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The mysterious German 6661 Mobile TV Studio Set...

IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
edited July 2014 in Collecting
Not all LEGO mysteries involve old LEGO sets. Some newer sets also are shrouded in mystery and intrigue. One set is the 6661 Mobile TV Studio set of 1989. This set had a worldwide distribution, and it would be just another middling Town System set, were it not for one very intriguing fact... there is a very rare German variation on this set!

Some German LEGO collectors have had the rare good fortune to open their regular boxed set (with regular instructions).... and found that the 2 1x4x3 blue truck panels didn't have "TV" printed on the panels... but the letters "WDR". This appears to have happened on some sets in Northwest Germany.... near the city of Cologne.

Well it seems that WDR stands for WEST DEUTSCHE RUNDFUNK... the name of a regional German TV station. How WDR got onto the panels of some of the sealed 6661 sets was a mystery that German collector Jan Katanek first brought to my attention about a year ago.

Here is the box of the 6661 Mobile TV Studio set... and the instructions... (images courtesy of Jan K.)



  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited July 2014
    OK.... now some of the German 6661 sets from the Cologne area had a normal box... but when they opened it up... this is what the lucky owners found.... 2 WDR panels sealed in the cellophane bag... (Image courtesy of Schuss)
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    So these rare 6661 sets had a regular box (with TV on the box)... and a regular instructions (again with TV on them)... but the set had panels with WDR on them....
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    Upon closer inspection, these panels show that the "TV" has been covered over (but still visible), and reprinted with "WDR"....
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    Well I was in 7th heaven when I saw this... because I am always looking for LEGO anomalies... and these seem to be predominantly with older LEGO sets/parts... but here we have a newer LEGO set with mysterious circumstances! :-) A great addition to the next edition of my collectors guide (will be free to current owners!)...

    I Emailed my contact at the Billund Archives, and she found no records of this "WDR" edition of the 6661 Mobile TV Studio Set. So she contacted the German LEGO Marketing Department, and they checked their records and also could not find any info on this set. So they were questioning whether this was done by TLG?

    Well upon inspection of the panels and sealed cellophane bags, I am convinced that this was indeed "an inside job". I don't think that another company would have done such a professional job of this. So that just deepens the mystery.... (more to come)...
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    TLG has done so much in the past... that was handled "under the table"... that I think this was another example of this.

    I think that someone at WestDeutsche Rundfunk, headquartered in Cologne, must have had a "North Sea Ferry ride" type of encounter with a TLG executive (like was done so often in the 1950s, when the contacts made during those business encounters incubated future LEGO introductions/endeavors)... this person probably picked up the phone and said "Hey Ole... remember me from the business conference? Can I get a special run of a few hundred WDR 6661 sets produced and shipped to Cologne?"

    Such an encounter would likely have bypassed both the official TLG Archives knowledge, as well as the local country sales department. Although such types of encounters seem unlikely... since TLG is a privately held company... such under the table encounters were more likely than most at TLG would like to admit.

    Again... this is just my hypothesis for the existence of this special set that may only have en existing population of perhaps a few hundred sets... and one that folks would have to open a MISB set to determine! But these type of anomalies is what makes collecting LEGO sets and varieties so fun!!
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    Also... this rare set has 2 unique parts... the 1x4x3 blue "WDR" panels. These panels are likely much rarer than their infamous cousins... the 1x4x3 blue "UNICEF" logo panels of the 1985 106 UNICEF Truck Set.

    The panels of that truck go for over $100 each... I can see these "WDR" panels easily selling for such a price... once this rare variation becomes more well known...
  • chuckpchuckp Member Posts: 684
    Very interesting read, thanks for posting.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited July 2014
    Thanks Chuckp.... I like digging up the ancient as well as recent LEGO past. This set is still pretty unknown (not seen in online LEGO databases). One savvy seller on Ebay charged 1000 Euros for this (not sure if it sold). But one German seller on Ebay started at a lowball 60 Euro figure... and one lucky Belgian bidder won it for that price, since it is still not widely known. Keep your eyes open!! ;-)

    I'm adding a new chapter to my collectors guide on "LEGO Anecdotes".... stories like these about LEGO sets and parts of the past (and present)... that go begging to be told. I've got about 50 anecdotes like this one that I'm putting together into a single chapter. So much of LEGO history has been lost with the retirement and passing of LEGO employees. Much of what I have rediscovered I would like to save for present and future collectors.
  • akunthitaakunthita Member Posts: 1,038
    Fascinating stuff! Thanks for sharing!
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    I like the fact that 1989 is described as recent past!
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    Hehehe... thanks CCC.... I guess I'm "dating" myself.... ;-) After all I came out of my Dark Ages in 1979!! hehehe....
  • HangedSanchezHangedSanchez Member Posts: 310
    Thanks for this, its a good read! Always nice to find out about the Lego oddities out there.
  • chuckpchuckp Member Posts: 684
    Istokg said:

    ...Much of what I have rediscovered I would like to save for present and future collectors.

    @Istokg That is not only a nice sentiment, but also a great idea. If LEGO isn't keeping track of such things, I'm glad somebody is. I hope we'll see more of these stories in the future.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    Thanks folks... sadly the problems of TLG (and this is NOT unique to them)... is that not all things get put into the company archives... and the TLG Billund Archives are notoriously "sparse" prior to 1970. Since I've been in contact with the Billund Archives/Collections folks since 2007 while working on all the iterations of my collectors guide... I've really been dismayed, and at times disgruntled over the lack of information that I seek answers to. Not only are the archives sparse for the early years... but there's also a matter of a lack of understanding of "what came before".

    The TLG data is lacking in many of the licensee LEGO products. This is true for the Norway licensee.... Svein Strømberg & Co. of Oslo (1953-61), the Sweden early licensee Geas Konstharts of Gislaved Sweden (1950-55), The Iceland licensee Reykjalundur of Reykjavik (1955-77), the USA licensee Shwayder Bros. (Samsonite) of Loveland Colorado (1961-72), the Canada licensee Samsonite of Canada of Stratford Ontario (1962-85), and the Britain/Ireland/Australia licensee Courtaulds Corp. (British LEGO Ltd.) of Wrexham Wales (1960-92).

    After 1992 the worldwide LEGO license was back in TLG's hands...
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited February 2015
    Well, I'm still finding out about this set, but I think I have the answers for the mysterious existence of this rare 6661 WDR version of the 6661 TV version of the Mobile TV Studio set of 1989-90s.

    WDR (West Deutsch Rundfunk) TV Station in northwest Germany, headquartered in Cologne, was 1/2 of a larger TV station that split in two in 1955.

    WDR started broadcasting on Jan. 1, 1956.

    So the 6661 Mobile TV Studio Set, which was first released in 1989, was a nice set to make for a 35th Anniversary keepsake for the 1991 Anniversary date.

    Here is the box for both versions...

    Well WDR executives wanted a quick anniversary souvenir... and one of them saw the 6661 TV version in a toy store.   A few calls from WDR executives to some LEGO executives, and a batch of the "TV" panels were redone with "WDR" over the "TV" printing on the 1x4x3 blue panels (you can see the overprint)...

    These new panels were sealed into the inner polybag of the set...

  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362

    And the end result was a 6661 Mobile TV Studio with the German WDR logo on it...

    Since this was done as a rush job, neither the instructions, nor the box top were changed, and unfortunately neither the Billund Archive/Collections, nor the German LEGO Advertising Department were notified.

    These special WDR sets were likely sent directly from Billund Denmark to Cologne Germany, in time for the January 1, 1991 35th Anniversary of WDR.

    Now to add the changes to my collectors guide chapters on LEGO Sets and Promotional Sets.

    More LEGO Mayhem!!    :)
  • bobabricksbobabricks Member Posts: 1,842
    @Istokg I was looking this set up on BrickLink until I thought "no no no, I'm not falling into one of these again." ;)
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
  • bobabricksbobabricks Member Posts: 1,842
    @Istokg If and when I buy all this stuff you have been posting it is all going to go on a special shelf called the Gary Istok shelf. ;)
  • wayneggwaynegg Member Posts: 394
    Istokg said:
    Lost a planet, Master Obi Wan has. How embarrassing... how embarrassing.
    Master? Because someone erased it from the Archive memory.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    @chuckp  absolutely no clue...

    It was likely done "under the table"... so no records have been found of it by the Billund folks or the folks in the German marketing group.  My personal guess is that it could have been maybe just hundreds, or perhaps a thousand.

    But that's just speculation on my part.  The folks at TLG were skeptical that this was an in-house job  But I've had contact with several folks who opened a MISB 6661 box to find the WDR panels inside a sealed polybag in a sealed 6661 LEGO box!

    This type of "under the table" production is not new to TLG.   It's still a private company, and they've always done things a little bit on the odd side...

  • chuckpchuckp Member Posts: 684
    Istokg You're right, that is definitely odd. The "WDR" printing over the "TV" printing didn't seem very LEGO-like to me, so the "under the table" aspect seems to fit. Nice work on the research! 
  • daveace21daveace21 Member Posts: 41
    @Istokg I was following this discussion last year as I have a sealed set but obviously do not know if it is the super rare on or not. I do have a question...On your picture of the box, I can not tell if there is a "folded hangar flap" or if your box is the box style without any flap. The reason I ask is I have a MISB of this set and my box does not have any flap or hanger at all. I bought it many years ago on EBAY so I am trying to figure out if my set is the average on or a rarer one. Thanks.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    @daveace21   I don't own either version of the set, so I really don't know.

    However.... the types with the hangers such as this one would likely NOT contain the WDR panels....

    And although the 6661 sets that WOULD contain the WDR panels likely look like this (not for hanging).... I'm sure that 99.99% of these were produced without the WDR panels...

    However, there is no way that I am familiar with to tell if the WDR panels are inside, other than to open the outer box.

    If your set was not purchased originally from a German source, then there's no point in even gambling by opening it.
  • daveace21daveace21 Member Posts: 41
    @Istokg  Thank you for answering my question.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited September 2015
    Well, it looks like my German collector friend Andreas (lives in northern Germany) found a sealed 6661 with a "WDR" seal on the box.... WOW!!

    I believe that WDR (West Deutsche Rundfunk) the Cologne Germany based TV station for NW Germany had these ordered from TLG, and they had the special WDR seal.  I also believe that excess inventory of these sets were released as normal sets, but with the WDR (1x4x3 blue) panels inside.   So there were likely 2 "WDR" versions of this set, as well as the regular "TV" version of the 6661 set.

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