LEGO Historian

First LEGO Sets introduced to Germany...

14 posts in this topic

On 12 January 1956, there was a celebration at Axel Thomsen's house. Axel Thomsen was the Sales Agent for LEGO Germany, and his "Christening" of the introduction of LEGO was celebrated on that date.

In March 1956 the first LEGO sets (in the German language) were sold in the north of Germany, near and around Hamburg.

The 7 basic sets (largest to smallest... 700/1, 700/2, 700/3, 700/3a, 700/4, 700/5 and 700/6) were all introduced with this box design...

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And there were about 20 spare parts packs also introduced in March of 1956. These all had LEGO managing director Godtfred Kirk Christiansen.. on the box top disguised as a traffic policeman...

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All of these boxes had Godtfred's 3 children on the box top... Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, older sister Gunhild, younger sistter Hanne, and sometimes cousin Jörgen.

Here is the photo of the January 12, 1956 Christening of LEGO Germany.

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Axel Thomsen is on the far right, with his wife Grete opposite him. To his right are Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, and Ole Kirk Christiansen (who was in ill health, and would be dead within 13 months).

The first LEGO sales in early 1956 went very slowly. Many retailers in northern Germany wer sceptical that a toy importd from Denmark could be sold in Germany. So TLG started an advertising promotion at Cinema's around Hamburg. The result was many inquiries at Toy and Department stores in and around Hamburg... which due to demand, started carrying LEGO products.

Enjoy!

Gary Istok

From Chapters 5 - 1949-65 Basic Sets, and Chapter 40 - Spare Parts Packs 1950-66, of my LEGO DVD/download.

http://www.eurobrick...showtopic=73780

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Fascinating history snapshot, thanks for sharing. Always neat to see things from when LEGO was young, especially different countries.

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Thanks LukeClarenceVan!

Here's some images of Hohenwestedt... the LEGO capital of Germany (in the far north close to the Danish border)...

There is a large compex of warehouses and development center buildings in Hohenwestedt... which from 1956-1999 was the sales and distribution site for all of LEGO in Germany. In 1999 TLG moved the sales department to Munich Germany far into the south. And all development activity was moved to the LEGO HQ in BIllund Denmark.

Here is the (late) Axel Thomsen's house in the Hohenwestedt LEGO compound...

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Here is the old closed LEGO warehouse in Hohenwestedt...

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Here are the long quiet loading docks of the closed LEGO warehouse...

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Here's the closed LEGO Development Center in Hohenwestedt...

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And lastly the decaying road sign for delivery trucks...

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All these pics from my LEGO friend Sven, who visited here in 2011. These images are in my DVD/download... chapter on LEGO sales by country.

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Is that warehouse still owned by TLG? If it could be cleaned up, and maybe have a bit of revamping done to it, it would make quite the venue for brick festivals. And LEGO Straße would see some traffic again!

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Is that warehouse still owned by TLG? If it could be cleaned up, and maybe have a bit of revamping done to it, it would make quite the venue for brick festivals. And LEGO Straße would see some traffic again!

My old LEGO friend Splatman..... How are you??

Yes the entire Hohenwestedt complex is still owned by TLG. They are using only the complex offices now... as a job center. Most of the complex however is silent and empty. But that's a good idea about using it for brick festivals! :wink:

Here's the job center....

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Another side of the jobs center...

5576848077_c6a6bbd681_z.jpg

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Here's a small 1960-62 era promotional set from Germany. This is the small 210 Store Set. This set was sold in continental Europe, Britain/Ireland and Australia, and had a printed brick with local writing on it (such as KIOSK). In Germany it was known with TOBAK (tobacco), Würstchen (sausages) and Bäcker (bakery), but the side of the box did not show what writing was in the box, except as a hand marked notation in the white space underneath the set number.

But around circa 1962 this set was used as a promotional set for the large German Department Store "KARSTADT". This set also had a unique printed side of the box showing the KARSTADT 1x8 printed brick. This box with printed brick is a very rare promotional set, and would command hundreds of Euros in mint condition.

Note: the non-promotional versions of the 210 set would have a blank brick above the store image.

8670015119_6a900fd587_z.jpg

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Looks like the jobs center building is in active use. Look in the windows. Last time I checked, indoor plants don't last long w/o Wasser. Any possibility TLG is leasing out the place to other companies? Perhaps as a way of profiting from the place?

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I really don't know Splatman... it is a shame to leave the complex to rot... at least the parts that they are not using for the jobs center. Since TLG still owns the complex, it would be nice to have it used for other things. We really don't know. And I use my contacts with the TLG folks "sparingly" :wink: ... so I don't know who I would ask about this. But parts of this complex do go back to 1956... so it has to be the most historic group of LEGO buildings outside of Billund. It does seem almost a waste to leave this complex way underutilized... I wonder if TLG has any other future uses in mind?

Gary

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Thanks krisjkr! :classic:

Here's a historic image of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen (right), his son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen (left) and a Swiss businessman... showing of the German LEGO basic sets, with German "System in Spiel"... System in Play on the box tops. This was December of 1956 (German sales started in March of 1956)... and Godtfred Kirk went to Frankfurt to pick up Ole Kirk... so they were setting up new Swiss LEGO sales to start in early 1957. Ole Kirk was in increasingly poor health, and spent his winters in the warmer climate of Germany. Within 14 months of this image, Ole Kirk would be dead at 67 of a stroke.

This image is from my LEGO DVD/download chapter on LEGO Sales by Country.

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Here's a new Town Plan scene from a November 1959 German LEGO children's magazine...

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Here's a Contents List/Ideas Brochure from a 1963 German 712 Wooden Box Set.... (Chapter 19 - Wooden Box Sets)...

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Here's a LEGO counter page from a 1959 German Retailer LEGO display catalog....

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Here's a display of the LEGO Exhibit from the 1960 Nuremburg Toy Fair. Medieval Nuremburg was the toy capital of Germany since the Middle Ages, and in the last 60 years it has hosted the largest toy fair in Europe.

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Here is an image of the largest 700/0 cardboard LEGO basic set of 1960-65. This set was sold in all of Europe and Australia. The box top was removed to show the bricks arranged in a checkerboard fashion, with shrinkwrap to keep it all held in place.

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The retailer images are from the 2 DVD/download chapters on LEGO Retailer display items and catalogs. The toy fair scene is from my DVD/download chapter on LEGO Toy Fairs, Exhibits, and Models, the wooden box Content List is from my DVD/download chapter on wooden boxes, and the basic set image is from my DVD/download chapter on LEGO basic sets (1949-65).

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Again you rise again 'LEGO Historian' with more interesting images especially that store exclusive.......pity that was the only time they did. :wink:

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The 210 KARSTADT set does appear to be unique as a department store exclusive that actually mentions the department store!

But there was another set that was a German exclusive of the VEDES Toy Store Association. VEDES was an organization of over 1000 independent toy sellers in Germany. And the set that was their exclusive was the 1601 Schmidt Promotional Set. Schmidt was not a real German company... just a set of a factory model, that was an exclusive of the VEDES toy association in 1976.

This "Germany only" exclusive set is highly sought after today...

1601-1.jpg

The other 3 German promotional sets were also of 1976, and were all Lufthansa (German national airlines) promotional sets...

The first set was the 1560 Lufthansa Jet Set...

1560-2.jpg

The 2nd set was the (Building Set with People) 1561 Lufthansa Airline Staff Set....

1561-2.jpg

And the 3rd set is the antique 1562 Lufthansa Bi-Plane Set also of 1976....

1562-2.jpg

These sets (and 95 others) are found in my LEGO DVD/download chater on LEGO Promotional Sets (1955-1999).

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There is a large compex of warehouses and development center buildings in Hohenwestedt4e.jpg

What a great idea!! :wink:

In 1999 TLG closed down much of the Hohenwestedt offices/factory/development center... some of these functions were returned to Billund, others... such as sales were moved far to the south of Germany to Munich... where LEGO GmbH is now located.

Here is an image of the Munich sales office, with some nice LEGO buildings incorporated into the offices...

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