Lego Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone review: “Lego’s secured all seven Chaos Emeralds”

Lego Sonic the Hedgehog - Green Hill Zone hero image of the full set
(Image: © Future)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Sonic’s used to the highest heights and the lowest lows, but just like the Blue Blur’s original outing, the Billund-based brick builders have made it off the starting blocks with a sonic boom. Sure, Robotnik, Moto Bug, and a few loop-the-loop stickers don’t quite match the rest of the set’s pitch-perfect aesthetic, but as far as we’re concerned, LEGO’s secured all seven Chaos Emeralds here.


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    This really does look like a brick-built 16-bit frame from Sonic the Hedgehog

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    The Sonic Minifigure is fantastic

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    Modular build paves the way for further expansion

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    Sonic-themed presentation will delight fans


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    Some details on the buildable figures could be better

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    It’s a shame stickers were used to create the chequered pattern on the loop

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Even somebody who’s never played a video game before would feel a strong sense of déjà vu when gazing upon the vibrant, green foliage and distinctive, chequered earth of Lego Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone, such is the magnitude of the blue blur’s impact on video games and pop culture in general.

And the fact that this brick-built rendition can garner a similarly nostalgic response to the 1991 original, flickering on a CRT monitor, makes it one of the best LEGO sets based on a video game. You’d have to be an ardent Mario fan or simply too young to remember the '90s not to spend the entire build merrily going: "Da, daa, dada, daa, daa," on loop.

Many of the best LEGO Super Mario sets are squarely aimed at younger minifigs, with adult sets such as The Might Bowser (2807) and Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block (2064) costing $200 / £200 or thereabouts. However, Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone presents a welcome change of pace for 18+ video-game-themed sets, thanks to its more affordable MSRP of $79.99 / £69.99. If anything, it's far more in line with the Lego Tallneck.


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Price$79.99 / £69.99
Height7" (17cm)
Width15" (36cm)
Depth3" (6cm)
Item Number21331

How easy is it to build?

  • Roughly three-hour build
  • Lots of 1 x 1 plates
  • Each build stage ends with a Chaos Emerald

The Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone isn’t a challenging build for an adult set. Technic pieces are few and far between, and the wealth of colors makes it relatively easy to filter through the piles of shrapnel to find your next piece. What earns this set its 18+ moniker, then, is its ability to test your patience. You’ll be laying down a lot of 1 x 1 plates throughout the roughly three-hour build. 

If constructing a Lego set is a means to an end, this may prove a laborious task. But if you’re a builder at heart, there’s a charm to a set that requires you to graft in order to achieve something good. It’s a similar process to putting together a set like Vincent Van Gogh – The Starry Night (21333) or the Jim Lee Batman Collection (31205), albeit not quite as taxing.

You’ll be spending the majority of your time placing those 1 x 1 plates to form the brown-checkered earth

The build is split across six bagged stages. You begin by piecing together Sonic, a base for the Chaos Emeralds, Crabmeat, and a palm tree. The latter is particularly ingenious – using green shields to accurately represent 16-bit palm leaves – and hasn’t changed much from the fan’s original design.

The next stage is the log bridge and loop-the-loop. A series of Bars and Round 1 x 1 pieces are used to form the log bridge but you’ll be spending the majority of your time placing those 1 x 1 plates to form the brown-checkered earth. You then progress onto constructing Moto Bug, a sunflower and working spring pad. The latter works via a simple Technic mechanism. 

The palm tree, bridge, loop-the-loop and spring/sunflower sections are all modular, so you can rearrange them in a variety of configurations. The Axle Holes at the beginning of the stage and the pins at the end of the stage could be designed to connect to other modular sets, a theory that seems increasingly likely with new Sonic the Hedgehog Lego kits slated for release this year. The fourth stage involves adding a plethora of details including a checkpoint, rings, and power-ups. And, true to form, the final build is the boss, Eggman and his Egg Wrecker. 

Far and away our favorite ode to Sonic is the presence of seven Chaos Emeralds, evenly spread out as a reward for completing each build stage. Blue Blur fanatics will note that only six Chaos Emeralds featured in the original game, but with those new sets reportedly on the horizon, the seventh emerald is likely just forward planning.


  • Looks like a 16-bit game made of LEGO
  • Even the instructions are Sonic themed
  • Lots of playability features adults can enjoy

The set looks remarkably faithful to the video game and its side-scrolling design means you shouldn’t have any problem displaying it on a shelf, beneath your TV, or on your desk. But the designers’ acute attention to detail doesn’t stop with the set itself. The game’s start screen adorns the front cover of the instruction booklet and on the back is a trio of Doctor Robotnik sprites, stamping on the word ‘end’, as happens during the video game’s good ending.

As we’ve come to expect from Ideas sets, you’ll find a few pages of information regarding the fan designer, Viv Grannell, as well as information on Sonic himself. The build-progress bar that runs along the bottom of each page throughout the instructions features a running Sonic, who is seen falling and losing his rings on the pages where you finish piecing together an enemy – a neat touch. 

It’s interesting to see how the finished article has changed when compared to the fan designer’s original concept. Most notably a Death Egg Robot build, from Sonic 2. However, the decision to start with the Green Hill Zone certainly makes sense. LEGO has nailed the color palette and the printed 1 x 4 tiles that represent pixelated grass really elevates the authentic 16-bit look. Our only real complaint when it comes to the stage itself is the stickers used to represent the brown checkered pattern on the loop-the-loop; it’s a shame they weren’t built up with individual bricks like everywhere else. 

When it comes to Minifigures, SEGA seemingly does do what Nintendon’t

Lego's 18+ sets aren’t known for their playable features, but Lego Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone is littered with them. The transparent poles that hold up the rings are attached to locking hinges so they can be pushed backwards and hidden as if they’ve been collected. The checkpoint can be positioned to face red or blue. Five power-up stickered tiles can be swapped in and out to form the two power-up boxes. And a simple mechanism behind the stage allows you to propel Sonic from the red spring.

Another neat addition is a life-counter sticker in the bottom-left corner, and you’ll even find a hidden nod to the designers on the back, with three high scores attributed to Viv, LCK, and Sam respectively, Lauren Cullen King and Samuel Liltorp Johnson being the Lego designers. Sam’s high score is 1991, which is a little Easter egg that relates to the original game’s year of release. 

When it comes to Minifigures, SEGA seemingly does do what Nintendon’t… Some Lego Super Mario fans have been vocal about Lego’s decision to shun Minifigures in favor of brick-built characters, so Sonic gets one over his Italian plumber rival here, with a proper Minifigure incarnation. It’s very similar to the Sonic present in the LEGO Dimensions Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack (71244), but with more detailed foot and back printing, black eyes, a circular gray stomach and a side smile on the opposite side of the mouth. The changes are subtle, but this is the better figure. 

Every other character is a buildable figure. Moto Bug is the weakest of the three, thanks to its slightly awkward proportions and the lack of a driving wheel. (Though the interchangeable face is a nice touch.) Crabmeat on the other hand is a charming and cleverly conceived rendition, but it’s Eggman that commands the most attention. 

The figure can be removed from the Egg Wrecker and features hinged arms and legs that twist at the top of the thighs. Eggman’s body looks fantastic, especially the way LEGO has conveyed his cartoony proportions. The white fists and printed 2 x 2 Dome Top are great additions, but what lets this figure down slightly is the nose and mustache. The pink 1 x 1 tile forms a much larger nose than seen on the original sprite and the way it sits between the mustache makes Eggman’s whiskers look more like sideburns. 

Still, the Egg Wrecker is a nice build – if a little less spherical than it ought to be. It’s a shame the set doesn’t include the machine’s ball and chain, but the decision to omit it isn’t exactly surprising as it would have been very difficult to implement. 

Should you buy Lego Sonic the Hedgehog - Green Hill Zone?

Lego Sonic the Hedgehog - Green Hill Zone thumbnail overview

 The Sonic theme translates really well into LEGO. Here’s hoping there’s more blocky, 16-bit goodness to come…   (Image credit: Future)

Sonic’s 16-bit heyday is a perfect fit for Lego. The Green Hill Zone captures the retro platformer’s cartoony, colorful, and blocky aesthetic perfectly. But just like pixelated sprites, a couple of character details don’t quite hold up to scrutiny. 

All the same, this is predominantly a display piece and when you take in the set as a whole, it’s a remarkably faithful representation of arguably the most iconic level in video game history. If you’re not into the child-friendly Mario sets and don’t have the space or budget to pick up the larger 18+ Nintendo-themed offerings, then the Green Hill Zone comes highly recommended and is certainly worthy of Sonic’s legendary lineage.

Buy it if...

You’re a fan of Sonic or retro platformers
Blue Blur fanatics and retro gamers alike will delight in Lego’s charming take on the 2D-platformer golden era, which nails the Green Hill Zone’s 16-bit charm and vibrant color palette.

You’re looking for an 18+ video-game-themed Lego set that isn’t huge and is relatively affordable
Lego has been putting out some stellar video-game themed sets in recent years, but with the Super Mario theme’s focus on either playability or big-budget builds – like the Nintendo Entertainment System (71374) – the Green Hill Zone is a refreshingly small and affordable build for big kids.

Don't buy it if...

You’re team SNES all the way
There are plenty of gamers out there who appreciate both SEGA and Nintendo’s mascots, but if you’re a child of the '90s who didn’t buy into all of that super-cool Genesis marketing, then perhaps Lego’s extensive Super Mario theme is more your style. Either that or you’re holding out for a DOOM set. Probably not going to happen…  

Building is a necessary evil and you hate repetition
Few construction toys or models are able to avoid repetition, but if you’re really adverse to it, this one requires you to stack and lay a lot of 1 x 1 plates.

How we tested Lego Sonic the Hedgehog - Green Hill Zone

I put this set together over two evenings and it took roughly three hours. Plenty of time was then spent toying around with Sonic and the various play features for what amounted to a very enjoyable photo shoot, in which I collected all seven Chaos Emeralds and royally peeved off Eggman in the process. 

For more information on our procedure, take a look at how we test products.

For more brick-based goodness, don't miss our guides to the best Lego Star Wars sets. You can also get some money off with these Lego deals.

Mike Harris

When he's not putting together Lego or board game reviews for us, Mike is Deputy Editor of N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine. He also brings over 10 years of experience writing both freelance and for some of the biggest specialist publications.