18 December 2009


For some reason, this Christmas season I am reminded of Legos. From the time I was seven years old until I was 14 or so, I loved Legos. I'd ask for sets for almost every birthday and Christmas. I spent hours playing Legos with my friends and cousins... in my room, in the backyard, running around the neighborhood, at the grandparents'.

Good memories.

So, without further ado on this Friday afternoon, I give you a tour of the Lego highlights from my life:

This is the Spy-Trak I. It is the first Lego set I may or may not have owned. As it was released in 1989 (or 20 years ago, holy cow), I was pretty young at the time. Memories are fuzzy. It seems familiar enough, though.

Auxiliary Patroller. This is one of the oldest sets I remember actually owning. The distinctive bubble shield over the cockpit and the laser on the front were super awesome.

Pulsar Charger. This thing was cool. One of the first M-Tron sets I ever had... I used to fly that thing all over the house. I remember being bothered that the antenna on the right side threw off the symmetry of the model. Came out in 1990.

Vector Detector. Another M-Tron set. I may have owned this, or my best friend did. Either way, I remember playing with it a lot. If you look closely, you can see the magnet box hanging off the back. M-Tron was big into magnets, which was pretty cool back in the day.

The Mega Core Magnetizer. Holy smokes was this thing cool. Unfortunately, I never got my hands on it, resorting instead to looking at it longingly in the pages of my Lego catalogs.

The Super Nova II. Blacktron was sweet. The neon yellow pieces and cool logo were enough to draw me in.

The Solar Snooper. I got this for my 10th birthday, and boy, was I excited. So excited that I immediately, in the middle of my birthday party, went down to the basement to assemble it by myself. What did my friends do? I have no idea. I was kind of a dumb kid.

Anyway, the Snooper was the bomb. I loved the green tinted plastic, the big wheels, the portable jail cell. Note the Blacktron prisoner. I guess they were space bad guys or something. The mythology of Space Police never really caught on.

Mixed in to all this space stuff is castle-and-knight type stuff. I distinctly remember owning this set, Black Monarch's Ghost. The glow-in-the-dark ghost was awesome, and the knight's lance and sword were pretty much the coolest things ever made to that point. I'm not sure what this set is about, however. There's a closet, and the ghost lives inside, and a knight wandered past and got scared? Is the knight supposed to fight the ghost?

Ah, pirates. Pirates way before Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom were pirates. This is the Black Seas Barracuda, and boy did I ever covet this thing. Unfortunately, it ran near $200 in 8-year-old me dollars, so I never got it. The pirate theme introduced cool stuff like the monkey, treasure chest, cannon and gold coins. Also sharks.

This is the Caribbean Clipper, the good guys' answer to the Barracuda. About half the size of the pirate ship, this Imperial boat was cheaper, but still a bit out of my price range. Cool hats.

This was more along the line of what pirate sets I owned. The Raft Raiders were pretty cool... I liked how the captain's shirt was all torn and stuff. The pirate life is a rough and tumble life, that's for sure. This is the only Lego set that has a flag with a black skull and crossbones on a white background.

I got the Renegade Runner for Christmas one year. It was pretty sweet, while not as large as the Barracuda or Clipper. The sail swung from side to side, and the rudder moved. I liked this one a lot.

Somewhere along the line Lego redesigned their castle-and-knights setup and the Black Knights came about. I distinctly remember buying this set from the local Shopko. The new oval shield was awesome, and I liked the dragon wings on the sides of the knight's helmet. I believe the breastplate was also new.

The new Black Knights needed someone to fight, so Lego invented the Wolfpack. Near as I can remember, these guys lived in the forest and stole stuff. I got the Wolfpack Tower for Christmas one year. Hey, look, another ghost! The drawbridge went up and down, and to access the inside of the tower you opened the rocky-looking sides.

The Dragon Masters premiered in 1993, introducing... wizards and dragons! I owned this set, the Fire Breathing Fortress. The wizard's glow-in-the-dark wand, beard and hat were all new. This set included a half-spiral staircase.

Also from 1993, Ice Planet. Neon orange skis, neon orange chainsaws, neon orange everything. Paired with the white and blue, the Ice Planet stuff looked pretty cool. I owned this vehicle, the Ice-Sat V.

1994 introduced the Islanders models. New mask, new take on the oval shields. Vaguely cool. I had one or two of these guys, but nothing really sticks out in my memory.

The Sea Sprint 9 from the Aquanauts is one of the last Lego sets I ever remember having. The flippers and scuba gear sets were pretty neat. The blue octagonal cockpit top is unique to Lego sets.

I never got into any new lines Lego released after 1995, but Legos remain one of my best childhood memories. Searching the interwebs for more information for this post, I discovered I'm not the only one who's nostalgic for these toys. There are multiple websites set up to buy and trade Lego sets, and then there's eBay.

Legos might turn out to be my generation's Tinkertoys. The genius of making imaginative worlds for kids to explore while allowing them to build their own creations was a good move. Nice work, Lego.

Of course, today, everything is licensed. Harry Potter Legos. Star Wars Legos. Lego Indiana Jones. Where's the imagination?

That said, we did rent Lego Batman from Gamefly last month. That's a fun game. :)


Steve-O said...

We had an awesome motor home Lego kit for a bit, before it was dismantled and mixed in with the other assorted Lego's. So many neat kit's, all mixed and mingled. Good times.

Seth said...

The scary part is is rummaging through the lego box and finding some of those exact ancient ruins of your past lego creations.

Brooke said...

So that's why I think every little boy from ages 7-14 wants legos for their birthday or christmas! I remember many of these sets as well. I played with them too you know! Fun fun.

Becca said...

I'm with Seth on this one, only I can kind of remember when they were actually solidified sets.

Anonymous said...

You know why that Ice Moon model is so awesome looking? Orange, Blue, and White. War Eagle. lol

I loved Legos growing up as well, and when I visit my younger relatives I always find myself digging through their Legos and throwing stuff together. I just sneak off, and build something.

Lego just opened a store not too far from my hometown. I may work my way over there soon.

Anonymous said...

Ice Planet! Wolfpack! those pics brought me back directly to the tiem when i was 8! how beautiful! :D