Brick Ranker Awards - Best Sets of 2022
10th December 2022
2022 is coming to a close, meaning it's time to review all of this years' LEGO sets to find which were the best. LEGO released over 900 sets in the past 12 months and we've cast a critical eye over all of them to settle on our top ten.
10. 007 Aston Martin DB5 (76911)
This year Speed Champions branched out into cars from the movies to breathe some fresh life into the theme, and few cinematic cars are more famous than James Bond's Aston Martin DB5. This isn't the first time this car has been recreated in LEGO, with the large James Bond Aston Martin DB5 Icons set being released in 2018. The styling and shape of this version looks much better than its predecessor, which is impressive given that compromises often have to be made with smaller scale builds. So, just like the real DB5, the shape of this model looks beautiful, which LEGO had to introduce new parts to achieve.
Our only criticism is that the grey shade for the stickers doesn't match that of the bricks. Thankfully, LEGO has included several printed pieces, which is rare for a Speed Champions set, but it's still a big shame. Regardless of this, we think this is the best cheap set of 2022.
9. Lunar New Year Ice Festival (80109)
The Lunar New Year Ice Festival isn't the first Chinese New Year set to impress. The series continues to deliver highly creative and colourful models year after year, and 2022's instalment was no exception. There are so many fun details included throughout this model and a ton of unusual and unique parts that makes building this set very enjoyable.
We think it's a great set to look at, but an even better one to play with, as there's lots for minifigures to do on and off the central ice rink. The appeal of this set to the Western market is certainly less than in the East, but nevertheless we think it's a very awesome build.
8. Back to the Future Time Machine (10300)
The Time Machine was incredibly difficult to get your hands on for the first few months following its release, which speaks for how popular Back to the Future is, but also how good this set is. The DeLorean is a beautiful car and LEGO has achieved high accuracy to the source material to give us a stunning replica. The level of detail is impressive and makes it one of the best display sets of 2022. There are also some nice accessory builds and two very desirable minifigures of Marty and Doc Brown.
It's nice that LEGO also included three building options, so you can choose whether you want to display the DeLorean as seen in either the first, second, or third Back to the Future movie. There are some minor criticisms with some of the finishes, but it's a set that's difficult to pick fault with.
7. Motorised Lighthouse (21335)
This set captures the remoteness and charm that lighthouses are often eulogised for. The styling and colours look suitably traditional, and the interior has been given some cosy warmth by the addition of a light brick behind the fireplace. Each of the three upper levels is also accessible via connecting ladders, which for some might be a minor detail, but we think it adds a lot to the integrity of the build. The rocky outcrop on which the lighthouse sits is also well detailed and includes a cool and mysterious hidden treasure cave.
The set's main selling point, the motorised light, is a fantastic feature, although it could have been better executed given the weakness of the beam. However, we praise LEGO for pushing the boundaries of set design.
Cost concerns aside, this is a magical model and one of the best Ideas sets LEGO have made.
6. Optimus Prime (10302)
2022 gave us the first licensed Transformers LEGO set in the form of Optimus Prime. This depiction of the Autobot leader manages to be a close replica of the original G1 toy produced by Takara Tomy. The set's party trick is the ability to shapeshift into a semi-truck, and while yes, the transformation process is not the quickest, the fact it can go from standing robot to truck without taking apart any of the model is an incredible feat. Both standing and truck form looks great, with the latter reminding us of the excellent Model Team theme.
While some people have complained about the price and lack of leg movement, we think these can be overlooked given the challenge it must have been for the LEGO designers to get this set into our hands. Overall, a very cool set.
5. Horizon Forbidden West: Tallneck (76989)
This year LEGO added two new video games to its repertoire, one being the Horizon series. The giant mechanical Tallneck, as seen in Horizon Zero Dawn, is depicted in this set, and it's a good likeness to the in-game version. Being from the 31st century, it has a lot of interesting angles and curves that required a very clever building process to recreate, making it one of the most enjoyable models to put together.
LEGO has taken no shortcuts to deliver a very polished model, so the Tallneck looks great from all sides. The circular base also contains lots of pleasant surprises that really complete this set, and as a bonus, you get one of the best minifigures of 2022. What's impressive is that this set is good enough to appeal to people who have never played or set eyes on the video game, which is why it makes our top ten.
4. Orchid (10311)
The botanical range of sets has included some beautiful nature-inspired models that have been great at widening LEGO's appeal. The subtheme's crowning glory is the Orchid, which includes some ingenious use of LEGO parts to create a very realistic and elegant model. At a distance, you could easily be convinced it's the real thing, such is the quality of the design.
Sometimes bigger is not always better, and it's nice to see LEGO executing a small subject to a high standard. Being a 1:1 scale replica, it's also perfectly sized for display and would look great in anyone's home.
3. Eiffel Tower (10307)
The Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly one of the most impressive sets ever released, mainly due to its sheer scale. Standing at 149 cm (4.8 ft) tall it dwarfs all other builds and makes for a jaw-dropping display model. LEGO has also paid close attention to the details, using lots of small parts to replicate the girder work very accurately.
There are lots of repeating elements, which makes for a very tedious and repetitive building process, but if you can get past that, it's well worth putting in the effort. Although expensive, it's reasonably priced given the 10,001-piece count.
Just like the real Eiffel Tower, this set is an architectural marvel, so we think it deserves its place on the podium.
2. Galaxy Explorer (10497)
This year served up a large plate of nostalgia, with some excellent sets commemorating LEGO's 90th Anniversary. One of these was the Galaxy Explorer, which was a remake of the 1970's Space classic of the same name. This set improves upon the original design in every way by updating it with four decades worth of progress in part moulding, building techniques, and set design. The result is an exceptional model that's pretty much perfect. Better still, by today's standards it's also fantastic value for money.
1. Lion Knights' Castle (10305)
It's fair to say, there has never been so much anticipation around the release of a LEGO set than that surrounding the Lion Knights' Castle. Castle is one of the most loved LEGO themes, with so many wonderful sets released in the 1980s and 1990s. Producing a new set that paid homage to these, but also delivered a modern and sophisticated design, was a big challenge. There was a lot on the line and if LEGO got it wrong, the backlash would have been immense, but thankfully they nailed it.
The scale and aesthetic of the castle are stunning. Both the interior and exterior look incredible, with beautiful details on every surface, as well as some well-executed play features. There's also a very generous cast of 22 minifigures to populate the fortress. While the Lion Knights' Castle has great display value, this has not come at the expense of its playability, which is appropriate given the 90 Years of Play marketing around LEGO's commemorative sets.
Never have we got so much pleasure from building a LEGO set, and this one left us reminiscing fondly for days, so it rightly claims the top spot.
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