Where to find, how to make, how to buy:
I love LEGO sets. Over most other toys I buy for my son, I enjoy buying him LEGO sets because I enjoy putting them together… ah, with him, of course. So, working with Chess House, it was natural that I should eventually wonder about LEGO chess sets.
And so began the search to find what sets are out there and available. What I found was amazing–chess sets offered by LEGO, sets made by fans, more sets made by LEGO Star Wars fans, and the list goes on. But what if I actually wanted to have a LEGO chess set for my own… er, my own son? Where would one go to purchase? Could I go to learn how to make or build a chess set or have one made? And, even more fundamentally, what set should be purchased?
Fear not though! Taking upon myself the heavy yoke I have blazed a trail before you, being your guide to finding a LEGO chess set to meet your needs and budget.
The short answer? While there is an amazing amount of LEGO chess creations out there, only a relative few (although still good) choices remain for those looking for something within a reasonable budget and a limited time frame. For those with time and a larger budget, the path is bigger, but there are still some sets that are a steep climb to find or have commissioned.
So let’s get started!
: The Obvious Answer
At this time, LEGO only offers one LEGO chess set– that being the LEGO® Iconic Chess Set.
In its history, LEGO has actually offered a number of buildable chess sets (including this list does not mention the Viking Set), starting in 2005, but due to the fact that LEGO marches on with only the strongest products keeping up, all of these sets have been discontinued. They are still available to buy through other resellers; However, because of the strong LEGO brand, these discontinued sets generally command a higher price. Those looking for a budget level set without any hassle should go with LEGO’s current offering. And the investment value alone could be worth the purchase, making this a good investment for the collector as well.
As an example of investment value. Lego’s ‘flagship’ chess creation, the Castle Giant Chess Set made in 2008, commanded a price of $199.00 at the time and was quite an impressive set. Just five years later, this same set is worth almost 10X its value:
What can’t you get on Amazon? On Amazon you can find the current LEGO chess set as well as an assortment of discontinued LEGO chess sets, replacement character pieces and even LEGO chess software! Pricing ranges from slightly higher to comparable depending on the set, when compared with other sites. You won’t find any custom made sets sold here though.
: The Wildcard Approach
Do a search on Google shopping for “lego chess set” and a fair bit of relevant search results you will find pinpoint eBay as the source. That’s right. Who would have thought, right? On Ebay you might find a custom made sets, current authorized LEGO sets (as well as discontinued sets), and finally bagged parts for building the board and character sets for use as pieces. ‘Might’ is stressed because at any give time there may not be any custom sets offered and prices vary widely.
If you are looking for any of the custom made Star Wars LEGO chess sets, although there have been some sellers on Ebay offering a set here and there, most have to be commissioned. There are Ebay sellers who offer to build custom sets, like iminifig2009 and Find My Brick. They can build sets off designs that has already been established or create an entirely new design.
Expect to pay an absorbent amount for any of the larger Star Wars LEGO sets. And due to the sheer size and parts list for putting together such a set, it is difficult to find someone to do it.
Commission a Build OR Build Your Own
For LEGO enthusiast with money to burn, a set can be commissioned to be built. Bricklink offers a great community of builders out there that might possibly love to make a set for you and have the resources to do so. It is also a great resource to explore if you are looking to build your own set.
The brickblogger has written a nice short guide to navigating around Bricklink. Here is a brief excerpt from the page:
BrickLink is the biggest online marketplace for LEGO buyers and sellers from around the globe!
BrickLink is very much like eBay; individual sellers set up shop, and you can browse their selections for the items you want. BrickLink however does not have an auction feature. All items are listed for a fixed price, until they are sold.
For some sellers, their BrickLink shop is their full-time business. They have huge selections of parts and sets, and employees to take care of every detail of the business. Others are small hobby stores, run by individuals who may sell extra LEGO sets, part and minifigures from their own collection. Their strength is often the unique and rare parts they offer, and the great personal attention they can give to your order.
If you are thinking of going the build-it-yourself route. LEGO offers an amazing (and free) resource allowing you to find a design OR design the set digitally before you build, as well as automatically generate a parts list and the building instructions!
In the public gallery of creations you can find a variety of chess sets, over 60 different viewable creations!
LDraw™ is an open standard for LEGO CAD programs that allow the user to create virtual LEGO models and scenes. You can use it to document models you have physically built, create building instructions just like LEGO, render 3D photo realistic images of your virtual models and even make animations.
On Your Own: Using LDD or LDraw files to build:
Here is a very nice and well thought out micro set that can fit in your pocket. Allows for storage of the pieces inside. (Images and LDD file for build instructions)
This very fine mini-set appears to fold up. Great Design, simple, clean. (Images and .MDP file)
On Your Own: Build using instructions or just images for reference.
An Instructable on building a basic set. As mentioned in the instructable, it does require a decent supply of Lego pieces to create.
Site contains images only, but detailed enough for imitation.
Designed by Flickr user Hatalmas. Link is to images only, but this design was made with LDD.
A very elegant mini-chess set by the BrickBlogger. Graciously offers the .lxf file or step-by-step instructions for building this set to anyone who asks.