Monday, January 16, 2012

Favourite Sets: 6598 Metro PD Station

I've blogged before about 6598 Metro PD Station, the flagship of Town's Rescue theme from 1996. In that post, I wrote about Metro PD as one of a couple of mid-1990s Police Stations that I wanted as a kid, but never got. It was "one that got away."

But no more! Thanks in no small part to this blog, my brother got me Metro PD for Christmas, and rather than finding myself disappointed with the set as over-hyped now that I'm an adult, it more than lived up to expectations.

Part of the attraction of Metro PD is that it comes with a full range of crime-fighting vehicles: air, sea, and land are all covered. The helicopter is on the smaller side, although it's rather standard for 1990s LEGO copters. I had 1782 Discovery Station and my brother had 6328 Helicopter Transport, both of which had similarly sized copters.

Particularly when compared with these helicopters of a more similar vintage, Metro PD's copter holds up well in terms of design, and it's mostly-black colour scheme is pretty badass. Unfortunately, however, the way the copter is put together is a little bit less stable than what I remember of Discovery Station's. Even though I haven't had it quite a month, and I haven't really played with it anywhere to the extent that I would as a kid, it's shattered on me a couple times.

By way of contrast, though, the boat is really solid. It has one police officer seemingly assigned to--one of the officers in vests with white arms, wearing a white cap, making him match exactly the two officers of 4012 Wave Cops, which came out the same year. It's a two-seat boat and an extra life jacket for whoever else rides along. In contrast to the helicopter, which still holds up well in design, though it is small, after all these years, the boat is quite blocky. My brother got 4641 Speed Boat for Christmas, and the differences between the two were striking. Although Speed Boat was only a one-man boat, it was large and powerful-looking and had rounded pieces. Next to it, this simply looked... clunky, though that was rather nostalgically attractive.

Even more dramatically demonstrative of the changes LEGO's Town scale has gone through was the jail van, particularly since I also got 4441 Police Dog Van for Christmas. Granted, there's roomed in the latter for the dogs, but even so it is a full order of magnitude smaller. Which isn't to say I disliked the older van... but it does feel *very* small.

That takes us out of the vehicles for the set--there are also two motorcycles, but while I love classic LEGO motorcycles, there is little to comment on with them--and back to the station proper.

Well, not quite.

As it happens, there are two separate baseplates in this set, each with their own building. Both baseplates have a dock on the side for the boat, which is presumably the means of transport between the two--hence the backseat and the extra life jacket. The smaller baseplate is a prison cell, with a tunnel already prepared for Jailbreak Joe to break out through.

And that brings us to the *real* Police Station. It's already been a fairly substantial set at this point, and there's still the crown jewel to look at. It's a good size, and had more going on in it than I expected. At the same time, however, it was a more juniorised build than most of the set. The large window pieces didn't bother me, but a lot of the structure is just 1x2x5 bricks. The final result is a well-designed playset that looks pretty good from the front. My main quibbles are the wobbly design caused by the post-brick constructions and the green "carpeting" brought on by the baseplate.

One of the most exciting parts of the police station, for me, was the evidence room at the top, which has a wanted poster... of one of the guys in 6563 Gator Landing. I posted about that set close to a year ago (see here) and I reflected there that these guys were probably supposed to be thieves or something of that nature--something that I'd never cottoned on to at all during my childhood. This poster would seem to confirm that suspicion.

Well, the poster could come from the captain's office too. The copy of the set my brother found did not include the instructions, which he printed off from an online copy instead. This was more than functional, but it means that I couldn't actually see the print on the poster when building the set. It's not a major problem, since it would only mean swapping the tiles. As you can see in the immediately foregoing picture, the alternative is a Jailbreak Joe wanted poster. It makes sense to me, though, that since he's already caught, that the one in the evidence room is the guy living large in the swamp.

Wanted posters aside, the captain's office is my favourite room in the station. This is partly because it's the most finished room in the station and partly because I really like the city map behind the captain's chair. It's an awesome design that I didn't know came with the set.

There are also a few nice details down in the reception area. I always wanted the keyboard and monitor pieces to the computer, and they tended to elude me over the years as a general rule. Now, of course, they're amusing to look back on a "old" technology.

I was also impressed with the coffee-maker. It's a very simple build, but it's strikingly effective, and even with all the new parts that have come out in the last sixteen years, it's not really in need of updating.

All told, I was still impressed with Metro PD Station after fifteen years of it being "one that got away" and even against the best contemporary sets it holds up fairly well, the main exception being the boat, and secondarily the van. It was a lot of fun to open a box and have a whole pile of old grey, and I really appreciated the overall smaller size of pieces. Even with the early-onset juniorisation of the station, there were a lot more pieces in the 1x1 plate range (including 1x1 plates themselves) than in more newer sets. It was an awesome Christmas.

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