Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Power of Advertising

Something strange happened to me during a recent business trip. I was tired and a bit miserable after a long flight from the UK, and despite the grey, chilly weather outside I decided to go for a walk to clear my head before meeting with some colleagues. My hotel was situated near to an insanely busy road which was literally choked with huge trucks pumping out fumes. It was a truly dismal, depressing scene. And then something happened which instantly lifted my spirits and put a smile on my face - as I was waiting to cross the road, a truck went past, on the back of which was a large metal intermodal shipping container with the "Maersk" logo stamped on the side. Like the ones in the picture below, in fact.....

Something to cheer you up.......?
Crazy, isn't it ? That the sight of a Maersk logo in a far-flung location was enough to cheer me up ? Given that to the best of my knowledge I've never had any direct dealings with the Maersk company (although they've no doubt shipped many of my consumer durables around the world over the years without my knowledge) I can only surmise that my affection for this large, Danish company is their well-established association with fellow Danes LEGO. And more specifically, their association with some excellent LEGO sets....

A search of the trusty Brickset database reveals 7 sets with the word "Maersk" in the title. I unfortunately only own a couple of them, but they're both IMHO superb. Most recently, I picked up Set 10219 Maersk Train (pic below) which I plan to run on my LEGO City layout when the thing is finally finished (don't hold your breath on that one, though - still waiting for parts....). I think the Maersk Train ranks alongside the likes of the lovely Set 10020 Santa Fe Super Chief and Set 10133 Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) in terms of realism, and really the only downside from my perspective is that some of the parts needed to motorise it, including the motor itself, have been out of stock at LEGO S@H ever since I bought it.....

The other Maersk-branded set I own is set 10152 Maersk Sealand Container Ship. There's a veritable feast of old-fashioned ships in the LEGO back catalogue (most recently Set 4195 Queen Anne's Revenge from the Pirates of the Carribbean movie, and the beautiful Set 10210 Imperial Flagship) but the Maersk Sealand ship is one of the few more modern ships that LEGO has attempted a vaguely accurate rendition of, and I've loved it ever since I first saw it.

Up until recently, it was relatively hard to get hold of the set, which was originally produced for employees of the Maersk company in 2004 but subsequently appeared for a short time at LEGO S@H. LEGO surprisingly re-released the set as 10155 Maersk Line Container Ship in January 2011, however, and other than a change to the stickers on account of the name change, it's my understanding that the set is pretty much identical to the previous version; as I write this, it's still available in bricks and mortar LEGO brand stores and also online at LEGO S@H, although from what I'm hearing it might not be for much longer, so go get it before it disappears, perhaps forever this time....

Of the other Maersk-branded sets, well, I think I'm going to have to want them pretty badly if I'm ever going to aquire them.... At the time of writing there aren't any examples of 1974's Set 1650 Maersk Line Container Ship for sale on eBay on either side of the pond, for instance, and the cheapest Set 1650 for sale on Bricklink would cost me more than £300, with the cheapest MISB example on sale for more than £1650 at current exchange rates... Meanwhile, an unboxed Set 1651 Maersk Line Container Lorry from 1981, without instructions, would set me back more than £500 on Bricklink, and the only MISB example on Bricklink is listed at well over £3000.... You can see pics of a few of these rare, branded sets below (click to enlarge). Nice, but at those prices, I think I'll have to pass....

Set 1650 Maersk Line Container Ship

Set 1651 Maersk Line Container Truck

Set 1552 Maersk Truck and Trailer Unit

In addition to the fact that the Maersk-branded sets are generally nicely designed and desirable sets in their own right, there's another reason to covet them - Maersk Blue (pic below).
A crate of Maersk Blue bricks. But they're not mine. Unfortunately.
It seemed amazing to me when I first became aware of it a few years back, but LEGO produced, and continue to produce, pieces in a particular shade of blue just for the Maersk sets. And not just any blue, but a really nice shade of blue; lighter than the standard blue LEGO bricks, slightly greener than medium blue, it's just a really nice colour. And it's unfortunately rare because it only appears in the Maersk sets, making it all the more desirable.....


  1. I passed a Maersk truck driving back from Brickwold this June and thought it was pretty neat. The single container was grey and resembled the container included in the recent Maersk Train. I always enjoy seeing the real world equivalent of something from the LEGO universe.

  2. Hey
    I had a similar thing happen to me the other day in my local area.
    I drove past a number of Maersk shipping containers and immediately felt the Lego-happy-dance inside.
    I was never cognitively aware of the company before but now see their Logo all over the place.
    Thanks for the post.

  3. I don't even own any Maersk LEGO but was cheered up when I saw a Maersk container on a train. :)

  4. I find it somewhat reassuring that I am clearly not alone in this slightly bizarre reaction to a (non-LEGO) corporate logo...

  5. ^Indeed, you are not alone.

    Very interesting post! LEGO is one of those special companies that produces products which make us more aware of the world around us. It would be nice to see LEGO release a set based on the new E-class of Maersk container ships along with port facilities that would enable the creation of a full-blown LEGO container port.

  6. Anonymous12/4/13

    I have two sets of 1650 maersk line container ships that were given to me by my father who is a merchant marine. I did not know their value and would like to sell them. Booklet says Lego System a/s 1974. Specially made for Maersk Line. How can I sell them.

    1. If you want to sell then I'd suggest Bricklink ( or eBay. Failing that you could always 'donate' one of them to me and I'll promise to open it up and review it here on Gimme LEGO.

      The 'book' value of the sets is high, but whether you'll find anybody willing to pay those kind of prices is another matter - good luck with that....

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