[From the questions: Where can I get hold of replacement instructions? Where can I get ideas to build other stuff? Where can I get copies of the instructions I had as a child?]
There may be times when you need to locate a copy of a set of LEGO instructions. Reasons vary – your existing ones may be damaged or lost; you want to recreate a set from your childhood; or you wish to build a set from parts.
Finding Original LEGO Instructions
From where you source these instructions is dependent on whether you are happy to read a PDF or prefer to read the instructions in the original paper format.
If you prefer to use the original paper instructions, your best bet is to purchase a copy via an online marketplace like Bricklink or Brick Owl. You can find both recent and vintage instructions for most themes. There is also a chance someone in your local LUG or Buy/Sell/Swap/Trade group on Facebook may have a copy they can sell or give to you. Not everyone keeps the instructions and many people are happy to see them go to a good home rather than the recycling bin.
PDF copies of instructions may be acquired from a number of different sites. It’s worthwhile bookmarking a couple of the different sites because they don’t always have everything and, sometimes, the files may not work on one page but do on another.
Popular sites include:
- LEGO Website – perfect for any set produced after 2002. Search for the set number on their Customer Service page. PDF downloads are available
- Brickinstructions.com – has a reasonable selection of sets going back to the mid-1960s but is not comprehensive. More recent sets have a downloadable PDF available but older sets are represented by scans of the instructions.
- letsbuilditagain.com – mostly concentrates on instructions from popular themes of the last 20 years but does have some older instructions. Well presented and includes a gallery to original creations made by kids.
- The Brickfactory – an older site that also includes catalogs, posters and stickers amongst their scans. It has a more comprehensive range of older sets but the site can be a little slow to load.
- swooshable.com – still in its BETA stage but it will search all of the popular sites for the availability of instructions. Will save you the effort of visiting each of the above sites individually.
It can be hard to decide what to build next when you have run out of ideas. Many years ago, LEGO used to provide alternative builds on the back of the instructions or the LEGO set box. Themes like the Creator series can provide alternate builds but, for the most part, you need to rely on your own imagination.
Luckily, there is a fantastic site called Rebrickable where you can enter the details of the sets you already have and it will provide you with instructions for other sets and original creations you can build with the same LEGO bricks. It will also give you a compatibility measure so you know how many extra bricks you need to obtain before you can build the item.
If you are looking for a different source of inspiration, you might like to consider purchasing original instructions from a number of different sites. Some recommended sites include:
- Moc pages
- Modulars by Kristel
- Moc plans
- World Bricks
- Rail Bricks
- Jurgen’s Technic Corner
- Brick City Depot
In the past, LEGO produced a series of “Ideas” books. These are long out of print but may be purchased via reseller sites like Bricklink or BrickOwl. There are also a large number of books that provide instructions and ideas for building. Some of the title available include:
- The LEGO Ideas Book by Daniel Lipkowitz
- The LEGO Neighborhood Book by Brian and Jason Lyles – fantastic for Modular building ideas and techniques
- Totally Cool Creations by Sean Kenney
- The LEGO Adventure Books by Megan H. Rothrock
- The Brick series by Warren Elsmore
This article was originally published as “LEGO Instructions” on The Plastic Brick House where author Sue-Ann Barber answers commonly asked questions. It has been republished with permission.