Monday, 25 February 2013

Down the rabbit hole to Legoland...

Like many twenty-seven years olds / forty-somethings (1), I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and particularly the toys of my youth.  This covers both the toys I had, and the toys I wish I’d had when I was younger.  I get transfixed by those ‘100 Greatest Toys’ programmes that tend to get put on around Christmas, and as the countdown progresses, I - and a million others like me - mentally check them off...

‘Wanted. Wanted. Had. Wanted. Had…’  And occasionally ‘Still got!’

One of the great things about being an adult, with a modicum of disposable income, is that if you want to you can actually go back and find some of the gems that you missed out on.  This has been made considerably easier too, with the advent of the internet, and more specifically a certain on-line auction site...

Having said that, with the exception of a couple of years when I put together a pretty impressive collection of (nearly) all the videogame consoles that I drooled over in my youth, which now, criminally, gather dust in our loft, I never really went back to any of those toys of yesteryear.

But that changed recently.

Sort of.

About 18 months ago, the Daily Telegraph Motoring section, for reasons best known to themselves, decided to have a bit of fun.  So one of their staff members, rather than reveiwing a proper car, got to make a video review of the Lego Technic 8110 Unimog, a model based on the Mercedes Benz workhorse that was celebrating its 50th anniversary.  This was, at the time, the largest (in terms of pieces) Technic kit that Lego had ever created, and the Telegraph chap planned to build it one Friday afternoon.  As you can see if you watch the film : after four hours, he had half a chassis.

He came back on the Monday, rolled up his sleeves and finished the job.

I was transfixed.

My memories of Lego consisted of one medium sized box, containing a couple of hundred coloured plastic bricks, and any number of creations that consisted largely of right angles.

I’d given my Lego away to a friend when my enthusiasm for corners faded in my mid-teens, and I’d never had cause to go back and see what the Lego Group had come up with in the 30 years that followed.

But this!  This, to use the vernacular of 1950’s America, was something else!  There were gears!  And axles!  It had working pneumatics.  And proper suspension!  This wasn’t a pile of toy bricks.  This was plastic engineering!

It was also the best part of £160, so soon after, I forgot all about it

However.  I must have mentioned that Lego Technic sounded interesting at some point, and my wife, who pays far more attention to the things people say than I do, must have squirreled this piece of information away.  As a result, on the morning of Christmas 2012, I had a parcel from my better half that rattled in a most interesting fashion.
It turned out to be the Lego Technic 8070 Supercar. (2)

Gosh!  What’s that slope over there?  It looks awfully slippery…

My wife & I work for a large UK retailer, and one of the benefits is a generous discount in our shops.  And so it was that between Christmas and New Year we found ourselves in one of the larger stores, and having a few minutes spare, I thought I’d just go and have a look in the toy department.  Weaving through any number of small children looking to spend their Christmas money, we found our way to the Lego section.

And there was the Unimog!

My wife offered to return the Supercar and get me the Unimog instead, but by this time I’d taken a real liking to the car, so came up with a far better suggestion.  “I’ll keep the car that you bought me, and I’ll buy the Unimog for myself!”

I know it’s a bit pricey, but I do get discount, and after all…’s just the one set.


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(1)  My age varies depending on whether you're talking to me or my wife.
(2) It's strange how quickly you learn the numbers of the sets when you get hooked on Lego!

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