Holiday Gift Guide day 3: $25-$50

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For the third installment of the Brickset Holiday Gift Guide 2013, I'll be choosing two sets from the $25-$50 price range. From the 94 sets released in 2013 within this price range, I've selected one appropriate for adults (AFOLS or almost AFOLS) and one more suitable for children, whether for your own, or those of friends/relatives.

For children: 70403 Dragon Mountain (£34.99 / $49.99)

Although the new LEGO Castle line has been met with mixed reactions (though mainly negative), I feel that it does a good job of providing perfectly adequate sets for younger Castle builders. While older children and adults are well served by The Lord of the Rings, which features many 'Castle style' sets, they are perhaps too specialised for the average 6 or 7-year old.While many (including myself) would have preferred a continuation of the Kingdoms line, these sets provide all that is necessary in a castle range for younger children who are not too bothered about the complexity of the build or storyline behind the sets.

I've selected the Dragon Mountain as it has a wide appeal to the younger LEGO builder, and it includes a miniature storyline without having to purchase any other sets. Five minifigures is a reasonable number for a set of this size, but undoubtedly the main feature is the dragon, who is (from experience :-) ) very 'swooshable'!

You can find Dragon Mountain at the LEGO Shop.

For adults: 21018 United Nations Headquarters (£49.99 / $49.99)

Again, I've picked towards the top of the price range, however you'll notice a slight discrepancy between the conversion rates for this set, and Dragon Mountain above. No doubt non US residents will be indignant at this, however the set itself more than makes up for this. The Architecture line is definitely aimed at older children and adults, and is a great way to introduce non AFOLs to modern LEGO, particularly if they are one of those who believe LEGO consists of 2 x 4 bricks in various primary colours!

This is certainly a display piece rather than a toy, but it does a great job of showcasing LEGO as an art form. Everything about the Architecture line is high quality, and this is reflected in the price. The build can also be a little boring, however it is worth it for the display value at the end. Be warned though, if you're a perfectionist you can spend hours adjusting the model to line parts up, such as the flagpoles along the front in this set!

Again, this set is currently on sale from the LEGO Shop.

Would you have chosen differently from this list? Share your views in the comments below.

15 comments on this article

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By in United States,

I think that the new Castle line is unfairly maligned. They remind me of castle sets from the late 80's/early 90's, especially this dragon one. It is one of my favorite sets to have come out this year. It would make an excellent gift for a child or an AFOL in my opinion.

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By in United States,

I like 75006, Spider-Man : Daily Bugle Showdown. That's probably my favorite set of the year in that price point.

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By in United States,

Honestly, I bought the dragon set just for the dragon (and I wouldn't have even done that if not for a heavy Amazon discount). I understand that Castle is generally supposed to be more "basic" since it's meant to serve more as an introduction to LEGO but I feel it's a little too much so this time. 2010's Kingdoms was incredible IMO.

The DeLorean would probably be a good set for grownups too...if it's still out there.

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By in United States,

I bought 70403 for the dragon and the evil wizard. Reminds me of 2006/2007....

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By in United States,

For kids, I'd have chosen 20216 (MBA kits 2 and 3) or 41005 (Heartlake High). Both excellent sets with lots of play potential.

I know you might have decided against 20216 because the sets aren't TECHNICALLY new (they were available together with kits 4-6 via subscription) and because it'd mean skipping Kit 1. Still, I think Master Builder Academy is one of the most amazing things the LEGO Group has done for young builders in a long time. Being able to hear the uses of so many building techniques direct from the designers is incredibly thrilling and can make a kid or adult much more confident in their building ability. And the parts are excellent and versatile to boot!

Heartlake High is TECHNICALLY aimed at girls, but if you're buying for a girl or if you and the boy you're buying for are willing to look beyond that, it's an incredible set. Even a good set to get in multiples, since then the Math and Science classes or the Art and Music classes won't have to share classrooms. Overall, it's a fantastic set for slice-of-life role-play, and subject matter for a set that has never really been seen since the introduction of the minifigure.

Dragon Mountain is not a BAD set (loads of wonderful details, such as how the tower is built on the ruins of an older castle), but I feel like for $50 you could be getting so much more.

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By in United Kingdom,

The cargo truck with forklift and cargo seems a really good standard city choice. And I very much like the Hoth Battle set with the Snowspeeder, rader gun, trench, tauntaun and Imperial troops with a web gun - saying it like that shows how much they squeezed into it, and for a Star Wars set it was surprisingly good value too.
(It was the only one that actually got a price conversion when it went from $ to £. Come on TLG, stop being dumb and just changing the currency! Everyone else in the world knows what an exchange rate is...)

I agree with Aanchir too, some of the Friends sets, Heartlake High especially, look really good. I guess they wouldn't make it onto this list though as they are very squarely girl-only, where a lot of other themes are boy-heavy but not entirely anti-girl... if you know what I mean!

And @UtarEmpire, there are plenty of DeLoreans about just on the shelves in toy shops near me. I don't know how similar UK and US supply and demand is for them though, but I certainly wouldn't class them as all that hard to find over here.

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By in United States,

For adults (and even children), 21103 seems like it might make a good slightly-less-expensive pick (or the Minecraft sets as well). Looking through some of the City sets, 60010 might make a good pick for children (and the Ninjago sets; can't forget those!)

Again, the Technic sets might also make good picks for adults (especially 42007).

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By in United States,

60007 with 60023 is a good idea at $30 each set. 6 vehicles (7 if the skate board counts), 8 minifigures, and a lot of play potentional.

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By in United States,

I bought the dragon mountain set for me and my kids (2 boys, 2 girls) as soon as TRU had them last May and it is one of the most played with sets we have. It may be light on the piece count, but as Matthew said in the OP, it has a storyline right out of the box with no other sets needed, and I would like to add that it also allows younger builders (hence the "for kids" suggestion) to build something they can do, but give them some experience with details and more imagination and creativity behind what you are building. It fits the theme well, it's not a licensed theme (preferred by myself so they can invent their own stories and roles) and it has a DRAGON and the minifigures are exceptional. All four of my kids, both genders, totally dig this set and each of them plays with it in their own unique way. Not every set we get can do that.

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By in United Kingdom,

Those sets are good, but I think I'd go for the stage coach express and Back to the Future.

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By in United States,

Aanchir, I agree with your picks. MBA would be great for kids or adults in my opinion. I've been building since I was born, but the MBA kits are great collectible sets that really open up LEGO a something special. They are well done, and fun.

Heartlake High is an amazing set with so many fun detailed builds and specialty pieces galore that it can't be anything but a hit for girls, boys, or adults. Friends really understands how to pack a lot of build and a lot of play into a small area. Heartlake High has a common area with lockers, food counter, science/math classroom (with an amazingly awesome telescope), art/music room, washroom, picnic table and basketball hoop for recess and gym.

It comes with one of the (few) male minidoll characters in Heartlake City--Matthew--meaning that Friends can be an option for boys and doesn't have be "very squarely girl-only" if folks would just drop judging the current world using decades past stereotypes.

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By in United States,

Heartlake High is a great set. It would be a great addition to any LEGO City set up. If you wanted to make it more "manly" you could switch out the lavender plates and tiles with grey quite easily. Perhaps the crime rate would drop if there were a school in LEGO City (she said jokingly)

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By in United States,

@matthew will there be a $50+ Guide?

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By in United States,

I note you wrote that it is "on sale," which implies a discount, when you really meant that it is "for sale," because there isn't a discount.

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By in United States,

@MorkMan: My guess would be yes, but a $50-$100, then a $100-$200, then a $200+ guide.

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