Thursday, 16 December 2010

Lucky Dip

I buy a lot of sets on eBay, both because there are genuine bargains to be had, and also because it's about the only place apart from Bricklink where you can get hold of old sets that are no longer available at retail. People are certainly getting wise to the enduring value of LEGO, so there aren't perhaps as many fantastic deals as there once might have been, but it's still a rich vein of interesting, unusual and sometimes rare LEGO-related stuff.

I've written before about some of the possible frustrations of buying used LEGO on eBay - "complete" sets that are anything but, for a start - but there's also an upside which you don't generally get when buying LEGO at retail and that's random stuff in the box which is completely unrelated to the set you've bought. OK, so new LEGO sets generally contain a few extra parts just in case you lose a cheese slope or a round 1x1 plate, for instance, but they don't generally contain extra minifigures from other sets, which have been a not uncommon inclusion in used sets I've bought. Admittedly they're sometimes carelessly substituted for the minifigs that are supposed to be included in the set, but better the wrong figs than no figs at all I guess. As an example, I found the 3 guys below in a couple of used sets from the old 9V train range that I bought recently.

9V Imposters !
The sets were dirt cheap 'Buy It Now' items and as such I was prepared for the worst; I took a punt however as both were boxed. I was certainly right to be wary as both sets were far from complete and contained none of the minifigs they were supposed to, but in their place were the figures above. The wonders of Bricklink mean that with a little time and patience you can often track down which set or sets your errant extra minifigs originally came from; in the case of the chap in the natty black waistcoat and red T-shirt center stage above for instance, the minifig, or to be more exact the torso ("Red V-Neck and Buttons Pattern / Red Arms / Yellow Hands") appeared in a total of 6 sets between 1979 and 1983. And in some of those sets such as Set 6382 Fire Station (below) it appears that he was actually a she ! Clearly the previous owner has swapped the headgear at some stage as that torso has never been paired with a construction hat in an 'official' set, but hey - it's LEGO so anything goes!

Set 6382 Fire Station from 1981 - spot the minifig (or at least the torso)

Aside from unexpected minifigs, the item below was one of the more unusual extras I've ever found in a used set, and I'm still trying to figure out what it is. On the basis of the helpful logo stamped on the piece it's certainly LEGO of some description, but beyond that I have no idea. There are no studs or antistuds to allow attachment to other pieces, although the curved ridges on both the upper and lower surfaces suggest that it might attach to something. And it's not heavy enough to be a magnet, in case you're wondering. I did wonder whether it might be a token or counter for some sort of LEGO-related game, but beyond that I'm out of ideas. If anyone reading this has any suggestions then please get in touch or post a comment as it's bugging me, otherwise the identity of this interloper will likely remain a mystery for ever....

Please will someone just tell me what this is....
Other extras I've received have included building instructions from other sets - the used set containing the curious part above also contained a set of building instructions for another set altogether - Set 7422 Red Eagle from 2003. Not the pieces, unfortunately....

Sometimes the haul of extras is ridiculous; on one occasion I opened up a used set I'd bought to find loads of flattened boxes and instructions from a number of other sets stuffed inside, plus a bunch of baseplates. On contacting the seller to let hm know, it became clear he'd been looking for this stuff for ages having previously squirreled it away and forgotten where he'd put it. He was mightily relieved to get it back. This incident did however bring up a question - what is the etiquette of extras ? Should the buyer own up to having received the extras, or is it 'finders keepers' ? Certainly when I contacted the seller above about the extras he was surprised I hadn't just kept the stuff and kept quiet. I'm not sure there are hard and fast rules about this, but in general, if the set is incomplete and the extras appear to be an attempt to make up for missing pieces then I typically keep them and move on. If however the extras clearly don't belong there I'll generally let the seller know and return the extra stuff at the seller's expense if they want it back, although they usually don't.

So the moral seems to be to carefully check the used sets you buy - you may be surprised by what you find.....


  1. Anonymous17/12/10

    I know what the thing is! It is a hockey puck from the short lived Lego Hockey line, it was a subtheme of sports in 2003-04. I would hold onto it, they go for about $15. Hope I could help

  2. By all that's holy you're right, Mr. Anonymous !! It IS a hockey puck ! According to some quick research Bricklink-style it's part bb116 "Sports Hockey Puck, Large" and has appeared in a total of 12 official sets between 2003 and 2004. I regret to say that your valuation seems a bit off, however - 182 Bricklink sellers currently have these listed in their stores with a starting price of 1 penny Sterling, so I can't retire just yet ! Thanks for putting me out of my misery, however - much appreciated !

  3. Anonymous17/12/10

    You used to get loads of spare pucks in those Ice Hockey sets. I must have 100 of the things....