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Lego Classic 90 Years of Play Review

This nostalgic Lego collection will save your kid from summer boredom

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  1. Lego Classic 90 Years of Play

    Pros

    • Fast and fun builds

    • Hits on some Lego favorites

    Cons

    • Only good for a limited age range

This year marks Lego’s 90th birthday as being one of the most iconic toy companies in the world. Starting in 1932 as a wooden toy company, Lego didn't create the first 2 x 4 plastic brick that we have all come to know and love until 1960.

As we all know, Lego is one of the world's most popular toy brands. You'll be hard-pressed to find a family that has a kid who doesn't like Legos—nor a parent that doesn't have fond memories of playing with those popular bricks. Legos equal imaginative, STEM-inspired, quiet time and they are a sure-fire, can't fail go-to as an affordable, can't-miss birthday gift.

To mark this momentous journey in toy-making history, Lego has released a 90th-anniversary build set that celebrates its journey from a fledgling small business in Germany to a toy-making empire.

We were able to get our hands on the commemorative Lego Classic 90 Years of Play (available at Walmart for $39.97) set to give it a try.

What is Lego Classic 90 Years of Play?

A child points to the box of the Classic Lego 90th anniversary set
Credit: Reviewed / Janelle Randazza

Our kid was pretty excited to get to build mini versions of discontinued, classic Lego sets—including the 1998 Lego System Sphinx Secret Surprise.

This Lego play set is best for children ages 5 and up. It features 15 build sets, plus additional building pieces, for a whopping total of 11,021 Legos.

Adorned with classic Lego branding, the front of the box immediately conjures up feelings of nostalgia for me. For my 8-year-old, he prefers the busier back that shows images of the 15 classic builds

What’s inside the box is a darn cute collection of shrunken-down interpretations of classic sets. From a mini-sized brick interpretation of Lego’s very first wooden duck toy from 1932, to a 2020 pineapple pencil holder from the recent Lego Dots collection, with all sorts of Lego Ninjago, Lego Friends, and more sprinkled in between, this is a sampler set of some of Lego’s most iconic and popular collections.

(Building instructions for Lego Classic 90 Years of Play, kit #11021 can be found online, too.)

What we like about the Lego 90th Anniversary collection

A child builds a mini Lego set
Credit: Reviewed / Janelle Randazza

These builds typically took about 10 minutes to complete.

It's nostalgia in a box

This is a sweet walk down memory lane for adults and a fun set of quick and easy projects for kids.

Since each build set is individually packaged in numbered bags that are small enough to fit in a handbag, this is a perfectly timed release for long road trips or for travel to family and friends that might not have a well-stocked toy box.

It's portable

We liked being able to toss a bag or two in a backpack and have something quick, easy, and screen-free to keep our kid occupied at boring adult hangouts and in restaurants. If Lego is smart, this won’t be the first mini-buildout collection they sell.

I know our son would swoon at the idea of a Lego Ninjago or Lego Minecraft mini buildout collection and I can see this sort of concept doing great for fans of Lego Friends.

The builds are quick and easy

These are quick builds that are finished in about 10 minutes, so the actual building doesn’t keep them occupied for long, but they made some good selections for build outs that inspire a bit of imaginative play.

This isn’t a toy that will keep your kid occupied for hours, but they will be happy while they wait for their quesadillas to arrive at the table.

It's multi-generational fun

I personally loved seeing a mini version of my older brother’s 1979 Legoland Galaxy Explorer. Our son was thrilled to see a mini Lego Ninjago set and was excited for me to look up images from the 1989 Black Seas Barracuda set, which reminded him of some of his favorite rides at Legoland.

We also both enjoyed learning about the Lego Bionicle line, a turning point for Lego, making it a toy manufacturing powerhouse that became known for winning awards for innovative toy design.

This is a fun set for kids to build out on their own, or for adults to talk ad nauseam to their kids about how awesome the 1980s were.

What we don’t like about the Lego 90th Anniversary collection

A child holds up their completed Lego builds
Credit: Reviewed / Janelle Randazza

The 2013 Lego Ninjago Golden Dragon and the 1989 Lego Pirates Black Seas Barracuda were two favorites out of the 15 mini build kits that are included in the set.

It only appeals to limited age ranges

Our son is 8-years-old and we would say he is likely in the very upper age range to enjoy this set as a gift.

These builds are very simple and we don’t see them being engaging for kids a day older than he is. While a clever idea, this 90th-anniversary set is best suited to a very narrow age range of kids 5 to 8.

We wanted more nostalgia

We also would have loved to have seen some images better highlighting the original builds. Since this is a nostalgia set, I’m not sure actual collectors will be into it without something tangible that honors the history of Lego.

As someone who did play with Legos a lot as a kid, the nostalgia component left me wanting more.

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Should you buy the Lego 90th anniversary set?

Yes.

While there were some things we would have liked to see that we didn’t, this set is still a win.

While $40 may not feel like a bargain buy, if you do the math that equals less than $4 per mini-set. Plus, the kit comes with two bags of additional bricks to build whatever you’d like. That gives you at least two sets a week for the entire 6-week summer break and each bag is small enough to be stuffed easily into crevices in your carry-on luggage.

Is this the most epic Lego set your child will ever get? No. But it is a fun family activity that is a conversation starter, a cool little history lesson, and a sweet little trip down memory lane.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

  1. Lego Classic 90 Years of Play

    Pros

    • Fast and fun builds

    • Hits on some Lego favorites

    Cons

    • Only good for a limited age range

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