No: 1306 to 1310
Release Year: 1956-1957
Pieces: 45 (Garage); 51 (Auto Showroom); 109 (Fire Station); 150 (Church); 96 (Filling Station)
According to Gary Istok on this page from Eurobricks, these sets were considered the first model sets to be released under the LEGO System i Leg or System of Play, the name that eventually became the sets we enjoy today. The Town Plan sets were most likely the beginnings of the current City theme, and these were very special indeed.
There were 5 original buildings with this theme, and I was able to rebuild them all, using around 90% original parts. The buildings in order of release were:
- 1310 Esso Filling Station (1956)
- 1306 VW Garage (1957)
- 1307 VW Auto Showroom (1957)
- 1308 Fire Station (1957)
- 1309 Church (1957)
For the most part, this review will be focusing on all of the buildings together, as there is interesting parts common to all.
All of these sets use parts made from the cellulose acetate plastic, so it has a tendency to warp. Most of the parts were still usable, except for the large box window in the Auto Showroom set. That part had warped so much, I wasn’t able to connect many parts to it at all. There’s some great macaroni bricks (the corner bricks), but not many colours.
Colours in vintage LEGO is quite interesting, and still causes me to wonder exactly when this collection is from. In the early 1950s, LEGO had the Automatic Binding Bricks. These were before the System i Leg product. According to this post on Eurobricks from Gary Istok, the earliest Automatic Binding Bricks had 5 colours (red, white, blue, yellow and green). In 1951, blue was removed, and by 1954, it was just red and white. The sets in front of me are mostly red and white, but the blue caught me off guard. These may have been the first colours used in the LEGO System i Leg. I’d have to do some more reading to find out more!
Of all the parts in these sets, the most interesting are the named beams, and the parts without studs – the parts that look the least like LEGO! These are the trees, signs and petrol pumps. Let’s have a look at the named beams first.
For more information on the named beams, check out this Eurobricks link.
On to the trees!
Next up, the windows…
The bases of the windows aren’t as strong as the ones today, mainly due to being a different plastic, but also the base isn’t a solid mould – it has teeth that fit between the studs.
Now, the petrol pumps and signs…
On to the build! The hardest part of these builds was really the fact that the parts had warped, so it was tough to connect them. On the other side of the spectrum, some had warped so they were extremely loose. This was definitely the case with the church and fire station, where the church’s steeple was about to fall over by itself!
The other tricky part was the size of the instructions. For these boxes, the instructions were printed on the underside of the lid. This meant that there were only around 5 steps for each building, and sometimes, no colour. Obviously kids back in the day were very adept at reading LEGO instructions! Click each image to get to the website I used for the instructions and you’ll see what I mean.
VW Auto Showroom
Next week I’ll get back into the reviews of the modern seats with 21301: Birds.
If you’ve had any experience with these sets, I’d love to get in contact and see if I got my details right, or if I was way off the mark! Please feel free to get in contact with me using the Contact page, or by leaving a comment below.