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Upon inspection, one of the little sticky "tabs" on the side had come off, allowing me to look inside, and I found exactly what you describe. I wasn't sure if the instructions (and baseplate) were included in the 4 sealed boxes, or if they had been removed.
It's quite possible that the sticky tab simply wore off after sitting in a closet for 5+ years, and it was MISB when I bought it. However, the sale I purchased it at was an overstock sale at LEGO. Certainly most (if not all?) of the LEGO there was intended to be sold via [email protected] in the USA, and there was a large pile of 3450's. However, LEGO's not always 100% consistent. It *COULD* be that these were opened sets which had their instruction manuals removed (maybe as replacements for customers?), and weren't really MISB.
Anyway, the fact that you're reporting this makes me slightly more confident that yes, the instructions are in the inner boxes. But I can't confirm for sure. If you do manage to find out one way or another, please post a followup!
I suspect it's in the inner box because that was the case with #10019 Rebel Blockade Runner which is packaged similarly and produced during the same era.
I just went into the loft to check the sizes of the boxes compared to that of the instructions and a 32x32 baseplate.
The inner boxes are bigger than I remember and plenty big enough to hold the instructions and a 32x32 baseplate.
Can't you hold up each inner box and rotate them, listening/feeling for the movement of a relatively heavy instruction book?
Better still, open them up and enjoy the build. :-)
Same for 10179 UCS Millennium Falcon (not packed in with the pieces - instructions in their own box).
http://news.lugnet.com/general/?n=23001 I hadn't thought to weigh the boxes, though-- that's not a bad idea. Knowing the weight of the pieces in the inventory, you probably SHOULD be able to calculate the weight of the bricks, and see if one of the boxes is significantly heavier than it "ought" to be.
The 3450 instructions are only A4.
What a Christmas that was, in 2000, I gave my 6 year old daughter the Minifigure and I had both the dragon and Liberty sculptures.
Happy memories? How can I be sure, now that I realise that this memory was flawed?
Back on topic, I hope you get your answer and that everthing's in the inner boxes.
Box 1: 1250g
Box 2: 1740g
Box 3: 1345g
Box 4: 1470g
BrickLink says that the total weight of the *elements* (not including the instructions or boxes) is 5094.86g, which means that (if correct) there's 710.14g left over to account for the weight of the cardboard boxes and the instructions. My instructions weigh roughly 230g, which matches what BrickLink says, which means the boxes should account for 480.14g, or about 120g each. If the instructions AREN'T included, it would be 177.535g per box.
Box 2 certainly weighs more, and sounds like SOMETHING is in there, but I can't say for sure whether or not it's the instruction booklet, or the 32x32 baseplate, or both. I would GUESS it's the instruction booklet, but I can't really guarantee it. Certainly the baseplate weighs a chunk (a similar old gray baseplate of mine weighs 98.05g, although BrickLink says they weigh about 107g), and not quite enough to account for the extra ~300g in Box 2 beyond the weight of box 4 (the next most heavy box). So... I'm going to guess that they probably ARE in box 2, pending further investigation.
If I can find a way to better estimate the weight of the boxes (minus the contents), maybe we can be a little more sure...
Of course, if we knew, then it wouldn't be worth so much! :)
Buy 10 of them back then for $500, sell them for $20,000 today!
I actually bought a chunk of stuff to give away, because the sale was such a good opportunity to get stuff for cheap. We weren't really supposed to resell any of it, either-- they made us agree to that for the 2004 sale, but the 2005 sale it wasn't explicitly stated, just implied via precedent.
Anyway, the result wound up being that I still have a pile of stuff that was intended to be "giveaway" prizes, which, at the time, were worth relatively little, but now are worth a LOT. Like 4501, which I bought for about $6.00 (and intended to be a "medium" prize, since it was worth about $30 MSRP), would now be worth about $130 or so (a much bigger category prize!)
I'm in the LEGO reselling business, so everything is always colored by that. If I wasn't, then it wouldn't be.
As the outer seals of main box are loosen or simply come off owing to age, it's too easy for a precious owner to remove the booklet and especially the rare baseplate for whatever reasons, and pass it on as MISB to unsuspecting buyer.
Your information seems to contradict @davee123 and my sets (mine is a monochrome box)
I do have 3 sets 3450 all with opened outerboxes. 2 sets have all innerboxes closed, 1 set had box 1 and 2 opened and box 3 and 4 closed.
So my conclusion is that B&W weight is different spread over the 4 innerboxes.
Other conclusion is that instructions are included in the inner boxes (as you can compare the BW editions).
If base plate is included is not to say. In opened innerboxes 1 and 2 there is no baseplate. So it's in 3 or 4 or not included.
Strange is that innerboxes boxes weigh 178 gram, so that doesn't match with post from davee13. But I see on BL total weight has been updated, but that's not correct. total weight is about 6.375.
If I deduct 4 X 178 and 233 from the 5.892 that would leave 4.947 for all the parts. But I don't know how correct the 5095 gr mentioned is? difference is 148 gr.
Maybe someone has correct answer of more information?