Hello! I'd like to make a thread dedicated specifically to a theme a lot of us hold dearly that even seems to be growing in popularity recently (possibly in conjunction with the recent release of the popular Western video game 'Red Dead Redemption'). So, what is there to say?
For a theme that only ran one year (edit: Actually, two years! Thanks to Norro for the correction), this theme managed to cover a lot of ground with quite a few sets. Introduced in 1996, the Western line featured four different 'factions' - which is pretty unique compared to LEGO's usual two-opposing-sides style - each with sets dedicated to them. You had the cowboys/civilians, the US Army, the bandits, and the native Americans. Interestingly, aside perhaps from the bandits, there were no dedicated "good" or "bad" groups. This is especially noticeable when you realize LEGO never released a set that featured both native American and cowboy minifigs in it, taking a very deliberate step away from the traditional "Cowboys and Indians" setup. In fact, the native American sets were released under a separate subtheme of the main Western theme. These sets were all made in 1996 and 1997, but three sets from the Western theme were reissued in 2002.
I'm not going to list them all out here, since there are two resources above that list them all out for me! The sets cover all your staples of the American spaghetti western, though: the town (3 buildings across 2 sets), the fort, the gold mine, the native American village (4 tepees across 3 sets), and associated set pieces. Price points and set sizes were generously balanced, with the central iconic sets being Fort Legoredo and Rapid River Village, originally introduced at $85 and $60 respectively, with a good number of mid-sized, small-sized, and promo sets to go with. The sets' obvious weak point is the price per piece, which tended to range rather high due to most sets having larger prefabricated pieces and baseplates.
The Western sets introduced 16 new minifigs, not counting the variations some of them had, like the three separate configurations of the Cavalry Lieutenant fig. These sets were very generous with their minifig numbers, with an average of ~4 figs per set. Notable sets in this regard are Rapid River Village, which featured 7 minifigs at a $60 price point; Fort Legoredo with 10 figs at $85, and the supplemental Frontier patrol: 3 soldiers (and a horse) for $6. Interestingly, only the native American minifigs featured new molds, as cowboy hats and bandanas had been around for a while. They did all come with a plethora of new accessories, though, such as the revolver, rifle, gold-plated horn, printed dynamite and TNT tiles, large barrel, tree stump, feathers (2 styles), snake, and more.
This theme has been kept alive by some amazing MOCS built by members of various LEGO communities, and I'd like to recognize a few of my personal favorites here as an example of the potential of the theme!
Tombclone Saloon by I Scream Clone
Colorado Springs, 1899 by Profound Whatever
Wells, Fargo & Co. Overland Express and Assay Office by Ɲ.
Stagecoach by Sir Nadroj
Mark Twain sternwheel river boat by Henrik Hoexbroe
Pif Paf City by Kris Kelvin
Riding out on a horse in a star spangled rodeo... by SlyOwl
Of course, these are just a few of many, many excellent Western-themed MOCs out there!
Eurobricks Western MOC index
Eurobricks Western Themes Review Index
Flickr Old West Group
MOCPages American Old West Group
Edited by I Scream Clone, 29 November 2010 - 11:14 AM.