Daniel Konstanski thinks about how to answer the almost impossible question – what is your all-time favourite LEGO set?
I had the pleasure of briefly participating in the 2019 Beyond the Brick 24-hour livestream to raise money for charity. Despite definitely feeling a bit old, it was an awesome couple of hours just shooting the breeze about all things LEGO with the other folks online at the time. Over the course of the hours my friend Boone, one of their regular contributors and an all-around great guy, posed the question of what people’s favourite sets were. It was a nostalgia-loaded question that immediately took me back to a time in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I was right in the heart of the LEGO Group’s target demographic.
However, what was most fascinating was to hear the different ways that participants answered the question. Some went for the set they found most impressive within the product portfolio whether they owned it or not. Others chose based on the set they thought was the coolest in their personal collections. Finally, there were a few folks like me who made selections based on what they played with most back during their younger days. Those different modes got me thinking after logging off what set would fall into each of those categories for me.
Playtime is the easiest for me, as two sets rise head and shoulders above the rest. As a passionate lover of Space and Aquazone as a kid, Ice Station Odyssey from the Ice Planet faction and the Neptune Discovery Lab from the original Aquazone line outrank all other childhood sets by a fair margin. Procured right at the beginning of my prime ‘play with LEGO’ years, these sets were the flagships of untold hours of happy play.
This column first appeared in Blocks magazine Issue 52. If you take out a subscription to Blocks, the LEGO magazine for fans, you’ll get a free digital subscription that includes every single issue we’ve every published thrown in. Find out more here.
I can still remember in vivid detail getting both of those models; I was so happy it felt like an out of body experience, one a gift from my grandma and another my mum and dad at Christmas. Many sets have been added to the collection since, but none will ever touch the number of hours logged beneath the depths of the sea and freezing on a distant world.
As regular readers know, my personal collection scores at what could arguably be labelled an obsessively unhealthy level by a therapist. Incorrect diagnoses aside, it does make choosing the coolest set I own a bit more challenging. The Bugatti Chiron, NINJAGO City, Imperial Flagship, Ghostbusters HQ, Medieval Market Village, and any of several modular buildings all vie valiantly for the title. However, there is a set that, while much older, defies them all for me.
If my house was burning down and I could only save one set it would be the original pirate ship Black Seas Barracuda. Despite my enduring love of all things LEGO Pirates, I did not have this nor any other pirate ship as a kid. My mum, wonderful in so many other ways, felt that playing pirates, a group not exactly known for their moral stature, was inappropriate. I pined for every single pirate ship that came out during my childhood under that regulation.
Bless her, my mum remembered and upon the Black Seas Barracuda being re-released during the early 2000s, she ultimately relented and sent it to me as a birthday present while I was at college. I have since gone on to acquire at least one copy of every pirate ship produced by the LEGO Group and a 1989 vintage copy of the Barracuda. That armada is my favourite slice of the expansive collection of bricks that now resides in the basement.
Having the option to expand beyond my own collection and consider the entire product line doesn’t make for an easier task in selecting a favourite. There have been some real landmark offerings through the years, such as the first Technic Super Car from the mid ‘90s, any number of definitive sets like the Launch and Load Seaport, which was the first System set over 1,000 pieces, or some of the amazing set over 1,000 pieces, or some of the amazing Star Wars models of the last two decades, which count multiple grand offerings such as the Super Star Destroyer in their ranks.
However, I just can’t ignore the awe-inspiring $800 model sitting in my office at work. The most recent UCS Falcon is truly a masterpiece that will likely remain unchallenged for years in terms of being the ultimate LEGO set. By sheer size and complexity, I have to give that one the title. The LEGO Group has truly been on a roll in the last couple years, releasing some sets for the ages. I look forward to seeing how this list will change, if at all, over the next 10 years.