Holiday Gift Guide day 5: $100-$150
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.
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?