Deconstructing Lego is a blog that analyzes Lego sets under a variety of lenses, sometimes comparing similar sets from different years or creating a story based around a set or analyzing the implicit message that a set creates.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

6411 - Sand Dollar Café

We enter into a paradise (hence the theme name of 'Paradisa') of bourgeoise excess.  A seaside resort produced in 1992, in the aftermath of Reaganomics and 1980s consumerism.  A dramatic shift from the ever-present city themes of police, fire department, and hospital, Paradisa was an escape, a community comprised solely of resorts and the upperclass service industry.

Let us first examine the minifigures.  Five in total; two female patrons and three male servants.  Is Paradisa a resort for women, where all the servants are men?  Perhaps.  The chef is clearly rushing to bring the madame her fifth margarita of the morning, while Charlotte is windsurfing, enjoying the way the lifeguard ogles her.  Ice cream boy Kevin lusts after the tanning goddess, wishing she would suck his popsicle.

There is a bike in the set, which seems to go along with the resort town motif.  Are there roads in Paradisa, or merely dirt paths for leisurely walks and bicycle rides?  There seems to be a lack of overall infrastructure, so the roads probably aren't in very good condition, if at all existant.  

Can such a resort town subsist in this economy?  Is there any real infrastructure, schools, police departments, etc?  In fact, I don't think there have ever been Lego school sets.  Probably for the best because they would be kinda lame.

Paradisa best serves as a strange contrast to the usual Lego city sets.  Paradisa was clearly targeted towards girls, with the increased pink and pastel colors, along with a surprising number of female minifigures (especially for the time).  Is The Lego Group insinuating that girls are interested only in vapid resort towns and consumerism?  In some ways, Paradisa feels more like a fantasy than other 'fantasy' themes.

Friday, June 4, 2010

6446 - Crane Truck

The lowly crane truck.  Coming around to tow your precious vehicle.  Maybe you drove your lego car into a castle and it exploded, or a dinosaur ate half of it.  Inevitably, everyone needs to deal with the tow truck.

Interesting name, crane truck.  Feel like proper nomenclature would be tow truck.  Wonder what the significance of the socket wrench on the truck and on his shirt is.  Maybe they wanted a generic tool for their logo in order to convey an idea of mechanical skills.  The blue cap represents the blue collar work that this man is involved in, towing trucks and possibly repairing them.

Let's look at the vehicle itself.  Red is a pretty common color for tow truck (white being second most in my opinion) and the yellow lights on the top are also commonly found on such vehicles.  But there is something missing - a roof.  Why was this vehicle designed with no roof?  It's a small set at only twenty-six pieces, but I feel like a roof is an essential part of car construction.  This set was released in 1999, one of the worst years for Lego sets in terms of both sales and design quality.  Crane Truck was released during Lego's dark ages, and it shows.  Compared to the 1986 set Super Tow Truck it pales in comparison.  Just look at the two sets, Crane Truck hardly even resembles a vehicle when compared.  No headlights, smoke stacks, fenders, or any other small details that make a truck look like a truck.

Looking at the 2009 set Tow Truck we get probably the best example of a lego tow truck set.  It looks and feels like a real truck;  thick and wide, with real truck details.  I suppose it's important to keep in mind that these sets all had different piece counts and prices, but the modern set is just great and really exemplifies the sorts of sets that The Lego Group can produce.

6921 - Monorail Accessory Track

A set of broken dreams, unfulfilled promises.  A set useless on its own, but perhaps excessive when combined.  It's meant to be combined with other monorail sets, in particular space themed monorail sets.  There's something beautiful about the simplicity of the photo I think, just a large oval, with a drawing of a monorail to illustrate the purpose of the tracks.

I never had a monorail myself, but they always looked pretty cool.  I did receive several 9volt train sets, however, which I think I are in a lot of ways better, but harder to integrate.  The great thing about the monorail is that it's hand-powered (I think?) so it adapts well to whatever you're building.  The monorail is both futuristic and modern, whereas train tracks are modern and historic.

Wonder if anyone ever got this set, but didn't have a monorail already to go along with it.  Would be kinda depressing I suppose.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dr. Kilroy's Microcopter

Look at this helicopter.  Does it even have landing gear?  That whirly blade is so small, how can it carry a doctor (who is probably kinda fat, let's be honest), a camera, a shovel, and a gun.  Also, why a rifle?  Feel like a doctor shouldn't bring a gun, or just a small one maybe for personal protection.

How does he control the helicopter, seems like there is a single oddly shaped joystick.  No other controls or meters to show fuel (imagination), altitude, etc.  Also, seems like he can't sit down all the way.  What an odd design.

Of course, this is a small stocking stuffer that was actually given away with candy/food in some regions (Japan I believe) so accuracy/aerodynamics don't need to apply.  Still a silly sort of design though I suppose.  The color scheme is nice, very Octan.  Wonder if Octan ever caused an oil spill?