The 1980s was a fantastic decade for LEGO sets. Looking back, it seemed as though there was nothing the Danish building block giant wasn’t willing to try in an effort to push the limits of design and creativity.
It was an exciting time for fans, one defined by imaginative models and one-of-a-kind themes that slowly began paving the way for LEGO to become the biggest toy company in the world – even years before acquiring such lucrative IPs as DC, Marvel, and Star Wars.
What follows is an extensively researched look back at some of the best LEGO sets of the decade.
Now long retired, these childhood favorites stood apart from the rest thanks to sublime details, quality construction, and sophisticated designs that have continued to stand the test of time and harken back to a truly daring time in the industry – where creativity was king and the only limit was your imagination.
Join me now for a look back at
Table of Contents
The Top 10 LEGO Sets Of The ’80s
(Please note, all prices listed below are in US dollars.)
Released in 1983 as part of the Town theme, and featuring everything you needed to keep the denizens of your city safe from crime, the LEGO Police Station was made up of 389 pieces and included four minifigures.
In addition to the main building, which came equipped with a satellite dish, rotating searchlights, a helipad, garage, and a holding cell, the set also included the pieces needed to build vehicles such as a pair of motorcycles, a police car, and even a helicopter!
Originally selling for around $48 when new, loose examples can now be snagged for around $70. By comparison, sealed sets are fetching well over $1,000 on the secondary market these days.
LEGO’s Pirate theme was exceptionally popular heading into the 1990s, but no set was more coveted by fans than this 378 piece work of art!
Featuring loads of authentic detailing, the main ship boasts four cannons, fabric sails and is one of only two sets within the sub-series to come with the rare Governor Broadside minifigure.
Additionally, the four crewmen can arm themselves for battle on the high seas with an array of authentic weapons – including a pair of cutlasses, a pistol, and even a musket.
Sailing into stores in 1989 for $73, you won’t find a loose example here in 2023 for under $265. Prefer to track down one still sealed in the original box? Then you’d best get ready to fork over a pirate-sized bounty as $2,300 seems to be the going rate for one nowadays.
Galactic Peace Keeper
Part of the Space Police sub-series, the Galactic Peace Keeper was released in 1989 and was a real bang-for-buck building set that offered two minifigures, exchangeable jail cells, and a pair of concealed laser guns mounted atop extendable arms under the ship’s side canopies.
Made up of 121 pieces, it’s one of the simpler sets to construct on this list – complemented by a compact design that makes it one of the nicest-looking LEGO sets to come out of the 1980s.
Initially priced at a very reasonable $16, loose examples of this long-retried model can be had for around $50, while sealed versions can be procured for about a slightly less shocking $181.
Released in 1987 as part of the popular Castle theme, the 225 piece Camouflaged Outpost consists of a very Robin Hood-esque woodland hideout, a horse, and six Forestmen minifigures.
Featuring unique environmental elements and a secret hiding place to put your treasure, the Outpost also includes several authentic weapons and a treetop marker to guide your merry men home after a successful raid.
Stickered at around $32 when new, loose sets now start at about $260. For those looking for something a little more untouched, it will cost you a king’s ransom starting at around $1,600 if you want one still sealed in the original box.
Beta 1 Command Base
Released in 1980, this classic 264 piece Space set includes four astronaut minifigures, a surface station, a short monorail track, convertible spacecraft, a rover, and more!
The whole thing comes built on a pair of baseplates resembling a crater, while the roof of the Command Base bristles with loads of cool tech for exploring the cosmos. A truly innovative set that still looks impressive more than forty years later.
This is a must-own for fans looking to get their hands on the very best of what LEGO had to offer during the decade of Batman and Blind Date.
Priced at $50 when new, the Beta 1 Command Base will now set you back $220 out in the open. For those daring enough to try and get their hands on a sealed example, don’t expect to pay less than $4,000 should you even be able to find one.
LEGO’s Castle series was one of the most popular to come out of the 1980s and, looking at sets like the aptly named King’s Castle, it’s pretty easy to see why.
Released in 1984, this modular building is most impressive thanks to its imposing towers and unique features that range from a dungeon to a functioning drawbridge. A total of twelve brave knights man the castle, aided by four horses and loads of quality crafted weapons.
Playability is only further increased thanks to the set’s mobility and unique ability to change shape and, while it may be a little intimidating to the novice builder, this 669 piece labor of love is certain to serve as the centerpiece in any LEGO display.
Hitting retailers with a price tag of $71 when new, loose examples of this classic set are now roping in over $300 on the secondary market. Should you fancy one still sealed in its original box, that will set you back well over $5,000 if you’re fortunate enough to track one down.
Black Seas Barracuda
Another popular piece to come sailing out of the Pirates line in 1989, the Black Seas Barracuda (also known in some markets as the Dark Shark) is a beautifully constructed 865 piece model featuring eight minifigures, four cannons, fabric sails, concealed cargo bays, and even a captain’s quarters.
Far larger and more impressive than the previously mentioned Caribbean Clipper, the Black Seas Barracuda is in a master class all its own thanks to uniquely crafted architecture and a truly imposing presence that has not been felt since its initial release.
With an original sticker price of $121, this truly impressive model can now be yours for a mere $1,500 loose, or $2,200 still nestled in its box. Oh, and did I mention the set also comes with a rare monkey minifigure?
Monorail Transport System
Released as part of the Futuron series in 1987, this retired Space model is comprised of 731 pieces and includes a monorail track with two-way stations and a train.
A cargo spacecraft, two containers, and five classic astronaut minifigures are also included in this set, which remains one of the most impressive looking models to come out of the Space series some three and a half decades later!
Originally priced at $175, you won’t find a loose one for under $865 – let alone a boxed example, which currently sit pretty at over $5,300 on the secondary market.
Cosmic Fleet Voyager
Made up of 413 pieces and featuring four brightly colored astronaut figures, the Cosmic Fleet Voyager touched down at retail in 1986 and brought with its comfortable accommodations, a miniature rover, and two detachable compartments that serve as both a research station and storage room respectively.
It may not be the most aerodynamic model to ever hit shelves, but with all those vents, hoses, and communications arrays, it’s definitely one of the most impressive. This thing screams late 80s sci-fi and, while it may be as slippery as a block of wood, it embodies everything fans loved about the Space series since its debut in the 1970s.
While originally priced at $80, loose ones in complete condition don’t appear to dip below $350 nowadays. And boxed ones? Don’t expect to pay anything less than $4,300 if you’re looking to add one to your collection.
Docking at toy stores in 1983, LEGO’s gorgeous Galaxy Commander is a real wonder to behold thanks to twin cockpits, a detachable lab module, and a pair of cutesy little rovers.
Add to that an included landing pad, five astronaut minifigures, and loads of techy bits for exploring the furthest reaches of space, and you’ve got one mind-blowing spacecraft that comes together complements of 427 pieces – which made it the biggest Space set of its time.
Although originally priced at around $81, loose examples are now going for over $250, while pristine models still encased in their factory cardboard are inching closer and closer to $3,900.