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LEGO Sets numbering

gimegime Member Posts: 21
edited April 2011 in Everything else LEGO
Does anyone know what are the rules of sets numbering? How does TLG assign those numbers?
Sometimes several sets from the same theme get consecutive numbers but is there any explanation why the new Atlantis sets will have numbers starting from 7976?
It's been admitted that the letters on sticker license plates represent initials of the set designer. But nothing ever I heard about the numbers.


  • HuwHuw Administrator Posts: 7,088
    edited April 2011
    4 digit numbers for 'regular' sets are now allocated randomly. Until the mid-1990s LEGO followed a very rigid scheme with the number indicating the theme and the size of the set [1], but back then it was easier to with relatively few different themes.

    [1], so 6801 was a small space set, 6899 a large one
  • gimegime Member Posts: 21
    This is even more confusing when you realize that there are still some gaps in the 4-digit numbering sequence and at the same time there are also numbers that have been used more than once.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,290
    edited April 2011
    4 digit numbers for 'regular' sets are now allocated randomly.
    Random for some logical grouping and not for each set, though, right? Because closely similar sets will still be in a sequential range, i.e.
  • davee123davee123 Member Posts: 854
    edited April 2011
    From 1949-1979, LEGO predominantly used a 3-digit numbering scheme. I'm not sure if there was an organizational structure to it (seems like not much). There were a few 4-digit sets here and there, but almost all the 4-digit sets that existed started with "1" (#1000-#1999).

    From 1980 to maybe 1996? LEGO had a pretty nicely defined numbering system, as Huw mentioned above. Each theme (or product, like DUPLO) had a designated range for the mainstream sets. Small sets would be at the lower end of the range, and larger sets would be at the higher end of the range. For the "space" theme, the range was #6800-#6999. So #6801 was a very small set, #6901 was a "medium-sized" set, and #6990 was a large set.

    In the late 1990's up until 2002 LEGO tried in vain to hold on to their 4-digit numbering scheme. They were running out of numbers, and needed to either start re-using old numbers (like #6075), or figuring out a new scheme. Instead, they just started bending the rules. They started making some exceptions, like small sets getting high, yet in-range numbers. For instance, #6999 was a medium set, which came at the end of the space range, or #6094 which was a small/medium set which was also at the high end of the castle range.

    In 2001, LEGO opened up to mainstream sets receiving 5-digit numbers with the Guarded Inn (#10000), but didn't start numbering very many in this range. Initially, 5-digit set numbers were explicitly for "LEGO Direct", which pretty much meant they were intended for AFOLs.

    They finally gave up even trying to keep the rules of the 4-digit system in 2003, with set numbers wildly out of their "appropriate" ranges. Instead of using the tried-and-true range, they instead simply started trying to fill in gaps in the existing range of 4-digit numbers.

    The philosophy (which still appears to be in use) is that they'll look for a large range of unused 4-digit numbers for a given product release. Then, everything within that release will be given sequential numbers within that range (typically ordered from smallest to largest). Rarely within the past 8 years, you can find "holes" of 1 number in these ranges, where a product was obviously removed from the final production release-- IE, it was assigned a number, and then never actually released.

    Eventually, LEGO's going to have to give up the 4-digit system entirely, OR have to start re-using more set numbers. My guess is (does anyone know?) that there's probably some internal discussions about moving to a 5+ digit system, but there are probably a lot of systems that simply aren't designed to handle that which have been in place for the last 30 years.

  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    ^Thanks @davee123 That makes a lot of sense. I'm curious what the inside LEGO discussion on this topic is.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Member Posts: 10,791
    I thought that one of the numbers now signifies the year it was made now?
  • davee123davee123 Member Posts: 854
    I don't think the number has anything to do with the release year-- here's a few numbers from 2011 sets:

    2063 Stormer 2.0
    2254 Mountain Shrine
    3648 Police Chase
    3815 Heroic Heroes of the Deep
    4182 The cannibal Escape
    4642 Fishing Boat
    5679 Police Bike
    5767 Cool Cruiser
    6138 My First First Station
    6918 Blacksmith Attack
    7286 Prisoner Transport
    7327 Scorpion Pyramid
    8066 Off-Roader
    8804 Series 4 Minifigures
    9348 Community Minifigure Set

  • Coder_XCoder_X Member Posts: 29
    Why didn't they just start from 1 and for each set use the next number? Easy as 1-2-3...
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    In the olden days of LEGO (1950s and early 1960s)... life was much easier then... every basic set started with the number 700.... in fact from 1949-55 every LEGO set started with the number 700.... 700/0, 700/1, 700/2, 700/3, 700/3a, 700/4, 700/5, 700/6, 700a, 700b, 700c, 700d, 700e, 700f.... and so on. There are nearly 200 LEGO sets/spare packs, parts and baseplates that all start with 700/x or 700x from 1949-65.

    Life was much simpler then...... LOL....
  • HuwHuw Administrator Posts: 7,088
    edited April 2011
    @davee123, nice post, thanks.

    Part of the problem is that the number of sets released every year has mushroomed since the mid 1990s. Looking at (with regular list view) you can see that less than 150 sets a year were made up until 1995. Now it's close to 500 a year. 9999 numbers isn't going to go far at that rate.

    It should be easy to see how many unallocated 4 digit numbers there are from the Brickset database: I'll run a query later and let you know.

    I think we'll see the adoption of another 5 digit series for regular sets fairly soon. Perhaps then, with more numbers at their disposal and starting afresh, they may apply more logic to their allocation.

    Already we have

    1xxxx: Direct
    20xxx: Brickmaster
    21xxx: Architecture
    3xxxx: Promos
    4xxxx: Seasonal

    Maybe 5xxxx will be regular sets one day.
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu Member Posts: 2,318
    Is there an easy way to find out the TLG set number for the promotional in-store builds & the like?
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu Member Posts: 2,318
    Trying find the TLG numbers for these items:

    December 2014 Australia: Lego build-a-tree-ornament promotional event at Westfield Shopping Centres on selected.

    December 2014 Australia: Lego build-a-tree-ornament promotional event at Westfield Shopping Centres on selected.

    9th of May 2015 Australia: Toys R Us Ninjago 1st instore-build event (total of 4 builds over 4 Saturdays).
  • HuwHuw Administrator Posts: 7,088
    They are unlikely to have LEGO issued numbers, they were probably just a bunch of loose parts.
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu Member Posts: 2,318
    So TLG don't give these in-store build promos numbers? Is it the same deal with the Star Wars TRU in-store build promos?
  • HuwHuw Administrator Posts: 7,088
    It is, which is why we give them 'numbers' like TRUWOOKIE-1 etc.
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu Member Posts: 2,318
    Once we've gotten all four of the Ninjago ones, did you want the images for them?
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