Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Top 5 Sets...

The other day I was asked what my top five favorite sets in my collection were.  The following were my choices. 

6769 Fort Legoredo – 1996

When this set came out the internet was still in its infancy and I don’t think Lego even had a website yet.  Back then you found out about new sets and themes when the Lego catalogue came at the beginning of the year or in the little fold outs that used to come with sets.  I remember, vividly, the first time I saw a picture of this set in a copy of the Lego Club Magazine (called Mania Magazine back then).  My little heart just about stopped.  I wanted it bad.  The problem was so did every other 8-12 year old boy that year.  Come Christmas 1996 you could not find this set on any store shelf to save your life.  God bless my mother, she searched high and low to make my Christmas dream come true eventually driving over 100 miles to a Wal-Mart that agreed to hold it for her.  Her efforts were not in vain.  This set saw more use by me and my siblings than any other bar none.  To this day I do not think that any set in any theme has equaled its excellence.  It is huge, has incredible pieces, and above all endless playability.  It saw years of use and never got old.  As far as I am concerned Fort Legoredo is as close to a perfect set as Lego has ever gotten. 

6285 Black Seas Barracuda – 1989

Although Fort Legoredo is my favorite set that I own my favorite genre is the large Lego sailing ships.  Lego is a fantastic medium for scaling down vehicles and buildings into toys but I feel it is especially well suited for ships.   I now have 5 ships in my collection (and will make it 6 when the Black Pearl comes out later this year) but of those the Black Seas Barracuda edges out the rest to claim the top spot, mostly because of nostalgia.  Back in 1989 when this set was released I was only 5 years old and my parents could not justify spending the amount of money it cost, especially on someone as young as me.  I might after all lose interest in Legos the next year or something (I feel we have put that question to rest; over 25 years and counting…).  But oh how I wanted it!  When it was released as a Lego legend in 2001 my mom sent it to me as a birthday present and it proudly sat on a corner of my desk through 4 years of school.  Since that time it has been joined by both the Imperial Flagship and Queen Anne’s Revenge (which I modified to what I feel is near perfection, see this earlier post) but the Barracuda remains my favorite due to our long history together.  It did after all see me through 8 semesters of engineering studies!  

6195 Neptune Discovery Lab (Aquanaut Station) – 1995

This set is second only to Fort Legoredo in terms of hours played with.  It entered the collection at the height of my years of playing with Legos (as opposed to later years when I switched to modeling and collecting) and was the crown jewel of my Aquazone collection.  My most distinctive memory pertaining to this set was the disappointment I felt waking up Christmas morning and seeing no box under the tree that was large enough to contain it.  My spirits were restored though when a small package produced a treasure map leading me to its hiding place elsewhere in the house.  I loved the Aquazone theme and spent many happy hours defending this base from Aquashark attacks.  It is also the only underwater base that Lego has made any effort to enclose.  The large specialty door pieces on the front are balanced by two large windows on the back which you cannot see very easily in the picture.  With two baseplates, the working conveyor belt and the large crane this set is truly an undersea treasure (bad pun completely intended).     

5988 Pharaoh’s Forbidden Ruins/Temple of Anubis – 1998

The story of this set starts a lot like Fort Legoredo’s.  We were returning from a Christmas with out of town relatives and ended up stopping at a mall for dinner (food courts in malls were my dad’s solution to all of us wanting different things to eat when traveling, kudos for the good idea dad).  As it was the time of year when the new sets hit shelves I swung through a toy store, was confronted with this set and immediately knew I had to have it.  Acquiring it turned out to be easier and faster than I thought it would be because days later we were informed that my little brother was one of 10 worldwide winners in Lego’s Christmas contest that year and his prize was a $1000 gift certificate to Lego shop at home.  My parents allotted a portion of that prize to both me and my sister and this was the second set I got (after the monorail which I had wanted for years but ended up not liking all that much unfortunately).  It did not disappoint.  Many hours of happy Indiana Jones style play were had with this set at the sunset of my “playing with Lego” years.  Very glad this one made it into the collection.   

7094 King’s Castle Siege – 2007

The inclusion of this set is more for the idea that it represents as I have never actually played with it having only added it to the collection a year ago.  Growing up I faced a dual dilemma: Christmas coming around only once a year and my allowance being of such a miniscule amount so as to actually teach me about responsible budgeting.  As the tradition of Christmas was established several millennia before I was born and my parents maintained their crusade to teach me responsible spending throughout my childhood I was unable to alter my circumstances and therefore did not acquire all the Legos I wanted from year to year.  The Castle theme, more than any other, never quite made the cutoff and as a result almost all of the sets from that genre that I possessed up until a few years ago were inherited and that satisfied me for the most part.  However, there was one I regretted missing for years: Royal Knight’s Castle from 1995.  As the years went by Lego released many more castles and then for a time replaced the whole theme with Harry Potter but none of the offerings ever, in my mind, lived up to bar which had been set by that stately set.  Then came the King’s Castle Siege and for the first time I saw a fortress that was on par with that 1995 benchmark.  Not wanting to miss another opportunity (and potentially have to wait an additional 12 years!) I added this set to fill the hole which had for so long been empty for lack of a truly great castle.  I was not disappointed.     

A few of my other favorites in no particular order: 

10184 Town Plan – 2008

I was thrilled with this set because it brought an incredibly rich level of detail to my town.  To date this is the only cinema and town hall ever produced by Lego and the retro gas station is fantastic.  It adds a sense of completeness to my town layout that is very satisfying. 

All My Sailing Ships – Various Years
Currently the fleet stands at 5.  Sailing with the Barracuda is the Armada Flagship, Brickbeard’s Bounty, Imperial Flagship and Queen Anne’s Revenge.

6975 Alien Avenger – 1997

I loved this ship as kid.  Heavily armed, swooshable and just all around menacing in appearance this was my favorite capital ship.

6396 International Jetport – 1990

Hailing from the days when Lego airports included runway baseplates this set was the centerpiece of my Lego city as a kid. 

6766 Rapid River Village – 1997

The largest of the Indian sets which followed the initial wave of Wild West offerings.  My brother and I combined it with his copy of Boulder Cliff Canyon for the ultimate Indian village.  

6380 Emergency Treatment Center – 1987

Lego has produced only two hospital sets to date and I was fortunate enough to have one of them.  This was one of my first sets and saw a lot of use treating casualties from my numerous daring adventure stories.

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