Fourteen years ago, the famous Lego brand introduced a 69-piece set modeled after the Sears Tower in Chicago. It was small but sleek, targeted at ages 10 and up. This seemingly small set became the inspiration for the Lego Architecture series, which now has over 30 available sets for consumers. Although Lego has upped its game, graduating from 69 pieces to over 9,000, the spirit of the original Sears Tower remains. The Architecture series successfully captured some of the world’s most jaw-dropping landmarks, adding a new sense of realism to the toys. After all, what’s a better introduction to your mini Lego city than a real-world structure?
What Is Lego Architecture?
The Architecture series offers tons of options for sets, bringing in masterful pieces of architecture from all over the world. Some famous locations the sets are modeled after are the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Empire State Building, The White House, The United Nations, The Great Wall of China and so many more. Each set is beautifully sleek and well designed, even going as far as adding interior designs to each set.
Over the years, I’ve completed four different sets: The United Nations Headquarters, the White House (a smaller set than the recently remodeled version, unfortunately), Sungnyemun and Trafalgar Square. I received the Trafalgar Square set for Christmas, which retires soon, so get it while supplies last. The model had many intricate details that made it fun to build. For example, there are removable doors and walls behind the model that open up to different rooms with quaint sets of furniture. The model feels personable and authentic, taking the fantasy realm of Legos and bringing it closer to reality.
The big downfall for these sets is their availability. For starters, the best selection is online. This is mostly due to Lego retiring certain models that have become outdated. It makes sense, as the first models were released in 2008, but losing access to certain models is extremely disappointing. Awesome sets like The Brandenburg Gate, The Sydney Opera House and Fallingwater are no longer in production but are still available in some places for purchase.
Surprisingly enough, the Lego website is one of the worst places to buy architecture sets, from both a financial and diversity standpoint. Their prices are far higher than Amazon’s or Brick Owl’s and Lego also offers far fewer sets than its counterparts. Plus, most of the models are out of stock, so good luck ordering them anyway.
The coolest sets are pricey — not just relative to other Lego sets, but in general. Spending $100 is never a small feat, so getting access to these sets can be tricky. Of course, there are a few landmarks that haven’t made the Architecture series. For example, I would love to see Mount Rushmore replicated as a Lego set. The complex design and intricate details would make for a difficult but rewarding project. It would probably cost hundreds of dollars, but it’s a fair price to pay.
Rival Lego Set Themes
Unfortunately, there are other themes that compete with the Architecture series’s intricate style, providing yet another downside to the series. Lego claims its Creator Expert series is the “ultimate Lego building challenge” that provides hours of entertainment. The series has modular houses, TV show replicas, vehicles and more.
The Creator Expert series offers a different kind of architecture, bringing sports into the mix. My personal favorite swings between the Manchester United’s stadium, Old Trafford, and a replica of James Bond’s Aston Martin. The series also has a “Fab Five Loft” set, bringing the beloved and popular show “Queer Eye” to Lego collections. I’m a sucker for recreating real-life structures, especially those relevant in pop culture, so this theme definitely rivals the Architecture series.
All of them are rather pricey ($300, $150 and $100) on the Lego website, but it’s possible to find both the Creator Expert and Architecture sets on different platforms. Of course, Amazon is a fine place to look, but sometimes their options are limited. Brick Owl offers various retired Lego Architecture sets that are no longer offered on Lego’s official site.
Architecture’s Shining Points
Despite my critiques, the Lego Architecture series is still one of my favorites. The challenge it presents is generally higher than other Lego series, making each set a time-consuming project. Legos are also commonly advertised to a younger audience, so having some sets targeted to adults is definitely a win. In fact, Lego even has an “adults welcome” page on their website, inviting adults to “unbox and unwind” with their “premium Lego sets.” Broadening their target demographic is definitely a good move because I know too many people who love constructing monstrous sets like the retired Lego Death Star.
Another striking point of the Architecture series is its difficulty. While the original sets released in 2008 were a depressing 60 to 100 pieces, consumers now have access to many difficulty levels. The largest set is at a whopping 9,036 pieces, adding up to create a beautiful and sizable replica of the Roman Colosseum. Comparing such an intimidating project to the original model is almost humorous, especially considering how fast the 2008 models could be finished.
My favorite part of building Legos is amassing a mighty collection of different sets and projects. This isn’t easy financially, but feasting your eyes on an entire room of mini cities and landmarks is worth it. Collecting the whole Architecture series would take a lot of time since some of the best models are retired. As mentioned earlier, Brick Owl is a great place to find tons of these sets, even the retired ones. They also have thousands of other Lego sets with all kinds of different themes. I cannot speak for the quality of the sets they’re offering or the reliability of their website, so proceed with some caution.
Lego Architecture’s Future
While its future is still undetermined, the Architecture series is far from being discontinued. There recently has been some stir about a revelation regarding the theme’s packaging coming up in the new year. Ever since the Singapore skyline set, consumers now have even cooler designs and models to look forward to. Whatever Lego decides, they’ve earned my trust at this point. If their sets retain the same sense of difficulty and realism, it’s easy to imagine 2022 as a revolutionary year for the Lego Architecture series.