on October 11, 2007
I bought this for my children and to relive my days of playing with Legos in the 1970s. The kids really enjoy playing with them. I like this generic collection of mult-purpose bricks better than the sets that are designed to build one unique item. For the price (normally around twenty five dollars), you get a reasonable amount of stuff. On the down side, there are a lot of the smaller bricks (1 x 2 and 1 x 1). After playing with this for a few days I found that my kids wanted plates, bricks (2 x 4 and 2 X 8), and wheels (my son loves to make cars). I went to lego dot com where I was able to buy these specific things separately. Also, if you want to find some odd parts from old sets (even going back to the 1970s) try bricklink dot com. It takes awhile to navigate the site, but you can buy whatever individual pieces you want used.
In summary, buy this set first from Amazon and then go to lego dot com or bricklink dot com to buy wheels, bricks and plates.
The lead paragraphs of this review are intended for the LEGO newbies who are trying to scope out the galaxy of LEGO products available for purchase, and trying to reconcile the offerings with their (or their children's) needs. Farther down in the dash-led paragraphs you'll see a more specific review of product (to wit, no. 6166 aka "LEGO Ultimate Building Set" with its 405 pieces) and a few, hopefully helpful, tips from me and others.
Perhaps you feel the tug so many of us have: LEGO has, not without reason, been accused in recent years of overconcentration on highly specialized, one-trick sets like the ones for Bionicles(TM) or scenes from high-concept movies, leaving behind in large part the "bricks in a bucket" concept that many of us grew up with in the Sixties and Seventies. Today, the advantages of having a fixed object to assemble in a one-shot kit might be outweighed by the expense of trying to assemble a good versatile collection of LEGO bricks through specialized bits and pieces from disparate specialized sets (and $$$ outlay); also, parents risk the disilllusionment the child faces ("OK, I made a helicopter--now what?"), if open play and creativity are stifled by lack of options.
As such this product - the LEGO Ultimate Building Set - 405 Pieces (6166) - is not a complete return to form from the idealized "bucket" past, but judged as an object of utility is better than many other kits or sets. Your money gets you a plastic box, rather small (specs are listed), roughly the cubic content of a large shoebox for workboots or wellies. This ensemble box is amazingly light because only about a quarter of it is filled with the collection of LEGO pieces contained therein. (It does, however, contain a 5" x 5" (12 x 12 cm) green Building Plate[see below].
- Four hundred and five pieces sounds like a lot, but most of them are pretty small. Consider that only about forty of those pieces are the "two by fours" (bricks measuring two hubs across, four long) that were the backbone of the more open-ended LEGO sets of decades past. There are far more "one by ones" both square and circular instead. This kit is not equipped to build wheeled vehicles but has enough housing appurtenances like shingled roof-edges that it can assemble any of three suggested LEGO-designed houses (one at a time, that is). As is typical, the booklet showing step-by-step how to assemble the suggested houses uses no language--when you sell in dozens of countries, translating everything is impossible.
- No. 6166 provides a modest green baseplate (in LEGO parlance "building plate"), which is a handy place upon which to moor the bottom LEGO bricks, especially if the user is making do on a carpet or rug, not a table or hardwood floor. Due to the magic of square measurements, the ten-by-tens and 15-by-15 building plates sold separately are not cheap, and the cost escalates rapidly with size. Also, any of the current offerings seem to be noticeably thinner than the baseplates of long ago. Since optional-extra baseplates are no thicker or sturdier than the little five-by-five inch green plate you'll find inside this product, getting that "sample" of the bigger plates is a nice extra.
- LEGO's sets' and kits' nomenclature lean toward puffery and should not be taken strictly literally all of the time. I for one am not sure what this "Ultimate Building Set" is ultimate to. For instance, at the time of this writing the vendor also offers, for about twice the price, the 576-piece "Basic Bricks" collection, a great big colorful pile of blocks, apparently without box. LEGO's tubs and kit boxes alone have more trim lines and options than a 1974 Chevrolet. For example, there's also a "Deluxe" and larger tub with more bricks. But, especially without knowing exact content, how can we quantify or assess value? Simply to calculate average value-per-piece, our little tub of bricks and blocks costs about six cents apiece. The Deluxe job is closer to nine cents per piece. Are the pieces in the Deluxe ensemble that much better; are they better at all? Simply to take the most straightforward tack and order from the company's USA onsite store costs much more -- up to about twenty-five cents per brick for the coveted two by four pieces.
- As of this writing, the item here reviewed qualifies for Amazon SuperSaver free (domestic USA) shipping over US$25. But not all similar offerings do. Some of the LEGO kits and sets are serviced by third-party vendors, usually kids' specialty toy stores, and shipping is extra. In these cases especially, it is wise to shop around on price, on shipping, and possibly even on sales tax.
- If your child takes a shine to the contents of this item, s/he will surely want more! I know not everyone is constrained by cost, but these are difficult times economically. Some cost-saving stratagems:
-- Focus more on the collections of bricks or more open-ended kits like this one. (I reiterate, the box this unit comes in, while not huge, will swallow many hundreds if not thousands more blocks.)
-- Don't turn up your nose at yard sales. The interlocking LEGO bricks patented in 1958 are still compatible with today's LEGO bricks and are, in fact, very similar in material.
-- If you're buying for a child or four (or five, or maybe even six) consider LEGO's "Duplo" line. The bricks are much larger so as not to pose a choking hazard--also the fortresses and such created pile up more efficiently. Even better, the DUPLO's will interlock with LEGO's if you expand into them.
-- LEGO pieces are manufactured in a number of European countries, also Mexico. Did you know that the LEGO empire has a rival? They're called MegaBloks and they're made in Canada. The MegaBloks "Micro" bricks are exactly the same size as regular LEGOs and fully interchangeable[*see my review* of their thousand-piece Mega Bloks Micro Blocks tub]. So as far as I can tell no building blocks from either LEGO or MegaBloks come from China.
-- BTW LEGO Duplo blocks are compatible with MegaBloks "Mini".
All in all, the "LEGO Ultimate Building Set" (product 6166) is a good deal, as far as good deals go these days. Just be aware that the odds are very good you'll want to buy more -- and if not for your child, then perhaps for yourself!
PS: Please don't think I am entirely opposed to specialized LEGO items. I myself indulged in the "Prince of Persia" movie tie-in attack scene kit, and plan to review it shortly.
Happy shopping! - al-in-chgo
on March 24, 2008
No they are not cheap. No the box isn't full to even half capacity. But these toys are still around for a reason: they rock. More specifically, they are indestructible, offer immense replay value, encourage creative quiet and thoughtful play, promote fine motor skill development, and they are just plain fun.
Think about the countless cheap $3.99 and $4.99 soft plastic throw away toys you've bought over the years: invariably imported and with unknown lead content, cost pennies to make, including the polly pockets, fairies, mermaids, bratz, little ponies, strawberry shortcakes, littlest petz, etc. All of those toys are very restrictive in the type of play they permit, fall apart, and lose your child's interest after a few days.. until you buy another worthless set for their next "fix."
In the case of legos i would argue that if you just refrain from buying those cheap blister packed toys for a few months you will have saved more than enough to get this or another "flexible" set of legos. I don't care for the elaborate lego sets that have you follow intricate instructions to build a pirate ship, or harry potters house, or a star wars backdrop,etc. Those are just as restrictive and inflexible in their play.
So get this set or something similar as soon as you are sure your kid won't choke on a brick. It is something they will play with now and in the future. You'll beat inflation, you'll have it for future kids you might have, or those who might visit, and it will always have excellent resale value on e_bay.
As for the merits and value of this particular set, i think it is fairly reasonable relative to prices for used, bulk collections you might get on an auction website, or compared to the more expensive, larger, thematic sets - such as the "townhouse", lunar lander, or whatever. It has 4 wheels, 2 axles, 1 figure (a mechanic dude), a set of mini tools for the figure, 1 door, 2 windows, some clear pieces for windshields or windows, a propellor/windmill piece, a radiator grille, a cute mini steering wheel, and assorted bricks including some long ones. The base unfortunately isn't even standard height, but sort of a cheap 1/5 or 1/4 height. So that's a little lame. So it isn't perfect but i can't find a better variety pack for the price. Although the Lego 4+ Basic Bulk Set might be a good second set to consider.
We got this set to augment the pink little girls set with the jump rope on the box. Together they are a reasonable set but its still a small collection. I would contend that similar to the defense department maintaining an army that can fight a war in 2 theatres at once, you should have enough legos to build 2 houses at once. That is unless you have more than 2 kids...
on January 13, 2008
I was surprised that so many things can be built with these legos. I didn't expect it to be so versatile. I loved legos as a kid, and this is the first set I've bought for my children, ages 7, 4, and 1. I like that the container is BIG and sturdy, so clean up is easy and we'll be able to add to the collection.
on December 26, 2009
Our Grandson is with the military in Afghanistan. We fussed a long time about what to send him for Christmas. When he was young and visiting, he would head directly for the closet where the Legos were stored. So, we thought, Why Not? He received the Legos and enjoyed them so much he took them to work with him so the other GIs could enjoy them on their breaks, too. They were an outstanding hit and the best thing we could have sent him. I'm guessing they will be pretty well-worn by the time he is released to come home. I'm betting he will leave them there for other troops to play with.
Thank you Amazon for sending them direct with no shipping costs. Great service.