If you have been following the Rambling Brick for a while, you might know I have a penchant for nostalgia. If you have seen my Instagram stories looking at market finds, perhaps it becomes more obvious that 80s and 90s LEGO fascinates me now more than it did at the time. Perhaps I am seeking something more than a nostalgia fuelled dopamine kick: also looking for a feeling of relaxed contemplation while living in an increasingly complicated world. During that period of LEGO History, the typical LEGO sets maintained a degree of simplicity while still being able to produce some substantial models with relatively few elements.Continue reading
I’ve just finished watching the first wave of episodes of Dragons Rising, and something struck my mind: Rapton, Lord Ras, and the Imperium Claw soldiers all fly the same type of small craft- a so called Chariot – which carries one rider and deploys a flotilla of drones to aid the hunters in their hunt for Dragons. That said, in the sets related to the series, the chariots are all a bit different to each other. At the same time they seem just a little bit familiar. And then there are the droids in the Dragon Power Spinzitzu sets…
And it got me thinking. Are these sets revisiting Classic Space, with a contemporary aesthetic?Continue reading
This article is the result of a recent unexpected convergence: I’ve had this year’s first drop of Ninjago sets on my desk for a little while. I’ve put a couple together, but I have been trying to work out how to stretch it from ‘Just Another Review’ – something I used to do back in the early days of the blog, but less so in recent times.
I have found myself developing an increasingly soft spot for Ninjago and Monkie Kid: It has become apparent to me that they serve as the natural creative extensions of both Classic Space and Castle Themes: Fantasy, and Science Fiction, with their emphasis shifting in either direction from season to season.
In the past, I have predominantly observed the builds in Ninjago from a distance without feeling the need to understand them in the show’s context. As time passed, it became apparent that I was unlikely to fully catch up and appreciate the lore any time soon. As such, I was actually immensely grateful last year when we saw our first round of Ninjago CORE sets: These sets provide us with the opportunity to engage with the traditional subjects of Ninjago sets: Mechs, Dragons, Vehicles and Temples, without needing to be concerned with the 10 or more years of established Lore and Back Catalogue: just get in there and play, with models aimed at a variety of ages.Continue reading
In which we explore the early days of LEGO® Castle, take in the early factions, and look at just what made Castle sets ‘Classic Castle’…
Over the past 18 months, the Rambling Brick has looked at the development of Classic Town from the early days, through the System era, a World City inspired Dark Ages to LEGO® City we know today. We have followed this up with a look at Classic Space, and its evolution through to the turn of the century. There is still an article to follow up here, looking at space themes in the 21st Century, and where they are today. This is particularly pertinent, given the 2022 reimagining of the original LEGO Space Flagship set: the 928/497Galaxy Explorer. This is not that article.
Before I write that article, for reasons that will eventually become apparent, I would like to take a look at the other pillar of the Classic LEGO Minifigure Themes – Castle. While Town gave kids the chance to live out the present, and space allowed them to imagine the Future, Castle allowed then to explore the past.
As a kid growing up in Australia, castles were a thing of fantasy: we only really saw them in books (with drawings) and in movies or on television. Typically in the context of an episode of Doctor Who. While the country has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, the need for permenant fortifications was never really needed. In fact, the only castle I am aware of in Australia was built in the early 1970’s and run as a theme park.
But what are the characteristics of Classic Castle? And what time frame might be considered ‘Classic’? In this post, we will look at: Castle inspiration before minifigures existed; the initial range of Castle sets (1978-1981), and finally, consider Castle sets throughout the rest of ‘LEGOLAND’ phase: 1984-1990.Continue reading
In the previous article in this series, we looked at Classic Space – and what might define the theme: More than the colours, the sets of this era were united in working together for a common goal: exploring, mining and drinking oversized cups of coffee, while wearing their spacesuits inside. We have ships, bases and rovers, with a variety of colour schemes passing by over the years.
By the time I got to 1987, I had completed school, and was just starting off at university. My brother had recently stopped playing with our bricks, and they were put into storage – to be retrieved as we both gained children of our own. I was well and truly into my Dark Ages. All I know has been derived from fellow AFOLs, catalogs, the brickset database and picking up the occasional set or three along the way.Continue reading
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!Continue reading
The recent arrival of the 2022 LEGO City Space sets has left some people myself included, wondering if the spirit of Classic Space has returned, while others remained unsatisfied, stating reasons of not enough blue and grey, an absence of transparent yellow, or that the blue in the windscreens was just not dark enough. But what does Classic Space actually mean?
Virtually everyone will agree that the period began in 1978, with the release of the first LEGO Space sets to feature minifigures. But when does it end? And what is it that makes those sets ‘Classic Space?’Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
Welcome back to our occasional series examining ‘Whatever Happened to Classic LEGO Themes?’ Previously, we took a look at the Classic town sets from 1978-1990.
We examined the way that the theme was defined by certain colours, shapes, and how a gradually expanding parts palette resulted in an evolution in the design of sets during this period. In 1978, when the LEGOLAND branded sets were first released, along with LEGO Minifigure, this was the theme set in the present, the real world, containing subject matter that kids could relate to: LEGO Town was set in the contemporary world, bringing kids experiences they could understand.
In this article, we shall trace the development of these ’Real World’ LEGO sets during the ‘System Era.’ The ‘System’ label, with the red 2×4 in place of the arm on the letter ‘T,’ was used to distinguish the other brick systems used in LEGO construction toys at this time: DUPLO and TECHNIC. The mark appeared in the upper left corner of the front of LEGO Boxes, to the right of the LEGO logo. This label appeared on LEGO Sets released from 1992 to 1999.Continue reading