Another year of LEGO is now one for the history books. While we’re gearing up to start covering all of the new creations come 2022, beforehand we’re taking a retrospective look at what this year already delivered. Ranging from new creations that take the throne of largest set to authentic recreations of both historic and cinematic marbles, you’ll want to head below for our best LEGO sets of 2021.
Best LEGO sets released in 2021
Just like every other industry, 2021 has been a bit of a unique year for LEGO. Stock shortages made getting some of the more eye-catching creations a bit more difficult than usual, but that didn’t stop the LEGO Group from releasing some of its best builds yet. Dominated by more adult-focused kits than ever that all fight for space up on display to downsized versions of classic Star Wars starfighters and more, there’s quite a collection of notable releases.
If there was a single takeaway from the LEGO landscape in 2021, it would be that compiling a top ten list like this is even harder than previous years. It may seem like déjà vu from last year’s list, but the LEGO Group has really stepped up its offerings this year. Though before the new year starts and we go hands-on with all of the upcoming kits, we’re checking out the best LEGO kits that first hit store shelves in 2020.
Starting things off for 2021, we arguably have the most contentious LEGO Star Wars set of the year. Voted to be a UCS set by fans, the Republic Gunship stands out as the first collectible Clone Wars set in quite some time. Even with a notable accolade under its belt, the set had a rough start thanks to launching with comments from the build’s designer dissing LEGO fans alongside failing to include the fan-favorite mini-figure, Jedi Bob.
But as far as the actual model goes, there is certainly a lot to like. The designer nailed the look of the ship and managed to deliver a sleek design that still is undoubtedly LEGO. It’s just a shame that the LEGO Group had to stifle this one out of the gate.
One of the other big trends in the LEGO world for 2021 was seeing the introduction of even more iconic sitcoms into the collection. What started with a FRIENDS set has now branched out into other popular series, but none of these debuts is quite as eye-catching as the first ever kit based off of the famous show about nothing, Seinfeld.
As one of the latest LEGO Ideas sets, Jerry’s Apartment finally released this year to deliver the whole gang of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer in glorious brick-built form. Not only was the set packed with so many references to the series, but really nailed the recreation of the instantly-recognizable apartment.
8. Bonsai Tree
Alongside the launch of some other new themes, 2021 also saw the LEGO Group introduce its Botanical Garden collection. Debuting with two sets back in January, the lineup was an instant success. Of the two, the LEGO Bonsai Tree was easily one of this year’s most sought after kits. After all, it was sold out for almost the entirety of the first six months after first hitting store shelves.
In our hands-on review, we found that even with all of the hype and hard to find status that came with it, the Bonsai Tree was still deserving of all the praise. And now that this build is no longer in short supply, it’s one set that’s easily worth the recommendation.
7. Ninjago City Gardens
Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of one of LEGO’s more beloved themes, 2021 saw a new wave of Ninjago sets hit store shelves. Personally, I have a soft spot for the lineup, and the Ninjago City Gardens from earlier in the year delivered everything that I love about the theme. Putting all 5,685 pieces to good use, this unique set is like nothing else in the LEGO catalog and wonderfully expands the spawling Ninjago City lineup with a bustling 4-story building.
And with rumors that a new addition to the lineup will be debuting early next year, the Ninjago City Gardens is certainly deserving of its spot as one of the best LEGO sets for 2021.
Ultra-collectible starships have long been Star Wars’ shtick, but 2021 saw Marvel get in on the action. As the flagship release from this summer’s LEGO Infinity Saga lineup, the Guardians’ Ship (AKA the Benatar) blew us away in our initial hands-on review. Effectively a UCS set on a smaller scale, the build delivered everything we could have hoped for from the set with some notable minifigures to boot.
Cracking the top five sets of the year, we have yet another notable LEGO Marvel set to highlight. Back when it first arrived earlier this summer, it was inevitable that a build as striking as this would end up as being one of the best LEGO sets of the year. Alongside just replicating the most influential relic from the MCU as of now, the Infinity Gauntlet leveraged some unique chromed gold pieces in order to really sell the look.
The execution wasn’t flawless, though it still delivered quite an enticing creations for Marvel fans to put up on display. You can of course read all about what to expect in our hands-on review as well.
Continuing the long-running partnership with NASA, 2021 also saw the latest space exploration-themed LEGO set debut. Delivering the most detailed version of the Space Shuttle Discovery yet, this release is easily one of the best debuts this year just on subject matter alone. But if that wasn’t enough, the kit’s 2,354 included pieces ultimately deliver quite the display-worthy model that measures over 21 inches long.
Complete with a display stand and a brick-built version of the Hubble Telescope, the LEGO Group really went the extra mile for this build, though my favorite aspect of it has to be the miniature cockpit that still manages to pack in some notable details.
3. Daily Bugle
While 2021 was a big year for the LEGO Marvel theme with the first wave of collectible minifigures themed around the Disney+ series, it’s one of the more classic heroes that claimed the spotlight for us. Marking the largest Marvel set of the year, the Daily Bugle surprised comic book fans and builders alike. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, the 3,772-piece set delivered just about everything you could want from a LEGO set.
Not only does it have quite the presence up on display with four stories of detailed interiors, but the LEGO Group also padded the set with so many iconic faces from Spider-Man’s tenure swinging around New York. Ranging from his most fearsome villains like the Green Goblin and Doc Ock to other Spider-Heroes like Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen, this set is a love letter to everyone’s favorite web-slinger.
I also might be just a bit biased picking this as a top three set of 2021 after seeing “No Way Home”.
Clocking in as our runner up, the Creator Expert Titanic that launched earlier this fall certainly deserves its spot as the second best LEGO set of 2021. With the title of largest set to date under its belt (sorry World Map, we’re not counting the over 11,000 one-by-one studs as being worthy of largest set status).
As one of the most accurate brick-built recreations from the LEGO Group to date, the Titanic impresses by making the most of its 9,090 pieces. From authentic recreations of the interior revealed by a detailed cross section to an eye-catching exterior that looks perfect on display. The only real problem is just how absolutely massive of a set the Titanic is.
Earning our top spot this year for best LEGO set, we have none other than the UCS AT-AT. It’s honestly not much of a surprise considering just how eye-catching of a build this is after all – our full review will be dropping at the end of the week to cap off the year. But in the meantime, here’s a quick rundown on just why the largest Star Wars set of the year sits on the throne of 2021 sets, flaws and all.
Looking ahead to 2022
Ahead of the new year, don’t forget to check out all of the sets that’ll be retiring at the end of 2021. Not to mention, all of the upcoming creations due out in 2022. Of course, let us know in the comments which set was your favorite this year.
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