Review: Lego Creator
Publisher: RoseArt
Year: 1999
Tagline: The Race to Build It Board Game

Lego Creator cover showing a mini-fig and several bricks

how we met

I met Lego Creator in the garage of an estate sale recently. The person who had owned this game, and everything in that house and garage, was a collector through and through. Even their lamps were interesting. I think it was late in the first day of the sale that we made our way there, and so probably a lot of things had gone already. I was not intrigued by any of the games in the basement, and the garage had only a few kid-oriented games.

But, I did pick up Lego Creator to look at for a couple of reasons. One is that I had never seen it before (a good sign for resale). The other is that the Creator sets are the ones I enjoy by Lego. A spot of masking tape said it would be $3, and I thought why not.

how it plays

Lego Creator is a set collection game where your goal is to be the first person to build your Lego creation. At the beginning of play someone draws a MODEL CARD with a Lego build on it. The MODEL CARDs are grouped using color, and all players must pick from the same colored group. Keri drew a black card, so the rest of us drew from remaining black cards.

Model cards face down and a few face up showing creation guides


From here the play is roll and move with a single die. You move your adorable little Lego ball cap pawn around the board collecting pieces or stealing pieces as directed. As you get your Lego pieces together, you can start to build them. After all, the rules remind you that the winner is the first player to build their thing, not the first player to collect all the pieces.

Ball cap pawns

The pawns against a background where you can see them!

The Lego bricks in the Brickyard are separated by special pieces and plain old bricks. You can only pick a special piece if you land on a space indicating you do so. Other spaces let you pick any 1 (not special) brick, while some limit you to a certain color (not special) brick. The best spaces on the board allow you to move to any other space, so you can get special pieces, steal pieces, steal back pieces or just pick up 2 (not special) bricks if you like.

Play continues until a player has successfully built their Lego creation and is the winner!

how it went

We play a number of games, but rarely are we able to play with Lego during play! I think the group was intrigued.

Set up takes a bit of time, as you can imagine, because you are meant to place each piece onto its rightful place in the Brickyard. But it’s pre-gaming, really. It’s a fun little puzzle that you must complete prior to play. And if you bought the game used, you have the added suspense of discovering whether your copy is complete! (Alas, mine was 97.8% complete only because it was missing one yellow gear shift thing, though it did have the black piece that connects to it).

An overview of the board with lego pieces lined up in the middle and a standard roll and move board on the outside

A shot of our play showing spaces, the Brickyard and the Special Pieces area in the middle

The reliance on color is immense in this game, and a more modern version would hopefully address that issue. When placing the pieces on the board they become lost, the pawns often become difficult to see, and spaces frequently reference colors. Lego still does not really address accessibility in a very meaningful way in their Lego sets, so it is not surprising that this 1999 game disregards it completely. But there are some individuals and communities that translate Lego instructions into accessible versions for the blind or those with low vision. So it can happen!

FUN FACT: if you would like to read more about accessibility in tabletop gaming, check out Meeple Like Us who is doing such engaging and smart analysis in this space.

The beginning of play is so simple. I land on a space, I take a piece. I steal a piece? Ok I’ll take that one. As our play continued, it became clear that by drawing from the same color MODEL CARDs we generally use every piece on the board, and we rarely require the same pieces. In other words, we had very little overlap between pieces needed. So when we were required to steal a piece, it was more often than not just spiteful because in all likelihood no players have the pieces you need. This also happened when you no longer needed certain colors but landed on spaces requiring you to take one of that color.

For some reason I was surprised that the game planned this way. But it makes complete sense. And we could always try a game mixing and matching the colors of MODEL CARDs. That game would likely be more cut-throat, more tense and significantly longer to complete.

The instructions were unclear on whether your MODEL CARD should be secret. We kept ours secret out of an inherent distrust of each other, and because of the steals – intentional or forced. Why let your fellow players know what pieces you need if they are forced to remove a piece from the board that they do not need?

Keri’s creation required more special pieces than others, so she was at a big disadvantage. She found comfort in stealing the pieces of others while waiting to land on the Special Piece spaces. Bill seemed to have decent rolling and was able to build up his creation pretty quickly. And in the end Bill won!

And then we all finished building our creations so we could play with them and see how they would look.

A small boat with a fan on the back

This is my pretty boat, in front of my MODEL CARD

Keri's airplane

This was Keri’s plane, sorry about the camouflage picture

A race car

This is the winner! Bill’s little race car

A lego duck with a blue bill and red feet

And John made a duck. The MODEL CARD says robot but, like, that’s a duck

I like the idea of the different Lego pieces changing hands repeatedly. However this introduces a grind into game play where it’s just a battle to get what you need. If you need Special Pieces you have to land on the uncommon Special Piece spaces. If someone stole what you need, you have to be able to steal it back. I think one of us even announced, when almost all the pieces were gone from the Brickyard, “OK this is when the grind starts.”

The grind wasn’t too terribly long in our play and we continued to make weird motor noises with our partially-built creations in the meantime. So all in all, not bad.

play or pass

Pass for yourself, but Lego Creator might be fun for your kiddo. Or to play through a few times and pass onto the next happy owner. As a game, it leaves a lot to be desired. If the set we were collecting were anything but Lego our enjoyment would have been dampened considerably. But this is a Lego game, and I built a lovely boat, and it was pretty fun.