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Cheap Lego Buying Guide

Taking into account things like the number of bricks and other pieces in a Lego set, the number and rarity of included minifigures, and the number of possible builds the set offers, we zeroed in on cheap Legos high in function and reasonable in price. Luke's Landspeeder from the Star Wars collection (starting at $25) is a Lego iteration of a popular Star Wars vehicle.

Its star-studded cast of Lego minifigure characters gives it broad appeal. Serious hobbyists will want to display the rare Obi-Wan Kenobi and C-3PO minifigures, while children will love acting out classic movie scenes with their favorite characters.

The Power Boat Transporter from the Lego City collection (starting at $34) offers a lot of variety for a relatively small, cheap Lego set. With a boat that really floats and a tractor-trailer rig that begs to be steered along homemade highways, little drivers can journey across land and sea. Collectors will find that the pieces mesh well with a number of other sets, and the blocks can easily be reconfigured or repurposed toward custom builds.

Two other good cheap Lego sets have a narrower focus. Hagrid's Hut from Lego's Harry Potter collection (starting at $40) has many specialty parts and accessories that might not adapt well to free building, but the set should please anyone who's into Harry Potter. It's the only one that features the characters of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley together in their Gryffindor uniforms. Those minifigures, along with the hut's meticulous finishes, propel these cheap Legos to a spot on our list. Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter from the Lego Star Wars collection (starting at $40) gives collectors a hard-to-find Mace Windu minifigure (known to moviegoers as the character played by Samuel L. Jackson) and offers young pretenders their choice of four battle stations to operate. Collectors posting reviews seem a little underwhelmed by the Starfighter itself, saying it's nothing new, but parents report that these cheap Legos clock a lot of playtime.

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Aside from traditional cheap Legos, we found two low-cost Lego games that caught our attention. Minotaurus (starting at $22) is easy to play and easy to explain to others, according to reviews. Players must navigate their way through a maze to the center before they cross the path of the mythical Minotaur. The game introduces grade-schoolers to the concept of strategy and can easily be tailored to different ages and abilities. In the Lego game Magikus (starting at $8), players scramble to collect all the ingredients needed to make a magic potion. Like Minotaurus, Magikus has a strategic element and can be modified depending on who is playing.

The Lego Creationary game (starting at $35), on the other hand, doesn't live up to expectations. It's basically Pictionary with Legos, but non-specific picture cards and minimal instructions leave players confused. The lack of a timing element means the game can drag on, trying the patience of many children, and reviewers say it doesn't come with enough Lego blocks.

Before choosing any cheap Legos, think about function: Will this be a child's plaything or a hobbyist's showpiece? Some sets are more interactive, while others are best for display. Our favorite cheap Legos have characteristics that appeal to both collectors and kids in search of a fun toy. Do the Lego lovers in your life prefer to construct by the book or build their own designs? If the answer is the latter, it can be cheaper to buy blocks in lots -- either new ones through the Lego store or website or used ones through a venue such as eBay or Craigslist. Is the Lego owner attached to a particular theme, such as Lego City, or will any engaging set do? Read on for a breakdown of other key things to consider when choosing cheap Legos and to see exactly how our recommendations stack up.

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