The Growth of LEGO Sets

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LEGO sets have become increasingly substantial and ambitious in their design, particularly within the last decade. Technic is an archetypal theme as the record for its largest set has been beaten three times since 2016, most recently by 42100 Liebherr R 9800.

That prompted me to wonder how frequently the record for the largest LEGO set has been exceeded historically. The results are interesting, demonstrating a dramatic increase in the size of the biggest set which began during the early 2000s. You can view some information about these twelve record-breaking models after the break...

Please be aware that Education sets, Product Collections and brick boxes have not been taken into consideration. I have instead focused exclusively upon sets which are primarily intended to construct a single model, thereby enabling more consistent historic comparison.

725-3 Town Plan

  • 1961
  • 711 pieces
  • 45 larger sets during 2019

080 Basic Building Set with Train

  • 1967
  • 718 pieces
  • 43 larger sets during 2019

842-2 Town Plan

  • 1969
  • 799 pieces
  • 39 larger sets during 2019

SAMSONITE-14 1252-piece Motorised Basic Set

  • 1971
  • 1252 pieces
  • 29 larger sets during 2019

8880 Super Car

  • 1994
  • 1343 pieces
  • Fourteen larger sets during 2019

5571 Giant Truck

  • 1996
  • 1757 pieces
  • Eleven larger sets during 2019

3450 Statue of Liberty

  • 2000
  • 2882 pieces
  • Four larger sets during 2019

10030 Star Destroyer

  • 2002
  • 3096 pieces
  • Three larger sets during 2019

10143 Death Star II

  • 2005
  • 3441 pieces
  • One larger set during 2019

10179 Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon

  • 2007
  • 5197 pieces
  • No larger sets during 2019

10189 Taj Mahal

  • 2008
  • 5922 pieces
  • No larger sets during 2019

75192 Millennium Falcon

  • 2017
  • 7541 pieces
  • No larger sets during 2019


Analysis

I was particularly surprised by the remarkable duration that SAMSONITE-14 1252-piece Motorised Basic Set held the record for the largest LEGO set. This set was released during 1971 but its piece count was not exceeded until 1994, 23 years later! Furthermore, it was only beaten by a margin of 91 pieces when 8880 Super Car was released.

In fact, such incremental increases defined LEGO's product range during the 1960s. Sets have grown far more significantly in recent years, with the greatest single change occurring between 10143 Death Star II and 10179 Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon.

How much larger do you think LEGO sets can become? Let us know in the comments.

46 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

Wow, I have two of those sets, it'll be interesting to see where it will go from here

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By in Switzerland,

Piece count shouldn't be only measure but weight should be considered as well, as lego is often pushing huge number of small pieces (like 200 blue pieces with ship in the bottle).

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By in Belgium,

8880 being the last one before I went adult. 75192 brought me out of my dark age

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By in United States,

Interesting article and findings. Great work as usual!

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By in Netherlands,

I don't think LEGO will be releasing a larger set any time soon. The UCS MF wont be the record holder forever, but when it happens, my guess would be it will be beaten by another Star Wars set: UCS Star Destroyer, UCS Super Star Destroyer, UCS Death Star I/II or another Millennium Falcon. The latter wont be released for another 8 years if you'd ask me. The margin wont be that substantial, I think. Probably 8000 pieces max. because it's price will be totally ridiculous (and that's from the mind of someone who bought the 75192 UCS MF).

Or in another scenario, the UCS MF will be beaten by a totally different set, Creator Expert (probably something space related) or architecture. In this case the piece count could be much higher than the UCS MF, however, I think the price will be a lot lower.

If LEGO would like to have my personal opinion: I'll buy a supersized Venator-class Star Destroyer any day!

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By in United States,

I'm predicting there will be a 10,000 piece set within the next 5 years.

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By in United Kingdom,

It won’t happen, but I’d love to see a fully detailed new town plan style set that takes the crown.

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By in United States,

It'd be interesting this chart separated by theme. Of course architecture and Star Wars lends itself to massive structures ... City/Town alone would be interesting to see.

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By in United States,

Piece count != size.

Sets now have so so many small pieces that provided all the intricate detailing.

For example, compare Grand Emporium to Corner Garage. Both are Modular Corner Buildings. The Garage has almost 400 more pieces (17% more) but no one would compare those two buildings and say it was larger. The GE has tons more 1x8 and 1x6 bricks that provide size and scale.

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By in United States,

This is interesting! @Huw, is there any way to run a comparison on my own collection, to find my biggest set?

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By in United Kingdom,

I was going to say rather then by piece count, it'd be interesting to know what was the largest set by sheer scale of the finished model. Guessing though the Falcon would still be up there.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ Yes you can sort your owned list by number of pieces descending.

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By in United Kingdom,

@dougts - Piece count and size are not consistently equitable but I think using the term 'largest' is logical where LEGO sets are concerned. After all, the physical size or weight of a LEGO set is not necessarily the only metric by which its 'size' can be measured. The duration of construction is also important in my opinion and that is usually dictated by the number of pieces included.

Ultimately, there is no ideal measure of size for LEGO sets, much like there is no perfect metric for ascertaining value. For the sake of simplicity, I think piece count works in this context.

@Modeltrainman - Yes, you can sort your collection by 'Number of pieces (desc)' when viewing the sets in list format.

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By in United States,

I wonder what would happen if we had some City buildings with the piece counts of the likes of the Millenium Falcon? I'm sure enough to the point they'd be realistic--not an overglorified playset.

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By in United States,

I expect the UCS MF will be surpassed in piece count by a large architecture set next, but it will probably remain the most expensive set for a long time. It's hard to imagine any set costing more than $800.

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By in United States,

I don't see the current Millennium Falcon holding the record forever, but when something new comes in its place, there is certainly going to be a threshold on what fans are willing to pay for. I think only because it was the Millennium Falcon that it sold as well as it did. If any other LEGO set were to be over 7000 parts and cost more than $800, it will most likely be something recognizable, not just because LEGO thought they could make something original and put it all into one set. In the future, I could see a new set taking the record, and it costing $1000 but beyond that, I see it as highly unlikely fans will be willing to go any further and find it hard enough to go for a set that was $1000, even if it was something they love and would want to display.

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By in Canada,

I mean a few years ago people wouldn't have seen it fathomable that people would drop almost a grand on a set. I'm sure LEGO will try and push the upper limit at some point. It may take a few years but I would think we haven't seen the largest LEGO set ever yet.

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By in United Kingdom,

@MCLegoboy has a very good point, Price is an issue. I have to say I am lucky enough to own THE UCS Falcon, which I only bought as it was 20% for 3 days, May the 4th weekend. I enjoyed building but the sheer size / weight was also a factor, it was very difficult for an adult to move it into a building position (Dining room table) without knocking off bits and it was not balanced. Also the only place I can find to display it (which was also a factor in the build / storage between builds) is underneath my coffee table. I can't believe it will fit on a shelf (size and weight) so would have to go on or in a proper display cabinet. None of mine are big enough for it to fit in or on so yet more expense may be needed.

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By in Canada,

Personnally, there is a set i would like very much to see one day, a huge set with the objective to do Mocs like water plans , forests, mountains... Oftentimes, in sets you wont have those things as it would take a lot of pieces even if they are present in the background on the box art. Such a set could follow the Minecraft’s crafting box 21116 and 21135.

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By in United States,

I just wanted to say the ultimate battle for chima has over 10000 pieces so would that not count since that is a combination of sets?

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By in United Kingdom,

Can’t imagine anything off the top of my head that is more iconic than the MF that could be made into a higher piece count set. The price would also be an issue as 800€ must surely be pushing the upper boundary of price elasticity for a lego set.
What i think lego will continue to do more of is like what we are seeing with the HP theme. A number of large and still expensive sets that can be bought separately but then joined together to make a huge combined model.

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By in Brazil,

I believe that pretty soon there will be a +10000 piece set.

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By in Canada,

The average part count over time would also be interesting IMO. Even restricting it to just Town/City/Creator sets to avoid outliers would be informative.

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By in United States,

While what is shown here is just an upward trend, it would also be interesting to see the top piece counts for sets from every year to see ups and downs.

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By in United States,

Huh. I have 0.0 of these mondo sets.

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By in Australia,

Kind of off-topic but have a look at how that big circle in SAMSONITE-14 1252-piece Motorised Basic Set is built. That must have been so frustrating to build, probably fell apart if you looked at it funny.

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By in United Kingdom,

When it comes to pricing you have to consider things like licensing, 75192 Millennium Falcon costs more than double what 10256 Taj Mahal costs yet only has 1,619 more pieces. Therefore it’s quite feasible that we could see a 10,000 piece creator expert set that won’t cost more or at least much more than 75192.

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By in United States,

Really cool. Inserting to see the growth over time. Hope to see another article in a similar vein in the future.

You need to be a little bit careful with Town Plan #725. There's a lot of variations of this set. The number of pieces varied depending on the year and the retailer. It come with as few as 690 pieces (FAO Schwarz, 1961-1964) and as many as 739 (Eaton's 1965). And all for the same price $25. There maybe others with fewer or more parts, but those are the ones I had quick access to.

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By in United States,

I could see a Modular “block” set being a big hit. If I had the $1000, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a big set with 2 or 3 Modulars. Or, while that ship has sailed, a Ninjago City/Docks like combo I think could sell good. The two of them have 8420 pieces. I’ve seen a bunch of comments of people not caring about the theme but buying Ninjago City.

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By in Sweden,

Now I feel like I need to start saving money each year so that I can afford that next large creator expert or other awesome set. ;)

I hope that they don't make city sets super complicated or detailed. That is what my 5 year old has in his city... That is trashed on a regular basis. City is for playing. Cause lego are toys (occasionally)

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By in United Kingdom,

@Legoguy29 / @jdm Ah yes the combo, I remember (not as big a scale with the Lord of the rings sets, Helms deep + wall etc. Interesting. approx. 5700 people own the Ninjago Docks but only 3600ish own the "add-on" I wonder if 3600 own both or whether some people just bought the smaller set. It is a good way of spreading the cost. But again for comparison 8420 pieces for only £459.98 (I'm sure one was 249.99 when it came out) makes it the 2nd most expensive but largest "combo/set"

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By in United States,

5571 Giant Truck. I begged and begged for that because it was the most pieces and would have been amazing. Never got it.

So to see it on this list and know it was a record breaker, +1 to me LOL

Great write up!

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By in Australia,

I think if they release a set of Norte Dame Cathedral the piece count my beat 75192 Millennium Falcon.

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By in Netherlands,

I wonder how the chart looks without the Samsonite 14-set. I probably shows only U.S.S. Constellation (398) instead.

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By in Ireland,

"I have focused exclusively upon sets which are primarily intended to construct a single model".
One could argue that a 'Basic' set is not intended to construct a single model...
Leaving out the Samsonite Basic sets you get a much better progression in those years:
1978 - 398 USS Constellation (973)
1990 - 5590 Whirl and Wheel Super Truck (1063)
1991 - 6542 Launch & Load Seaport (1080)
1994 - 8880 Super Car (1343)

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By in United Kingdom,

@Duq - I did consider that and originally created the graph with those three sets included: https://images.brickset.com/news/LEGO%20Graph%202.png

However, I decided that the 1252-piece Motorised Basic Set should be included as the image clearly exhibits one model which is intended to be constructed using those pieces, despite its status as a Basic set. Choosing how to classify older sets is frequently quite difficult as they do not necessarily adhere to the same broad trends as those released today.

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By in Denmark,

I want a record-breaking UCS AT-AT.

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By in United Kingdom,

I don't see a town type set ever beating the UCS MF. A town sells much better in parts as smaller sets than as a $1000 few-can-afford-it-in-one-go set. Many people display Modulars, for example, as a single display and the piece counts and cost will be way higher than the UCS MF. But would many people drop $1000 on a five modulars in a row type set? I doubt it. Far better to have 5x $200 sets than 1x $1000.

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By in United States,

Neat analysis! Although I think the use of a line graph to indicate the points when sets with record-breaking piece counts came out is a bit misleading, since this format makes it look as though there was a steady increase in top piece count in years that NO record-breaking sets of this type came out, like 2009–2016.

A histogram charting the upper limit for piece counts in EVERY year (not only the ones when piece count records were broken) would probably do a better job showing how huge an outlier many of these sets were compared to the highest piece counts in the years immediately preceding them, and often even compared to the highest piece counts in subsequent years.

@dougts: I dunno, how the size of Corner Garage and Grand Emporium compare depends on how you're measuring, and it's not just piece count where Corner Garage ranks ahead. The Corner Garage set is also slightly heavier according to BrickLink, even when subtracting the weight of the instructions and packaging (which BrickLink helpfully also catalogs). I suspect the Corner Garage's tow truck, greater amount of exterior tiling (compared to GE's untiled interior floor space), and interior walls (as opposed to GE's open floor plan) are enough to balance out the weight of GE's larger floor plan and slightly higher roof line.

I've been working on a spreadsheet comparing these sorts of details, mostly for my own reference, but I've made it sharable in case others would like to see comparisons: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Uvy5XSmGY_8Y9iPLYTtqNEsbbF0acRgY0MEhH1RMbhI/edit?usp=sharing

The chart on sheet 3 shows that despite not always being 100% proportional, there's still a very strong correlation between weight and piece count among modular buildings. I suspect if you were to compare between more vastly different types of sets, like modular buildings, Mindstorms, and Duplo, then the correlation between piece count and weight would be far weaker.

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By in United States,

Large architectural sets or generic Town theme just aren't going to do it for the next record breaker. The Falcon has mass appeal and lots of nostalgia behind it (where nostalgia implies people old enough to have lots of money to spend on it), not to mention the Star Wars fan base who may not necessarily be into Lego specifically but would none the less buy it. The only other option I could see would be something self-referential, akin to the anniversary 10184 town plan but on a larger scale.

Still, I think those guessing another Falcon will be the record breaker will be closer to the mark. Maybe a Hoth base or something, has that been done yet?

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By in Ireland,

@CapnRex101 I appreciate classifying old sets is tricky. I wonder if any more pictures exist of that set? The one used here looks like it's a catalog image, I'd like to see the box-art.
Don't get me wrong by the way, I'm not criticising your work - I love these sort of articles!

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By in Netherlands,

The number of pieces in a set can still go up quite a bit I think. Looking at price to part ratio of the UCS MF this is around €0,10 per part, but for the Ninjago city around €0,07 per part. Meaning for the amount spent on the UCS MF you could have an almost 10.000 piece Ninjago City. Now the only question is more. What set would require so many pieces. The Modular building 25 years celebration fully decorated skyscraper perhaps? :D

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By in United States,

This is a fascinating post and while I have not read all the comments I think it'd be fascinating to dissect the numbers a little more – yeah I'm a geek. ;)

I think median/p50/p90 set "size" evolution over time would also be cool to graph.

Thanks for this post! :)

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By in United States,

I wish there was a way to sort sets by "size." I have a personal list of "tall" Lego buildings: 71040 Disney Castle, 10237 Tower of Orthanc, 71043 Hogwarts Castle, 70840 Welcome to Apocalypseburg!, 70751 Temple of Airjitzu (all in my collection). I keep looking for photos or videos of these sets next to each other. I would like to make something like that, but I don't have the space.

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By in United States,

On another note, I love what Lego is doing with the Harry Potter sets! If you combine 75954 Hogwarts Great Hall, 75953 Hogwarts Whomping Willow, and Hogwarts Clock Tower, you would get a set that is 2,553 pieces and costs $259.97. But selling it as modular parts - like the town sets - makes it manageable. I would like to see more of those in other themes.

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By in Canada,

To calculate biggest set, I am of the opinion it needs to be measured by weight, not number of pieces. Those 1960's set are huge,despite their lower piece counts as the entire set was constructed with larger blocks as opposed to studs and other tiny pieces.

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