Sunday, October 23, 2011

7130 Snowspeeder

One of the major paradigm shifts in my view of the LEGO universe took place in late 1999 when I became a Star Wars fan. Star Wars sets had been out for most of the year, in anticipation of Episode I: The Phantom Menace's release in May. I didn't see Episode I until September that year, in the cheap theatre after friends introduced me and my brother to the original trilogy for the first time.

As a loyal recipient of the LEGO Mania Magazine, I was aware of the existence of Star Wars before this, and particular of Star Wars LEGO, and although I was had little enough interest in Star Wars LEGO prior to seeing the movies and becoming a fan, I still spent a good chunk of time looking at those magazines, because I can still remember my overall impression of what the Star Wars story must have been, on the basis of those original five sets.

7130 was one of those original five sets. The above picture is slightly incomplete, as it lacks the Rebel trooper minifig that rounds out the set, who does not seem to be travelling in the boxes that have made it back to Boston.

My original impression of the Star Wars story aside, which coupled with the original run of Episode I sets left me with a rather different idea of what the story included, the original five Original Trilogy sets have a special place in my heart. Admittedly, they are not as sleek as later sets, which introduced a whole host of rounded pieces into LEGO's inventory, nor all as accurate to the original source, but they have a preeminent place in the my nostalgic memory, not least as a tie to that original misconceived story.

Snowspeeder was the mid-most, size-wise of the original five, and I would argue that it was the least exciting of the five. TIE-Fighter and Y-wing had Darth Vader; the X-wing had the eponymous fighter and R2-D2; Speeder Bikes had two Scouttroopers, the closest thing we had to Stormtroopers; and the Landspeeder had Obi-wan Kenobi. Snowspeeder would seem a bit ill-equipped to compete with these, though it was a solid set in its own right. Its selling features, as I see them, are that it was cheaper than the X-wing or Y-wing/TIE, but was still a solid, fighter-sized, famous ship that let the buyer get a copy of Luke Skywalker (with blue lightsabre). The attractions for the buyer of the full collection, in addition to the snowspeeder itself, was the second pilot, Dack, and his unique helmet, and the rebel snow-geared trooper.

Of the original five sets, this would be the last that I would acquire. I got the other four in the early years, when they were all still available in stores (though two of them were gifts), but I only acquired Snowspeeder years later, when a collector friend in university was looking to unload it, and knew of my LEGO habit. I couldn't pass it up, of course--not least because his price was less than Bricklink's, and that is the main reason that it is still built today, able to be photographed. The rest of my Star Wars originals had been taken apart, like everything else, in the Great Take-Apart of 2004, and because of their high ratio of useful parts have never been put back together.

Though they might, one of these days... I mighty nostalgic about them, especially the Landspeeder...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

1969 "Robot Moon Walker"

A couple weeks ag, while Bricklinking pieces for someone's Christmas present, I happened to be buying from a store that had a copy of 1969 (which I am calling "Robot Moon Walker," in honour of the fact that its set number, 1969, is the year of the first moon landing) at a reasonable price. As a Space Police (ii) set that I did not already own, I couldn't pass it up (see this old post for my fondness for that theme).

(Also, note that my indoor, lightless, picture-taking skills are improving, albeit at small increments.)

"Robot Moon Walker" is now the fourth, and smallest, Space Police set I have acquired, and it probably isn't something to write home about. It's a fairly standard early 1990s Space set, using wheels, hinge-pieces as hands, and 2x2 "radar dishes," all controlled by a minifig with a walkie-talkie. Nor is the fig anything special, being perfectly identical to every other Space Police non-officer out there.

All that being said, however, I was pleased as punch to get this little set, and for what it is--essentially an impulse set or part of a cross-themes combo pack--it's pretty nice. The robot itself is rather cute, and I admit to having more fun with wheeled robots like this than more complex--and articulated--legged robots. Much of this pleasure is tied into the nostalgia of the set, no doubt. Back in the 1990s, this set was in the combo pack on the inside front cover of my 1993 catalogue, opposite the main Space Police page, and I would have died of happiness to have received that combo--mostly because I would have been able to get my first Space Police fig. Now that I've got him, I admit I didn't die (of happiness or otherwise), but I was still quite pleased with him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Century of Posts

This week's Aquazone Breakfast News, which would normally publish today, is going to be held off until tomorrow. Not, as might be thought, because I have been yet to figure out a successful way to take pictures of LEGO in my dimly lit basement (though that would be true), but because this post is the 100th here on Grandfather's Tales, and it seems appropriate to mark the occasion.

Looking back over the eight months or so that I've been blogging, I have to admit that the back half would have looked a bit better if it had followed more closely in the steps of the first half. This is partly due to the tumultuous Real Life events that have spanned the past few months, from a death in the family to moving home across the continent for the summer and then moving back to Boston in the fall. Nonetheless, I am not going to criticize myself too harshly since, after all, I made it this far despite that, and 100 posts in three quarters of a year is not a bad statistic (unless it were sheer quantity in place of quality, which I hope has not been the case).

All the same, I'm not going to pat myself on the back too much, because as much as this is a time for celebration, it's a time for reconsolidation. In the effort, then, to keep myself on course, I am going to publicly commit to the following:

1. First of all, that I will continue to post Aquazone Breakfast News on a weekly basis. I haven't missed a week yet, but the image woes surrounding my living space suggest that I should definitely make this a priority.

2. I will not let myself use poor images as an excuse for not posting. After all, everyone else on the Internet links to images from other people--surely I can do that too.

3. I will aim to post at least once a week besides Aquazone Breakfast News. This is an average I am aiming for, not a second Regular Posting Day (the way Friday is AqBN Day), but it is an aim for greater constancy.

4. To finish Chapter XII of Grandfather's Tale. The pictures have been sitting on my computer since April, so I have few excuses.