An Idea Right Out of History [The Flintstones 21316 Official Announcement]

In which I ponder the nature of the television sitcom and its broader narrative development, new spinoffs resulting in decades of related programming, changes between fan designer and production art and finally consider whether or not this one’s for me.  By the way, 21316 the Flintstones will be available for VIPs 20th February, and probably having its ‘regular’ release on March 1st 2019.

Memories of after school television in the 70’s

One of my fondest childhood memories is coming home from school, and sitting down in front of the (Black and White) television for a couple of hours. It was the 1977 in Australia, and the typical afternoon television lineup consisted of a collection of 1960’s programs, both live action and animated: Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart, Scooby Doo and The Flintstones.

With their canned laughter and awkward situations, often caused by miscommunication or zany get rich quick schemes, virtuallyany character development that occurred was reset at the end of the episode. Apart from a different actor playing Darren in Bewitched, as if nothing ever happened, most of these stories followed a simple plot line, with new scenery and characters telling a similar story the next week.

The Flintstones was unique amongst these programs, as it was probably the first show that would be considered to an animated sitcom: certainly a novel concept in 1960, when it was first broadcast. Fred and Barney – with their challenges at work, misunderstandings with their wives, the ritual Bowling tournaments, to say nothing of the Order of the Water Buffaloes.

As I grew up, being ignorant of the concept of ‘the series’ and ‘new episodes’ everything I watched at this time was on an endless string of syndicated repeats.

I think the Flintstones was the first program that I think I noticed narrative development during the course of its run. There were enough episodes, and enough inter seasonal variations for a child to see the developments as the stories moved along.

We start with Fred and Wilma, with their pet Dino, living next door to Barney and Betty Rubble. Fred and Wilma’s Daughter, Pebbles, arrives at the end of the third series, while Bamm-Bamm, Barney and Betty’s adopted child arrives during the fourth. The children remain pre-verbal until 1970. During the sixth and final season of the original series (1966), we meet the Great Gazoo, a time travelling green alien who appears to Fred and Barney. The arrival of the Great Gazoo suggests that perhaps the initial run of the Flintstones was losing steam.

Into Spinoff Territory

Of course, that wasn’t all. We also saw a variety of spinoffs, another lesson I learned growing up about the art of successful televisual storytelling (Sources: IMDB; Wikipedia). What better mark is there of a successful sitcom, than the development of a number of spinoff programs…and the Flintstones brought us more than their fair share.

  • The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm show ( 1971-72) -flinging Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm from toddlers to teenagers in one fell swoop, and following the adventures of the Pebbles and Bamm Bamm, with their friends, in High School
  • The Flintstones Comedy Hour (1972-73), Re arranged, re edited and represented as the Flintstone Comedy show in 1973-74.
  • The New Fred and Barney Show(1979) took the narrative back to Bedrock, when the kids were toddlers. A second series was packaged up in Fred and Barney Meet the Thing as well as Fred And Barney meet the Shmoo in 1980.
  • The Flintstones Comedy Show (1980-1982) took us back to a time when Pebbles and Bamm Bamm were a little younger than in TP&BBS from 1970. The series was an anthology show. As well as the Flinstsone Family Adventures, there were other segments: Bedrock Cops; Pebbles, Dino and Bamm- Bamm; Captain Cavement, Dino and Cavemouse, and the Frankenstones. There was a small degree of cross over between these segments with characters from one segment often appearing in another.
  • And then in 1986-88, we had the Flintstone Kids, as was fashionable in the era, taking us back to follow Fred, Wilma, Betty and Barney their childhoods.

The implication of all this is that, for the better part of 25 years, we saw ongoing production of Flintstones related programming. And in between there have been a variety of Television specials, and direct to video movies. So, if nothing else, they have become part of the cultural consciousness in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Do I find the Flintstones sparking the same level of nostalgia in me as other programs I was watching at the time? Not really. I will happily rewatch some of my childhood staples: Scooby Doo, Get Smart, the Goodies and Doctor Who. The Flintstones less so. However, that’s just me. I guess nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be.

The Flintstones meet LEGO Ideas – not the name of a direct to video movie.

The submission made by Andrew Ford, the Fan Designer for the Flintstones

When fan designer Andrew Ford (andrewford2) made his Flintstones submission to LEGO Ideas, he already know a little about producing an Ideas submission that will grab the attention of the general public. He was the Fan Creator behind the 2012 LEGO Ideas, 21304: Doctor Who. The Flintstones submission made its way to 10000 supporters over the course of 14 months, with Andrew taking his model to a number of fan conventions and exhibitions.

Minifigure art as proposed in the original submission

The final model differs a little from his original submission. We see fewer minifigures, Dino is missing (as demonstrated on the television screen) and there are some alterations to Fred’s car. The design changes on the minifigures are interesting, even if they are less aesthetically pleasing than the those suggested by the fan designer: in particular, they relate to the depiction of the characters faces. Each of the characters in the Flintstones has a distinctively shaped nose, and the fan designer depicted these in his fan submission, capturing the animated style of the characters quite well. But does it fit the LEGO minifigure aesthetic, of not demonstrating the characters noses.

As we can see in the final figures, Fred and Barney have a more symmetrical 5 o’clock shadow than traditionally depicted, and their noses in these new minifigures are represented by a gap in that area. Betty and Wilma don’t have representation of their noses at all. From what we can see in the media assets supplied, the ladies both have alternate faces. The men might, but at this stage, we can’t really tell from the information we have. We won’t know for sure until we see them ‘in the flesh’ as it were.

Beyond the figure artwork, there have been a few other changes to the original submission during the development process: We have lost the children; the car has a fabric roof, rather than plate built, and the Bedrock town sign has gone the way of the Dodo.

That said, the design of the house remains fairly true to the original design, although it perhaps loses the rounded feel of the original submission. If you look carefully, the television screen explain why there is no Dino included in the new set.

You can find my initials impressions of the set after the Press Release:

Have a yabba dabba doo time at Fred Flintstone’s home!

Enjoy modern Stone Age suburban life in Bedrock with this LEGO® Ideas 21316 The Flintstones collectible toy! A wonderfully nostalgic building toy, it features The Flintstones house and their iconic family car. The detailed house has a removable roof for easy play, an opening front door, sofa, TV, coffee table, bowling ball and bowling pin elements, plus a green garden baseplate with a buildable palm tree. Build your own Flintstones vehicle that seats 4 minifigures and features a new-for-March-2019 fabric car roof element and an attachable dinosaur rib for creative play. The first animated TV series ever to be aired in a prime-time slot, The Flintstones cartoon was first broadcast in America in 1960 and has become an enduring family favorite around the world. Recreate hilarious scenes with the included cartoon character minifigures of Fred Flintstone, wife Wilma Flintstone and their friends Barney and Betty Rubble, or simply build and display this instant classic LEGO Ideas model.

This LEGO® Ideas building toy includes 4 new-for-March-2019 The Flintstones cartoon character minifigures: Fred Flintstone, Wilma Flintstone, Barney Rubble and Betty Rubble.

The Flintstones home features a removable roof for easy play, an opening front door, curtains and curtain rails, sofa, TV with aerial, kitchen sink, table and phone, fireplace, painting element on the wall, coffee table with fruit bowl and fruit elements, buildable floor lamp and lampshade, crate with a bowling ball and 3 bowling pin elements, plus a green garden baseplate with a buildable palm tree, 2 flower pots, flowers, plants and 2 milk bottle elements.

Includes a buildable postbox with printed ‘Flintstones’ decoration, plus a letter element.

The LEGO® brick-built Flintstones car features 4 minifigure seats, 2 steamroller wheels, a new-for-March-2019 fabric car roof element, plus an attachable dinosaur rib.

This creative toy building set comes with a booklet with building instructions, fun facts about The Flintstones, and information about this awesome retro set’s fan creator and LEGO® designers.

Build and display this collectible construction toy or recreate your favorite scenes from the classic American animated sitcom The Flintstones.

The Flintstones Bedrock home measures over 4” (12cm) high, 6” (16cm) wide and 4” (12cm) deep.

The Flintstones car measures over 2” (6cm) high, 4” (11cm) long and 2” (7cm) wide.

Available exclusively to LEGO VIP’s directly through LEGO® from Wednesday 20th February, 2019 via shop.LEGO.com, LEGO® Stores 

So what do I think?

The majority of the construction is true to the fan submission, with some subtle changes to the car, but significant changes to the basic design of the character faces. I think it is clever, the way that you can still see the representation of Fred and Barney’s noses, despite no clear out line. I know this has caused many to express their disappointment on line. However I also believe that if nobody complains in some way about each Ideas set, then the selection and design processes are probably intrinsically flawed.

The house is a pretty good representation of what I recall from my childhood, and it does spark that bit of nostalgia in me.

Do I feel I need to own the set? I would probably enjoy building the set, and recalling the feelings I had about the show in my youth, more than actively going back and watching another episode.

Will this set evoke the necessary nostalgia across all ages to make people want to own it? The taste of nostalgia is quite sweet, although sometimes the nostalgia is more enjoyable than repeating the experience. The set will be released soon ( Feb 20 for VIPs), and with 740 pieces. Pricing as always is variable across markets: US $59.99 – CA $79.99 – DE €59.99 – UK £54.99 – FR €59.99 – DK 549DKK – AU $99.99AUD (*Euro pricing varies by country.  Please visit shop.LEGO.com for regional pricing.), and at approximately 8c/part (US) it represents reasonable value for a licensed set.

I am interested to see if it sparks nostalgia in those current in their Dark Ages – will it be enough to encourage someone to pick it up from the shelves? Certainly the majority of Ideas projects have appeal to some group of people outside of the existing AFOL population. how will this one go? I see the Fan Creator has another project gaining momentum…Thunderbirds!

What do you think? Do you like the overall design? What would you have done differently? Why not leave your comments below, and follow the Rambling Brick for further news and updates.

Until next time,

Play Well!

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