As promised, here is the second of my three fun and frivolous posts for the holiday weekend.
The topic: Space Legos. More specifically, Space Legos suck. At least they do today. Now, this could be dismissed as mere nostalgia for the toys of my youth, but I have specific complaints and I think I have good reasons to back up my position.
What is great about Legos is that you can make anything out of them, at least, that's the theory. You have a bunch of blocks that can be put together in thousands of ways, limited only by your imagination. It is my contention that the original Space Lego sets, from about 1977 through 1982 or so were the best and that it went downhill from there.
What was so wonderful about those sets was that, from a relative handful of basic parts, you could make spaceships, space stations, space vehicles, moon rovers, space labs, and anything else your space-hearted mind could desire. That kept true to the essence of Legos. What I think made them start to suck was the introduction of more and more specialized parts, parts that gave less and less room for alternate uses. This was perhaps a result of cheaper and easier manufacture of many different kind of plastic parts. But I think it hurt legos - not just the space legos, but ultimately all of them. I look at www.legos.com to see the legos sold today and some of the sets literally look like you have three pieces - one for a "front" one for a "middle" and one for a "back" - like look at the lego boats. That, to me, defeats the whole purpose of legos. Might as well just have a regular plastic toy if the parts are so customized to the function like that.
Looking at the old Space Lego sets, you see a relatively handful of types of parts used to create all sorts of wonderful things. Going through the instructions you see beautiful engineering - how those parts are structured, reinforcing a lattice upon which you build a spaceship, like the wonderful Galaxy Explorer (widely hailed as the pinnacle of Lego Space). Now, there are so many specialized parts that it is difficult to imagine building much of anything but a few variations of what is on the box of any set you buy. Which is too bad. I remember with my own meager collection of sets when I was a kid, I still managed to make duplicates of a particular set I liked - the X-1 Patrol Craft. I doubt I could do that today.
The only place I see a small set of generic blocks is in the big boxes of legos you can buy, and there, they are almost too generic to do much but build simple block structures. With Space Legos, they had a happy medium. What is most disappointing isn't so much that they've made sucky sets since then, it is that they've discontinued making any of the old sets or even anything like them. In looking into those, I've discovered there is a vast secondary market for old Space Legos - and some of the better sets sell for a decent sum, even used and 30 years old. This ought to tell the current owners of Legos that there is a market there. I think they are adrift. I recall reading something about the company having financial woes - perhaps they could help solve them by going back to basics.
As it is, I have the Space Legos from my youth and I also picked up a bunch of sets I never had (but of course would have liked). And now they are sitting in storage, awaiting my children - who in a few years will be old enough to have them to play with. (Well, my oldest (who in two months will be three) will probably be old enough soon, but I'm wary of toys with small parts on the loose with my youngest approaching crawling age (he's in his fifth month now)).
4 years ago