Simon

Early LEGO History (1949 - 1965)

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Greetings, Folks;

FYI - I have just started a project that I have been contemplating over and researching about for more then a year, which involves the early history of LEGO, roughly speaking the period from 1949 to 1965. The aim of the project is to complete, as good as technically possible, and common-sensically viable, the Rebrickable set- and part-catalog for this period, 1949-1965, which includes the Automatic Binding Bricks period (1949-1953), the LEGO Mursten period (1953-1955), and the LEGO System I Leg period (1955-1965), which evolved into LEGO System somewhere between 1966 and 1970.

Right now we have 231 sets for the years between 1950 and 1965, but we are missing the famous 700 series, the Gift Sets or House Basic Sets that started the LEGO history in 1949; and as to the supplemental sets from that period, their inventories are rather inaccurate, to say the least, and, in some cases, flat out wrong. The same can be said for parts; we have many, but certainly not all, of the most basic parts from this period, but, especially for the Automatic Binding Bricks, we are missing most of the windows and doors and many of the multi-slotted bricks.

This is not surprising, of course, as much of the data about these sets and parts dates back to 2008 and before; and during the last decade, much more information has become available which has, up till now, not been integrated in the catalogs of the major LEGO sites. As far as I can tell, Brickset has even less then we have (sets only), and while Bricklink does have more sets and vintage parts, they lack the inventories for the first years. Furthermore, the Bricklink inventory system doesn't apply very well to vintage supplementary sets, when LEGO used the same set-number for boxes that could contain each of the available 5 or 6 different colors. The multi-inventory feature of Rebrickable, however, is perfect for these kind of sets.

So, for the next few month, I hope to be able to add and correct a lot of these sets and parts, and any ideas, or remarks, or any other form of involvement I get from the readers of this forum, will be greatly appreciated.

Take care,
Simon

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it hard to be an expert on a era that was before you where born. first of all you need to handle the loose brick sales that was going on back then. you simply bought pieces one by one. this means some parts never had a set. You also need to split the sets in the proper colors. ie one box was either a single color or two colors not all combinations.

then we have all the different language and font styles of all those printed bricks that is very region/year based rather then set based. this can be solved with multiple inventories but it would be hard to find out when those changes happened.

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Biodreamer;

I was born in 1957, and got my first LEGO on my fifth birthday, in 1962. So, at least I experienced the last part of that period. -smile-

Those individual bricks, we already have some of them (see 1950 and 1954). but, I agree, the inventories of these sets are completely wrong; some even show bricks with bottom tubes that were introduced in 1957. I've got that on my to-do list, just as spitting inventories in individual colors. As to vintage printed bricks, you're right, that's a real head-ache, but if I can get good pictures of these bricks, I can, at least update the part catalog and get rid of all those "missing images". As to the release year, well, we'll start by talking an educated guess, and when proven wrong, it only takes a few seconds to change that.

Right now I am looking at the following websites for reference material:

   http://www.miniland.nl/
   http://www.leggodt.nl/items/lego/leggodt.php?language=en
   https://www.inverso.pt/legos/index.htm
   http://brickfetish.com/index.html
   http://jc-tchang.philohome.com/histoire/abb.htm

If anyone knows about other websites that have information on early LEGO history, please post the URLs.

I am also trying to get into contact with Mr. Gary Istok; I read many of his articles about LEGO history, and he probably knows more about this subject then anyone else alive, so if any of you know Gary, or could get in contact with him, please PM me.

I have been in contact with Gary Istok, he is current working on his 9 Volume LEGO Encyclopedia, and when he finishes his book deals (in 6 months or so), he may have time to help.

Edited by Simon
typo and update

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To be sure, when I was 5 years old, this is what I would dream about:

A Marklin train, combined with HO-scale LEGO scenery and cars...

marklin.jpg

And you know what - I still have a Marklin train set, and I still love to build HO-scale houses... LOL

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Well I only got my father's Lego and was born 1978, so just when lego introduce proper minifigs. And learn to build Lego in larger scale, with working doors etc. 

and if I wanted to build something like that I would have to use my fathers feischmann collection, I wish it was märklin, then it would have been worth more and be easier to sell. Right now it just take up a lot of storage space. I rather build it with Lego grey 12V train system in minifig scale.

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Folks, I really need your advice.

During the 50-ties and more even in the 60-ties, LEGO sold supplemental sets in small boxes, and for bricks these boxes came in 6 different colors. An example would be 918-2, that consisted of 21 2 x 4 Bricks, in either red, white, blue, yellow, transparent or black. So this 918 box only contained 21 bricks.

However, in the inventory for 918-2 you will find all 6 colors, each 21 bricks, and so the part count for the set is 126 parts. This, I think, is clearly wrong. If you own this set in red, you suddenly get all the other colors, and you have to mark them missing to get your part count right.

The first solution to this problem (I think it was proposed by Biodreamer back in 2013 -smile-) is to create 6 additional sets, one for each color, as you can see here. This works, of course, and each of these color variants has the proper part count, but there are about 250 of these supplemental sets, and doing this for each of them, would result in 750 to 1,500 new sets, and we don't have a nice way to link the colors of a particular set to one another.

The second solution, which has only become available in Rebrickable v3, is to use multiple inventories. I created an example of this in set 215-2. As you can read in the set description, there were eight versions of this set; hollow Mursten bricks in 4 colors in 1956, and tubed System bricks in 4 colors from 1958 onward. Each of these versions is represented by its own inventory. So now you can select that you own this set in red with tubed System bricks, by simply selecting the appropriate inventory. We don't have to create new sets or invent weird set numbers, and all the different colors are neatly combined in a single set.

The only problem with these multiple inventories, is that the release year of the set, in some cases, might seem strange. For the 918-2 it won't be a problem, cause all the colors appeared at the same time, but with 215-2, where we have inventories from 1956 and from 1958, it might be an issue.

I personally prefer multiple inventories, it feels better and it is much less work, but we are doing this for you, our members, so I would really love to hear your thoughts.

Take care,
Simon

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How does multiple inventories work with the build feature and set listing? it's a new feature and wouldn't it be a bit messy to actually own multiple colors of the same set that way? I mean you wouldn't see which color you own, just a stack of copies of the same set.

Besides we already have multiple sets, each having their own color. 

When I have marked one of those sets as own I actually do own all the colors, ie one of each set. so I do not get a inventory error. So if you split them you should make sure the people marked owning them actually get one of each.

I don't think multiple inventories works the way people want to deal with this particular type of inventories right now. it's more for part changes of the same set where most people are happy just owning one instance of the set. while when it comes to these old sets most would probably want one of each color in the end.

So my personal opinion is separate sets.

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Well, you make a good argument, my friend -smile-

1 hour ago, biodreamer said:

I mean you wouldn't see which color you own, just a stack of copies of the same set.

Yep, you're right. You can only see the color when you edit the entry. That is definitely not good.

1 hour ago, biodreamer said:

Besides we already have multiple sets, each having their own color.

Yes, and no. There are more single-color sets then I previously knew, but, as a rough estimate, probably half is not split into different colors, and still has a multi-color inventory. Here's a short list.

1950    700.B.1-1    700.B.2-1    700.B.3-1    700.B.4-1    700.1.1-1    700.1.2-1    
1955    1214-2   1215-2   1216-2   1217-2   1218-2   1219-2   1220-2   1221-2   1222-2   1223-2
		1224A-1  1225-2	  1230-2    
1956    215-2    224-1    1226-2   1227-2   1228-2    
1958    216-1    217-2    218-2    219-1    220-1    221-2    222-2    223-2    224-3    225-1    
1966    415-1    416-1    417-3    417-4    418-2    418-3    419-2    419-3    420-3    420-4    421-1    421-2
    	422-3    423-3    451-1    452-2    453-2    454-2    455-2    456-2    457-1    458-1    459-1    460-2
    	470-1    471-1    
1969    919-1    923-1    970-2    971-1

 

1 hour ago, biodreamer said:

So if you split them you should make sure the people marked owning them actually get one of each.

That is a big problem. I don't think we could copy users in 2013, when many of these splits seem to have occurred, and I fear we can't do it now either. So whether I split a multi-color set into several single-color sets or into several single-color inventories, you will have to edit your set lists. If that is a problem, I can't do anything, not even create separate sets. And then the question is, what are we going to do with the sets that I have listed above?

 

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well in that case can you send out a email notification to who ever is owning them. I think I have fixed the old changes due to me being involved. but I have so many bricks so if the count is off I wouldn't notice it for these parts, maybe lock the original one for deletion, while people will start using the new smaller colored sets. Kind of like how you deal with obsolete part entries.

ie start new naming postfix and depricate the old. This would of course mean that you would need to touch the sets already done.

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I agree with Biodreamer, having copies of different inventories of the same set is kind of messy. So I would make these into different sets.

As for warning people who already have the sets in their collection, I agree and will also make a specific suggestion about that. I have been thinking about it for a while anyway.

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Folks,

when I started this thread, I was really enthusiastic about using multiple inventories, but @biodreamer and @Vokhev had good points, and convinced me that I was wrong. Which shows how important it is to discuss these things with our members.

So I will undo the changes I made to set 215-2, restore the original content, and I won't make any inventory changes to old sets until we have a feature to inform user of pending or completed changes (see suggestion).

In the mean time, if I spot any errors, or such, I will add a remark to the set-notes, and add some tags to keep track of those sets.

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Folks,

Looking at the early history of LEGO (1949 to 1979), and how it is represented in Rebrickable (about 850 sets), there are a lot of things that could/should be added or improved.

(1) Missing/ugly images
There are about seventy sets with a missing image, and another hundred with very low quality images. Here I can create new high resolution catalog scans, or renderings of the model or part collection. We can even have both, a rendered model as main image, and one or more small catalog images in the set description.

(2) Multi-color Inventories
As mentioned above, there are also about seventy sets with multi-color inventories, that could be split into individual colors, while keeping the original inventory active for collectors.

(3) Brick types (ABB/Mursten/SIL)
Between 1049 and 1953 LEGO sets contained slotted bricks (Automatic Binding Bricks), then from 1953 to December 1957 they used hollow bricks (LEGO Mursten / LEGO System I Leg), and from 1958 onward they used tubed bricks without cross supports. Many of the set numbers in this period were used for all three types of bricks, so it makes sense to create new sets for these.

(4) Samsonite
Between 1961 and 1975 the Samsonite Corporation had a licensee for LEGO in the USA (1961-1972) and
Canada (1962-1986). Samsonite used different set numbers, and different box art, for sets that were also released in Europe, but Samsonite also released sets that were never sold in Europe, and many of their supplemental sets contained more parts and/or more colors then their European counter-parts. Shouldn't we add all the Samsonite sets?

Each of these is a project by itself, and could take month to finish. So were do I start? What is important for you? I much rather work on something that people like and start using immediately, then to add a dozen of sets that nobody even notices. What has priority, what should be done first?

Are there other things that need to be done, that I overlooked?

Take care,
Simon

 

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1) There is only so much you can do here if you don't sit with the box in your own collection, better scanner won't help much against the low resolution printing of the catalog in the first place.

2) if your referring to set that is white/red and Blue/yellow , black/trans-clear. You shouldn't split them further then how they where sold.

3) I would personally be okay that we use multiple inventories since it the same set just "mold" changes, but multiple sets might be nice when browsing those old sets however then you really need to know when the sets changed. The question is what are you going to do with those HO cars that didn't seem to be the same color in all the sets.

4) The Samsonite sets should of course get in. make sure you tag those so people wanting the see all of them can.

I would love to have a better check on those HO cars, bikes and other figurines.

Edited by biodreamer

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9 hours ago, Simon said:

But, eh, what should I do first?

I think it's best to first come up with a good system for the inventories, so point 2) icw 3). That's the main focus of rebrickable: Listing all your parts and sets so you can see what else you can build.
Only once that base is complete, it's useful to add more sets, otherwise you could wind up making a lot of adjustments.
For the images: you could crowd-source that here, saves a lot of time on rendering, and is more authentic. 

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Yes like always fix what's there first then add new stuff. especially since adding new stuff is something anyone can do.

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On 4/19/2018 at 11:41 PM, biodreamer said:

The question is what are you going to do with those HO cars that didn't seem to be the same color in all the sets.

Yeah, like the VW Vans, right, in 30 or so different color combinations. I have the same problem with early slotted bricks; in the 700 boxes they started with 5 colors, then back to 4, and eventually only 2 (red/white). However, in Denmark only, they were sold individually, and when LEGO experimented with different colors, they also sold their experimental bricks. So a 2x4 slotted brick is known in about 40 or 50 different colors, and an almost endless number of marbled bricks.

I think the best way to solve this is to have an inventory that represents the most commonly used contents, and to add a remark in the description about the other colors. If someone owns that set with a different color inventory, they can always submit another inventory which we can then add tot the set.

We have already added some old colors to the color table, they are named ABB Red, ABB Blue and such. In a couple of days I hope to use these colors in some early 1949 sets. After a week or so, the LDraw images should regenerated with the new colors, and the inventories will show the (hopefully) right color. If we need more colors, please let me know.

 

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marbled bricks should be treated as "cleaning" bricks and not be something that should be dealt with. But I think it would be great to include all known colors in a way that doesn't produce a error. We simply need the ability to flag a part + color combination as valid, preferably when a picture has been submitted independent if there is a set with the part or not.

This would solve the pick a brick and the old part by part sold business and some odd findings in factories for part that never got a set.

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If we want to do that, we first need to define all the needed colors. I ran into this problem when I wanted to add some 1949 sets. For example, for blue bricks I needed a light blue color, but I can't use the modern light blue versions, cause those colors were introduced much later, and I think it makes sense to keep them separated from the vintage colors. So I asked Nathen to add ABB Red, ABB Blue, etc.

Trying to make these colors match when you only have photographs of these colors is almost impossible, each photograph seem to show a different color, and I simply had to guess the RBG value that Nathan used.

So we need someone who actually has many of these bricks to compare the real colors with photographs of all the different colors, and then create an overview of names (ABB Light Blue/ABB Dark Red and such) with their RBG values. Once we have the colors, we can see how to attach them to parts and sets.

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Toby said: it's best to first come up with a good system for the inventories

Inventories.

I propose we use multiple inventories *only* when, during the life-time of a set, LEGO makes small changes to either molds or number of parts, and for sets that contained printed bricks in different languages depending on where the set was sold. (added later)

We do *not* use multiple inventories for supplemental sets that only contain one of several colors, or for large mold changes, such as changing all bricks/windows/doors from slotted to non-slotted (1955) or changing all hollow bricks by bricks with tubes (1958).

We also do *not* use multiple inventories when a set is released on different continents, using the same set number. So UK/AUS versions of continental sets (The Building Toy), or US/CAN versions thereof (LEGO by Samsonite) will become seperate sets. Many times these different versions are released in different years, and having seperate sets allows us to have those years right for each version.

As to numbering these new sets, it is obvious that we use the common postfix system, adding -[number] to the original set number, but there are few things we need to discuss.

Brickset has already added many (perhaps even most) of the UK/AUS and US/CAN sets, using the common postfix system. I think it is generally preferable that we use the same postfix numbers for the same sets. So those should be added first, using the same numbers as Brickset. When that is done, we can use, if needed, additional postfix numbers (or letters) to add different colors. I have no problem keeping the multi-color versions active (those with an inventory with all the different colors) with an added note linking to the specific single-color versions.

In some Canadian Samsonite supplemental sets, the color was encoded into the set number, like 414_4R for Red Assorted Windows and 414_4W for white. Both Brickset and Bricklink have added these sets, I think we should also use the same numbers.

Many set numbers with 3 digits were re-used by LEGO; first used in the 60s for supplemental sets, many set numbers were re-used by the end of the 70s for Legoland Town, Space and Fabuland sets. (see Eurobricks)
Unfortunately, in many cases the 70s sets were inventoried first and received the -1 postfix, while the 60s sets that were released earlier received a -2 postfix. Even if it were more logical to name the oldest set -1, as every other major LEGO site still uses these numbers, I do *not* think we should change them.

However, as far as I can tell, there are a few instances where it seems logical to change the currently used postfixes. An example would be 918. Currently we have this:

918-1        Space Transport
918-2        21 8-Stud Bricks
918-black-2    21 Black 2x4 Bricks
918-blue-2    21 Blue 2x4 Bricks
918-red-2    21 Red 2x4 Bricks
918-tclear-2    21 Trans-Clear 2x4 Bricks
918-white-2    21 White 2x4 Bricks
918-yellow-2    21 Yellow 2x4 Bricks

I would think it makes more sense to rename 918-red-2 to 918-3, etc.

Moreover, I have thought about using a letter code for the colors, such as 918-2R for red, 918-2B for blue and 918-2N for black (No color). I think it has advantages (easy to understand, easy to recognize), but using such a system would mean that we need to renumber many more sets (probably about a hundred or so).

Now, if we renumber a set, all the set-lists of people who own that set are also changed, so it doesn't create errors or additional work for those who own the set. But we can not change exported set-lists that are stored on a local harddisk, and when someone tries to import such a set-list after the set has been renumbered, the system will show an error message. Usually, for these sets there are only a handful of people who own them, so the problem is really minor, but I could imagine it could create some frustration, and as long as I can't prevent that, I am hesitant about doing it.

Looking forward to your thoughts...

 

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I prefer the post-fix letter for the color. it's a bit messy to find the right post-fix for the right color if you navigate by typing. it also create some kind of grouping of the sets. You can always create a conversion table between the old name and the new. but to be honest it's not really a big issue since many parts and molds keep changing so it is something that has bee going on for quite a while.

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I am really glad you like the idea; it is new, no other site is using it, and I wasn't even sure I would mention it. Hope to hear from others what they think of it.

To be sure, here an example in detail. Set number 421:

Peeron has this:
421-1    1x2 bricks, Red
421-2    2 eights 2 sixes 2 fours 8 twos 6 ones {White}
421-3    1x2 bricks, White
421-4    1x2 bricks, Blue/Yellow
421-5    1x2 bricks, Clear/Black
421-6    2 eights 2 sixes 2 fours 8 twos 6 ones {Red}
421-7    2 eights 2 sixes 2 fours 8 twos 6 ones {Blue}
421-8    2 eights 2 sixes 2 fours 8 twos 6 ones {Yellow}
421-9    2 eights 2 sixes 2 fours 8 twos 6 ones {Clear/Black}
it works, but there is no system in the numbering, which makes it messy

Brickset has:
421-1    1 x 2 Bricks
421-2    2 eights 2 sixes 2 fours 8 twos 6 ones (The Building Toy)

Rebrickable has:
421-1    1 x 2 Bricks
421-2    2 eights 2 sixes 2 fours 8 twos 6 ones (The Building Toy)

I want to add individual colors, but also keep the original inventories available, keep these two number (in line with other sites), and create groups that clearly belong together.

Like this:
421-1        1 x 2 Bricks (EUR)
421-1BY    1 x 2 Blue/Yellow Bricks (EUR)
421-1R      1 x 2 Red Bricks (EUR)
421-1TN    1 x 2 Transparant/Black Bricks (EUR)
421-1W     1 x 2 White Bricks (EUR)
421-2        2 Eights 2 Sixes 2 Fours 8 Twos 6 Ones (UK/AUS)
421-2B      2 Eights 2 Sixes 2 Fours 8 Twos 6 Ones, Blue (UK/AUS)
421-2R      2 Eights 2 Sixes 2 Fours 8 Twos 6 Ones, Red (UK/AUS)
421-2TN    2 Eights 2 Sixes 2 Fours 8 Twos 6 Ones, Transparant/Black (UK/AUS)
421-2W     2 Eights 2 Sixes 2 Fours 8 Twos 6 Ones, White (UK/AUS)
421-2Y      2 Eights 2 Sixes 2 Fours 8 Twos 6 Ones, Yellow (UK/AUS)

Note that I am also changing "The Building Toy" into a region (US/AUS). "The Building Toy" is just a text that was put on the boxes released in the UK and Australia, but many people might not know this, and adding the actual region makes much more sense. So instead of Samsonite we use USA/CAN in the set-name (keep it short) and add a tag Samsonite to keep them together. This way we don't have to add "System" to a set released in continental Europe (we use EUR), even when it is not a System set at all (which some other sites are doing, and I think is wrong).

 

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I think it's better to leave the region out of the name if they are not sharing same set number and just have those as tags. Some sets are not sold every where for example: 6941-1 was never sold in Sweden. should that set then get a different region market compare to the rest of the Blacktron sets?

finding out which sets that where available in what country at what time is a giant puzzle. We don't get all sets since we are a smaller market the same must be true for many other countries.

Should we get or own region for the Swedish printed brick like the "Brandstation" that was for the Swedish market then? Wouldn't that actually be a good use for multiple inventories rather then creating a lot of copies? where you only exchange the printed bricks?

Don't understand why N would be the letter for Black.

I mean I understand that you took B for blue and you can't use B again for Black.

White, Red, Trans-clear, Blue, Yellow, Black, Green, Light grey, Trans-yellow,  and so on would make it easier to get the color reference and if it's a small letter you know it belong to the same color letter as previous. That combined with ordering the colors in alphabetic order when multiple is listed and they are all equal.

 

 

Edited by biodreamer

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20 minutes ago, biodreamer said:

I think it's better to leave the region out of the name if they are not sharing same set number and just have those as tags.

I agree, and I think we mean the same, I just expressed it poorly (simple Dutch -smile-) I only want to add a region indicator to the set name if we have two or more sets, sharing the same original LEGO set-number, but released in different regions in a different year or with different contents. I am not changing any other set names, not changing 6941-1. (I could add a remark to that set "Not sold in Sweden.")

 

20 minutes ago, biodreamer said:

Should we get or own region for the Swedish printed brick like the "Brandstation" that was for the Swedish market then? Wouldn't that actually be a good use for multiple inventories rather then creating a lot of copies? where you only exchange the printed bricks?

Yep, totally agree, small change in contents, should be in a separate inventory.

 

20 minutes ago, biodreamer said:

Don't understand why N would be the letter for Black.

Ah. I think we only need this for supplemental sets upto 1969 or there about. After that  LEGO started using unique set numbers for single color supplement sets. As far as I can tell, we don't need Light Gray (I could be wrong, though).

So the colors we need are red, white, blue, yellow and black, and for black I used N (for no-color) as black is color 0 in our color table. OK, I am a nerd, that totally made sense to me, but I understand, for others it might not.

If you guys think Bl for Black and Tc for trans-clear works better, I am fine with that.

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there is the architecture sets like 521. those came in Light Grey and right now they use a increasing number, but if we are going for letters...

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