This week we are looking at more than just one set as this summer will see the arrival of a brand new City set – 60132: Service Station. This is the first gas/petrol/service station we have seen for a few years but I noticed one thing it’s missing unlike the classic sets of the past is a base plate! Anyway I thought it would be good to cast our minds back to when LEGO knew what the consumer liked and wanted, with a look at the best stations from over the years.
Please note this is not every one ever released but the ones I think LEGO did a great job at and something all new sets should aim to be better than. I think you will agree these are all better than the one coming out this summer?
So here are my picks – think of any better then let me know in comments below.
First up is a set from 2 years before I was born from 1980. This one was an Exxon Gas station. Gas/Petrol – depends where you live what you call it – but for this we will stick to the official LEGO names. This was a US only retail set and came with 267 parts, 3 minifigures and the all-important baseplate. These old light grey baseplates allowed for plenty of building either side and I think recently LEGO have forgotten how important these parts were to young builders. The highlight for me is the cowboy filling up at the pump. These days you can pick a used set up in a decent condition on Bricklink from £50 upwards. I’ve not managed to find anyone selling a MISB version though.
Next we zoom forward 3 years to 1983 and the Shell service station where we got 261 parts and another 3 minifigures. This time we got a motorbike with screen, car and tow truck and the set featured the Shell branding on the pumps, station worker and signage. I love the roof over the station forecourt and the baseplate was a new version with a lay-by for cars to pull into the pumps. I couldn’t find any information on the RRP back in 1983 but a used one these days will set you back at least £28 which isn’t bad. Again, no one was selling a MISB version on Bricklink.
Another 3 years and a new station. This time we get 291 parts but only 2 minifigures and an updated tow truck. The truck is a major improvement on the ’83 model and the station itself is on a new baseplate seen in only 2 sets. It allows for the pumps to be in the middle of the forecourt and makes the station look a lot more modern. It’s the set I feel is the best of the 3 so far with my favourite piece being the car jack! It retailed at $25.50 back in ’86 and would now cost you at least £30 for a used one, but if you want one MISB then get ready to spend £541.00!!!
For our next pick we move into the 90s with an Octan-themed station. Packaged with 470 parts it dwarfs our last 3 sets. 3 minifigures, two trucks and a car is also included. You also get to go through the car wash in this set. The baseplate is different again with green for grass effect and a grey printed road in the middle. Like the ’86 set the pumps are in the middle of the road so you can fill up from both sides. You also get a rather OTT roof connecting the shop to the pumps. Back in 1992 this set retailed at $52 USD. A used one is on sale for just over £25 and a MISB is just over £100 on Bricklink. So if you want an Octan station this is a decent pick.
Our only City pick from 2007, some 15 years after our last set. Gone is the tow truck though yet another baseplate is given in the set, this time in the modern dark bluish grey. The station is limited with only one pump, a smaller roof and no car jack :-(. Parts wise we have dropped from 470 in the last one to 402 but we do get 3 minifigures. Retail price was £29.35 / $39.99 but personally it’s the weakest of the all the sets we’ve featured so far. You can pick up a second-hand set for under £25 and a MISB for just over £40. Even though I think the older ones are better I do think the 2016 version is weaker still.
However, for me the best station ever has to be from 1988.
6394: Metro Park & Service Tower
Coming in with not one, but two baseplates and 620 pieces altogether, it is the ultimate LEGO station and something I highly doubt LEGO will ever do again on this scale (the closest LEGO got was 4207: City Garage from 2012). The set back in ’88 cost $58.25 but we got 6 minifigures, 3 cars, a motorbike and two trucks. We also had a multi-storey car park complete with cars on one baseplate and then a gas station complete with shop on the other. For me this set had everything you would want for your city. If you were to get any, then this would be my pick. A second-hand version would set you back in the region of £50 but for a MISB it would cost a staggering £2,111.60! on Bricklink.
So there you go – a look back at the stations over the years. Do you think I missed out any that were better? Did you own any of these and if so, what were your memories?