Blast From The Past

In 1975, was this Lego’s first attempt to create an AFOL market ? Discuss…

All the sets in the ‘Hobby Sets’ line from the mid to late Seventies are rare items now, and highly sought after; but they weren’t at the time.

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Take the blocky beauty above, for example; who’s it aimed at ? For kids, it wouldn’t fit in their town layouts, older kids want models that do something; if an adult market existed at the time, it’s just not intricate enough thanks to the lack of specialized pieces in 1976.

The whole line bombed, and that’s a shame. These are nice models. Not snazzy, complex or huge; just pleasant display pieces. I remember the 395 Rolls-Royce I got when I was about 7, still have it in fact, and I loved it. Standing proudly atop it’s cardboard display stand, here was a thing that said Lego bricks can make something nice.

It’s not entirely without detail. Those old 1×1 yellow windows make fine vintage headlights and the white spoked wheels are great. They only ever appeared in this and the 391 Renault. Mostly though, it’s an assemblage of white bricks and black plates in the rough shape of a car…

Nice car, mind. But again, it falls between two stools. Kids want stuff of the moment (apart from me, but then I was a strange kid…what do you mean I still am ?!); adults want more realism, yet the bricks weren’t quite up to it.

The first set in the series was even simpler, but it’s still a pretty thing….

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It’s a 1913 Cadillac – a curious choice of launch model for a whole new line of sets. First car with an electric starter, apparently.

So, what are these ? Toys ? Not really. I don’t remember making ‘vroom vroom’ noises with mine. I’d just look at it, and make inevitably similar alternatives with it.

Are they an attempt to create something like the modern VW camper ? Perhaps. That’s a thing that’s a joy to build and behold, for all that you can’t play with it. But that works because it’s so exact – you instantly know what it is.

Hang on – they came in nicer boxes with classy, simple artwork; which could be used as a display stand – they’re ancient Architecture sets on four wheels! Hmmmm…

I’m probably over-analysing. They’re of their time in design, and ahead of their time as an idea.

Feast your eyes on the biggest of the first three cars, an impressive looking 1926 Renault Limousine – this was quite a bit longer than the other two and doesn’t the blue look fab ?

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Anyway, enough of my prognostication, these can all be enjoyed today for what they are; nice models made from basic bricks that have a certain period charm. If you’re a vintage car fan, you’ll enjoy having any of these three.

Just don’t scroll down and compare them to Malte Dorowski’s Porsches. It’s simply not fair.

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