Tuesday, June 17, 2014

1720 Cactus Canyon


I've alluded in the past (not that I expect anyone to have any readers left, let alone any who remember the particulars of three-year-old posts) that my first true Town set was 1720 Cactus Canyon. It wasn't my first set (it was my seventh), nor was it the first one I would use in the Town world (that would be a Basic set, 525 or a Fabuland set), but it was and remains one of my favourite Town sets. It was also, on a note of trivia, the first set I ever received the same year that it was released, since I got this Christmas 1994.

For those keeping score at home, 1720 Cactus Canyon was released in 1994 and was an amalgam of three other sets: 1740, 1741, and 1742, which were also released in 1994. In that respect, it was much like some of the other sets of the decade, which were released in some countries as polybags under one set number and in others as boxed sets under another. Cactus Canyon has a single instruction book for the three subsets and, growing up, I never really thought of the set as anything other than a complete unit, though I was sort of vaguely aware that it wasn't QUITE a normal set--at the very least, unlike most of my sets, its picture never appeared in the catalogues of the era, a fact it shared with the polybags.


Each unit of the set has a minifigure and a vehicle. Starting with the smallest, we have a kayak (though the paddle is not a kayaker's paddle)--a very simple build indeed, with a grand total of seven elements required.


A little bit larger, certainly in the piece-count department, is the dune-buggy. This subset also includes two natural elements: a grey falcon/hawk piece and a bush--the titular cactus, I always assumed. Growing up in Canada, "dune buggies" weren't exactly a regular part of my lexicon, so this vehicle was generally just referred to as a car or possibly thought of as a four-wheeler or ATV.


Speaking of things with four wheels, the largest of the three subsets has the real highlight of the set, the truck. A fairly standard mid-1990s LEGO truck, this has always been one of my favourite vehicles in my LEGO city. It's looks a bit chunky compared to some more contemporary vehicles--and quite a bit smaller, since it hails from the 4-stud-wide standard era, but it's still pretty vroomable (the driven equivalent of swooshable).


In most sets I'd consider it a fairly minor point to bring up the minifigure accessories, especially in a theme where these are unlikely to be weapons--because who really needs to army-build guys holding walkie-talkies? In this case, however, because of how early Cactus Canyon falls in the timeline of my collection, almost all of the items pictured above were significant. With the exception of the oar (I had two in a Pirate set), each of these were the very first of their kind in my collection. The pickaxes and shovel would remain the only ones until the Adventurers theme in 1998--and it is worth noting as a sidebar that before the Adventurers were released, I did use this set to supply my town with its very first archaeologists or paleontologists, because, clearly, that's why they had picks and shovel, right?


And, of course, there were the minifigs. At this point I'll note that my choice of reviewing this set isn't pure nostalgia; it's nostalgia that's been awakened by the recent drafting of these three minifigs as the main characters in my new webcomic series (coming soon to the Internet near you). The exact characterisation of these three changed over the years, but as the first Town figs in my collection--figs who were, helpfully, not limited by a job-specific uniform, they filled many roles in many games.

From the left we have Carson Smith (who drove a car--note too the facial resemblance to the Smiths of Gator Landing and Speed Trackers), Nick Townson, and Larry, aka "Boaty" Townson. I'll only say this about the "inventiveness" of the names: yes, one guy from a Town set has a boat and was named Boaty Townson. Notably, he and the other Townson here have the same head: it was a convention in my Legoverse and my brothers that Town figs with the same head belonged to the same family. For the longest time, these were my only figs with that head, which a point of some soreness to me, because I thought the head was really cool... and my brother had five of them.

The roles they'll be playing in my upcoming series won't be 100% identical to what they would have been in my youthful LEGO games, which is probably just as well because what appeals to a 12-year-old boy is rarely universally appealling, but it is based on them to an extent. Anyone paying attention will note that nostalgia is a key element in why I create webcomics and why I run this blog. So there was really no competition for main characters when I decided to make a new comic.

In case anyone is wondering, the working title for the series is "Android Files."

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