Tuesday, 18 February 2014


My incredibly watchful eye has noticed that, despite everything that might be expected of such a venture, the Lego Movie's doing very well at the box office and getting rave reviews from all the critics I've heard.

Admittedly, the only critic I have heard on the subject is Mark Kermode, who's traditionally wrong about everything. But, in this case, because it's Lego - and I always wish to think the best of that toy - I shall for once give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's right when he says it's a triumph of colourful 3D blockiness.

Sheffield, Castle Market
Castle Market. My gateway to Lego.
Photo © Copyright 
David Dixon.
Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
I first discovered the existence of Lego in the very early 1970s, when I encountered a stall in Sheffield's indoor Castle Market, whose central display was a Lego statue of what I assume was Elizabeth the First.

Being impressed by this instantly caused me to get my first ever box of Lego, a humble thing that could be used to create a pre-War style London black cab.

When I discovered you could make other things with it as well as the main featured model - and that you could chew the tyres - it was the beginning of a love affair.

Reader, I chewed many a Lego tyre from that point on.

Over the next few Christmases, I got a Lego train set, a Lego ground control space centre (complete with rocket) and a thing that was composed of buildings and a conveyor belt.

To be honest, I'm not sure what that last model kit was meant to be but it added more bricks to my collection, so that was good enough for me. Sadly, I never got my hands on the kit that enabled you to build an oil tanker, though that too seemed a splendid thing.

My greatest Lego triumph had to have been be a motorised mechanical arm I once created.

Sadly, being made of Lego, it had no strength at all and would fall apart if you actually tried to lift anything with it. It seemed I was not yet ready to recreate the Six Million Dollar Man.

Likewise, one blow from my Action Man and the legs of the Lego robot I once created would drop off, making it a less than capable opponent for him. Fortunately, at some point, my Action Man's left leg also dropped off, which at least made it a fairer fight.

But of course there was more. Thanks to Lego's amazing versatility, I was able to link it to my other great love.


I once used it to make a Fantasti-Car.

In fact, I used it to make two. I made the original bathtub Fantasti-Car and then the later one, the one with the pods that came off and became miniature planes in their own right. I then populated them with paper cut-outs I'd made of the Fantastic Four.

Admittedly I only made three members of the FF, as I couldn't be bothered to draw and cut-out Sue Storm. I probably told myself she was absent because she'd been kidnapped, which, given her track record, was a fair enough explanation.

Then again, maybe I just told myself she was invisible at the time.

I also made a Daredevil billy club, using the curved bricks from the rocket in that space set. Sadly, it was as fragile as the arm and the robot had been and thus couldn't be used for any actual super-heroing.

So, there you go. Lego; too weak for heroics. Meccano; too laborious for instant gratification. If only someone had come up with a compromise between them, they would have created the perfect toy and, at last, my Action Man would have had a foe worthy of his mettle.


Anonymous said...

I remember having Lego with little wires attached to some of the bricks which powered little lights or something. I had Meccano too but I wasn't very inventive with either product. I don't think I had Action Man but I did have those Palitoy Planet Of The Apes and Star Trek action figures (or dolls I suppose!)

Steve W. said...

I remember seeing ads for those little lighting Lego bricks but, sadly, I never owned any.