I Had That! #17: Lego Beta-One Command Base

(For today’s “I Had That”, I’m reposting something that originally appeared on Lego Diem but is perfect for this feature.)

Adult Fans of Lego have it easy. If they see a pricey set they want, they can just get it. Never let anyone tell you that getting older is a bad thing. (Of course, some of the $200-$400 sets may not get past the Guardian of the Credit Card.)

When you’re a kid, though, the $50 and $100 sets sit on the store shelf, taunting you with their awesomeness. Such was the case for me back in 1980. The object of my desire?

Behold set 6970: Beta-1 Command Base (1980). My friends and I saw it in a catalog and were obsessed. I’m not sure what it was about the set that got us so jazzed. The short but interesting monorail bit was part of it, I know. Mostly I think was the fact that it looked so huge! The monorail was needed because they had to get all the way over to another baseplate!

Owning the Beta-1 Command Base seemed like a fantasy (we hadn’t even seen it on a shelf, just in that catalog) until my birthday rolled around, and it turned out I got a pretty tidy amount of birthday money from relatives. My dad took me to the toy store (Le Jouet, which was the fancy toy store!) to shop and there in the Lego aisle was the grail. They actually had the Beta-1 there, and I actually had enough money for it! (Peeron lists it as $37.00 but I remember it being closer to $50. And that’s fifty 1980 dollars.)

Unrelated to Lego, but also at that toy store was another item my friends and I lusted after: the Yoda Star Wars action figure:


(photo by pocketwookie via Flickr.)

I bought this as well and couldn’t wait to get home. In one trip I was suddenly going to be the envy of my entire street (which, at the time, was only two other kids). I held the Lego set on my lap and just stared at it the whole way, still not believing it was now mine.

When I got home I called my friends. “Guess what I got! The Beta-1 Command Base and Yoda!” One of them wasn’t home (his family, it turns out, had gone out of town) and the other accused me of lying. “I ain’t lying!” I said. “Come over and see!” Unfortunately, he was grounded and couldn’t come play.

My coronation as King of the Kids would have to wait.

When did I get it? Gotta be 1980, the year the Beta-1 and Yoda were released.

Do I still have it? With Lego, it’s a tough call to make, but I still have the directions for building it and the pieces that were unique (even if only to me) to this set, so I’ll say yes. I have an original Yoda, but I don’t know if it’s the same one or a replacement I got later. Probably the latter.

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