Another of the ongoing topics that I want to visit with this blog is that of my favourite sets. Given my age, and when I started collecting LEGO, these are probably going to be sets from the mid-1990s and later. Anything earlier than that would probably be more appropriate to the Ones That Got Away series--in other words, this series will focus on sets that I actually own.
The first set I will look at in this series is 6563 Gator Landing. Released in 1996, this set is something a precursor to the Outback line of sets that came out the following year. I picked it up in the summer of 1997, when I found it on sale with a couple other sets at the "Real Canadian Superstore." Even before I got it, I thought it was a pretty cool looking set, but the fact that it makes my favourite list now is more a testament to 13 years of ownership nostalgia than anything else.
The main reason I've selected Gator Landing as my first set is because I recently rebuilt it, after having it in pieces for over six years (like much of my LEGO, it is slowly reassuming set-built form). Consequently, it's been on my mind of late, and as I've been hunting down pieces and rereading instructions, I've come to appreciate it all the more.
As a set, Gator Landing seems to be based in a swamp, or at least a lagoon or something of that nature, since it has a hut built on stone (well, grey) pylons, with a swinging rope bridge to a rock promontory. The presence of the lone bush piece suggests that there is land at hand, and the alligator gives the set its moniker.
In addition to the landing proper, the set includes three vehicles: one each from land, sea, and sky. The sea vehicle is this hydrofoil craft, piloted by a stetson-wearing Townlander in that familiar green vest, with storage for two suitcases in the back.
In hindsight, I think this truck is my favourite of the three vehicles. It's a cool looking red and black jeep/truck, with my first set of yellow tire-wells (indeed, my only set for a number of years, in any size), and a design aesthetic similar to the truck in my oldest Town set, 1720 Cactus Canyon.
Although the jeep claims my favouritism now, the seaplane was the real reason I wanted this set back in 1997. My brother had the first airplane in the house, from an Outback set, and I was green with jealousy. After all, planes could fly--and who can deny the swooshability factor? I certainly couldn't, and the big reason I wanted this set was so that I could have a plane too. I always felt a little bit cheated that it was a seaplane, rather than one with wheels, but I like the black, red, and yellow colour-scheme, and it's still plenty swooshable.
Boasting all of a chair and a glass mug, with a half-high door and more roof than walls, this little shack may not seem like much, but back in the day it was a millionaire's palace. My LEGO town had a severe shortage of housing, and this was the first, and for a long time only, Town set I had that came with a building--and a building that wasn't related to business. As such, it was a sauve waterfront estate in the midst of the cruder, basic brick houses I had built otherwise out of Freestyle sets.
Of course, the possession of three vehicles and a waterfront estate wasn't all the evidence I had that these three characters were millionaires: there was also the conspicuous presence of money in this set. How I missed it then, I don't know, but it looks pretty clear that this is a hideout in the bayou/swamp somewhere for... robbers, smugglers... someone apparently unsavoury. That never once occurred to me. For whatever reason, these three fellows, Messrs. Smith, Smith, and Octan, were millionaires who happened to carry a lot of cash on hand. In suitcases.