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The Ultimate Guide to LEGO Sets for Movie and TV Fans

LEGO has been fueling creativity and imaginative play since 1949, but it leveled up its pop culture cred in 1999 with the release of its first licensed theme – LEGO Star Wars. Since then, LEGO has partnered with countless movies, TV shows, and video game franchises to translate fan-favorite worlds into brick form. For film and television buffs who are also LEGO enthusiasts, these sets offer the ultimate way to combine passions.

As a digital technology expert and lifelong LEGO lover myself, I‘ve watched with fascination as LEGO has become a transmedia powerhouse over the last two decades. By partnering with beloved pop culture properties, LEGO has not only boosted its own sales and market share, but also given fans a new way to engage with their favorite fictional universes.

In this ultimate guide, I‘ll take a deep dive into the world of LEGO sets based on movies and TV shows – from the design process behind these sets to the rarest and most valuable ones coveted by serious collectors. I‘ll highlight some of my favorite sets that are currently available, provide tips for collectors, and discuss how licensed themes have shaped LEGO‘s brand and business.

Whether you‘re buying your first licensed set or are a seasoned collector, I hope this guide will give you a greater appreciation for the artistry and innovation that goes into translating pop culture icons into LEGO form. Let‘s start building!

The Impact of Licensed Themes on LEGO‘s Bottom Line

First, let‘s talk numbers. Licensed themes have been a huge driver of growth for LEGO over the past 20 years. In 1999, the year LEGO Star Wars launched, LEGO‘s revenues were around $1.2 billion. By 2015, that figure had grown to $5.2 billion, thanks in large part to the success of licensed sets.

In 2020 alone, licensed themes accounted for over 25% of LEGO‘s total portfolio by number of individual sets produced. The top licensed themes by number of sets released to date are:

Theme Number of Sets
Star Wars 832
Harry Potter 101
Super Heroes (Marvel & DC) 354
Disney (incl. Pixar, Frozen) 147
Minecraft 82

Of course, quantity doesn‘t necessarily mean quality – but many of LEGO‘s licensed sets are also among their top-rated and bestselling of all time. Sets like the Star Wars Ultimate Millennium Falcon (7500 pieces), Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters (4600 pieces), and Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle (6000 pieces) have become instant classics.

So it‘s clear that movie and TV show sets are big business for LEGO. But what goes into actually taking a property from the screen to the brick? As it turns out, a lot of high-tech design and digital wizardry.

Building Worlds in Miniature: The LEGO Design Process

The design process for a LEGO set based on a movie or show is a true blend of artistry and technology. It starts with reference materials provided by the partner studio, everything from concept art to 3D models to actual props. The LEGO design team absorbs as much as they can about the source material to really understand the key elements they need to capture.

Then the actual LEGO design begins, using advanced digital tools. Designers work in a program called LEGO Digital Designer which lets them select bricks and build virtual models to their heart‘s content. Elements that don‘t exist can be custom-designed and then prototyped using 3D printers in the LEGO workshop.

Graphic designers also have their work cut out for them creating the decorations, stickers, and packaging to make the set feel authentic to the movie or show. For minifigures of beloved characters, designers work hard to capture recognizable costumes, hairstyles and facial expressions in just a few printed details.

Throughout the design process, the LEGO team collaborates closely with creators of the original movie or show to ensure accuracy and adherence to the artistic vision. Lucasfilm is famously involved in approving every single LEGO Star Wars product for example. This means designers often have to revise and refine a model multiple times to get it just right.

Easter eggs and nods to iconic details are often hidden throughout the finished sets for true fans to discover. An Iron Man minifigure might feature a printed Arc Reactor, while the Friends Central Perk set includes Phoebe‘s guitar and Ross‘ keyboard. This eye for detail and respect for the source material is a big part of what makes movie/TV LEGO sets so special to build and display.

Collector‘s Items: The High Value of Licensed LEGO

Speaking of displaying – many LEGO movie and TV show sets aren‘t just built for play, but also to be showcased as collector‘s items. And some of the rarest sets, especially those that were only available for a limited time, have become highly sought-after with skyrocketing aftermarket prices.

According to, a site that tracks the value of LEGO sets, the most expensive movie set to date is the Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon from 2007. A new sealed set recently sold at auction for over $15,000 – not bad considering its original MSRP was $500!

Other retired sets that consistently rank among the most valuable include:

  • Taj Mahal (2008) – $3000-$4000
  • Star Wars Death Star II (2005) – $2500-$3500
  • Batman Tumbler (2014) – $1500-$2000
  • Ghostbusters Ecto-1 (2014) – $1000-$1500

Of course, most sets won‘t jump quite that drastically in value – but many appreciate steadily after retirement as their pieces become rarer. Limited edition sets, like those released to coincide with a movie premiere or Comic-Con, tend to be particularly desirable.

For collectors, keeping sets pristine and sealed is the key to maximizing future value. But where‘s the fun in never actually building your set? Many collectors will buy two of an especially coveted set – one to build and display, and one to keep mint in box. Talk about dedication!

Whether you‘re collecting to play or to invest (or a bit of both), there‘s no denying the thrill of the hunt when tracking down those highly sought-after licensed sets. From scouring aftermarket sites to trading with fellow fans, the LEGO collector community is always abuzz with activity.

The Game Is On: LEGO Movie and TV Video Games

LEGO has found yet another way to engage fans of licensed themes – by bringing them to life in video game form. Since the release of LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game in 2005, the LEGO gaming franchise has become a massive hit, with over 50 titles released across multiple platforms.

By combining the fun and creativity of LEGO building with the characters and worlds of popular movies/TV shows, these games offer a unique way to explore beloved stories. Players can solve puzzles, battle enemies, and of course collect those studs and bricks – all while experiencing key moments from the source material in LEGO‘s signature humorous style.

Some of the most critically acclaimed and bestselling LEGO movie/TV games include:

  • LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  • LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 & 5-7
  • LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 1 & 2
  • LEGO The Lord of the Rings
  • LEGO Batman 1, 2 & 3

With charming graphics, clever cutscenes, and tons of unlockable characters/vehicles, these games have become bestsellers in their own right. Many of them have a Metacritic score in the 80s, indicating universal acclaim. They‘re a perfect extension of the LEGO movie/TV experience beyond the brick.

Brickfilm Magic: The LEGO Movie Franchise

Perhaps the ultimate example of synergy between LEGO and Hollywood is the LEGO Movie franchise. These films take the concept of a LEGO licensed theme to the next level by imagining a world where everything and everyone is made of LEGO bricks.

The first installment, 2014‘s The LEGO Movie, was a critical and commercial smash hit, grossing over $450 million worldwide. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the film‘s clever humor, gorgeous animation, and heartfelt message about creativity resonated with viewers of all ages.

The film‘s success spawned multiple sequels and spin-offs, including The LEGO Batman Movie (2017), The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017), and The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019). Each film lovingly parodies pop culture tropes and delivers laughs for the whole family.

Of course, each movie was also accompanied by a slew of tie-in LEGO playsets, letting fans bring home the adventures of Emmet, Lucy, Batman, and co. With the LEGO films taking place in a world of bricks, the design process for these sets was uniquely meta, translating the on-screen brick builds into real ones fans could recreate.

The LEGO Movie franchise exemplifies how LEGO has become a true transmedia powerhouse. Those colorful bricks are no longer just a toy – they‘re stars of the screen, both big and small.

An Enduring Love Affair Between LEGO and Hollywood

As we‘ve seen, the relationship between LEGO and pop culture has become a symbiotic one – they both boost and feed off each other‘s popularity and success. For movie and TV fans, LEGO offers an immersive new way to experience their favorite fictional worlds. For LEGO, partnering with Hollywood provides a constant stream of new stories and characters to translate into brick form, keeping their portfolio fresh and relevant.

It‘s a love affair that shows no signs of slowing down. With dozens of new licensed sets released each year, LEGO is always finding new ways to bring the magic of movies and television to life in plastic. As an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO), I‘m constantly impressed by the innovation and attention to detail in each new wave of sets.

So whether you‘re a casual fan looking to build a memento from your favorite film, or a hardcore collector tracking down the rarest minifigs, there‘s never been a better time to be a LEGO lover who‘s also passionate about pop culture. These brick-built wonders are a testament to the enduring power of great storytelling – and the limitless potential of the humble LEGO brick.

Here‘s to many more years of movie and TV magic in LEGO form!