Saturday, 25 October 2014

LEGO Police to Stake out the Swamps

LEGO have some fun with the Police sub-theme of City. Collectors have grown tired since the 2005 City re-launch (it’s nearly ten years, yikes) of the same old Police sets being released year after year, but LEGO find that Police are the best-selling City sets. What to do? Get the Police out of the City, and into the… swamps!?



This trend first started with Forest Police in 2012. Up until that point, LEGO had tended to bring in new Police products every couple of years, with Fire or Construction getting a refresh in-between. There was also the introduction of more civilian sets and smaller sub-themes such as Airport and Coast Patrol in the latter half of each year. LEGO clearly decided, however, that new Police sets were important enough to need an annual release.

But there was no point releasing a new Police Station every year. It’s debatable if it really needs changing up every two to three years. There’s no way though that little Jonny is getting a new Police Station every Christmas, especially when to the casual parental eye there aren’t always any differences at all. So Forest Police took the Police out of the town and into the dangerous terrain of the forest. To adult collectors, there were some nice new elements (not least a bear), but their annoying adult logic probably dictated there isn’t enough forest related crime to justify the levels of policing that LEGO were providing. Sure enough though, these sets were successful and kids bought into the concept that these Police had cool hats and had to track down crooks in the woods. What this theme successfully introduced was the narrative-in-a-box concept that LEGO have been pushing throughout their themes. More of these sets included a robber as well as Police, in some cases hide-outs and getaway vehicles. 

This continued with the introduction of Elite Police in 2013, which was based back in the City but with Police Officers wearing darker blue uniforms. Washing your uniform less makes you the best. This tied in with the release of LEGO City Stories, and if that game had been released on more platforms the sets may have been more successful. But by including things such as the Musuem fa├žade, the impression was given that these Elite Police weren’t just driving cars and riding motorbikes, these guys are dealing with some serious crime.


Image courtesy of Brickset.com
In 2015, Swamp Police will continue this trend. Once again, LEGO have managed to capture an atmosphere and vibe that will capture children’s imaginations, even if the reality of committing airboat based time is probably quite impractical. Pity the poor officer who is despatched to go and work in the swamp, they must have been the one who kept letting the prisoners escape through the back wall. The Swamp Police Station (60069) is one action packed set, and is better than seeing a slight modification on a standard Police Station again. These wacky off-shoots of Police provide a necessary variety in the Police range and by being loaded into the first half of the year ensure fans get something a little more traditionally City in the second half.

To finish, here are some of my ‘brilliant’ ideas for future Police themes:

  • Desert Police. A tan baseplate, a cactus, a Police HQ and ‘redneck’ Police wearing cowboy hats. Impractical escape vehicle is a horse and cart. 
  • Polar Police. Those new Arctic expedition folk need protection! A Police HQ built into the ice, impractical escape vehicle is a snowmobile.
  • Aqua Police. These guys are underwater, think of a HQ like the Aquazone bases but with obligatory cell. Impractical escape vehicle is a one-man submarine.
  • Countryside Police. This isn’t a woodland, or a swamp. Just tranquil fields. But maybe there are some apple scrumpers to track down! The Police HQ is a converted barn, and the impractical getaway vehicle is a rusty tractor.
  • Cyber Crime Police. These aren’t the most exciting sets ever released – the smallest would be a Police Officer with a computer, building up to a HQ which consists of an office with six Police Officers at computers. Lots of filing cabinets.

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