1985 Lego Catalog
In 1985, I received my first LEGOLAND set. It was the Space Dart-I, which was a part of the LEGOLAND Space System. I would eventually pick up a few more pieces from the Space System, the Surface Rover, Crater Crawler, and Tri-Star Voyager.
These were small sets, but these three vehicles and their spacesuit-wearing minifigs brought me hours of joy. While those were the sets I was able to get my hands on, they were not all that I wanted. I wanted anything Lego I could get my hands on, and thanks to the 1985 catalog that was included in my set, I knew exactly what I didn’t have.
The cover introduced you to three components of LEGOLAND, the Castle, Town, and Space Systems. I would eventually get a piece or two from the Castle System, but never owned anything from the Town System. I think the motorcycle riders are giving off a swell CHiPs vibe.
Pages 2 and 3 introduces the uninitiated to the age recommendations around the various Lego products and sets. It starts with DUPLO at ages 1-5 and goes all the way to the Expert Builder Sets for ages 7-14.
These pages remind me of some of the famous Lego/Duplo commercial that demonstrates the interoperability of sets.
I like the cleaning instructions warning they put on this page. Lego can get pretty gross, so I guess people were cleaning them in water hot enough to break them down?
Pages 4 and 5 are all about Duplo Toys. I never had a full set of Duplo just a few random ones that were probably packed up in a bag of Lego at a garage sale. I was way more into Playplax or Bristle Blocks for really young kid building toys.
I never had these Basic Building sets, and I am not sure if I have ever encountered them. The large minifigs are pretty adorable.
Here we get an intro into the concept of Legoland, and it promises that it will be exciting to build in the past, present, and future! That is a nice way of framing their theme choices. According to the catalog itself,
Travel back in time with LEGOLAND Castle Sets. Discover what it was like to live long ago in medieval times! Mighty castles, armored knights on horseback and banners flying high create the perfect setting. So … let the fun begin!
LEGOLAND Town – There’s a lot of building to be done – and you’re in charge of the action. It won’t take long before your town is bustling with activity!
Also included in the pages is the LEGOLAND Idea Book. I was never sure what to build, and could have used one of those as a kid.
My friend collected the Castle Series, and we would attempt to use them in our Dungeons & Dragons gaming sessions a couple of times. So I always wished they had leaned into fantasy with this series. I wanted monster minifigs and large dragon play sets.
The addition of the airport to the town system was very compelling. I lived between two airports, so I was constantly watching for planes as a kid. This theming really appealed to that sky watching tendency. Sadly, I never owned anything from this collection.
I wonder why they branded their fuel offering with Exxon, but didn’t get a tie-in for the airplane?
I was still a big Star Wars fan when the first Space System sets came out, and I wanted them all. All of my sets were from this system. One that I really wanted, but never got was 6882, Walking Astro Grappler. It looks like a robot elephant, and that was very much in my wheelhouse.
On page 18, they also have a few useful accessories. They ain’t glamorous, but they are useful. Again we see the Lego Idea Book, which every kid with Lego should have gotten a copy of.
I feel like Boats could have been folded into the Town System, but I can see why they put them on their own page. After all, what kid didn’t build a boat out of Lego and hope that it would float in the tub.
Boat base system that you could build upon were a clever idea, I wish I had one of these sets as a kid.
Now we get into the big kid Expert Builder sets. I always found these sets boring because they lacked any obvious theming. What 7-year-old is looking for “technical realism?” Not this kid (or adult).
The final two pages are pure catalog, complete with order form. My family were not a credit card family at this point, so I was always confused by the mention of credit cards in order forms. I guess it was unclear to me how money changed hands in the transaction?
The best part of this form is the little bit of educational marketing they include on page 23. Here, Lego implores parents and children to help keep their product special by referring to their bricks as “LEGO Bricks or Toys” and not just “LEGOS.”
Nice try Lego! I still can’t help but refer to them as LEGOS, despite being corrected constantly by people who it appears to drive nuts.