Over the last few days I celebrated my 24th birthday, and for the first time in a few years, I got LEGO for my birthday. Indeed, I got more than "just LEGO"--I got one of the most impressive sets I own. Since I haven't got pictures of that yet, we'll save that for later. In keeping with the birthday theme, however, I want to look at one of my oldest sets, 525. I've referred to this set a few times, for the good reason that it's my second oldest set.
In addition to being the second addition to my LEGO collection, "Dr. Freestyle's" set, as I've called it for the better part of the 18 years I've owned it, was the first LEGO set I got for a birthday--back in 1993. It was also the first brand-new LEGO set I got (my prior set was used), and the first one with a regular minifig (the first was Fabuland), and pretty much every piece but the yellow 2x2 and the flower stems was a first-time experience in this set. What's more, since my earlier set was only a month and a half in my possession, Dr. Freestyle has long had a sort of coëval status as eldest set.
In this picture you can see the set in the basic form it has taken in my collection over the years, almost without exception. The van is slightly modified from the model in the instructions--mostly insofar as its been built a bit taller to more easily accommodate the good doctor. One will also notice the two trans-coloured 1x1 tiles at the front of the van. These were extra pieces with 4012 Wave Cops, which I got during the summer of 1997. They were affixed to the doctor's van probably at the same time I acquired them, turning it into my first (and only, as things have turned out so far) incarnation of an ambulance. Apart from being the only foreign pieces introduced into the doctor's set, this helps demonstrate that it was not later than 1997 before Dr. Freestyle acquired his present job description.
As I said, the models shown above are the main form the set has taken for most of the past eighteen years. Part of the reason for this is that they best accommodate minifigs, but another major reason is that my instructions have been in a very sorry state--although I still have them.
Despite their incomplete and very battered condition, these instructions retain a place in my heart, which by and large doesn't retain a lot of room for instructions, and the major reason for this is no doubt because they're the oldest ones I have.
In addition to the model pictured above, I have an assortment of other pieces that have, since time immemorial, been associated with this set--other pieces that these two models do not utilise, though I'm not at all sure if the aggregate total of all these pieces actually corresponds to the original Tote Bag manifest. In any case, the extra bricks are in a somewhat unsightly pile, so there seemed no point to take a picture of them.