After getting a reasonable haul of LEGO for Christmas yesterday, it seems appropriate to look back at a Christmas set of yore: way back in 1997, 6546 Slick Racer became the very first LEGO set I received in my stocking. It was not the first LEGO set I'd received for Christmas--that set was five years old by the time Slick Racer came into my collection--but it was the first set I received in my stocking, a sign of the fact that LEGO had definitely become the central toy of my childhood, presaging the growth of my collection to come. Indeed, if I were to pick a time when I went from having LEGO a child to buying LEGO with all available funds as a slightly older child and teenager, I'd have said 1998 was the first year of the new era. As a result, Slick Racer is poised on the cusp between my very early LEGO era and my Golden Age.
Despite an abiding interest in LEGO race cars as a child, I never acquired more than three or so in my collection, and Slick Racer was the earliest of the three. The others were 6519 Turbo Tiger from the year 2000's rather paltry line-up, and 2963 Extreme Racer from 1998's eXtreme Team. Slick Race was also my favourite of the three, the perennial winner of any race. This favouritism was due, in part, to its status as the earliest racer in my collection, and also because of a bias towards Octan.
Octan looms large in my LEGO Town imagination, despite the fact that this set and a handful of torsos were all that I possessed that were connected to that venerable logo. They were a multi-business corporation that manufactured cars, sold gas, sponsored races, and produced millionaires. Looking back, I would say now that they were a strange juxtaposition of greedy mega-corporation and squeaky-clean Town company in my LEGO games.