Welcome to our first guest post in our series of Builders’ Journeys. We all have a LEGO® set that is special to us for some reason or another. In this series, I am asking readers to send in stories of a set that is important in some way. It might have been your first set, a special present, your first set as an AFOL, or a set you remember building with your school friends.
Today, we hear from Stefan M, from Hamburg, Germany. Stefan is part of the team at Stuck In Plastic, and can be found on instagram as @a_toyphotographer – formerly @herrsm. He was one of the first toy photographers that I encountered on instagram, and one of the first ‘virtual friends’ that I went on to meet in real life, while visiting Billund several years ago. Stefan brings us his memories of his first big adult purchase, and a set that that I know is still the white whale for many of you out there:
First things first: I’m not really a builder. I sure do follow (most) of the building instructions myself. But when it’s down to LEGO and why I’m passionate about it I’ll have to admit that I’m more of an observer. I like sneaking around corners and shooting pics of my favourite toys. But more about that later.
As a photographer I admittedly used to be mostly interested in minifigures. With time preferences slightly changed and these days I’m just as happy taking pics of a Technic car, an Employee Xmas Set or a Bonsai tree. As long as our favourite bricks are included, I’m all in.
This of course wasn’t always the case. Growing up I played with several toys from various brands. Still the box with LEGO had always been one of my favourites. Back in the early eighties the classic spacemen were my heroes. But even though I got to swoosh around the house with my LL918, I can’t recall having had a definite favourite set. My mom tended to gently push me towards the town sets (space and everything beyond was far too spaced out for her, I guess) and I also enjoyed those a lot. The #5000 Ideas Book was an incredible source of inspiration for me back in the days (and I still love to follow along Bill and Mary as they travel all of LEGOLAND and beyond).
Fasting forward to the time around 2012. I had finally grown up (more or less), had married my wife and suddenly had to act responsible for a family of four. Around that time I came across my first CMFs. I was totally familiar with minifigures in general, but these were different from those I had seen in the eighties. I soon started collecting them loosely. Then on Instagram I came across people who TOOK PHOTOS OF LEGO. I remember that I was quite surprised by that but instantly felt connected. (At some point I was invited to jointhe crew at StuckInPlastic.com where I found like-minded photographers who think it’s completely ok to drop down to eye-level of a minifigure in the middle of a crowded shopping street just to get that one photo I have had on my mind for oh-so-long.)
And then there was this one set that somehow touched me. I wanted it. I needed it. The idea of buying a toy for myself in my late thirties was silly, but…- Long story short:
I couldn’t resist. I saved some pennies and just before the set was retired I got my copy of
10228 MONSTER FIGHTERS HAUNTED HOUSE.
I can’t say I’m especially fond of horror movies, monsters or Halloween in particular. Still to this day the mansion and its residents are very dear to me. Maybe it’s just the shape of it that appears cosy and inviting to me. (There’s a house not far from where I live that somehow reminds me…) Or is because Boris aka @_me2_ turned it into THE AFTERPARTY which got him the first place in a building competition?
My display space is very (like VERY) limited but this model keeps siting on one of my shelves and looking at it I always gets a smile on my face.
I was highly disappointed when I found out that the Monster Fighters theme had retired. It was too soon for me. It is therefore some sort of consolation for me that within the LEGOLAND in Billund, Denmark, the Monster Fighters are still very present.
Thanks for reading and regards to all fellow MF-fans out there.
Ps: Two weeks ago my wife and me went to Denmark for our tenth wedding anniversary. On our way we stopped by Billund and had a snack at the local bakery. Across the street I spotted the designer of the Haunted House. When he had finished his lunch, I asked him for a selfie. He seemed surprised but also still proud of one of the many sets that he had created so far. Good memories. Thank you, Adam Grabowski (pictured above).
Thank you for sharing your memories of this set, Stefan. This is a fantastic set that I know many people still have on their wish list, almost a decade later.
Monster Fighters was a fantastic theme, with lots of great characters, and some great stories to be told. People still miss it today.Unfortunately, its run was limited, and many AFOLs I have met wish they had been able to secure the haunted house. While monster hunting was touched on in the Scooby Doo sets of 2015, I secretly hope that we might see a Universal Movie Monsters theme, exploring classic movie monsters, sometime. The Brickheadz of Frankenstein’s monster, as well as the ongoing partnership with Universal Studios brings me hope for this.
Builders’ Journeys will be a #ThrowbackThursday feature. If you would like to tell the story of a LEGO® set that played a role in you becoming the LEGO Fan you are today, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And until next time, Play Well!