Since early 2020, LEGO and Nintendo have enjoyed the perfect marriage of intellectual property. Consider how well the match is visually appropriate. You have the blocky pixelation of the most recognizable 8-bit video game that blends seamlessly with the blocky… e, blockyness of the LEGO system. That is a combination of chocolate and peanut butter.
Together, Nintendo and LEGO have enabled fans to craft their own lifelike Mario levels, and the product line’s popularity only seems to be growing. If that’s the gaming experience your heart desires, then below I’ve got an extensive catalog of the best options (and prices) to get you up and running, running, jumping and punching in no time.
I’m also going to highlight the more conversation piece Nintendo LEGO sets. These larger and more expensive models aren’t primarily designed to link up with that DIY Super Mario World you have lying around in your living room. Mind you, they are not without the odd interactive Easter Egg.
Example: today’s build. It’s an expandable version of Super Mario’s famous Question Mark punchable and it’s, well, a block full of surprises…
Building the question mark block
Weighing in at 2,064 pieces and a solid 2.74 kg (6 lbs), LEGO’s Question Mark Block #71395 is one of the smartest designed sets I’ve ever built. In its basic form, it certainly doesn’t look like that. However, hidden in its mysterious entrails, fans will find four different levels of the game: Peach’s Castle, Bob-omb Battlefield, Cool Cool Mountain, and Lethal Lava Land. Better yet, you get a small handful of impossibly cute microfigures reimagined from Super Mario 64 characters.
Initially, you construct the robust vertices and lines of what will eventually become an 18cm (7″) x 18cm (7″) x 18cm (7″) cube. Shortly after, you’ll have your first polygonal wall – a hinged element that I mistakenly assumed was the front of the set, it’s actually the rear block face that serves as the trigger mechanism of the upcoming pop-up display.
The real front snaps together not long after, offering its own fun surprises. While the top of this block is reserved for a thriving quadruple diorama of in-game levels, the front houses something more important. Yes, it’s the climactic final battle with Bowser himself.
This big baddie has his own bass section, along with a neat spinning disc arena that mimics the in-game means to defeat him (grab him by the tail, then spin him away).
LEGO Building Question Block
Double jump in a diorama rama
Now that the secret nooks and crannies of the question block have been sorted, it’s time to handle the level displays. First on the list are the liquid hot magma styles of Lethal Lava Land. The expected architecture and elements are here – the spinning volcano ring, the big horned Bully, the eerie eyeball – everything. I remember that I was afraid of this painful level, but it seems that cute here in microbuild form.
From there, you’ll need to put two rail arms together to hold the platform that will rest neatly on top of lavaville. This section features the entry-level centerpiece, a scene that virtually every gamer will recognize, regardless of whether they’ve played Super Mario 64 or not.
You get the iconic castle, moat, green pipe and a “super-distorted” view of the castle lobby. It comes with hangable 1×1 blocks of the paintings with three levels. This lobby is covered by an (easily removable) facade that keeps the exterior of the castle complete. And to top it all off: microfig interpretations of a secret Yoshi, Princess Peach, Mario and a Lakitu cameraman who captures all your pranks.
Next up is a level that also needs very little introduction: Bob-omb Battlefield. It’s a slightly more complex construction, thanks to the rolling hills, canyons, and a small open-air prison to house a Chain Chomp. Some of the details that take this section to the next level are three interactive cannons and King Bob-omb himself. I have to say it’s still satisfying to hack him off that mountain (even if it’s against the rules of engagement).
Speaking of people thrown off-premises, after the next build, you’ll be happy to pelt a penguin from Cool Cool Mountain. (Be honest, we’ve all done it in Super Mario 64.) Again, this course has been impressively and meticulously recreated. You get a simplified version of the Slip Slidin’ rink, the outermost mountain slide you once navigated with a baby penguin, and that pesky narrow drawbridge (complete with pesky snowmen).
A very Mario metamorphosis
When that last (literally) cool addition is locked into the rest of the diorama, the true magic of this question mark block takes place. Thanks to a series of rubber bands and pivoting hinges, a pretty stunning fold is created. The dioramas squeeze together with virtually no negative space left (so make sure to keep the microfigs in their expected positions). Then that cluster basically does a mini backflip as it stops backwards into the big yellow box.
Honestly, I’ve built a lot of LEGO in my time and the childish wonder of folding and unfolding this completed question block never ceases to amaze me. As expected, it amazed every visitor to my house when I let them get their mitts on. That was almost everyone over the toddler age too, because as delicate as it looks, the fragility factor feels quite low when it’s finished.
There is also a side bonus for those of you who have invested in the interactive game that Super Mario offers. When you add the LEGO Mario or LEGO Luigi figures from the 71360/71387 Starter Courses (sold separately), you can collect 10 hidden Power Stars to reveal secret reactions and more. Pretty neat stuff.
Despite what it says, there is little doubt that this set is worth your time and money. LEGO’s question block is incredibly well designed, a joy to build and oozes nostalgia. If you spent big blocks of your childhood romping through Super Mario 64, like me, these memorabilia will make your heart take a little triple jump for joy every time you open it.
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Adam is our Aussie deals wrangler. You can watch him match on YouTube.
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