13 of the Toughest LEGO Sets to Build

by Rob Leane

LEGO bricks are a source of endless fun, but they can also present an immense challenge. While sometimes it might be enough to click a few random bricks together and call it a work of modern art, on other occasions you have to stick to the instructions. You’d think this would be easier, but it really isn’t. Especially not when there are thousands of pieces involved, any of which could get lost under the sofa or eaten by a poorly-supervised child.

From this tricky camp, here are 13 of the toughest LEGO sets ever designed… 

1. Eiffel Tower (3428 pieces)

Standing at over four foot tall when fully built, this LEGO version of Paris’ iconic pointy landmark consists of over 3000 pieces. Almost every single one of them is the same colour, making it even trickier to construct. This one’s a true test for a master builder, as well as being less kind on your wallet than a real-life flight to France (the cheapest on Ebay at the moment is over $1000).

2. Ghostbusters Firehouse (4634 pieces)

This impressively intricate Ghostbusters HQ design is more difficult than it looks on first glance. Not only do you have to build the exterior of the Fire House, but it also swings open on a hinge to show multiple rooms within. It’s worth the challenge for hard-core fans, though, as it includes a whopping 9 minifigures covering the entire band of original ‘busters and a few ghoulish nasties. 

 3. Ultimate Collector’s Edition Millennium Falcon (7541 pieces)

With over 5000 pieces, most of which are grey and tiny, LEGO sets don’t come much more difficult than this Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon. Since this product has been available to Star Wars and LEGO fans since 2008, you’d now need over $1,000 to buy a new one on Amazon. But still, you could run around the room with it and pretend you’re Han Solo... Can you really put a cost on that much glee?

 4. Tower Bridge (4287 pieces)

London’s iconic suspension bridge, in LEGO form, is one of the toughest builds available. Not only are there loads of incredibly similar beige bricks to differentiate, but there’s also multiple layers and hanging bits to deal with. But still, if you fancy a challenge, this is one of the cheaper options on this list (it's $390 on Amazon at the moment).

5. Super Star Destroyer (3152 pieces)

Another one for the Star Wars fans, this Imperial design is almost evil in its intricacy. The 3152 pieces are mostly grey and tiny, with the sharp edges and pointed front meaning that there aren’t too many interchangeable parts. It’d look pretty cool on your shelf, though, wouldn't it? After the hours of painstaking work are completed, that is.  

6. Marvel S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier (2996 pieces)

This LEGO rendering of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s iconic Helicarrier - made famous by Joss Whedon’s The Avengers movie - is a hefty challenge for any hardened fan of Marvel Comics' superheroes. It consists of two runways, moving pieces, mini-Quinjets and tiny forklift trucks, as well as boasting five minifigures and twelve even smaller ‘micro-minifigures.’ Prepare to get all those miniscule black, white and grey parts mixed up, if you choose to accept the challenge. 

7. Motorized AT-AT (1137 pieces)

As if assembling over a thousand bricks isn’t a big enough task, this Star Wars AT-AT design throws another challenge into the mix – motorisation. Yes, this iconic Imperial battle machine - made famous by The Empire Strikes Back’s Hoth scenes - really walks, and can even move its head. As far as we know, it can’t fire lasers, but it’d look impressive patrolling your living room nonetheless.  

8. Sydney Opera House (2989 pieces)

Why spend hundreds of pounds and manifold hours flying to Australia when you could build one if its most iconic landmarks at home instead? This Sydney Opera House set is devilishly detailed at almost 3000 pieces, with those recognisable roof ‘shells’ looking like the most fiddly areas. LEGO minifigures of Pavarotti and other iconic opera singers are not included.

 9. Sandcrawler (3296 pieces)

3296 pieces make up this Star Wars Sandcrawler set, which allows you to recreate the memorable vessel driven by the droid-selling scavengers the Jawas. If you really want one of these for your kitchen table, though, you’d better be prepared for the potentially-frustrating task of learning to tell all the little brown bricks apart. It comes will loads of droids, too. And Uncle Owen. And hatches that really open!

10. Statue Of Liberty (2889 pieces)

You’d be hard pressed to find one of these Statue of Liberty sets on sale at its RRP of $280 anymore. The product has been out for 16 years now, and second hand copies are now going for $700-$2,800 on Ebay. With over 2,800 pieces – most of which are green and very mini – it’s a challenge for even the most skilled LEGO builders. It was the biggest set ever at the time of its release in the year 2000.

11. Death Star(4016 pieces)

LEGO has produced a few Death Star sets over the years, but none are more difficult than this model of the Empire's second technological terror, which was still under construction when it was blown up at the end of Return Of The Jedi. As a result, Death Star LEGO remake is intended to look unfinished, making it even harder than usual to work out how the thousands of bricks fit together.

 12. Grand Carousel (3263 pieces)

For a few years, this was the largest LEGO set on the market. As well as weighing in at a hefty 3263 pieces, it also has power functions that allow it to rotate (clockwise or anticlockwise) and play music. Unless you’re a mega-genius, this set would surely take you weeks to construct. It’s intended for people aged 16 and up, and would set you back $250 at RRP.

13. Taj Majal (5922 pieces)

This epic Taj Mahal recreation is currently the biggest LEGO set ever produced, clocking in at a whopping 5922 pieces. The Jewel of India’s beautiful symmetry means that if you put one brick out of place you’ll be utterly undone, making this the toughest of all the LEGO building projects. Its RRP was $280, but the going rate on Amazon is a jaw-dropping $1299 at the time of writing. If you manage to get your hands on one of these, don’t expect to leave the house for quite some time (because you'll be broke and busy).

Looking for something a bit easier? You can always head over to LEGO for the set that fits your skill level.

Images: AmazonAmazonAmazonAmazonLEGO WikiLEGO ShopAmazonAmazonAmazonLEGO WikiLEGO WikiLEGO websiteLEGO Wiki

This post originally appeared on our UK site.

10 Reusable Gifts for Your Eco-Friendliest Friend

Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
DecorChic/Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

By this point, your eco-friendly pal probably has a reusable water bottle that accompanies them everywhere and some sturdy grocery totes that keep their plastic-bag count below par. Here are 10 other sustainable gift ideas that’ll help them in their conservation efforts.

1. Reusable Produce Bags; $13

No more staticky plastic bags.Naturally Sensible/Amazon

The complimentary plastic produce bags in grocery stores aren’t great, but neither is having all your spherical fruits and vegetables roll pell-mell down the checkout conveyor belt. Enter the perfect alternative: mesh bags that are nylon, lightweight, and even machine-washable.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Animal Tea Infusers; $16

Nothing like afternoon tea with your tiny animal friends.DecorChic/Amazon

Saying goodbye to disposable tea bags calls for a quality tea diffuser, and there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be shaped like an adorable animal. This “ParTEA Pack” includes a hippo, platypus, otter, cat, and owl, which can all hang over the edge of a glass or mug. (In other words, you won’t have to fish them out with your fingers or dirty a spoon when your loose leaf is done steeping.)

Buy it: Amazon

3. Rocketbook Smart Notebook; $25

Typing your notes on a tablet or laptop might save trees, but it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of writing on paper with a regular pen. The Rocketbook, on the other hand, does. After you’re finished filling a page with sketches, musings, or whatever else, you scan it into the Rocketbook app with your smartphone, wipe it clean with the microfiber cloth, and start again. This one also comes with a compatible pen, but any PILOT FriXion pens will do.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Food Huggers; $13

"I'm a hugger!"Food Huggers/Amazon

It’s hard to compete with the convenience of plastic wrap or tin foil when it comes to covering the exposed end of a piece of produce or an open tin can—and keeping those leftovers in food storage containers can take up valuable space in the fridge. This set of five silicone Food Huggers stretch to fit over a wide range of circular goods, from a lidless jar to half a lemon.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Swiffer Mop Pads; $15

For floors that'll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.Turbo Microfiber/Amazon

Swiffers may be much less unwieldy than regular mops, but the disposable pads present a problem to anyone who likes to keep their trash output to a minimum. These machine-washable pads fasten to the bottom of any Swiffer WetJet, and the thick microfiber will trap dirt and dust instead of pushing it into corners. Each pad lasts for at least 100 uses, so you’d be saving your eco-friendly friend quite a bit of money, too.

Buy it: Amazon

6. SodaStream for Sparkling Water; $69

A fondness for fizzy over flat water doesn’t have to mean buying it bottled. Not only does the SodaStream let you make seltzer at home, but it’s also small enough that it won’t take up too much precious counter space. SodaStream also sells flavor drops to give your home-brewed beverage even more flair—this pack from Amazon ($25) includes mango, orange, raspberry, lemon, and lime.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Washable Lint Roller; $13

Roller dirty.iLifeTech/Amazon

There’s a good chance that anyone with a pet (or just an intense dislike for lint) has lint-rolled their way through countless sticky sheets. iLifeTech’s reusable roller boasts “the power of glue,” which doesn’t wear off even after you’ve washed it. Each one also comes with a 3-inch travel-sized version, so you can stay fuzz-free on the go.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Countertop Compost Bin; $23

Like a tiny Tin Man for your table.Epica/Amazon

Even if you keep a compost pile in your own backyard, it doesn’t make sense to dash outside every time you need to dump a food scrap. A countertop compost bin can come in handy, especially if it kills odors and blends in with your decor. This 1.3-gallon pail does both. It’s made of stainless steel—which matches just about everything—and contains an activated-charcoal filter that prevents rancid peels and juices from stinking up your kitchen.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Fabric-Softening Dryer Balls; $17

Also great for learning how to juggle without breaking anything.Smart Sheep

Nobody likes starchy, scratchy clothes, but some people might like blowing through bottles of fabric softener and boxes of dryer sheets even less. Smart Sheep is here to offer a solution: wool dryer balls. Not only do they last for more than 1000 loads, they also dry your laundry faster. And since they don’t contain any chemicals, fragrances, or synthetic materials, they’re a doubly great option for people with allergies and/or sensitive skin.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Rechargeable Batteries; $40

Say goodbye to loose batteries in your junk drawer.eneloop/Amazon

While plenty of devices are rechargeable themselves, others still require batteries to buzz, whir, and change the TV channel—so it’s good to have some rechargeable batteries on hand. In addition to AA batteries, AAA batteries, and a charger, this case from Panasonic comes with tiny canisters that function as C and D batteries when you slip the smaller batteries into them.

Buy it: Amazon

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5 World War I-Era Tips for Celebrating Thanksgiving in Strange Times

Thanksgiving Day menu from November 1917 at Fort D. A. Russell in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Thanksgiving Day menu from November 1917 at Fort D. A. Russell in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
National World War I Museum and Memorial

The year 2020 has been one of hardships, sacrifices, and reimagined traditions. As the United States enters the holiday season with COVID-19 cases at a record high, this reality is more undeniable than ever.

Thanksgiving may look different for many people this year, but it won’t be totally unprecedented. Whether you’re connecting with people remotely, entertaining a smaller group, or trying out a new menu, you can find guidance in the records of Thanksgivings past.

As a 1918 newspaper article from the National World War I Museum and Memorial’s archives reads, “The thanks of the Yanks may differ this year from that of peace-time Novembers, but [...] the spirit of the day is always the same, however much the surroundings may differ."

Americans celebrating Thanksgiving at home and abroad during World War I had to deal with food shortages, being away from family, and, in 1918, a global pandemic. Mental Floss spoke with Lora Vogt, the World War I Museum’s curator of education, about what people making the best of this year’s holiday can learn form wartime Thanksgiving celebrations.

1. Mail Treats to Loved Ones.

Thanksgiving postcard from 1918.National World War I Museum and Memorial

Even when separated by great distances, families found ways to share food on Thanksgiving a century ago. “We have all of these letters from service members saying thanks for the candy, thanks for the cakes, thank you for the donuts—all of these foods they were sent from their loved ones when they couldn't be together,” Vogt tells Mental Floss.

If you're spending Thanksgiving apart from the people you love this year, sending them a treat in the mail can be a great way to connect from a distance. Just remember that not everything people mailed to each other during World War I belongs in a modern care package. “I would suggest you forgo the live chickens,” Vogt says. “The USPS has been through so much this year already.”

2. Try a New Recipe.

Food shortages made ingredients like sugar, wheat, and red meat hard to come by during World War I. In 1918, the U.S. government released a cookbook titled Win the War in the Kitchen, which featured ration-friendly recipes. Americans aren’t dealing with the same food shortages they saw during World War I (or even March 2020) this Thanksgiving, but an unconventional celebration could be the perfect excuse to recreate a dish from history. Some recipes from Win the War in the Kitchen that could fit into your Thanksgiving menu include corn fritters, lentil casserole, carrot pudding, Puritan turkey stuffing, and maple syrup cake with maple syrup frosting. You can find the full digitized version of the book at the National World War I Museum’s online exhibit.

3. Depart From Tradition.

This year is the perfect opportunity to break the rules on Thanksgiving. That means instead of sitting down to a stuffy dinner at a set time, you could enjoy a relaxed day of eating, drinking, and binge-watching. This excerpt from a 1918 letter written by serviceman James C. Ryan to his mother may provide some inspiration:

"Had Thanksgiven [sic] dinner at Huber's over in Newark. Collins was in Cleveland on a furlough and Huber and his wife was alone with me [...] Started off with a little champagne and I certainly did put away an awfull [sic] feed. Had several cold bottles during the day and after coming back from a movie we had a few and some turkey sandwiches."

“Starting off with a little champagne does not sound like a bad plan,” Vogt tells Mental Floss. “And it was very much a small pod. They have their variation of Netflix, and then turkey sandwiches at the end of the day. Certainly some similarities and some inspiration there.”

Thanksgiving festivities were also unconventional for soldiers serving overseas in World War I. While stationed "somewhere in France" on November 29, 1918, Hebert Naylor wrote to his mother describing a Thanksgiving with two big meals—and not a turkey in sight:

“We came back and had breakfast at 10 o’clock. It consisted of pancakes, syrup, bacon and coffee. We had the big dinner at 4:30 PM and I tell you it was quite a dinner to be served to so many men. It consisted of baked chicken, creamed corn, french fried potatoes, lettuce, pie, cake and coffee. This was the first pie and cake I had since I left home and believe me it tasted good.”

4. Find Normalcy Where You Can.

Thanksgiving 1918 for the 79th Aero Squadron at Taliaferro Field, Hicks, Texas.National World War I Museum and Memorial

No matter what your Thanksgiving looks like in 2020, making room for a couple of traditions can provide much-needed comfort in a year of uncertainty. Even people celebrating during wartime 100 years ago were able to incorporate some normalcy into their festivities. On November 29, 1917, serviceman Thomas Shook wrote about seeing a football game while at army training camp: “In the afternoon several of us went to the Army vs. Ill. U. football game. There sure was some crowd. Army lost the game first they have lost.”

Keeping some classic items on the menu is another way make the day feel more traditional. Army trainee Charles Stevenson wrote to his grandmother on Thanksgiving 1917: “We had about the best dinner I ever ate today—turkey, cranberry sauce and cranberries, fruit salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, tea and mine [sic] pie. Pretty fine eating for the soldier bosy [sic].”

5. Share What You’re Thankful For.

During the Great War’s darkest moments, some service members were still inspired to express gratitude when Thanksgiving rolled around. Thomas Shook wrote in a letter to his parents dated November 28, 1918 that after surviving the war, he had now escaped the Spanish Flu that was infecting many of the men he served with. Despite the hardships he endured, he was thankful to have been spared by the virus and be on his way home.

Wherever you are this Thanksgiving, sharing what you’re grateful for with loved ones—even if it’s by phone, Zoom, or a handwritten letter—is a simple way to celebrate the holiday.