Over the 20+ hours I spent piecing together the massive new LEGO Batman: The Animated Series Gotham City skyline set the company sent me I thought a lot about how I might start this post. I considered opening with a screed about how this beautiful and incredibly creative collectible fully captures the series’ iconic and influential Art Deco aesthetic. At various points I also debated comparing the challenge of putting together such an intricate and highly-detailed set with Bruce Wayne’s attempts to clean up his hometown. And during a few especially frustrating moments I considered explaining why the Joker isn’t always wrong. But by the time I snapped in the final piece, the Bat Symbol, I finally knew exactly what I wanted to say. It’s simple, but true: if you love Batman: The Animated Series you’ll absolutely love this set.

The completed LEGO Gotham City Batan set standing on a table

Despite its tableau design, you do not build LEGO’s Gotham City set atop a big sheet as I expected. It’s made up of smaller boards you connect throughout the process. It’s akin to making small individual mosaics of the city’s various regions that together form a single, cohesive work of art. And that’s exactly what this set is, a work of art. It’s not an exact re-creation of the show’s Gotham. Instead it’s an original amalgamation that brings together different locales from the series. The effect is something that is wholly of Batman: The Animated Series while also being totally new. It’s a homage in the best way, because it made me want to rewatch the series. What could be a better tribute and celebration of the show than that?

That’s easy to see even in pictures. But while you can certainly appreciate the beauty of this set from images, it’s impossible to fully grasp just how gorgeous it really is unless you see it in person. For one it’s much deeper than it looks. (It’s also heavier. You’ll need a shelf to display it. Hanging it on your wall is not an option.) There are layers and layers of depth, as buildings sit on buildings sitting in buildings. The design invites deep investigation into every nook and cranny. Every time you look you’ll find something new to appreciate.


Even the night sky with its dark red clouds have layers that give this otherwise static piece a kinetic energy—as do my favorite pieces, the billowing smoke stacks. They look like they’re actually operating. The easily removable row of bottom buildings are also hiding unseen depth and fun Easter eggs. From character stickers to the Batmobile, there are lots of extras to discover within. Only you might never find all of them unless you build the set yourself and know where to look.

Unless you put Gotham together you can never fully appreciate how much detail went into the many individual designs, either. Some of my favorite parts of this build involved making smaller structures that have triple the amount of LEGO bricks than you’d think by looking at them. Piecing this together is a different reward from admiring the finished product.


It’s a good thing working on this set provides its own kind of fulfillment, because the amount of detail involved is a double-edged sword. The 4,210-piece set designed for ages 18 and up features roughly 80,000 tiny parts. It can be aggravating adding molding and decor in a normal building. Adding small single piece details on a relatively thin LEGO set is really freaking hard. (Especially if you have sausage fingers like I do. Those are also why I hated putting the set’s many small stickers on pieces, too.)

It was really hard at the start. Initially the set felt much more delicate than I imagined. That made me especially cautious about how I connected the different components. I was terrified of breaking multiple parts. But as I kept going I realized the set is more sturdy and stronger than my first impression. That allowed me to pick up the pace. Out of the 44 individual bags that make up LEGO’s Gotham, I finished the first 10 at a much slower rate than the rest.


While I ultimately love this set and think it’s actually undervalued at $300 (even with only four minifigs), I did have some issue with its two massive instruction booklets. The set’s color scheme—which includes lots of black and brown pieces, various hues of grays, and dark blues—sometimes made it hard to see which exactly piece was needed. I often had to rely on my smartphone’s flashlight or a bright headlamp to distinguish between colors.

The booklets, which are genuinely excellent visual guides overall, also show everything at an angle. That was a helpful most of the time, but not when it came time to put something on top of something else or when connecting two large mosaics. It wasn’t always obvious exactly where or how they went together. An overhead picture would have cleared that up and saved me from my most consistent (and potentially disastrous) mistakes.


Once I became aware of that problem, I course corrected. I slowed down and took extra time when placing anything directly on the growing tableau. And by the time I finished that problem, like the others, didn’t seem like a big deal. What I was looking at was too incredible to focus on difficulties I experienced during the build. And that was before I realized you can backlight the whole thing to create a nighttime effect that truly evokes the aesthetic of the show it celebrates.

That’s why it took finishing this set to know how I wanted to start talking about it. As a fan of Batman: The Animated Series I love everything about LEGO’s Gotham City, especially the fact I have one in my own home.

Batman: The Animated Series Gotham City LEGO set is available now.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist who knows exactly where Condiment Man is hiding in the Batman Gotham City LEGO set. You can follow him on  Twitter and  Bluesky at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.