Mr_Cross has cracked open an unusual classic space set and reviewed it for us today:
I’ve been building my collection of Classic Space sets with my kids, as we’ve had a some free time for reasons I won’t go into here!
Among the sets waiting to be built was 6901 Mobile Lab. In my efforts to collect all the sets from the LEGOLAND Space theme I had wanted as a child, I discovered this strange addition to the range.
I had to have it, there was no nostalgia involved because this wasn’t a set I was aware of as a child. The set wasn't released in the UK (or Europe), I think it was only available in North America and Canada, I’d be interested to hear if there was a verified European release.
It's terrifically ugly, yet it just oozes idiosyncratic ‘classic space’ charm. In my opinion, it unmistakably resembles an elephant. So, for a host of unquantifiable reasons and that more obvious zoomorphic one, I just can’t help loving it.
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One part (of the truly many wonderful aspects of this article) that happened to catch my attention though was this:
"One thing I’m always impressed with though, is that these instructions were hand drawn. These were the days before handy desktop CAD packages worked out all the tricky perspective for you."
This is an area of particular interest to me, since I am a mechanical designer by trade. I've been drafting since I was a kid (drawing houses primarily on my small drafting set) and was schooled in both hand drafting and CAD, with CAD of course being the focus. I've used 2D and 3D CAD tools throughout my career.
So, as one might imagine, having LEGO as a life-long hobby, I've always been fascinated by the instructions themselves. I would absolutely love to see some articles on the instruction making progress, especially focused on the early days throughout the 50s-70s and then into the standard minifig era of the 80s. How they progressed from hand drawing the instructions to the early CAD tools they used (I would imagine that they were using CAD to some extent by the early 80s). Follow that all up by the transition into 3D modeling that is used up to this day.
So I wonder now if there has been research done into this topic already published somewhere? Or any LEGO history experts (@Istokg) who might delve into it?
To me @huw this would be a fascinating front page article!
I'd love to see preliminary artwork, pencilled versions etc. of the instructions too. Having a background in product design and illustration, I've done a fair few "projected" drawings in the past but never anything as repetitive as LEGO instructions.
The effort involved boggles my mind and I can't help feeling that the instructions are a much underestimated and largely unappreciated part of these early sets.
Even the modern ones, someone (probably a whole team actually) has worked hard producing these things. I'd like to thank those designers for the clarity of their work, because largely their efforts go under the radar.
I'd love to see an article about this too.