So your kid won’t shut up about LEGO Mario – The parents’ guide to the LEGO Mario Expansions

Christmas is fast approaching and somehow your kid has learned about the existence of LEGO Mario. Now they will stop at nothing to get LEGO Mario. Perhaps you got the starter set and thought that would be enough, but you were wrong. Now your kid won’t shut up about LEGO Mario and getting all of the expansion sets.

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If you were to go out and get all of the expansion sets at RRP then you are going to be up for $871.75 (including all 10 different character packs). That may be an option for some people but I know that it’s not realistic for everybody.

Thanks to LEGO I’ve had a chance to get hands on with all of the expansion sets, so I am here to tell you what’s good, what’s bad and the type of kid that each set is going to appeal to. Hopefully in the process I can save you some money and provide a bit of sanity.

Firstly, if you haven’t already got it you will need the starter course set. This is the only way to get the LEGO Mario figure. If you shop around you can pick this up for $79 or less rather than the $89.99 RRP. This is your cover charge to get in on the world of LEGO Mario. I have done a separate post about just that set that you can find here.

For each set I will examine how it will appear to 3 different types of kids:

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The cuteness connoisseur – These are the kids that only care about one thing; that the sets are cute. They don’t care as much about how many coins you get or specific play features.

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The action kid – These are the kids that love the things that they can slam around, stuff that sends pieces flying across your table.

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The coin collector – The kids who want the highest score possible. The ones who will tweak their layouts to get every possible coin from each run.

Let’s dig in to each of the expansion sets, starting with the cheapest and finishing with the big ticket items.

71361 Character Packs – $5.99 Each, 10 Available

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Each of these blind back packs contains one enemy build and a little scene to place them in. Each scene can be connected to other parts of your Mario courses. The character packs are also one of the few sets in the range that actually include printed instructions.

For the cuteness connoisseur

These characters are all really cute and your kid will probably want all of them. Sorry.

For the action kid

Each of the characters work the same way – jump on them to earn coins. It’s not the most action packed expansion but it will mean more enemies to defeat.

For the coin collector

Each of the character pack enemies will allow you to earn more coins per run. The more enemies the more coins. These are also quick enemies to defeat so won’t chew up a lot of time.

Power-Up Packs – $12.99 Each

71373 Builder Mario, 71372 Cat Mario, 71370 Fire Mario, 71371 Propeller Mario

Each of these $13 packs includes new overalls and a new hat for Mario. Your Mario figure will recognise the overalls that are on and behave differently depending on what he is wearing.

For the cuteness connoisseur

All of these costumes for Mario are really well designed and even the simple act of changing Mario’s clothes is going to appeal to this type of kid. The Cat Mario is going to be a particularly popular with this type of kid.

For the action kid

Each of these suits changes up the behaviour of Mario, which means new ways to interact with your courses. The builder Mario suit is probably going to be a favourite of the action kid, as it requires you to stomp down hard with your Mario to earn coins.

For the coin collector

Anything that opens up new ways to earn coins is going to be popular with the kids obsessed with a high score. They will like playing around with the different options to see which one will get them the best result in each course.

71363 Desert Pokey Expansion Set – $29.99

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For the cuteness connoisseur

This is probably not the cutest of the sets in the range. The pokey has a nice smiley face but overall it’s not as visually exciting as some of the other sets. Monty Mole is pretty cute though.

For the action kid

This set has the one main play feature but it’s pretty action packed. Using the turntable hammer you can send the sections of the pokey flying. Sending bits of pokey across your table is pretty fun, as you then have to hunt down the one section that features an action tile.

For the coin collector

The one section of the pokey with the action tile will give you coins as will Monty Mole. This set is probably not the fastest way to add coins to your run as the hammer action does take up a bit of time.

71364 Whomp’s Lava Trouble Expansion Set – $29.99

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For the cuteness connoisseur

I hate to use a word like ugly, but let’s just say that Whomp is probably not the cutest character in the Mario universe. While the lava bubble is cute, that alone probably isn’t going to be enough to win over the kid who only cares about cuteness.

For the action kid

There’s some decent action in this model despite it’s small size. You get the sliding bridge function without the studs, meaning you’ll have to be careful. There is also the spinning platform that will let you knock off the lava bubble with the Koopa shell. Finally you’ve got the Whomp itself, which you need to knock over and jump on multiple times to get the coins. Overall I think this is good value in terms of action for your spend.

For the coin collector

This set is the only one with the P Switch block, which does earn you extra coins. You also have decent coin earning potential with the other elements. This is also quite a compact module so you’ll get coins without chewing up too much time.

71366 Boomer Bill Barrage Expansion Set – $49.99

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For the cuteness connoisseur

The mushroom block is fairly cute but I think the star here is Shy Guy. Shy Guy is super cute.

For the action kid

Some great action in this set. The spinning platform is connected to cogs that spin around the boom bills, which means you risk getting knocked off and entering a no coin state. The mechanism is a lot of fun and will appeal to action kids.

For the coin collector

This set provides two different platforms – one with studs and one without. This allows you to take more risk to earn more coins. The Shy Guy will also help you boost your score but not a lot. The coin potential with this one comes down to how long you spend dodging the boomer bills. The super mushroom will protect you from a no coin state if you do want to just increase the action.

71367 Mario’s House & Yoshi Expansion Set – $49.99

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For the cuteness connoisseur

I feel like this set is the must get set for the cuteness connoisseur. Yoshi has always been cute and LEGO Yoshi is no exception. Everything about this set is cute. Mario’s little house, rocking Mario to sleep in his hammock. ALL OF IT IS CUTE.

For the action kid

While this set is great for the cuteness connoisseur, it’s not going to offer as much for action kids. Rocking Mario to sleep isn’t action packed. This feels like something you add at the start of a course before you get in to the real action.

For the coin collector

The star here, pun intended, is the Star power-up, which will not only protect you from harm it will also increase your coin earning potential. You can also earn a few coins just by talking to Yoshi.

71365 Piranha Plant Power Slide Expansion Set – $49.99

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For the cuteness connoisseur

Are Piranha plants cute? Probably not. I think the Koopa Trooper is pretty cute but this set really doesn’t compare to something like Mario’s house in terms of cuteness.

For the action kid

The slide function in this set is a great play feature. It requires a bit of skill to get right which I appreciate, rather than being just a spot you place Mario.

For the coin collector

This is a perfect set for anybody wanting to pump up their high scores. You can spend a decent amount of time earning coins on the slide, as well as getting coins from the Goomba and the Koopa. The best part is that this set also includes a time block, allowing you to extend your run. Longer run means more time to earn coins.

71376 Thwomp Drop Expansion Set – $59.99

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For the cuteness connoisseur

This is not the cutest set in the range, with the lava bubbles being the only part that could really qualify as cute. I doubt anybody would call a Thwomp cute.

For the action kid

There is some fantastic action in this set. Go back and forth on the sliding platform and the Thwomp will drop, potentially knocking Mario off. The Thwomp is pretty solid so falls with quite a bit of force. When the Thwomp does drop it will also trigger a mechanism that launces one of the lava bubbles. Overall really great action in this set.

For the coin collector

This is a set that provides you with two different platform options – studded or flat. That will give you the option to try the more challenging option for more coins. The Thwomp itself gives a decent haul of coin while the lava bubbles will give you a few more. Not the most lucrative set but still good.

71377 King Boo and the Haunted Yard Expansion Set – $69.99

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For the cuteness connoisseur

I’m gonna call it – King Boo is cute. Also I think the Swoops are pretty cute too. The overall aesthetic of the haunted yard is probably not going to land as ‘cute’ though. Browns and greys are not super cute.

For the action kid

This set is pretty action packed. It’s also a little bit confusing. Spin the swoops and King Boo will rise up and eventually fall out of the building. There’s a little part near the roof where you can change which gears are engaged. I don’t really know why.

There’s also a fun mechanism with a spider and spiderweb.

There is a bit too much action with King Boo. He is a pretty solid build and he’ll fall with a fair bit of force. I managed to dint mine while doing some test plays because he fell out of the roof, bounced off the table and landed on my floor.

For the coin collector

With two Goombas, four swoops, the spider and King Boo himself you get some decent coin earning potential here. The only issue is that it can take a bit of time to get King Boo to drop.

71362 Guarded Fortress Expansion Set – $79.99

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For the cuteness connoisseur

This is a weird one because overall I think the castle and landscape is pretty cute, but when you break it down the individual elements aren’t exactly the cutest.

For the action kid

A fair bit of action to be found here. The 3 main play features are the piranha plant, which retreats into the pipe when you smash a specific spot; a platform to launch an enemy, such as the Koopa; and the POW block which will lower the castle gate. It’s not the most action packed but you do get a good variety.

For the coin collector

This set features something different for the coin collector – gambling. The Bob-omb allows you to try and get as many coins as possible, but if you leave it too long you’ll enter a no-coin state and lose out on some precious earning time.

71368 Toad’s Treasure Hunt Expansion Set – $99.99

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For the cuteness connoisseur

This one is an absolute must have for anybody who loves cute stuff. Both the Toad and Toadette figures are super adorable and the two Cheep Cheeps are pretty cute too. The toadstool houses of this set really drive up the overall cuteness. Cute characters in an average set is one thing but when the set itself is cute? That’s perfect. I mean Mario has a little heart on his display when he talks to Toad or Toadette – that’s awesome.

For the action kid

The treasure hunt part of this set provides a little bit of action as each of the three boxes needs a different action to reveal it. That means there are lots of spots to smack down. You also get a bridge and spinner for some extra action. In terms of enemies to defeat you get the two Cheep Cheeps that you can hit multiple times and a Goomba.

For the coin collector

The treasure hunt part of this set will get you a decent return on coins once you get all three boxes. The bridge and spinner also give you another spot where you can earn what you want within the time limit.

71369 Bowser’s Castle Boss Battle Expansion Set – $149.99

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For the cuteness connoisseur

The brick-built Bowser in this set is pretty cool but I don’t think I’d call him cute and the giant statue of bowser that forms part of his castle is definitely more imposing than cute. To be honest there is very little cute stuff in this set.

For the action kid

This set almost has too much action. In order to get access to Bowser you need to smash down two different platforms to raise the statues arms. In order to do this you need a lot of force. I am an adult and I struggled to get the arms to work properly every time. You need to be rough and I was being far too gentle.

The tower with the spinning platform and Boo in pursuit is a fun play feature, as is the other tower where you can send Dry Bones flying.

I really like the action of making Bowser move forward so you can attack him.

For the coin collector

This is the big boss battle so obviously there are coins to be had. The mystery box can immediately get you some extra coins or give you some other power-up that will help your run. There are also coins to be had from Dry Bones and the Lava Bubble. The boo platform will give you a chance to earn additional coins if you can avoid being knocked off.

The biggest plus here is the extra time block. Extra time means more time to earn coins. Simple.

Bowser needs to be hit a lot to defeat him but when you do you’ll get a good return on coins.

Wrap-up

As you can see each of the sets has a different level of appeal to different types of kid. The right combination of sets is really going to depend on who you are buying for. Hopefully the information above will give you a better sense of what each expansion is like. In a future article I will be looking exclusively at prices and offers.

The LEGO Mario expansion range was provided to me by LEGO. Opinions expressed above are my own.

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