The best LEGO robot kit
Albert Einstein may be credited with saying, "Creativity is intelligence having fun," but LEGO is the company that brings that quote to life. Few toys promote learning and growth the way LEGO kits do. For those who want the ultimate combination of fun and technology, there's the LEGO robot kit.
The best LEGO robot kits give kids hands-on experience building and, in some cases, programming robots. Our guide to buying the best LEGO robot kits will help you find the perfect one, including our favorite, the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Robot Kit, which is a fully functional robot that can walk and talk and even play games.
Considerations when choosing LEGO robot kits
Two types of robot kits
LEGO robot kits come in two distinct categories: programmable and models. Determining which your child prefers is the starting point for finding the best kit for her.
A programmable LEGO robot kit features sensors and motors that are controlled through a "code" that your child creates on her computer or smart device. These models can move independently or their motions can be triggered by your child via her device. These types of robots will come with either LEGO BOOST or LEGO MINDSTORMS kits.
A LEGO robot model kit is a toy that your child builds and then can play with like an action figure. The model will have moving parts, but it is incapable of independent motion. These robots may be found in other LEGO-themed kits such as Creator, Star Wars, Ninjago, and Ideas.
Besides the type of LEGO robot kit that you want to purchase, you need to consider three other elements before finding the best one for your child.
The age range printed on the box is there for a reason. If your child is seven, she is going to get frustrated with a kit that is designed for teens. Conversely, if your child is a teen, she may find a kit that is designed for a seven-year-old to be insulting. Stick to the recommended age range.
It is important to choose a theme that is of interest to your child. If a slithering robot snake frightens her, for instance, that may not be the best kit to purchase. If she does not like Star Wars, she may never open the Star Wars BB-8 kit. If she loves dogs, however, the LEGO Robo Explorer kit may be a perfect match.
It's great to get a kit with clear directions so your child can build exactly what she is supposed to build. However, many kids have a creative spark that makes them crave building something from scratch. If this sounds like your child, get a kit with some flexibility so she has the resources to create something on her own.
LEGO robot kit prices
If you are not interested in programming, you can get a LEGO robot model for between $20 and $100. Programmable LEGO robot kits, on the other hand, start at $150 for younger kids (LEGO BOOST) and can cost more than $300 for older kids (LEGO MINDSTORMS).
Q. Can I use any device to program and operate my LEGO robot?
A. Although the LEGO apps work on an incredibly wide array of devices, ranging from desktop computers to tablets to smartphones, you need to check for specific compatibility to be 100% certain that the LEGO app you need to use will work on the device that you have.
Q. How difficult is programming a LEGO robot?
A. LEGO has two different systems, LEGO BOOST and LEGO MINDSTORMS. Each uses a different programming app, and each is designed for a certain age range. Both systems are visually based, however, so programming isn't done by writing lines of code, it is achieved by simply dragging and dropping icons. Using this method, you can create some fairly complex programs that are not that difficult to write.
LEGO robot kits we recommend
Best of the best: LEGO: MINDSTORMS EV3 Robot Kit
Our take: An impressive robot kit for kids 10 and up that can be programmed to walk, talk, play games, and complete tasks.
What we like: This kit has more than 600 pieces, and it can be programmed via your smart device. It features the intelligent EV3 Brick and three servo motors as well as color, touch, and IR (infrared) sensors.
What we dislike: This is a pricey kit, and it can cause a bit of frustration for parents and children who are not tech savvy.
Best bang for your buck: LEGO: Creator Robo Explorer
Our take: An affordable kit that can be used to build three different LEGO models: Explorer, Dog, or Bird.
What we like: The clever design includes a battery-powered brick that can be used to light up different elements of the individual models. The Explorer features a rotating head, working tracks, and posable arms along with a working claw and searchlight.
What we dislike: This kit might be a little too complex for the lower end of the listed age range, which is seven years old.
Our take: An authentic-looking Star Wars BB-8 model that includes more than 1,000 pieces and is designed for older builders (10 to 16).
What we like: This model has impressive details, such as a rotating head, a non-functioning welding torch, and an opening hatch. It also includes a display stand and a plaque, which lists some information about BB-8.
What we dislike: Even though it makes an excellent addition to any Star Wars collection, this kit is a little pricey.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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