Back then there were none of these licensed sets. No Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. You got a box full of bricks and had to come up with your own ideas.
"Look, mummy! I've built a house?"
"That's lovely, dear. Now go away and let Mummy drink her Jesus Juice in peace."
No wonder the imaginations of today's children have withered and petrified like horrible old plums; they don't have to do any actual work any more. It's all handed to them on a platter. "Here you are, child - take this instruction manual listing everything you must dream about tonight."
But here's a thing - if you're a person of a certain age, chances are you've built a licensed Lego set. You've either done so for one of your children, or you've done it for yourself. Lego is still marketed at kids, primarily, but this seems ludicrous; playing with any Lego set is virtually impossible for adults, let along for stupid, clumsy, youths. Bits fall off. All the time. All you have to do is look at a Lego creation, and the damn thing falls apart.
And the sets are so complicated these days that invariably bits fall off from the inside, and you'll never get them back on unless you take the whole thing apart. Lego should not be touched by any child, lest you want hours of your life wasted. This might - at least in part - account for the enduring popularity of the Lego games from Traveller's Tales...
Finally, Traveller's Tales has thrust itself lewdly into the lucrative gaming genre that is toys-to-life - beaten to it by Skylanders, Nintendo's Amiibos, and Disney Infinity. For kids, these games are potentially the best thing ever. For parents an expensive nightmare.
Dimensions, like these other games, comes with a magic platform thing, which transports physical characters - and in the case of Lego Dimensions, vehicles too - into the game when you place them upon it. In this case, those figures are genuine, bona-fide Lego toys; Lego Movie's Wildstyle, plus Batman, Gandalf and a mini Batmobile - which can be reconfigured up to three times, to solve in-game puzzles.
Extra level and adventure packs can be bought separately - we picked up a decent Portal 2 pack with ours - which opens up the game even further. Unfortunately, this is where this already expensive game gets, potentially, even more expensive.
If you want Doctor Who, and Wizard of Oz, and Jurassic World, and Back to the Future, and Newsnight, and Come Dine With Me, in your Lego universe, you're going to be shelling out some serious coinage.
But cash-flow issues aside, what's the actual game here? The action isn't terribly far removed from the previous Lego games - it just manages to mash most of Lego's brands into one. How? Because there's a reality-spanning threat, that seems directly inspired by the Lego Movie, and is a smart excuse to visit as many different Lego locations as licensing restrictions will allow. So... no visits to any universe currently owned by Disney.
Gary Oldman voices the bad guy responsible for this plot - accompanied by a, frankly, astonishing cast list (Peter Capaldi, Chris Pratt, Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Akroyd, Dan Castellaneta and Elijah Wood to name but a few).
Nicely, most of the worlds and characters from the add-on packs get a look in - although if you want to play as the characters, you'll have to spend real money... unlike earlier Lego games, where you earned extra characters in-game. However, just as with the earlier Lego games, only certain characters will grant access to certain areas. Consequently, there's no way to see everything Dimensions has to offer without - yes - spending money.
In some respects, this is the pinnacle of what these sort of games should be. Unlike the static toys of Infinity and Skylanders, you get real Lego pieces to play with. And it's great that you're encouraged to physically interact with your Lego toys while playing - moving them around the magic pad, or rebuilding them. Providing the cost doesn't get lodged in your throat, there's no doubt this is the best Lego game to date.
Additionally, it has all that trademark Lego brand humour and character, and a proper story, which makes it difficult to completely dislike. That said, we'll give it a go anyway...
As charming and lovely as Lego Dimensions is, it's hard - certainly as an adult - to play the game without feeling the clammy hand of exploitation cranking away at the game's engine.
If you're a Lego-loving adult, or you have a Lego-loving child to keep entertained, this is a license to burn money. And a license for Lego - and Traveller's Tales - to rake up the ashes of that money, and turn it into gold. There's plenty of content in the main game, but if it wasn't for the story we'd have had trouble shaking the feeling that it merely served as an advertisement for the collectible add-on packs.
We get that this issue isn't wholly confined to Lego Dimensions - all of these stick-the-toy-on-the-portal games suffer the same problem - but for anybody buying it, it's a question of asking whether there's enough enjoyment here, enough gameplay and longevity, to justify spending a minimum of 80 quid. And then another 30 to get at least one of the add-on packs to justify owning that magic portal thing.
In all honesty... we don't think there is. This is a good game, full of humour and character, and we love Lego. But realistically... this isn't £110-plus-worth of a good game... no matter how much you may yearn to see Doctor Who and Marty McFly sharing screen time with the Ghostbusters and Wicked Witch of the East. And Scooby Doo. Or Batman trying to wrap his head around the TARDIS.
SUMMARY: A fun, funny, playable, mash-up of characters and brands... put together with commendable disrespect and a tongue-in-cheek affection, but there's something cynical about the toys-to-life model that we can't get past. Why should it escape the sort of criticism normally reserved for in-game purchases?
SCORE: £68 out of £100