Here at Blocks, the LEGO magazine for fans, it won’t surprise you that we review LEGO sets every month. Our reviews are there to help you choose your next LEGO purchase. Not only do we talk about the merits and faults in each model, we score them out of 100. It’s a quick, fair way of comparing reviews – just look at the numbers. If one set scores higher than another, then that’s the better set, right? So, how do we decide the scores? What earns a set marks, and what causes it to lose marks? And what do the scores not always reveal?
When reviewing any LEGO set, Blocks contributors are objective. No matter how much the writer loves a particular theme, they take that into account so the review isn’t biased. Every set has to be judged on its own merits, with the theme it is part of taken into consideration.
One thing that we look for is based upon the purpose of the set. For example, in a Friends model we would be looking at not just how it displays, but also how engaging the finished model is for role-play and if there are any interesting working mechanisms. Meanwhile, a set like the recently released 10295 Porsche 911 would be judged for accuracy to the actual car, what unique building techniques are used and whether it is an excellent display model.
Sets that score somewhere between 50 and 70 are the everyday LEGO sets that are good, fun models, but not something exceptional. Because the LEGO Group does such extensive market testing, most sets have already had the kinks ironed out before release, so there’s not a great many sets that score lower than 50.
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Then come the sets that score below this, sometimes only scraping a score just over 20. Our current lowest ever score is 15 for 75201 First Order AT-ST in Issue 43. It was a LEGO turkey on legs and is clearly not one we recommended. What’s wrong with a set for it to score so low? Billund has incredible designers, but they’re not infallible. Sometimes a set might be too delicate to withstand play, a mechanism doesn’t work well or the price is just ridiculous.
On a more positive note, other sets just blow us away. Any LEGO set that scores between 80 – 100 is very good. We get right down into the nitty gritty when deciding scores in the 90s, where the smallest details could mean the difference between a 97 or 98. At the moment only two LEGO sets have scored the coveted Blocks 100. They are 10265 Ford Mustang and 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay, as they offer that top level building experience that is engaging throughout and offers perfect display models.
Ultimately though, the scores don’t tell anywhere near the whole story. You won’t know whether a set’s that has scored 70 is an 80 that’s overpriced or a 60 with excellent minifigures unless you read the full review. To get the complete, nuanced picture, we strongly recommending reading the full analysis rather than taking the score as the whole story.