Throwback Thursday #1: 1352 Explosion Sudio
Welcome to the very first Throwback Thursday! After finishing up with Generation 1 of Bionicle, I wanted to make sure that I’m still keeping nostalgia going on the Channel, hence the idea for this series. At first we’re going to be on a bi-weekly basis, and then I’m hoping around March we can transition to Throwback Thursday occurring on a weekly basis.
Today we’re going to be covering the Explosion Studio, which I chose for not only its film background but also the exploding play feature.
Set Background & Packaging
This set was released way back in 2000 as a part of the Studios line. This line was a large collaboration between LEGO® and Steven Spielberg, who shows up in these sets as “The Director”. The largest set for this line included a camera to create brick films, making this set, and all of the others, more of a supplement. But even without the camera the set still stands on its own as a fun play set and scene to explore.
The packaging is pretty straightforward. The front of the box gives us a dynamic shot of the set in action, with a robber getting away from a bank.
The back of the box is really just three simple images of different scene variations and an indicator of how the explosion is going to be triggered.
The build was overall really simple, but really comes together once all of the sections are set into place. The only issue I had with the build was the instructions, which at the time this set was made, part callouts were not a thing, so instead you have to eagle-eye the parts to be placed at each step. At times it was brutal.
The Explosion Studio set includes four minifigures consisting of both behind the scenes roles and actors.
The Director is very clearly inspired off of the looks of Steven Spielberg. The torso print is pretty basic with a colored vest, button up, and nametag on the front. The back of his torso (Sorry for the lack of pictures) features a Director-labeled slate to identify to the rest of the crew that he's the man in charge.
The Cameraman has a similar white collared shirt along with a lanyard carrying his set I.D. The back of the Cameraman’s torso has the same slate as the Director, but is properly labeled for cameraman.
The police minifigure just oozes classic LEGO with the sunglasses, smirk, and generic Police torso print on the front.
Last up is the Robber who is wearing just a sick helmet with the light blue visor. His torso looks like a zipped up leather jacket or racing suit, it just screams I ride a motorcycle. And just in case we didn’t know he was the bad guy he’s got a briefcase and a GUN. Now I’m not certain if LEGO still makes guns for minifigs but this is absolutely hilarious and a sign of the times that were 2000. LEGO just casually released a set of someone robbing a bank with a gun and everyone probably loved it.
Given that this is a movie set after all, of course we’re going to see a Director’s chair for wanna-be Spielberg toward the edge of the baseplate.
The cameraman has a really nice dolly that he can sit in. Just as a real dolly would, the camera platform can rotate independently of the wheeled base to allow the cameraman to get some really dynamic shots of this action sequence.
And this set’s favorite felon gets a dirtbike to use as his getaway vehicle. I’m not sure if this is just because of the age of the pieces but the tires had a slimy residue on them that didn’t really wipe off, but definitely felt bizarre.
Building Components & Set Review
The main platform of the set is pretty bare when left empty. It allows you to see the full connection of the trigger mechanism to the spring-loaded pieces beneath everything. The main floor platform features the structural setup and slots for the rest of the building facade, along with a money safe and computer. The money safe is filled with chrome cold coins, which have a little extra shine since this color is no longer made by LEGO.
The doors and windows are very plain, the glass is all pre installed for the windows. Only the door requires you to snap it into place.
The main columns are made up of a square base brick and sequenced round 2x2 bricks and plates.
The roof is essentially just a 6x16 plate with some sloped light gray bricks. Behind the roof there is a little stockpile of cash and a secondary camera mounted to catch an alternate view of the getaway. The clock on the roof indicates that this scene takes place at 11:41. I was hoping that time would be a connection to Steven Spielberg, maybe Back to the Future, but it’s not. Just an ordinary LEGO piece.
My favorite asset to this set are the stage lights. They’ve got the basic construction of a light with barn doors, but when viewed straight on, the transparent center piece reflects across the chrome reflector and creates a really cool effect.
Right by the Director’s chair are two sticks of TNT and a plunger to set off the explosives. The set also includes a plate for scene setup rather than assembling the whole bank over the explosives.
The assembly of the bank is quite easy. After locking the spring-loaded piece into place, the different components are placed modularly in the different tracks.
The exploding feature is detonated by a lever next to a computer. Pressing it down pushes the spring-loaded pieces up, which produces the force to make the bank building explode. The minifigure plate that I mentioned above can be swapped in for the bank building, and can absolutely launch figures for some fun shots.
Current Pricing & Final Thoughts
This set is very cheap to get a hold of today, with its used condition price being just $30, and in new condition that only goes up to $60, which is really good for a set that’s nearly 25 years old.
Overall this set is a very simple build but it has an amazing play feature. I haven’t had this much fun with a LEGO set in a long time. The first time I was testing the explosion I genuinely had butterflies. The Explosion Studio may not look like much but this is what LEGO was about back in 2000, having fun and imagination. Frankly there should be more sets like this today that focus on dynamic play and not just the display.
The springing action is a build technique that I’m certainly backlogging for MOCs, and you should too. It’s very easy to incorporate and would certainly surprise people to hit them with a powerful explosion.
I’d highly recommend this set as a surprise gift for someone young or a big film fan. It’s a very simple set and like I said, brings a dynamic play feature and scene to the table.