Holiday Gift Guide day 5: $100-$150

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Day 5 of our Gift Guide, and I'll be taking a look at sets in the $100-$150 price bracket. Despite the strain most of us feel on our wallets, especially around this time of year, LEGO don't actually release that many sets in this price bracket so the choice is more limited. Any child or adult can consider themselves very lucky to find a set that costs this much under the tree.

We are firmly in main present territory here, and possibly even Christmas and birthday territory! As an aside, the trick to negotiating a good Christmas and birthday deal with your parents is to ensure that there is a large enough gap between Christmas and said birthday so that they've forgotten all about the deal by the time your birthday comes around :-)

So without further ado:

For Children: 9450: Epic Dragon Battle (US$120, £90)

In my opinion. there isn't much competition in this price range for children. 9474 - Battle of Helm's Deep, whilst a good set is I think more appealing to adults than children, and some of the larger Star Wars sets just don't deliver on value for money (e.g. 9515 - Malevolence and 9516 - Jabba's Palace).

For my money, the choice is an obvious one and that's Epic Dragon Battle. I think we're all aware what a great success the Ninjago theme has been, a lackluster (but well received by kids) first wave was followed by some great sets in the second wave that were well received by many.

This set depicts the final battle between the Great Devourer and the Ultra Dragon that takes place at the end of season 2 of the cartoon series. The Ultra Dragon is actually a combination of the Fire, Earth, Ice and Lightning dragons that were released in wave one and were easily the stand-out sets from that wave. For those that haven't seen the cartoon, this set is actually a massive spoiler to what takes place the final showdown of season 2!

Plenty of minifigs are backed up with the huge snake, a massive dragon and a smaller building that will provide hours of fun for a child whilst they recreate the final showdown. I do have some concerns over how the dragon will stand up to vigorous play, if it's anything like my son's Earth Defence Dragon, it may require a fair bit of patching up after each session, but that aside, I have little hesitation in recommending this set for children. This set has seen significant discounts in the UK, including at Amazon where it is currently available for £49 which is a stone cold bargain. In contrast, it is currently out of stock at LEGO Shop@Home in the US, but it can still be ordered and has an outside chance of being delivered before Christmas.

 

For adults: 10220: Volkswagen T1 Camper Van (US$120, £80)

My choice for adults was actually my set of the year for 2011. I loved it when I first saw it, I loved it when I built it, and I still love it every time I walk past it. I'm fairly certain this set will remain on display in my house until the day I die.

The VW T1 Camper Van's only real competition in this price bracket came from the 10223 - Kingdoms Joust which lost points because it really sits somewhere between a play set and a display piece and doesn't quite nail either in my opinion.

The T1 Camper Van on the other hand is firmly in the display piece category and what a display it makes. It has great crossover appeal outside of the normal AFOL channels, a fact brought home to me just yesterday when a large LEGO box turned up in the office and shockingly, it wasn't for me! A work colleague had bought it for his son's Christmas present and I know for a fact he isn't into LEGO (yet!).

What really sets the T1 apart for me is the interior detailing, it's almost like building one of the modulars, you get all the fun little features of the inside of a building, but it's contained within one of the most iconic and classic vehicles that has ever graced our roads.

This set is a LEGO Exclusive and is currently available at LEGO Shop@Home in the US for immediate dispatch. In the UK it is on back order until the 28th Dec but you can still order and they will fulfill the order as soon as they can.

As if I need to ask, but let me know if I chose wisely or poorly in the comments, what would you have chosen in this price bracket?

20 comments on this article

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By in United States,

I love that van...

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By in United Kingdom,

The T1 is a good build. I really enjoyed putting it together, particularly the interior. Although I'd spend this sort of money on the medieval market village, it'll be gone next Xmas and is one the best sets out IMO.

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By in United States,

At first I was skeptical of the choice; but then I read your review and I am solidly behind your decision. I will however say it is a funny thought that you mentioned Kingdom's Joust. I just recently picked up my second one to eventually make the "complete" build that LEGO intended. Mine is purely for display only and I see where you are coming from with it being right between the two facets. I just hope Kingdom's Joust doesn't loose any appeal or get the wrong name. It quite honestly is one of the top sets the last couple of years...period.

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By in United Kingdom,

The T1 will be under the tree for me from my lovely husband I can't wait! My daughter is getting vampire castle so guess how we'll spending boxing day

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By in United States,

I agree the VW T1 Camper is a fine choice. However, I also think the Sopwith Camel is a fine choice in this price range for AFOLs. Or does it not qualify because it is technically $99.99? If that's the case then the VW is the right choice.

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By in United Kingdom,

Epic Dragon Battle is now available Under £50 at Argos and Amazon etc.
I recently built mine (yesterday) and I am definitely thinking about buying another. :)
I can recommend this set for any Lego fan.

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By in Sweden,

I'd say the only thing that goes against the Volkswagen bus is the fact that it's atypical of 99% of all other LEGO sets. As beautiful as it is, it's not necessarily something that might get someone interested in "regular" LEGO, whereas sets like Kingdoms Joust, the Winter Village Cottage, etc. are a bit more representative of that. If that makes sense.

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By in United States,

So I get that the Ninjago set is based on a big battle from the tv show, but what about it makes a good set? Can you say more about the set itself concerning unique pieces? I'm not really interested in the show, though I get it's important to mention.

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By in Pakistan,

I think T1 camper is surely one of the best and cutest sets of the year , however i do think that the Sopwith Camel will take it head on . It is surely the best plane model Lego has ever done , the size , the functionality, the color scheme and the bricks and as much as i love the Camper , i think i would give the Sopwith a point over the Camper as the best of 2012...... But i can't complain about atkinsars pick at all.

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By in Norway,

I got this VW camper as a gift for my 30-ties. We actually bought it in Legoland Denmark. This is simply a great model. I have it on display in the bookshelf and I can tell you, it gets alot of attention form all the visitors.

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By in United Kingdom,

VW..."In the UK it is on back order until the 28th Dec" ...it is showing as Available Now for me.

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By in United States,

I still don't see how you didn't like the first wave of Ninjago, those were some of the best sets they've made for the line!! In my opinion, at least...

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By in New Zealand,

Great choices Andy, I'd forgotten about that van, it came out so long ago!

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By in Australia,

Children would like the Vampyre Castle - despite some of the gruesome parts of the set. There is 948 pieces - a good deal, here at only $119 in good reatilers - whereas Epic Dragon Battle has less pieces and costs $200.

Vampyre castle is the way to go for Christmas.

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By in United Kingdom,

i knew these would be in here somewhere. having both of these they are really good.

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By in United States,

I can support both of these choices. Epic Dragon Battle is indeed an incredible set with lots of play value. And the Volkswagen Camper Van really stands out as a brilliantly effective design.

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By in United Kingdom,

I love my Camper but as I had it last year I think the Sopwith is just ahead of it for display model set as I love mine and was a really good build but that aside the camper is a very good pick.
Cant comment on the Ninjago set as I dont collect or build them.

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By in Canada,

I just ordered the Epic Dragon in Canada...given that the SHIPPED price was £3 LESS than the sale price (Yup...that's £46 including shipping). Go figure!! Normally shipping for a large set in a box would be £20 or more...AND they say it will get here before Christmas.

As to those wondering what makes this set interesting, from an AFOL perspective the kit also contains a good selection of rare-colour pieces like dark green slope and wedge plates, and trans-green wedge and hinge plates.

From a kid's perspective, the minifigs are great. 7 minifigs with pearl gold weapons? That's almost £20 worth of figures at CMF prices. Add in the fact that they also contain some really interesting moulds like Sensei Wu's hat, the body parts for Acidicus and Skalidor, Chokun's headgear and of course the dragon heads which are really nice when you see them in person and there's added value. The playability is great too with good and evil principal beasts.

For MSRP, the kit is lower value with <1000 parts...but at Amazon.co.uk pricing...including shipping, it's a STEAL...especially for those in Canada!

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By in Taiwan,

I want to throw my two cents in on this one regarding the "for children" category. For younger kids the Duplo Deluxe Train Set (5609) is a great choice. I bought this for my kids a couple years back and it is definitely the highest ROI of any toy purchase I've made yet. It might not be around much longer, so get it while you can.

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