Sunday, November 6, 2011

#80 LEGO – WEEKEND HOME (Ref. 6370) (1985)

I guess there are many Lego fans out there. I was never a Lego collector, I just own a few sets from the 80s. Since Lego is one of the most popular toys ever, and even today it’s among the most popular toys, it’s difficult for me to imagine it as a collectible item. It’s simply a too large collection to seriously think about collecting each reference. I like them more as a toy, a large set of random pieces to build anything that I want.

I recognise the idea is great, since it’s a toy both for boys and girls, there are so many themes, that every child can choose their favourite: City, Pirates, Medieval, Futuristic, Star Wars, Sports… and also many other series like Technic, Duplo, Ninjago, Bionicle…

The plastic blocks were invented in 1949, although the company exists since 1932. Between those years, the company also had construction blocks, but they were made of wood. The history of the company is very well documented, so this time I’ll talk about trademark infringement. It was not so long ago, that the Canadian company MegaBrands was exonerated from copying the construction block from Lego for their MegaBloks toy-line: first in 2006, by the Supreme Court of Canada, and then in 2008 by the European Union’s High Court of Justice, after the lawsuit was accepted by the OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market).

In the first case, the Canadian patent for the Lego blocks had expired in 1988, so the 25M US$ Lego claimed as damage, were dismissed. In the second case, the European court tried that Lego blocks “merely performs a technical function and cannot be registered as a trademark”, and therefore should be available for everybody. Since this judgement, many companies have copied Lego blocks, with different qualities and sets.

A story that is not very well known, and that was only available on the internet in Spanish until now, is that Exin was already judged in the 80s for copying the block system for their toy-line Tente. The judgement took place in Israel, were Lego and Tente shared the market of construction toys. Lego wanted to reduce the concurrence in this country and in all the others in which Tente was present. It is believed, that Lego chose Israel for being a far country, and that Tente/Exin wouldn’t be able to afford the costs of a trial there.

The High Court of Israel judged similarly to the European High Court of Justice, and Exin was not guilty of infringement of copyright. If it had been judged the opposite, Tente would have needed to pay copyrights to Tente, what would have made the toys more expensive.

Tente was not merely a copy of Lego: since its creation in 1972, Exin improved the original idea and obtained several international patent registries. Compared to Lego, a Tente piece could be connected to another one in up to three times more ways. One system was not compatible with the other one, even though the bricks had absolutely identical dimensions.

After the closure of Exin, the rights of Tente were bought by Borras, that kept the line until 2007. Now it has disappeared, but another construction systems, like TecniToys' Construblock are available in the spanish market. Tecnitoys is the company that currently owns the rights of Scalextric and that has between their most important leaders members of the Arnau family, founders of Exin (Lluis María Arnau is the current R&D manager). Construblock sets are compatible with Lego.

Since the article is longer than I expected, just a few words about the Weekend Home set form 1985. It includes 177 pieces and two minifigs. It is specially interesting since the house includes a kitchen, a bedroom plus two more rooms and in the garden, a barbecue. The worst part is the side of the house, that doesn't look that well. The bike is also a great complement.


FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: WEEKEND HOME (Ref. 6370)
  • Toy Line: Lego City
  • Year: 1985
  • Company: Lego (Denmark)
  • Size: 25 x 13 x 12 cm
  • Scale: 1:48

4 comments:

  1. Qué pasada y sobre todo qué recuerdos leer, ver y disfrutar de este tipo de posts. Lego siempre fue, a mi entender, una de esas empresas que simplemente escuchando su nombre hace que una sonrisa aparezca en tu cara; y no sólo por sus productos... me explico: a pesar de que me gustaba todo lo relacionado con lego, fue i hermano, seis años menor, quien vivió y compartió su aficción por Lego, llegando incluso a escribirles cartas pidiéndoles esto y aquello, que si catálogos, posters e incluso piezas; y siempre respondían a sus cartas con lo que pedía (qué cosas...)

    Años más tarde, hoy día, un gran arcón guarda todo aquello, a la espera de que alguna nueva generación de la familia lo disfrute.

    Este conjunto que nos enseñas es fenomenal, por su candidez sobre todo, pero también por la nostalgia de otro tipo de infancia; y si nos ponemos en plan nostálgicos, el tacto de ese tipo de plástico, los diseños de las ventanas, las piezas del tejado, los bloques simples de las paredes...

    Todo es fenomenal!!!!

    Saludos y hasta pronto!!!!!!

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  2. This is a very nice set ! And a very good topic !

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  3. Hey, thanks for the comments!

    Estoy muy de acuerdo con lo que dices. El conjunto es muy naïf, creo que los niños de ahora (con la misma edad que los que disfrutamos de esta "casa de fin de semana" en los 80s) no entenderían muy bien la diversión que puede haber en una casa como esta y desharían el set para fabricar un avión o un coche o algo así.

    Deberías rescatar esos sets (o animar a tu hermano a que lo haga) y ver si están enteros. Por lo que he estado mirando no son especialmente caros, porque se produjeron a millones, pero por el valor nostálgico, incluso convendría completarlos si faltase alguna piececilla.

    En los Toys R Us de aquí (no sé en España) hay un stand (como de chucherías) en el que puedes llenar una bolsa con las piezas más raras y más pequeñas que se pierden con más frecuencia. Quiero ver si hago una lista con las piezas que me faltan en España y las compro, por completar mis otros sets.

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  4. Pues animaré a mi hermano a que recupere el arcón, las ganas y la ilusión, y que de paso se de una vuelta por el toys´r´us más cercano; desconocía esa posibilidad "a granel" de las piezas, y siemrpe es interesante.

    A priori casi podría asegurar que no tiene ningún playset completo (aquellas construcciones bizarras que devoraban piezas fueron un punto común de nuestros juegos infantiles), pero es cuestión de mirar.

    Hasta pronto!!!!!

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