Top positive review
A well thought-out design (as well as a great teaching tool for young children)
Reviewed in the United States on March 3, 2020
We've stockpiled a bunch of Lego "Creator 3-in-1" sets for our young child. Even though the sets are marked for 6+ or 7+ year olds, we introduced one of the simpler ones -- the 71-piece Blue Express train -- to our 3-year-old. (He's not a toy swallower, but we were watching carefully nonetheless.)
For many reasons, we can heartily recommend these.
With the help of both us parents, the three of us studied the instructions, identified the pieces, and patiently assembled everything. For an older child, this should be a no-brainer for them to construct on their own. The instructions are (for the most part) quite well composed.
Lego's "3-in-1" concept is an ingenious one: The same set of pieces generates three distinct designs. Here are a few of our observations and buying tips -- these apply across the board to most of the sets in the Creator series:
1. You may want to purchase multiples of some of the sets, especially if it's a set that's less than ten dollars each. This won't matter if your child (or you!) loves to disassemble and reassemble repeatedly. But if the child wants to continue playing with one of the 3 designs (especially for the trains, cars & spacecrafts), then extra sets will allow you folks to build more than one of those three designs simultaneously. Also, keep in mind that some of the sets (like the trains) snap together if you own more than one copy.
2. Keep in mind that Lego LOVES to "retire" designs quite quickly. Those that are very inexpensive initially will eventually become available only on the secondary market at higher prices. Yes I know ... by saying that I'm (literally) buying into their "spend more now" strategy, but it's worth being aware how Lego operates so that your purchase decisions are well informed.
3. The newest designs are often the cheapest (at first), and the 3-in-1 sets are orders of magnitude less expensive than Lego's branded, large-scale projects. Most of the online and big-box stores (not including Lego's) will price these at the exact same amount, but it's still worth shopping around. And we found that these sets can be really discounted on Black Friday / Cyber Monday. Lego itself does have special sales, so it's worth being on their e-mail list.
4. Do your Amazon search using "Lego Creator" and you'll see all the current offerings at once. The sets vary from simple (70 pieces) to more complex (many hundreds of pieces). Our favorites are the trains and planes, but you and your kids may find some of the other designs really imaginative. The Space Shuttle one is way cool.
5. The webpage for each product shows the box exteriors, which have excellent images of the three variations. That's often the main criteria -- in addition to price -- that leads us to select one rather than another.
6. I was a Lego purist as a child ... someone who only built projects from generic pieces. So, when the selection of "branded" designs from Lego exploded in recent years (think Star Wars or Disney), I was a bit repulsed by all of these custom projects. I'm still not big on big-name sets, but the Creator line changed my way of thinking about using Lego.
7. For goodness sake, if you buy a bunch of sets on Black Friday and intend to space out the gift-giving, find a safe hiding space! Our boy spotted half-a-dozen in our closet when he turned three, and the negotiations at that point were fierce (and he's a reasonable guy).
8. If you ever experience Kinder Egg toys during their heyday of creativity, these Lego sets will remind you of that same design concept. Basically, as the last pieces fit into place, the reaction is always, "Wow! That works!"