Lego 6395 Victory Lap Raceway

This is the Victory Lap Raceway from Lego, which first appeared in the 1988 catalog.  This isn’t an electronic item but it is one of my proudest thrift store finds.

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Before Abbey Ann’s moved to the Tallmadge Circle they had two stores next to each other on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls, across the street from Acme.  The first store, called Abbey Ann’s #1 was located on the first floor of an old two story building with an apartment on the second floor.  It was a series of cramped spaces with low ceilings and it was filled to the brim with all manner of thrift store items.  I remember especially being on the lookout for Sega CD games in the display case by the cash register.  Next door in a much larger one story building was Abbey Ann’s #2.

Today the site of Abbey Ann’s #1 is a parking lot while store #2 has become a different furniture consignment shop called Pieces.

Unlike the cramped spaces of Abbey Ann’s #1, store #2 had much more floor space and a large front window that made it ideal for selling larger items of furniture.  They also had large sections for household items, records, and electronics so we visited often.  There was a section for toys and books along the left wall that more often then not was crammed in behind some furniture or appliances.

Most of the time the toy section was just old board games so I didn’t pay very close attention to that area.  But, one day, among the piles of board games was this Lego set.

This was remarkable to me for two reasons.

First, I can’t stress how rare it is for Lego to show up at thrift stores.  I’m not sure if people just keep their Lego for their children or if they mostly sell it at garage sales, but even buckets of unsorted Lego are rare at thrift stores around here.

Second, this set would have been 10-15 years old by the time I found it, still in the box.  The box is a bit beat up and unsealed but it’s clear that all of the original contents are still there sealed in their bags.

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Because the Victory Lap Raceway debuted in 1988 it was also in the 1989 catalog.

The 1989 Lego catalog holds a special place in my heart.  Something must have happened in 1989 where my parents decided that I had outgrown Duplo and grown into regular Lego.  That year through a combination of birthday and Christmas gifts I got the entire 1989 Lego Pirates line up, which had debuted that year.

For me, Lego was not just a toy it was the toy.  You could add parts to a set.  I didn’t like that my Black Seas Barracuda had only one deck, so I added another one.  You could take a set apart and transform the parts into something else.  I remember looking at the unique octagonal windows of the Stardefender 200 and imagining them to be the nose of a B-29.

I spent a lot of time looking at the 1989 Lego catalog.  I probably still recognize every set in it.  When I found that beat up box at Abbey Ann’s #2 I immediately recognized Victory Lap Raceway as one of the sets that I has known so dearly from the catalog, but never owned.  I also knew it was one of the more expensive sets in 1989.

I must have spent a lot of time in the Lego aisle at Toys R Us looking at all of the sets lined up in their distinctive yellow boxes.  The low and mid-range priced sets just had the yellow box.  But, you could tell the big, expensive sets because they came in large boxes with a lid that opened to reveal the set’s unique pieces suspended in see-through trays.

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The inside of the lid was filled with gorgeous zoomed in images of the different parts of the set.

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The front of the box always had a gorgeous picture of the set in action and the large red Lego logo in the right corner and a yellow “Legoland” stripe telling you which theme or “system” the set belonged to.

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The rear of the box had examples of other models you could build with the same pieces.

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The name of the set was always written in black, bold sans-serif type on the long edges of the box while the short edges had action scenes from other angles.

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I remember when I was a child looking at the 1989 catalog thinking that the Victory Lap Raceway was somewhat silly because it was just part of a racetrack.  The Black Seas Barracuda, for example, was clearly a whole ship.

In the intervening years between 1989 and when I found this set Lego went through some lean years with their set designs.  They started using fewer pieces and making the models look chunkier.  There was a point in time in the late 1990s and early 2000s that I though they were really doing a disservice to their fans by watering down their models so much.

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That period of time made me really appreciate this set and all of its little details.  Sure, there’s not too much structure, but what is there is very well done.  The stairs are made of individual pieces rather than just a single stair piece.  The decks of the grandstand walkways are made with gorgeous long flat pieces.  There appear to be no decals: All of those Shell logos and car numbers are actually on the bricks.  The way the motion picture camera travels on those flat rail pieces is brilliant.  This was Lego at it’s best.

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I’ve thought about building it.  The problem is that it’s not the sort of set that’s easily displayed or stored.  Since it has a lot of little bits that could easily get lost it seems more prudent to keep it all together in the box.

Having something like this, still in the box is incredibly special to me.  It’s like having a little piece of my childhood still there, waiting.

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8 comments

  1. Jeff

    As someone else who was very into Lego as a child, I really enjoyed reading this. It’s funny that you mention the 1989 Lego catalog – I looked at the website with the catalog images, and that’s the oldest one that I recognize (I turned six that year). That’s pretty amazing to find not only a classic Lego set in a thrift store, but an unopened one! Still, I hope you build it some day.

  2. anthropic42

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. How did you find the site?

    I also noticed on your blog that you’ve been to the Beachland Ballroom and you enjoy Neko Case. That’s awesome!

    • Jeff

      We follow each other on Twitter (my handle there is jeff3263827). Speaking of the Beachland Ballroom, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to their Rock and Roll Flea Markets, but once I picked up a Blacktron Invader there. A few small pieces were missing, but not anything that prevented the model from being built. It was really exciting; I always thought those classic Blacktron sets were so cool looking when I was a kid but they were a little too early for me to have any. It’s a rare thing to come across something like that.

  3. anthropic42

    Oh wow, I’ll definitely have to be on the lookout for the next Rock and Roll Flea Market. It looks like they do them in December?

    I think I only ever had one Blacktron set. Definitely one of the best color schemes that Lego has ever done.

    When I was little I was very much into everything space, but I kinda didn’t like the Lego space stuff. I think partially it was because I was into the real space program so I wanted realistic rockets and launch pads. Partially it was because when it came to sci-fi I was more into Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was more about starships and people not wearing space suits. Those colored, transparent Lego pieces they used for canopies were the bees knees though.

    • Jeff

      I think the Rock and Roll Flea Markets happen a few times a year. There should be one during the Waterloo Arts Festival this summer. I wouldn’t typically expect to see any Lego there, but if you like thrift store type stuff in general it would be worth checking out.

  4. anthropic42

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for that. I’m actually really excited for the Cuyahoga Falls Hamfest next weekend. Last year I found some great old computer stuff there and I’m hungry for more.

  5. Jimi W

    That’s an amazing find! I had this set as a kid – my Pop (granddad) worked for Shell before he retired so likely bought it for me for a birthday or Christmas (would have been 1989 or 1990) as an homage to those days. I would absolutely lose my mind to find this in a store still in the box! There is /no/ /way/ I would be able to resist ripping it all out and putting it together again 😀

  6. Pingback: Pioneer LaserVision LD-V2000 | Electric Thrift

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