Peppermint_M

Action and Adventure Themes: A History

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A History

Hello Eurobricks users! I am here to explain, educate, inform and entertain with an article on this very subforum you are reading. Whether you are a regular to this section or are here because you accidentaly clicked something on that pesky touchscreen (you could have sworn you tapped that other one, right?) I hope you bear with me and take a look at Action and Adventure Themes.

Action and Adventure Themes

Here is an elegent and finely crafted timeline-ish of Action and Adventure themes. Spanning 1995 right up to the here and now of 2015 (twenty years..Peppy feels old).

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Subthemes missed for space, else this baby would be massive-er, Click to embiggen..

Just what is an Action and Adventure Theme?

Action and Adventure Themes isn't an official LEGO name, while Pirates, Town and Technic are taken from current or past LEGO branding, Licensed is pretty much self explained and Star Wars is a no-brainer. Action and Adventure came about as a place for some of the outliers that needed a home. Story driven themes that had named characters front and centre with a mission or quest to undertake. Of course, plenty of SciFi themes have a storyline and named characters but Action isn't quite SciFi.

Those themes just aren't Skiffy enough to be SciFi or normal enough to live in Town.

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ATV, Goodguy, Badguy.

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ATV, Goodguy, Badguy... Giant Space Mantis

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ATV, Goodguy, Badguy... A Badguy made of Toxic Slime.

Sure, there are helicopters and motorboats, even ATVs that would happily fit into a City, but that chap there has a super lazer and he is chasing a man made out of radioactive slime. Not enough spaceships or aliens, but too much toxic ooze and lazers.

There are a few more features of an Action and Adventure theme. Take a look at some Classic advertising I have re-discovered.*

*X Soft, a big ol' nostalgia bomb!

You might have noticed a little something. There was some sort of linking line through all of them that can be found even in the latest (including the one marketed at girls) Action and Adventure themes.

Collecting things!

Collections and Crystals

It is a surefire perfect way to get people buying and buying, or more accurately getting children to ask for/demand all the things. A Collection gimmick. Gotta Catch 'em all! To do that you have to buy all the sets, from that nicely priced set a little pocket money will get, right up to the huge cornerstone big-box build that has a princely sum attached. There are Baddies to be captured, keys in all forms, weapons that grant powers, weapons that will grant a bad-guy a power the good-guys have to stop. They come in pretty colours with printed designs and all fit neatly into something on the biggest set. All of them are unique and only one in each of the sets.

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Unlock the gates, collect the weapons, stop Pharaoh getting his mummy mitts on the kit!

If it isn't unique things to collect it is something a little more basic. Crystals! Lots and lots of crystals. Amass more than the enemy or enemy factions, collect them with a cool play feature or fight it out with a game mechanic. They came in all sorts of colours and finishes, shapes and sizes and reasons to collect. Power source or valuable commodity, you have to get more crystals than the other guys.

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A gemstone. A Chi Crystal

While some in-story were more generic and had less of a reason to collect them (or it was outright unexplained) those Action and Adventure theme factions sure loved their crystals. Like I mentioned earlier, these were not just lying around to be picked up. Sometimes you have to play a little game.

Game on!

Another thing that sets Action and Adventure themes apart from the more mundane of real-life roleplay are games to build and play.

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A section of the game, complete with a nifty plane!

While Time Cruisers was the first Action and Adventure theme to have a board game, the game itself was separate from the sets and came with some LEGO as playing pieces. The Adventurer's Orient Expedition Theme had a trio of linkable game-boards and playing cards included in the three larger sets. Through a combination of item collection and challenges you earned points to win the game.

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Game Cards featuring heroic characters

After quiet a hiatus filled with Video Games and an increasing internet mini-game presence a new Action Theme arrived with a new and exciting game. Ninjago!

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Spinjitzu Warrior

Combining the age-old game of battling tops (gasing pangkah - look it up!) and playing cards, with the popular characters of colourful Ninjas, Ninjago has been going strong for four years. While there has been a spinner-less gap of late, it is set to make a return to a battle game later this year. There isn't much more to be said about this subject, something I am sure other members could tell me more about!

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Card Games On Motorcycles!

With the success of the Ninjago theme there was another attempt to combine a toy and card battle game with Legend of Chima. Flywheel powered Speedorz, launched along by the rip-cord, can navigate obstacles to win Chi crystals. After a slightly unfortunate redesign of the 'fairing' no further speedorz are coming along and Chima is ending, but not every theme can last as long as some.

Videogames

As well as the good old chunks of plastic pitted against each other in competition, Action and Adventure Themes have a number of computer games to go alongside the storys told in comics and internet material. There have been many LEGO Multimedia games and characters from Action and Adventure themes have featured in them in varying roles. However Rock Raiders was the first Action and Adventure Theme to have a game to itself.

*I miss the old LEGO Media bit, that soundbite!

On Playstation and PC, you collected the energy crystals to help the heroes escape the mystery planet and return home.

Alpha Team was next to get the game treatment, with a PC and Gamboy Colour release. (Aaand now I have to go and sit in a corner and feel old, have a video.)

*I miss the old LEGO Media bit, that soundbite!

**and that is why Cam and Dash are my LEGO OTP

More recently Ninjago has been bringing the goods with the Battles strategy game, Nindroids and upcoming sequel Shadow of Ronin. The RPGs supplied to us by Travellers Tales, purveyors of fine LEGO gaming experiences since 2005.

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So Now you Know and Knowing is Half the Battle.

I hope this article has informed and entertained. Action and Adventure themes have always been my favourite. Fun, strange, sometimes packed with radical new ideas. Certainly loaded with colourful characters and colourful parts. Action and Adventure themes cane burst into life and fizzle out quickly or have a staying power no one expected but always pack in plenty for us to remember. Who knows what will be coming up? Will we dive down to the seabed again or dig out some crystals? Is there a daring Explorer ready to venture out into the unknown? Or some new and unexpected direction to give us even better prints, parts and colours to enjoy?

Whatever it is, I hope we all get to come along for the ride!

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Nice write-up. Here's some info you might find interesting...

The Alpha Team theme was based on the game (which came out a year before the sets), and the characters, locations, etc were all designed by the game developers (and they changed quite a lot throughout the game's development): http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=85196

Also, Time Cruisers started as a character named Max Timebuster who appeared in various commercials, catalogs, etc in 1993-94. A Time Cruisers comic series was launched in 1994 as well, about a character named Tim Timebuster traveling between various time periods/themes. The Time Cruisers sets didn't appear until 1996, and the theme was discontinued in 1997... But the comic it was based on continued into 2000! http://www.rockraidersunited.com/topic/4820-lego-time-cruisers-comics/

Edited by jamesster

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Thanks for posting this Peppermint_M. Some things I didn't know and some I had forgotten. Aquazone has always been one of my favorites, and I have never seen the tv commercial for it.

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Thanks jamesster, that is stuff I missed, what with being a small child/pre-teen at the time! the LEGO Book(s) were useful for research but a lot of the old magazine and comic stuff has been hard to track down beyond some mentions it exist(ed).

I thought to make this article after all the times I had to explain Action and Adventure themes. I am thinking of doing a few more articles like this focusing on the specific subthemes history and features.

I loved looking at the old advert videos too adventurer, I got a little caught up in the first place because of all the other ads X Soft posted!

I'm glad you all found it informative.

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Great post Peppy! And a super definition of what Action and Adventure Themes is all about :thumbup:

I learned a few things myself that I thought I already knew :blush::sweet:

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What an interesting article about the differences and similarities of the A&A themes! Well written, Peppy!

I was half expecting a rundown on each theme as well, but it's no big deal.

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Great essay! Also a good introduction to kids who just watched TLM but has no knowledge for Johnny at all.

I'm not sure how the original story of TC pulled out, but the first chapter looks like the prototype for Clutch Powers too :p.

It just came to mind that Elves seems to lack the "game spirit" for some reason. If regarding as another theme with cartoon story advertising, it has no action toys like spinners or speedorz, nor does it have any card/board game featuring the characters' power. I think strategy games should relate to girls more easily than action ones, and girls actually like to collect cards with beautiful portraits.

Edited by Dorayaki

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I'm glad everyone enjoyed it! Like I said Kalle, it is always something I end up explaining to other LEGO fans and once Elves was added I had a few questions directed my way.

I'm glad you liked the videos, I had to hunt them down and there is a media limit even to staff so I had to miss a few I wanted to put in!

Sandy: I have plans for each subtheme to get a full rundown and write-up about each theme(Underwater, Spies etc) coming up, this was my generalised introduction style post. Hopefully you'll come back to read those once I have them made!

Dorayaki, Elves does have the unique key collection that fits in to the Action dynamic, I think there is a media app connected with the release too but not 100% sure (there is also a thought there may be webisodes like Monster High and Everafter High have). Plus we never know what success may promote later!

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So, why is Rock Raiders counted as an Action Theme when it actually belongs to Sci-Fi?

Why does it actually belong to Sci-Fi?

If you look at any Action and Adventure themes from another angle you could put it somewhere else.

I used The LEGO Book (Expanded and fully Revised) for some of my fact checking. (Its a great book if you've not seen it). All the themes looked after here in Action and Adventure were detailed in a chapter/section called LEGO Adventure.

Journey to a world of buildable adventures, where the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and there's always another battle for the fate of the city, the ocean, or the planet waiting just around the corner! These classic and modern LEGO themes have taken kids of all ages from the Earth's inner core to a near future filled with rampaging dinosaurs, and even a wild trip through time itself. Fasten your supercar seat belt and power up your giant robot, becuase the LEGO adventures are just getting started.

The only theme detailed there that is not in Action was Exo Force, and everyone agrees that a specific Mecha theme fits into Sci-Fi better than Action. So if even TLG keeps it recorded like that, I think we're okay to have Rock Raiders here.

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Why does it actually belong to Sci-Fi?

If you look at any Action and Adventure themes from another angle you could put it somewhere else.

I used The LEGO Book (Expanded and fully Revised) for some of my fact checking. (Its a great book if you've not seen it). All the themes looked after here in Action and Adventure were detailed in a chapter/section called LEGO Adventure.

The only theme detailed there that is not in Action was Exo Force, and everyone agrees that a specific Mecha theme fits into Sci-Fi better than Action. So if even TLG keeps it recorded like that, I think we're okay to have Rock Raiders here.

But Rock Raiders takes place on not only an alien planet, but in a seperate galaxy to our own (the video you used to refer to it earlier even features the spaceship the Rock Raiders used). I'm not trying to debate you or anything, just that really it's a sci-fi theme even if the core (no pun intended) line never features space in any way. I suppose it doesn't matter anyway.

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Oh LEGO videogames on the pc... with their super-lagg-y runtime and the weird animations.... ah, those were the days ;D

Awesome write-up, I lived through all these much like yourself! A truly fantastic article!

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But Rock Raiders takes place on not only an alien planet, but in a seperate galaxy to our own (the video you used to refer to it earlier even features the spaceship the Rock Raiders used). I'm not trying to debate you or anything, just that really it's a sci-fi theme even if the core (no pun intended) line never features space in any way. I suppose it doesn't matter anyway.

I think the not-featuring-space is what seals it. I never played the game, but had a few sets and it was (and still kind of is) one of my favorite themes. Until reading this, I had no idea it took place on an alien planet.

I think when determining things like this that videos, games, and other media--while informative--kind of take a back seat to the sets themselves, unless of course they feature prominently in the sets. As you said, space doesn't at all, really. But you're right, it isn't too terribly important.

Fun post, Peppermint! I look forward to your follow-ups!

Edited by rodiziorobs

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Sometimes it confuses me as well - for example, a Space Shuttle set that's counted as Sci Fi.

Anyway, nice article. I never liked the Lego Mania adverts, fortunately for me there are versions without it.

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Love the crystal evolution. Marvelous!

Did anybody ever buy the Galaxy Squad sets?

:look: I don't know if that's some type of insult to that line, but I bought some sets, and so far that has been one of my favorite lines to date.

Even though that belongs in Sci-Fi, not here.

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:look: I don't know if that's some type of insult to that line, but I bought some sets, and so far that has been one of my favorite lines to date.

Agreed. I don't know what the constant trash talking of Galaxy Squad is about- I thought it was a brilliantly executed line. I love MOCing, but almost the whole line recieved only finishing touches from me... they were just too cool. The various teams, the variety of the vehicles, the color schemes, and the two races were all very pleasing to me.

I am still holding out, hoping it may return again. A beautiful evolutionary generation of the Space line to me.

I read somewhere that much of the inspiration for Galaxy Squad came from the unused deigns from the unreleased wave of Space Police 3. I can see that evolution, if so. Can anyone confirm if that is true?

And Peppermint, thanks for the write-up... it was a fun read!

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Last year we got him in The LEGO Movie, and now this.

I think LEGO could be testing the waters for something else....

(And we got an official year for the Adventurers Egypt subtheme!)

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