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set #575 coast guard - first set with minifigures dated 1977 ??

daveace21daveace21 Member Posts: 41
edited April 2011 in The Database
I have a question. We all know that 1978 was the year that lego mini figures were introduced, but I have a question. On set #575 COAST GUARD, it is the old style box and it is dated 1977, not 1978. I have this set MISB and I am curious if anyone knows if this might technically be the first set lego mass produced with minifigures since it is dated 1977 and has the mid '70's box style. Any info would be highly appreciated as I find this set very interesting due to these factors.
Thanks,
DAVEACE21

Comments

  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    This should be posted in Ask Brickset
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,289
    edited April 2011
    @daveace21: according to The Lego Book: Standing Small by DK Publishing ( http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=DKLegoBook-1 ), the first appearance of the classic minifigure was in set 600 Police Car ( http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=600-1 ). I actually own this set and checked the box and it is dated 1978. I am not sure how DK Publishing sourced this information, but I would like to believe they had it on good authority.

    Even though 575 Coast Guard has an older style box (pre 1978), it looks like there were several other sets from 1978 that also had this style, so I think that alone doesn't prove it is older. Now the fact that you claim your 575 box says 1977 makes it a lot more interesting. Can you post a photo of the date on the box?
  • daveace21daveace21 Member Posts: 41
    Hello Rocao. Thank you for responding to my question on this set.
    I will post a picture tonight as my box does only have the year 1977 on the box and I really would love to know if this is an extreme rarity for this set. I was also shocked when I first purchased this set to see it dated only 1977 as I have never seen a set dated only 1977 that had minifigures, let alone a set that has 5 minifigures in it. Thanks again and look forward to hearing back from you after I post the pic.
    dave
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,462
    Guys, there are a bunch of sets from 1977 with minifigs. See for example set 373 which is the oil rig with tanker :

    http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=373-1

    There's also the rally car and TV crew from 1977 and maybe others too.

  • vynsanevynsane Member Posts: 179
    Guys, there are a bunch of sets from 1977 with minifigs. See for example set 373 which is the oil rig with tanker :

    http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=373-1
    But those aren't the 'modern minifigure' we know today, they're the precursor 'no face/no arms/duck leg' versions. It wasn't until 1978 that they got face printing, arms, and articulated legs. In contrast, the figures in 575 are the modern versions, so if that set truly came out in 1977, it would support the claim in the initial post.

    That said, if the date is in the copyright info on the 575 box (I can't picture where else it would be), it's possible that the template used to print that info on the box might not have been updated as quickly as it should have been. I'd wager the Brickset database is correct, and the release year of that set was 1978 and that the copyright date was just incorrect.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,462
    But those aren't the 'modern minifigure' we know today, they're the precursor 'no face/no arms/duck leg' versions. It wasn't until 1978 that they got face printing, arms, and articulated legs. In contrast, the figures in 575 are the modern versions, so if that set truly came out in 1977, it would support the claim in the initial post.
    Ah - got you. Thanks for clarifying. As is the case today, it's theoretically possible that 575 started to be sold in 1977 (in the same way as many of the 2011 sets were available in December 2010) and that the box was therefore printed in and trademarked/copyright 1977, but it would still be classified as a 1978 set.

  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    Technically the copyright is on the photographic image on the box, which could easily have been taken in 1977 for a set released early in 1978.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,289
    This is where collaborative power kicks in. If anyone has set 600 Police Car or 575 Coast Guard, specifically, or set from 1978 ( http://www.brickset.com/search/?year=1978 ) that is dated 1977, we'd love to hear from you!
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,289
    edited April 2011
    Technically the copyright is on the photographic image on the box, which could easily have been taken in 1977 for a set released early in 1978.
    Agree, although if the boxart was ready for 575 in 1977 and 600 wasn't ready until 1978, one could conjecture that 575 was first. Then there's always the distinct possibility they were all released at the same time, but I wonder why DK specifically mentioned 600 Police Car as being the first set.
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    IIRC, they rushed the release of the first minifigure sets for some reason. The first sets released were not the ones they had originally planned for the launch of the minifigure; those came out later in the year. For sets 600/601/602/etal you get the feeling that the minifig was almost chucked in the box just seconds before the flaps were stuck down ...
  • daveace21daveace21 Member Posts: 41
    These are all great comments and very helpful to me. I will post the pic tonight so hopefully this can give us all the best educated guess. I want to thank you all in advance for helping me out on this question. Perhaps we are on the verge of making a great LEGO discovery here!!!
    Dave
  • daveace21daveace21 Member Posts: 41
    above are the pics of the set with the 1977 date. Sorry the pics are so big.
    Look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on this. Thanks again!
    Dave
  • GladiatoringGladiatoring Member Posts: 11
    Hi, " I am not sure how DK Publishing sourced this information" , I believe straight from the horses mouth so to speak, heres a link to a lego.com, which has a little history on the minifigure and states the first "was a police officer".
    http://parents.lego.com/en-us/news/minifigure 30th birthday.aspx
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,289
    It certainly is peculiar; I checked my ~12 boxed sets from the 1978 production year, and they all say 1978. I'd like to see if more people with boxed sets from 1978 can provide information. But, as bluemoose mentioned, the copyright could just be for the boxart.

    Personally, I think it's more correct to attribute the introduction of the modern minifigure to the 1978 production year and not with a specific set.
  • mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
    Wasn't this set released the year before, but with the old style figs? If so, that could theoretically have something to do with the earlier copyright date.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,289
    ^ Do you mean this set: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=369-1

    It looks quite a bit different, so I don't think it would carry the same copyright.
  • daveace21daveace21 Member Posts: 41
    This really is a mystery!!! Perhaps my set was some type of "prototype" set and somehow got released into the public by accident. The bottom line is this set is the only set I have ever seen that has a copyright date of 1977 with the full minifigures in it. I do not really know anyone else on this site so perhaps some of you could forward this discussion to other members who might be able to give us some ideas or information. Thank you again!
    Dave
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,289
    Here are the Lugnet notes on the set: http://guide.lugnet.com/set/mdata.cgi?q=575_1&v=n

    Jean-Pierre Ruijs writes "Box says: Contents made in Denmark, Switzerland. Distributed by LEGO Inc., Enfield CT 06082. copyright 1977 LEGO System A/S"

    So, regrettably, I don't think it is something unique with your copy. The 1977 catalog does not have the set, and the 1978 set does, so I do believe it is a 1978 set, just with a 1977 copyright for whatever reason.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,667
    @daveace21, I got you PM: I don't really have a clue why the date is 'wrong'. I suspect sets for the US market were packaged at Enfield in the 1970s using boxes printed in the US, so it could jst be a mistake. They were probably designed/printed in 1977 and whoever laid the design out used that instead of the intended release date.
  • daveace21daveace21 Member Posts: 41
    @huw , thank you very much for your help. This forum is a great addition to this wonderful site.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,667
    I've commented on this to get it on the front page again: I'm hoping Gary Istok can shed some light on this. If he can't, nobody can :-)
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 812
    IIRC, they rushed the release of the first minifigure sets for some reason. The first sets released were not the ones they had originally planned for the launch of the minifigure; those came out later in the year.
    I remember reading that in a BrickJournal interview a few issues ago. I believe the story was that they came up with the idea for minifigures in something like 1976, and planned to release them in 1979 or 1980 (I don't recall the exact dates).

    Then, one of their designers got a job at one of LEGO's competitors! He was going to leaving the company, so LEGO wanted to be SURE that they were the first ones to go to market, and that their designer didn't spill the beans to their competitor.

    As a result, LEGO rushed them into production, and decided to package minifigures into the 1978 lineup. But of course almost none of the 1978 sets were constructed to FIT minifigures into the vehicles or buildings-- they were built without minifigs in mind. So a bunch of the 1978 models didn't quite make sense.

    Keep in mind, too, that this was all done by hand at the time-- computers weren't really in use. It's entirely possible that this set was an error in terms of the date printed on the box.

    DaveE
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,144
    Thanks Huw...

    Where to begin..... ;-).....

    First of all TLG does say that the first release of the "regular" minifigs was 1978... and that appears to be correct.

    Second... never read too much into a copyright date on a LEGO box as to it being released that year.... it's not always the case....

    The 575 was definitely patterned on the earlier 369 set. The 369 set was produced in EU/UK/AUS earlier with the minifig "stiffs" as I call them (no moveable arms or legs). So this design was reused and modified for the USA/Canada market.

    The Canadian 575 is different from the USA one (different flag and sticker sheet). I'm curious as to what the (Samsonite of Canada) Canadian 575 set has as a copyright date. In the 1970s most Canadian sets used the European set numbering system, whereas the USA had their own numbers. But some sets, such as the 575... were USA/Canada exclusives (190 Farm Set and 196 Antique Car are 2 others).

    Now, I don't want to disparage TLG in any way... they've given me a lot of very valuable information. However... I have found that "HOW" the archives are interpreted can vary from one TLG employee to the next. For any of you that have THE ULTIMATE LEGO BOOK of 1999... you will find many errors in the books Timeline. Even if you go to the official LEGO website... their timeline has a lot of errors. Again... it is a matter of interpretation.

    And getting back to the minifigs... here's what I would read into the 600 set having the first minifigs.... OK... maybe when the sets with minifigs were designed... the 600 was the first one that made it to the "finish line"... i.e. approved for the 1978 catalog and for production. That doesn't necessarily mean it was the first one shipped out.

    I'm sure that both 575 and 600 and all the other sets were ready for the retailers around the same time...

    But the details in statistics such as with the date on the 575, and the documentation on the 600 set.... is in the interpretation...

    Hope that helps!
    Cheers,
    Gary Istok
  • daveace21daveace21 Member Posts: 41
    Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their posts. I think I will go with the interpretation that I own the very first ever produced lego set with full minifigures that came off the production line at the LEGO factory. It is more fun for me to think I have a piece of LEGO history in my living room! :)
    -daveace

    P.S. Gary is correct that THE ULTIMATE LEGO BOOK OF 1999 does have a lot of errors in the timelines, still a great book, but I do remember questioning some of the dates and statements when I first skimmed over the book.
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,506
    edited April 2011
    OK, I checked my 575 and also came up with a 1977 date as well. I don't own set 600 though.
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