Lego Classic: Retro Values with a Modern Aesthetic

When LEGO rebooted their ‘generic brick’ sets last year as ‘Classic’ I was pretty excited.  Whilst I enjoy the creator and mini figure containing sets, the building often feels a little bit constrained. It’s like we aren’t being encouraged to experiment too much with building any more.  Now, my early experiences with lego were before the release of the mini figure, and in those early days, box art would often demonstrate alternative builds without instructions.  So the classic sets are available in a variety of sizes and price points, from $AU25 (224 bricks) through to the $90, 1500 piece, creatively named ‘Large Creative Box’.  In between are a variety of building sets and also ‘supplement sets’ these $AU30 sets come without wheels or plates, but a variety of bricks, as well as some ‘eye tiles’.  There is even a ‘bright’ supplement set: featuring much of the Friends color palette. I would love a ‘landscape supplement’ full of greys, greens and browns, but leaving out the purples and trans red and so forth…

Today I am looking at 10702 – Lego Creative Building Set.  Whoa… lets look at that word again: Creative.  That’s like ‘building without a net.’ It was purchased on special, $29.99, rather than the standard $39.99: 25% off.  It contains over 570 pieces in 41 colours. That was around 7 cents per piece; 73 cents per colour, 13.9 pieces per colour. Forty one colours? you’d think they were ice cream flavours.

The box is shaped like an old school toy box, made of corrugated cardboard and  contains several transparent poly bags, filled according to color family.

These images show us all the colour, and representative of the parts selection. I ran out of space in my light box so…


So here we are, with a set full of bricks. Many of these pieces are fairly contemporary: new shapes or colours.  So – old school values, with new school pieces and colours.  These days however we (standard lego consumers) are used to instructions. How will the youth of today manage.  Can they just create?  How do you inspire it?

‘Ideas’

The set comes with a small manual, offering instructions for 5 different models, all conveniently constructible from the one coloured bag?  Perhaps not.  I suspect it’s just a big tease. The ‘inspiration book’ invited us to look online for further instructions.Some are simple “No instruction really required: you should be able to build it from the final picture,” through to “This’ll stump you…” Perhaps I should treat it like a problem solving exercise, and use the instructions as answers..? Additional instructions can be found on the LEGO Classic website.

One of my favourite aspects of these builds if the variety of scales in use: from a chibi style car ferry to a pair of lilac roller skates.

So what does this set have to offer us  – other than a headache as we attempt to sort in into colors, or piece types…

Between the ‘classic purple roller disco skates’ and the boom box, with removable cassette tape included in the instructions/ ideas, there is a nod to days gone past: would children today even recognize these things? Is this just Generation X’s Nostalgia/ Gen Y’s retro taken a step too far.  I am a little surprised that an Olivetti Typewriter was not one of the suggested models.

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Educational applications: 20th Century History Youth Icons.

(For those wondering, in the days before the current inline skate, they would have 4 wheels at each corner. Occasionally people would wear them to the roller disco, to dance in skates. The colours and associated fashions could be a little traumatic. But hardly any one suffered significant physical injury.

Cassettes were the precursors to MP3’s and Napster. We would occasionally play our vinyl records, and record them onto cassette tapes, to share or play in the car. They could hold up to 45 minutes per side. Track access was sequential, unlike the random access we have today. If you didn’t like a song, you could fast forward through it, or just wait. Often fast forwarding took just as long, as you tried to stop the tape in just the right place. On hot days, left in the car, they would melt!

Napster was a file sharing service in use around the turn of the century. It spelt death to the blank cassette industry!  Now read on)

The builds in the ‘ideas’ manual are variable in challenge if attempting to build them without the actual instructions. I built the feeding dog, car ferry, sports car as well as retro fave’s Ghetto Blaster BoomBox and Roller Disco Boots.  They were all able to be built simultaneously, with lots of left over pieces: I suspect that all the suggested models could be made at once.  I think this is a little disappointing: If you couldn’t do this, you would be forced to pull models apart before proceeding with the next!

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Creature Feature: The parrot features use of some nifty SNOT work with offset plates to complete the beak

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I quite liked the lilac sports car: It was all could to to restrain myself from putting eyes on the wing mirror prior to taking photos. (Check out the @ramblingbrick on instagram to see the results!) It is very similar in size to the car built in the juniors set: 10677: Beach Trip.   You can see them going head to head for their owner’s attention below:

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Decisions decisions: Do I go with the Brick Built Beauty, or something my Chihuahua can drive?

Classic colours

There are 41 colours, as previously discussed. I will not attempt to name them all, but perhaps some colours are served better than others. There is great variety in (classic old school) green, yet transparent black exists only as 2 1×2 tiles. Trans red exists only as studs (1×1 round plate). Dark red is there, but only as four 1×4 plates. I had to adjust my light and refocus my eyes in order to detect it next to the reddish brown.

Here they are, in all their glory…if nothing else, it’s pretty representative of virtually every colour produced by Lego in 2016. Have you picked the missing ones? There are around 10… Leave a note in the comments.

So… Does this set live up to the hope that’its just like an old Lego set’?

In part. By expanding the colour palette so much, most colours are not in enough useful pieces to allow solid colour blocking. You can make almost anything you wish, BUT you need to be as creative with your colour use as with your blocks.  This is not a ‘here is a lot grey to build a castle with’ kind of a set.

It plays on the nostalgia that AFOLs/ generation X and our parents have for the old kind of ‘non prescriptive set’. We would appear to be a significant part of the target market, given that children today may not recognize the ‘artifacts’ featured in the ideas book.  It is perhaps not as bad as I am painting however. The seated dog model is terrific, with so much character added by the use of the eyes, as is the lilac car. The dog particularly reminds us that a creature can be static, and doesn’t need articulated legs and neck like so many of the recent dragons and ‘build an animal’ creator sets.

So would this be a set I would own in isolation? Possibly not. Perhaps two, or in conjunction with a supplementary pack. By not having a balanced palette, we are forced to build creatively. Perhaps this is the point.

I like most of the colour selections as well as the variety of pieces. The spread of pieces is good for general free building. The lack of Minifigures frees up the brain magnificently. You can build anything with this set, and the ‘Ideas book included’ proves it.  You may not be able to build it in the scale you wish, but you will be able to put it together somehow!

I’m not fond of the idea that some colours only exist as very small pieces, as if to merely make up numbers. Like the Butterscotch Crunch that tastes almost identical to the Hokey Pokey ice-cream, that was put on the shelves to ensure that 41 flavours were available.  The ideas are more like an instruction book.  If you are seeking to build within a theme, you are likely to need  other bricks.

I’ll give this set 4 arbitrary praise units. It takes me back to what lego was, as a kids toy, rather than a sophisticated system of interlocking building bricks.

Get it for your kids regardless of what they like to build. Get it for your parents to prove LEGO (kind of) make sets like they used to. Then when neither of them want to play with it, you have 2 extra copies to work with  …
Play well.

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One thought on “Lego Classic: Retro Values with a Modern Aesthetic

  1. Ha ha! I found it very funny when you said, “The colours and associated fashions could be a little traumatic. But hardly any one suffered significant physical injury,”
    A few days ago, I was looking at a Lego book in Target ( I forgot the name of it) and in it, there was a picture of a Lego dad who was standing at an open phone booth saying, “Now Timmy, this is how we used to talk on the phone.”
    Timmy says, “But Daddy, where are the apps?”

    Liked by 1 person

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