Although the focus of this site is primarily to provide tips and resources for adult fans of LEGO, I thought it would be helpful to at least briefly address the topic of LEGO shopping for younger LEGO enthusiasts.
If you have budding LEGO fans around, you will definitely have lots of fun sharing the LEGO hobby! There is nothing like building a big project together with little ones! I’m always amazed by the imagination, fine perception, and attention to detail young children exhibit! If you are the one shopping for them, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
SEPARATE YOUR CHILD FROM YOUR INNER CHILD!
A common thing parents, often unconsciously, do when they shop for toys for their children (not just when LEGO shopping) is that they buy things they would like to play with, or would have liked to play with when they were a little. The result could be children who are surrounded by toys that don’t fit their personality and interests, while they remain bored and unfulfilled.
Fortunately LEGO is very adaptable and can be rebuilt in many ways, so it is not possible to make a really big mistake (unless your child is not into LEGO at all), but still it would be difficult to built a Princess Castle from Star Wars Battleship parts.
When I was a child my two main LEGO suppliers were my father and my uncle. Unfortunately they both got me LEGO sets they liked! My Dad bought LEGO Technic cars and trucks, and my uncle Spaceships. Even though I have explained to them many times that I would really-really like castle! Now as an adult I’m going crazy with LEGO Castle Collection due to the long-term deprival in my childhood.
So, shop for your children according to their interest! Especially for birthdays and Christmas, when they really hope for something they like. And buy for yourself what you would like. This way everyone is happy!
NOT JUST FOR THE EYES!
If you take children LEGO shopping, you will notice they tend to gravitate to the biggest LEGO box with the most explosive colors. Even if you are well aware they don’t have a real interest in that particular theme, or it is not appropriate for their age. It is just something kids do; they tend to be very visual and the bigger and brighter a toy, the more they are attracted. (Something toy manufacturers are well aware!)
By the time you are in the LEGO-isle, it may be too late to have a reasonable discussion about what to get, as their senses are overloaded by the possibilities (and probably yours too!). It is much better to go through the LEGO Catalog at home beforehand and discuss together what to get. This way you can help each other shop!
VARIETY & OPTIONS – THE MORE THE BETTER!
Of course this is true for LEGO in general, but what I’m really referring to here is the play-options of a LEGO set. Some sets contain one model with few parts and not much else. Although you can mix the parts with LEGO your children already have, these sets by themselves are often not the best choice. Especially if this is going to be the first LEGO set for a child.
Other sets come with instructions for several alternate models. These are usually great choices as there are more opportunities to build, and building-techniques to learn. You can easily find this by looking at the box. They often say something like 2-in-1 or 3-in-1. The sets below are good examples of lots options:
COMMON-GOODS OR PRIVATE PROPERTY?
If there is more than one LEGO-fan in a family, the question may arise; should we mix all the LEGO as common property, or should family members have the right to own their own LEGO? I believe each family will handle this differently and there will be some organic development unique to the family. But I thought to share some things to consider that might help to make a decision:
MERGING LEGO: there will be a larger variety to build from and choose from. It also encourages family members to play together. This is a great system for kids who are about the same age and play well together.
PRIVATE PROPERTY: if you are a LEGO-fan yourself, you may not want young children play with your giant Star Wars Millenium Falcon. Or an older daughter may not appreciate her baby-brother messing around with her creations. Therefore this is a good option for LEGO-fans of different ages. It also encourages children to become responsible and take care of their own toys. And it may also give them an opportunity to learn some trading and commerce skills while negotiating with siblings (or you!) for trading parts and minifigs!
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: in my family we had a large box of common LEGO and we also had our special personal sets that were off limits for siblings (and parents!). This system worked great for us.
I hope these ideas help you in your LEGO shopping for you and your children! If you have any questions, comments of tips for other readers share them in the comment section below. You may also want to check out these posts for further ideas: