Quiz about Minitalia sets

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ID: TOPIC-63
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Created by: 2018, oct 15 10:42
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LEGO Classic
Town
LEGO Classic
2018, oct 15 10:42
Hi guys,
It is time for quiz and fun! It is indeed not that much of a quiz but anyway, let's call it a quiz. Here it is:

In what countries were the Minitalia sets sold?
You can also add what you know about them. These sets have many unspoken mysteries and I am sure I don't know much about them.

Please write your answers below so that others can read.
At the end, I will write what I have to say about it.

Cheers
Reza
LEGO Classic
2018, oct 22 17:32
modified: 2018, oct 22 17:38
Hi Reza,
Easy question! Minitalia were maketed for Italia only. Sales were going slowy here, and they had to produce a more affordable toy, linked with Lego.
These were parts based on the 1958 patent that presented many alternatives to the 3-tubes brick, including the iconic 3-crossed brick. They later changed to the three-tubes brick, with central cutout. The plastic used was cheaper, and there are differences in color with ABS bricks, as we can see on my Minitalia house's roof, where I used ABS 2x2 33° double slopes, as these were not existing in the Minitalia range.
The parts were long thought to be made in Italy, but it was confirmed some years ago that these were produced in Denmark, in another city than Billund.
These parts are easily scratched. I got a nice bulk of Minitalia parts and I had to polish all the parts for these to be useable and clean.
Minitalia sets initiated the minifigure scale with 1x4x5 doors and 1x4x3 windows. We can see on the backside of some 1978 Town sets in which there is the bottom lip and the bit longer shutters used on the pictures. these are prototype windows based on Minitalia ones.
Of course, the building were in Italian style. The main red color makes me think of an early Lego clone: American Plastic Bricks from Elgo (!) company. The funny fact is that Elgo company was created before manufacturing building bricks, and the American Building Bricks were sold way before Lego was released in the USA, by Samsonite, in 1961.
The black windows and doors are way rarer than white ones.
Some mainline Lego parts were used along Minitalia sers, such as 10x20 baseplates, boat hulls and pine trees.
Another interesing fact is that Minitalia was sold along with Lego products, as it was reported that there was even usual Lego catalogues in Minitalia sets.

In the other side of the spectrum, you have OLO sets. These were Japanease sets, that used the Minitalia bricks design. The big difference is that the parts are made of high quality ABS plastic (Japanease like good quality things), as the European Lego brand was not well known enough. These sets were also sold mainly in big malls in bigger cities. These sets are now very rare and desired.

I think I wrote the main informations, do you see something important missing?

LEGO Classic
2018, oct 23 20:33
I learnt a lot from this, thanks Evans.
Were these sets sold in France too? If so, which sets?
In what countries were they sold?
LEGO Classic
2018, nov 2 19:24
You're welcome!
No, Minitalia sets were only sold in Italy, and Olo sets were only sold in Japan. I got my bulk from a man who travelled a lot in his childhood, I also got a german 1965 catalog from him.
LEGO Classic
2018, nov 4 09:27
Evans, Sorry but you are far wrong. The minitalia sets were sold elsewhere.
I believe the minitalia sets were also sold in France. I have seen various minitalia sets in the market of France frequently. I even bought one recently (still in Italy, to be shipped to me). But I have never seen one single minitalia set in Belgium, Netherlands,...this is not a coincidence. I am pretty sure they were sold also in France. Based on the same type of argument, I knew that the set 6377 was not only sold in Canada and US, but also in France. This was later confirmed by other sources including yourself.

But only France and Italy? No no no no no no :-)
Japan! The minitalia set 2-11 was exported to Japan with Japanese set. We can easily understand that Japanese parents would buy better a toy with Japanese text on the box, rather than English one! See some photos:
https://hiveminer.com/Tags/lego%2Cminitalia

Now, we go back in 1979... the hot summer of Tehran, few months after the revolution of 1979... and few years before my birth... two brother were playing every day, fighting over toys, fighting with themselves, causing trouble everywhere,....the mother was bothered and didn't know how to calm her sons. Until one day, she was visiting various stores and passes by a Toy store in the neiborhood, near Vanak square. She sees a Lego set with a photo off colorful house on it. The sharm of the house didn't let her to hesitate. She goes it and but the Lego box to give to her little son and enlarge her Lego collection. The set was the minitalia set 2-11 and the mother was my mother! I owned the set.
Even tough I had sets with nice parts, the sharm of this set opened a special place in my heart. I built this set many times. My mother not being much interested in Lego, but each time we had a conversation about Lego and toy, she said "build that beautiful house!" :-) and so this set was built over and over for many times over the years. I never remember having seen the inner box, but I kept the box sleeve and it is still in one of the boxes in which I stored my Lego collection in Tehran. Far away from me, but the next time I visit Tehran, I will take photos of my collection including my minitalia set 2-11! And yes, this set was sold by retailers in Tehran. (with Italian box)
My Lego collection is the most strange one. I owned parts belonging to sets from 1967 up to 1991! 

LEGO Classic
2018, nov 9 23:53
Hmmm... I really don't think Minitalia sets were sold in France, or anywhere other in Europe except Italy. I think the Minitalia sets that are on French market are from the same source as mine: many French families like going to the Côte d'Azur, and they often travel through the Italian border. I asked the guy I bought my lot, and he bought it in Italy, during his holidays there. :) He was attracted by the unusual artwork of the box.
And if it's not easy to find in Benelux, it may be because these are way smaller countries (each big like a French région), so way less chances to find these. :)

Yes, I forgot the Japanease 2-11, but it was such a special case that I did not think it was important to note.

Your story is very very interesting! (I love hearing such stories!) For Iranian market, I did not know that, and I've never read that too! But more largely , African and Middle-East markets are very poorly known, at least, there are a very few informations about them. So it's a very good element you're a giving there. So the box was in italian language? Do you have some Lego documents (catalogs) in arabic language too?
I hope you have more things like this to reveal about Iranian market!
LEGO Classic
2018, dec 16 02:50
I guess my box was Italian because I am sure it was not in Japanese otherwise I would have noticed something awkward!

I am not sure why you ask me if I had any Lego document in arabic. Why should Lego company produce catalogs in Arabic for Iranians? Would they print catalogs in Danish or in Japanese for French people?! People in Iran understand Arabic as much as French people understand Swedish! :-)
But no, they didn't publish anything in Persian at that time. I am not sure if they are publishing anything in Persian nowadays or not.
What I can say is that retailer brought almost all Lego products to Iran since late 70s. I don't know about before of that time but my mother bought a lot of spare parts (which was coming from a big lot divided in several smaller lots to sell easier) and the parts where from late 60s. I had train parts from starter train believe it or not! For example this one:
https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?P=3176c01&idColor=5#T=...

Had you seen this before? :-)

Tha lot included parts from American or Canadian Samsonite of early 70s!
My cousins (from two families) had almost all Lego land and space sets from late 70s and I played with their Lego and noticed the variation of parts. But they only had one train and I guess it was 182.
So, I actually played with Lego parts from 1968-92 in my childhood! Yeah!
LEGO Classic
2018, dec 16 16:07
Sorry, I was considering arabic as a type of alphabet, like latin or cyrillic would be, I know the big diversity of Arabic languages there can be. :)
I asked this because I don't know any person who is collecting specifically old Lego things from North-Africa or Middle-east zones, so I've rarely seen catalogues or papers written with arabic-type alphabets, and these are surely quite rare. Lego history in these parts of the world is not well-known, your case with your Minitalia set sold in Iran is a good example of this.

How were these parts bought? were these used parts sold by someone, or spare parts sold by some toyshops? Maybe were these old stocks of parts that Lego wanted to get rid of, in Iran?
182, what a nice train! I've seen it functionning at a Lego show, and I would love making a minifig-scaled version of this locomotive.
Do your cousins still have these sets?

By the way, how easy is it to find old Lego in Iran, today?
LEGO Classic
2018, dec 21 13:51
I am sorry, but Persian is NOT a language in the category of Arabic languages. I can understand Arabic as much as you understand (maybe a little bit more, as I have heard more expressions like Masha'lla,...) and Arabs from somewhere like Iraq, Saudi-Ariabia,Qatar,... can understand Persian as much as they can understand French.(nothing!)
Persian is written in Cyrillic in Tajikistan. Does this make it a Russian language? I can write in English alphabet, does this make it an English language?
If you write French in Arabic alphabet, does this make Arabic part of Arabic languages?! :-)

Persian is an Indo-European langauge, as is Hindi, Armenian, Kurdish,....
This link may be interesting:
https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-Indo-European-language-family-tree

In 1979 Iran experienced a revolution and the last king of Iran left Iran forever. Short after, many families linked to the show (either royal family or very close and trusted by the royal family) left or escaped Iran, having fear of prison, execution,... :-(
Therefore their belongs were brought to Bazars, supermarkets,...and of course these families were rich and had good stuff like Lego. The lot my mother found was one of those. It included many old parts from 1968 to few space parts, and many 2*4, 2*3, 2*2,...bricks. Next time I go to Iran, I will take photos of my collection.
MY mother bought some small sets from 1975-79 the best of them was "Hairdressing Salon 230". I still have it including its inner box!
Then they bought the best set in my collection: Lego technic 857. I admire this set so much. Simple, but also complex; and perfect!
Then it was my birth and I got few sets between 1989-92.
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