LEGO Time Cruisers
was a rather short-lived LEGO theme
that lasted from 1996 to 1997. It was LEGO's only attempt so far at building an entire theme around the idea of Time Travel
. The story revolved around the adventures of Dr. Cyber, his young assistant and nephew Tim, their monkey Ingo and their robot Wacco who traveled through space and time using very bizarre-looking gadgets which were fueled by spinning Hypno-Disks. To travel to a specific time, these machines depended on the power of... hats! Historical hats — pirate hats, wizard hats, knight helmets, space gear, tribal masks, basically every type of headgear from other LEGO lines that the set designers could include.
The theme's second year of production introduced an enemy faction called the Time Twisters, lead by the evil brothers Tony Twister and Professor Millennium. Their goal was to meddle with the past and steal items of value that they stored in their cylinder hats. Their crew consisted of skeletons and ghosts, for whatever reason.
Starting in 1996, the German LEGO Magazine World Club Magazine
ran a series of comics based upon the misadventures of Tim and Ali
as they traveled through The Multiverse
and visited many different LEGO lines, including LEGO Castle
, LEGO Space
, LEGO Adventurers
, and Rock Raiders
. These comics were discontinued after 2000.Time Cruisers
had a mixed reception, and nowadays mostly carries a negative connotation. "This reminds me of Time Cruisers
" cry collectors every time LEGO puts out sets that on first sight look clumsily designed or just plain random. Indeed, most of the Time Cruisers sets looked like hastily slapped-together mishmashes of sets from various earlier lines than a theme of its own. There was no unifying design theme, other than the overabundance of play gimmicks. The sets had clashing, and often garish colors and the vehicles didn't quite resemble anything
. In short, they looked more like random crap thrown together by a kid from his spare bricks, than an official LEGO line.
On the other hand, the Time Twisters faction's sets were better received, as they had an overarching and more-or-less consistent design style and color palette. Of course, these too had many playfeatues, but at least they looked like something
. If the theme is fondly-remembered for anything, then it has to be the creative gimmicks (flapping wings, spinning gadgets, bouncing skull heads) and for its impressive collection of unique LEGO items. The designers took advantage of the concept to throw in as many interesting pieces as they could: besides the hats, there were magic wands, chromed swords
, harpoons, crystals
and trumpets, grails, dynamite, suitcases
, and of course the ever-popular Orange Transparent Chainsaw
. Even if they were questionable as models, there's no denying that the sets were good part-bags.
Guides and info about the mere seven sets of the line can be found here
. Information on the World Club Magazine
comics can be found here
, with English translations compiled here
Tropes seen in this LEGO theme :
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Tony Twister of the Time Twisters with his Twisted Time Train and Time Tunnelator.
- Animal Motifs: Bats for the Time Twisters.
- Alternate Universe: Apparently there's also a bit of this present within The Multiverse, since Tim apparently meets two different universes' versions of Dr. Kilroy; one is named Professor Articus, is Dr. Cyber's brother and immediately recognizes Tim, has a full beard, and his lifelong dream is to discover the portal to Armeron, while the other is named Professor Titus, does not recognize Tim, has mutton chops, and cares mostly about finding a T-Rex egg.
- Continuity Nod:
- Cool Train: The Twisted Time Train.
- Crossover: All the hats used in this line are taken from other LEGO themes, allowing the time travelers to visit those other themes. This was taken to its logical conclusion in the comics.
- Dub Name Change:
- In the UK, Tony Twister becomes Baron Blomberg and Professor Millennium was known as Commodore Schmidt. They're still siblings, though.
- In some European catalogs, Tim is called both Tim and Max.
- The monkey's name is Ingo in the US and UK, and Ali in Germany.
- The robot's name is Cranky in the US and Wacco in Europe.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: In the comics, Tim's full name is revealed to be Tim Timebuster, but in the earlier comics he's called Tim Time Cruiser.
- Everyone Is Related: As confirmed by Word of God, Tim is Dr. Cyber's nephew. Dr. Cyber is also the brother of (at least one version of) Dr. Kilroy, who is the uncle of Johnny Thunder, who is the father of Josh Thunder. That's one unusually-large family tree for LEGO. And then, if we consider the possibility that Tim and Max Timebuster are related...
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Ingo.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: A lot of spinning functions across the theme, including the Hypno-Disks which are responsible for powering the time machines.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The time-travelers seem to have picked up a little bit of everything from all the LEGO worlds they have visited.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Tony Twister's black leather jacket.
- If It Swims, It Flies: The fittingly-named Flying Time Vessel is a ship with wings that flies through spacetime. Time operates a flying boat in the Magic Mountain Time Lab set.
- The Multiverse: The World Club Magazine comics' interpretation of the LEGO Universe. Tim and Ali don't travel so much through time as they do between universes, and each universe is host to one to three different LEGO themes.
- Mythology Gag: "Timebuster" is also the surname of Max Timebuster, a criminal from the LEGO Town theme.
- Nonstandard Character Design: both Tim and Dr. Cyber have more cartoony-looking eyes than what was the norm for LEGO Minifigures of the time (Dr. Cyber even looks cross-eyed), and Tim also has a nose.
- The Noseless: Tim is one of the few LEGO characters to avert this. It's so weird that even the Detective has investigated it.
- Punk Punk: "Random LEGO parts from the bin"-punk for the Cruisers, "haunted castle"-punk for the Twisters.
- Time Travel: Mostly the casual kind, although the Time Cruisers make a point of not interfering too much with the past or future.
- Time Machine: Every vehicle featured in this line. In the comics, Aquanaut scientist Professor Hydronis builds a device called the "Time Zapper", which can turn any vehicle Tim finds into a time machine.
- Time Travel for Fun and Profit: The Cruisers do it for fun, the Twisters for profit.
- Wind-Up Key: Wacco has one on his back.