Holiday gift guide day 2: $10-$25

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In the second part of our gift guide, I'm going to pick two sets in the $10-$25 price range, the sort of thing you might buy a nephew, or maybe even a not-quite-an-AFOL friend who needs a bit of encouragement to become one.

 

For kids: 70701: Swarm Interceptor ($19.99 / £17.99)

Legends of Chima was of course the big story of 2013 as far as the primary market of LEGO is concerned so the chances are that my imaginary nephew already has a load of them already.

So, playing it safe I've opted to buy something that may have slipped under his radar because, let's face it, the LEGO marketing efforts for what many of us AFOLs regard as the best retail theme of the year, have been been negligible.

The Swarm Interceptor itself is a very swooshable craft, which can be converted into a sort-of walker. The bug minifig is superb and his mini-craft gives the interceptor something to chase. Thus the set provides plenty of play possibilities.

 

For adults: 60018 Cement mixer ($19.99 / £17.99)

There are so many excellent sets in this price range (this BrickList shows them all) so it was very difficult to choose just one set that would appeal to my not-quite-an-AFOL friend.

An obvious choice would have been a licensed set, of which there are plenty in this price bracket, but in the end I chose this City truck. Licensed sets are great, but they are expensive for what you get in terms of number of parts, and are not necessarily the best introduction to LEGO due to their specialised nature.

This cement mixer is a great illustration of just how far LEGO has come in the last 10-15 years or so, in terms of realistic design and functionality, and so is likely to be something of a revelation to my not-quite-an-AFOL friend who hasn't built a LEGO set since he was a kid (but has eyed them up longingly in the toy shop!). This, then, is a great introduction to the possibilities of LEGO and makes a good display piece, and so will hopefully encourage him to buy more sets himself.

What would you have chosen from this list?

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By in Netherlands,

Nice picks, especially for the children. However, I would have (and actually have) gone for the eagle, fierce flyers set for the adults, as i think that is a better display set. but the cement mixer is also a very good choice!

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By in United Kingdom,

I think I would have gone for a Chima set for the imaginary nephew (though I appreciate your reasoning why you didn't). Galaxy Squad just seems dull in comparison.
An maybe one of the smaller technic sets for the not-yet-AFOL. I think that would feel a much more acceptable gift for 'big kid' than a City set, which feel more childish.

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By in Australia,

Great choices. I can't fault your reasoning for choosing the cement mixer.

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By in United States,

The Crater Creeper is another good Galaxy Squad set, albeit centering more on the villainous bugs.

Also, for the adults, I think Thunder Wings or one of the Technic sets would also make good picks.

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By in United Kingdom,

When I see my nephew he "drags" me up stairs to play with his LEGO so I know what he does and doesn't have. I've bought him a few of the Galaxy Squad sets recently.

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By in Germany,

Oh man, that Swarm Interceptor was a revelation. I only got it for the parts, and it looked like just yet another run-of-the-mill filler set, but it has so many points of articulation, it just wouldn't stop surprising me as I built it. Excellent, excellent set.

The 60018 is a definite improvement on the 7990 in a whole number of ways, albeit in a more boring color. I'm actually not into City trucks at all (which is not to say I don't buy them all anyway), but looking at the list you had to pick from, I tend to agree with both your choices. The 60017 Flatbed Truck is a close third for me, though probably mostly for the colors.

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By in United States,

The Friends Rehearsal Stage (41004) is a great set. We almost didn't buy it, but having all of the other Friends sets from that release, we ended up getting it also. The stages revolves to reveal two different play options. The keyboard is a fun little build. The guitar is a great pieces. LEGO Friends really scores a 100% when it comes to playability after the build! and more often than not the builds are inventive with neat techniques (the revolving stage, the keyboard, the lights, the speakers are some in this set).

My second choice would be the Creator Small Cottage. I love the Creator series. The sliding door in this set is a great technique for such a relatively cheap set. It has a nice selection of pieces that allows the builder to use their imagination and creativity when not following the directions.

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By in Japan,

I agree, great choices for all the right reasons. Galaxy Squad is so well designed. I would love to see it expanded. I would also consider the 70401 Gold Getaway for playability, but nowhere near as interesting a build. Similar to the truck I would also consider the Technic Backhoe as a good build and very realistic. I, too, love the recent trucks and tend to get multiples to build variations. I've recently combined them with Galaxy Squad to make a series of support vehicles. The holidays are a great excuse to buy more Lego.

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By in United States,

I can definitely respect the "for adults" choice, but in the "for kids" category I would have probably chosen something different. Swarm Interceptor definitely has playability down pat but I think its MOCing potential is somewhat limited by those giant wing pieces without a whole lot of connection points. Of course, I don't own the set, so maybe it's better than I'm giving it credit for.

One of my favorite sets this year, which I think kids would really love, is 44009 Dragon Bolt. Naturally I didn't expect contraction sets to end up on this list, but Dragon Bolt boasts a lot of cool features. The rubber brain's eyes and spines glow in the dark, the jaw opens and closes, it has excellent articulation in its legs, neck, and tail, but perhaps most importantly it has an AMAZING flapping-wings function. I have never known a constraction set to be so swooshable in my life, but Dragon Bolt is perfectly designed for grabbing around the midsection and pressing the button on its back to flap the wings as you swoosh it around the room and perform complex aerial maneuvers. I built this beauty at Brickfair Virginia this year and had a great time swooshing it around the exhibition hall after public hours had ended!

Another great kids' set, which I am still slightly tempted to pick up at some point, is 70002 Lennox's Lion Attack. Not only does it look like a MOCing treasure-trove, with lots of basic parts brilliantly assembled into a recognizable and adorable lion motif, but it has an excellent play feature in the form of the rubber-band-powered "tile shooter" inside the lion's mouth. This feature has appeared in one form or another in a couple sets now (I believe it originally appeared in 7598 Pizza Planet Truck Rescue, and more recently, the 2014 Ninjago set 70726 Destructoid features it). I think it's brilliant, especially compared to the disk launchers from the Exo-Force sets, which would frequently unload their ammo if you tilted them wrong and which were based entirely on an absurdly large and specialized launcher element.

At the same time, I can see why you might not have listed a constraction set (high price-per-piece, more immediate building potential with other constraction parts than with a System collection), and you gave a pretty solid reason for avoiding Chima sets. It's true, you don't want to be the gift-giver who gives a kid something they already have, although at least with LEGO even a duplicate set can enhance your collection!

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By in United Kingdom,

I have both of those and they are good choices. I think I would also throw fierce flyer and highway speedster into the mix for consideration.

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By in Denmark,

Great choices for sure... though if the mission was to get one of my non-AFOL friends hooked... I'd definately go for a SUPERHERO ones: Properly the Arctic Batman: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=76000-1

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By in United States,

It was the 9V My Train and soccer sets in the early 00s that won me over as an AFOL. City is a good line, as are Power Function Technics and Mindstorms. My Winter Village and Minifigure display has got a lot of oohs and ahhs by kids and adults, too.

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By in United States,

Cement Mixer is one of the few non-licensed sets I bought from this year and I love it. The only annoying thing is that they really expect us to put those massive stickers correctly on the curved mixer section. Yeah. That didn't happen. But it's still a fantastic display piece without it.

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By in United States,

Spider-Cycle Chase featuring a character everyone knows, a fantastic build, and amazing value for the dollar, would have been my choice for both kids and adults. Equally great for play or display. Amazing, amazing set, and I am not even a Spider-man fan!

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