Lego Atari 2600 review: "Absolutely delightful"

Fully-built Lego Atari 2600 set on a wooden table
(Image: © Future)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Despite being pricey and not reaching the heights of the Lego NES, a lot of thought has clearly gone into the Lego Atari 2600. Crammed with Easter eggs, nostalgia, and novel touches, this set is a joy for fans.


  • +

    Looks fantastic

  • +

    Clever nods to Atari’s past

  • +

    Clear instructions

  • +

    Fun vignettes of classic games


  • -

    Very expensive

  • -

    Not as many cool features as the Lego NES

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No doubt you’re already wincing at the steep cost of the Lego Atari 2600 set. There’s no denying that it’s expensive; it occupies the same price point as the company’s excellent NES set at around $240 / £210. You could also make the argument that a genuine Atari VCS (or 2600, as it’s also known) is far cheaper and comes with games that you can actually play. But those concerns will soon evaporate once you dive into Lego’s newest recreation.

If you grew up in the late Seventies or early Eighties, there’s a good chance that the Atari VCS was your very first games console. Lego has done a tremendous job recapturing that nostalgia, whether it’s from having you recreate the wood grain effect that was synonymous with the machine, gazing at its own-brand box art, or simply building the miniature vignettes of some of the console’s most iconic games. Quite simply? The Lego Atari 2600 set is a treat… albeit an pricey one.

Lego Atari 2600: features

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Price$239.99 / £209.99
DimensionsH: 4" / W: 13" / D: 9"
Item Number10306

The Lego Atari is a picture-perfect recreation of the 2600 games console, right down to buttons on the front panel (complete with wood effect) you can press, cartridges that plug in, and a joystick you're able to actually move. Each cartridge comes with a small, themed display as well.

With that in mind, it's broadly similar to Lego's recent NES kit. And even though you're not getting the interactive retro TV that came with the Nintendo equivalent, it's more of a love-letter to Atari at large (rather than just Super Mario) and is less expensive on the whole.

What's it like to build?

Lego Atari 2600 in pieces with a manual

The Lego Atari set is a big build, but it's not too complicated overall (Image credit: Future)
  • Takes roughly 6 hours
  • Varies build-order to avoid boredom
  • Gorgeous manual with clear instructions

If you’re new to the joys of the best Lego sets, you shouldn’t find this one too intimidating; while it features a few technical elements of working innards, it’s a relatively simple build. It’s a big one too, comprising 2,532 pieces which are spread across 16 plastic bags. It’s a pity the team weren’t able to use 2,600 pieces (what a neat Easter egg that would have been), but when you consider the thought that’s been put into the build structure, it becomes harder to quibble about a missed opportunity like that.

That structure comes from the approach of how Lego expects you to tackle the console and its three vignettes (which consist of Adventure, Asteroids, and my personal favourite, Centipede). The gorgeous 260-page manual has you tackle the Adventure cart first and its accompanying model, the iconic castle you explore in the game. You then move on to the cabinet that houses the carts, before tackling the Lego Atari 2600 itself. But not completely. Half-way through that build, you’ll switch over to the Asteroids cart and its accompanying space-themed vignette before finishing off the console, assembling the iconic-looking joystick (yes, you can wiggle the stick). Finally, you'll conclude with the Centipede cart and its space centipede-themed vignette.

You shouldn’t have any problems putting everything together as the instructions throughout are exceptionally easy to follow

Bigger Lego builds can often feel a little monotonous in their structure, and some aspects of the Atari VCS (particularly its grille and base) are no different, so kudos to Lego for structuring its set so that no part of assembling it ever feels like a chore. Lego-building is supposed to be fun and should never feel like a thankless task, and there’s enough interesting aspects to the VCS to keep you entertained while you’re putting it together. The Lego Optimus Prime set could have done with more of this light relief, as it was a touch more methodical.

In terms of assembly time, the Lego Atari 2600 shouldn’t take you more than six hours to finish, although that time may change based on your approach. I know some people like to put everything into neat coloured piles beforehand, but I take a more chaotic approach, diving into each bag in order to find the pieces I need.

Thankfully, regardless of what approach you take, you shouldn’t have any problems putting everything together as the instructions throughout are exceptionally easy to follow.


A closeup of the secret Lego Atari 2600 room scene

The hidden scene tucked away inside this Lego Atari 2600 kit is a delight (Image credit: Future)
  • Cartridge scenes are a highlight
  • Hidden diorama is awesome
  • Switches and buttons can be pressed
  • Some vignettes are more interesting

Not only are the instructions easy to follow, but numerous interesting facts about the system are included within the manual as well. For example, it notes that the Adventure vignette features a hidden egg to represent the fact it was gaming’s first-ever Easter egg (Warren Robinett hid his name within the game).

However, as neat as these little facts are, the coolest aspect of the Atari VCS is also the fiddliest part of it - the excellent miniature old-school bedroom that’s hidden underneath the cover of the machine.

It’s lovely and indicative of how much thought has gone into the project

Move the front grille forward and an Eighties-style bedroom pops up, complete with a kid in Atari attire, a TV, VCS system, and all manner of other essential bedroom kit. It’s filled with lovely little flourishes and is typical of the detail Lego puts into these kits.

The included cartridges can also be placed directly into the VCS’ cartridge slot, and each cartridge has a flash of green inside it to represent the original PCBs. It’s lovely and indicative of how much thought has gone into the project.

Authentic feel

Closeup of the Lego Atari 2600 build and its hidden scene

(Image credit: Future)

It's impressive how functional the Lego Atari feels; it’s virtually 1:1 in scale and all of its switches can be tweaked or pulled. Heck, you can even plug the joystick in. 

Accordingly, the three featured carts and vignettes take a decent amount of time to assemble and you’ll dedicate around 30 minutes to each one. The most difficult aspect of building these comes from the sticker placement, which is a little fiddly and caused a bit of panic on my part when I realised too late that I’d stuck the Centipede sticker on a black base instead of a grey one.

But the effort is worthwhile - the stickers themselves are Lego-ised images of the original Atari art and look absolutely delightful. The castle is the most basic due to its symmetrical shape and lack of colours, but it’s also one of the most striking to look at, with only Centipede’s space centipede managing to better it. The Asteroids space scene is perhaps the most disappointing to look at visually, but was still fun to build nonetheless. 

Should you buy the Lego Atari 2600?

Lego Atari 2600 game case and vignette closeup

The vignettes are some of the most delightful things about this Lego Atari kit (Image credit: Future)

While it’s a little too expensive overall for what you're getting, the Lego Atari 2600 is still a great way to waste an afternoon and is filled with all manner of neat secrets that will please any Atari fan. Ultimately it’s a showpiece, not a playset, and that may enter into your purchasing decision. But if you can justify the outlay, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be disappointed.

Buy it if...

You grew up playing Atari
If you had a 2600 way back when, you'll be more than happy with what Lego's done here. It's nostalgia in brick-form.

You want a cool display piece
Sure, you can't actually play on it. But the Lego Atari 2600 will look incredible as a collectible on your shelf or mantlepiece.

Don't buy it if...

You aren't a massive Atari fan
If you don't harbor many, many fond memories of the Atari 2600, this kit will likely leave you feeling cold.

You want something more interactive
Although it's very cool to look at, there's not much more to the Lego Atari than that; unlike the Lego NES, it can't be 'played' with.

How we tested the Lego Atari 2600 set

This Lego Atari 2600 set was provided by the publisher, and it was built solo over the course of six hours and 20 minutes. The pictures throughout this review were taken during that build process. 

For more info on how we review products, take a look at our Hardware policy on how GamesRadar+ testing works.

For more recommendations, head over to our guides on the best Lego Star Wars sets and these essential Lego Super Mario sets. You can also get some money off with the latest Lego deals.

Darran Jones

Darran is so old that he used to play retro games when they were simply called games. A relic from the Seventies, he’s been professionally writing about retro gaming since 2003 and has been helming Retro Gamer since its resurrection in 2005, making him one of the UK’s longest-running editors of a games magazine. A keen board gamer, nature photographer and lover of movies, Darran’s writing credits include GamesTM, Play, SciFi-Now, Official Xbox Magazine, SFX, XBM, Cube, Total DVD, World Of Animals and numerous others. You’ll find him online discussing everything from bird photography to the latest 4K Arrow releases, as well as the ever-increasing prices of retro games.