Every growing boy needs a hobby. For me, it’s Lego. I loved the toy as a child, before undergoing what Lego fandom refers to as ‘The Dark Ages’ when I was thirteen or fourteen– that period between discovering Lego and rediscovering it.
I rediscovered it a few years ago thanks to my kids: Luscious and I had bought Ms 15 some Duplo when she was a little sausage person, and passed it on to Master 12 when he became a little sausage person. Neither of them had really taken to it, until one day, when searching for a way to create a maze for the remote control T-Rex they were playing with, they brought it out.
“I wonder what they’d do with some real Lego?” I said to Luscious.
“You should nip down the ships and pick some up,” she replied. (He says, passing-the-blamingly).
Today, I have a collection that lies just short of 200 sets, and just north of 55,000 pieces. The children, meanwhile, have iPads and iPods, and laptops. I have displayed at the last 2 Bricktober exhibitions, and am currently working on my display for a third consecutive year, and have travelled to Melbourne to exhibit at their giant Brickvention exhibition. I am a member of several online Lego groups, have a Flickr account, and spend hundreds of dollars a year at the Bricklink second-hand site, buying individual pieces for my MOCs (My Own Creations: what adults call this thing wot I built all by myself to make it sound more adult).
In short, I’m an AFOL: an Adult Fan of Lego. And I loves it with great lovingness.
In many ways, I’ve passed beyond buying sets: I’m more interested in MOCs, as it expands my creative skills, and it’s the act of artistic creation that fires my juices. But, like many of my colleagues, sets were where I started before I slid over to the more self-expressive, artistic end of the spectrum. So here are five sets that fuelled my love of the brick, and which will be the last to leave my cold, dead hands.
5 for Friday: Lego sets
918 Space Transport and 928 Galaxy Explorer
The set that started it all, and the set I lusted after my whole life.
The 918– all 81 pieces of it– was the centrepiece of my collection when I was a child. I received for my birthday it in the year of its issue, 1979, and it kick-started an obsessive love that lasted another 4 years, and multiple purchases of smaller, less expensive sets, all firmly placed within the Space theme. It’s a love that has never left me– even coming back to Lego thirty-plus years later, it’s spaceships and bases that I lean towards building, and which I display almost exclusively.
I gave away my collection to a work colleague in my early twenties, and have regretted it ever since. When my collection was approaching 100 sets, I determined to make this one my hundredth, and did so, at a price that would have made my childhood eyes water.
The 928 was the flagship of that series, and so far out of my parents’ price range that I was warned repeatedly not to even ask for it. As a consequence, I’ve lusted after it my entire life, even when I no longer had any interest in Lego. That’s just how my brain works. Like every set from that era, it’s now eye-wateringly expensive, but dammit, I’m an adult with my own income and I’ll get one if I want one, so there. I have one, my eyes watered, and it’s absolutely everything I expected it would be when I was a kid. I loves it.
5984 Lunar Limo.
The first ‘family’ set that we bought when deciding to introduce the kids to Lego. It’s a mad build, as you can see from the box, and kicked off the obsession: having built it, I immediately went in search for more sets from the theme it belongs to: Space Police III. And they were mad as all get out, too, and had weird pieces I’d never seen, and super-cool alien minifigures, and so I needed to get another one, and another one… and that was me hooked, lined, and sinkered.
But look at it. LOOK AT IT! I mean, come on….
79003: An Unexpected Gathering
Look, we can all agree that the Hobbit movies were bad. Bad, bad, bad. So bad. So very, very bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.
But this set almost makes up for it. This set and that bit where Smaug goes over the top of the bridge and rains coins. But mainly this set. Put simply, after almost 200 sets, this is still the most enjoyable, satisfying, and fun set I’ve ever built. It’s a joy in every way, from new techniques, to new parts, to surprising connections. It’s a builder’s delight. It’s still the only set I’ve demolished the moment I finished building, purely so I can immediately build it all over again.
10228: Haunted House.
All jokes aside: this set is a monster. Clocking in at over 2000 pieces, it’s the largest set I own by nearly a factor of two, and is packed full of little surprises and tricks that add joy to the building experience. The fact that it’s a freaking haunted house, the cool minifigs, the metric fucktonne of sand green (a pretty damn rare colour) pieces… all just gravy.
70709: Galactic Enforcer.
It’s a tank, and a jet plane, and a tankjetplane, and there’s aliens, and it comes apart, and then there’s two toys, and aliens, and it does this, and if you pull this bit then that happens….. I would have killed you all for this when I was a kid. Luckily, I have a job, and my own income, so I didn’t have to kill you all for this when it came out. But honestly, look at it: if this isn’t every space-kids wet dream come to life, you tell me what is. Even now, several years after first building it, it makes my inner 9 year old weep with joy.