choices mar an otherwise strong model.
10295 Porsche 911
10295 Porsche 911 is another German motor icon. While this LEGO set dates back to 2021 the real thing was introduced back in 1964, with numerous enhancements made to the vehicle over the years. It has frequently been used as a racing car, and is one of the most successful vehicles to be used in this context.
Since its introduction more than one million Porsche 911s have been manufactured, and one occupies a spot in Porsche’s permanent collection. From that perspective, the LEGO version honours a rich heritage of motor vehicle design.
This LEGO model of the Porsche 911 allows to you build one of two different versions – the Turbo model, which features a more powerful engine, and the Targa model, which features a removable roof. Both versions come with a white paint job and an official (printed) Porsche logo on the bonnet. Fortunately, switching from one design to the other is relatively straightforward, and the set comes with the option to swap out fine details like nameplates.
The driver and passenger compartments of either vehicle offer plenty of delights. The steering wheel, gearshift and emergency brake can all be moved around, with the front wheels and steering wheel connected together. The seats can also be tilted back and forth slightly.
Other notable features of the model include an integrated spoiler in the engine cover, and some accurate engine detail in the Porsche’s rear. The front hood is empty underneath, and acts as a storage space for the roof. Three licence plates (including German, American and Japanese variants) and a Porsche logo (on a red tile) reinforce the set’s inspiration.
Regardless of which version you choose, 10295 Porsche 911 is an impressive display piece. It comes with all the functionality you would hope it does, and its two construction options offer a touch of customisation.
10271 Fiat 500
Several different versions of the Fiat 500 have been produced over the years. The LEGO set draws its inspiration from the Fiat 500F, which was produced from 1965 to 1973. Versions of the Fiat 500 are renowned for their practicality and relatively low cost, as well as their suitability for urban environments.
The LEGO version of the Fiat 500 presented a stiff design challenge, as it features a large amount of curving bodywork. However, an array of curved elements allow the LEGO set to mimic the Fiat 500’s appearance quite well.
The interior is relatively simple but packs in all the essential features, including four seats, a steering wheel and a gear stick. The steering wheel even includes a tiny Fiat logo. Another interesting feature of the model is a fabric sun roof. The flexibility of the material allows it to be retracted, letting some additional light into the car’s interior.
Lifting up the car’s bonnet reveals a fuel tank and a spare tyre, while opening the boot reveals a brick-built engine – a common feature in LEGO cars of this scale. Italian, Danish and German number plates can be attached to the vehicle depending on your preference, as can a small brick-built suitcase festooned with stickers.
In another nod to its Italian heritage, the LEGO Fiat 500 comes with a small easel assembly. This features a stickered tile showing the car parked in front of the Roman Colosseum, which (as we now know) would later earn a LEGO model of its own. A small paintbrush and palette are enclosed as accessories, which can be stored inside the suitcase when not in use. The easel can also be stored in the Fiat’s passenger footwell.
77942 Fiat 500 is a version of 10271 Fiat 500 with blue bodywork instead of yellow. It was introduced as part of a pilot program in 2021, which saw the LEGO Group sell new spins on existing products. These products were only released in the UK, and some were only available for a relatively short timespan.
77942 Fiat 500 has stuck around a little longer than other sets in the program, although it is still only officially available within the UK. However, Zavvi will ship it overseas for a small additional delivery charge.
While the blue and yellow LEGO Fiat 500s are largely identical, some small differences are noticeable. The number plates have been modified for the blue Fiat to reflect its different product number, and a small Union Flag sticker has been added to the suitcase. This is presumably a reference to its exclusive availability in the UK.
The painting of the Fiat 500 is also, naturally, a little different. It features a blue Fiat in front of the Colosseum instead of a yellow one, and some other colours in the painting have also changed slightly. As such, UK LEGO fans may have a tough choice to make. However, given the sets are structurally identical you’re getting a solid LEGO set either way.
10298 Vespa 125
The Vespa can be traced back to postwar Italy, in an era when the country needed a modern, affordable means of moving around the country. The answer to this problem was a scooter that soon became associated with youthful abandon. Its name translates to ‘wasp’, drawing inspiration from the vehicle’s initial body shape.
The Vespa 125 first appeared in 1949, although a few different models of scooter were sold using this name over the next few years. It was joined by a version with a side-car, as well as the Vespa 400 – a conventional four-wheeled road vehicle, which launched in 1957.
This LEGO Vespa sports a cheerful blue colour scheme, and immediately offers some interesting features during the construction process. Like the LEGO Fiat 500 it includes plenty of curving bodywork, as well as fine mechanical functions like a kickstand, brake pedal and starting lever. Its engine features extensive brick-built detail, and its external cowling is designed for easy removal.
The wheels of the Vespa are particularly interesting. They feature a dual-moulded white and grey design, which (when the tyres are attached) provides them with an additional lick of retro sensibility. Of course, their design means you must deploy the kickstand if you want to keep the Vespa upright.
Two accessories give the set a little more personality. These include a bunch of flowers (kept in a luggage compartment on the back of the scooter) and a small brick-built helmet. This even includes a pair of goggles, although – since they’re created using opaque slide shoes – they may prove a little counterintuitive.
10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1
In addition to real-life vehicles, the LEGO ICONS range has dipped its toes into the pool of pop culture on several occasions. Two of its vehicles take heavy inspiration from ‘80s cinema, to popular reception.
10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1 obviously nods to the Ghostbusters movies, the first of which was released in 1984. The Ghostbusters use ECTO-1 to move around New York City more effectively; it reappeared in the recent movie Ghostbusters: Afterlife, albeit with some new tricks up its sleeve.
The ECTO-1 in the movies uses a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura as a starting point, which – in real life – was originally an ambulance. However, ECTO-1’s red and white colour scheme, ghostbusting equipment and iconic ‘no ghosts’ logo tend to obscure that history.
10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1 isn’t the first LEGO incarnation of the vehicle: the Ideas and Dimensions themes have also modelled it, albeit at radically different scales. This one is the largest, and incorporates an impressive amount of exterior and interior detail.
The distinctive body shape of ECTO-1 is elegantly captured at this scale, with the front of the vehicle particularly impressive. Several roller skate elements are used to lend the front grille some extra texture. The car’s array of headlights is also modelled effectively, with unusual elements like barrels used to achieve their shape. The set even uses a custom windshield to ensure greater accuracy.
While much of its functionality remains a mystery (at least to the casual viewer) ECTO-1 isn’t complete without a tangle of roof-mounted equipment. One interesting component is the car’s red tracking antenna, which uses a pair of tube elements to capture its shape. This can be rotated freely to track ghosts with greater accuracy.
Since this set takes inspiration from Ghostbusters: Afterlife, ECTO-1’s upgrades are modelled here. The first of these is a gunner seat, which pops out of the vehicle for on-the-go ghostbusting. Pushing on an exterior section of ECTO-1 causes a side door to open and the seat to rotate into position. This seat also incorporates a proton pack, although no official LEGO figures in production are to scale with it.
The other new feature of ECTO-1 is a remote-control ghost trap, which can be deployed from the rear of the vehicle. Pulling on the fuel cap located here opens up a section on the vehicle’s underside, out of which rolls the (wheeled) trap.
The inside of ECTO-1 includes a bag of Stay-Puft marshmallows and a mass of technical equipment, although – since this relies upon generic printed elements – it looks a bit messy. The driver’s compartment fares better and uses a sticker on its dashboard for some more visual interest. You can even lift up the bonnet to see the engine, complete with official Cadillac branding.
The set comes with a sheet of stickers that mimic rust patches on the car’s exterior. However, we suspect many owners of the set will leave these unused. In any case, 10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1 is an impressive set in the small LEGO Ghostbusters collection.
10300 Back to the Future Time Machine
The other ‘80s ICONS vehicle is 10300 Back to the Future Time Machine, which recreates Doc Brown’s heavily customised DMC DeLorean. This has proven somewhat difficult to buy after its release, reflecting its extreme popularity amongst LEGO fans.
Paying tribute to the Back to the Future trilogy (whose movies released between 1985 and 1990) the DeLorean is used by Marty McFly to travel to various moments in the history of Hill Valley. On its journeys through time, the DeLorean receives various upgrades to expand its abilities – or maintain existing ones. As such, Back to the Future merchandise (within and beyond the LEGO line-up) tends to include several different versions of the vehicle.
Like ECTO-1, the LEGO Group has produced various versions of the DeLorean time machine in LEGO form. This one is (unsurprisingly) the most detailed, and is notably sturdier than the LEGO Ideas version. It comes with parts to recreate the DeLorean’s appearance in all three movies, though only a single version can be depicted at once.
Whichever version you prefer, the grey bodywork and sloping front bonnet of the DeLorean are instantly recognisable. The fine mechanical parts of the DeLorean (which add subtle but significant detail) are all present and correct, with several flexible elements used across the exterior bodywork.
A particularly clever bit of parts usage is a black shepherd’s crook, which is incorporated into a long pole used to siphon the power of a lightning strike. The wheels of this era also feature printed spokes on their disc elements, lending the set some additional visual accuracy.
The interior space of the DeLorean is put to excellent use, and when you’re ready to access it the gullwing doors of the DeLorean can swing open. However, they’re so heavy they can’t remain upright. As such, you may need to get creative if you want to display the DeLorean with its doors open.
Any model of the DeLorean at this scale demands a detailed interior. The LEGO version certainly doesn’t disappoint; it incorporates all the important features, including the three digital time machine readouts. The flux capacitor (a key component of the time machine) can also be seen here in its protective case. It puts a three-pronged grappling hook element to great use, and uses a light brick to recreate its glowing components.
The bonnet of the DeLorean can be raised to reveal a small storage area. This contains a yellow case of plutonium (used to power the DeLorean in its original form) and a pink hoverboard, which Marty retrieves from the year 2015. Unsurprisingly, the Mattel branding on the latter model is absent here.
When you’re ready to visit the future, the wheels of the DeLorean can be flipped down and a small, brick-built Mr. Fusion reactor (containing a soda can and a banana) can be attached to the back of the car. If you prefer the past, a bundle of 1950s hardware can also be attached to the bonnet. The wheels can even be swapped out with white-walled versions, but the train wheels that replace them are sadly not available – presumably since large-scale ones don’t exist in LEGO form.
Minifigures of Doc Brown and Marty McFly can be found in this set, alongside a small information plaque. While earlier minifigures of these characters were inspired by their original movie appearances, these ones are inspired by Back to the Future: Part II instead.
Each one features intricate printing, but Marty is especially impressive thanks to his printed leg assembly. His feet feature the self-lacing Nike trainers worn by Marty in 2015, although (for various reasons) the Nike logo is absent.
10300 Back to the Future Time Machine is definitely one of the most impressive large-scale vehicles the LEGO Group has ever released. If you’re interested in adding it your collection, we suggest you keep a very close eye on its availability.
LEGO Botanical Collection
If you’re looking for a more conventional home decoration, the Botanical Collection may prove a better option. This line of brick-built plants is a relatively recent addition to the LEGO product range, but it has proven extremely popular. So far five sets have appeared under this umbrella since 2020 and we suspect a few more will take root in the years ahead.
10280 Flower Bouquet
One of the first (and still most ambitious) Botanical Collection sets was 10280 Flower Bouquet. This set offers a lush array of flowers, although its official description cites ‘inspiration’ from real flowers rather than direct representation. Roses, snapdragons, poppies, asters, daises and grasses are all nodded to in this model.
In order to achieve the necessary shapes, some inventive parts usage is on display here. While there are obvious elements like leaves and minifigure-scale flowers, there are also crowns, car bonnets and pterodactyl wings used to represent the various plants. Other pieces like steering wheels allow for the creation of more organic shapes.
No vase is included with this set (although subsequent ones would include flower pots). However, you may find the builds look better in a conventional vase anyway. The use of Technic elements for stems allows you to modify their length, at least partially.
At £54.99 / $59.99 / €59.99, this is also one of the more reasonably priced LEGO sets in the LEGO ICONS range. If you’re looking for a (subtle) way to show off your LEGO fandom, this might be just what you’re after.
10281 Bonsai Tree
10281 Bonsai Tree is slightly cheaper at £44.99 / $49.99 / €49.99, having not fallen victim to the LEGO Group’s 2022 price increases, and it even comes with all the elements you need to display it as a standalone model. The term ‘bonsai’ refers to the act of growing and training a small tree within a pot, rather than a particular species of plant. Bonsai trees require extensive care including watering, occasional repotting and paying close attention to soil composition.
From that perspective, a LEGO version may be rather more appealing. While the specific plant isn’t mentioned, it’s likely that 10281 Bonsai Tree depicts some kind of cherry blossom tree. This is because of the foliage; both green and pink/white versions are available, with small frogs used to achieve suitable shaping in the latter.
To better achieve an organic shape, the trunk and roots of the bonsai tree use several curved elements. Flexible hoses, wrapped around the trunk, add additional texture. In a fitting touch, green plant-based elements are used to provide some of the foliage.
The green and pink foliage assemblies are built entirely separately. This allows you swap between them without having to disassemble the tree too much – a useful feature in a set meant to inspire tranquillity.
The tree sits in a black, rectangular pot filled with ‘stones’; rubber tyre elements prevent it from sliding around too much on its slatted display stand. This is designed to mimic wood, and features subtle texture achieved with brown ingot elements.
Balancing price and detail impressively, 10281 Bonsai Tree is very much a set for adults. If you’re looking for something relatively organic (yet low-maintenance) it could be the perfect LEGO set for you.
10289 Bird of Paradise
Released in 2021, 10289 Bird of Paradise is one of the less flashy additions to the Botanical Collection. The real-life plants are named after a species of bird typically found in Indonesia, with the plants themselves native to South Africa.
The LEGO version depicts a plant with large, flat leaves and small, delicate flowers. Although most of the parts used in these flowers are commonplace, they use purple minifigure sword elements to capture their more delicate components.
The plant sits in a tasteful black pot. 300 small, round elements are used to mimic the soil the plant grows in.
With an approximate height of 45cm,10289 Bird of Paradise is certainly eye catching. However, it’s also considerably more expensive than other LEGO Botanical sets. At £89.99 / $99.99 / €99.99 for a relatively drab model, this may not be high on your wishlist.
Two Botanical LEGO sets have been released for 2022. 10309 Succulents further mixes up the form factor of the Botanical collection, offering eight smaller builds that can be displayed in a variety of ways.
In real life, succulents are a variety of plant with parts that are thicker than usual. This helps them to retain water in places where it is hard to come by, such as arid climates. Many succulents can be found in South Africa, although they are also found on most other continents in the world.
The variety of plants modelled in this set include an aloe vera, an orange echeveria, a burro’s tail, a moon cactus and other enticing plants. Each one offers a rich variety of colours, as well as the creative parts usage we’ve come to expect from the collection. Notable examples include hats from the Forestmen Castle subtheme, shoulder pads from large-scale LEGO action figures and eggs in a new pale green colour.
While the plants themselves are impressive, the pots they sit in suffer slightly. This is due to the exposed Technic axle holes on each one. Although this allows the pots to be joined together, no parts are included to conceal them when they’re not in use.
Still, this is probably a minor issue for most people who wish to buy it. It also shares a price point with the early LEGO Botanical releases, which helps the Botanical Collection to remain accessible.
The other 2022 LEGO Botanical Collection release is 10311 Orchid. The orchid family is a large and diverse group of plants; around 28,000 species currently exist under this umbrella. They are often distinguished by their colourful, fragrant blooms, with the plants used in food, perfume and (naturally) as decorative items.
As real-life orchids have very long stems, this set shares a few components with 10280 Flower Bouquet. The flowers themselves, though, are much more diverse. A variety of common elements are used in unconventional ways here, including gears, frogs, shoulder pads and minifigure shields.
A particularly interesting parts usage is a recoloured Demogorgon head. This piece comes from the LEGO Stanger Things theme, where it is used for one of its more monstrous characters. Here it is used to represent budding flowers, although it presents interesting creative possibilities in our own creations.
The pot of the orchid is also very interesting. It has a rounded shape and a sharply ridged surface, which requires a highly complex build to achieve. Highly textured brown LEGO elements are placed in the pot once it’s assembled, and mimic chunks of bark.
Given the popularity of orchids more generally and the high quality of this set in particular, 10311 Orchid has proven itself to be a very impressive LEGO set. It’s an especially solid choice for anyone wanting a sophisticated, tasteful LEGO build.
Other LEGO ICONS sets
10282 Adidas Originals Superstar
10282 Adidas Originals Superstar introduced the very first large-scale, brick-built shoe to the LEGO line-up in 2021. Its source material is considerably older; it was introduced by Adidas in 1969, with the intention of enticing basketball fans at both a professional and personal level.
At the time there was a clear gap in the market for such a product: the all-canvas construction of existing shoes was leading to a lot of injuries amongst basketball players. The Adidas substitute (which used a mix of leather and rubber instead) proved very popular, and the early 1970s saw most American basketball pros embrace them. The shoe’s later adoption in the world of music and skateboarding gave the Adidas Superstar another boost, and in 2016 it became the best-selling shoe in the US.
A single Adidas Superstar is included in each copy of the set, which includes an Adidas shoebox around its standard packaging. The construction process requires some creative building techniques, demanding the use of many curved elements and ball-and-socket joints.
An unusual feature of the set is its use of a real shoelace during the building process. While LEGO has proven rather flexible over the years, this feature presumably defeated the toy’s parts library. A red LEGO brick is also placed inside the shoe while it’s being built – a reference to the notoriously painful experience of stepping on LEGO barefoot.
Once fully assembled, the shoe comes with a small display stand that allows it to be propped up at an angle. A display plaque shares some key facts about the shoe as well. Wearing the shoe may prove an issue thanks to the nature of its construction, but it you want to give it a try it’s suitable for size 7 feet in the UK.
Interestingly, a rare modified version of this set was also available. Shoe retailer Footshop sold a unique edition of the set that used additional pieces and Footshop branding on the tongue. Only 200 were ever made available.
10292 The Friends Apartments
One of the most popular LEGO Ideas sets has been 21319 Central Perk, which recreates a key location from the TV show Friends. Now that set has a companion, in the form of the 2021 set 10292 The Friends Apartments. The set recreates the apartment buildings used by Chandler, Joey, Monica and Rachel, although all six of the main cast members are included here.
The set shares some design traits with the original Friends set. These include stage lights positioned around the exterior of the set, and a particularly open design.
There’s also plenty of references to the show littered around each apartment, and a corridor to connect them. However, the different sections of the build can be easily detached from one another.
Chandler and Joey’s apartment is the smaller of the two, but there’s still plenty to enjoy. Besides obvious features like a kitchen and a lounge, the apartment includes a canoe, a mini football table and a pair of reclining seats. Various stickers and smaller accessories reference specific episodes of the TV show.
Monica and Rachel’s apartment is similarly jam-packed with furnishings and references. The kitchen here is particularly interesting, thanks to its mix of bright colours, shelving and mismatched furniture. There’s also a closet filled with junk, an extensive living area, and a small balcony for people to stand on. Two of Phoebe’s art projects can even be found here – her dollhouse, and the infamous Gladys sculpture. Fortunately, these are removable from the broader model.
Chandler, Ross, Joey, Monica, Rachel and Phoebe all receive new outfits for this set. Joey’s is a particular highlight, thanks to its many colours and layers of clothing. Janice Hosenstein can also be found in this set, with a suitably extravagant hairstyle. As such, 10292 The Friends Apartments is a must-have for any Friends fan.
10291 Queer Eye – The Fab 5 Loft
Another 2021 release, 10291 Queer Eye – The Fab 5 Loft pushes LEGO into new territory. While the form factor overlaps with other LEGO sets, the specific subject matter is very different to the ones preceding it.
Queer Eye is a reality TV show, which launched in 2018 on the Netflix streaming service. The show follows a quintet of five queer people (each of whom is an expert in a different field) who work to improve a person’s lifestyle. The show has proven very popular – with six seasons released so far – and the cast has even appeared in music videos with the likes of Lizzo and Taylor Swift.
The set depicts a large loft apartment from the show’s first two seasons, with living, dining and styling areas included. A number of fine details help to bring the set to life, with decorated elements used to depict kitchen burners, a coffee machine and sofa cushions. The fridge can even be opened up to reveal various foodstuffs.
While it’s intended more as a display piece, the set does come with one impressive play feature. The set’s dressing room can rotate, allowing you to insert two minifigures and seamlessly switch between them. A variety of extra legs, torsos, hairstyles and accessories are included if you want to mix things up a little.
Seven minifigures can be found in this set: the Fab Five themselves (which include Tan, Antoni, Karamo, Bobby and Jonathan) and two versions of ‘hero’ Kathi Dooley. As befitting such a stylish group of people, the minifigures all sport impressively-detailed outfits, with extensive printing and dual-moulding to be found here.
Despite its relatively esoteric subject matter, 10291 Queer Eye – The Fab 5 Loft is a very impressive LEGO set. Fans of the show should definitely consider this model, especially as it’s due to retire by the end of 2022.
10302 Optimus Prime
Of all the LEGO sets on this list, 10302 Optimus Prime is certainly the most unexpected. It depicts beloved Transformers leader Optimus Prime in LEGO form – even though Mattel, his creator, is traditionally a LEGO business rival. Crucially, the model can transform between robot and vehicle forms without any disassembly.
Measuring 35cm high, the beloved Autobot retains his classic red, dark blue and grey colour scheme. Autobot insignias decorate each shoulder, and he comes with a variety of different tools to fight evil. These include his ion blaster, his glowing orange energon axe and his jet pack.
Other accessories include the Matrix of Leadership – which sits inside the chest of Optimus Prime – and a pink Energon cube. This is one of the simpler builds in the set, and has relatively little play value.
The nature of the set means that articulation is a mixed bag. Optimus can move his head, bend his arms at the elbow, and swivel his hands at the wrist. Unfortunately his legs are a little stiffer, although they can rotate and bend at key points.
Still, this stiffness allows the transformation feature to be preserved. It’s pretty straightforward, although you must remove the jetpack for it to work properly. Completing the process leaves you with an iconic cab-over truck, albeit one that’s quite large alongside a minifigure.
With impressive aesthetics and excellent play value, 10302 Optimus Prime is a magnificent standalone set. Hopefully he’ll be joined by a Deception to fight in the future.