I have started to do a bit of research into how I would best go about compiling/restoring the sets. Like most kids, once I had finished playing with the models, they joined my general supply. From time to time bricks got broken, lost outside (usually on a parachute out of the window!) or sucked up the vacuum. A few minifigures even got sacrificed and were painted as WWF figures – this was the days before licensing! I probably only ever had about 10 models assembled at any one time, but I know we never got rid of any Lego so they all should be in there somewhere. Opening the boxes bought back floods of memories and it seemed like only yesterday when I last looked at it. I don't know where 21 years has gone! My current plan of attack is as follows:
1) Workout what sets I have got and list them on brick set. I did this relatively easily from memory – it shows what an impact Lego must have had on me at the time. The stats reveal that I have 85 sets (80 unique) and around 14600 parts. About half still have instructions but the rest will be online. On top of this, my brother has also let me have his sets to sort – this brings the set count to 112 and the piece count to 21271. A lot of the bricks will have ended up in each other’s collections, so it makes sense I sort them both at the same time. He is three years younger than me, so more exotic parts already started creeping in (my 6386 compared to his 6398 for example)!
2) Filter out the white, grey and blue bricks and clean. I was amazed at how yellow some of these were! The Oxy Cleaner/ hydrogen peroxide treatment sounds like it should do the trick. The only problem is that most of the links (although they do all seem to be from 2009-2011) suggest that Hydrogen Peroxide is relatively cheap in the USA. Here in the UK it seems to be around £12 a litre as only food grade seems to be available. Does anybody know a cheap supplier of it in the UK? I also have concerns about how it will look if I order 10s of litres of the stuff! Also, there seems to be less success stories documented about cleaning the grey and blue bricks – should I risk it?
3) Sort bricks by type. I plan to use the lids off photocopier paper boxes from work. These shouldn’t be too big to sort through when I need to find a piece. I don’t think I have enough bricks to justify sorting to too fine a level – perhaps all the single width bricks in one, all the double width ‘Basic’ bricks in another, all the plates in another etc.
4) Use the Bricklink set inventories (are they accurate enough?) to pick the sets from the bricks, adding any missing bricks to my Bricklink wanted list. I’m planning on buying a few size ziplock bags to hold the sets in – perhaps shoe boxes for the larger sets such as 8880.
5) Order the missing bricks from Bricklink.
6) Have a sneaky build of some of the sets.
Have I missed anything obvious? My other half is amused at how ‘obsessed’ I have become with this project so quickly! I can never do anything by halves - it comes from my physics background I think, everything has to be optimised.
I’d be interested to hear people’s views on this but from what I have seen of the current range, the sets seem to have a lot more unique parts than they did in the 80s/early 90s. As a child, I would have loved to get hold of some these parts – they would have added even more realism to my creations (as evidenced by some of the amazing adult builds I have seen). However I learnt how to build by building hundreds of simpler models from instructions. The more models I built from instructions, the more I got a feel for how the bricks went together, and the more complex I could make my own creations. It is my hunch that a child building the kits of today would find it a lot harder to know how to incorporate the bricks into their own models – the common building techniques may be harder to spot. For this reason, I was thinking of interspersing some of the 80s/90s stuff in with the newer stuff that I will give to my son in the hope that he will ‘learn the trade’ more effectively.
The Technic sets also seem to have changed dramatically since my last set 21 years ago! They look like a cross between Technic as was and the Model Team range that was available at the time. Do the Technic sets now favour form over function, or are the mechanical elements just hidden under more bodywork? I personally liked it when the inner workings of a Technic model were more visible but maybe it is just progress.
Apologies if I am breaking forum etiquette with all these questions in a single post – it kind of all links together however (excuse the pun), and there must be people out there in the same boat. I would love to hear of any success stories from people who have tried to do similar. As I said, if there is any interest, I will endeavour to post pictures of the process as I go along.
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I really envy you! It sounds like you've got a wonderful treasure hunt coming up.
There's some pirate gold in one of the chests...
Thanks, I won't risk it on the blue bricks then. How about light grey castle panels that have dark grey detailing on? Will the detailing stay dark grey? I'm assuming it's just the bricks themselves that have the Bromine in, not the detailing? The same goes for white panels with red detailing on, such as the governors’ buildings from the pirates range.
Good news about the inventories then as I only have a few sets from before 84 and these are mainly universal sets.
I'm ok thanks, I've got 6275 and 6285, so plenty of pirate ships/treasure to be getting on with.
Ah....I never even thought of chemists. These bottles are indeed better value. I found a 200 ml bottle of the Care Plus stuff but 6% concentration, for 80p! I can water that down to 3% and automatically get double the value. How do you find the process works in the UK with the rain and lack of sun? I think I'll probably put it on the windowsill in the garage. That way it will get the sun but won't get watered down if it rains.
I've completed the majority of the pirate and castle sets, and will start working on the monorail next.
a good one on sorting: http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/205/the-sorting-methodology-thread/p1
bit more on peroxide: http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/comment/291895#Comment_291895
on chalky water: http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/16753/cleaning-hard-water-off-lego-bricks
general one on cleaning: http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/69/cleaning-lego
Good luck with it all and enjoy your new hobby!
It has taken me years to sort my LEGO, but I have enjoyed working on my stuff because it was mostly for me. And sorting/cleaning can be relaxing in a way if you don't have a deadline over your head. I have given my 27 year old son thousands of newer parts for building his skyscrapers and temples for inside his aquaria; it has made me quite happy to see him building again. LEGO surely can bring a family together!
Sorry for delay replying. I had a two hour stint sorting some of the white and grey bricks out the other day and it dawned on me just how big this project is! I only managed to get about a tenth of the collection sorted though!
I purchased a small quantity of 6% H2O2 and experimented on a small batch of highly yellowed bricks (we’re talking beige!). Five days in and the yellowing is very pale, although I changed the solution for some new stuff half way though as the reaction seemed to have stopped. I’ve learnt that keeping the bricks in a vertical container (pint glass) seems to work better than in a horizontal container (Pyrex oven dish). This surprised me as I thought increasing the surface area exposed to the sun would help. It’s easier to get submersion of parts in a vertical container however. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I upscale the whole process though – fish tank perhaps!?
I tried to post some photos, but it won’t seem to let me upload them.
So since then, have resorted to gentle rinsing by hand in small batches with occasional use of a toothbrush when necessary. Even that needs to be handled lightly and with a soft brush to avoid scratching. But this is too time and labor intensive in large volume. So guess the only fix is to get a different washer and dryer combo that is top-loading.
I started using the washing machine method years ago and am usually very happy with the results, but I've only started doing that recently here in the UK. My machine in the UK is side loading vs my machine in Canada which was top loading, so maybe the side/top loading thing does account for it.
I'm pretty happy with the results though, I think I'll continue using the washing machine for sets that are quite used or that will go in the parts bin. Likely not for the new sets or any used sets I receive that are in pretty good shape - just in case!
There is one set that I've recently washed though (got it on eBay for a song) that still smells kind of funny... the smell is not bad, but you know how fruity smelling things for kids are very overpowering? The washing machine did not get rid of the fruity smell! Anyone have any ideas?