Research shows that LEGO sets are getting more complex

New research conducted in New Zealand shows that LEGO sets have become more complex over time.

Academics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand have data mined over 10,000 LEGO sets, demonstrating an increase in size and complexity over the years. Associate Professor Christoph Bartneck and Associate Professor Elena Moltchanova conducted the research.

Bartneck explained the findings to Scoop:

“Starting with a simple set of basic bricks their range of toys has increased in complexity over the years. We processed the inventories of most sets from 1955 to 2015 and our analysis showed that LEGO sets have become bigger, more colourful and more specialised.

“The ‘vocabulary’ of bricks has increased significantly resulting in sets sharing fewer bricks. The increased complexity of LEGO sets and bricks enables skilled builders to design ever more amazing models but it may also overwhelm less skilled or younger builders.”

Of course this is hardly news to LEGO fans, who have seen the number of parts increase rapidly in the 1990s, decrease again in the mid 2000s, only to gradually increase again over the past decade.

Here are some fun statistics that the research reveals:

  • Average year-on-year increase in sets and bricks – 7%
  • Average year-on-year increase in number of bricks in the largest set – 5%
  • Average year-on-year increase in number of colours – 4.4%
  • Average year-on-year increase in average number of brick types in a set – 4.1%

Sets such as 75192 Millennium Falcon and 70620 NINJAGO City are excellent example of just how big and complex LEGO sets have become, although of course these sizeable sets are the exception rather than rule, with most sets containing fewer pieces at a much lower price point.


Graham was the Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.

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