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Does this count as the greatest digression in the history of LEGO online forums ?
I do feel compelled to reply, despite the fact this has been beaten to death. Ah well, such is my nature. Please, please, please, just skip over this post if you're getting tired of this philosophical debate.
A set can be defined however you like. But if you define a set a particular way, it will limit your responses to other questions if you want to remain logically consistent with your a prior definitions. If you want to be irrational, then it doesn't matter.
I define things as follows:
A set is the numerically identical collection of tangible items that has been offered for acquisition by TLG as a collective unit. The tangible items include plastic elements, sticker sheet, and instructions. The box and other packaging can be considered a container for the set, not an integral part of the set. However, because the box and packaging is strongly associated with the set it can be considered an accessory part of the set.
A model is the intangible specific arrangement of plastic elements. When a model is built it is fixed in a tangible medium.
Plastic elements are the numerically identical tangible bricks, mini figures, and other parts produced by TLG. Parts is synonymous with elements.
Ownership is pretty straightforward. Note, since a model is intangible it follows the same logic as ownership of intellectual property, which is also intangible, but may be fixed in a tangible medium.
Based on my definitions, you can figure out all of the questions I have been posing in a consistent way. To answer the original question, you do not own the set if you build the corresponding model from disparate parts unless those parts originate from the set you are attempting to own. This answer is using the above definitions, of course.
Now, if your definition of a set is model and mini-figures, what do you mean by model? If you're talking about a specific arrangement of bricks, then until the model is realized through the act of building it, you do not own the set. You wouldn't own a set unless it is built. If by model you mean the parts that make up the specific arrangement of bricks, regardless of configuration, then you would need to accept that you own a superposition of sets. This arises from the possibility that a definite set of bricks can potentially belong to more models than it is possible to build at a single point in time using that set of bricks.
The conclusions logically flow from how you choose to define set.
As for set ownership, my position is this. Logically, I say if you own the pieces to make a set and you have access to the instructions (and thus could print out a little booklet if you want), then you own the set. The box seems irrelevant because it is packaging, just like the plastic bags of parts inside.
However, my personal feelings toward my own collection are different. Every set I own has been bought by me or for me and I have opened the box and assembled the set new. If I had a used set I would only consider it an actual set if I bought it in entirety (not necessarily separated out from other sets, but not missing any pieces either).
The question I have is: I currently own a pile of letters. What words do I own?
Also, for anyone interested, it is much cheaper to build your words from individual letters bought online than it is from the official word magnet store. You just need to be organized and put some time into it, but the process is a lot of fun!
I think we need a "Philosophy of Lego" category.
As a builder a set is just a shorthand way to know what parts you own. It doesn't matter how the parts came to be as long as they are functionally equivalent, and they are all there.
As a collector I would say what counts is if you either own the original box or instructions, and in fact it doesn't even matter if you have any of the parts. At first this may sound counterintuitive, but part of the information a collector is looking for on Brickset is rarity. The fact that someone owns a pair of instructions and or a box shows that the full set existed at some point in time. (Observant readers will point out that a box and a pair of instructions could become separated and therefore turn into two "sets", but not much can be done about that.) I would further argue that missing or replacement parts are actually a question of set condition not set identity.
In fact I don't think either of these definitions are mutually exclusive. People could list what sets they own by parts, but if they don't list having a pair of instructions or box then I don't think they should be added to the main tally. That way we wouldn't end up seeing people owning sets that were never released and other peculiarities that currently happen within the database. ;)
In this instance (as with most "put together" instances)... you may own the model(s)... but you certainly don't own the set....
Some people want the the important parts, some people all the parts, some people the instructions, some people the box, some people the unopened box. Thats established. You will never be able to work out a definition that fits everyone.
Now when it comes time to sell on average you will find the set with the box and instructions will go for more than the set without these items. The price difference on average will be what the market values the box and the instructions to be and nothing more. If the box, instructions and bricks did somehow combine to become something special other than the sum of its parts, or a "set", it would command a higher price. This just does not occur. There is no extra value to having all three of these items together in an unsealed set. The guy with the briclink Taj could go buy a box and instructions and would receive on average the same price as the store bought Taj. Likewise the guy with the store bought Taj could sell the set without the box and instructions and on average would receive the same price as the bricklink sourced Taj. The market does not value the fact all parts were bought at the same time vs at different times as long as they are of similar condition.
Now sealed sets, especially limited run sealed sets, are another breed altogether. A sealed set offers an intangible difference to an opened or bricklink set. Once opened however the store bought set will never command a price higher than the sum of its parts. So in my mind there is a huge difference between factory sealed sets and all others, but no difference between opened factory sets and PAB sets.
@doriansdad You say: Um, did you not read what @Istokg wrote?
If you're planning on selling, however, the definition of a 'complete set' becomes much more critical, and more specifically the need to be entirely transparent about whether it's the original bricks you're selling etc.
@doriansdad Interesting point about the seal. Hadn't really thought of that, but it makes sense. I'm not comfortable, however, with the fact that I lose ownership of a set the moment I break the seal. Might it be that the inflated prices are a reflection of the guarantee that you are indeed purchasing a complete set versus an open set that might be a complete set, but potentially could have been tampered with? In other words, an opened set is complete, but loses value because the buyer cannot be assured that it is. By analogy, if I buy a new car, ship it by flatbed truck to my house, and then try to sell it, I will not come close to recouping my investment. The car would sell at the price point of a used car despite never having been used.
So, I am curious. What are your thoughts on Bricklinking a set that is pricey and hard to get. If you have all of the pieces, and built the set, do you count it as a 'have' in your collection?
I have bricklinked my own versions of GC and CC, they look great and have no desire to have the originals.
I have bought several sets that were incomplete, but I matched the ID numbers and colours exactly to complete each set. I also now have lots of spares (as I bought a dozen or so of each). So instead of having 3 incomplete sets, they are now added to my others as complete, including all the mini figures, instruction books and all the bricks and accessories.
I don't believe you have a complete set if you don't have the name plate. You have a significantly cheaper variant of the set, which looks almost as good for display, but it is not complete. Same as if you replace some parts with cheaper alternatives in other models. It may look just as good, but it is not strictly complete.
Your example shows why the name plate for some of the architecture sets (and UCS sets) can be so high. You are not going to get one unless someone else parts the set out. If it is a valuable set and that is the only unique part, then that part will be a significant cost.
For example, the geometry of the 1x1 plate w/clips has evolved over time. Also, as close as Lego tries to get colors, one batch may be a visibly different hue than another. Then there's fading. If you are selling an older set, the bricks may look great together, but if you have to patch in a few new pieces, those might really stand out because they haven't uniformly faded as the others have. It's the old "replace the drapes and suddenly you need new carpet" problem.
The last one can be annoying even if you are keeping it for yourself.
- each part can only be used once (in max. 1 model);
- the models are chosen such that the remaining number of pieces is the lowest possible.
Using this definition one does not own a superposition of sets.
To answer the OP's question: I'm ok with it if you want to count that as owning a set. I'm not sure if I would do the same. So far I only count a set as 'owned' if I bought the set as a whole (so no Bricklinking etc.) and complete. Up until now complete is with box and instructions, but not in all cases sealed boxes. If I stumble upon a cheap complete set without the box and/or instructions (and I buy it), I'll probably count it as 'owned' as well, but so far that hasn't been the case. Somehow it doesn't feel right to me (for my own collection, that is), to count Bricklinked 'sets' as a set I would own.
It is great news if the consensus was that a set missing minifigures and/or parts is considered "owning" a set because now I have about 3000+ sets ;)
Personally, I don't consider a set in my collection a set without having 100% of the pieces to build the set. Era specific colors and molds are a must for me. Would you have a complete set of CMF Series 10 if you were missing the Mechanic? Instructions get lost or torn and boxes get thrown away, so I would still say I have the set. Although, if I were to sell or buy a set, I wouldn't consider it 100% complete if the instructions were not included.
Summary: Let each person define "set" as she wishes, and just be sure to notify any buyers of anything that is not original.
Did I use too many words?
Four options: The "he"s can:
-have a duel at twenty paces,
-throw their bricks at each other,
-have a p*@sing contest or
-pretend they are "she"s.
I own several Polybags where I bought the bricks on Bricklink, for me they are complete and count as set when I have the bricks and the (original) instruction. If the instruction is not original it has to be printed out. Otherwise it doesn't count.
Ultimately it is in the eye of the beholder.... or person purchasing the set.
I hope you know I was being sarcastic ;)