OK you lego-loving moms and dads…
In case you were wondering where all the cool lego sets of your youth went and find yourself explaining “when I was a kid” look no further than the LEGO CREATOR 3-in-1 sets. After being unimpressed with the overly branded sets and the overly complicate technic sets, I have found lego nirvana for me and my kids!
My 5 and 8 year olds can typically build these LEGOs together without Ma or Pa. The 5 year old can pretty much to it himself, but likes when the 8 year old helps. But totally depends on the kids. Sometimes I help because I like LEGOS too!
BTW, if you have kids younger than 5 and 8, you should run not walk over to Amazon.com and grab a LEGO DUPLO TRAIN — the one with the electric engine. And buy a load of switches! The advantage being that with a 2 and 5 year old, you and/or the kids can play with this together without the 2-year old choking on anything or biting/tearing all the little yellow-arms off minifigs, etc, etc.
BTW, another aside… our 5 and 8 (and I!) still often have a lot of fun with the duplo train too. DUPLO fun does definitely not stop at age 5 if you buy tons of cool long pieces at bricklink.com or the like.
OK, so back to the 3-in-1 creator sets…
What I find works best is to keep each set in a gallon-sized ziploc/ziplock along with the instructions. One can of course mix sets altogether, and that is of course great for totally free-wheelin’ builidng but makes building from sets a hassle — takes a long time to find individual special pieces.
And speaking of “special pieces”, I think that (along with the 3-in-1 instructions!) makes these sets great. There are very few of what I call “special pieces” — pieces that are made pretty much just for that one set. Most are typical pieces found in many different sets.
OK, here are a few of our favorites (and some wish list items) around here. Most of these should be in the sub-$20 category. There are a lot of them. Here goes!
1. LEGO Creator Construction Hauler 31005 — 18 wheeler with digger/backhoe, cherry picker, offroad transporter with dune buggy
2. LEGO Creator Highway Speedster 31006 — sports car, roadster/hot-rod, tow-truck
3. LEGO Creator Super Racer 31002 — Formula 1/F1 race car, go-kart, quad bike/ATV
4. LEGO Creator Red Rotors 31003 — twin rotor helicopter, propeller plane, twin-rotor hovercraft
5. LEGO Creator Blue Roadster 6913 – -sports car, roadster/hot-rod, jeep/off-roader
6. LEGO Creator Thunder Wings 31008 — robot, car, jet plane
7. LEGO Creator Street Rebel 7291 — motorcycle, moped, chopper
8. LEGO Creator Propeller Adventures 7292 — propeller airplane, jet, hovercraft
9. LEGO Creator Super Soarer 6912 — jet plane, helicopter, dual-hull speed boat
10. LEGO Creator Dune Hopper 5763 — dune bugger, quad bike/ATV, trike/motorcycle
11. LEGO Creator Helicopter 5866 — mountain rescue helicopter, air show bi-plane, speed boat (online instructions for 4th model: high-speed swamp boat)
12. LEGO Creator Fierce Flyer 31004 — animals! eagle, scorpion, beaver
13. LEGO Creator Power Mech 31007 — robot, helicopter, pickup truck
Any I am missing? There are some more expensive ones too, but I prefer these cheaper ones. The more expensive ones get to be a bit much for my kids. And older kids I think would prefer Technic or Mindstorms. Most of these are pretty recent (circa 2012 or 2013) and should be available at Amazon. Just watch for price-gouging. If stock is low, stay away from the sellers looking for prices above MSRP.
You might be asking… how many different sets can LEGO make with a car, helipcopter, plane, ATV, hovercraft. One of every color perhaps? The tricky thing is that they don’t label the sets all that clearly. A helicopter can also just have “Rotor” or “Copter” in the name, or might not mention any of this at all if it is one of the alternate 2 designs.
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