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Lego Secret Vault Contains All Sets In History 266

Posted by kdawson
from the memory-lane dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gizmodo has an exclusive video and feature of one of the most heavily guarded secrets in Lego: the security vault where they store all the Lego sets ever created, new in their boxes. 4,720 sets from 1953 to 2008. Really amazing stuff and a trip down memory lane to every person who has played with the magic bricks. All combined, the collection must be worth millions, not only because of the collector value, but also because Lego uses it as a safeguard in copyright and patent cases."
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Lego Secret Vault Contains All Sets In History

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  • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:03PM (#23921411) Journal

    FTFS

    but also because Lego uses it as a safeguard in copyright and patent cases
    This is why this is no surprise to me. I believe that pretty much every manufacturer does this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:06PM (#23921469)

    They would have totally gotten bonus points in my book if the vault and locking mechanism were actually made of Legos. It's totally doable (people have made far bigger things out of Legos), but probably insecure if you can just cut through the Legos with a Sawz-All. Still, it would have been nice if they'd made it LOOK like it were made of Legos. The Lego signs are a nice touch along those lines.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      It's totally doable (people have made far bigger things out of Legos), but probably insecure if you can just cut through the Legos with a Sawz-All.

      Would it be considered cheating to make the vault legos out of steel, or any other non-plastic material? I personally think that'd be fine. And yes, it would be worth a lot of bonus points. :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Amouth (879122)

        i would love to have a set of metal legos

        get them in diffrent alloys.. make a car.. could be fun

        • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @02:52PM (#23923347)

          I'd sell that idea to them.

          I could see them creating a 1:1 car model out of metal that actually works. But ... knowing how they changed in the years, the kit would probably consist of 10 parts that only fit together how they "should". No generics, just prefabricated reassembly kits.

          It's a shame, really. I loved the old "generic" Legos a lot more. Maybe with a handful of "special" parts (that could still be used in other ways). Oh, it changed so much in the past 20 years...

          'scuse me while I go mourn.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by pragma_x (644215)

          Its a nice idea, but I think the only reason why LEGO works as well as it does is the scale of the materials involved; think friction and density.

          You'd probably wind up with something like a full-scale erector set after you fool around with scaled-up (and incredibly heavy) metal LEGO bricks. To wit, there are already things like this out there, like "speed rail" and "aluminum extrusion" systems that are highly modular and require minimal tools to apply your every creative whim. They're also expensive as he

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I doubt they designed it with public presentation in mind.
    • by Gewalt (1200451) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:44PM (#23922151)
      Even a Faux wall would have been sweet. Or a decorative mount for the passkey device... something... anything. ugh, why'd you have to mention that!?!?!?
    • by steelfood (895457) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @02:17PM (#23922769)

      It'd be even more awesome if they had to assemble/disassemble the pieces in just the right way to gain access. And probably even more secure.

  • by johnny cashed (590023) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:08PM (#23921513) Homepage
    That's a 928 Galaxy Space Explorer, too bad it isn't in the original shrink wrap....
    • I had a Lego Space Galaxy Explorer, but I didn't even know it until I saw the box in this picture, and I remembered building the damned thing. It looks easy now but I remember it being pretty hard, which is a testament to how long ago it really was... way cool. I bet I can finally get the missing satellite dish pieces to my lego moon set in there!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't think it came shrinkwrapped. The cardboard flap opened so that buyers could see the parts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sootman (158191)

      About to prove I'm one of the biggest geeks here, and that's saying something: AFAIK, Lego boxes have never been shrinkwrapped.

  • Storage (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Solokron (198043) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:08PM (#23921521)
    I like how each of the storage isles are compressed against each other initially and can then be opened with a crank.
  • IP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bjackson1 (953136) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:09PM (#23921545)

    When I first read it, I assumed it was going to be a data store of all possible combinations of every Lego block ever created so that all possible designs were prior art and their property.

    Lego needs to work on this.

    • Re:IP (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:54PM (#23922327)

      My first year teacher at mathematics (Soren Eilers at University of Copenhagen) has put a lot of work into the counting problem of combining six two-by-four Lego blocks. It's a huge problem to figure out how many ways you can combine six of those, and he describes how he with mathematics and programming methods approaches this problem at http://www.math.ku.dk/~eilers/lego.html [math.ku.dk].

      Lego themselves computed in 1974 that the ways you can combine those six blocks is 102,981,500 - and that number has been referenced ever since in different media - and it's wrong.

      Now, if you want to compute the total number of possibilities, bear in mind what Soren Eilers writes on his site:

      the mathematics of the total number of combinations is so irregular that it is very difficult to come up with a formula for it. Thus one has to essentially go through all the possibilities. Based on our data, we estimate the total number of ways to combine 25 two-by-four LEGO bricks to be a 47 digit number.

      With the current efficiency of our computer programs we further estimate that it would take us something like

      130,881,177,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

      years to compute the correct number. After some 5,000,000,000 years we will have to move our computer out of the Solar system, as the Sun is expected to become a red giant at about that time.

  • by pudding7 (584715) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:09PM (#23921559)

    Oh man, the Galaxy Explorer was the best! Seems like after the space sets, all the pieces started getting to specialized. Giant plates that could hardly be used to make anything other than what the instructions said.

    I remember having dozens of little bins full of the hinge pieces, light bulb looking things, and space man helmets.

    Good times.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by owlstead (636356)

      Yup, I dub that. Everytime that I take a look at Lego nowadays I can see tons of figures and stuff, but few pieces. Of course I changed that for my nephew when I bought a very big "Lego 25 years" box of standardized Lego. There were too few "plates" though. The grey plates were excellent to build on, both for technical Lego as well as for castles and the like.

      But the galaxy explorer hit the spot, no need to take out the other sets. I went right back to the time that I and my brother were building cable cars

      • by steveo777 (183629) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @02:59PM (#23923445) Homepage Journal

        Generally I'd construct the space sets upstairs and the castle sets downstairs. The space guys would come down and attack the castle sets. Somehow the knights always won by hurling large boulders in the way of the cruisers and attack ships. But most of the time it was due to the fact that I was never able to construct a Lego spaceship that was airworthy. IE, they never survived the flight down the stairs.

        My mother and father had some significantly less than good nature curses when they found the shrapnel with bare feet. They would also ask me exactly why space people needed to attack the castle people. I never had a very good answer...

    • by 93,000 (150453)

      Still have the galaxy explorer, and a bunch of other space and castle sets from when I was a kid. It's just that all of the sets are in a box. One box. Mixed together. Still have the instructions though, so in theory I still have the 'sets' (sorta).

      Introduced my kids (6 & 9) to lego last year, and we play with my old ones all the time. I know, that makes me a substandard nerd, but what the hell. Lots of fun.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Opportunist (166417)

        Substandard nerd?

        Let's put it that way, if I'll ever have kids, it's to stop people from looking funny at me when I play with my Legos...

    • I wish they still made some of those space sets. In some cases you can't even buy some of the special pieces that came in those sets anymore.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Endo13 (1000782)

      Yeah, gotta agree with you there. To the best of my recollection it was the pirate sets which started them off down the modern trend of specialized (and therefore nearly useless) pieces. Most of my sets as a kid were from the town collection, so while they had a few specialized pieces, they were mostly somewhat basic pieces that could be used to build a whole host of things.

  • God damnit (Score:5, Funny)

    by sunami88 (1074925) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:11PM (#23921577)
    Now I have to go change my pants. Thanks Slashdot.
  • Legos (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dave Tucker Online (1310703) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:17PM (#23921699) Homepage
    That was fun to watch.

    I never followed any of the Lego instructions, though. So while I owned many of those sets, I never built any of those things.

    Was there anybody else who would just dump open the packages, mix it in with all your other pieces, and build random crap...like flying boats that deploy ninjas?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by peragrin (659227)

      I would build the intended item in question and then start to modify it, mixing, adding and rearranging pieces until I was happy for a week or two.

      Lego the ultimate toy for those with ADD. It is never done.

    • Re:Legos (Score:5, Funny)

      by pomegranatesix (809489) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:33PM (#23921983)
      Funny. My flying lego boats deployed pirates. I think we may have to have a throwdown.
    • by Amouth (879122)

      same here.. i liked jsut having the random blocks and building what i could.. my favorite was a sub i built.. it worked quite well

  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:19PM (#23921737)
    I've been in several organizations from universities to oil companies where large amounts of data have been lost due to system conversions, downsizings and geographic moves. I find it remarkable if a company can save several decades of history.
  • by joeytmann (664434) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:20PM (#23921749)
    By far, the Auto Chassis. Rack and pinion steering, v-4 motor with moving pistons, 3-speed gear box, fully independent front and rear suspension, oh and adjustable seats. Was an awesome kit to put together.
  • Lego Colorado (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:26PM (#23921855) Journal

    When I was a kid, LEGO decided to license out their manufacture to a Samsonite factory in Loveland, Colorado (right next door to the Hewlett Packard facility that was the first place HP had outsourced from its birth in Silicon Valley, as it happens.) The factory also made luggage and kids' bikes. It was cool because up until 2006 it still looked like it had been made of LEGO bricks: the windows were 2x4 clear bricks on-end, 12 feet high. They made all sorts of weird LEGO stuff, and I wonder sometimes if it was all official -- the injection molding dies came straight from Denmark, and were very, very carefully accounted for, but the plant also built other unusual LEGO sets like big crude-looking gears that only sort of meshed with the standard LEGO bricks.
    My childhood was filled with disappointment because no matter how many LEGO kits I managed to get, some of my friends, whose parents worked at the plant, had trash-bags full of floor sweepings and could make playhouses we could crawl into with their bricks. (Including a lot of weird off-colors and bricks that weren't shaped quite right.) The local library had, and probably still has, several LEGO buildings the size of cars, beautifully designed and put together. I was upset that they were glued together, making all those parts worthless. Okay, I'm still upset by that.
    Anyway. I've just always wondered if the rumors were true and the little Colorado plant did create some graymarket LEGO kits that Billund doesn't have. LEGO yanked their license after only a few years because they were doing a poor job, but maybe, just maybe, I have a couple LEGO pieces that aren't represented in that vault in Billund.

  • now that there is a video of it. Do you think they just put the word secret in the title to get more clicks?
  • The first toy I can remember was a small Lego police car set. I think it was comprised of a black "plane", two opaque, slanted pieces, two sets of wheels, and I believe it was labeled as police car because the pieces were black and white. I have never ever ever forgotten how much fun I had, and I can still see my parents now, giving it to me, in a little white box. I think I was maybe, maybe, 4 years old.

    It's really nice to know that there is a place that has that exact set, and maybe, if I'm really lucky,

  • by superskippy (772852) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:35PM (#23922005)
    Here he is in this vault of cool stuff, and all he can talk about his his "feelings" and how life is all so hard.

    Remember journalists! The first rule of journalism is "Nobody cares about you and your life. If you are really lucky, they might just be interested in your subject, but they certainly aren't interested in you!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by syrinx (106469)

      If you're reading Gizmodo (or Slashdot, for that matter), and you're looking for good journalism, you've made a wrong turn somewhere.

    • by jamrock (863246) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @02:06PM (#23922563)

      Here he is in this vault of cool stuff, and all he can talk about his his "feelings" and how life is all so hard. Remember journalists! The first rule of journalism is "Nobody cares about you and your life. If you are really lucky, they might just be interested in your subject, but they certainly aren't interested in you!"
      Are you disappointed that he didn't just present an illustrated list of all 4,720 sets? This wasn't scientific reporting, or a dry treatise on new mathematical discoveries, and even then the very best journalists do include a subjective element in order for other humans to connect to the story. The journalist was attempting to express how the tour took him back to his childhood, and judging from many of the comments here, he succeeded in evoking the same feeling in others. The best journalism has a human reference, and strikes a fine balance between being too removed and being too involved. Maybe he strayed too far over the line, but it's not true that the journalist's feelings about a subject don't matter or are unimportant to the story.
    • He's not a journalist, he's a blogger. For bloggers it is all about them.

  • Man, that big yellow castle really makes the old memories rush back. That one was my first and favorite Lego set. Nice to see it again. I remember modernizing my castle with some computer unit pieces borrowed from a space set.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:39PM (#23922073)

    Building instructions from 1958 to 2007 on this site:
    http://www.hccamsterdam.nl/brickfactory/year/index.htm

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:40PM (#23922079)
    My favorite part was where they showed the bodies of the eBay Power Sellers that had been caught trying to tunnel in. They hand them upside down on big plastic stakes outside (the original Lego Vlad The Impaler kits are very scarce, but they work great).
  • Tearing Up. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesolo (131008) * <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @02:05PM (#23922555) Homepage
    For Christmas in 1990, my dad bought me the Legoland pirate ship (#6285), as shown in the video, and a few other pirate sets. I put them together immediately and played with them for hours on end.

    My dad died suddenly in early 1991. Those lego sets were the last thing he ever gave me.

    Seeing that original box on the video made me feel 10 years old all over again. Thanks Gizmodo & Slashdot.
  • by Hellad (691810) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @02:07PM (#23922571)
    I imagine it must be rare, but does someone want to put some context on it? How rare is it? How valuable is it?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    One of my friends wrote a fan letter to the company when he was very young, basically just a "I really love Legos, they're my favorite toy, I like building castles and spaceships!". Something like that.

    The response he got was a brief reply along the lines of: "Please refer to our product as Lego-brand building blocks." I don't know the exact wording, but it was a rather terse trademark defense letter.

    I understand you have to defend your trademark to keep it, but it's one of those sour feelings that he's r

    • by meringuoid (568297) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @02:43PM (#23923179)
      "I really love Legos, they're my favorite toy, I like building castles and spaceships!"

      Is this an American thing? Here in .uk I've never heard them referred to as 'Legos', only ever as 'Lego'. As if it's a continuum, like water, or cheese, rather than a set of discrete objects.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hldn (1085833)

        from wikipedia:

        The Lego Group's name has become so synonymous with its flagship toy that many refer to the bricks themselves (collectively) as "Lego" or "Legos" (the latter term being common only in US English), although the Lego Group considers such uses to be trademark dilution. Lego catalogues in the 1970s and 1980s contained a note that read:

        "The word LEGO® is a brand name and is very special to all of us in the LEGO Group Companies. We would sincerely like your help in keeping it special. Please a

  • by Scratch-O-Matic (245992) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @04:26PM (#23924683)

    one of those flat, gray, 1-by-2's from the little red ambulance. I'm missing one.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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