LEGO Historian

LEGO Retailer PICK-A-BRICK... like you've never known it...

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It was LEGO Pick-A-Brick that brought me out of my Dark Ages in 1979....

No, I'm not drinking... :wink: and yes... Pick-A-Brick was not available to LEGO collectors back before most of you were born!! :sweet:

But since Day 1 when LEGO sales first started in Denmark in 1949... Pick-A-Brick was available... but in a different way besides a wall at your regional LEGO store...

Back from 1957-67 continental Europe (only) had a unique way to sell young LEGO builders LEGO windows and doors. This was thru a Pick-A-Brick of sorts... known as a LEGO Retailer Windows/Doors box under the number 214 1-10.

This retailer box first appeared in Germany in late 1957... in a German language box....

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Then in 1958 TLG started to offer the 214 1-10 retailer windows/doors boxes in retailers throughout continental Europe (Portugal never had these, and Switzerland and Belgium started in the early 1960s). The box top started having the "international" LEGO System on top...

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Then in 1961 a new box type was introduced with all the windows/door pictured on the box top (the inside was basically unchanged)...

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Then in 1966 a new windows/doors retailer box was introduced... the 461 box. This replaced the 214 1-10 box... but was only in production for 1 year (until 1967), when TLG decided to eliminate the entire windows/doors individual parts sales.

Here's the shortlived 461 (virtually identical to the 1961-65 214 1-10 box)...

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These retailer windows/doors boxes were usually kept behind the counter at the continental European LEGO retailers. Often the retailers would have 2 boxes... one for red windows/doors, and one for white. Each box had 375 windows/doors.... 25 of each size of the larger windows... and 50 of each of the 2x2 windows, classic doors, and 3 smaller loose windows.

In a 1960 German catalog... the price of a 375 part retailer box was DM 66- . Refills were possible in 2 ways... in an entire 375 part box refill known as 214S... and as individual window/door type refill... under the 214/1 thru 214/10 size. you just took out the old empty insert, which was actually the lower half of a retailer box refill type... and took the top off the new refill, and inserted into the retailer box...

For the 1966 new 261 retailer box... the inserts had different numbers... 451-460...

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All of these retailer box images are from the collection of my Dutch LEGO friend Jeroen....

And these can be found in my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide on DVD/download.

Edited by LEGO Historian

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I can recall when you could go and buy a box of just blue, or black, or red or whatever color. That must have been around 1992/3 when I used to visit the store in Bristol. That was quite useful, but it did not seem to last very long.

Nowadays other than the PAB wall it is just windows/doors or wheels or roof/slope bricks. I know they do those boxes of different color bricks, but to be honest I don't think I have ever seen one in an actual real shop, just on the website.

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Took me a while to get the new Flickr pages working... on my previous post... Flickr deep links no longer have the "user friendliness" that they once did! :sceptic:

... and as I mentioned in the original post... these retailer boxes brought me out of my Dark Ages back in 1979... I found a pair of these boxes (one dating to 1958-60 with white windows/doors, and one dating to 1961-65 with red windows/doors) in Germany at a stationary shop in a small town. They were sitting on a dusty shelf for over 15 years... waiting until I could buy them for DM40- each (about $20 each)... with a total of over 600 windows/doors. And I've been out of my Dark Ages ever since.... :grin:

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Remember playing with this stuff as a kid when visiting my grandfather, it was a mix of old and new lego probably belonged to my uncle/aunt/father in the 60´s

Lack of clutching power and strange windows made me think it was some cheap look-alike. Being used to the town and space-sets in the 80´s.

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This is truly interesting, considering the huge amount of the same/like parts. So far I only knew the small 'service packs' which contained the usual small number of such parts, the oldest I knew dating to mid-70s.

Did they already suspect then that some kids would turn to AFOLs after some time and buy such parts in bulk? :classic:

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Remember playing with this stuff as a kid when visiting my grandfather, it was a mix of old and new lego probably belonged to my uncle/aunt/father in the 60´s

Lack of clutching power and strange windows made me think it was some cheap look-alike. Being used to the town and space-sets in the 80´s.

Plauge.... those were the Cellulose Acetate windows/doors of the 1956-62 era... they didn't have as much clutch power, but once they were held in place with bricks, they were fine. But I can understand that someone growing up with LEGO in the 1980s would wonder what these odd windows and doors of the 1960s were all about.

Interestingly enough the classic windows were finally discontinued by the 1980s... here's a rough estimate for their discontinuation...

The 1x6x3, 1x6x2 (3 pane) and 1x6x2 (shutter) windows were discontinued by the late 1970s. The 1x2x3 classic door was discontinued by 1980.

The 1x4x2, 1x3x2, 1x1x2, 1x2x1 and 1x1x1 windows were all discontinued in 1987... being part of a 1980s spare parts pack.

The 1x2x2 window was produced until 2003... when the "glass gluing" machine broke down, and was sadly never replaced.

Sigh... some of the rare and valuable LEGO items (windows/doors and other items) that Norway had, they would make me drool... :wink:

This is truly interesting, considering the huge amount of the same/like parts. So far I only knew the small 'service packs' which contained the usual small number of such parts, the oldest I knew dating to mid-70s.

Did they already suspect then that some kids would turn to AFOLs after some time and buy such parts in bulk? :classic:

That's an interesting question kivi.... I tend to believe that it was more a matter of fact that most European toy stores were small independent stores... and that the retailers sold individual windows and doors... so that when a European child in the late 1950s or 1960s wanted to add to his buildings.. he would take some pocket change and go to the toy store and buy a few windows or doors to expand his LEGO empire.

This type of scenario just isn't done much anymore... since most toy stores are now big box or chain or department stores... and a child would not go off on his own in one of those...

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If I only found out earlier.. I would have asked my father to keep the lego. What was not eaten by the coming generation was thrown away (In my dark ages).

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The continental European retailer boxes for individual part sales were not used in all continental European LEGO countries. These were never used in Portugal, and were only used starting around 1962 or 1963 in Belgium or Switzerland. Elsewhere in continental Europe they were used starting in 1958 (1957 in Germany).

Here is a 1961 German LEGO catalog... the LEGO windows/doors show as individual prices (from a retailer box) as well as a combined 10 piece (9 different windows & 1 door) spare parts pack box....

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Here are the individual spare parts pack boxes (1950s style and 1960s style)...

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In Britain/Ireland/Australia (via British LEGO Ltd.) and in USA/Canada (via Samsonite LEGO)... individual spare parts were never sold... but neither was the regular (9 different windows/1 door) 214 parts pack (well I take that back... in the early 1960s the mixed 214 pack WAS sold in Britain). So the 214 pack was mainly sold in Europe.

Now that begs the question... how were LEGO spare windows/doors sold by British LEGO Ltd., and by Samsonite LEGO???

Well they sold each window type individually in a parts pack box. So you had 10 different parts pack boxes (214/1 thru 214/10) and in 2 colors... red and white... that made for 20 different spare parts pack boxes for windows/doors.

Here is a 1963 Britain LEGO catalog... and it shows the classic windows/doors on the lower right side... and the number within parenthesese are the quantity of each that can be found in a British LEGO Ltd. spare parts pack... with the same windows or door count for the packs... with the same counts for Britain, Ireland and Australia...

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And here are the windows/doors parts counts for each of the USA Samsonite LEGO spare parts packs. These are much larger than the British LEGO boxes, and therefore contain more parts....

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And here are the Samsonite of Canada LEGO windows/doors spare parts pack counts. These are a little bit less than the USA Samsonite ones... partly due to the disparity between the USA and Canadian dollars back in the early 1960s...

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So... as an example... the large 1x6x3 Panorama classic window spare parts pack 214/1... in Britain/Ireland/Australia, the parts pack box contains 4 large windows... for Canada the parts pack box contains 5 windows... and for the USA the parts pack box contains 6 windows.

Images from 3 of my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide (DVD/download) chapters... one on LEGO catalogs... one on LEGO windows/doors... and the other on LEGO spare parts packs.

Gary Istok

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Besides the classic windows and doors, there were a more limited Pick-A-Bricks selection available in the 1950s and early 1960s... but only in Denmark and Norway. From 1950-65 LEGO bricks were available as individual pick a bricks from LEGO retailers in Denmark... and in Norway they were available from 1954-58. After 1958 bricks were only avaialbe in Norway from spare parts packs... ditto for Denmark starting in 1966. Here are some early Danish retailer boxes. The retailers bought the bricks in small cardboard boxes of 25-100, depending on size... and dumped them into the larger boxes. The tall AUTOMATIC BINDING BRICKS boxes were used from 1950-53.... the long shallow boxes were used from 1953-65. LEGO elements were sold individually based on size of part.8130046911_5015a2920f_b_d.jpg

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