As much as I bemoan Christmas, there was a time when it held a great deal of magic for me, before I realized that Christmas could be very different for other people.
What gifts would I get? I can’t sleep from the excitement!
The smell of new toys is the best smell!
Putting a toy together for the first time is fun!
There was one year in which all of these sentiments seemed to come together at once, probably the last Christmas before I fully grasped that not every kid was as lucky on Christmas morning as I was.
It was 1989 or 1990, and Lego was really starting to hit its stride in terms of the sets it was offering and the creativity they afforded. I still had to improvise and make my own Lego Batman, complete with a black cape made out of felt and a mask made from black-colored masking tape—foreshadowing things to come for Lego—but the toymaker was starting to offer the beginnings of the ultra-detailed sets we see today.
One step in this inspired direction was Lego’s line of pirate-themed kits, and the Lincoln (I dislike GM, so I won’t use the term Cadillac) of all the sets in the pirate line—maybe of all of Lego in general back then—was a large pirate ship with red-striped sails: the Black Seas Barracuda.
I knew it was all I wanted for Christmas, yet I also knew, even at age 9 or 10, that the Barracuda would cost a bit of treasure for my parents to buy.
I wanted that lego set so badly that I even knew the model number of the kit (it’s 6285, as seen on the picture above). I think I knew how many pieces it had, too. Another interesting thing about the kit was that it was one of the first times I can remember Lego using something other than the little smiley faces on the little Lego people. The captain of the Barracuda had an eye patch and a beard!
Ultimately I did find the ship under the Christmas tree. It was a moment I can still remember fondly, and it also makes me realize how expensive Christmas can be for parents. Yet the fondness I have for that ship and putting it together for the first time almost makes me want to ask for more Legos this Christmas.
The Barracuda had four cannons that actually fired; a massive hull that did not float, unfortunately; canvas sails; multiple little Lego figures including a shark; and a cabin that opened from the stern of the ship. As far as Lego sets go, it was the baddest thing I had ever seen, and I rebuilt it several times in various configurations. I was quite the Lego Maniac.
I played with Legos throughout high school—though I never would have admitted it—and ultimately gave them all away to some children when I was in my 20s. Sometimes I really miss those bricks, but I know they—the Barracuda included—went to a good place and entertained those kids for many years.
What was your favorite gift you ever received?