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LEGO Basic Sets and their anomalies...

IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
edited October 17 in Collecting
While finishing one of my newer volumes of my LEGO Encyclopedia Guide, I came across some odd things about LEGO basic sets in the 1998-2000 era.  Both the writing on the box, and the set naming numbers.

For example....  all North American/South American basic sets of this box type had "classic" on the box top....

And all the ROW (rest of world) had "basic" on the box top for the same set numbers...

Not sure why that is... since 'basic' is pretty universally understood.  But we never fully understand why TLG does something a bit different.

But anyway... any of these sets sold worldwide came in 2 versions.  Those sold only in the Americas or only in ROW came only in either 'classic' or 'basic' box type.  DItto for bucket, tub and polybag sets.  Makes sense.

And then I saw that many of these sets had a 2nd set number... which is unusual.

Here is a LEGO 1999 UK full line catalog page... and it shows sets with a secondary set number and set type....

But these secondary numbers don't appear elsewhere... and unfortunately there are no 'full line' catalogs for that era from North America to see if those secondary set numbers were used in North America.  But in Britain they show Starter Set 100, Super Set 100, Brick Pack 100, Challenger Set 100.... and on into the 200, 300 and maybe 350 and 400 range (for Challenger sets).

But when you look at continental European 1999 catalogs (here's a Dutch one)... it doesn't show the 2nd set numbers (usually 100, 200, 300, 400)...

I noticed that all the online set databases all use the UK set name, which doesn't match elsewhere (which is not unusual)... 

Here is a list of most of these basic/classic sets (from my guide), and it shows all the names....

For the folks in the UK these set names match what is in the catalog, but for folks elsewhere, there is no mention of these as... Starter Set 100, Super Set 200, Challenger Set 300, 350 or 400 anywhere in their local catalogs.  And of course, in North America... basic (classic) sets are generally ignored in their larger catalogs.

I sometimes think that at TLG.... the left hand doesn't always know what the right hand is doing.... 

They always like to add a little Mayhem into their set logic!  ;-)



  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
    edited October 17
    .... just been thinking out loud...

    There's just as much 'quirkiness" to new LEGO as there is to the earlier years... which I call the "Classic Mayhem Era"....  ;-)

    One of these basic sets even came with or without a camera in Europe!

    And the same set in North America (classic)... didn't have that camera option...

  • VictorLovesToysVictorLovesToys California Member Posts: 12
    LEGO encyclopedia guide volumes? What are you referring to?
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
    @stlux thanks for the link!  I didn't want to make this sound like a Marketplace promotion.   I have not been told by the publishers to stop selling the online guide... which is much cheaper, and will contain the same info (with future upgrades).   So I'm still selling some online versions... ;-)
    just spitballing here - Maybe the US markets move from Basic to Classic was a memo within the Marketing Department?  Basic CAN be seen as a derogatory term.  I vividly remember having to chastise my eldest around a decade ago for using it. EVERYTHING that her and her friends didn't like or understand was Basic. 

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
    Interestingly enough USA LEGO catalogs didn't seem to be produced in the "FULL" range of sets back in the 1980s and 1990s.  They seemed to only contain the other LEGO systems besides Basic.  The LEGO catalogs starting in 1994 included all of North America (it was in English, French and Spanish).  The sets here started to have writing in 4 languages (English, French, Spanish and Portugues)... so the same "classic" sets were sold in USA, Canada and much of Latin America.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,101
    ^^ I agree. Basic makes something sound simple and just about adequate whereas classic sounds more retro and cool.
  • mithridatemithridate HawaiiMember Posts: 20
    Not to hijack, but every time I hear/read basic, I think of my trusty BASIC cartridge for the Atari 800 — back in the day, when copy-and-paste coding meant transcribing the code from the manual.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
    edited October 19
    Basic sets were the very first sets introduced when LEGO started making the Automatic Binding Bricks in 1949.  It wasn't until 1956 that any other building sets were introduced.  700/1 (large), 700/2 (medium and 700/3 (small) were the first basic sets (back in the 1949-55 era every set with bricks used the 700/x number).  Wish I had this one... the large 1949 box top version of 700/1 Automatic Binding Bricks set....  in mint... this one would probably (at auction) get bid up to 10,000 Euro's!

    New image for my LEGO Encyclopedia/ and online Collectors guide.
  • jgadgetjgadget Member Posts: 179
    Hi Gary,

    I have been trying to get in touch with you for some time now, both via email and via PM here, but have had no response from you.
    Please would you get in touch with me?
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
    Just sent you a PM Jonathan.  I switched Email systems.

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
    From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, the same 011 thru 088 basic sets of Britain, Ireland and Australia (under licensee British LEGO Ltd., Wrexham Wales) used slightly different boxes for the same sets as those of continental Europe and Asia.  You can always tell a UK box version if it had "Basic Set" on the side.  Those of continental Europa and Asia didn't have it, which makes sense due to the many countries they were sold in.  The smallest (011 didn't have room on the side of the box, so they put it on the front... and the biggest set 088 Super set was just considered "super".... ;-)

    These sets were never sold in the USA or Canada... which were still in their Samsonite years... and selling different Samsonite LEGO sets altogether... with the set number = part counts (120, 215, 285, 375, 450, 615).
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 64
    edited October 19
    Did these sets come with any sort of simple "building ideas" guide or something or were they just pieces only? I know you could get building instructions elsewhere though like those "blueprints".
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
    edited October 19
    Here is an image of random different parts of the above boxes put together into a collage of sorts....  (I use this image as a chapter cover page in one of my upcoming LEGO Volumes)...

    And the box covers were basically all that you got for instructions.

    But there was one build in the 055 set that must have given TLG complaints by parents of young LEGO builders.  Because the 055 set did come with one set of instructions for one of the box models.... the truck on the far right.

    This is the only model that had instructions that I am aware of....

    There may be some other models in one or more of the above sets that were produced.... but I am not aware of them....

    Images from my Collectors Guide.
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