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A man inserts an Asteroids cartridge, made of Lego bricks, into the Lego Atari 2600 set Image: The Lego Company

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Lego’s Atari 2600 is cooler than it needed to be

New Lego retro gaming set is more than just a console and controller made of plastic bricks

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Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Lego and Atari are celebrating the gaming company’s 50th anniversary with a new set based on the iconic Atari 2600 (aka Atari VCS) console that launched in 1977. But the Lego Atari 2600 is more than just a brick-based recreation of the console and its one-button joystick; Lego went the extra mile here, stuffing in a secret compartment jam-packed with ’80s nostalgia and tapping into the imagination that the blocky 8-bit graphics of the 2600 required of its players.

While the Lego Atari 2600 set accurately recreates the four-switch model of the system released in 1980, and iconic game cartridges like Adventure, Asteroids, and Centipede, it also contains a fantastic interior Lego diorama. Sliding open the top panel of the Lego Atari 2600 reveals an ’80s-throwback gaming scene, with a Lego minifigure playing Asteroids on an even tinier Atari console. The rest of the room is decorated with a boom box, a VHS cassette, a CRT television, a wall-mounted telephone, and other retro artifacts.

Here’s a closer look:

Lego has also crafted three diorama scenes to complement the cartridges included with the set. The Adventure cartridge features a scene showing the iconic dragon and castle from the classic adventure game; Centipede features (what else?) a centipede and mushrooms; and Asteroids features a spaceship blasting space rocks. Each cartridge’s printed artwork is also rendered in a Lego brick style.

Of course, the console itself seems lovingly recreated in black bricks and a woodgrain effect, with movable switches and a port to insert cartridges. There’s even an array of ports in the back, where you can plug in that damned Atari 2600 joystick, which only made playing Atari’s game catalog that much harder. (Sadly, the system does not appear to include a Lego-built RF adapter.)

The Lego Atari 2600 launches Aug. 1, and costs $239.99 (a little higher than expected) when it goes on sale in Lego stores and online at The set is composed of 2,532 pieces — you were so close, Lego! — and the console measures 3 inches high, 13 inches wide, and 8.5 inches deep.

Update (Aug. 1): The Atari 2600 Lego set (#10306) is now available from the Lego website and in Lego Stores. Online purchases are limited to two sets.