Friday, April 27, 2012

Past and Present

Alien Moon Stalker 6940
I was trying to recall the first LEGO set I ever owned. I couldn't think back that far, but the earliest one I remember was from my 7th (or was it my 8th?) birthday when my parents got me the Alien Moon Stalker. It wasn't my first ever set, but I'm pretty sure it was my first set that had over 200 pieces. It was in the now classic Space system of LEGOs, and I loved this thing. It had rockets, a detachable head and tail section, the tail worked as a claw like appendage for picking up things, there were storage compartments in the legs, and it WALKED! Well, by "walked" I mean you could move the legs back and forth so that if you were on a flat surface you could make it shuffle along, quite nicely. The walking mechanism was achieved by using five turntable pieces to attach the legs to the body, and this wasn't the only set to use this mechanism (for instance, check out the Walking Astro Grappler). Part of the reason I remember this set so fondly is that it was the closest thing I had to those AT-ATs from Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back. Like every nerd child from that generation, I thought those giant, evil walking machines were the coolest part of that movie. Having the Moon Stalker was like having my very own LEGO version of one of those awesome four legged robots.

Motorized Walking AT-AT 10178
Well, now we're in present day. There are tons of new LEGO systems, one of which is their immensely popular Star Wars based sets. Now you can have a LEGO set that is actually based on the AT-AT from Empire Strikes Back. Not only does this one not shuffle, it WALKS BY ITSELF! There's a pretty large gap between when I got my last LEGO set for myself and when I recently bought one for my daughter. In that amount of time, LEGO sets have come a long, long way. But even so, it amazes me that they still remain faithful to the original designs and use most of the same parts that were originally patented in the 1950s. Sure, there are tons of new pieces and building mechanisms, but it's comforting for an old(er) LEGO fan to watch his daughter open up a brand new set and still see a lot of the old pieces I grew up with.

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