How to get into LEGO for R1000 or less, 2023 edition

Back in late 2020 we published a guide for those who have always wanted to experiment with LEGO as a hobby in their adult years but never took the plunge because of the brand’s reputation of being expensive.

As we start a new year with record-high inflation and other poor economic factors, this situation seems to be even worse and LEGO may not be at the top of everyone’s list.

That’s why we’ve looked at the toy company’s current offerings to create what we think is a fantastic introduction to the hobby which you can try for R1 000 or less.

Below you can find a selection of products at their current South African recommend retail prices.

For finding an accurate price for LEGO sets in this country, we recommend Great Yellow Brick, the licenced owner and operator of the physical LEGO stores in South Africa which recently opened its fifth location.

Great Yellow Brick is the de facto source for LEGO pricing over here, so any store selling sets for more is a clear ripoff, while any store selling for less is a bargain.

Other stores we like to shop at for LEGO include Import A Toy, Kiddiwinks, Toy Kingdom, Toys r Us and Takealot. All offer different shopping experiences with positives and negatives, but for the casual buyer try and find who offers the best price by searching the product number or the name of the set which we have included below.

Also factor in delivery costs with Great Yellow Brick offering free delivery on all orders regardless of price.

Getting to our list below and the focus here is the building experience as a top priority to really give you a feel of what modern LEGO has to offer.

31124: Creator 3-in-1 Super Robot | 159 pieces | R149

We’re starting off with a single set that can turn into three. While LEGO always has the possibility to become anything you want, the Creator 3-in-1 theme comes with instructions to build everything you see here, albeit only one at a time.

Anime fans will also notice that the main Super Robot is clearly inspired by Mazinger Z. The set name itself – Super Robot – is even a reference to an entire genre of anime, manga and more.

For good measure, you can also build a dragon and a jet. That’s a lot of value and imagination for such a cheap set.

40539: BrickHeadz Star Wars Ahsoka Tano | 164 pieces | R199

The BrickHeadz theme is LEGO’s attempt at Funko Pops that you can build. They are on the more simple side when it comes to construction, but there are some fun details and techniques to experience here.

Our favourite detail is that most BrickHeadz come with a 2X2 pink brick right in the middle of the head to represent a brain which you don’t see once you’re finished. This changes depending on the set, like the Buzz Lightyear which has batteries instead of a brain.

We’ve chosen Ahsoka Tano as she’s a fan favourite and this set is more interesting thanks to the build of the head tendrils, but there are many different ones on offer.

Check out others like Frankenstein’s monster, a Nutcracker, the aforementioned Buzz Lightyear, Chip & Dale, the Stranger Things double pack, the DuckTales four pack and the Spice Girls five pack.

42134: Technic Monster Jam Megalodon | 260 pieces | R369

It’s a monster truck shaped like a shark that you build, and can then speed across the house thanks to a pull-back motor. What’s not to love?

There’s even more to see here as this is also a 2-in-1 set with instructions for a low-slung open-wheel race car. This is also a Technic set, a completely different building style.

Regular bricks and plates you may be used to with LEGO are known collectively as “System” with technic being its own beast. System and Technic are fully compatible, and this set is a nice introduction to Technic, even if it doesn’t have the working pistons, functional gears, pneumatic networks and more present on other Technic sets.

The LEGO X Monster Jam collaboration also includes Grave Digger, Max-D and El Toro Loco.

76911: Speed Champions 007 Aston Martin DB5 | 298 pieces | R369

If you only buy one set from this list we recommend this one. The Speed Champions theme is where the most impressive LEGO engineering is happening, and it has been pumping out extremely impressive scale, buildable cars for years now.

Speed Champions has always worked with existing car brands, but only recently has it started to branch out into pop culture licences. We can see James Bond above, but Fast & Furious also got in on the action with Dom’s 1970 Dodge Charger R/T.

We implore you to check out the rest of the Speed Champions line to find more as there are lots of great cars waiting to be built.

76226: Spider-Man Figure | 258 pieces | R499

LEGO has, over the years, had many attempts at the concept of a buildable action figure. Bionicle, the theme that many still know LEGO for in the early 2000s, remains the most successful attempt at this, but now we have a new wave focusing on Marvel.

The Spider-Man above is one of the recent examples joined by Venom, Iron Man and Miles Morales.

All of these have wacky proportions but still offer a compelling prospect though, of all the sets on the list, we recommend looking for decent discounts on this range. R100 to R200 off of the RRP is a much better price for these, especially for LEGO newcomers.

60354: Mars Spacecraft Exploration Missions | 298 pieces | R499

Missions is a relatively new subtheme that, as you can see on the front of the box, seeks to go about building with a story, not instructions.

The space-focused Missions set is joined by police and animal rescue variants. Each comes with an app that will lead you through a gaming experience that has you building and rebuilding with the pieces in the box.

Those who like the idea of LEGO but have always wanted something more freeform should check Missions out. While the app does come with types of instructions, the focus is on building what you want with inspiration from LEGO, instead of outright direction.

75979: Harry Potter Hedwig | 630 pieces | R699

LEGO sets usually only get one or two years on shelves before being retired. This set has proved so popular that it appeared on our end of 2020 list and is still available right now.

This is a type of kinetic sculpture of Hedwig the owl from the Harry Potter series of movies.

It’s a static display piece most of the time, but using the crank attached to the included stand will have the wings flapping about. A minifigure of Harry Potter, and a smaller single-piece Hedwig, are also included.

Two other LEGO sets with the same basic idea also exist: one for Dumbledore’s Phoenix Fawkes and one for the Hungarian Horntail dragon. Unfortunately, Fawkes is very difficult to find in South Africa and the Hungarian Horntail is exclusive to Takealot in the country.

41952: DOTS Big Message Board | 943 pieces | R699

Dots is another theme from LEGO that requires some explanation. Dots sets are focused on decorations, patterns, pseudo-pixel arts, lettering and more, all revolving around large plates that can be filled out with small tile pieces.

These tiles in various shapes can also be applied to stitch-on patches, adhesive patches, picture frames and, for this example, a message board.

This message board can be used for anything you want and comes with holes to be mounted onto a wall. Those who want a LEGO set with a household purpose can pick this one up as a decoration, or as something more useful like the wifi password or a shopping list, though it will take quite some time to re-make the lettering for an application like that.

10280: Flower Bouquet | 756 pieces | R999

Those who love flowers but find the real things too difficult to keep should consider simply getting some LEGO ones in the house. Obviously more fake than other artificial flowers, these LEGO options have a real charm to them on top of a fun building experience seeing how bricks can become stems, petals and buds.

This is yet another experiment from LEGO known as the Botanical Collection. The flower bouquet above offers the greatest variety, but also consider the bonsai tree, succulents, birds of paradise and orchids.

71738: NINJAGO Zane’s Titan Mech Battle | 840 pieces

Gunpla and other mech figurine fans will be shocked to see what competent and exciting options LEGO has.

Zane’s Titan Mech above is not only a great example of this, but also another product inspired by anime, this time Gurren Lagann and Gaiking.

For more mech goodness we also wrote an entire feature about another set from the Ninjago line, which comes with several smaller vehicles combining the likes of Voltron or the Power Rangers Megazord.

LEGO is definitely on a hot streak when it comes to mecha right now, so we’re going to end off with a list of our favourites. Some of these cross the R1 000 ceiling for this guide, but these options are still worth considering.

  • 76203: Iron Man Mech Armour | 131 pieces | R149,
  • 76202: Wolverine Mech Armour | 142 pieces | R149,
  • 76204: Black Panther Mech Armour | 125 pieces | R149,
  • 71761: Zane’s Power Up Mech EVO | 95 pieces | R149,
  • 71750: Lloyd’s Hydro Mech | 228 pieces | R349,
  • 76201: Captain Carter & The Hydra Stomper | 343 pieces | R499,
  • 76194: Tony Stark’s Sakaarian Iron Man | 369 pieces | R649,
  • 76190: Iron Man: Iron Monger Mayhem | 479 pieces | R649,
  • 71765: Ninja Ultra Combo Mech | 1 104 pieces | R1 499,
  • 71775: Nya’s Samurai X MECH | 1 003 pieces | R1 899.

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