Welcome to the third in our series of articles covering the Best Lego Sets Of 2011.
This time around we look at the Lego City theme, a perennially popular theme with kids that is as old as the Lego Company itself.
Looking back over the last year, we unveil which Lego City sets stood out in 2011, in both their appeal to kids and their affordability for parents.
The Brick Life takes into account a set’s play value for kids in both the short and long term as well as it’s value for money over time. We understand parents view Lego as a long-term toy and not something that will be built once and then disregarded for a new trend-based fad.
While you are here, you can check out our other guides to the Best Star Wars Sets and the Best Ninjago sets for 2011 or subscribe to our newsletter for more of the best guides to Lego for families.
Lego City Sets 2011
In 2011 Lego released a total of 27 City sets:
19 Regular sets
1 Promo Set
1 Set Train Tracks
1 Advent Calendar
3 Mini packs
2 “4-In-1” Super Packs
2011 saw Lego’s return to space (in more ways than one) and their three major sub-themes were Harbor, Space and Police.
The Top 5 Lego City Sets Of 2011
5. Space Centre (Set 3368)
The 2011 Lego Space Center depicts NASA’s new approach to space flight – the Atlas spacecraft which has replaced the Space Shuttle as the preferred way to send humans and satellites into space.
The emphasis on this set is play.
Space Center isn’t designed to have the most pieces or the most innovative design but rather is designed to provide the best play experience for kids.
The space center is relatively easy to build and so would suit younger Lego fans (the age recommendation is ages 6+) but it also has enough play features to interest older fans.
The set comes with the main rocket, a control center, launch platform, satellite, countdown clock, maintenance vehicle, fuel tank and tool station and comes with 2 astronauts, a flight center operator and mechanic figures.
There is also an elevator which can carry the astronauts up the launch tower where one of them can fit into the cockpit.
With 494 pieces it is a short build but the final construction is one that kids can add to if they have Lego already. The nice variety of pieces makes Space Center a wonderful set for children interested in the space program.
The Power Boat Transport combines two wonderful vehicles into one small but engaging set.
The power boat and truck combination is not new to Lego, they have made these types of sets before and kids love them.
Trucks have an inbuilt attraction to kids and there is something appealing about sitting on the floor and driving a toy semi-trailer around the place.
As a parent I have done this on more than one occasion, but usually my kids are with me when it happens :0)
The added bonus of the sleek looking power boat brings this set into the realms of “awesome” for kids, especially as the boat actually floats! This is the perfect toy for bath time as the boat is designed perfectly to fit into small hands comfortably and be zoomed all around the edges of a bath. After the bath is over kids can dry it off, attach it back onto the truck and zoom off for more adventures.
Play-wise this set is an absolute winner and also comes with two driver figures. It retails for $39.99 and can be found at Amazon with free shipping.
3. Bank & Money Transfer (Set 3661)
The Bank and Money transfer set is a little powerhouse of a set.
Design-wise the set is almost of the caliber of one of the larger modular sets, with some wonderful detailing on the bank building, both inside and out.
For this reason it is probably more suited to older Lego kids or those that appreciate details over size. As it is quite small in relation to a set like the Police Station the Bank And Money Transfer set would also make a good addition to an already existing collection.
The two storey bank building has a safe and office inside and an ATM on the outside. The interior is decorated with plants, furniture and money bricks as well as a skylight on the roof (which can open!).
The four figures are a police officer, bank assistant, robber and money transport agent. There are also three vehicles included in the set; a police car, a security money transport truck and a very cool off-road motorbike. Bank And Money Transfer adds another level of fun to the Lego City environment, with some great detailing to inspire young Lego architects.
The Lego City Harbor set sits at pride of place on my desk, just behind my laptop.
I love this set because it is a beautiful combination of the Lego Harbor and Farm themes- the boat in the harbor is a green grain cargo ship and comes with a Farm sticker on the side.
Combining the city with the country themes is a great move to get kids thinking about how other people live and widens the Lego City theme out beyond the urban environment.
Color-wise and Play-wise the set is an absolute winner for kids.
The set includes a large boat that floats and has cavities to put the “grain” into as well as a bridge area where the ship’s captain steers and navigates.
Kids can use the crane to unload the grain from the ship, then drop it onto the awesome conveyor belt and move it into the awaiting tip truck. Other small details include fish, a fishing rod, fuel tank, trash bin, a pier, trolley and a rat. The set also comes with four very diverse minifigures – a fisherman, farm truck driver, a crane driver and chief officer.
Color-wise the set is one of the most highly appealing Lego sets I have seen. The yellow, red, green and blue color scheme really stands out and makes you want to play with it (that is why I have it on my desk!).
Police has been a favorite part of lego City for many years and though there have been many different versions of similar sets in the theme (police cars, motorcycles, helicopters, boats, stations, etc ) Lego always manages to come up with great sets.
This latest version of the Lego Police Station is truly something special for kids and is widely regarded as the best Police Station Lego has made.
If you are looking for a set with lots of playability then this would be very near the top of our list.
First of all it is BIG!
Sure it is only 783 pieces, hardly a huge set piece-wise but Lego has managed to make the size of the final constructed station quite large due to tall the window pieces that make up the building’s three storey height.
The station houses two jail cells, a double garage, a dog kennel, evidence room, mug shot area and secret compartment. There is also a helipad on the roof (but the helicopter is sold separately). The set also comes with a police car, prisoner transport van and bicycle as well as 6 minifigures- 4 police officers, 2 robbers and police dog.
There is so much in this set to keep kids interested and engaged and it is big enough to have a certain presence that will give kids a feeling of being in the story they are creating. The pure fun this set provides is balanced by the $99 price tag and that makes the Lego Police Station the Best Lego City Set for 2011.
If you enjoyed this article check out our other Best of 2011 Lists for the Star Wars and Ninjago themes (more themes to come).