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What childhood favorite sets are underwhelming in hindsight?

AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,823
I was just reflecting on some of my childhood favorite themes in response to a blog comment on another site, and I realized just how horrible some of them were in hindsight. Some of my favorite themes as a kid were Launch Command, Aquazone, Wild West, and Exploriens (I still have a pillowcase in my bedroom with #6195 on one side and #6339 on the other, and a Rose Art puzzle playmat in my basement with Exploriens scenery on one side and a racetrack on the other). I loved some of the modular octagonal tube pieces and other angular parts from the Aquazone sets (as well as the beautiful art direction by Christian Faber and the Advance ad agency, who later brought us BIONICLE).

Naturally, I remembered the rampant juniorization of sets back then all too well, but I didn't remember just how overpriced some of those sets were! #6195 Neptune Discovery Lab offered just 508 pieces for $89 (which today would be $138, making it a much worse value than the recently announced Lonely Mountain set!

Likewise, #6769 Fort Legoredo had just 687 pieces for $85... a better value, but still pitiful by today's standards, ESPECIALLY when you factor in inflation. The $100 price for the re-release in 2002 (#6762) was even worse!

#6982 Explorien Starship had a similar value — 662 pieces for $80 ($121 today). But furthermore, in hindsight it just feels to me like a terribly messy design compared to some earlier space themes like Spyrius (another theme I loved, but not as much as Exploriens, despite it having generally better designs).

I know my childhood examples might be especially bad, considering I grew up in the 90s (a dark time for LEGO design in general), but does anybody else have any examples of childhood sets that seem like bad designs or a bad value in hindsight?

Comments

  • iplanteiplante USMember Posts: 164
    This is a funny one, I was looking through old photos yesterday and found a 1989 Christmas photo. In my small stack of present was a Lego box. #1628-1. I have no memory of this set, and the photo on the website scares me to death.

    Hahaha :)
  • ecmo47ecmo47 North CarolinaMember Posts: 2,096
    edited July 2014
    I’m about a generation earlier than you as I was a youngster in the 70's. I very much enjoyed set #387 but it had some design flaws which soon made it unplayable. The worst one was the articulated hinge the held the two ends of the dumper together. I did not take much play before it was too loose to hold the truck together. Also, the front loader on the tractor was pitifully small. It also made me laugh how the box display shows the set in sand which would lock up all moving parts! Despite all that those later discovered problems, I still have fond memories of buying the set at Kmart in West Des Moines, Iowa while on a trip to see my Aunt.
  • matticus_bricksmatticus_bricks Member Posts: 648
    Oh boy. I'm 20 now, so my childhood nostalgia is for late 90's and early 2000's sets, so nearly everything I loved as a child looks very poorly designed to me now, naturally, hahaha! The theme that got me into Lego was Fright Knights, which is notorious for having some of the most poorly designed sets ever, including #6087 Witch's Magic Manor. I loved this set for all of its fun play features, but looking back, I realize it was just awful.

    Another one is #6091/6098 King Leo's Castle. I wanted this one so bad and finally got it for Christmas and I loved it to death. Now it just looks like a heap of big panels with some gimmicky play features, but It still reminds me of how I felt about it as a kid when I look at it.
  • vitreolumvitreolum RomaniaMember Posts: 1,406
    This price comparison doesn't work at all. Yes, the part count is small. But those sets didn't have 200 cheese slopes and 1x1 plates. Those sets had a lot of big parts. And the result of is 2x-3x the size of lonely mountain. If I was a child right now, I would be more fond and impressed of Legoredo or Neptune Lab, that I would be of a chair and a rock with ladders and a wheel. The dragon would be the only thing of interest to me.

    The best part about those sets is that you got a whole lab, a whole fort. Sets then were basically a complete structure. Now you get bits of rocks and bits of walls in many sets,
    nkx1cheshirecatT_LarsdougtsbinaryeyeBuriedinBrickspharmjod
  • goshe7goshe7 Columbus, Ohio, USAMember Posts: 515
    I had some pretty awesome sets (#6373... Motorcycles! Need I say more?) or #4010 Police Boat (really floats!) or #6395 Victory Lap Raceway. (Race cars... almost as cool as motorcycles!)

    For me, it was #6697, rescue helicopter. It just didn't hold up to CFOL play. Rotor blades constantly came apart, string got knotted, one of the landing gear bars broke fairly on.

    Loved the concept and design. Just didn't take the "play" I gave it.
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,791
    #6087 as a child it was a great set with lots of little play sets. I recently bought it again, and goodness is this set bad. I would list its faults but really it can be summed up with: Why on earth does a witch, who are well known for their flight ability, needs HELICOPTER?
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,238
    edited July 2014
    As far as I remember I only had two (or maybe 3) sets. My parents only really bought loose bricks for me and my brothers. The sets I had were a tie fighter (not sure which, but it had vader) and x wing that I always thought was one set but I don't think that was actually the case.
    The other set was an insectoids set, all I remember about it was the trans (I think) green wings and a light and sound tail piece that I used to take everywhere and use in just about every build.

    Appart from those I had all the original Bionicles and the original line of little Bionicle dudes and two slizers - I might be making that name up but I think they were a precursor to Bionicle.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,238
    Had to look it up, the insectoids set was #6907 Sonic Stinger ...I'd actually love to get one of them now. (And the wings were trans blue not green)
  • Craigster10Craigster10 Member Posts: 54
    I loved Aquazone, the scuba packs I used to pretend that they took oxygen from the water and that the little inbuilt fan was a mini propeller able to push them through the water like a jet pack. The baddies all had webbed fingers and gills lol.
    I still have an unfinished MOC of a large Aquazone command sub to finish which I started in 2001 he he.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    I picked up the discovery lab a year or two ago and thought it was pretty amazing, as did my 7 year old when he acquired it. It doesn't have the detail of modern sets but has bags of playability. I don't think its underwhelming so much as our perceptions of whats important have changed as we've got older.
  • T_LarsT_Lars USAMember Posts: 104
    edited July 2014
    6988 Alpha Centauri Outpost, aka the Blacktron II base. This was a set that I never personally owned but my friend down the block had it and I was super jealous. Looking back on it now, I realize that it wasn't so much a base as it was a battery box with a bunch of big random parts around it. The light feature was even pretty lame, it added nothing at all to the look or the playability of the set. Yeah, it came with a really cool ship but that could have easily been its own stand alone set, the rest was just useless expensive filler.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,823
    Shib said:

    Appart from those I had all the original Bionicles and the original line of little Bionicle dudes and two slizers - I might be making that name up but I think they were a precursor to Bionicle.

    Nah, you're not misremembering! Slizers were a big part of my childhood, too (they were called Throwbots over here in the U.S., though). Not great, but it's hard for me to hate them since they were the first sets of their kind and helped pave the way for future improvements.
    vitreolum said:

    This price comparison doesn't work at all. Yes, the part count is small. But those sets didn't have 200 cheese slopes and 1x1 plates. Those sets had a lot of big parts. And the result of is 2x-3x the size of lonely mountain. If I was a child right now, I would be more fond and impressed of Legoredo or Neptune Lab, that I would be of a chair and a rock with ladders and a wheel. The dragon would be the only thing of interest to me.

    The best part about those sets is that you got a whole lab, a whole fort. Sets then were basically a complete structure. Now you get bits of rocks and bits of walls in many sets,

    I guess opinions differ. Personally, I'd rather have a set like #2507 Fire Temple than something like Neptune Discovery Lab. And if I want a whole fort? #7019 Viking Fortress against the Fafnir Dragon is a huge, elaborate set in its own right, but despite using plenty of large wall panels just like Fort Legoredo, it offers way more pieces and an unbelievably good value for money. The same is true of #7709 Sentai Headquarters, which offers not only a large fortress but also three battle machines. And while #8078 Portal of Atlantis may not be a fully-enclosed fortress, it's still an amazing set packed with detail and play value.

    But perhaps my preferences are partly a sign of "growing up"... I'm more interested in how much building and detail a model offers than how much space the model takes up. In fact, some of my favorite sets these days are the ones that pack amazing amounts of of detail and play value into a small space, like #8635 Mobile Command Center.

    Oh, gosh, one other set I forgot to mention! #6975 Alien Avenger was on my Christmas list for two years. It did not live up to my expectations, even back then. U.F.O. is a theme I generally am not fond of in hindsight. Back in 1997, it was very exciting to me (I think the story blurbs in the LEGO Mania Magazines helped with that), but in hindsight so many of the decorations feel cluttered to me and reduce the usefulness of those parts (which are already limited in use by their huge size and specialized shapes). Even the minifigures were ugly — and while I get that they were supposed to be ugly aliens, I much prefer the more cartoony, iconic designs of aliens from themes like Space Police III and Alien Conquest (or even the simple design of the Spyrius robot, which is way more charming than those over-detailed UFO droids).
  • MathiasMathias United StatesMember Posts: 94
    edited July 2014
    I had a few sets all within a 3 year period. After my first set I always asked for lego for birthday and Christmas. 6259 was the first one I had. 6271 was my pride and joy. I got up at 5am the day after Christmas to build it.

    The last set I ever got was 6834. I've planet space sled that didn't go along with any of the rest of my collection. Looking back at it not so sure why I was so excited about it.
  • piratemania7piratemania7 New EnglandMember Posts: 2,086
    For me, I look back on childhood LEGO sets and can't believe how "simple" they seem to be in today's world, and yes, somewhat simple at times.

    Albeit, I cannot think of any single set that stands out for me as being "underwhelming" - I just can't!
  • beegeedeebeegeedee Galway, IrelandMember Posts: 380
    Yeah, totally agree @piratemania7‌ I remember getting #6801 I think it was and thought it was an amazing set. It had multiple builds and the space man. But today it looks pitiful - I still like it though and picked it up when I came out of my dark ages.
  • beabea Member Posts: 227
    My favorite sets were 80s space. I suppose they are simple by today's standards but I wouldn't call them underwhelming. I loved them as a kid and to my mind back then they were absolutely marvelous. Nothing underwhelming at all.

    I actually don't expect that if I got sets of modern complexity back then, I would have enjoyed them any more than the "simple" ones I had. Kids have a lot of imagination in play.

  • natro220natro220 USAMember Posts: 545
    Eldorado Fortress, King's Mountain Fortress...anything built with that raised baseplate they used over and over in the early 90's. Those were the two sets I had with it...and building them now is kind of a letdown. They were among my favorites as a kid, but as an adult, not so much.
    Aanchir
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    edited August 2014
    ^ sacrilege! The fortresses of #6276 and #6071 were a perfect, harmonious, and symbiotic union with the raised baseplate. By contrast, here are poor arranged marriages:
    http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItemIn.asp?P=2552px2&colorID=11&in=A
    yys4u
  • natro220natro220 USAMember Posts: 545
    I thought I may touch a nerve with somebody. I agree that those sets you linked to poorly utilize the raised baseplate. But I can't help but feeling like the fortress sets are kind of half a build, as opposed to the Black Monarch's Castle or King's Castle sets. I do agree that they look good using the baseplate though.
  • bobabricksbobabricks Vancouver, BC, CanadaMember Posts: 1,839
    I thought all of the 90's stuff was great. So many cool pieces like the compass and the themes were fun and cheesy.
  • sonsofscevasonsofsceva 1904 World's FairMember Posts: 539
    #6056 - I bought it as one of the cheapest sets with a dragon. But using brown ladders for the cage implied wood - for a fire-breathing dragon! And in general one of the poorer wagon attempts in LEGO history.
  • Captain_EyebrowCaptain_Eyebrow Test Valley, looking at that new brand store that is coming to Southampton by Christmas 2019 . . . .Member Posts: 138
    As I grew up with Classic Space I am very nostalgic over most of the sets, however I remember being very excited about brickset.com/sets/1593-1/Super-Model-Building-Instructionsas my Mum had saved the washing powder vouchers up to get it.

    When I came to rebuild it last I was struck with just how nasty it is in comparison to other Classic Space sets, I appreciate now it efficient use of two existing sets to make a new one but its pretty poor compared to the rest of the Classic Space range.
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