Welcome to another of our Builder’s Journeys, where members of the AFOL community present a set that has been influencial in them becoming the LEGO fan they are today. Today, Jay from Jay’s Brick Blog brings us the story of a special present from his childhood. Jay is also my co-host on the Extra Pieces podcast – He is a little younger than I am, growing up with a different era of sets to myself. As such, I love to hear his perspective on this sort of material.
But now, over to Jay…
One of the most influential LEGO sets I’ve owned as a child was 6559 Deep Sea Bounty – a classic Town set from 1997 that was part of the Divers sub-theme.
Unlike some of the more classic and Vintage-era LEGO sets featured in previous Builder’s Journey entries, mine is particularly “young” but still very special for a boy that was 8 or 9 years old.
This set was a culmination of many different interests, colliding in a set that had seemingly been designed with young Jay in mind. As a kid, I had harboured ambitions of being a Marine Biologist, and had a keen interest in the natural world, as well as LEGO.
The Divers theme was groundbreaking in many ways, introducing a whole new biome to LEGO Town – the underwater world, teeming with marine life. LEGO had plenty of space and engineering-focused sets before, but this was one of their first proper forays into the natural world.
In a sense, Divers was a less-fantastical and more grounded take on Aquanauts (a theme I had also enjoyed), and borrowed many of the design cues, such as the yellow one-man sub, and trans-blue visors .
The Divers theme also introduced some brand new animal moulds – the swordfish, and manta ray, and I chose this set because it had a complete selection of new marine creatures, as well as an awesome whale-carcass, next to a coral reef.
I did not have a privileged childhood, and the occasional LEGO sets I was afforded tended to be quite small, so I was surprised that my birthday wishes were granted with this set.
It was my first “flip-open” box, which was the equivalent of a Creator Expert, or D2C-type set as a kid, and I was enamoured by all the cool elements such as chrome gold coins, animals, and BURP rocks.
As a playset, Deep Sea Bounty had it all, with a tan baseplate, which housed the whale skeleton, and coral reef, which was the focal area for the Divers to explore, and the accompanying boat with a diving cage made for plenty of interactivity, with the winch functionality.
Add a very healthy number of minifigures, with fun accessories such as harpoon guns, underwater scooter, a submersible drone, a fishing net and you had what is essentially the complete play experience.
I like to think Divers laid the foundation for modern day LEGO City exploration and science sub-themes, which has seen us go back underwater more than twice now, but have also visited exotic locations such as the Arctic, Jungle and most recently, the plains of Africa to study wildlife.
I’d like to thank Jay so much for sharing his story. The impact of Divers can be seen to this day, in LEGO City, and also in LEGO Friends, with their science and exploration sub-themes, appearing in the second half of the year. With the new moulds, as well as a new location for our ‘Real World’ sets, a tan base plate (one of the first appearances in System sets of the colour), as well as some Large Ugly Rock Pieces. It won’t be too long before I complete a review of the way the these ‘real world’ themes developed during the so called ‘System Era’
Would you like to contribute to our Builders’ Journeys column? I believe everyone has a set from their past that is significant for some reason or another, whether it was their first, a set you built with your grand parents, a set you built with your own kids. If you can write a paragraph or two, explaining why that set is special to you, why not send them in. If you do not have photos of it, do not worry: we can probably find one or two to convey what it was about. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and until next time…