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Samsonite Canada Rare Undocumented 80's Space Minifig Set
Currently on Ebay is a very unusual and rare blister pack. http://www.ebay.com/itm/311843769059?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT
I have been collecting Samsonite Lego for many years and have never seen one of these. It has two minifigs: a standard white spaceman and a red one with no space logo and black "fused" legs from the early "faceless" minifigs. Also included are two engine pods, what might be a white steering wheel and two walkie-talkies. It has a long cardboard backing with a picture of a spaceship, rocket and base that are not official sets. It is an official Samsonite set, however - packaged in Canada from parts made in Denmark. Like similar blister packs Samsonite put out in the 80s, it is unnumbered (I have a rare blister town-value pack which has Samsonite versions of 6609, 6624 and 6628 - it has no number but is similar to sets: 1976, 1978 and 1979). They also did a range of numbered minifig blister packs, although the numbers don't feature prominently on the packaging. Look up 0011 to 0016 in the database.
The inclusion of the red fig with no logo and the "charlie chaplin" black legs might suggest it is not original but since Samsonite did their own packaging, it's highly likely it is original. The seller, equiti, bought it himself and is trustworthy; he has been selling for many years (I've bought quite a lot of Canadian sets from him). What is likely to have happened is that Samsonite have seen a way of getting rid of old stock. The outdated legs would have been useless to them. The red torso was likely from a batch of early ones that required stickers. I've got a few 1978/79 Canadian space sets that have the stickered torsos - especially red ones.
So a very interesting set that already has quite a lot of buyer interest (It has already gone beyond my price range!). Sets like these can't be added to the database without an official Lego number but perhaps the small number on the back, bottom right hand corner could be used @Huw
? It is C503907.
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Recent discussions •
That black LEGO "stiffs" torso of the 1970s was last used in 1980-83 in the 1592 Town Square sets (supposedly some of these may have been sold in Canada).
At first I though that unnumbered blister pack may have been an incomplete 6822 set that was opened and some parts were missing, while others got added. But it is a sealed blister pack. Those parts are just unrelated in as-is sealed condition.
Here's what I think. TLG bought the LEGO license back in 1985 from Kohlberg Kravitz and Roberts... the Wall Street hostile takeover firm that broke apart the Beatrice Corporation... the huge multinational corporation that purchased Samsonite in 1973. Samsonite was spun off again in 1985 as an independent company, but without the LEGO license. However TLG was doing so well with LEGO sales in Enfield CN that they didn't have the capacity to add on Canadian sales in 1985... and TLG licensed Samsonite of Canada to continue production at their Stratford Ontario plant until mid 1988, when production was phased out and moved to Enfield (although Canadian LEGO catalogs weren't merged to the USA catalog until 1994).
So in October 1988 Samsonite had a huge liquidation sale of leftover inventory of LEGO parts and sets at reduced prices, and the public eagerly bought up every thing.... here is a 25th anniversary news article of that 1988 event....
I believe that Samsonite of Canada took all their left over Samsonite related items... such as blister packs... and just loaded them with unrelated parts that were machine packaged and sold at giveaway prices.
I think that this sealed set was one of those items... not a real LEGO set... but a last minute "dumping" set. Do I think it's worth the high price? No not really.
When the USA lost the Samsonite license, they did something similar with their leftover parts. They created the #695 Bulk Pack set... no two of which were the same... here's 3 of those sets....
What I notice is that the packaging is not like the 1979 - early 80s blister packs the Canadians made. The font style is different; more akin to the later 80s. Also, the age recommendation is only 3 years of age, as compared to the 1979, 0012 Space figures that has 6 years and the 1983, 6711 Space Minifig pack that has 5 years (Clearly the "safety" factor was a decreasing "concern" over the years, which seems to go counter to popular theory!).
As to the value - well it is certainly extremely rare, is undoubtedly genuine and (this particular example) may well be unique. It is also odd while still having the "cuteness" factor. For a collector (with deep pockets) that ticks quite a few boxes.
It's too bad there isn't a date anyway. Saying that it could only have been made between 1978-1988 is a huge range. The packing has an image is that is from the back of #6907. Lower center image as seen here. That might narrow it down a bit.
I'm wondering if this is somehow a Canadian version of 14. I've always thought sets 14 and 15 were made as a way dumping or reducing inventories. Given that I personally don't think anybody really knows anything about this sets and there are no known sealed examples, seems like it could be likely. Anyway, it's all pure speculation on my part.
Unfortunately, while I was eating my lunch here in New Zealand, I missed the Canadian boxed 6931 from the same seller that I was bidding on... Might take another couple of years before another one of those comes by again - or longer! Patience is a must in the collecting game.
Very neat piece of LEGO/Samsonite history that some lucky bloke will get to add to their collection. Hopefully, for them (but not likely) Gary is wrong and it is an actual LEGO set.
The set doesn't appear in the catalogues but it is a legitimate Samsonite set and since they had the Lego licence at the time, anything they labelled as Lego can reasonably be considered a set. Even if it was a way of moving old stock, they went to the trouble of printing the card and creating the "blister". They could have sold them as single, unpackaged pieces, or in unmarked or stickered plastic bags. Instead they chose to create legitimate looking packaging. It is certainly a part of Lego history which is very interesting.
Another obscure Lego distributor was in Brazil in the 1980s - They packaged and distributed to South American countries in the 80s. I have a 6657 Fire Patrol Helicopter MISB that was made in Brasil. I must do a post and add a pic about it.
Between the final price on this set and what a sealed Town #6002 sold for my dreams of owning an of the rare Castle minifigure packs are well and truly shattered. For this to be in the range that they were tells me the rare Castle packs are likely to be over $2,000. And that's well out of my price range.
Samsonite of Canada LEGO is quite the collectible. If you thing about it, it's the smallest LEGO market where items were made there... the others being USA (1961-72 Samsonite, 1973-present TLG), Britain/Ireland/Australia (British LEGO Ltd. 1960-78), and TLG continental Europe & Asia + Britain/Australia after 1978. Of course this was before the move to Mexico for North America, and the partial move to Czech Republic & Hungary and China.
Here's a Canadian 1975 sold #182 Train set that was made in Denmark. but shipped to Canada (rather than made in Canada)... the Canadians just added a pair of stickers to the front of the box....
And here's a real rarity.... a Denmark 1976 produced #183 set that was sold in Argentina at that time... (very limited quantities)....
This unknown Lego Space minifig blister pack appears to be set number 3907 from 1984.
In 1984 the Samsonite Canada catalog listed accessory sets 801 for Fabuland characters and 802 for assorted Duplo characters.
Here is an image of the front of an 801 Duplo set with no number in front from the Lego archives in Billund and the image from the side of the box of the 1981 2340 set. (Note the match with the Canadian 1984 catalog price and the different Duplo characters.)
Here is a picture of an 802 set with no number in front (also with different minifigs than the 1984 catalog) and the image from the side of the box of the 1979 341 set.
Similarly, here is the Space minifig set, again with no number in front and the image from the back of the box of the 1979 6970 set.
Each of the three sets includes on the right a recently discontinued figure/part. The Duplo sets second figure (dupfig040) was last sold in the 1982 2648 set. The Fabuland sets bulldog (fab2k) was last sold in the 1984 3664 set. The discontinued black minifig legs found on the second minifig of the Space set was last sold in Canada in the 1592 Town Square set advertised in the 1981 Sears Canada Christmas catalog. The extra space left with the smaller space minifigs may be why that set included additional parts.
The size, packaging, font and text layout is identical for the Fabuland, Duplo and Space minifig sets with the front of each set featuring its own picture placed between the top and bottom yellow bars. All three sets are labeled as accessories matching the 1984 catalog description. This packaging and layout is unique to these three sets.
All this evidence indicates that all three Samsonite accessory sets are from 1984. Here are the backs of the Fabuland, Duplo and Space minifig sets. The only difference between them is the six digit part number C503915 for the Fabuland set, C503910 for the Duplo set and C503907 for the Space set.
The “C50” prefix also appears on a card with Lego part patent registration dates. This card was included in some Canadian Lego sets in 1984. These include the Canada Post 105 truck and Space Dart 6824 sets. The full number printed on the card, shown below, is C502176000. Here is a sealed Samsonite Canadian 6002 set packaged with the small 1984 catalog and the patent card.
The front of many of the Samsonite early 1980s blister pack sets were not labeled with the set number.
The 1982 Samsonite Fabuland blister pack sets 3603, 3707, 3708, 3781, 3782, 3784 and 324 are labeled in the back of the pack with six digit part numbers with a “73” prefix 733603, 733707, 733708, 733781, 733784 and 730324. http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/JanK/Billund-archive/img_2062.jpg
The 1982 Samsonite minifig blister pack sets 0011 through 0016 are labeled in the back with a six digit part numbers prefixed with “89”. http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=2640717
The 1980 Samsonite parts blister pack sets 6305, 830 through 838 are labeled in the back with a six digit part numbers prefixed with “880”. http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/JanK/Billund-archive/img_2065.jpg
Removing the “C50” prefix from the Fabuland, Duplo and Space minifig sets indicates a set number of 3907 for the Space minifigs and set 3915 for the Fabuland combination of mouse (fab9d) and bulldog (fab2k) rather than the generic 801 listed in the 1984 catalog. Similarly, the combination of Duplo characters dupfig040 and dupfig002 indicates a set number of 3910.
The 1984 Canadian catalog does show the 801 Fabuland and 802 Duplo packs. I assume that (and this is often the case) TLG made some of these (why they show up in LEGO boxes and images)... and didn't have a use for them, so they shipped them to Canada as a special offer (TLG never threw anything away)....
Canada always seems to have a lot of quirky LEGO items for sale not sold elsewhere (at least not in the same set numbers). The 707 White Tiles pack shown above is another odd one. LEGO tiles were sold in spare parts packs (510, 470 and 970) from 1964-72, and then discontinued. Only in Canada do we find another tiles spare parts pack until recent years when tiles were available in other forms (PAB, etc.).
And yes, Canada is famous (well to some collectors anyway) for their blister packs. A friend recently got the "triple crown" in rare mint Canadian Space packs....
Three of the 15 Space Men Set of 1982.
Not putting numbers on Canadian sets is nothing rare for Canada....
.... as we can see with this pair of unnumbered Town System Special Offer 3-packs of Canada.
I got another bit of good news from new member @Samsonite .... and that was the info about the 1592 Town Square Set... (whose black town square statue's lower half was in the Canadian set that started this thread).
I knew that the UK version of the 1592 was sold in 1980 in the UK as a Weetabix promotion....
.... and also sold in circa 1981-82 in Germany as a special for their German Independent Toy Association (SPIELZEUGRING) promo set....
I had heard that the 1592 set was sold in Canada as well, but had never found any proof of it. Now I just need to find a 1981 Sears Christmas Catalog, to get the image. Still to go... that the 1592 may have been sold in Australia as well.... need to find proof of that as well!
And of course 1592 was also sold in a Dutch language/flag version in 1983 for Unilever Corps UNOX SOUP....
And here is a close-up of that 1592 statue that has the lower torso/leg that were part of that rare Canadian Space Set.....
Also, I do like that theory about the Space, Fabuland and Duplo minifig numbers possibly being.... 3907, 3915 ad 3910.
Only problem is that the set number ranges for those LEGO Systems don't match those numbers....
The Space System set numbers in the 1980s were 68xx-69xx.
The Fabuland System set numbers in the 1980s were 36xx-37xx.
The Duplo System set numbers in the 1980s were 20xx-27xx.
And special sets for all ranges back then were set numbers in the 1xxx range.
The folks at Samsonite of Canada in Stratford Ontario really did love those blister packs... the 83x spare parts packs of that era were sold in boxes in other countries... but in Canada they seemed to prefer blister packs. (Image from my good friend Jan Katanek)....
There's that rare 802 Dupo People set... image taken from the Vault in Billund.
And speaking of Canada.... this past week a Canadian gentleman finally answered my question about Canadian stickered flags. I had wondered if the 939 spare parts pack of 1973-79 ever had an extra sticker sheet just with a Canadian flag...similar to the UK/Ireland/Australia 939 pack had an extra sticker sheet that included the flag stickers of Ireland and Australia.
Well it turns out that Canada did indeed have a Canada sticker in their 939 pack (sold as 940 in Scandinavia), but 939 elsewhere (not sold in USA)....
Here's the complex scenario of sticker sheets sold in the flags/trees/antenna 939/940 parts pack of that era....
With a Canadian flag even showing on the catalog image of the 939 set box top....
Ironically most LEGO collectors (probably too busy with the Minifigs) don't even realize the rarity and collectibility of Canada LEGO sets... the smallest of the LEGO market set versions.
@Samsonite, I'm dying to know how you knew this information and to learn something about your collection, presuming you have one?
My collection and knowledge of Lego is mostly limited to Canada. I also have a fairly comprehensive set of Canadian Samsonite catalogs/newsletters. Here is an image of the 1592 set from the 1981 Sears Christmas Catalog.
I checked my Canadian catalogs for the 939 set image with the Canadian flag posted by Istokg. It appears in both the 1976 and 1977 catalogs.
Another set that appears to have a unique connection to both the rare Canadian wavey and sticker flags is the 357 Fire Station set produced from 1973 to 1978. Istokg has previously documented that the original wavey lego flag in the set required replacement by stickered flags as it was being phased out of production.
Here is a picture of an early Canadian 357 set that I obtained which included the wavey Canadian flag rather than the Lego flag on the box (note the open “O” in the Lego box logo and the set’s fire truck. It is pictured next to a 1969 442 decorator set which included the Canadian wavey flag.
This is a picture of a mid production run sealed Samsonite 357 set with a Canadian 1976 Catalog and the European (004158) and Scandinavian (003432) flag stickers. There is no Canadian flag visible in this sealed set. I have been tempted to open the set to confirm if the Canadian flag sticker is in there under the other stickers.
Finally, here is an image of a late Canadian 357 set that I obtained which included the European and Scandinavian sticker sheets and two Canadian flag stickers (Note the closed “O” on the Lego box logo and set’s fire truck. It is pictured next to the 1978 Canadian Coast Guard 575 set which included the Canadian stickered flag. I’ve also included a separate picture of the sets flag stickers.
Here’s also an image of the another unique unnumbered Canadian sticker which was included in the 1978 Canadian Coast Guard set.