LEGO® Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Nostalgia Isn’t What It Used To Be… [Guest Review]

Like many people of a certain age, I grew up watching the Original Trilogy of Star Wars Movies as they rolled out in the cinemas. I then set watched the prequels as they played out, around the same time as my kids were born and in their early years. Finally, their first exposure to Star Wars came: not through the movies in the first instance, but through playing the TT Games – LEGO® Star Wars (covering episodes 1-3), LEGO® Star Wars II – Espisodes IV -VI, and then picking up the omnibus Complete Saga, on an alternative platform. This also served as part of their introduction to video games, and as a parent, I preferred this style of gameplay – mixed puzzles and cartoon gunfire, while tethered to each other, and taking the journey together. To be honest, I would have never completed episode VI if it were not for the cooperative play afforded by my son.

Now, 15 years is a long time in video games, but it might have even been a bit longer. Our kids have pretty well grown up (but are still at home), and the closest thing we now have in our house to cooperative regular game play is a game of Trivial pursuit (either via a Nintendo Switch or going old school, using a board, actual pieces and a 6-sided die.).

So part of me was quite excited about the prospect of sitting down again and replaying LEGO® Star Wars, covering the entire saga and spending some quality couch time with Harry. He has spent a little bit of time contemplating Games And Interactivity at university, while focussing on creative writing. I figured I could get him to write a review.

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Retro-Review:928/497 Galaxy Explorer. A Set That Defined A Generation

There are a lot of classic LEGO® sets. There are a good number of LEGO Space sets that might be declared to be classic. But there is probably only one set that is almost universally recognised as being emblematic of not only Classic Space, but perhaps the entire early Minifigure era. Bringing together a ship, a buggy and a base, along with 4 astronauts, 928 Space Cruiser and Moon Base, also known as 497 Galaxy Explorer was not the first playset of the era: you might consider the 374 Fire Station or the 375 Castle as being the other sets with this position – and they were released a year earlier, in 1978. And they contained more elements. Galaxy Explorer was not even the first of the space playsets – we had the 483 Alpha-1 Rocket Launching base come first. But still, there is something about the set which just says ‘This is Classic Space’.

I would dare to say it might even be iconic!

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Whatever Happened To Classic Town IV: Welcome to LEGO City

When Minifigures arrived on the scene in 1978, we were presented with three settings: Castle, Town and Space – The Past, The Present and The Future. Through the 1980s, these themes developed in their own ways, fairly independent of each other. During the 1990s, we saw the themes diversify in different ways: Space brought us a new hyperfluorescent faction each year; Castle changed a little less frequently, but introduced an increasing amount of magic. In the meantime, Town diversified: no longer the sole home of contemporary lifestyles, we saw different themes split off, containing subject material based on the contemporary real world: Divers, Paradisa, Outback, Race, Space Port, ResQ, Team Extreme, and Sports. The ‘core material’ – which we first saw back in 1978 – police, fire and construction – became increasingly juniorized. Having been further dumbed down for younger builders with the introduction of Jack Stone, and other 4Juniors sets, we saw a return to more mature material with LEGO World City.

However, both the 4Juniors and World City themes featured alleged models of modern vehicles that bore minimal resemblance to the real-world equivalent. After the LEGO Group’s financial crisis, a number of themes were discontinued, and the company set out to return to its core business. A revitalised town theme was introduced – but things were on their way to being a bit bigger; expectations were greater: Town just wasn’t going to cut it anymore: we were presented with LEGO City.

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From Dino Island to Dominion: LEGO® Dinosaurs Across Time

The overnight announcement of the previously unannounced LEGO® Jurassic World Dominion sets left be remembering how I used to want nothing more than a toy Dinosaur. Since then, dinosaurs have become a mainstay of the LEGO range, never taking more than a couple of years off. I take a bit of time surveying the history of LEGO Dinosaur sets, from the mid 90s to the forthcoming Dominion releases.

6-7 year old me would not leave this book behind, ever!

Back in the day, I was dead keen on Dinosaurs. I couldn’t get enough of them. Except, living in a rural town in Australia in the mid-1970s, the best I could hope for was my Ladybird book of Prehistoric Animals and Fossils. Much of the included information is outdated or at least wildly inaccurate except, perhaps, for the fact that the Tyrannosaurus Rex ate meat.

This book strongly recommended trying to get some dinosaur models or toys and building a diorama using chicken wire, papier mache and a few sticks. Of course, these models were not readily available, and it was not until 1976, visiting Melbourne, that we found some plastic model kits. My brother got a brontosaurus(as it was then called) and I picked up an ankylosaurus.

After putting it together and painting it, I glued it to a piece of wood, along with a few pieces of pine bark and a cardboard panel cut from the box, giving some of the animal’s vital statistics. I probably kept it until I was about 30. I can’t find any images of it these days but 7-year-old me was really proud. This obsession with dinosaurs probably lasted until Star Wars was released. But that’s another story.

Fast forward to 1992 and the release of the first Jurassic Park movie, and I remember wondering through Toys R Us, feeling somewhat sad that there were so many dinosaur toys on the shelves. As I was still a struggling student, I avoided diving down that rabbit hole. Now, LEGO® Dinosaurs have a more recent history – with serious sets dating back to around the turn of the century. Join me as we take a look at the Dinosaur sets of the past, before looking at the sets due to be released in April 2022

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Whatever Happened to Classic Town Part III: Into The Dark Ages

Welcome back to our exploration of classic themes. When we last visited LEGO Town, it was in the process of becoming juniorized. The Classic Town that many had grown up with was becoming an almost cartoonlike parody of itself. From 1978 through to the early ’90s, Town had a certain degree of simplicity, but with style. It was always striving to be its best, held back by the limits of the system, rather than the ability of the builder.

During the ’90s we saw the diversification of design: elements were used across many themes, we saw a broadened colour palette, and as time went by, we saw more themes/subthemes depicting aspects of contemporary life: Paradisa, Divers, Race, Outback, Arctic, Spaceport, Extreme Team and Res-Q. Towards the end of this era, the traditional town sets – fire, police, construction – were labelled ‘city’ and we saw a juniorization of some of the sets; a reduction in complexity, and perhaps a slight step away from attempting a realistic appearance.

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Builders’ Journeys: Harald Takes Us Back to the Futuron…

80’s clickbait

Welcome Back to Builders’ Journeys, where we hear from AFOLs around the world talk about ‘that special set’ that helped to define the LEGO Builder and AFOL that they would become. Today, we hear from Harald, who succumbed to a flashy image on the cover of a LEGO catalogue, many years ago…

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Piotr Takes Us Back To The Beginning…

Welcome Back to Builders’ Journeys, where an AFOL takes us back to remember one of those important sets from their life, that helped them to develop into the builder they are today. Today, we hear from Piotr, a Polish reader, who you can find on Instagram and Youtube, where he runs the channel ’Habit of Bricking. Piotr is the first of our AFOLs to bring a LEGO® Star Wars set to the fore. And it is one of the earliest: 7101 Lightsaber Duel from 1999. It has 2 minifigures and 52 pieces.

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Builders’ Journeys: Russell Tows Us To LEGO® Town.

Welcome back to our Throwback Thursday column, where we look at LEGO Sets that were influential in setting people on the path to becoming the LEGO Fan that they are today. Today, we hear from Russell C, who lives in California. He submitted his entry as part of our recent Jumper Plate Minifigure giveaway and would like to talk to us about a town set. This time, it is one from 1980: 6363 Auto Repair Shop.

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Builders’ Journeys: Lisa Hits The Road With 6590 Car And Caravan.

Welcome Back to Builders’ Journeys, where we listen to stories from other AFOLs about a set that inspired them at some time in their life.

Before we start, today, I would like to thank everyone who submitted an entry in our prize draw for the Jumper Plate Minifigures. I really appreciate the stories that people shared, and we will have some great stories to share over the next few months. The winner was drawn randomly from a bowlful of entry numbers, and I would like to congratulate Lisa D from Ireland on winning the prize draw. The minifigures are on their way, and hopefully, the reduced international travel between Australia and the rest of the world does not slow down the delivery too much.

Today Lisa is going to take us back to 1988 when she first opened up 6590 Car and Caravan.

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Builders’ Journeys: Okay Y. Looks To 9731 Vision Command

Welcome back to another of our Builders’ Journeys, where we look at sets that were inspirational in setting AFOLs along the path that they have taken. This week, we hear from Okay Y, from the USA. Okay submitted his contribution as part of our Vintage Minifigure Collection Giveaway. (This giveaway is open until October 24 – so you still have a couple of days to get your entries in.)

Okay was heavily influenced by the release of 9731 Vision Command: once of the LEGO® Mindstorms kits released in 2000. With 139 parts, this set came with a USB Digital Camera, along with software that allowed you to integrate simple visual recognition software with your LEGO Projects, including the ability to integrate it with the LEGO Mindstorms Robotics Invention System. You can see the introductory video here. But why don’t I let Okay tell his story:

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