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Post a photo of the figures you have as that will give an idea of sets.
what I do with a lot of LEGO where I am unclear of what is in there (and any parts have been cleaned):
First I use any instructions with the lot.
If none, I grab all printed and sticker-ed brick and head over to bricklink to find out if I can find them in their catalog of parts as the part entry also listed the sets the part was found in.
After than I grab any 'special' brick part that looks unique compared to the rest, and try to find that on bricklink as well.
Next I look up the figures on bricklink if I still have figs and what appears to be enough parts left over to build a few sets (like vehicles) where maybe there are no unique parts in those sets and try to use those to figure out sets.
Bricklink sellers also have the original instruction book as well, or you can print out copies from sites like peeron.com (there is another I always forget it though unfortunately)
It also helps if you have experience with older sets and also remember what you had when you were a kid (if you personal collection)
Finally there is always bricklinkers/bricksetters here that can assist with helping you with any roadblocks and pics help.
After that, well you kinda have to guess (but I doubt you will get past the bricksetters with your issue, but I find most of the sets worth rebuilding have printed, stickers, and or unique parts in them.
Oh, and of course have fun going down memory lane when rebuilding your sets