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Early LEGO Service Packs, Spare Parts Service & Mail Order

IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,183
LEGO Spare parts service have been around long before LEGO Shop-At-Home began.

Interestingly enough one would expect to find Denmark at the forefront of this. But surprisingly Britain, Ireland and Australia were among the earliest to proved this service via British LEGO Ltd.

My Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide chapter on LEGO parts services (60 pages) is one of the largest in my guide. And that's for a good reason... it's very difficult to separate individual Spare Parts service from Service Packs and from Mail-Order. That is partly because different countries handled it differently. In some countries such as Britain, Ireland and Australia... all of these were done exclusively as Mail-Order. This was also how it was done in Italy, Netherlands and other countries. But not Germany... where huge retailer boxes were sitting under or behind the counters at LEGO retailers everywhere.

As I mentioned, Britain, Ireland and Australia seemed to have the earliest service. And that was 1970. Here is a copy of the 1970 UK Spare Parts Service... as Shop-At-Home....

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The items at the top of this image were all spare parts pack type items found at LEGO retailers, but the other items were only mail-order. Interestingly enough... these items pretty much were all the specialty parts available from LEGO at that time, and were mostly wheels/steering, train or motor related.

More to come...

Comments

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,183
    These pages were usually at the back of British LEGO Ltd. catalogs, and this 1971 page is very similar to the earlier one....

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  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,183
    Then in 1972 some additional items were included... such as the new Duplo trolley, early axles (for pre-Technic era gears), and other additional parts for LEGO Trains.

    image


    In Australia... these same service parts were available from the British LEGO Ltd. subsidiary in New South Wales....

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  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,183
    edited October 2014
    I have to correct myself... Italy was like Germany.... where you could (starting in 1971 or 1972) buy your individual service items directly from your LEGO retailer. There was no Shop-At-Home set up just yet in these countries, but there was in other continental European countries. These retailer boxes were either behind the counter, and you had to ask to see the spare parts, or they were located underneath the LEGO shelf.

    The retailer boxes for storing the spare parts were the same type of large wooden boxes that TLG used to sell "with contents" in the 1957-72 era. Here is a large German wooden retailer box....

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    I remember visiting German retailers when visiting there in the 1970s and 1980s, and the boxes were often a hodge-podge of loose and bagged parts. But these bags were not sealed and didn't have the LEGO logo on them. These were often bagged together by the retailer into whatever that retailer wanted to stuff into the baggies. And often the parts were just lying loose in the wooden retailer box. In this image, the retailer added train spare parts pack contents to the box...

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    On the inside lid of the wooden box retailer set was often a parts catalog with pricelist. But often the parts had been so jumbled around and packaged up, that the parts catalog was almost meaningless...

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    One interesting thing about these parts catalogs with pricelists, is that they contain the LEGO factory part numbers... some of the older parts have fewer digits in the part number than the newer parts.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,183
    Also, when the 12V Train System was established (during the blue track era), these were only sold in continental Europe. Britain, Ireland and Australia didn't start 12V trains until the gray track era in 1980.

    So continental European retailers were required to carry 12V train accessories. One of the more interesting storage boxes is the 707 12V accessories retailer box...

    image



    This box contained 12V motor and train accessories. Since these boxes were rather flimsy, very few of these survive...
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,183
    edited October 2014
    Getting back to British LEGO.... the 1976 Service Order Form was the last one with the uniquely UK type parts list...

    image


    In 1977 the spare parts list was completely different. And it matched most of the products that were available in continental Europe that year.... but under different numbering convention... but using the same numbers.

    For example, by this time Italy switched to mail order, so both Britain and Italy had the same item numbers, starting with "Sp" and then 1 or 2 digits. Here's the 1978 UK Service Order Form....

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    And here is the 1978 Germany retailer item list. Since Germany continued to have large retailer boxes at the stores, the same items were sold there, but only as 1 or 2 digit item numbers. The "Sp" was reserved for mail order items, which Germany still did not have at that time.

    image

    In the German catalog it does mention that if your retailer did not have the items that you wanted, you could contact the German LEGO offices.

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    In Germany the Retailer Service Boxes were upgraded as well. They were now plastic with the contents visible, and had the new LEGO logo on the box top.

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  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,183
    edited October 2014
    Then in 1980 all the spare parts assortments became actual Service Packs. And the numbers that they were using before all switched over to 4 digit numbers starting with "11". So the British Sp. 19 (Rod/Piston pack) and the German 19 (Rod/Piston pack)... all became standardized with the same clear polybag look in all countries.

    Here is an example of the 1119 Rod/Piston Service Pack... shown in the old locally sold or mail order nondescript packaging (upper packs), and in the new LEGO labeled service pack that could be mail ordered, put in a Retailer Service Box, or even hung on hooks from a rack (lower packs)....

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    And here is a 1980 Service Pack list (UK) as Mail Order. The same numbers were now used throughout Europe and Australia for all Service Order items, whether they were located within the store, or purchased via mail order.

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    These 11xx and 12xx service packs continued production until they were replaced by a new set of service packs starting with 50xx and 51xx numbers, in 1987.


    USA and Canada were never included in this complex set of Service Packs. What was available in those 2 countries was much more limited until late in the 1980s
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,183
    One other thing about those service packs with the 11xx numbers. Many of these have a 1977 copyright date on the packages. That is basically correct for when they first were introduced.... but not under the 11xx number. In the case of the 1119 Rod/Piston set, even the Brickset database shows an older example (a "19" or "Sp19") that was later relabeled with the 1119 number, likely in 1980.

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  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,183
    One LEGO box that has always puzzled me was this interesting blue topped box from Australia. It may have been an Australian retailer Service Box from the early 1970s, but no other images have ever been found. If it was a retailer box, then some LEGO retailers in Australia may have opted for in-store Service Sales instead of Mail Order.

    image
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,804
    Istokg said:

    One LEGO box that has always puzzled me was this interesting blue topped box from Australia. It may have been an Australian retailer Service Box from the early 1970s, but no other images have ever been found. If it was a retailer box, then some LEGO retailers in Australia may have opted for in-store Service Sales instead of Mail Order.

    image

    Makes sense if shipping to and from AUS is so high for them to actually have the parts in house so to speak.
    All I know is if you want to have a laugh, or a deep sigh that you did not buy parts, check out 80's catalogs where a pack with a cypress tree is 2.75 USD for example. One reason I have kept most of the old catalogs I have gotten in instruction lots and what not is takes me back to my days as a kid where I used to peruse the catalog for what I wanted.
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