Over the past few years, I have found myself rekindling my love of LEGO. But because I spent the last 18+ years living in a small studio apartment, they weren’t particularly a luxury I could afford. I was very much in a selective state of being with what sets I might actually pick up because I simply didn’t have the space. And the few sets that I did get (like the Nintendo Entertainment System set or the Daily Bugle) sat in their boxes in a corner because I had nowhere to build them, let alone display them once they were complete.
But with my move on the horizon, I started paying more and more attention to the monthly releases and found myself rationalizing “well, I’m going to need a lot of decor for the new place” so I picked up a bit of an absurd collection this last year and decided I’d add a top 20 ranking of my favorite 2022 LEGO sets to the usual top games and top movies rankings I’ve done in the past. I don’t own all of these sets, but I did pick up a high percentage of them this year, and may grab a few more in 2023. But first, some honorable mentions:
Disney Castle (71040) / Disneyland Train Station (74044)
Neither of these are actually 2022 sets but I bought them as a big family gift for the 2021 holiday and I spent the better part of 2022 building them with my mom, dad, aunt, and sister when we would get together for family lunches over the course of the year. So I just wanted to give them a shoutout for that.
Eiffel Tower (10307)
I showed my mom a picture of the new LEGO Eiffel Tower a little while ago and she asked if it was one I wanted and I immediately said, “God no! Even in the new house, where would I put it?!” It’s certainly an impressive set, standing nearly five feet tall but even I can’t justify picking this one up because it’s just too massive. It also looks like it would take forever and feature a ton of repetitive steps for all of the cross beams so I don’t know that I’d even have much fun with it. And yet, there is still a very irrational part of my brain that says, “buy it buy it buy it.” I have resisted thus far but who knows what 2023 will bring.
AT-TE Walker (75337)
A very cool Clone Wars-era Star Wars set, I held off on picking up the AT-TE Walker for myself on the off chance someone in my family would feel extra generous and gift it to me for Christmas. That didn’t happen so I’ll probably have purchased it for myself by the time this article is published so I can plan on adding it to a shelf I have dedicated to a clones vs. droids battle scene.
Nano Gauntlet (76223)
One of the few sets I picked up prior to this year was the Infinity Gauntlet that came out in 2021. And even that sat in its box at the old place. But when I moved, some of those first few nights were spent building the Infinity and Nano Gauntlets to put them out on display, alongside another entry I’ll discuss shortly. Wonderful little display sets sharing my love of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the one-two punch of Infinity War and Endgame, specifically.
Star Wars Dioramas: Death Star Trench Run (75329), Dagobah Jedi Training (75330), and Death Star Trash Compactor (75339)
These dioramas are a mixed bag for me. They make for fun display pieces of one of my favorite franchises. But they are also – so far – an odd assortment of moments and I know the completionist in me is likely to just keep getting the new ones as they come. It’s not that I find any of them particularly bad, but if it had been me, I’d have probably tried to push for a scene from each movie of the original trilogy to start, rather than two from A New Hope and one from The Empire Strikes Back (a la the movie select screen from LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga). Then the next wave could be from the prequels, and then the sequel trilogy. All so goofs like me could display them chronologically in a neat and pleasing manner.
LEGO Brand Store (40574)
The last of my honorable mentions is also one of the most “LEGO patting itself on the back” sets with a self-indulgent LEGO store. But it was also a fitting pickup, given my growing rekindling of LEGO love this year so I was ready and eager to pick it up on day one, only to discover that its page disappeared from the LEGO website that night when I went to place my order and it ended up being an “In-Store Only” option. Fortunately, I have a couple LEGO stores nearby. Unfortunately, they didn’t get a ton of stock in that first wave so I ended up having to pick it up on a later day. But I ultimately got it and appreciated all of its little nods and it has been sitting behind me as I podcast from the new place.
Now onto the proper list…
20. Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill Zone (21331)
I was definitely more of a Nintendo kid growing up but I was fortunate enough to also have a Sega Genesis and play those early Sonic games. I’ve certainly never been a big defender of the franchise but I can appreciate its place in the gaming landscape enough to want to add a related LEGO set to my collection.
19. The Globe (21332)
This is one of the sets I bought specifically because I think it will make a fun decorative display piece whenever I manage to get it built. I also picked up the LEGO World Map (31203) set from 2021 for a similar reason and I think it might be fun to add “pins” to both to mark locations I’ve visited. Or maybe I’ll denote where I’d want to visit instead.
18. Mini Disney The Haunted Mansion (40521)
As mentioned above, I spent a good chunk of the year building the full size Disney Castle and Train Station with my family. I also spent a few trips around town looking for the Mini Disney Castle set (40478) before finally getting it. As an adult fan of LEGO and Disney, of course this one would be right up my alley. I hope LEGO just keeps giving us these sets so I can eventually make my own mini-Disneyland set. Here’s hoping for future entries like Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, the Matterhorn, It’s a Small World, or Splash Mountain (which’ll probably be rethemed to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure by the time we actually get the set).
17. Thor’s Hammer (76209)
Thor’s Hammer makes for a great shelf display in between the Infinity and Nano Gauntlets mentioned earlier. The set itself wasn’t a particularly complex one; admittedly, a lot of the handle was sort of repetitive and tedious and the interior of the hammer head is deliberately hidden. But it is also real fun to swing around. It has a nice heft to it and – combining it with the Mjolnir I got as part of the God of War Ragnarok collector’s edition made for a fun dual-wielding opportunity.
16. The Mighty Bowser (71411)
The first of the sets on my proper top 20 that I don’t actually own yet, the Mighty Bowser set is a beauty and a beast. I think the LEGO team did a great job scaling Mario’s nemesis up to such a scale. It’s absolutely on my wishlist in 2023 once I’ve started to build up my disposable funds again following the move. Or maybe I’ll get lucky and it’ll be on sale at some point. Or I’ll save it for a LEGO VIP bonus points weekend or something to try and make the most out of the big hefty purchase.
15. The Razor Crest (75331)
The Ultimate Collector Series version of the Mandalorian’s ship is another one I don’t have. Though I did pick up his modified Naboo Starfighter and I have two copies of the smaller Razor Crest set (75292) because I bought one and then lost track of what sets I had bought and picked up a second during one of my Disney trips…oops. Definitely love the detail and size of this new one though. Maybe I’ll try and grab it during the 2023 Star Wars Day events.
14. Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder (75341)
Speaking of Star Wars Day events, Luke’s Landspeeder was one of the sets I nabbed during the 2022 event and I’m looking forward to finally taking some time to build and display it in the new year. Especially when so many Star Wars ships are so gray or black, the tan and red trip of this set help it stand out and I can’t wait to start filling up some of the dedicated bookcases I got for these displays.
13. 007 Aston Martin DB5 (76911)
Shortly before this set was leaked/announced, I actually picked up a used/built copy of the larger Creator Expert James Bond Aston Martin DB5 set (10262) in honor of the That Bond Show podcast I did with Logan for the first half of 2022. When this smaller version came out, I picked up a copy for myself and sent one to Logan as well to enjoy.
12. The Muppet Series Minifigs (71033)
My first foray into the LEGO minifig collection blind boxes led me down a dark path in the hopes of collecting the full set of twelve. After my first attempt with three of the 6-pack boxes fell abysmally short, I basically overnighted three more boxes from Amazon, hoping for better luck. It came down to the last pack, but I was ultimately successful. And fortunately, this also led to my first time trading in figures to a local Bricks and Minifigs store (basically a Gamestop for LEGO) and I ultimately traded in most of my duplicates and bought a few figures outright to end up with two full sets. Stupid love of The Muppets letting me play right into the shady world of IRL RNG Loot Boxes…
11. Optimus Prime (10302)
I mostly missed out on the Transformers era of Saturday morning cartoons so I never had a particular love for the series. But dang if a LEGO set that can actually transform between his semi-truck and Transformer modes isn’t cool as hell. I have an image in my head of a couple of LEGO shelves dedicated to famous TV/movie cars and I think this’ll fit in nicely alongside the Aston Martin, assorted Batmobiles, and the Ecto-1.
10. Sanctum Sanctorum (76218)
The Daily Bugle set (76178) is one of the ones I am most excited to build now that I’m going to have more room. I picked it up because I loved all the Easter eggs and the massive amount of minifigs that came with it. The Sanctum Sanctorum doesn’t quite reach those heights in either regard but it will make for a fun companion set as they both fall under the umbrella of Marvel modular sets that will blend well if I ever dive deep down the larger modular set rabbit hole.
9. Vincent van Gogh – The Starry Night (21333)
Like The Globe above, The Starry Night set was an immediate must-have for the eventual decoration of the new space. Ever since the “Vincent and the Doctor” episode of Doctor Who, I’ve had an extra appreciation for the piece and I absolutely adore how fan designer Truman Cheng adapted the painting to the medium of LEGO bricks. Can’t wait to get this one built and hung up in the new house.
8. Motorized Lighthouse (21335)
My folks have a collection of ceramic lighthouses in my childhood home, likely driven by my dad’s childhood on the lakeshore in Michigan. And after we had a lot of fun working on the Disney sets over the course of the year, the Motorized Lighthouse became an easy frontrunner for my family Christmas gift this year. I’m very much looking forward to spending the coming months catching up and visiting as we put the set together to add it to their collection.
7. Horizon Forbidden West Tallneck (76989)
Horizon Zero Dawn was my favorite game of 2017. And Forbidden West was one of my favorites from this year. Plus, I think we’ve established that video game LEGO sets are very much my jam (save most of the LEGO Super Mario expansion playsets that just don’t really do it for me). But the Tallneck from Horizon, along with a little Aloy minifig and Watcher machine, was an obvious must buy for me. I hope we get something like a Thunderjaw down the line sometime as well because that’d be awesome.
6. BD-1 (75335)
LEGO + Star Wars + Video Games = YES!
BD-1 was an obvious standout from 2019’s Jedi: Fallen Order game so it’s great that it has been given LEGO status here in this set. I look forward to building this little droid ahead of the release of Jedi Survivor in a couple months.
5. Atari 2600 (10306)
The third in a trio of video game-themed entries, the Atari 2600 will go wonderfully in tandem with the Nintendo Entertainment System set that I bought as my first set, dipping my toes back in the LEGO water a few years back. While most of my early gaming memories are Nintendo-related, the Atari was technically my first console as young 2- or 3-year-old Trevor played Pong with my parents or tried eating pellets in the Atari Pac-Man.
4. Lion Knights’ Castle (10305)
When I was a young kid, back before LEGO started getting all of the licenses for movie tie-in sets, I wanted all of the big Castle, Pirate, and Space sets. But my folks were already way too generous in giving me other expensive gifts like video games so my LEGO sets were typically of a smaller variety. But now I’m the one with the disposable income so I was all too happy to pick up this nostalgia-inspired castle to make up for all the bigger castle sets I didn’t get as a kid.
3. Loop Coaster (10303)
Just as I really started looking into acquiring more and more sets this year, the Creator Expert Roller Coaster set (10261) was retired in March 2022 and I just missed it. I’ve been keeping an eye on it in the aftermarket since but when the Loop Coaster successor was released, I happily snapped that one up. I even picked up the recommended motor and battery components to look at automating the thing for a fun treat to show off when I have visitors. Certainly should make for a fun build when I get around to it and hopefully I’ll be able to find a copy of the other coaster for my collection as well.
2. The Office (21336)
The last of the sets on this list that I don’t actually own yet (because it’s another one I left on my Christmas list in case my family needed ideas). The absolute joy of Easter eggs and fan love put into this set is phenomenal (save the glaring omission of an Andy Bernard minifig). I can’t wait to build this one and try and set just how many Easter eggs I can find (before going on YouTube and looking at all the ones I inevitably miss because it’s been a few years since I’ve watched the show. I never really watched Friends or Seinfeld so the sets dedicated to those shows were easy skips for me but Dundler Mifflin is an absolute must-have.
1. Back to the Future Time Machine (10300)
While the sheer quantity of Easter eggs thrown into the set for The Office is staggering, it couldn’t top my personal favorite new set for 2022: the Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine. The Back to the Future series has been a lifelong favorite of mine so this was another easy purchase. The potentially more foolish thing was the fact that I bought myself three copies of the set, so that I can take full advantage of the little additional cosmetic options they provided, allowing fans of the series to display their favorite iteration of the iconic vehicle. I have already built the original Back to the Future version of the car (complete with the hook sticking out the back to get Marty back to 1985) and now that I have the space, I’m looking forward to having a Mr. Fusion-powered hover car version for Back to the Future 2 and a white-rimmed train-powered Back to the Future 3 iteration.
So there’s my list. Let me know what some of your favorites were in the comments or on Twitter.