Skip to main content

With Lego Sonic, Sega does what Nintendon’t once again

Lego’s take on Sonic offers a more traditional, 90s-style playset approach than Mario - and it’s for the better.

A Lego Goomba and a Lego Badnik stare at each other, both are cross, and the backgrounds are slightly blurred versions of each respective models home level.
Image credit: VG247

Earlier this week marked the launch of an exciting new collaboration between video games and one of the biggest toy companies in the world: Lego Sonic the Hedgehog. While Lego and video games have long shared a close association, this might just be one of the best crossovers yet.

In the years since I was a kid, Lego has realized the power, reach, and significance of video games. In fairness to the company, it was always pretty forward thinking – I have fond memories of several deeply experimental and delightfully weird Lego titles in the 90s. But perhaps the greatest and most exciting thing isn’t all those licensed Lego games – it’s seeing gaming cross over into the real-life toys.

This has happened more frequently of late; most prominently at first with Minecraft, but then with a Nintendo deal that led to the creation of Lego Super Mario. Where Mario goes, Sonic surely follows - but what’s exciting is just how different Sonic’s Lego offering is.

A Lego set of Sonic and Eggman's Death Egg.
Hey, shouldn't the Death Egg Robot be in space? | Image credit: LEGO

You can divide Nintendo’s Lego output so far into two distinct sections. There’s hardcore building sets for adults - stuff like the giant Bowser statue and the really brilliant Mario 64 ? Block, with huge piece counts, elaborate builds, and eye-bulging price tags. Then there’s the interactive stuff for kids – not just plastic toys, but an intersection of video games and tactile toys that is, if nothing else, very Nintendo.

I really like Lego Super Mario as a concept. By having interactive toys that feed directly into a mobile app, the feel of the games can be replicated in toy form. The act of creating ‘stages’ out of the various parts, characters, and obstacles released even channels a bit of Mario Maker. But, to me, faffing about with a phone isn’t really Lego. And so I was thrilled to see Sonic taking a more traditional route.

Now, Lego Sonic has no ‘for adults’ sets – and don’t get me wrong, I miss that. I want a brick-built Mega Drive to sit alongside the NES, Atari 2600, and Pac-Man cabinet. But what it does have is a simple range of playsets that recreate classic scenes and characters from the series – and the rest is left to the imagination.

Miles ahead.

There’s five of these play sets total, ranging from £25 up to £95, and each is joyously simple and yet no less exciting for Sonic fans. These are the sort of sets that I, a grown adult who should know better, can really enjoy - but they’re also simple and open-ended enough to really spark the imagination of kids, who are the real target audience.

Lego’s big innovation for Sonic is the idea that Sonic can actually speed around – something which isn’t so simple with a figure with very little articulation. The solution is a hamster ball style contraption that you pop the Sonic minifigure into, and a launcher that’s adorned with a classic great big Sonic star spring icon. You place Sonic into the ball, place the ball into the launcher, and slam your fist down onto the launcher to send the blue blur flying. For kids, it’s a sure-fire hit, and has a real 90s toy energy that feels remarkably brand-appropriate.

Three of the five sets come with the plunger and ball setup, while the others offer differing series iconography. ‘Amy’s Animal Rescue Island’ is a lovely little build that evokes Green Hill Zone and has the light storytelling of Amy building a refuge for the Flickies rescued from Robotnik’s badniks. As a 2D Sonic fan first and foremost, my favorites are the builds of two Sonic 2 icons - the Tornado plane (though there’s a weird oversight here where Tails can’t actually sit in this plane without removing his legs and tails) and the Death Egg Robot.

Lego Tails and Lego Amy stand in front of a load of animals that the latter model has assumedly rescued.
"Lemonade?" "Please!" | Image credit: LEGO

These sets had a difficult needle to thread, at least for me. I’m one of those annoying discerning Adult Fans of Lego (AFOL, as Lego and the community calls ‘em), but I’m also a Sonic fan. I liked that the sets were more straightforward and traditional than Mario’s, but I was worried they’d be too simple and unsatisfying for me – but actually, each set manages both pretty well indeed.

I really appreciate just how much play has been put at the forefront of these sets. When compared to the adult-leaning Lego Ideas Sonic release that teed up this entire setup, it’s subtly more kid-friendly in some really wonderful ways.

Take the Badniks, for instance. In the Ideas set, they’re more game accurate… but there’s little playability to them. Here, the new designs always have little compartments or trays where the Flickies can sit – the idea being that as you get Sonic to smash the baddies, out fly the rescued animals, just like in the games. It’s a lovely touch, and demonstrates a design philosophy that really understands the brand.

This all makes sense, I suppose. Whereas Mario has always been about games first, Sonic has dabbled right back to his inception. This range of Lego carries the same attitude as the slew of media Sonic fans have enjoyed over the years, and seems to embrace the same sort of storytelling as seen in the comics and cartoons.

I definitely still think there’s space for a more adult-oriented Sega set or two from Lego - but I have to admit, I much prefer this first wave of Lego Sonic to pretty much anything Lego Mario has fielded – as cool as the new Donkey Kong sets are. I hope there’s more Lego Sonic to come, and I dare say there will be, since Knuckles is conspicuously absent from the offering so far.

And as for Nintendo? Well, Sega has shown them the potential for playsets without a technological gimmick - and is the clear winner. Nintendo can now fire back. Animal Crossing sets are heavily rumored, as is an adult-first Zelda set. Perhaps, through Lego, the console war of the 90s can be vaguely reignited.

Buy the LEGO Sonic the Hedgehog sets

Sonic the Hedgehog Keyring - £5.99 from LEGO

Grab a cool keyring of the Blue Blur and attach to your keys, bag or wherever you see fit.

Buy now

Sonic's Speed Sphere Challenge - £24.99 from LEGO

This fun set features a speed sphere launcher to knock over obstacles.

Buy now

Tails' Workshop and Tornado Plane - £37.99 from LEGO

Build Tails' Tornado Plane at his very own workshop.

Buy now

Amy's Animal Rescue Island - £46.99 from LEGO

Protect the animals from the Badnik by releasing the drawbridge at Amy’s Animal Rescue Island.

Buy now

Sonic vs. Dr. Eggman's Death Egg Robot - £57.99 from LEGO

Use the speed sphere launcher to battle with Dr. Eggman's Death Egg Robot.

Buy now

Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone - £69.99 from LEGO

Revisit Sonic's most memorable level of Green Hill Zone with this nostalgic set.

Buy now

Read this next