3 August 2019

Fabuland Lives On: the elements

This year marks 40 years since The LEGO Group (TLG) launched the FABULAND theme. In total, 99 Fabuland sets were released from 1979 until 1989, plus the theme featured licensed products such as books, clothing, key rings and for the first time an animated TV series. To celebrate this, we're examining the surprising legacy that this theme for 3-7 year olds has had upon the elements of the LEGO® System to this day.



We thought it would be interesting to take a look at the influence of this theme by finding some current LEGO elements that started their lives as Fabuland elements.

FABULAND SHIP WHEEL

We start with the recent example that inspired us to find out a little more about Fabuland elements and their longevity.


In the LEGO Ideas set 21317 Steamboat Willie the boat's wheel is called Fabuland Ship Wheel (Design ID 52395). Yes, the element's official name actually mentions Fabuland, as several do. BrickLink call it Boat Ship's Wheel. It appeared for the first time in Medium Stone Grey [TLG name]/ Light Bluish Gray [BrickLink name] but usually appears in Reddish Brown.

This is an updated version, introduced in 2016, of the original (Design ID 4790), shown here in Bright Red/ Red, the original colour for this part but now the rarest. The original first appeared in 1985 in set 3673 Steamboat, also known as Paddle Steamer.



The only obvious difference is that the original had a pin connector that was complete, rather than the split pin that appears in the current version.

FABULAND POT



The Fabuland pot (Design ID 4341) was originally seen in 1982 within three sets, including 3703 Peter Pig the Cook. BrickLink call this element Minifigure, Utensil Pot Cauldron 3 x 3 x 1 & 3/4 with Handles. It has only ever appeared in Black, which is a shame.


After Fabuland was retired as a theme in 1989, the mould continued to be used but at some point around 2008 the Fabuland logo seen on the underside was erased from the mould.  You can find both types of pots on the secondary market, but they are not listed separately. Obviously all new sets (e.g. 75984 Hogwarts Great Hall released in 2018) have the version shown on the right supplied.

FABULAND TUB

Fabuland Tub (Design ID 4424) was first seen in 1982 in two colours: Bright Yellow/ Yellow in 3637 Gertrude Goat's Painter's Truck, and in the very rare colour Light Brown/ Fabuland Orange within 3710 Peter Panda Takes a Bath. Unlike the aforementioned pot, it has appeared in many colours - 11 in total!


It shown on the left in Earth Orange/ Brown but this mould was phased out in 2008/2009 when a new version (64951) replaced the older style, shown here on the right in Reddish Brown. At first look it may seem that the element has not changed much.


In fact the new mould for this element included a redesign to the base to give it an axle hole through the centre, and the tube provides greater clutch as well.

The two versions are called Container, Barrel Half Large and Container, Barrel Half Large with Axle Hole on BrickLink.

FABULAND SIGN


Fabuland Sign on Pole (BrickLink ID x222) first appeared in 1987 in 3719 Bus Stop and it had a bus sticker to apply as you can see on the Bright Yellow/ Yellow version. Its most recent appearances was in a series of Belville sets 2002-4 in Medium Reddish Violet /Dark Pink.


While the exact mould of the Fabuland Sign is no longer in production, it is fair to say that the element heavily influenced Round Sign 1X5X3 (13459), an element from 2013. The slightly smaller and tidier Round Sign has been produced in Earth Blue/ Dark Blue, Black and White thus far.

LAMPPOST

The beautiful Fabuland Lamp Post (4781) was only produced in one colour, Grey/Light Grey, and came in four Fabuland sets in 1986 and 1987 before vanishing until a snap re-appearance in 2000 as part of 4166 Mickey's Car Garage.


In 1987 a new lamppost appeared in Fabuland sets. Shown in Bright Red above, Fabuland Standard (2039) had some design alterations to give it wider use by removing the lamp part and modifying the base to a 2x2 footprint that fit into the system better. This version was in a host of sets from 1987 until 2012.

In 2011, the design changed again with a slight overlap in 2011/12 for sets already in production. The new mould altered the shape and number of the lower flutes on the post from six to four. Lamppost 2X2X7 (11062) is the reincarnation of the original lamppost currently in use and has been made in White and Black.

UMBRELLA


Fabuland's Umbrella (BrickLink ID x845) first appeared in 1980 in both Bright Red and Bright Yellow. 3601 Elton Elephant included a Yellow Fabuland Umbrella in 1981, a set where Elton was clearly being stood up by his date.

In 1993, the Paradisa set 6409 Island Arcade contained a Parasol (4094) that was very similar to the original Fabuland Umbrella, shown in Medium Reddish Violet below.

If you look closely you will see that there are two differences: the nub at the top of the umbrella had been developed into a stud and the underside now has a combined anti-stud and axle hole connection. The current iteration goes by Design ID 58572.

On BrickLink, the current version with the stud goes by the name Umbrella Top with No Bottom Flaps, 6 x 6 with Top Stud whilst the Fabuland original is Fabuland Umbrella Top with No Bottom Flaps, 6 x 6 with No Top Stud (only a nub).

6 and 6.6L BAR

The 6.6L Bar with Stop Ring or Standard Ø3.18 X 53 (4095) first appeared in 1980 in three different Fabuland sets in Bright Red and Bright Yellow. This element continued to appear in a host of other colours until its last appearance in 2011, in White, within 9348 Community Minifigure Set.


In 2006 another similar element called Stick 6M W/Flange (63963, 18274, 93790, 28921) was released in Medium Stone Grey/ Dark Bluish Gray within 10175 Vader's TIE Advanced. The obvious difference is the length: reduced from 6.6L to 6L, and this second version is now the element that remains in use.

FABULAND WIND GAUGE

Fabuland Wind Gauge (x246) only appeared once in a Fabuland set; a Bright Yellow one came with 3671 Airport which was released in 1984.

©1984 LEGO Group
The same Fabuland Wind Gauge also appeared in Flame Yellowish Orange/ Bright Light Orange in three sets between 2005 and 2008, two of which were from the Sponge Bob Squarepants theme - 3827 Adventures in Bikini Bottom and 3831 Rocket Ride.



It seems that the Fabuland Wind Gauge influenced an accessory that first appeared in 2016 with one of the LEGO Minifigures from Series 16. White Net No. 1 (24086) belonged to the Animal Control Officer, presumably to help recapture her escapee skunk.

BREAD 

Back in 1982, a little rabbit called Rufus was strolling along carrying two baguettes in his basket, and LEGO was changed forever! Nom nom.


White Bread (4342) first appeared in the Fabuland set 3702 Rufus Rabbit in Brick Yellow/ Tan and since then the element has remained unchanged. Clearly LEGO felt that they had baked the best baguette first time, and decided not to mess with perfection.


Since then White Bread has appeared in three more colours;

  • Light Yellow
  • Light Orange Brown/ Earth Orange
  • Medium Nougat/ Medium Dark Flesh
At present the only two active colours are Brick Yellow and Medium Nougat.

FABULAND BROOM

The Fabuland Broom (4332, 90459) first appeared in Light Orange Brown/ Earth Orange in six Fabuland sets released in 1982, including 3784 Hugo Hog the Tinker.


This element also appeared in Earth Orange/Brown and Black between 1997 and 2004 mainly in sets from the Castle and Harry Potter themes. After the big 2004 colour change, the Fabuland Broom appeared in Reddish Brown and then finally Earth Green/ Dark Green as an accessory with Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter Collectable Minifigure Series released in 2018.

FABULAND TELEPHONE HANDSET

In 1984, communication became easier in Fabuland when the Telephone arrived with 3664 Police Station. The Fabuland Telephone Receiver (x659) only ever appeared in Bright Red and was supplied in six different Fabuland sets between 1984 and 1987. It was 3.5 studs in length and had a small hole on one of the curved surfaces of the handset. Only the 3.18mm central bar is an official connection as the ends of the handset had a curve preventing perfect 'clutch' with studs.


Telephone handsets did not reappear until 1994 when Telephone Receiver (6190) first appeared in Medium Green within two Belville sets, by which time the original handset was long out of production. The newer Telephone Receiver bore a definite resemblance to the original Fabuland Telephone Receiver but is a half-stud smaller in length at exactly 1x3, and has no hole. In addition, the curved ends are perfect anti-studs.


Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!

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23 comments:

  1. A couple other notable parts I can think of:
    -the big curved staircase (part ID 2046) finding a home in a couple Castle and Paradisa sets in the 90s
    -the 11L vehicle exhaust pipes (part IDs 4466 and 4467) living on in Town sets until 2003
    -the pipe wrench (part ID x93 and/or 4328) being used in various sets until 2006
    -a few other tools like the axe (4438) and shovel (x120) popping up in a couple other sets 10-15 years after Fabuland ended
    And not a set appearance but: Fabuland dog figs make a cameo appearance in The Lego Movie 2! I'm glad someone over at WB remembers this theme :)

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    1. Ah this article focused on those still in use now rather than in retired sets only 😬 great that you remember all these tho as Fabuland elements did pop up all over!

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    2. Yeah true, they aren't in use anymore, but I felt they stuck around long enough for me to give a quick mention :P Though I really wish those pipe wrenches were still in use today, they're great!

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    3. Ranger they are PERFECT but just for the next Fabuland post on parts that are sadly no longer with us 😉

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  2. My favourite kind of NE article: pieces and history. This is the kind of thing that makes NE unique among Lego sites. Keep it up!

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    1. Glad you liked it, Tim and I had fun writing it together

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  3. There's some weird formatting issues in the last paragraph about the lamppost, with a little dash-lined box appearing in four places with the letters "L SEP" inside.

    Anyways, I don't think the umbrella stand was actually introduced in 2006. I remember there being controversy about the introduction of the new umbrella stand as it related to the 10179 UCS MF that came out in 2007. The original design used the 6.6L version to form the frames around the upper cockpit windows. Some time after the set went into production, they swapped them out for the 6L version, which no longer quite reached the radar dish that formed the forward cockpit windows. Bricklink lists the 6L version as being part of the _alternate_ inventories for both of these UCS sets, with the 6.6L version being in the primary inventory. The 6L umbrella stand can't have appeared before 2007 (the year of release for 10179) and maybe even as late as 2008. 10179 released pretty late in 2007, so any running change would have had to come pretty much right on the heels of the transition from 1st Edition copies to general release to show up in 2007. But if they'd switched it in 2006, 10179 likely never would have used the 6.6L version and would have required a redesigned cockpit that would actually work as intended with the shorter 6L version.

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    1. I'm guessing the 6L bar was treated as an updated mold of the 6.6L bar and not a brand new piece, so 10179 was probably using up old stock before switching to the new mold

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    2. I'm sure it was, but both the UCS DV TIE and UCS MF used them in light-bley. The 6.6L shipped with the UCS MF in 2007, so they definitely didn't run out of them in 2006. Both sets should have switched to the 6L version around the same time. King's Castle Siege from 2007 also shipped with 6.6L in light-bley as well as black, and only saw the light-bley 6L as an alternate inventory.

      I've just done some deeper digging. 2008's Magna Guard Fighter still lists both 6L and 6.6L as alternate inventories, and my built-out-of-the-box copy does have the 6.6L in light-bley. That means the 6L probably didn't show up in 2007 either. The 10188 Death Star (2008) is the first set that shows the 6L in regular inventory with no alternate inventory for the 6.6L version. In 2009, the 6.6L still shows up in alternate inventories for other colors (so they were still bleeding off old stock), but there were ten sets that used 6L in light-bley and none of them showed the 6.6L as an alternate. In 2010, there is the 20016 Brickmaster Imperial Shuttle that shows the 6.6L as regular with 6L as alternate, after which the 6.6L is never seen in light-bley again.

      I'm inclined to believe that 2008 is when the first 6L showed up and when they officially stopped making 6.6L based on all of that. The Brickmaster set could be an inventory error, something where they stumbled across a cache of older parts, or even in instance where someone goofed and ran an obsolete mold. That does happen periodically. I actually have a 4085b Plate, Modified, 1 x 1 with Clip Vertical - Type 2 (thin U clip) in dark-bley that I personally pulled from a Monster Fighters Zombie Car Polybag. They switched to the Type 3 (thick U clip) back in the mid-80's, and didn't introduced dark-bley until 2004 (nearly 20 years later), but somehow the 4085b mold got put back into production and there are 97 Bricklink inventories that show 4085b in light-bley, dark-bley, and reddish-brown (plus others like my Zombie Car that aren't even included).

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  4. Even the ladle Peter Pig is holding was a unique Fabuland piece, later found in a few Belville and Harry Potter sets.

    It's most commonly found in Yellow, although it also appeared in Reddish Brown in a single Belville set. Currently, there also seems to be a few test parts in Red and Earth Orange out on Bricklink.

    And the Mickey Mouse theme, briefly mentioned in the article, was by large a Fabuland revival. (Although I'm not sure if the MM sets were ever sold in Europe.)

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    1. Indeed although this particular article focussed on elements from Fabuland that ‘live on’ now rather than in retired sets only :-)

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  5. The newer umbrella stand also has a fatter ring than the old Fabuland one.

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  6. Frances Hendry3 Aug 2019, 19:17:00

    Fantastic article. I have all the fabulous Fabuland elements in the article apart from the re designed lamp post (I just have the original lamp post). I love that Fabuland bits pop up every so often in modern sets. Although I will be very impressed if Lego can come up with a new use for my favourite piece - Hannah Hippo's lawnmower!

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    1. That is a fantastic part, I have it too and nearly had it in the background of one of the other images as a gratuitous shot 😂

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  7. Great article! Hope to see a similar one for Scala (?), which I think introduced many pieces still used today, mainly food items.

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    1. Rather Belville, I'd guess. Belville survived for a bit longer, and it was somewhat more System-oriented.

      Then, I'm not sure if there were that many parts except for some food parts and the kitten, anyway. Unlike the minidoll theme, the scale was always quite a bit off, compared to minifigs.

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    2. Hmmm, several of those parts seem to overlap between the Belville and Scala themes, anyway, so in that case, I guess you could do a combined article for both of the themes. (For some reason, the Scala designers seem to have gone out of their way just to make the theme as little System compatible, as only possible…)

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  8. This was a fabulous article. I live in hope that one day the LEGO Fabuland Carpet Beater makes a return as well...

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  9. "Fabulous" article! I love the longevity of Fabuland pieces, and how they seem to harmonise with more 'normal' minifig pieces while sneaking in their own special charm.

    I think there's a mix-up with the pirate ship's wheel. I own 2 of the newer ones with the slotted pin, despite not having any pirate sets other than the 2009 wave. Bricklink lists the unslotted version as appearing in the 2009 sets, which is not true of my copies. However, Bricklink also lists the slotted version as going back to 2009.

    I expect the piece was replaced in 2009 with some Bricklink entries mistakenly listing the older version.

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  10. Breaking News!

    If anyone would wonder where exactly Fabuland is located, I recently found some canonical information from a Fabuland children's book I found at a thrift store.

    "Virrvarr i Fabuland", Swedish translation of an original Danish book "Vrøvlesygen".

    The thorough directions state as follows:
    "Fabuland is a bit to the right
    if you arrive from the south
    and a bit to the left
    if you arrive from the north."


    (Possibly something might have been lost in the translation from Danish to Swedish, though.)

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