After the two previous "Ones That Got Away" posts about Imperial Guards and Space Police (ii), given their overlap in era and the fact that I said I liked themes associated with law and order, and 'the good guys,' it will perhaps come as no surprise that today's post in that vein is about Town's Police theme.
Well, perhaps I should define what I mean by "Police theme." LEGO has never been as clear-cut with its Town sets as to what belongs in each theme as it has in Castle, for example. Back in the era I'm thinking about, Police sets were lumped (at least in my catalogues) with firemen to make the "Rescue" theme, and around 1995 it also included some Coast Guard/Life Guard types. In the 2000s, police sets were either part of the broader "World City" theme or its successor "City."
All the same, I think its clear what sets I mean when I say "Police theme." LEGO has usually had a whole range of Police sets, from small motorcycle up through larger car, helicopter, and mobile command centre, to police station. And over the years, I managed to accumulate quite a few of these--except for a police station. Hence the inclusion of Police sets in this series. Despite the vast number of Police stations that LEGO has released over the years, I have never acquired one.
Unlike more bracketed off themes like Imperial Guards or Space Police (ii), the perennial appearance of Police sets means that I never settled on a single police station as my utter favourite. Nonetheless, there were a couple that held my attention most in the 1990s, and remain my nostalgic favourites.
The first of these was 6398 Central Precinct HQ. Due to its 1993 release, it was around for a few years in catalogues, during my formative, catalogue-staring, years. It was a nice, large set, with four vehicles, including a helicopter and one of those awesome-cool motorcycles, and five minifigs, including Jailbreak Joe, who held a special status in my LEGO wants as the single Town bad guy. (It did not occur to me, apparently, that I could make someone else a bad guy... so for quite a few years my police had nothing worse to deal with than natural disasters or traffic violators, unless non-Town figs invaded.)
However, the Central Precinct did not manage to secure utter domination in my heart, because those years were not particularly Town-centric. Pirates and Castle held sway, and when I started becoming more Town-interested around 1996, another Police station was released--one which would vie with the Central Precinct for my attention.
6598 Metro PD Station had better pictures than the Central Precinct, and came out just as I was getting more interested in Town generally, and Police specifically. Besides, it also had a helicopter, and not one but TWO motorcycles! It also had a boat and jailwaggon, albeit at the expense of the car and jeep that came with the Central Precinct. Besides, it had more minifigs (8 vs. 5), and still included Jailbreak Joe! About the only thing that Central Precinct still had going for it was that I liked the look and shape of the station better, and I preferred its white helicopter to the black one with Metro PD.
Of course, you already know the ending of the story. It was a moot point which one I wanted more, because I never got either. A new Police station, with green windows (a fact my 11 year old self did not approve) came out in 1998, and although I would have settled for it, I never got that one either... and so on down to the present. I would have been happy to have settled with a mobile command centre, but I never got 6348 Surveillance Squad either. Back in the day, I thought that was a pretty amazing set, with its motorcycle and computer-filled command centre.
Although I never acquired a police station--not even a mobile one--my police force was a formidable force, with quite a fleet of vehicles. In addition to being a list slightly too long to mention here, a few of those sets will appear as "Favourites," so I'll leave off discussing them for now. Suffice it to say, however, I did remain forever without one of those cool motorcycles.