Best LEGO Technic Sets

Updated May 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

21 Models Considered
9 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
583 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best LEGO Technic sets

Last Updated May 2019

Everything is awesome in the world of LEGO. These humble knobby bricks of plastic have stacked up into a whole LEGO universe that’s not just comprised of a vast range of buildable projects but also spans movies, video games, and even theme parks.

LEGO is educational and fun. It sparks the imagination and aids in the development of hand-eye and fine motor coordination. Sets range from the classic creative bricks boxes to the super-difficult Star Wars Millennium Falcon, which boasts an impressive 75,192 parts.

If you really want a challenge, though, head to the LEGO Technics aisle. This range allows you to build cars, trucks, construction vehicles, and helicopters with working gearboxes, steering systems, arms, and piston engines. When launched in 1977, the Technics sets were originally called the Expert Builder series. The aim of these sets was and is to provide technically challenging but very gratifying builds that include more complex parts than regular sets. So if you want to hone your engineering and auto-building skills in a fun and creative project, look no further.

LEGO was invented by Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter and toymaker, in Denmark in 1932. The name comes from “Leg godt,” which is Danish for "play well."

Key considerations

Degree of difficulty

Today’s LEGO Technic sets don’t have many regular LEGO studded (knobbed) interlocking bricks (beams). Instead, they mostly use studless beams (liftarms) and pins to hold the bricks together. That’s because it’s difficult to use the studded beams vertically without using plates to get the holes to line up, and the studless beams give greater flexibility thanks to the clip-based pins. The disadvantage is that the builder basically needs to assemble the project from the inside out rather than from the ground up. That requires a lot of planning, forward thinking, and visualization. Unless you’re a master builder creating off-grid, you’ll also need to be good at sticking to the directions.

Versatility

Some projects can be dismantled and rebuilt into different structures. If the building is the fun part for you (rather than admiring the finished product), look into these two-in-one sets.

Teachable moments

The LEGO Education range is specifically designed for use in the classroom. This range includes some of the add-on sets for Technic sets, such as the pneumatics. These will come with additional materials like problem-solving activities, lesson plans, and worksheets, all of which are great for kids.

Enjoyment all the way

If you’ve always wanted a Porsche but don’t want the insurance bill, consider the 911 GT3 RS. Learn how the paddle shifters on the gear shifts work, and marvel at the attention to detail. Some customers enjoy the build so much that they report disappointment after finishing the 900 steps it takes to complete — but the resulting model is definitely worthy of display. As a bonus, the included collectors’ manual features photos and details of the original car.

LEGO Technic set features

Technic sets contain a variety of moving parts. Some of these mechanicals are also offered for sale as separate sets for upgrading, customizing, and adapting.

Motors

LEGO Technics can be brought to life with a motor. It’s usually powered by a battery motor in a connected battery box, or sometimes by mains electricity using a transformer. Some kits come with a motor, while others need to be purchased separately if you want a fully functioning model. Potential buyers should note, however, that not all models can be upgraded.

Gears

For a moving model, you’re going to need gears, and builders report that learning these workings is highly satisfying. Some kits also include a clutch. In some instances, chain links are used to connect the gears. Getting the correct tension and gear wheel sizes is important to making the model work properly, so some homework may be required if you are literally thinking outside the box.

Power function sets

These supplementary sets are sold separately and can be integrated into Technics models by design (where the LEGO set specifically has an optional space for the units) or for custom builds. They include a motor, a battery box, and either a wired switch or a remote control for full automation of the model. Check the box for the exact components and compatibility.

Pneumatics

Learn about the properties of air pressure and pistons with sets that include pumps, valves, cylinders, manometers and tubes. Some kits also include an air tank.

DID YOU KNOW?

Having pieces left over at the end of a build is not necessarily a bad thing. LEGO prefers to err on the side of caution, so you often get extras. Don’t throw them out, as they may come in handy for future use.

DID YOU KNOW?

For a rich resource of advice, check out the highly rated book Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide by Pawel "Sariel" Kmieć. This is considered to be the LEGO Technics bible, and it has some excellent teaching and knowledge regarding the builds.

DID YOU KNOW?

If your set comes with damaged parts, don’t worry. LEGO is very responsive with shipping out any extra pieces that you find you need.

LEGO Technic set prices

The smallest of the Technics sets start at just $10. For this amount of money, you can get a simple cherry picker or loader suitable for kids age seven and up.

However, the majority of the builds are between $100 and $350, with more complicated and inclusive sets costing around $800. There are even a few that will bust the $1,000 mark.

Add-on sets (power, gears etc) start at $15 and go up to $500.

A true two-in-one set

The replica BMW R 1200 GS Adventure bike can be constructed as a touring bike or a prototype. While it can’t be motorized, it does have working suspension and pistons. The build is challenging but possible, and it won’t take forever.

Tips

  • Keep in mind that parts will be labeled with a scale reference. You can physically measure the piece, or you can visit the LEGO website for a handy downloadable Technics measurement chart. Print this out at 100% scale so you can accurately measure the LEGO Technic pieces against it. The site also has free download instructions for alternate builds.

  • Take your time. Follow the instructions carefully, and test as you go along. One small glitch could end up causing more problems later and force a time-consuming (and frustrating) rebuild.

  • Don’t push the pieces past their limit. You can see some pretty spectacular fails online where the RPMs or weight limits have been ramped up and overblown the blocks.

  • Don’t overtighten. Some of the parts will need some space in order to work properly.

Other products we considered

For a lot of moving parts and a lesson in engineering, consider the Mercedes-Benz Arocs 3245 42043. The large motor and advanced pneumatic system operates the lift arm and dump box, which users report can lift 35 pounds.

A true sports car enthusiast may wish to spring for the 3,599-piece Bugatti Chiron 42083. Developed in partnership with Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S, it’s a faithful 1:8 scale replica of the Italian supercar. The sophistication of the assembly has been praised as LEGO creativity at its best and is certainly one of the largest and most complex, with an eight-speed paddle shift gearbox, W16 engine, steering wheel,and suspension. The instructions mirror that of the true car build, so you’ll learn a lot about automotive assembly.

If possible, have a dedicated workspace where you can keep your work in progress. Moving a partially built set around on trays may not end well. Having a few tubs in which to keep unused (and preferably pre-sorted) building parts is also helpful.

FAQ

Q. What’s the best way to start a younger child with LEGO Technics?

A. Don’t necessarily go by the age on the box; this is just a guideline. You know your child best in terms of attention span, interest level, and coordination. It’s best not to be too technical at the start, so you can set the child up for success. Begin with simpler, smaller sets where kids can see how everything fits together.

Q. What are so-called “illegal LEGO combinations” I hear about?

A. This is just a way of calling out undesirable building techniques, which might put too much strain on a model or cause it to work out of sync and wear out.

Q. Are LEGO Mindstorms the same as LEGO Technics?

A. Not exactly. With Mindstorms sets, you can build programmable robots, and you’re also getting into computing and coding. However, if you want to get really clever, most of the Mindstorms building elements use the Technics components and can be interchanged using different pins and axles.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Samantha
    Samantha
    Writer

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