Sunday, June 8, 2014

Writing into the Sunshine

The first stories I made up were not written down. 

I’m betting you were the same way. What is now a professional endeavor to spin wild west yarns started with a thread of imagination woven through summer tapestries. Maybe, like me, you were Lucas McCain or Annie Oakley or Roy or Dale, making it up as you went along, writing in your head, not so much into the dark, as into the sunshine.

I was also lucky enough to own a few MARX Wild West toys, and I had a pal  with the figures and accessories I didn’t have.  Saturdays and weekday afternoons, we’d combine our sets for B-matinee style adventure. 

Forty years later, Johnny West and Geronimo are comparatively still, content to perch on my bookshelf and watch over my son Wyatt, as he constructs his own series of tales.  I’m not as complacent. When, more than a year ago, he showed me the series of Lone Ranger tie-in playsets available from LEGO, I wanted one of everything. So did he. We did the math and realized, with other responsibilities already budgeted in, it would take close to a year to get it all. Maybe less if we put some stuff on the Christmas and birthday list. So before the movie came out (and this post is not about the Lone Ranger movie, but about the toys), we made our plans.

A few weeks ago, with the Comanche Camp, we finished our collection.  LEGO blocks being what they are, and with the planned obsolescence of sub-atomic sized accessories, we probably don’t have a 100% complete set even now. But collecting it all for the sake of a collection, for simply putting it on display wasn’t the point. The point was to use it to create our own adventures, or reinvent scenes from Lone Ranger books, comics, TV shows, or yes, even the 2013 movie.  (And in that sense, I guess this post is about the movie. Whatever was wrong with the Disney production, we quickly came home and fixed it through our own restaged efforts.)

I won’t run through the list of Lone Ranger LEGO playsets here. That’s for Amazon or if you’re interested. 

Just wanted to share with you two things this day, one week before Father’s Day. The first is that young people can and will enjoy all the tropes of the old west, and they’ll be eager to make up their own. Yep, even without dirty jokes or references to current pop culture. I know because I’ve seen it with my son and his friends. They simply need someone to show them the way. 

Second, my guess is that LEGO overestimated the success of The Lone Ranger and produced more than it sold. Like the Dick Tracy licensing glut of 1990, the movie was less than its hype. That said, there’s no danger of this stuff being hard to find.  So if you see the Stagecoach Escape playset, pick it up. If you see the Silver Mine Shootout, tap into it. Share them with somebody who’s young enough to reinvent the old west in new ways. Once more, you’ll be writing into the sunshine.


  1. Now this is one that brings back memories of my childhood and then that or my son. Johnny West in the family room. And of my father, who played cowboys and Indians with me, both of us wearing our ten-gallon hats and whooping it up on magnificent steeds that raced through the house driving my mother mad. Ah, them was the days.

  2. Good post, Richard. My boy is heavily into LEGOs too and we have a couple of sets. And, for the record, I didn't hate the film. There were good/not-so-good things throughout, but the final action scenes were very good.

  3. Thank you, Frank. My grandpa bought that first Johnny West for me. Meant so much!

    Scott, I thought the same re: the movie. My son came home and played Lone Ranger for hours after. Can't argue the results.

    Thanks, Doris!

  4. Rich, my son loved Legos from DAY ONE! Now, I've studied this through his growing up years, because he has an older sister (by 3 years) who LOVED to work puzzles--all kinds of puzzles--but Legos were not for her. By the same token, working a puzzle was torturous for him, but he could sit down and build anything with his Legos and Tinker Toys. I wish they'd had the Lone Ranger sets when he was little--of course we had to settle for city workers and knights, and then deep sea divers (Atlantis) and Star Wars characters. But those Lego sets provided so much fun and learning for him--and for me! Heck, he could read those instructions better than I could when he was 5 years old! LOL I never got to have a Johnny West. I was a girl. So I got stuck with BARBIE! But Ken was a cowboy in my playworld. Go to my page on FB to see a HUGE Lego rendition of Oklahoma City! My daughter and I went to Remington Park Race Track yesterday to the Red Earth Festival (Indian dancing competition/art sales) and in the very front part of the entryway was this huge wonderful display of Oklahoma City build out of Legos. It's huge! Great post--imagination starts a lot earlier than being able to write, doesn't it?

  5. There must be at least ten thousand Lego pieces in my house already. However, I might have to get these Lone Ranger sets for myself!