Although the plastic building brick that made Lego one of the most successful toy companies of all time originated over 65 years ago, it would be a few years before Lego started churning out the building sets that inspired the models that many of us grew up with. But even back in 1972 you could see the humble beginnings of some of Lego’s most iconic sets and toy lines in this retro catalogue.
This digitised version of the 1972 Lego product catalogue comes courtesy of Samuel Liltorp Johnson, the design manager of the fan-submitted Lego Ideas product line, who shared the images through its Twitter account. It’s a look back at Lego before the arrival of its popular space ships and pirate ships, and long before licensed properties like Star Wars saw ships like the Millennium Falcon recreated with plastic bricks. Believe it or not, this 1972 catalogue is officially 50 years old now, and despite the comparatively simple models it contains, it still makes us want to dig out our Lego bins.
Lego Police Headquarters With Helicopter
Police stations are one of Lego’s most enduring models, returning year after year with new features and functionality. The 1972 version included a helicopter with a roof-mounted helipad, a police car, some lovely foliage, and a distinct lack of minifigures which actually wouldn’t be released until 1978, with the first one introduced being a police officer. As for the price of this set in 1972? 49.50 Danish Krone, or roughly $10 AU.
Lego Silo Building With Transports
The best Lego sets have moving parts or other dynamic features that offer more play value, and this 1972 silo structure features a working conveyor belt that can deliver small blocks to a delivery truck. 29.50 Danish Krone, or around A$6.
Lego Transport and Delivery Trucks
Did you know that Lego remains the world’s leading tire manufacturer by number of wheels produced? Yes, most of the company’s tires are roughly the size of a penny, but it’s still an impressive fact, and vehicles have long been a part of Lego’s offerings. In 1972 this included a line of trucks with trailers for hauling cargo, forklifts, tractors, and excavators. 10.00 Danish Krone, or $2 each.
Most of my childhood was spent rooting through the Lego bin looking for parts to build planes of all shapes and sizes, and in 1972 one of Lego’s earliest attempts at a small plane is still something I would have been very proud of had I come up with it myself. 5.50 Danish Krone, or $1 each.
Lego Battery-Powered Train
Lego’s first motorised train arrived in 1967, five years before this catalogue was released, but the company continues to expand its railroad offerings to this day. The 4.5V electric train of 1972 more or less reflects the look of Lego’s earliest train models, hiding the chunky battery powering it in a trailing carriage. This set includes one additional carriage, a full circle of track, and a railroad crossing, and while in 1972 it was priced at 129.50 Danish Krone, it would have cost just over $25 in the U.S.
Lego Battery-Powered Vehicle Frame
Trains weren’t the only vehicle Lego was motorising. In 1972 you could also get this motorised framework for building a myriad of different vehicles powered by a battery-filled controller connected by a wire. The set included standard wheels, as well two caterpillar treads for building construction vehicles or tanks — even though Lego never encourages kids to build vehicles of war. 40.50 Danish Krone, or $8.
Lego’s Technic sets wouldn’t formally arrive until 1977, but the company had experimented with sets and pieces allowing simple machines to be assembled long before that. In 1972 kids could buy this Lego Gears set which in addition to gears included axles and other elements that could even be powered by an electric motor. It was a far cry from the complexity of Technic we know today, but it was obviously received well enough for Lego to stick with it. 79.25 Danish Krone, or $16, for the set that included the motor, or 38.25 Danish Krone ($8) with a set containing just raw parts.
Lego Doll House Furniture
Although sold as “for the girls” in 1972 allowing kids to build tiny furniture pieces for dollhouses, Lego should take a note from this catalogue and introduce a new line of sets celebrating interior design and famous furniture makers. A Lego Eames Lounge chair would look just as lovely on a shelf as a Lego Ferrari or X-wing fighter. 38.50 Danish Krone, or $8.
Lego Shell Gas Station
Before Lego introduced its own fictional fuel company in 1992 with Octan, sets featuring gas stations or fuel trucks featured branding from real life companies like Exxon-Mobil or Shell, as was the case in 1972. 10.00 Danish Krone, or $2.
Lego Branded Brick Storage
One thing sorely missing in today’s Lego lineup is smart storage solutions designed by the company itself. (No, IKEA’s Lego offerings don’t cut it.) In 1972 there were a myriad of storage options available including everything from sealable plastic bags, to stackable compartmented trays, to a giant sealable box that kept Lego messes at bay. 30.75 Danish Krone, or $6.