LEGO themes in the 2010s took went to a variety of places ranging from explosive races, deep sea adventures, high tech medieval battle fields to elvish fairytales, spooky castles and the shopping mall. Maximus Marriott-Smith lists his picks for the five best unlicensed themes from the period
5) LEGO Atlantis (2010-11)
The decade opened under the sea for LEGO as they kicked off the 2010s with a wet and wild adventure to the lost kingdom of Atlantis. The plot was simple – a crew of scientists were on a journey to the ruins of the ancient underwater city by collecting special Atlantean keys that could be found scattered across the sets. The crew came across many weird, wacky and wonderful beasts on the way there, as they traversed the ocean in their high-tech underwater vehicles. Amongst the sets were various submarines, ruins playsets and a host of different brick built sea creatures for the scientists to contest with. Arguably, the crown jewel in the wave was 8078 Portal of Atlantis, a brilliantly built ancient ruin esque structure, where the five keys could be put on the portal to simulate a gateway to Atlantis opening. It was a real hit with children at the time and gets a well-earned place on this list.
4) LEGO Hidden Side (2019-20)
The close of the decade saw LEGO Hidden Side introduced, with its AR feature a huge player as it’s Unique Selling Point. There was a number of interesting, well put together and incredibly detailed sets, all offering good value. An intriguing story also supported the theme, in which two characters named Jack and Parker go ghost hunting every night, alongside Jack’s dog, Spencer, who is a ghost. The trio head to creepy locations, such as graveyards, a school and an abandoned subway station. The sets themselves included some awesome hidden play features involving hidden ‘spooky elements’ that would pop up, tying the set in with its scary theme. Not only this, but the sets had possibly the coolest box art yet, with a unique art style featuring prominently on the front of the box. The AR app for Hidden Side was a standout experience for kids, as it revealed awesome secrets within the sets, whilst also giving them an extra play feature to mess around with.
3) LEGO Ultra Agents (2014–2015)
The follow up to 2008’s LEGO Agents, Ultra Agents, earns a richly deserved third spot on our list, owing to it’s incredible and effortlessly sleek builds, as well as pioneering some of the AR Features we see have seen since. As a huge Agents fan myself, I was beside myself when I discovered we would be getting an Ultra Agents line. One thing is for certain, it definitely didn’t disappoint; the vehicles were incredible, the range of imagination and depth of detail that went into the figures and their backstories was unbelievable for the time, whilst the app features finished off the cake with a cherry on top. The app involved a storyline in which the player was made an agent and had to complete various missions relating to each set. The second and third wave of sets, released in 2015, also included revolutionary ‘app-bricks’, which could be built into specific models and used on the app as scanners to find hidden items through missions, as well as unlocking secret build instructions for the respective sets and set specific minigames. A revolutionary theme from the LEGO Group and one that many will feel was cut short way too soon.
2) LEGO NINJAGO (2011–)
When NINJAGO was announced in 2010, many people looked back to the classic appearance of Ninjas in the Castle theme. No one expected it to become the phenomenon that it is now, with 14 animated television seasons, one theatrically released movie and hundreds of sets. NINJAGO has become a household name; a tremendous feat for a theme that was only intended for a three-year shelf life. Originally kicking off in 2011 with the uniquely designed and revolutionary Spinjitzu spinners, the series released alongside the theme earned a cult following and captured the minds of children everywhere, who have since grown up with the ongoing storyline. The line has also spawned its own film, in a similar vein to The LEGO Batman Movie. The LEGO Ninjago Movie was released in 2017 and grossed $123 million worldwide. Hundreds of sets have been released, including the crown jewel of the theme and arguably one of the best LEGO sets to have been released – the immensely detailed NINJAGO City.
1) LEGO Friends (2012–)
A theme that was met with ire and controversy has since received thunderous applause. LEGO Friends was met with scepticism upon its reveal, with an outcry from some activist groups and frustration from adult fans who wanted minifigures. However, since its release LEGO Friends has been defiant in the face of that scepticism and is loved and adored by fans around the world. It has been a huge component in the LEGO Group’s rise to the top of the toy market and the mini-doll figurines have proven to be a great success with children. There have been some awesome sets in the line, particularly the Heartlake City Shopping Mall. Having the five core friends to relate to in sets featuring everyday life is why it has been so successful and earned the gold medal on our list.