While finishing one of my newer volumes of my LEGO Encyclopedia Guide, I came across some odd things about LEGO basic sets in the 1998-2000 era. Both the writing on the box, and the set naming numbers.
For example.... all North American/South American basic sets of this box type had "classic" on the box top....
And all the ROW (rest of world) had "basic" on the box top for the same set numbers...
Not sure why that is... since 'basic' is pretty universally understood. But we never fully understand why TLG does something a bit different.
But anyway... any of these sets sold worldwide came in 2 versions. Those sold only in the Americas or only in ROW came only in either 'classic' or 'basic' box type. DItto for bucket, tub and polybag sets. Makes sense.
And then I saw that many of these sets had a 2nd set number... which is unusual.
Here is a LEGO 1999 UK full line catalog page... and it shows sets with a secondary set number and set type....
But these secondary numbers don't appear elsewhere... and unfortunately there are no 'full line' catalogs for that era from North America to see if those secondary set numbers were used in North America. But in Britain they show Starter Set 100, Super Set 100, Brick Pack 100, Challenger Set 100.... and on into the 200, 300 and maybe 350 and 400 range (for Challenger sets).
But when you look at continental European 1999 catalogs (here's a Dutch one)... it doesn't show the 2nd set numbers (usually 100, 200, 300, 400)...
I noticed that all the online set databases all use the UK set name, which doesn't match elsewhere (which is not unusual)...
Here is a list of most of these basic/classic sets (from my guide), and it shows all the names....
For the folks in the UK these set names match what is in the catalog, but for folks elsewhere, there is no mention of these as... Starter Set 100, Super Set 200, Challenger Set 300, 350 or 400 anywhere in their local catalogs. And of course, in North America... basic (classic) sets are generally ignored in their larger catalogs.
I sometimes think that at TLG.... the left hand doesn't always know what the right hand is doing....
They always like to add a little Mayhem into their set logic! ;-)
There's just as much 'quirkiness" to new LEGO as there is to the earlier years... which I call the "Classic Mayhem Era".... ;-)
One of these basic sets even came with or without a camera in Europe!
And the same set in North America (classic)... didn't have that camera option...
New image for my LEGO Encyclopedia/ and online Collectors guide.
I have been trying to get in touch with you for some time now, both via email and via PM here, but have had no response from you.
Please would you get in touch with me?
These sets were never sold in the USA or Canada... which were still in their Samsonite years... and selling different Samsonite LEGO sets altogether... with the set number = part counts (120, 215, 285, 375, 450, 615).
And the box covers were basically all that you got for instructions.
But there was one build in the 055 set that must have given TLG complaints by parents of young LEGO builders. Because the 055 set did come with one set of instructions for one of the box models.... the truck on the far right.
This is the only model that had instructions that I am aware of....
There may be some other models in one or more of the above sets that were produced.... but I am not aware of them....
Images from my Collectors Guide.
1) North American box type... with parts count, and writing in English/French/Spanish:
2) Germany version of 6493, which comes with a cassette tape....
3) and then there is this version of 6493 which appears to have been a TRU Exclusive for the UK.
Oy.... so many variations.....
...Said the mid-to-late-'80's marketing guy at LEGO North American HQ to the box design people.
It's also important to me to buy eye drops endorsed by Jennifer Aniston because she's pretty and smiles a lot, and drive a Lincoln because Matthew McConaughey rambles nonsense in an expensive suit.
And... Time Cruisers remain very underappreciated. What is on the cassette? Some Europe B-sides? I'm smelling something exclusive!
Thanks for the info! I read about the KLICK magazines, just never got around to reading the ones I saw. It took me a while to understand the Time Busters, Time Cruisers and Time Twisters. And some character names were changed between the time the magazine came out 2 years before the sets, and the actual 1996-97 sets.
Also I noticed that there was a Time Cruisers board game by RoseArt.
But a problem arises with these sets. They were all polybag sets that were sold with Kabaya sweets packaged together in a Kabaya box. But once removed from the box... they become regular LEGO sets.
It appears that most of the Kabaya numbered sets were sold as regular LEGO sets with a different set number. However a large number of these Kabaya numbered sets were also sold as regular LEGO sets under that same number.
For example... the 3016, 3017, 3018 and 3019 sets were sold as a 4 box Kabaya pack... with the individual polybag numbered sets inside....
This is the polybag as found in a Kabaya Sweets packaged box (outside of the box)... and also as sold in Europe/Australia and Asia as polybags...
And here it is as a North/South America polybag only packaged set....
So technically it is only a Kabaya set when it is still box packaged with the sweets. Otherwise it becomes a regular set, since the box to identify it as Kabaya, is gone.
However... some of the 100+ sets that were sold as Kabaya... were only sold boxed in Japan. The problem becomes trying to identifying the Kabaya only sets... especially if some of the known examples no longer have the outer box. Oy!
There's a also a large number of Kabaya packing variations that are poorly documented (at least in the English speaking Lego communities). The problems arise when people don't know about these variations or understand the value difference. For example the four packs that come in their own cardboard tray are more desirable than same four pack that is shrink wrapped as a block. Or as individual boxes, three of the sets may have had a release elsewhere but the fourth is a Kabaya exclusive and demands at high premium.
I've picked up enough of these to know I don't want any more. I cringe every time I think these sets.
Here's a pic of the tin (taken straight from my iPad so apologies if not optimised for web):
Thanks for your comments... this helps explain the difficulty I have had at figuring out which sets were truly Kabaya exclusives, and which ones were sold elsewhere under the same number.
And you make a good point about the Kabaya boxed 4 packs.....
.... as opposed to the Kabaya "bundled" 4 packs...
Some Kabaya sets were even packaged like Ramen Noodles... and command premium prices!
The Knight's Kingdom and Dino Island sets are two that I know came both the tray style and cellophane block style packaging (not shrink wrapped as I said earlier).
I forgot about the Ramen style packaging. I wonder if they have additional instructions printed on the inside like the Kabaya boxes do.
Finding which sets are uniquely Kabaya, and which ones were also sold elsewhere certainly is a challenge.
But I find that Brickset has statistics, that although not foolproof, really help in determinating which sets were Kabaya exclusives.
If you look at the list of all the Kabaya sets in Brickset, for each set it gives you the 10 leading countries that have ownership of the sets.
Some sets have very low populations (of owners), and Japan is near the top in ownership, that tells me that this set is likely a Kabaya exclusive.
But if there are 500+ sets that are not Japanese owned... then I believe the set was sold (in a polybag only) elsewhere.
Also, having a North America (English/French/Spanish) packaging (with part count) is a good indication that this was also sold in North America (often at Shop-At-Home).
I have found those 2 items have helped in determining the distribution of Kabaya numbered sets.
Sam... I love your comparison... LEGO Mayhem is not the exclusive domain of early LEGO sets... it also relates to sets in the modern intro of the internet era. And it amazes me at how poorly documented even the more recent LEGO sets have been at times.
For example... these are all listed as Kabaya Ninja sets 3016-3019. But while this really doesn't tell us much about which sets were Japan Kabaya exclusives... it does tell us that some of these sets appear to only have been sold in specific countries besides Japan....
3016 (Master & Heavy Gun Ninja polybag):
3017 (Ninpo Water Spider Ninja polybag):
3018 (LEGO Shogun Go Ninja polybag):
3019 (Ninpo Big Bat Ninja polybag):
So many of these appear to have been sold in North America, and eastern Europe... as well as western Europe... although it seems as though some of these were not sold in the Netherlands... which is unusual.
And only one of these sets mentions Japan in the Brickset database of collectors sets.
I makes it difficult to determine what was sold where!
One way to start with this might be to look at percentage of owners in a given country vs total users from that country. Let's look at the case of 3017 vs 3018 as an example. 100 out of 282 owners are US users for 3017, which is 35%. 35% of Brickset users are American, so it seems reasonable to concluded 3017 was sold likely in the US. For 3018, there 38 US owners out of 183 total, which is 21%. This is a under-representation, so the set was likely not sold in the US. Looking a little deeper, Poland and Australia are over-represented as is Japan. Germany is dead on at 5%.
I just don't think this will tell you much. Without a bigger date set (ie more owners and more users from the target country) I worries there is just too much noise to really see a clear pattern. Japan represents such a small users base that a single Japanese owner for sets with less than 5000 owners creates an over-representation.
This is also fails to take into account popularity. Ninja, KK I, Adventurers, and Star Wars are very popular themes and collectors are driving a higher demand for these sets. Where as Town, basic and Technic are less popular.
Anyway, just my two cents.
I think you hit the nail on the head. For sets with a large number of owners and low resale numbers, those lists are likely to be pretty indicative, especially if used in conjunction with the percentage representation that you pointed out. But as soon as either the number of owners goes down or the number of resales goes up, that view is going to be immediately muddied. And that's ignoring the fact that, with the low cost and ease of international shipping being what it is today (comparatively, of course), even tracking first sales would not necessarily be a good indicator of where things are being sold. I'm not sure there is any solid way to reliably find this out without either word from the source or a connection with firsthand knowledge from the countries in question. (And even then, for the second it's likely that would only be able to provide a limited view into if something was sold in that one country or not, with similar confirmation necessary in every other country as well.)
Some of the things that I find interesting is that some countries will usually be at the top of the list, such as USA, Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Canada and Australia. It's when I find (for example) the Netherlands missing from the top 10 list... that I wonder if the set was sold at all in the Netherland?
And then we have sets that are near the top of the list for countries such as Poland, Russian Federation, Hungary and Croatia. I would view those as limited release sets that were produced in small numbers as promotional sets in say Japan.... and then also sold in some of those Eastern European countries as well (or other countries that are usually not on the top 10 list).
Back in the 1960s one of the 1:87 vehicles (VW Van) was sold in an extremely rare color (all white)... and although they were produced as a Danish all white promotioanl van (KOLEVAGN labeled), those withouth the labels seem to all originate from Croatia. So over the years TLG sold excess promotional items in other countries (probably limited quantities) as well as the promotional country intended. More Mayhem!
The MODEL TEAM 5580 Highway Rig Set was sold from 1986-92.
It appears that from 1986 until 1989 it was sold in this box design...
Then from 1990 until 1992 the 5580 was sold with this box design, before being discontinued.
It appears that Model Team sets (1986 intro) 5510 and 5540 also come in two variations that both changed in 1990 (where the "M" Model Team logo appeared on the boxes, as well as the words "MODEL TEAM" changed from an earlier cartouche style heading to a later metallic heading. This new box top style was continued in all new Model Team sets until 1999, when (for 1 year) a new box top design was once again introduced. 1999 was the last year for Model Team sets (with the exception of a Legends reissue).
But the 5510, 5540 and 5580 were the only Model Team sets to come in 2 box top designs.
The 700/3A basic set was introduced in 1953, and sold until 1965. When it was introduced there already was a 700/3 and 700/4 set... so they labeled a midsized basic set between those numbers as 700/3A.
It comes it at least 15 box variations.... :-O
Images from my collectors guide.
I believe some Star Wars sets were sold with Kabaya? Anyone know much about that?
Their 2004 Kabaya packaging in Japan. The polybags were inside the box.....
These sets were sold as just polybags elsewhere.
Other than that, the most interesting thing (to me) about the Kabaya sets is that whenever they are offered for sale... the sellers tend to say "don't eat the candy"... which has long ago passed its' "sell by" date... ;-)