Live Science Verdict
At $300, the Lego Ideas Motorized Lighthouse is amongst the most expensive Lego Ideas sets you can currently buy. And while it does carry a hefty price tag, very few sets feel as special as this one. From its incredible design details to its electronic functions, it’s a joy to build and an even bigger joy to admire.
Looks absolutely incredible
The motorized parts are excellent
It’s tall, so you’re going to need a decent amount of space to display
Requires six AA batteries, which aren't included
Why you can trust Live Science
Model number: 21335
Number of pieces: 2,065
Dimensions: 22 x 10 x 10 inches / 54 x 25 x 25cm
Recommended age: 18+
It’s no secret that Lego’s Ideas range is one of our favorites from the plastic block company. This innovative range invites Lego fans to design their own sets then submit them, via the Lego Ideas website, to be voted on. Once a set reaches 10,000 public votes, it’ll then be assessed by a panel of Lego judges. And, two or three times a year, a handful of sets that the judges have had eyes on are turned into real life, retail Lego sets.
The result is a range filled with some of the most unique, innovative sets. The Lego Ideas Motorized Lighthouse is just one of them, but it absolutely nails everything that the Lego Ideas range should be.
Boasting a fantastic design, some really nifty mechanisms that are rarely seen outside of Lego Technic sets and an engaging build process, the Lego Ideas Motorized Lighthouse isn’t just one of our favorite Lego Ideas builds but one of the best Lego sets of all time. That’s a grand statement to make, but there’s very little to be disappointed about in this true feat of Lego engineering.
Lego Ideas Motorized Lighthouse review: Build
- It takes some time before it begins to take shape
- A pleasant, enjoyable build from start to finish
Being over 2,000 pieces, the Lego Ideas Motorized Lighthouse is a rather time-consuming build. It’s the sort of thing you’re likely to complete over two or three evenings rather than doing in one sitting, likely taking around six hours, give or take, to complete in full. It’s a building process that is clearly split into two parts – and that’s highlighted thanks to the fact that the instructions are spread over two books. The first half sees you building the rocky base and the cottage, and the second half concerns itself with raising the lighthouse.
For the first few sets of bags, there’s very little clue as to what you’re building. Your progress resembles little more than randomly scattered bricks on a base board, but keep going and you’ll eventually start to see details form: a pier, a cave, a set of steps leading up to the top of the cliff. In fact, in those early stages, the Motorized Lighthouse’s fan designer, Sandro Quattrini (who goes by rosesmustbuild on Lego Ideas) purposefully included a mismatched hodge-podge of bricks. A note in the instruction book states it’s a little nod to all the Lego fans who’ve had to cobble together their own designs from whatever bricks they’ve had laying around. It’s a cute little inclusion which made us smile.
Our only real grumble about the build process of the Motorized Lighthouse is that it’s sometimes hard to find where your pieces need to go. You’re often working across the entire space of your base board, and any newly-placed pieces aren’t highlighted within the instructions. As a result, we occasionally spent a little too long for comfort simply scanning each step, trying to spot the bricks that we haven’t already placed. Lego used to highlight the pieces you needed to place in each step, and it’s a shame that they’ve moved away from that - it made reading the instructions much easier.
But that’s only a small gripe, and it didn’t get in the way of our enjoyment of putting together the Lego Ideas Motorized Lighthouse. Even building the lighthouse tower itself, which we worried would be a little repetitive, ended up being engaging. It’s been designed in such a way that, despite looking very similar on all sides, each piece is built slightly differently and so boredom never sets in. There’s only a handful of small pieces that are replicated, which isn’t a problem.
As great as the lighthouse looks, thanks to its imposing stature, it’s probably the cottage that makes up our favorite part of the build. This tiny little lighthouse keeper’s home is packed with so many lovely details: a bed with a checked duvet; a stove (which lights up the whole cottage!); a writing desk.
The homely additions of pictures on the wall really finish off this living space. It’s just a shame that, once the model’s finished, you need to remove the whole roof to properly admire it.
Lego Ideas Motorized Lighthouse review: Design
- Electronic components are wonderful
- Packed with lovely, tiny details
The nature of the Lego Ideas program means, essentially, the Motorized Lighthouse has been designed twice. Its original design, submitted by Quattrini to Lego Ideas, is then changed, refined and finalized by a team of Lego designers. In some cases, the changes are minor. But in the case of the Motorized Lighthouse, it really feels like it’s been taken back to the drawing board.
Sandro Quattrini’s original concept does bear some resemblance to the finished, retail model, but the changes it’s gone through are numerous. For one, Quattrini’s design wasn’t minifigure scale: the lighthouse keeper was instead a tiny microfigure. It provided perhaps a more epic sense of scale, but the inclusion of minifigures makes a set more appealing. As such, the design of the cottage has been changed to accommodate, too. It’s now more of a focal point, with more detailed brickwork and a full interior. Even the lighthouse and the cliff have been reworked.
The result is a set that’s far more visually appealing, and has allowed for Lego to include the small design details that make their sets so special. Without the changes, we wouldn’t have had a fully-furnished cottage, or a lighthouse with ladders going all the way inside. There wouldn’t have been a cave hiding a treasure chest, either.
Bringing the Lego Ideas Motorized Lighthouse to life has clearly taken a lot of expertise, and we are in awe of the job the design team has done. From the cottage’s intricate brickwork to the tapered shape of the lighthouse, there isn’t a brick out of place. There's even been a brand new brick created especially for this set (a very rare occurrence): a mini fresnel lens to give the lighthouse an air of authenticity.
The careful consideration of each part of the design means that the lighthouse is a pleasure to build, and even with the addition of wiring for the motorized functions – the Lighthouse is hiding a battery pack, a medium motor and cabling leading to the LED lights – no part of the process is ever frustrating.
To the contrary, in fact: we loved the clever ways that the wires are hidden, with their placement considered at every part of the build. The battery pack, too, has been cleverly disguised as part of the cliff, allowing for easy access if you need to change the batteries. Well, providing you can remember which part of the cliff it is: it blends in so well that it’s hard to tell!
Should you buy Lego Ideas Motorized Lighthouse?
This is a no-brainer: yes, you absolutely should buy Lego Ideas Motorized Lighthouse. Well, providing you have the money and the space for it. But if you're happy to drop $300 on one Lego model, we're very confident in saying that you won't be disappointed with this one. The Motorized Lighthouse is one of our favorite Lego sets ever (and we've built a lot of them). In terms of the building process, the little details, the electronics and, of course, the finished model, everything is close to perfect. With the Motorized Lighthouse, the Lego Ideas range has hit a home run once more.
Other Lego sets to consider
The Motorized Lighthouse isn't the only worthwhile set from the Lego Ideas range. It may be one of the best, sure, but we also love Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night, a brick-built replica of the iconic painting. There's also the wonderful Tree House, complete with leaves made out of plant-based plastic, or The Globe, which might not be geographically accurate but still looks fantastic on your shelf.
Elsewhere in Lego's collection, we heartily recommend the Botanicals range, which includes the Bird of Paradise and the Orchid, which both somehow manage to look like the real things, despite being made out of bricks.
For more ideas about what Lego sets are available, why not check out our guide to the best Lego sets for adults?
Kim is a UK-based freelancewriter who focuses on Lego, toys and video game-related content. She's the co-creator of GameSpew.com and ThatBrickSite.com, where you'll find most of her work. If she's not building with plastic bricks, playing a video game, or writing about doing either of those things, you should probably check she's still breathing. You can find her on Twitter at @ichangedmyname.