Lego Sanctum Sanctorum Review

Lego Sanctum Sanctorum Review and Guide

I was beyond excited when LEGO announced the release of this Sanctum Sanctorum 76218 set. I’m a huge fan of the MCU, but until now, there haven’t really been any Marvel sets that have caught my eye. The Infinity Gauntlet was tempting, but ultimately I decided against it as it didn’t come with any minifigures. Even though I don’t tend to play with my sets, I like them to have the opportunity for play if I did feel so inclined.

I also have a strong preference for buildings, and the star of my collection is the Harry Potter Diagon Alley set. The problem was that I couldn’t really think of any Marvel buildings that would work as Lego sets. They’ve released the Avengers Tower set in the past, but personally, I felt it was too repetitive and bland with all the glass windows. However, the Sanctum Sanctorum erases that worry.

It’s a relatively unassuming building on the outside, but I like that the layers are all different colors, and the architecture is interesting enough to hold my attention. There’s also a lot of detail inside. Probably my favorite aspect of this set is the fact that it’s modular. That means you can take it apart, and even switch out some of the features, such as removable walls.

Overall, this set was an incredible build and one that reminds me of some of my favorite scenes from the MCU. There are downsides to it as well, though, and certain aspects have had a mixed reception from fans. Read this Lego Sanctum Sanctorum Review to see my experience of building it, and decide whether this set is right for you.

lego sanctum santorum finished building
Image by Melika Jeddi

What You Need to Know

  • Price – $249.99
  • Number of Pieces – 2708
  • Number of Minifigures – 9
  • Movies it’s Based On – Avengers: Infinity War and Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  • Total Time to Build – 12 hours 10 minutes
  • Specifications – 12.5″ tall by 12.5″ wide by 10.5″ deep

The Inspiration

The Sanctum Sanctorum is a key place for the followers of the Mystic Arts. It appears in several movies: Dr StrangeThor: RagnarokAvengers: Infinity WarAvengers: EndgameSpider-Man: No Way Home, and Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Obviously, that’s a lot of movies, and it would’ve been nigh-on impossible for LEGO to have included nods to all 6 of them. Instead, this set features details from just two: Avengers: Infinity War and Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The Sanctum Sanctorum appears in one of the first scenes of Avengers: Infinity War. Bruce Banner has learned what Thanos intends to do and warns Wong and Dr Strange, who then call on Tony Stark. Unfortunately, Ebony Maw intercepts them and takes Dr Strange into space, with Iron Man in hot pursuit.

The Sanctum isn’t on screen for particularly long, however, this movie does establish the general aesthetic of the building. It also showcases some great shots of the Sanctum with New York in the background. In terms of the set, the main features from Infinity War seem to be the inclusion of the Ebony Maw, Spider-Man, and Iron Man minifigures.

For me, Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (MoM from now on) is easily in my top 5 movies. I thought the character development of Wanda especially was extraordinary, and I loved watching her become the Scarlet Witch. The movie gives us some phenomenal visuals, and I found the plot equal parts gripping and heart-wrenching.

I was shocked to discover that a lot of fans consider it a weak movie, but personally, I love it, and I’m thrilled to have a set based around it. Most of the minifigures and external details are based on this movie, including Gargantos protruding from one of the removable walls.

The Instructions

The LEGO Sanctum Sanctorum set comes with 3 instruction booklets, one for each layer of the build. The first is the thickest, as you need to lay the foundations for the set as well as build the ground floor itself. The other two are roughly equal in thickness. On the front, they all feature an image of a Dr Strange minifigure staring out the window on the top floor. On the back, they feature a portal with a different location.

I love how the instructions make it super clear where you need to place the pieces. I’ve had issues in the past where steps have had a bunch of smaller pieces, and I’ve needed to play spot-the-difference to figure out how the image in the instruction booklet differed from what I’d built so far.

However, with this set, each step outlines any new additions in red. That way you can see exactly where every single piece goes. I’ve encountered this before with the LEGO Batmobile Tumbler set, and I’m really glad they used it here. I hope it’s a permanent staple of all instruction booklets in future sets.

lego sanctum sanctorum instructions
Image by Melika Jeddi

Before You Build

Before you get started, here are some tips to help you make the most of this set.

  • Know where you’re going to put it – As with any large Lego set, it’s important to have a display location in mind. With smaller sets, you can get away with just finding a space for them, but that’s more tricky with a set this size. This one is tall, deep, and wide, so it probably won’t fit on a standard bookshelf. You may want to consider a custom display case. I have mine in one of the cubby holes of my TV stand.
  • Have a clear workspace – Being a modular set, this one is much more convenient than others that grow in size as you get to the later stages, but it’s still not small. You’ll want a decent table or another workspace so that you can organize all your pieces and still have room to put the layers together. I’m lucky enough to have a curved desk, so I had my pieces on one side, and the build itself on the other.
  • Be focused – The first stage lays the foundation for the entire build, and you’ll be laying out tiles on the base plate. You don’t want to mess up here, as although the set does come with a brick separator, it’s a real pain removing tiles from plates. Pay close attention to where each tile goes, you may want to consider counting the studs just to be sure.
  • Rewatch the movies – This one isn’t necessary, but it’s a fun suggestion. I find that I get so much more hyped about a LEGO set when I’m in the right state of mind. Building the Sanctum Sanctorum will feel a lot more exciting if you’ve just watched it on the screen.
lego sanctum sanctorum organized pieces
Image by Melika Jeddi

The Building Process

For some collectors it’s all about the finished product, but not for me. I judge LEGO just as much on how fun it is to build as I do on what it looks like when it’s done. If a set doesn’t have an enjoyable build process, then it doesn’t appeal to me, regardless of how cool it looks. I was a little hesitant about the Sanctum Sanctorum because I thought “it’s just a building”, but I’m so glad I decided to get it. There’s so much more to it than you’d first think, and the construction process is both relaxing and fun.

I really appreciated the size of each stage. None of them exceeded an hour, and it meant that I could build it in little bite-sized chunks. I loved watching the layers develop, it’s so thrilling getting to watch it all come together. The fact that it’s modular also meant that I could take each finished section and put it to the side whilst I worked on the next layer.

lego sanctum sanctorum kitchen
Image by Melika Jeddi

One reason that I enjoy building LEGO rather than just buying completed sets is all the hidden details that are included. There’s nearly always some amount of this, but the Sanctum Sanctorum set goes overboard. So many delightful details are included and then hidden away in the process of adding walls and ceilings.

So many items contain other hidden items, and it’s exhilarating to know all the stuff going on behind the scenes. For example, on the ground floor, there’s a kitchen which you can just about see from above. In that kitchen is a fridge, but what you wouldn’t know from looking down at it is that inside the fridge, there’s food and drinks!

My favorite stage to build was Stage 15. This was the first part of the top level, and it was such a dream! Not only was it smooth and easy to put together, but it felt exciting from a Marvel point of view rather than just as a Lego enthusiast. This floor is where Dr Strange stores all his secret relics, and there are some really cool items.

I loved thinking about all the exciting adventures that must’ve gone into collecting these artefacts. I wondered whether Dr Strange would sometimes wander up there just for a look around like it was his own personal museum. That’s certainly how I felt whilst building it!

Word of warning – I injured myself at one point. The walls of the Sanctum Sanctorum are 1 stud thick and quite high, so you’re stacking a lot of thin bricks on top of each other.

To save time, I switched to doing it one-handed. Biiig mistake. Without the second hand to hold the lower brick neatly in place, my fingers slipped whilst applying pressure, and I ended up slicing the back of my thumb on the side of a LEGO brick. I even drew blood! Thankfully I’ve got a high pain threshold and an odd sense of humor, so I found the whole thing hilarious. But it’s definitely a cautionary tale for those of you who don’t want scarred hands!

lego sanctum sanctorum relics
Image by Melika Jeddi

Time to Build

I like to track how long each stage takes me so I can see how well-paced the build is. This set was brilliant for that, with only 25 minutes difference between the longest and shortest stage. I think it’s also useful information to know so you can decide whether you have time to build the next bag. This set only has one bag per stage, although occasionally they’ll require extra pieces such as the base plate. The time listed for each section includes the time to organise the pieces.

  • Stage 1 – 30 minutes
  • Stage 2 – 30 minutes
  • Stage 3 – 45 minutes
  • Stage 4 – 35 minutes
  • Stage 5 – 35 minutes
  • Stage 6 – 35 minutes
  • Stage 7 – 40 minutes
  • Stage 8 – 50 minutes
  • Stage 9 – 40 minutes
  • Stage 10 – 55 minutes
  • Stage 11 – 50 minutes
  • Stage 12 – 50 minutes
  • Stage 13 – 35 minutes
  • Stage 14 – 40 minutes
  • Stage 15 – 40 minutes
  • Stage 16 – 30 minutes
  • Stage 17 – 40 minutes
  • Stage 18 – 45 minutes
  • Total – 12 hours 10 minutes (includes 5 minutes to place all the minifigures)

The Finished Product

Once you’re done building this set, you’re left with a masterpiece. The Sanctum Sanctorum is so compact and so well-rounded; it truly is a joy to behold. The choice to have the layers be three distinct yet complementary colors was genius. You have the bottom level in a textured gray. Above it, in a warm brown color is the middle level, adorned with plenty of windows.

Then finally, you have the roof standing proudly in pastel green. I’m very used to that particular shade of green as it’s the same one used for the roof elements on the modern wave of Harry Potter LEGO sets such as the Chamber of Secrets set.

The cool thing about the Sanctum Sanctorum set is that it’s modular. In LEGO terms, that means it can be taken apart into its component sections and then put back together again. This leaves a lot of room for potential mods, which I’ll talk more about later.

But it also means you can customize your minifigure placement more easily, and it makes it easier to play with. You can lift the layers off to look inside, and then replace them when you’re done. They attach via a few studs in the corners, so they’re not precariously balanced, but they’re also easy to remove.

lego sanctum sanctorum modular
Image by Melika Jeddi

In terms of mods, you can use your imagination. The Sanctum Sanctorum is an established building in MCU lore, but there’s nothing to stop you from creating your own alternate version of it. You can just imagine yours is part of the multiverse. Provided that you build the base layer to the same specifications as the rest of the included layers, you could create an entirely new floor to slot in between the existing ones.

You can also use the included pins on the baseplate to clip the entire set into your existing LEGO City sets, as it uses the same gray baseplate as is standard.

The included minifigures make for a dynamic scene when placed as the instruction booklet suggests. You can of course put them wherever you’d like, but I can be quite meticulous about making my sets perfect. I wanted to ensure that I matched each minifigure to the exact stud that LEGO intended. I was really pleased with the final look. The Sanctum Sanctorum makes the perfect backdrop for the action that’s playing out. I also feel it really cleverly combines the characters from the two movies.

lego sanctum sanctorum finished scene
Image by Melika Jeddi

Interactive Elements

Several interactive features are included in this set. Primarily, these are just small details that can enhance play. An example would be the newspaper box on the side of the street which contains a few copies of the Law Times. There’s also a dumpster with trash inside the lid, and a fridge with food inside.

The coolest feature, without a shadow of a doubt, is the secret portal in the library. There are two sets of bookshelves that look completely innocuous at first glance. However, they’re disguising a mystery! You can slide them open to reveal a hidden portal. But that’s not all. The portal at first seems to lead into the great unknown.

But slide the shelves one way, and it’ll take you to the desert. Slide the other way, and to the mountains you’ll go! I really love details like this in LEGO sets, because it makes the build feel so much more immersive.

Admittedly, there aren’t too many intentionally interactive elements here. However, several features lend themselves well to being picked up and played with, even if that’s not by their design. I’ll talk about those more in the ‘Playability and Displayability’ section of this article.

lego sanctum sanctorum hidden portal
Image by Melika Jeddi

The Minifigures

This is one area where I feel this set is a little lacking. For starters, we only get 9 of them, and with a $249.99 price tag, I feel like there should’ve been at least 12 – 15. I don’t even have a particular preference on who it would be, but just having other characters from the movies would’ve been really awesome. In particular, America Chavez would’ve been appreciated given how prominently she features in Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The minifigures that we get are: Dr Strange, Wong, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Ebony Maw, Master Mordo, Sinister Strange, Dead Strange, and Wanda Maximoff (as Scarlet Witch). I feel that this is a decent range, just lacking somewhat in number. I’m particularly glad to see Spider-Man there as he’s got such an iconic design, and his minifigure is very well conceptualized.

lego sanctum sanctorum spidey
Image by Melika Jeddi

Unfortunately, I don’t have too many compliments for the rest of the minifigures. I’m glad to have them, and I experienced initial excitement as it was just cool to have those characters in minifigure form. However, my excitement did fade somewhat when I saw the apparent lack of care that had gone into a few of them.

Before I get into my gripes, I’d like to acknowledge what went right. I adore the cloak for the Dr Strange minifigure. It’s made of a rubbery material and can hold its shape on its own, unlike the usual flimsy capes. Considering that the cape is repeatedly shown to have mystic properties, this was a perfect choice for an accessory. It clips neatly onto Dr Strange’s neck and completes the look perfectly. I’m also really impressed with the Iron Man helmet, and how the visor can lift up and down.

lego sanctum sanctorum iron man
Image by Melika Jeddi

Now for my grievances. My major issue is that 4 out of 9 of them don’t have any printing on the legs. Considering how few minifigures there are to begin with, you’d expect the included ones to go all out on the detail, and it failed to deliver. It feels lazy not to have any details on the legs. The characters feel less complete, and it cheapens them for me.

I’m also a collector of Funko Pops, and when I compare the details of these minifigures to their Funko Pop counterparts, it annoys me. I know they’re smaller in scale so they can’t have the same level of detail, but I just would have expected a few extra lines and patterns rather than a solid color.

I was also disappointed with the Scarlet Witch minifigure. I absolutely adore Wanda, and aside from Captain America, she’s my favorite character. I couldn’t wait to finally own her minifigure, but when I did, it was underwhelming. She’s one of the 4 that suffer from not having printed legs, but that’s not the only problem. I feel like her facial expression doesn’t really capture her personality.

She has two sides to her face, and the aggressive one with red eyes is fine, but that’s not how I like to remember her. The other side has a neutral expression that doesn’t really look like her, and I know LEGO has access to faces that would’ve suited Wanda far better than the one they chose.

lego sanctum sanctorum wanda
Image by Melika Jeddi

Where It Could’ve Improved

Overall I was really impressed with this set, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Obviously, I’ve already mentioned my issues with the minifigures, so I won’t rehash that. There’s nothing else that actively bothers me about the set, but I still felt there were changes that could’ve made it better.

One part of this set that’s so cool is that there are 3 removable walls that are technically interchangeable. However, one of them is sideways, so doesn’t fit properly in the two other holes, making it almost moot. Then with the two that you can swap around, it doesn’t make much difference to the vibe of the building.

It would have been great if LEGO had given us two or three spare walls with different details. That way, you could really make the building your own. Not least because the two swappable walls both have something going on. One is a portal, and the other is Gargantos. If you wanted your Sanctum Sanctorum to be a calm, unassuming building, then tough.

lego sanctum sanctorum removable walls
Image by Melika Jeddi

I also would have really liked for this set to have been partially based on Thor: Ragnarok. I’m sure I’m not alone in that one of my favorite scenes in the entire MCU is when Dr Strange traps Loki in a portal loop. When Loki is finally let out, he’s totally dishevelled and exclaims “I have been falling for 30 minutes!” in an exasperated tone. It wouldn’t have needed much. Perhaps just minifigures for Loki and Thor, and a portal piece designed to fit on the ceiling of the ground floor.

Is It Worth Buying?

This is a very subjective question, and I don’t believe the answer can ever be the same for everyone. All of you will have your own unique criteria by which you make purchase decisions. I can’t predict what your preferences will be. However, I can address my own criteria, and give details so that you can make an informed decision. You may weigh aspects differently from how I do, but hopefully, this will prove useful for you.

Ease and Enjoyability of Build

The Sanctum Sanctorum set is targeted at ages 18+, but personally, I feel this is excessive. No part of the build felt overly complicated, certainly not in comparison to other sets that I’ve built. Everything clipped neatly onto other pieces, and there were no awkward hinges or similar areas of frustration.

I think this could easily be built by someone aged 14/15, and it’s not like either of the movies it’s based on requires the audience to be aged 18. This was a predominantly easy build that still offered enough challenge to keep it interesting.

I had so much fun putting this together, and LEGO really rewarded you for building this yourself. There are so many tiny details that you only really notice during the building process and not in the final display. The pieces come in a wide range of shapes, and even though there are lots of areas that are in a single color, there’s enough contrast that it doesn’t feel boring.

The one downfall here is, you guessed it, stickers. When I first unboxed this set, I wasn’t fazed. There were only two small sheets so I figured it would be fine. However, a lot of the stickers are really small in size, so they stacked up fast and grew tiresome. At one point I encountered a 1×1 sticker! That’s beyond ridiculous, and several of the stickers for the 1×2 tiles should have been printed pieces instead, especially as sometimes there were multiples of the same sticker.

lego sanctum sanctorum stickers
Image by Melika Jeddi

Playability and Displayability

I prefer to get my playing side out during the building process, that’s what I do for fun. Once a set is built, I tend to leave it where it is, occasionally rotating it for some visual difference. However, if I were so inclined, then the Sanctum Sanctorum set offers a fair few chances to create exciting scenes. I think it’s more targeted towards adult play, such as conceiving a scene in your head and then moving the minifigures into position.

I don’t think children could have as much fun with it, as the layers are enclosed in their walls, and so moving the minifigures about inside would be challenging. Having said that, they could still have a lot of fun picking up the unique items. The minifigures come with accessories ideal for acting out battle scenes, and the top floor has several relics including two axes on the wall and knight helmets. You can even find the Time Stone hidden somewhere inside the set… I won’t spoil where, though!

I’ve already raved about how much I love the final product. It works so well as a display piece, and to say I adore it would be an understatement. The whole piece gels so well together, and I love the complementary colors chosen for the building’s facade. There’s so much texture, too, with tiles laid around the outside to give the appearance of rows of bricks. A few trees and other street elements dotted around the baseplate complete the look.

lego sanctum sanctorum details
Image by Melika Jeddi

Value for Money

Personally, I feel this set is worth the price it charges, at least relative to LEGO prices. There’s a valid argument to be made that all LEGO is overpriced, but I don’t think this set is unreasonable when compared to the usual standard of value. You’re getting nearly 3,000 pieces, most of which are a decent size.

There’s so much detail included, and it’s really a dream for Marvel fans. Even if you’re not that big a fan of the MCU, this set still offers some gorgeous architecture, especially with that sloped roof and domed window on the top floor.

If you have $250 to spend on a LEGO set, then I really don’t think you can go wrong with this one. The only caveat to that would be if minifigures are important to you because they’re very much the weak link with this set.

lego sanctum sanctorum range of pieces
Image by Melika Jeddi

Alternative Sets

I would definitely recommend the Sanctum Sanctorum, but if you feel this set isn’t for you, that’s not a problem. Here are some potential alternatives worth considering:

  • Daily Bugle 76178 – Another modular Marvel set, the Daily Bugle is an integral part of Spider-Man lore. It’s where Peter Parker works as a photographer, and a lot of his stories stem from there. This set looks absolutely epic and stands an impressive 32 inches high. It’s more expensive, and will set you back $349.99. For that price, you get a lot more minifigures, and this has a whopping total of 25! It is a slightly repetitive build, though.
Daily Bugle 76178
  • Boutique Hotel 10297 – At $229.99, this is in a similar price range to the Sanctum Sanctorum. It’s not relevant if you were drawn to the Marvel theme, but if you’re more interested in beautiful buildings, then it’s a strong contender. It has a similar outward appearance in that it consists of three different layers, but there’s more to it. It’s attached to an art dealership and comes with multiple accessories for running a hotel.
lego boutique hotel
  • The Avengers Quinjet 76248 – More affordable than the above two, this fun set provides a fun toy and an impressive display piece. If you want a Marvel LEGO set, but the Daily Bugle and Sanctum Sanctorum are out of your range, this one is well worth considering. It costs $99.99 and comes with 5 minifigures. You get the iconic Quinjet stood upon a stand, and I really don’t think you can go wrong with this. It has a fun design and could be perfect regardless of whether you want something to display or play with.

the avengers quinjet lego

Conclusion

Overall, I would definitely recommend the LEGO Sanctum Sanctorum set. It’s a joy to build, and the finished product looks gorgeous in my TV stand. I grin every time I look over at it, and I’m so glad to have this in my collection. The minifigures might not quite have lived up to my expectations, but they’re still decent, and they certainly don’t make this set any less worth buying. Of course, your preferences may be different, but personally, I feel this is really worth it.

Hopefully, this review and guide has told you everything you need to know about this set. I know purchasing new LEGO sets can be daunting, especially ones in these higher price ranges. I feel honored to be able to assist people in making important buying decisions, and I always give my honest opinions. If you love LEGO and you love Marvel, then I’m sure you’ll love this set! And if not, hopefully, one of my other suggestions will appeal to you instead. Happy building!

lego sanctum sanctorum early stage
Image by Melika Jeddi

FAQS

Question: How many movies is the Sanctum Sanctorum in?

Answer: 6, as of January 2023. These are: Dr Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Question: What does Sanctum Sanctorum mean?

Answer: It’s a Latin phrase that roughly translates to ‘the holiest place’.

Question: Where is the Sanctum Sanctorum?

Answer: The masters of the Mystic Arts have 3 Sanctums around the world in New York, London, and Hong Kong. This set is based on the one in New York, in Greenwich Village to be precise.

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