304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Model number: 76218
Number of pieces: 2,708
Dimensions: Approximately 12.5 x 12.5 x 10.5 inches (32 x 32 x 26 cm)
Recommended age: 18+
The Lego Sanctum Sanctorum isn’t the first time the Billund brick builder’s have tackled Doctor Strange’s Bleecker Street residence. Sanctum Sanctorum Showdown (76108) is one of the best Lego Marvel sets of recent years, but it’s only a facade with some very small – albeit cleverly designed rooms. The new Sanctum Sanctorum (76218) (opens in new tab), on the other hand, is a 2708-piece, 18+ behemoth that doubles as a proper modular building.
This means, if you have any other modular building sets like the towering Daily Bugle (76178) that comprises a whopping 3772 pieces or the smaller, yet no-less detailed Jazz Club (10312) (opens in new tab), the Sanctum can attach to them to create a seamless street scene or be integrated into a wider Lego city.
Marvel buffs will already be able to tell from the Minifigure selection that this set comprises elements from two of the best Marvel movies: Avengers: Infinity War and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. And it’s riddled with enough trinkets and Easter eggs – spread across its three floors – to make even Taneleer Tivan jealous.
It took us just over seven hours to put the Sanctum Sanctorum together, at a leisurely pace. The instructions are split into three separate booklets – one for each floor – and paired with Lego’s numbered bags, this makes it easy to spread the build out over a few nights or tackle the build in unison, with a couple of friends.
If you’ve built a Lego modular building before, you’ll know what to expect. There’s no amorphous internal structure – often found within the best Lego Star Wars sets – so you’re constantly engaged and rewarded with a feeling of progress throughout. The high piece count and repetitive nature of erecting walls earns this set its 18+ moniker, but there are plenty of simple sections where you could involve a younger builder.
A turn off for some fans though, will be the eye-watering 40+ stickers. But while we bemoan unnecessary stickers, the Sanctum Sanctorum is chocked full of so much fan service and so many unique items, a large stickers sheet was inevitable. Sure, a few more printed details never go amiss, especially due to a lack of printed details on some of the Minifigures – more on that later – but on the whole, this set has lots of stickers and we’re fine with it.
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The build is spread across 18 bagged sections, further divided via three separate instruction booklets. Each booklet deals with one of the three floors. You start from the baseplate and work upwards; the linear nature of the build is extremely enjoyable and as always, the Minifigures are evenly spread throughout.
You begin by tackling the 32 by 32-stud baseplate, using lots of grey, square tiles to form the pavement and more tiles to form the attractive checkered tiling on the Sanctum’s ground floor. You build up the walls forming the hidden sections that will ultimately sit beneath the mezzanine before progressing onto the grand staircase. This is a building highlight. The bannister comes together with a rather ingenious use of Bar Holders with Clips pieces and towards the end of the ground floor build, you tackle the stairs that branch left and right. These are much smaller to accommodate than the mezzanine, but really look the part, providing a forced perspective to make the staircase look larger than it really is.
The rest of this section is spent building walls and adding a plethora of interior details. We particularly like the rather ingenious diagonal wall that runs down the right side of the building. This comprises the wall itself and an interior armchair, that slots between the two adjacent walls and is attached via a single stud, before being locked into place via a clever corner arrangement.
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One aspect that we found frustrating though, was placing 1 x 1 tiles onto walls via SNOT bricks after the walls had been installed. This was fiddly and it would have been much easier to attach the tiles before installing the wall.
The next floor is built independently of the ground floor. Once you’ve built the base, you begin constructing the Rotunda of Gateways, which is crammed into the limited space via a clever sliding mechanism. This is then covered by a gorgeously detailed pair of bookcases, before you tackle the remaining walls and a few neat architectural adornments.
The attic and roof take up most of instruction-booklet three, boasting some really nice pastel-green roof bricks and of course, the large domed window, known as the Window of the Worlds.
Once the main structure is complete, you build three removable walls, including one with Gargantos poking through an inter-dimensional portal. The build finishes with a couple of details and a pair of really nice looking trees.
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The Lego Sanctum Sanctorum isn’t just a first-rate superhero set, it’s a beautiful modular build that will entice plenty of non-Marvel fans with its striking architecture and detailed interior. If you’re a Marvel aficionado, you’ll have a blast seeking out all of the many Easter eggs and references, yet the interior still looks tasteful and remarkably uncramped.
Sure, you could wish for a few extra studs to extend the interior, but almost every modular building or space-ship interior could be improved with just a little more room. And considering the space limitations, the designers have done an incredible job of distilling the New York Sanctum’s sprawling interior down into Lego form. The grand staircase is a huge achievement and the way the second floor acts as a mezzanine so you can see all the way down to the ground floor really adds to the perceived sense of scale. The bookcases on the second floor are another highlight, cleverly used to hide the sliding mechanism that represents the changing Rotunda of Gateways. Even the two handles used to slide between the three scenes have been made to look like vents, so as not to spoil the beautiful exterior.
And it’s here that the New York Sanctum really excels. Lego has nailed the ornate architecture present in the MCU, from the rows of columns to the ridged roofing, it’s all here. On the one hand, it’s a shame that the diagonal corner on the right hand of the building’s frontage isn’t replicated on the left, but this was likely omitted to make the building more compatible with other modular sets.
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The Window of the Worlds is of course the center-piece of the whole build and kudos to Lego for including a whole new print for the Seal of Vishanti, when they could have simply used the same print featured in Sanctum Sanctorum Showdown (76108).
As previously mentioned, the Sanctum is littered with Marvel fan service. MCU stalwarts will instantly recognize the Book of Cagliostro chained up round the back, the Tesseract hidden behind a fridge and an x-ray of the injury that ruined the doctor’s career as a neurosurgeon. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As with many 18+ Lego sets, play features aren’t a main focus, but a particularly neat feature for display purposes is the ability to swap and change between three removable walls. One displays a billboard for a Captain America exhibit, the other an inter-dimensional portal and the final one, Multiverse of Madness nemesis, Gargantos. The latter is particularly neat, since it can be positioned with the sea monster spewing out of the building’s exterior or into its interior.
The set also includes a number of clear pieces that can be used to display the many Minifigures in dynamic positions, such as Iron Man flying alongside the building or Spider-Man performing a web-slinging wall run.
You access the interior by removing each floor, while the top of the roof and the mezzanine just above the staircase are also removable. These sections are held in place by minimal studs so they break apart easily, although you must be careful not to tilt the building as they’re liable to fall off. We found that out the hard way…
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The Sanctum Sanctorum comes with a variety of Minifigures. Obviously you get Sanctum residents Doctor Strange and Wong, while the Avengers: Infinity War line-up comprises Iron Man, Spider-Man and Ebony Maw, alongside the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness crew, consisting of Dead Strange, Sinister Strange, Master Mordo and of course, Scarlet Witch (AKA Wanda).
The nine-strong roster is a nice selection and the printing on each figure looks very good indeed. But it’s a shame to see a distinct lack of waist and leg printing on figures that have had this in past incarnations. Wong, Ebony Maw, Wanda and Master Mordo are all culprits, while newbies, Dead Strange and Sinister Strange, boast fine examples of waist and leg printing and are overall very nice figures.
Wanda is perhaps the biggest disappointment and a missed opportunity. She features a charming angry face print, an improved torso print and incredibly intricate printing on her tiara. Add a cloth cape around the waist and printed legs, and she’d have been Lego’s definitive Scarlet Witch.
Thankfully, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Iron Man are all exquisitely turned out. The former features the new, rubber Cloak of Levitation, while Spidey gets head-to-toe printing and Iron Man looks resplendent in his Mark 50 armour and flip-up visor.
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The Sanctum Sanctorum is easily one of our favourite Lego Marvel sets of all time, rivalled perhaps, only by the Daily Bugle. It’s a stunning modular building in its own right and it’s hard to see how a Sanctum Sanctorum with this piece count could be improved upon. The exterior is gorgeous and the interior is a veritable TARDIS, bursting with neat mini builds and MCU trinkets.
The lack of printing on Minifigures that have had it in past incarnations is really the only blight on an otherwise near-perfect Marvel set. Here’s hoping more superhero modular buildings are on the cards. A modular GCPD, anyone?
There’s perhaps no better accompaniment to the Sanctum Sanctorum than the Daily Bugle (76178). Peter Parker’s newspaper office block is an imposing 33-inches tall and it’s also a modular building, so you can slot it right alongside the New York Sanctum. It’s a 3772-piece behemoth, so expect to pay near the $349.99/£299.99 (opens in new tab) MSRP.
If you’re looking for a Marvel set that doesn’t involve thousands of pieces and is a more palatable budget, yet will still look good on display, then consider The Avengers Quinjet (76248). This great-looking representation features a quartet of OG Avengers – as well as the slippery Loki – and comes with a display stand so it will sit beautifully on a shelf. This recently released set retails for $99.99/£89.99 (opens in new tab).
The Sanctum Sanctorum isn’t just a great pairing for additional Lego Marvel sets. If you’ve caught the modular building bug, it will stack up nicely alongside some of Lego’s Creator Expert sets, like the Police Station (10278). This modular is a hefty 2923 pieces and is sandwiched between a charming little donut shop and newspaper stand. It has an MSRP of $199.99/£169.99 (opens in new tab).