I can't remember exactly which one came first, but I know two of the first LEGO sets I ever got were this LEGO City Fire Car:
And the original LEGO Star Wars Twin Pod Cloud Car:
I can remember that specific Lobot minifigure being one of my favorites. He came with a walkie-talkie piece that I unfortunately misplaced.
As far as I can remember, those were my first ever exposure to LEGO, but I was never really a LEGO freak. I had a healthy love of System at all times in my life, but the real start of my journey was in 2006, when I was introduced to Bionicle. This is my true origin story.
It's the summer of 2006. I'm around 6 years old, probably about to turn 7 soon at that point. My older brother, who was about 9 at this time, had a friend from up the street. He was moving away, and because of this he had some toys he no longer wanted that he gave to my family. From this kid's sister, my sister got this gigantic Barbie plane (that was later melted by being too close to a heater...yikes). And to my brother this kid gave his entire collection of Bionicle.
Now, my brother isn't the LEGO type. He was the sports kid who would have much rather preferred a basketball or something, so naturally he decided to give that massive Bionicle collection to me. And what a collection it was.
I was presented with a number of big plastic boxes, the kind with the locks on the lids that kept the contents safe in case of water or wind or whatever. Inside these boxes were an entire pastiche of mangled Bionicle figures including a half-built Nui-Rama (missing his companion), a whole bunch of assorted random Technic bits, a couple of Throwbots and RoboRiders (sans the canisters), a Kohrak, a Lerahk, three Mctoran (Hewkii, Macku, and Kongu), Turaga Onewa, a Tahu Nuva, a Kopaka Nuva, and my greatest treasure: all six original Toa Mata (which have canisters that look different to the ones I typically see nowadays. Mine don't say Technic on them, they're just Bionicle, and they don't rotate to show the other Toa sets).
Along with those toys came a whole myriad of promotional material from '01 and '06 and a couple random things like a few of the trading card game cards. I immediately took to all of it. I didn't understand the lore at all for quite a while, I first thought they were robots and attempted to call them all by their set numbers. There was a brief phase after that were I took to calling them by human names. I don't even know when it all started to make sense for me. I think one of the Bionicle dictionaries and a bunch of the books were also included in there, so I probably started to read those and got a sense of the world.
It was a strange sort of catch-up for me. By this time the Inika and Piraka were just being released. I can remember going to Bionicle.com and playing the Piraka minigame. I remember "Yo Yo Piraka." But at the same time I was learning all the Golden Age stuff. I would act out the books with my Mata figures as my mom read them to me, not understanding a word. I never experienced MNOG or any of those things people typically have nostalgia for, but yet I became familiar with this world.
Eventually my interest grew to obsession levels. I got Mask of Light on VHS. I got some of the Gameboy games. I got Bionicle The Game for the Gamecube (I remember reading about the Makuta boss fight online, and at the time I didn't know what he looked like, so I imagined him as a gigantic Bohrok). I got all the other movies, gawking at all the cool stuff I missed like the Visorak and the Toa Metru. Eventually, I caught up by '07 and got a few of the Mahri. I even got my first Titan, Maxilos and Spinax, probably the coolest thing I had ever got at that time. I remember not knowing how the pistons worked.
I remember all the old Bionicle.com videos and games. I remember The Singing Squid back when it was actually on the site. I can remember being mega hyped when the Phantoka and Mistika came out. I got Lewa and Kopaka for various holidays. I got Onua Mistika as a Secret Santa gift. I even got Titan Takanuva and the Axalara T9! That stuff blew my mind back then. Then '09 rolled around. I got Gresh as a reward for learning to dive off a diving board. I got Gelu as another gift. I got The Legend Reborn on DVD.
All the while I'm reading the comics, the books. I knew a lot of the lore by now. The Stars came out and I got Tahu and Gresh, my two favorites. I was entranced by the stop motion shorts they produced.
And then, just like that, I learned it was ending. It shattered my heart. I never really thought that something I loved so much could come to an end. I didn't understand why at that time, I was only about 9 or 10.
I remember being heartbroken. I remember hating Hero Factory when it came out. I remember plotting with my friends that we were gonna boycott HF and make them bring Bionicle back. Those were different times.
Eventually though, I moved on. Heck, I even started to enjoy Hero Factory (I did, indeed, buy some sets. I got Stormer). I got older, still making MOCs and keeping Bionicle alive in my heart. I found the online community around 2014 and started posting MOCs on MOCPages (RIP). Joined the Boards in 2015. I don't need to recount the G2 days, those are all chronicled here.
Recently though, I've been falling away from MOC making, and from LEGO as a whole. I've never had the largest collection or a lot of money, so parts have always been in low supply for me, and my interests have moved to other areas. But I'm in a place of contentedness. What MOCs I do have, I love. I engage with the community still in my own ways, and still have an appreciation for MOCs and for LEGO on the whole. I buy a few sets here and there.
Bionicle, and LEGO in general, aren't as much a part of my life as they used to be. But still, it's one of my fondest journeys. I'm feeling nostalgic just writing this recount. And as I've said before on these Boards, Bionicle will always be an influence on me. It inspires me in all the things I do now instead of LEGO, and that's something I cherish forever.