Not counting some bizarre missteps such as the Scala, Fabuland, and Jack Stone offshoots, Lego has had a consistently excellent track record of delivering awesome, long-lasting building sets since 1949. But let's face it: some of them are so rare, expensive, or just flat-out weird that you're never going to play with them, let alone collect them. Some really rare Lego sets, in fact, sell for more than 500% of their original retail price of just a decade ago. They're basically plastic gold.
This list features Lego sets that are prohibitively expensive, insanely rare, or repulsively engineered. They're the sets that live in the fringes of the Lego universe - the inbred cousins and snooty step-siblings of the mainstream Lego we all know and love.
All images on this list ©LEGO Group.
Taj MahalPhoto: Brickset / via brickset.com
Like the Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon, this gorgeous Taj Mahal model is hard to come by mainly because it's so expensive. When Lego released it in 2008, it retailed for $299.99, which isn't that bad, really, considering it's the largest set they've ever produced at a whopping 5922 pieces (that's only 5 cents per piece). Since Lego stopped making it in 2011, it will cost you at least $2,000 to get a mint set.685196Is this awesome?
4x4 Crawler Exclusive EditionPhoto: LEGO / via brickset.com
It's bad enough that only 20,000 copies of this sweet remote-controlled 2013 Lego Technic 4x4 were ever manufactured, but Lego also decided to give all 20,000 copies a unique numbered license plate. So even if you and your friends were fortunate enough to snatch one up, your buddy might have a more impressive plate, such as the incredible "1 of 20,000."598203Is this awesome?
Automatic Binding BricksPhoto: Brickipedia / via lego.wikia.com
This is where it all started: the first ever Lego set, manufactured in 1949 in Copenhagen and only sold in Denmark. (The English name, according to Lego, was "a tribute to the Allied forces who liberate Europe and end World War II in 1945.") The earliest Lego bricks didn't exactly resemble the ones we know and love today: they had slots on the sides so the bricks could function as picture frames. Lego encouraged this application by providing little "postcards" to slide into the slots. Weird!594203Is this awesome?
Shinkai 6500 SubmarinePhoto: LEGO / via brickset.com
This is the kind of hard-to-find "milestone" set that drives a Lego fan crazy. Only 10,000 copies of this 2010 gem were ever produced by Lego ... and they were only sold in Japan. The Shinkai 6500 Submarine is also an historic set for the Lego Group: it was the first-ever fan design accepted through the Cuusoo project, which later developed into the popular Lego Ideas line.515174Is this awesome?