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The Mysterious Case of The Old Cat Lady

The_RancorThe_Rancor Dorset, UKMember Posts: 56
Hi everyone! I've had something which has been bugging and interesting me in equal measure for a while, and I've really wanted to get off my chest:

I regularly try to find and bid for intriguing Lego lots at local auction houses throughout the year. I don't tend to go too far afield due to postage costs and I don't tend to resell as a general rule - I buy what I love. Sometimes this results in some really good finds: an almost complete but disassembled Airtech Claw Rig, a complete 1987 Black Knights Castle with a Forestmen set, or a mixed lot with around ten complete 1970s 'Legoland' vehicles are just some examples.

However!

Around a year or two ago I won what I believe the auction catalogue labelled as a 'Shop Display Figure'. Most of the other bidders were likely put off it due to its size and weight. The reason it caught my eye was that it looked like it was built in a similar style to the large scale minifigure models from Legoland Parks, and I thought it could be a good display piece at home. Here's a picture of it not quite in pride of place next to Star Wars and Islanders:



Upon closer study I found various things. There was general UV bleaching and minor dirt particles across the model so it must have been kept outside. Some areas displayed a little 'peeling' of what I assume is part of a UV lacquer to reinforce this. The hands and head could move and turn, though stiff as if not fully intended. The biggest telltale were the screw/rivet holes at the base of the model, suggesting this model had been fastened in place - very unlikely for a 'Shop Display' where set marketing changes all year round. Scouring Google to find what the model was wasn't overly productive though.

When I went to Legoland Billund last year I had a shock to discover an almost identical model near the Falck Fire Brigade ride under a tree. The idea being that the firefighters are rescuing a cat from a tree for an old lady - suddenly the subject matter of the model made a lot more sense! However the below model isn't exactly the same - the base of the dress is a continuous red rather than the patch of white above.



I haven't been to Legoland Windsor since this revelation but I have seen that there is a similar looking old lady next to the British Fire Brigade ride in fan images from days out. But I don't know whether that model is 1.) the same as mine and 2.) is still there in position to this day. My best assumption from the outcome so far is that my model was almost certainly a previous model in place at a Legoland Park! (which perhaps was replaced by a newer version when slightly bleached)

I'd be interested to find out if anyone could shed some light on the origins of the model, or the processes by which it might have been discarded or replaced in a Legoland Park? I also wonder whether anyone has had any other similar experiences, acquiring what appear to be 'Master Builder' models like this?
catwranglerLego__MinonBumblepantsFizyxSpeedman29ricecakedavetheoxygenmanandhestluxakunthitasnowhitiesid3windrAllBrickMooreFXAddicted2OxygenGoldchains

Comments

  • Lego__MinonLego__Minon EnglandMember Posts: 94
    That is amazing, and how cool to find her twin in Billund. I hope someone can help with your search for information. I would love to know how much it cost, as like you said many bidders will have been put off by the size. :)
    Fizyx
  • catwranglercatwrangler Northern IrelandMember Posts: 1,649
    I know nothing about her, but she's amazing!! What a lovely find. 
    Fizyx
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO USMember Posts: 8,329
    Just a shot in the dark, but does @LusiferSam , @Istokg , or maybe @davee123 know anything about this one?
  • The_RancorThe_Rancor Dorset, UKMember Posts: 56
    That is amazing, and how cool to find her twin in Billund. I hope someone can help with your search for information. I would love to know how much it cost, as like you said many bidders will have been put off by the size. :)
    I hesitate to say exactly how much I paid for it, if partially because I won multiple lots at the same auction which were tallied up together. It did seem like there were one or two other people out there with an idea of what it could be. However it would be safe to say that it holds even more value to me than it did when I first bought it at this point!
    Lego__MinonFizyxandhe
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 986
    What lovely model and wonderful story! Does the location of the seller gives you any clues of which LEGOLAND Park your old lady might be from (like which LEGOLAND Park is closest to the seller's location? I know it has been a while ago, but would it be possible to contact the seller and see where they got her from? The lot may have gone through a few hands, but starting with the seller might help unravel grandma's story.
  • andywilsonandywilson UKMember Posts: 23
    There's only one Legoland in the UK so that narrows it down a bit ;)
  • The_RancorThe_Rancor Dorset, UKMember Posts: 56
    edited January 23
    akunthita said:
    What lovely model and wonderful story! Does the location of the seller gives you any clues of which LEGOLAND Park your old lady might be from (like which LEGOLAND Park is closest to the seller's location? I know it has been a while ago, but would it be possible to contact the seller and see where they got her from? The lot may have gone through a few hands, but starting with the seller might help unravel grandma's story.
    Unfortunately the auction was anonymous for sellers as far as I was aware, so I never knew anything about the person who put her up for sale, not even where she was being sold from. However, it might be safe to assume they came from Dorset or Hampshire - both not too far from Berkshire where the UK Legoland is.

    If I had time I could probably ask the auction house about the seller because they'd have the sale on record - but I'm almost certain that seller confidentiality would get in my way in some form or another. Over a long time I've grown to make the assumption that the seller was actually a Master Builder themselves, permitted to take the model home when she became slightly worn and faded. If they weren't, she must have only changed hands once because dirt was a lot more prevalent on the model than dust from storage - the condition definitely suggested very little had happened once the model had been removed from the park. Let's say she came from Legoland Windsor at this point, because it's pretty much certain.
    Fizyx
  • blokey9blokey9 MelbourneMember Posts: 17
    are you planning on repairing her hands?
  • AllBrickAllBrick UKMember Posts: 1,354
    That is amazing, and how cool to find her twin in Billund. I hope someone can help with your search for information. I would love to know how much it cost, as like you said many bidders will have been put off by the size. :)
    I hesitate to say exactly how much I paid for it, if partially because I won multiple lots at the same auction which were tallied up together. It did seem like there were one or two other people out there with an idea of what it could be. However it would be safe to say that it holds even more value to me than it did when I first bought it at this point!
    I hope you didn't pay £1500 for it, same price as this guy on Gumtree...


    https://www.gumtree.com/p/hobbies-collectibles/1.5-mtr-lego-piliceman/1281285800
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,575
    What is that, a police chef? That doesn't look right.

    I also find these things strange. They are made to look like minifigures but then they stick noses on them.
    SumoLegoFizyxcatwranglerMynatt
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 8,459
    And ears.  And something is definitely missing from the front of the hat.
    Fizyxgmonkey76catwranglerMynatt
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,997
    I know several LEGO collectors who buy and restore LEGO store display models, but I have never seen a "weathered" outdoor LEGOLAND model ever being given to employees or for sale. TLG usually destroys their weathered models (I have a pic somewhere of a large mound of destroyed weathered outdoor models).  That particular one may have been retrieved from the "executioners pile" of discarded models intended for destruction.... and therefore not intended for the secondary market. 

    The policeman looks like an indoor model... from a lack of a weathered look.
    The_Rancor
  • The_RancorThe_Rancor Dorset, UKMember Posts: 56
    edited January 24
    blokey9 said:
    are you planning on repairing her hands?
    Yes I am now that most of my other building and sorting projects are done - the glue on the hands doesn't seem to have held up that well so there's some 'editability' there. I quite meticulously took some close ups of the Billund Old Lady's hands, so I'd have a study to work from and it would stay authentic to the original design. Just need to source a few more yellow plates of specific sizes really.

    Istokg said:
    I know several LEGO collectors who buy and restore LEGO store display models, but I have never seen a "weathered" outdoor LEGOLAND model ever being given to employees or for sale. TLG usually destroys their weathered models (I have a pic somewhere of a large mound of destroyed weathered outdoor models).  That particular one may have been retrieved from the "executioners pile" of discarded models intended for destruction.... and therefore not intended for the secondary market. 

    The policeman looks like an indoor model... from a lack of a weathered look.
    I just had the bizarre image in my head that there would've been a few-foot high Lego executioner complete with axe ready to 'do the business' to the Old Lady, only for her to escape at the last second! It would be interesting to see the pic of the destroyed heap to get an impression of the 'worst case scenario' if it wasn't too hard to get hold of.

    Thank you for the more detailed insights - they've made me feel even more lucky to own her, if an occurrence like this is so rare. I gave her a full (but gentle) scrub with warm water not long after she was first purchased because I couldn't really have the dirt around the house so she's definitely feeling in better shape since her brush with death. 

    The policeman has his own pedestal but the construction is slightly different too - much more rounded shoulders and arms. Don't think he would sell for £1500 but wouldn't be surprised if someone paid a strong 3 figure sum.
    catwrangler
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,355
    CCC said:
    What is that, a police chef? That doesn't look right.

    I also find these things strange. They are made to look like minifigures but then they stick noses on them.
    These guys were mentioned in The Ultimate LEGO Book from Dorling Kindersley back in the 90s and were called, amusingly, LEGO Friends. They were sort of a standard design in a lot of LEGOLANDs, and were meant to be minifigure-like but with their bodies proportioned to more closely match the actual child visitors to the parks (longer legs, noses, ears, etc).
    The_Rancor
  • CoyotelilyCoyotelily God's Own County, UKMember Posts: 644
    This kind of story is why I love Brickset, i’m Pleased to see that granny is in a good home !
    FizyxThe_RancorBumblepants
  • OrmskirkBricksOrmskirkBricks England, UKMember Posts: 251
    I’ve been through all my Legoland Windsor photos going back to 2005, sadly did not catch this model anywhere! I think my kids got in the way! I am missing my pics though of a more recent visit...will keep looking to see if she is there in the background somewhere!
  • sid3windrsid3windr BelgiumMember Posts: 998
    edited January 25
    Found her at Legoland Billund (Aug 2017) !



    When reading the description about firemen rescuing a cat from a tree I knew I'd seen her. :)

    Edit: oh wait, reading it again, you already knew that because you saw her there. Doh.
    The_RancorMegtheCatstluxGoldchainscatwrangler
  • legogallegogal USMember Posts: 754
    I vaguely remember this lady from Billund as well. But can't remember if I saw her in the other five LL parks during my 2013-4 Bucket List Tour. Will review my photos of each Park. She is one of my favorites because there seemed to be so few females in this scale. (It is better now with more Friends' builds.) And she is a wonderful depiction of a caring grandmother...unlike the gazillions of pirates, soldiers, knights, robots, firemen, policemen, astronauts, cowboys and Indians. I saw rows of huge models retired from Billund LL and stacked next to the model repair workshop...awaiting execution. 
    The_Rancorandhe
  • The_RancorThe_Rancor Dorset, UKMember Posts: 56
    legogal said:
    I vaguely remember this lady from Billund as well. But can't remember if I saw her in the other five LL parks during my 2013-4 Bucket List Tour. Will review my photos of each Park. She is one of my favorites because there seemed to be so few females in this scale. (It is better now with more Friends' builds.) And she is a wonderful depiction of a caring grandmother...unlike the gazillions of pirates, soldiers, knights, robots, firemen, policemen, astronauts, cowboys and Indians. I saw rows of huge models retired from Billund LL and stacked next to the model repair workshop...awaiting execution. 
    That's a good point and I agree - Granny is one of very few female Legoland models at this scale (that aren't based on minidolls). I honestly couldn't recall many other obvious female models at this scale in Windsor or Billund besides Pippin Reed (as part of the Adventurers/Orient Expedition areas). There might be a female polar explorer in Billund, and perhaps a creepy lady in the Haunted House, but these are both comparatively new additions.

    I know where the model workshop is in Windsor but not at Billund - at least it might've spared me from seeing a potential 'death row' of outdated models!

    I look forward to finding out if the setup is the same in other parks for Granny. The Windsor version puts her in an unremarkable 'fire training' environment full of signs that you don't really see unless you're queuing for the ride but that's the only other one I've discovered.
  • UnclerichUnclerich california, USAMember Posts: 1
    When Legoland California changed it's MiniLand Area a few years ago (2007?) they sold by auction --on eBay -- many of the old outdoor Lego built structures........Barns, Boats, little buildings, structures from their Dockside Miniland display area, which was replaced with Miniland Las Vegas.....
  • Russell844Russell844 California, USAMember Posts: 1,523
    Unclerich said:
    When Legoland California changed it's MiniLand Area a few years ago (2007?) they sold by auction --on eBay -- many of the old outdoor Lego built structures........Barns, Boats, little buildings, structures from their Dockside Miniland display area, which was replaced with Miniland Las Vegas.....
    I remember that. It was for charity.
  • sid3windrsid3windr BelgiumMember Posts: 998
    I look forward to finding out if the setup is the same in other parks for Granny. The Windsor version puts her in an unremarkable 'fire training' environment full of signs that you don't really see unless you're queuing for the ride but that's the only other one I've discovered.
    In Billund she's right next to the rides with the water spouts where you have to pump to move or something, but it's still right near the actual walk way through the park.
  • The_RancorThe_Rancor Dorset, UKMember Posts: 56
    ^ Yes Granny in Billund is very much 'front of house', whilst in Windsor she's more 'shoved in a corner'. The setups are essentially the same but in the Windsor one there is no nice green space surrounding the models and it's a little more ambiguous.

    Imagine the hysteria of a 'post-Lego Movie' master builder sell off on eBay like California again!
    sid3windr
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