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
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?
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.
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,
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.
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.
I still have an unfinished MOC of a large Aquazone command sub to finish which I started in 2001 he he.
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).
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.
Albeit, I cannot think of any single set that stands out for me as being "underwhelming" - I just can't!
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.
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.