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Alternative Builds

richoricho Member Posts: 3,794
edited August 2012 in Building and Techniques
If there is one nostalgic thing I miss from my childhood growing up in the 80s with space and knight lego, its the alternative builds on the side of the box. As far as I can see, these are nearly totally phased out. Is there anyway we can petition lego to get them back. It used to really fire my imagination as a child!


  • TechnicNickTechnicNick Berkshire, UKMember Posts: 277
    I agree. The early Technic sets had 2 or 3 builds with instructions and as many as half a dozen other models just illustrated on the box. It fired my creativity.
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    I wonder if the problem is the large number of specialised bricks in today's sets, where as older sets were mostly standard bricks and plates, making it a lot easier to build alternate models.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,025
    Totally agree with this! Besides the 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 Creator sets, very few other sets come with alternate models. You can certainly contact LEGO about this (I have found they are very responsive on their Facebook page with a nice side-effect of other people seeing your request too and chiming in), but if we gather in numbers, our request would probably be taken more seriously.
  • MinifigsMeMinifigsMe Member Posts: 2,844
    They do have a page that lists a (very few) alternate builds - it's called building steps. Has one for the burrow I think...
  • legomattlegomatt Member Posts: 2,541
    I mentioned this very issue once before (on another forum if i recall), and totally agree with @richo
    Those alternatives used to be a great launchpad for creativity, they encouraged me to break the model up and build all sorts of stuff, mix and match as i pleased - but now i find myself just building the models as designed, almost like it's a kit for display, instead of a toy to break apart and do something else with - but maybe that's just my age.

    But also, I used to really enjoy trying to figure out the puzzle of just HOW did they build those other things.

    Fun days.

  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    From what I've been told by Lego employees, the reason they largely dropped the alternate models was because they used to get a lot of calls to the support desk asking for instructions for the alternate builds, something Lego didn't have so couldn't supply, resulting in upset customers. Seems counter intuitive to me, as the joy of Lego is the inspirational aspects of free building - growing up, the alternate builds on the boxes were a great source of joy for me
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,112
    it does seem counter-intuitive, but I think a lot of parents probably just don't "get it" when it comes to LEGO - especially these days where everything is so spoon-fed (at least in the USA). Their 6 year old says "I want to build that picture" and the parent, rather than sitting down and helping the child figure it out creatively (knowing full well the parts are there), instead calls the company asking for the quick fix.
  • RavenhookRavenhook Member Posts: 70
    ^^ I understand why TLG got sick of phone calls for alternate instructions. Some of the alternate Orient Expedition builds looked really good, but also somewhat difficult, as the pictures only offered a glimpse of the direction the kids needed to take.

    However, in these days of sophisticated computer modelling, where it's almost as easy to have the software document a build as make it in the first place, it'd be nice to think TLG could hire a few employees to maintain a website where PDFs of alternate builds could be downloaded.

    It'd be a great project for the kids, and would inspire their own beyond-the-single-model building.
  • tdhbrtdhbr Member Posts: 188
    Their 6 year old says "I want to build that picture"
    I was that 6 year old. Fortunately, my mom made her best effort, until I got old enough to do it on my own. She was also smart enough to box up and save the sets, so I now have all the pieces and instructions from my 1970's & 80's sets (but not the boxes with all those other model ideas.)

    The new Lego Ideas book makes a good effort at filling this void. My son (7 years old) keeps finding things he wants to build, and together we figure out how to do it. Or how to make it different.

  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,218
    edited October 2011
    However, in these days of sophisticated computer modelling, where it's almost as easy to have the software document a build as make it in the first place, it'd be nice to think TLG could hire a few employees to maintain a website where PDFs of alternate builds could be downloaded.
    LEGO already offer online instructions for alternative Technic builds (the 2-in-1 sets); there's really no compelling reason why they couldn't do the same for other sets. A cynic might argue that they don't want to use up valuable advertising space with pictures of alternative builds.....

  • EricEric Queensland, AustraliaMember Posts: 376
    ^ But arguably, the pictures of alternate views is a drawing card for parents. I remember my Mum was disappointed to hear that my 8653 Enzo Ferrari didn't have an alternate build. She bought it anyway, after much pestering from myself. :)
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 804
    I think there's a cost in there that's being ignored, too. From what I've heard, "alternate models" were typically thrown together at the last minute by set designers, once the inventory for a set was finalized, and then had to be photographed. It was a bit more cost, but not a ton.

    But now, we're talking about having set designers document their alternate models, have the instructions made up, and then go through the approval process *again* for each one (each build has to be proven to be "in system" as well as buildable by the desired age group), and then photographed and put online and on the box.

    So, the cost goes up, and like so many other things, the sales figures don't. LEGO does this style of "alternate" building with the creator sets, to make sure that kids still "get it" when it comes to building creatively. But it seems that a large percentage of kids in today's market (maybe even a majority of LEGO customers?) buy the set for toy that's pictured on the box, rather than for a creative toy.

    I always knew that many people built the featured set and called it a day, but it's seemed to me as I've read more about actual LEGO customers, that those types of customers actually represent a large percentage of buyers. And even further, it blew my mind to see things like parents actually GLUING their kids' models together to make sure that they'd stay together and not break-- and other parents hearing that and saying "Oh, great idea!"

    So, with added cost for LEGO, and little (if any?) gain in sales, it's not likely to see LEGO return to producing alternates for your typical system sets.

  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,218
    ^ I guess you're right regarding the increased costs, given the less "ad hoc" nature of things these days. Also, I'd have to acknowledge that even the proportion of buyers building the Creator alternates is probably fairly low.....
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    ^^ Spot on Davee123

    However, why don't they do it the cheap way, e.g. just photograph it without adding instructions. Seems like they only assessed the negative affect (e.g. complaints from numptys) without assessing the positive.
  • giraffefrecklesgiraffefreckles Member Posts: 100
    And to head off those customers who insist on getting explicit instructions, LEGO could write a blurb on the webpage about stoking imagination and also helping a younger fan discover such joy. Then, for the more demanding customers, customer service could just tell them that ice dragon set would go up by $10 if they created and vetted alternate build instructions, and that the overall market wouldn't support such a price increase.

    I think this is where the lugs and even LEGO bloggers can step up to fill the instructional void.
  • thebearcollectorthebearcollector Banned Posts: 30
    edited August 2012
    Is there any place where I could find instructions for the models on the back of the boxes/instruction because I have acouple of early star wars sets from my earlier years of collecting when they first came out when I was 4 (now Im 17) but any ways Im trying to rebuild my collection and Ive found some intresting alternitive moldes. any help would be apprecaited
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    For most sets, those pictures were "ideas", not models with instructions. Lego stopped doing that because so many people kept calling asking for the instructions, when there were none.

    Only Technic and Creator lines ever had two sets of instructions, and most of those come with the instructions in the box, only recent Technic lines require you to download instructions from the web site.
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