Carrera124

Message to all "hardcore" collectors of the grey 12v train era 1980-1990

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Hello,


when I started collecting the sets from the grey 12v era 1980-1990, I bought many used sets and incomplete lots.
Bricklink was (and is) a great help to check them for completeness, and to complete the missing parts.

But later on, I faced some problems, e.g.:

1. I found part variants, that Bricklink doesn't know .

2. Some invetories are obviously wrong. For example, it is hard to believe that the power rail 2731a shall be contained in set 7725, but not in 7727.
In reality, it looks as if this part wasn't used at all before 1986.

3. Alternative parts are not consistent among various sets. For example, the second version of the black steam cylinder x461 is listed as alternate part for 7730 and 7750, but not for 7865.

I got into conctact with other collectors (e.g. Reza) and we exchanged lots of pictures and information. The result is a huge table that can be downloaded here:
Table
It is a write-proteced Excel file. To use the file, you need a monitor with huge resolution (at least Full-HD) and not too big scaled font size (for Windows, 100% is fine).
The table shall be a basis for discussion, not a final document. In many cases, there are only hints and conclusions, but no hard evidence.
Any feedback is appreciated.

A short guide to the table columns:

A "Part"
Basic part description

B "Variant Type"
The different known variants of the part.

C "Number"
Bricklink part numer. Parts that Bricklink doesn't know, use a "+" at the end of the name, or ar marked "?".

D-N "Years"
Assignment of the part variants to the years of production / selling.

O-P etc. "Sets"
Each set consists of two columns. The first one indicates, if the set does containt the part at all.
The second columnt indicates, how many parts are contained, and if it is a "regular" or "alternate" part.


P.S. I already had contact to the Bricklink inventory admins. They are interested in improving and consolidating the set inventories.
But for me, the process is extremely complicated and time-consuming.
Every single change for every single set should be handled as separate "inventory change request", and every request takes weeks/months until a decision is made.
Imho, this is very ineffective, so I decided to write this text and to provide the table for download.

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Interesting topic,

I've just about got myself a full collection over the past 10 years of 4.5v/12v grey era sets.  Most are in good to very good condition, I always waited to get sets with full original stickers, etc.  It's been a labour of love.  It's best to not even think how much I paid for a clean example of 7750!

But I have noticed a couple of variations.

My set 7745 I got new for Christmas as a child back in 1985/1986 (can't remember which Christmas).  I was also given the same set at a later date by a friend, which was missing quite a few parts which I've slowly replaced with period parts over the years.  The one observation, his set came with black wheels, held onto the black 2x4 train brick with black centre pins. Bricklink item  4180c01 

However my set which was brand new, (possibly a later run) came with black wheels, on a black brick, but held in with Red centre pins. I can only assume LEGO ran out of black centre pins.  But there is no menion of this as alternatives on the Bricklink pages.

 

Another thing which I'm unsure about, I purchased from ebay a tidy example of 7730, again this was not a cheap set, but in good overall condition, boxes, instructions, full stickers, etc.  The only thing I noticed, and it seemed strange to me, on the White caboose/guards van the little raised part at the back which comes has 3 of 1x2x1 white windows.  All the windows which came with my set I purchased, had no glass in them?  All the records on Bricklink, etc. suggest they should have had glass in the windows.  27c01  Whilst I accept it's possible 1 of the panes of glass could fall out over time, I find it hard to believe all 3 panes would have fallen out.  Unfortunately I'll never know whether these came like this originally, or whether they were lost over time.  

 

Paul

   

 

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Thank you, these are 2 very good examples. The black wheels with red pins are still not in the Bricklink database. And my 7730 sets also came with white windows without glass.

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Thats good to know regarding the glass, I'd purchased some replacement windows from Bricklink, but had not got around to switching them out.  I might hold fire now it appears they may have been a regional variation.  

I seem to recall reading another topic in the past few months regarding a regional variation on set 7730 with the yellow.4 x 4 x 2 round cones 3943a which came with set 7730.  Depending on the country they either did or did not have the axle hole in the middle?  Again, I'm thinking it's more likely early produced sets likely did not have the axle hole, then the injection mould was replaced, or modified, probably so the part could be used in another model which required the axle hole, and when they ran the second production run for set 7730, they produced the yellow cone with the Axle hole and substituted it.  Chances are if we look around 1981 / 1982 there was probably a set in another theme which also used this part?  

Edited by paul_delahaye

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Yes, the yellow cone issue is another good example (from Reza). There is no hard evidence, but imho it is very likely that later production runs of 7730 contain the axled cones. It is very unlikely that many sets lost the yellow cones and they all were replaced by the newer versions.

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looks like the change to the Axle cone was around 1982, so likely a late 82 or 1983 run 

there must be more examples,

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2 hours ago, paul_delahaye said:

Thats good to know regarding the glass, I'd purchased some replacement windows from Bricklink, but had not got around to switching them out.  I might hold fire now it appears they may have been a regional variation.  

I seem to recall reading another topic in the past few months regarding a regional variation on set 7730 with the yellow.4 x 4 x 2 round cones 3943a which came with set 7730.  Depending on the country they either did or did not have the axle hole in the middle?  Again, I'm thinking it's more likely early produced sets likely did not have the axle hole, then the injection mould was replaced, or modified, probably so the part could be used in another model which required the axle hole, and when they ran the second production run for set 7730, they produced the yellow cone with the Axle hole and substituted it.  Chances are if we look around 1981 / 1982 there was probably a set in another theme which also used this part?  

I am Reza, the writer of the post concerning 3943a.
The black brick wheels with red pin does not yet exist on bricklink. I have submitted a request to add the item, once approved, I should add the sets in which this variant wheels came with (7735, 7745, 7813, 7817, 7823, 7839). I will need evidence: photos of a sealed or MISB set, or photos of a collector having this since his childhood. So the photos of your 7745 will help. It is also very helpful if you know what motor came with that 7745 (the date written underneath the motor will determine when your 7745 was released; an important thing to know)
Since you have a complete collection, please reply to this thread (and mention which motor comes with what set, if you know it):

For 7730,
-2* white windows 27c01: I know the white windows 27c01 do not have glass (there are two of them not three). The glass appears in the instructions, also there is a good photo of this train in the catalog of 1982 showing the glass (clearly the photo is taken in 1980, from the layout built for catalog of 1980) I guess this is the reason the glass is mentioned in the inventory of 7730 on bricklink. There is still a chance that the very first releases of 7730 came with glass, but so far I have not seen any glass on any 7730!
- 3* yellow cones 3943a or 3943b: I have not seen the variant 3943b is any train for sale in Belgium or Netherland. As you mentioned, I think this is because TLG had many yellow conses in their stock, so used them to complete, let's say 2000 copies of 7730 and sent them via plane or truck, to Belgium and Netherland in 1982. Then they used the variant 3943b to  make more 7730 and sent those to Germany, France, UK, Switzerland, Italy,...
- Yesterday, yes yesterday, I realized two new problem on inventories. (after 10 months careful studying 12V and 4.5V trains!)
A wire comes with 7730. I have photos of a MISB 7730 set. I have seen many other 7730 having a wire, which is odd. Then, does 7740 or 7725 came with an extra wire too?

When I was thinking about the type of wire 7730 could have come with, (1-prong connectors? 2-prong connectors without middle pin? 2-prong connectors with middle pin?) then I thought about the blue battery wagon of 7720: if you haven't seen this thread, I have four of them:

One out of 4 of my blue battery wagons come with the 3 connecting holes, the others with two connecting holes! Another item to be added on bricklink!

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For me, the 2-prong connectors without middle pin are a kind of mystery. The 1980 catalog clearly shows them.

But I never found them in any grey era lots. Of course, it is likely that they were remainders from the blue era, and used until they were out of stock.

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4 hours ago, Carrera124 said:

For me, the 2-prong connectors without middle pin are a kind of mystery. The 1980 catalog clearly shows them.

But I never found them in any grey era lots. Of course, it is likely that they were remainders from the blue era, and used until they were out of stock.

Since there are blue battery wagons for the set 7720 from 1980 that come with 2-prong connectors, the switch to 3-prong connector happened after 1980.
And by the way, what do you mean by "I never found them in any grey era lots"? We have clearly the 12v motor type 1 (with 2 connecting holes). The switch  to 3-prong connector happened in early 1981.

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9 hours ago, Reza said:

I know the white windows 27c01 do not have glass

?? The type 27c01 has glass, 27a has no glass.

 

9 hours ago, Reza said:

There is still a chance that the very first releases of 7730 came with glass, but so far I have not seen any glass on any 7730!

My original 7730 from my childhood came with the windows type 27c01 with glass.

 

9 hours ago, Reza said:

I have not seen the variant 3943b

I completed my huge 12V collection nearly 10 years ago, in these days in my very subjective observation there were no original 7730 trains with the axle-variant 3943b on the market.

Nearly all 7730 offers in Ebay Germany (the main ressource of used LEGO 12V sets in these years) came mainly from private sellers without LEGO knowledge: They all had the 3943a cone.

The offered sets with 3943b variants seemed to be offered from resellers which completed old LEGO sets. I saw a lot of broken 3943a cones, so often they were replaced with common 3943b.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by tsi

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3 hours ago, Reza said:

And by the way, what do you mean by "I never found them in any grey era lots"? We have clearly the 12v motor type 1 (with 2 connecting holes). The switch  to 3-prong connector happened in early 1981.

That means, that I never found them in grey era lots ;-)
When there was a type 1 motor, the cables always had 1-prong connectors.

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1 hour ago, tsi said:

?? The type 27c01 has glass, 27a has no glass.

 

My original 7730 from my childhood came with the windows type 27c01 with glass.

 

I completed my huge 12V collection nearly 10 years ago, in these days in my very subjective observation there were no original 7730 trains with the axle-variant 3943b on the market.

All 7730 offers in Ebay Germany (the main ressource of used LEGO sets in these years) came mainly from private sellers without LEGO knowledge: They all had the 3943a cone.

The offered sets with 3943b variants seemed to be offered from resellers which completed old LEGO sets. I saw a lot of broken 3943a cones, so often they were replaced with 3943b.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, that's a great news! It has been few months that I have been looking for someone having this train since his childhood. Please take some time and reply to these questions:
Could you tell me few things about your original 7730?

- What is the number written underneath the red motor?
- does it come with x461 or x461b?
- does it have 3241c or not?
- does it have the early sticker sheet or the later one?
- if you have the box, does it have 2 green trays or 4 green trays?

Considering the yellow cones, TLG changed the cones sometime in between 1981-early1982. I have been checking many and many sales, for the last 9 months, in France, UK, Italy, Germany. About 33% to 50% of the trains came with 3943b. Consider this: Is there a chance that the resellers broke all the three cones 3943a and replaced them with three 3943b? All of them? and none replaced even only one cone and left the two other with axle. They all changed all three cones together? This is really not likely.
I bothered myself and messaged some sellers about their 7730. While they were honest and said that for example, there is no glass, they all said they took the train out of their loft. One was even surprised that that the cone had axle and that he had not noticed the difference with the images on the box and instructions!
Check this one in new condition from France:

http://www.ebay.fr/itm/Rare-boite-Lego-TRAIN-7730-briques-neuves-jamais-joue-/172901510590
And also these:

https://picclick.co.uk/Vintage-Lego-12V-Red-Motor-Railway-Train-7730-112708789431.html#&gid=1&pid=1

http://www.ebay.it/itm/332357894698?clk_rvr_id=1440186351003&rmvSB=true

26 minutes ago, Carrera124 said:

That means, that I never found them in grey era lots ;-)

Thanks for clarification! :-)
 

26 minutes ago, Carrera124 said:

When there was a type 1 motor, the cables always had 1-prong connectors.

Based on bricklink, it appeared in 7860. And if this is true, we should have two types of 70022 ! Have you checked that before? How many of them do you have?

11 hours ago, paul_delahaye said:

looks like the change to the Axle cone was around 1982, so likely a late 82 or 1983 run 

there must be more examples,

The change could not have happened in 1983 because 1982 was the last year 7730 was released.
I think the change happened near the end of 1981 or early 1982. I don't have any good prove for this though. But those sets that were released for first time in 1982 came with 3943b.

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1 hour ago, tsi said:

?? The type 27c01 has glass, 27a has no glass.

I meant the item 27c01 should be wrong, but train 7730 came with 27a. I had given also a chance that 7730 came with 27c01 in its early releases only. Let's accept that the chance that all the glasses fell and lost is zero. Out of about 20 trains I have seen or asked on web (40 windows), you are the first claiming that they came with glass!
 

1 hour ago, tsi said:

completed my huge 12V collection nearly 10 years ago, in these days in my very subjective observation there were no original 7730 trains with the axle-variant 3943b on the market.

Nearly all 7730 offers in Ebay Germany (the main ressource of used LEGO 12V sets in these years) came mainly from private sellers without LEGO knowledge: They all had the 3943a cone.

The offered sets with 3943b variants seemed to be offered from resellers which completed old LEGO sets. I saw a lot of broken 3943a cones, so often they were replaced with common 3943b.

Consider also the fact that the train 7730 was released until the end of 1982. Based on bricklink, all sets that were released in 1982 or after having the cones (in any colour) came with 3943b. TLG replaced the cones in 1982 or even earlier. So they changed them also on 7730 in 1982 (or earlier!).

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2 hours ago, Reza said:

Consider also the fact that the train 7730 was released until the end of 1982.

Yip. I'll not lock out the possibility of a new production run of yellow axle-cones in 82 for new 7730s. Everything was possible regarding alternative bricks :classic:

 

Another 12V question:

Did someone already proved in which countries the gray 12V stuff was (not) sold and promoted?

 

 

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4 hours ago, tsi said:

The offered sets with 3943b variants seemed to be offered from resellers which completed old LEGO sets. I saw a lot of broken 3943a cones, so often they were replaced with common 3943b.

Well, I also saw 7730 from private sellers that came with 3943b.

But let's assume that resellers replaced 3943a with 3943b.
Why didn't they replace other broken/missing parts? Broken red motors, missing spring from the forklift element, etc?
if they have the know-how and resources to replace the yellow cones, they should also be able to replace all other missing and broken pieces. But this doesn't happen.
Imho, the "replaced by resellers" theory may have occured in individual cases, but not in general.
 

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3 minutes ago, Carrera124 said:

if they have the know-how and resources to replace the yellow cones, they should also be able to replace all other missing and broken pieces.

Sounds comprehensable, I described the impression I had 10 years ago  :classic:

What do you think is the actual percentage of axle-cone 7730 sets?

 

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Just now, tsi said:

What do you think is the actual percentage of axle-cone 7730 sets?

I'd say ~ 25% to 30%. But Reza may have better figures.

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2 hours ago, tsi said:

Sounds comprehensable, I described the impression I had 10 years ago  :classic:

What do you think is the actual percentage of axle-cone 7730 sets?

 

One more thing:  the sellers in UK, Germany, France and Italy know how to replace the cones, but not in netherland or Belgium?!!
Two notes: I have seen only two trains 7730 on which the cones don't match. On one, one cone was black, on the other, only one cone had axle hole.
I just checked markplaats in Netherland. Saw 6 trains 7730, and only one came with axle holes. This is the first one I see in Netherland with 3943b. But we have Ebay,... for about 15 years now, and since then, Lego can move more easily. This one might have come from  Germany.
 

 

2 hours ago, Carrera124 said:

I'd say ~ 25% to 30%. But Reza may have better figures.

In Germany and UK, I woud say about 34-50%. What bothers me is that whenever I see 3943a, I check the date of the red motor. The last one that is avaiable right now on ebay of UK comes 3943a but the motor is 25 82! This type of oddness occured many time. Keep in mind the the red motor came also  with 7750 and 7727. The train 7750 was never sold in UK, and the train 7727 came with motor type 2 made in 49 82 or around that time. (and type 3 of course) So the chance that the owner had two red motors and he switched them is really low.

Edited by Reza

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46 minutes ago, Reza said:

The last one that is avaiable right now on ebay of UK comes 3943a but the motor is 25 82! This type of oddness occured many time.

The yellow 3943a and 3943b stocks could have been merged bevore packaging, new produced elements were often just dumped over the old stuff.

This could explain that 3943a elements still appear in sets, even when yellow 3943b elements were produced.

> The train 7750 was never sold in UK

Interesting! Are there more such differences between the Italy/France/German/UK programme?

Edited by tsi

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50 minutes ago, tsi said:

The yellow 3943a and 3943b stocks could have been merged bevore packaging, new produced elements were often just dumped over the old stuff.

This could explain that 3943a elements still appear in sets, even when yellow 3943b elements were produced.

Weren't sets hand packed in those days? At some point they swapped molds to the new variant, and the two parts were mixed. Workers probably grabbed the parts out of bin without worrying about what type was in there (as for this purpose they are functionally the same). That means that if my theory is correct, there should be some instances of these sets where the two types are mixed.

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14 hours ago, Phoxtane said:

Weren't sets hand packed in those days? At some point they swapped molds to the new variant, and the two parts were mixed. Workers probably grabbed the parts out of bin without worrying about what type was in there (as for this purpose they are functionally the same). That means that if my theory is correct, there should be some instances of these sets where the two types are mixed.

I have seen the types mixed in only one case (among about 200 cases): an auction on ebay. I think in that case the seller had tied to replace a missing one, but chose the wrong type.

Edited by Reza

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15 hours ago, Reza said:

This is the first one I see in Netherland with 3943b

I asked the seller of 7730 in Netherland if bought it from Germany. He replied "yes, I bought it from West- Germany"!
That is a real relief!

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On 2/13/2018 at 6:58 AM, tsi said:

> The train 7750 was never sold in UK

Interesting! Are there more such differences between the Italy/France/German/UK programme?

The 12v trains were not sold on North of America. Some retailers sold it in other countries, like Hong Cong.
I have not seen 7821 in any auction in UK but it appears in UK catalogs. I don't know more about this.

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9 hours ago, Reza said:

Some retailers sold it in other countries, like Hong Cong.

An reduced 12V programme in UK sounds interesting. On @LEGO Historian CD is a table of 12V sets with the countries they were sold, this should be updatet (Hallo Gary!)

At least there exists a japanese catalogue of the blue 12V programme:

8601603397_c1b7a90483_b.jpg

Haven't seen any Asian and Australian catalogues of the gray 12V programme so far, does something like this exist?

Quoting Gary: "So far 12V blue track era trains WERE sold in Continental Europe... but were NOT sold in Japan, Britain, Australia, USA and Canada."

So in UK the 12V programme started with a reduced gray 12V programme.

What about Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain, Portugal, Ireland?

 

Greetings

ThomaS

 

Edited by tsi

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On 2/15/2018 at 3:38 AM, tsi said:

An reduced 12V programme in UK sounds interesting. On @LEGO Historian CD is a table of 12V sets with the countries they were sold, this should be updatet (Hallo Gary!)

At least there exists a japanese catalogue of the blue 12V programme:

8601603397_c1b7a90483_b.jpg

Haven't seen any Asian and Australian catalogues of the gray 12V programme so far, does something like this exist?

Quoting Gary: "So far 12V blue track era trains WERE sold in Continental Europe... but were NOT sold in Japan, Britain, Australia, USA and Canada."

So in UK the 12V programme started with a reduced gray 12V programme.

What about Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain, Portugal, Ireland?

 

Greetings

ThomaS

 

First of all I have a big time collector friend (Yashihito) who lives in Japan, who showed me the 12V blue track trains pictured in the above Japanese catalog.  But he said that he has NEVER been able to find one single 12V blue track era train in Japan. so he thinks that the Fujisho Corp., which was the distributor for LEGO in Japan from 1969-78, never sold them to toy stores, even though blue track 12V trains appear in the above Japanese LEGO catalog.  So I doubt that they were sold elsewhere in Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan) in the blue track era as well.

As for the blue track 12V trains... they were not sold by British LEGO Ltd. (which includes Britain, Ireland and Australia).  Could people special order them?  I don't see why not.  An acquaintance in England was able to special order the 080 large basic set (1967-70) as a teenager, and that was never sold in Britain either.  British LEGO Ltd. (a Courtauld's subsidiary) appears to have been very accomodating, to customers, so they "could" have ordered the blue track 12V train from Denmark, I guess.

Starting with the 12V gray track era sets... they WERE sold in continental Europe, Asia and Britain/Ireland/Australia.  No 12V trains were ever sold in USA or Canada... despite the blue shunter locomotive showing up on the 1982 and 1983 Canadian catalog cover pages.

I do believe that all 12V trains were sold in blue and gray track eras in all of Scandinavia.  I'm not sure about Spain and Portugal.  TLG seemed to have a smaller selection of items to sell in those 2 countries.

Edited by LEGO Historian

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