Memory Lane : Spare a thought

Through the explosion of the internet, it has never been so easy to obtain parts and pieces from LEGO. Bricklink serves to be one of the most popular methods as well as realms of ebay and even Farcebook – yes, social media plays a big role.

However, back in 1980, things were a tad different. My look through the archives brings up the back page of the 1980 UK catalogue. LEGO UK was the only real way to buy additional parts to sets and collections so they offered a small selection (illustration only) of some of the parts you could buy. I know for a fact that the 4×2 and 8×2 hinges snapped off quite easily and what a pain in the backside it is trying to fix them up with a bit of epoxy resin.


Also – and I can totally relate to this – the motor parts seemed to be the most fragile, so it seems the full complement is available as spares. The 2-pin connector lead heads were prone to coming off, if not treated with a little TLC.

Naturally, LEGO UK could not supply full sets.

There are some really interesting things to note back in the day:

  • All the part prices included postage and packaging – Royal Mail were certainly cheaper then. T
  • here are two items I sorely wanted :

1) the spread bag – just brilliant for opening up and allowing all the parts to be out, with minimal clean up as you just draw it all together. I think everyone does know how tedious it is to pack away LEGO once out if you have a mass of it

2) the plastic folder for keeping LEGO maps in. How I could have done with that at some stage as it would have really helped keep everything in place and not have maps in tatters, halves nor spend my time today trying to restore them to a useable standard.

Thankfully I never did cut out the form and get my parents to post it with a cheque – that 1980 catalogue is one of my prized possessions.

But forward 36 years on and there are still two things to look at here – LEGO DO NOT produce the map folder nor the spread bag. Which I think is a tragic shame. I do not understand some of the non-set merchandise and building accessories that are being produced. Shop at Home sells baseplates and roads as building accessories with the only other useful thing being the brick separator but that is about it. Surely there would be value in creating a map folder for sets? I know I for one would buy them in bulk as I have maps and books overflowing within my storage at the moment with no real default way of storing them.

Also as plastic storage seems the norm for LEGO, it is still a nuisance to tip out all the LEGO and then put it all bag when a spread bag would take the hassle out of that movement?

Rumblings, rumblings…………with all the Console stuff of Dimensions and clever workings of the parts/elements these days, sometimes the simple stuff is the best.

Now I have to find a Time Lord or a DeLorean……………and no, I am not talking about Dimensions!



My name is Keith and I am a AFOL. Currently an expat living out in Basel, CH, but have a firm footing back in the UK when time permits. I have had had Lego ever since I can remember - and only until my wee one came along have I re-kindled the flame for building again. I also run, a resource site for the 1-75 series of miniatures by Matchbox. There are only three themes that I am get/collect (finances permitting) - City, Creator (Advanced and Expert) as well as the classic Star Wars sets from Eps IV to VI (anything else does not exist). I also keep an eye in Europe with ample chance to see how France, Germany and Switzerland market and offer LEGO.

One thought on “Memory Lane : Spare a thought

  • 26/11/2015 at 20:17

    Wow, that’s bought lots of memories flooding back. Thanks 🙂 The spread bag was awesome, so handy to have everything in one place, and as you said, so easy to clear up after a marathon building session. Would love to buy a couple for my niece and nephew, but alas Lego are a little shortsighted.


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