If you want to invest in a toy that will provide you with years of entertainment, grow with your family and feed your children's imagination, then Lego City is the toy to go for. This iconic toy has been around in various incarnations for 35 years.
Its first version was Lego Town, which was also the point where Minifigures were first introduced in 1978. Since then it has been revamped several times under the name of Legoland Town, World City and Town Junior. Lego City in its current form was introduced in 2005 and is still one of the most popular ranges produced by Lego.
For collectors and fans of the early City sets, the first kit was the 10159 Airport, and one that is definitely worth watching out for. Mint condition collectibles do occasionally turn up on eBay at an affordable price, but the real attraction of this best-selling range is that it is actually a selection of different sub-themes that all fit together to build up a unique cityscape. These sub-themes include:
* Trains and Transportation
* Additional extras and generic kits
Lego Cities for 5 Years and Under
Lego City starts with a bright and colourful selection that is suitable for younger children, which is also compatible with Duplo. It is easy to start collecting Lego City, as basic kits come with some generic blocks, bricks and pieces that are freely available and fully interchangeable with Lego City kits. It is easy to add to the basics by checking online and in particular on eBay. As Lego City is such an adaptable concept, there are no set rules as to how a city collection should develop. This is what makes Lego Cities so attractive. Rather than having a fixed design like many of the kits available, it lets the imagination take control and allows the builder to dictate how the collection develops.
The Emergence of Lego City Computer Games
The development of Lego City also led to the introduction of Lego Minifigures or Minifigs, as they became known. Over the years these cheerful characters have developed their own unique personalities. In recent years some very character-driven Minifigs have emerged that have also been immortalised in computer games. For example, there is Undercover Cop 'Chase McBain', whose mission is to catch a gang of robbers dressed clowns. In the three-dimensional 'real' world, Minifigs are just as popular, but perhaps a little less constrained by the pre-programmed parameters of a video game and more susceptible to a child's imagination instead
Minifigures bring real character to a cityscape, and can help children develop the art of storytelling and even encourage empathy and a better understanding of how people interact. The act of building a Lego City also improves dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination. City building can be a solitary hobby, or it can be a chance for children to play together and build strong social bonds.
Some of the early cities are now highly collectable, and thanks to the almost-indestructible nature of Lego there are many rare kits that are still in circulation today. Look online or on eBay to find mint condition box sets of the early Lego City and Lego Town kits. Because the design of Lego hasn't changed since its conception, even the earliest Lego City and Lego Town kits are fully compatible with more modern kits.
Lego City uses many of the generic building blocks that make up the basic Lego range, but there are also specialised extras that are available in the City range. When buying online or on eBay collectors will usually find that these extras are grouped according to the sub-theme, but that doesn't mean that there has to be an existing train station in order to add on a train track, for example. As always with Lego, the only limits are the confines of the builder's own imagination.
Once the basics are in place, it is time to start introducing new elements into a Lego City. A fire department will keep the population safe, a police department is perfect for foiling any criminals and a train station will help transport the Minifigures around the town.
Although Lego City parts can be bought individually, recently kits have been introduced that develop specific storylines and events in the life of Lego City. These kits, however, are designed to be evergreen and can be used as a springboard for creating other scenarios and stories.
One of the most popular Lego City ranges is the Fire sub-theme. This includes everything from a fully accessorised fire truck with two accompanying fire fighter figurines to the wonderfully quirky 'cat in a tree' rescue kit, where the fire chief saves the day and the kitten. The fire helicopter comes complete with winch, while out on the water a fireboat is all set to rescue two racing boat sailors who have got into difficulties.
Keeping law and order in Lego City is the Police. Story-specific kits create various scenes such as a robbery at the museum, while out in the woods two robbers Minifigures are trying to fight off a bear and collect their stash of gold bars. The streets of Lego City are patrolled by a selection of elite Police Minifigures, fully equipped with everything from helicopters and SUVs to mobile police stations and a state-of-the-art police station.
Lego City is a hive of industry too, with a busy mine where the Minifigures are digging for gold. Miners need plenty of equipment, so they have all the latest excavators, tippers and loaders to transport their rocks back to the processing plant and get the gold.
Lego City has joined the space race, with rockets and space shuttles ferrying Minifigures to the moon and back. While they are there, they can go exploring using the lunar rovers, or help make sure Lego City's satellites go into orbit using the space shuttle. Lego City Space kits are available on eBay and are ideal for older children who have an interest in the stars.
The residents of Lego City need to get around, and a comprehensive selection of Lego train kits is available online and on eBay to build up a complete railway system. A wide selection of flexible track sections means that even awkward obstacles can be circumnavigated, and a fully accessorised train station complete with pedestrian bridge brings an added dimension of realism to playtime.
Lego City Board Game
As well as computer game spin-offs, Lego City has also spawned a board game that the whole family can play. Just like any other Lego kit it is a self-assembly kit. Then it is time to play The Chase - an exciting game where players will need to think ahead if they are going to steal the money without getting caught by the police.
Hard-to-find Lego City rarities
Lego City is a very organic world that can be built up according to your own plans. But like all Lego ranges, there are some hard-to-find Lego City rarities that collectors are always on the lookout for. The best place to find these is online and in particular on sites such as eBay, where there are plenty of opportunities to expand a Lego City with kits at affordable prices.
Lego Cities is iconic, and as much loved today as it was when it first burst onto the toy scene in 1978. From its first incarnation as Lego Town to today's high tech video game spin-offs, Lego City has been inspiring a generation of children and adults for over 35 years. Early kits in the series are now becoming highly sought after by collectors, while new kits are sending Lego City up into space and deep underground. Whether you're a dedicated collector or have children who love creating their own unique world, eBay is the ideal place to hunt down rare early box sets or even a single Minifigure to complete a police station or fire engine kit.