54 year old LEGO Samsonite Vintage Set (450)
While everyone goes after the latest and greatest sets, I’m a fan of the LEGO company and history itself beyond the bricks. One thing that I do look forward to is to actually look back into time and own items from the days of what I call ‘classic’ LEGO. I acquired this (incomplete) LEGO Set 450, for only $9.99 USD off e-bay. Consisting of what it originally meant to be 450 pieces - this set was manufactured by Samsonite back in 1963. What has a luggage manufacturer got to do with LEGO? Indeed, this may surprise some but it’s quite an interesting part of LEGO history that’s beyond this review. If you’re interested, hop on over to Brickipedia
The box itself is made to last. It’s amazing that it’s survived for at least 50 years and I could not imagine how precious this was to another child or adult that’s outgrown this set. Even the logo on the box art sports a sense of nostalgia. The box slides out in a case like fashion revealing the bricks in plastic containers. Containing very basic pieces mostly 2x4 bricks in an assortment of colors, a few windows and wheels and red roof elements.
The back of the box sports what your imagination can do - I really like the “no instructions” set and just the simple words that say a lot “Here are a few of the things you can build with this set. When you have built one thing you can play with it - or take it apart and build the next. You can get a million more ideas as you go along. And as your Lego collection grows, possibilities grow even faster. There is no limit”
A closer look shows the older LEGO logo and the Samsonite branding.
As an incomplete set that lasted for half a century, I can’t be sure if the parts from this set were solely from this set and nowhere else. According to Brickset (link) this costed USD $10.95 back then, and in today’s currency, it costs USD $87.86 (with inflation) which is not a small sum for an average family to splurge on Lego. If you’re not convinced, take a look at this piece which was glued back together perfectly. You could tell that someone really felt it was a treasured part of a collection.
If you take a closer look at the imprint of the LEGO logo on the studs of the brick, there seems to be two types. The brick on the far left (and whitest) is from a current set, probably manufactured within the last year or two. The middle brick sports the same lovely logo sported on the front of the box The far right, seems to be a variation of today’s fonts but with an additional raised circle.
Here’s a closer look at the bricks bricks. Once again, I’m not able to tell whether these were meant to be as such or did the owner mix a batch of bricks over the decades of storage and play. For the OCD factor in all of us, look at the arrangements of LEGO and you'll notice the one on the far right has some imprints done upside down.
Another interesting observation is the horizontal support and teeth (left most) that exist on the newer bricks, but not on its older design (center) It somehow exists on the longer bricks.
I’m also quite proud to finally own a waffle! What’s that? Take a look at the underside of this regular looking plate.
The Lego plate sports a very different looking connection to what we know of today. It’s grip is still as firm, but perhaps not good enough?
Another piece of treasure are these transparent bricks! Albeit they’re not in the best of condition, I’ve always wanted these unique bricks that Lego does not manufacture for regular sets in the 4x2 brick element
Besides looking like the stuff we all well know and love, the construct of many of these bricks are very different. Take a look at this set of wheels. It’s not removable from the brick itself and has an additional plastic layer of seal.
Even the windows that look like pieces that can be removed, are actually a single piece of mould with shapes embedded. Even the underside of the these window connectors look very different and unique. I did have some trouble building certain shapes that I wanted with them not fitting together to be mounted. So obviously over the years these have been redesigned.
Even the underside of the these window connectors look very different and unique. I did have some trouble building certain shapes that I wanted with them not fitting together to be mounted. So obviously over the years these have been redesigned.
With all these loose bricks, and most of them in red, I had to take a stab a making a build of my own. The first thing that came to my mind was Ole Kirk’s House. Did I do a good job? Without much difficulty - it was put together, but one thing about these parts were that it seem that it had more of tighter fit than usual perhaps of the nature of the age of the bricks. What is amazing though is that a toy that was manufactured more than half a century ago, is still able to fulfil the very same experience it was mean to evoke to this very day. That’s the magic of LEGO.
Reference image from which I built the Ole Kirk House from and the Inflation Calculator which shows the amount you would have to spend on the LEGO 450 Set.