Through the decades, LEGO has inspired the creativity and ingenuity of children and adults across the world. Even before they patented their revolutionary binding bricks in 1958, they dedicated themselves to innovative play. As their bricks gained popularity, LEGO saw that their fans embraced the endless possibilities that these bricks provided. Sculptors and engineers alike have used these bricks to create giant, unique builds. Due to the impressive scale of these builds, locations like Walt Disney World and others prominently display them.
However, every builder must begin somewhere since not everyone knows how to optimally use these bricks. So, LEGO began releasing sets with instructions in 1963, starting with simple structures like houses. Over the decades, these sets have expanded in scope, providing builds with over ten thousand pieces. These sets have welcomed both experienced and new builders to the scene. Thus, anyone can create an impressive AT-AT or beautiful city skyline using these plastic bricks.
As LEGO has moved through the decades, they improved and added to the brick systems. However, the standard LEGO brick holds the same principles and integrity that it had in the 1950s. Sets from the 1970s still offer as many possibilities as those from 2021.
So, join us as we celebrate the greatest of LEGO’s packaged sets.
Presenting the Top Ten sets of LEGO Brick Systems
10. 6155 Deep Sea Predator (1995)
In 1995, LEGO decided to explore the deep sea when they introduced the Aquazone theme to their line-up. From the start, the Aquanaut miners protected their resources from the vile forces of the Aquasharks. While the Aquanaut equipment and ships resembled discovery subs, the Aquasharks created wicked ships that resembled ferocious beasts from the depths, like sharks. Moreover, the Aquasharks tended to use dark colors in their subs and other builds.
Among some of the first sets for the line, the Deep Sea Predator threatened the resources of the Aquanauts. This build came with a single minifigure, a standard Aquashark who wore a black diving suit. It also came with a grey shark who could swim beside the sub. Finally, the set included the parts to create a container to place resources in.
Meanwhile, the ship itself had two harpoons along with a set of claw arms. As both the container and the left claw featured a magnet, the ship could pull up the container with the magnets. With a simple flip of the backside, the secret loading compartment would open. Thus, the sub could hold the container within its storage unit.
9. 6769 Fort LEGOREDO (1996)
LEGO turned its attention to America’s old west from 1996 to 1997. In this theme, the calvary soldiers and cowboys faced off against the rowdy outlaws in the west. Meanwhile, the theme also included several sets with stereotypical depictions of natives, including teepees and feathered headdresses. For the first time, LEGO minifigures wielded miniature versions of firearms like revolvers and rifles. Keeping with the theme, many of the sets also included horses and wagons.
When it came to creating the ultimate western fort, no set provided better defenses than Fort LEGOREDO. This set was one of the largest in the Western theme, and its popularity earned it a rerelease in 2002. To assemble this fort, builders built four separate sections on disconnected plates. Thus, the fort could be customized from the get-go by rearranging these four plates.
One section featured the large front gates to the fort along with the calvary flag. Meanwhile, another section had a smaller gate and a watchtower area with another flag. The third section featured jail cells under a lounging area for the headquarters. Then, the final section was little more than just a wall.
Meanwhile, the set included a broad range of minifigures and horses. There was a black, brown, and white horse available for the minifigures to ride. The horses could also pull a cart which also connected to a rolling cannon. Meanwhile, the minifigures mostly featured calvary individuals. Aside from the calvary, there were also three bandits and a cowboy.
8. 6396 International Jetport (1990)
As LEGO expanded their Town theme, they took the skies in 1985 with the Town Airport sets. Most of these builds featured lone vehicles like helicopters and even space shuttles. However, the larger sets actually featured airports, as the theme’s name suggested.
One of the most impressive airport sets came out in 1990 when LEGO created the International Jetport. The set featured a single airport building, with a prominent control tower. The building took full advantage of LEGO’s translucent plastic bricks to give the building an open feeling with a large window near the metal detector and check-in. The clear plastic also gave the control tower a full view of the airport.
Aside from the building, the set came with several vehicles. First, there was a two-part baggage cart, which was important for keeping an airport functional. Then, there was a yellow helicopter. However, the most important vehicle was the large jet plane that could seat up to three passengers and a captain. The plane even had a small baggage compartment.
This set also came with eight minifigures. While most of the minifigures were airport staff such as airline and helicopter pilots, there were also two passengers and a police officer.
7. 5571 Giant Truck (1996)
In 1986, LEGO started creating sets with the adult builder in mind. Thus, they introduced the Model Team theme which featured large-scale models of vehicles with an emphasis on realism. These builds even all featured license plates which would begin with either MT or MC.
Out of all these sets, one of the largest builds from the Model Team was the 5571 Giant Truck that came out in 1996. While the truck did not specify which vehicle it replicated, it resembled the stereotypical big rig truck for the 1990s. This vehicle even had a large bench behind the front cab with windows, where the driver could sleep.
This truck was black with red striping, giving it a sharp appearance. In total, this set included 1743 pieces, making it one of the largest builds for the time.
6. 6598 Metro PD Station (1996)
While the town and city themes were among the first that LEGO introduced, they continued to expand upon these themes to keep them fresh. Around 1991, the first Town Rescue sets, featuring coast guards, firefighters, and police, began popping up on store shelves. While Town did feature police and firefighters before this time, the Rescue subseries focused exclusively on these groups.
In 1996, LEGO released the Metro PD Station within its Town Rescue theme. This huge set contained several smaller builds, such as the police station. Then, there was a small island that featured a lone prison cell. Both sections featured networking technology like radars and satellite dishes.
The set also included a range of vehicles. First, it had two police motorcycles. Then, it had a prisoner transport van. The police could also chase down criminals on the water with the police jetboat. Finally, the police could also ride on their helicopter to chase down criminals.
This set would be barren without any minifigures, so there was a wide range of characters with this set. Most of these characters were variants of police officers, like motorcycle and boat officers. However, one character stood out amongst the pack, aside from the shark. The last figure was Jailbreak Joe, who could always try to live up to his name.
5. 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer (2002)
By 2002, LEGO fully embraced the Star Wars theme and began creating sets not only for the prequels but for the original series as well. Thus, they introduced one of their largest builds to date, the Imperial Star Destroyer, to the line. Like the Star Destroyers from the films, this ship would dwarf the other starfighters like X-Wings and Tie Fighters.
To display this massive build, the Star Destroyer came with a stand, that owners build with LEGO bricks. However, once built, this stand easily supported the over 37-inch-long Star Destroyer. Additionally, the set included a small Rebel Blockade Runner, like the one that Princess Leia rode on in the opening of Episode IV: A New Hope. Thus, owners of this set could recreate the opening moments of Star Wars with these two vehicles.
While this set did not include any minifigures, the massive scope of the build made it well worth the price. In general, the build could take even experienced builders up to eight hours to put together. Adding to the traditional building techniques, this build required magnets to secure the plates.
Despite the difficulty of the build, both LEGO and Star Wars fans would be remiss without this set in their collection. Even though LEGO has produced several Star Destroyers over the years, some with more modern techniques, this set remains impressive. It also was the first LEGO build that officially required over three thousand pieces.
4. 6285 Black Seas Barracuda (1989)
LEGO decided to set sail onto the Seas filled with Pirates in 1989, featuring the aesthetics of the Caribbean from the late 1800s. Following the Caribbean theme, the sets pitted pirates against the forces of the colonial forces, especially the British. This theme has remained one of the most popular themes since it first debuted.
One of the most impressive builds that ever appeared in the Pirates themes was the Black Seas Barracuda that debuted in 1989. This huge build had 909 pieces, which was impressive for the time. Moreover, this ship featured LEGO-stylized plastic sails, which are often the part that collectors need to inspect when buying a used set. Otherwise, the clips for the skull and crossbones flags tend to break. The ship featured many string-controlled gimmicks, including an anchor and winch.
This ship features four cannons that roll back and forth and look out of covered holes. There were also four small, latch-covered cargo holds. The original release of this ship featured cannons that could fire cannon pegs. However, later versions of this set removed the firing option due to safety concerns.
This ship came with a variety of weapons and accessories, including muskets and cutlasses. There were also several storage barrels that owners could set up around the deck. The ship also came with a small raft for traveling to and from shore. Then, eight pirate minifigures could man the ship, including the captain.
3. 358 Rocket Base (1973)
As one of the first themes that LEGO ever produced, Space holds a special place in LEGO history. LEGO began creating space-themed sets in 1978, featuring both science fiction ships and ones grounded in reality. Moreover, Space was the first theme to feature an official minifigure, the astronaut. Thus, Space is one of the core themes for LEGO’s building sets.
Years before the Space theme officially began, LEGO already was experimenting with creating space-themed sets. In 1973, they created a Rocket Base that resembled the real-life launchpads that NASA uses. Since this set came out before LEGO began producing minifigures, the set did not include any nor was the build set with them in mind. Thus, Minifigures would not fit inside of the vehicle nor the security hut for the set.
Aside from the launch pad, the set featured a large white rocket, which resembled the apollo rockets that were NASA launched during that era. When the rocket is on the launchpad, the platform it connects to allows the rocket to slide back and forth. Moreover, the set includes a white transport vehicle.
2. 6082 Fire Breathing Fortress (1993)
Another one of LEGO’s core themes spawned out of 1978, the Castle theme. Since its debut, fans have latched onto the medieval feel that the castle theme has provided. As the years passed, the Castle theme began gaining subthemes of its own. Thus, LEGO added the taste of fantasy that had been missing from the castles with the debut of the Dragon Masters in 1993.
Fully embracing the dragon theme, LEGO produced the Fire Breathing Fortress, Castle Carreg in the UK. This set featured a small fortress with draconic features, especially over the front doors. Unlike most sets, the base for this castle was not a flat plate. Instead, it came with a special hill-like plate that featured slopes and a pit in the center. Thus, the castle structure could only be built from certain points on the base.
While the fortress featured draconic features, the building also had a gate that would trap the dragon inside. Thus, the castle was not necessarily a friendly home for the dragon. In addition to the dragon, the set came with six minifigures, including a wizard and a dragon knight. There was also a horse that could don armor to become the knight’s steed.
1. 71374 Nintendo Entertainment System (2020)
In the decades since LEGO first introduced their automatic binding bricks, their fans have grown and become more skilled. Thus, LEGO has expanded its line-up to develop complex and challenging builds for their fans, both young and old. Moreover, their technic bricks have opened their builds to include fascinating feats of engineering.
All of this culminated together when LEGO created the Nintendo Entertainment System build in 2020. While they could have possibly left the build as just the boxy system, controller, and cartridge, they took it to another level. The build also included a television that harkened back to the 1980s. Within this television was a complex scrolling system that would allow owners to crank the set and watch Mario go through a LEGO version of 1-1.
To achieve this feat, Mario mounted onto a clear peg with a round plastic spacer. When the level activated the mechanisms in the set, the background would rotate clockwise. Since the background had raised bricks, Mario would appear to jump thanks to the spacer moving along the guides in the background.
Few other sets have shown off the massive leaps in engineering that LEGO has gone through over the decades. While there have been many that can bend, twist, and even twirl, no others have made it look like you are watching a video game.
What were your favorite LEGO System Sets?
Throughout the decades, LEGO has created hundreds of various builds and sets. So, narrowing it down to a list of only ten sets was a challenging task. Each of these sets represented the greatest aspects of LEGO’s various themes and advancements.
Still, we would love to hear from you. What were your favorite LEGO builds? Let us know in the comments below.
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Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!