09 October 2019

Fabuland Lives On: the hidden side

Posted by Elspeth De Montes
This year marks 40 years since The LEGO Group (TLG) launched the FABULAND® theme, which ran until 1989. To celebrate this, we've been running an occasional series of articles here at New Elementary called Fabuland Lives On! We're examining the surprising effect that this theme for 3-7 year olds has had upon the LEGO® System, and the hearts of fans.

So far we have looked at the colours and the elements that are still present in sets today. This third post focuses on some of Elspeth's favourite Fabuland elements that popped up unexpectedly in other themes over the years but sadly are no longer in production; the hidden side of Fabuland.

Fabuland Shovel

Grey /Light Grey Fabuland Utensil Shovel with raised 'Fabuland' logo (Design ID 556) first appeared in 1982 in two Fabuland sets, 3706 Elmer Elephant and 3667 Bakery Shoppe, and later appeared in another two making four in total. In the late 1990s, its slightly large scale proved appropriate for Scala sets and it even appeared in Bright Blue/ Blue in a single Belville set, 5846 Desert Island, in 1998. Interestingly the scale also fitted a couple of Model Team sets, in 1986 and 1996, but my favourite appearance of this beautiful Fabuland element is in a limited release set from 2000: 3348 Rock Raiders #2 - Mini Heroes Collection.

At first nothing seems unusual when opening the set, there are three Rock Raiders stands with a pack of three cards and a bag of minifigure parts.

Assembly reveals three minifigures: Docs, Bandit and Sparks, each with a little character description on their placard.  But if you take a closer look at Docs shovel, it becomes clear that he is holding a vintage shovel straight from the world of Fabuland.

The prominent presence of the embossed Fabuland logo on this element, and its somewhat large scale, are the charming characteristics that ironically probably caused the Fabuland shovel to dig its own grave. It hasn't been used since 2000.

Fabuland Lamp Post

Grey Fabuland Lamppost (4781) first appeared in 1986 in the Fabuland set 3679 Mill with Shop, which also contains the shovel. It then appeared in three more Fabuland sets the next year, and that was seemingly when this light was switched off forever as the theme ended in 1989.

However in 2000, the same element popped up in 4166 Mickey's Car Garage along with other Fabuland elements. It was retired after this set but did, however, spawn a new lamppost element as we mentioned in our previous post looking at Fabuland's influence over the years.

Fabuland Curved Enclosed Staircase

Stairs 6 x 6 x 9 1/3 Curved Enclosed (2046) allowed our Fabuland citizens to safely reach the top floor of houses as well as the local double decker bus in 1987. It can be seen in Bright Red / Red in 3674 Bonnie Bunny's New House in the image above.

The part enjoyed usage across many themes. Paradisa used it in Light Reddish Violet/ Pink in three sets in the 1990s and Belville went for Bright Yellowish Orange/ Medium Orange in 1998's 5847 Surfers' Paradise. Even the much-hated / much-loved theme Time Cruisers from 1997 had one in Black, in 6497 Twisted Time Train. Black curved staircases also came in two Castle sets in 1993 and 1994.
It is interesting how different the same element can look, when comparing the Fabuland sets with 6076 Dark Dragon's Den for example! Its varied usage is a testament to its design, but this stairway went to heaven in 1998, perhaps being replaced by the more flexible spiral stair elements in 2001.

Fabuland Tow Hook

Fabuland Tow Hook with 2x4 Base (3997) first appeared in a Fabuland set 134 Service Station in the theme's first year, 1979, and then a few more followed within the same theme.  Interestingly this element continued to show up in a few themes including Town, Mickey Mouse and a Dacta educational set in the mid 1990s.

It has not been seen since 2003 when it was in the 4Juniors set 4652 Tow Truck, a theme that is often considered to be among those that helped nearly bankrupt The LEGO Group.

Wine Pitcher

Known as Flask with Handle / Jug (4429) on BrickLink, this piece was first utilised by William Walrus in set 3791. It is amusing that the TLG name for the element is Wine Pitcher as William seems to be having quite happy thoughts as he is swigging away... before getting into his vehicle!

Since its 11 appearances in Fabuland (all in Bright Red) this beautiful element has appeared in four transparent colours across a variety of themes. It was very popular in Belville, appearing in three colours across nine sets from 2000 to 2008, but also came in two pirate-themed 4Juniors sets and one Harry Potter set from 2003: 4723 Diagon Alley Shops.

Shown above are Bright Red, Transparent Green and Transparent Medium Violet/ Trans. Dark Pink, but it also appeared in Transparent Light Blue and Transparent Red. The last two only enjoyed a single appearance, making them a little more pricey on the secondary market.

Fabuland Axe

The Fabuland Axe (4438) originated in Black in 3638 Buster Bulldog's Fire Engine, released in 1983, and appeared in a further three Fabuland sets. The head includes an anti-stud hole.

It is yet another Fabuland element that reappeared in Mickey Mouse sets in 2000, although it has a few other appearances that are more interesting. Hagrid owned a Fabuland Axe in 4707 Hagrid's Hut from 2001 but its last appearances were in 2003 in two sets: Star Wars 4476 Jabba's Prize and Orient Expedition 7417 Temple of Mount Everest. Fabuland Axes were used to create a fun Indiana Jones style booby trap within the latter set.

I seem to have both Bright Red and Black Fabuland Axes but I couldn't see a set where the axe appeared in Bright Red, does anyone else know?

Cutout Box

Box 4 x 4 x 2 Bottom with Semicircle Cutout Ends (4461) first appeared within Fabuland sets in 1983 in all three primary colours. Overall it appeared in 21 Fabuland sets as some sort of vehicle seat. 

Since this initial outing the element appeared in four more colours across three themes including many Mickey Mouse sets. However those four colours only made one appearance each! It appeared in four Belville sets including its final appearance, in 2004: as a kitty's bed in 5944 Cat Show, in Medium Reddish Violet/ Dark Pink (not pictured above).

You will have noticed that quite a few Fabuland elements were recoloured for Belville before being retired, but this element's most interesting reappearance is in a set with minifigures. 6547 Fun Fair is a Paradisa set from 1997 that contains two of this element in Light Reddish Violet/ Pink for the carriage seats of the "funmobile"; a ride in which renders your day at the funfair to be complete.

©1997 The LEGO Group. Image courtesy of BrickLink.com

Big Door Frame

Door Frame 2 x 6 x 7 (4071) appeared in 20 Fabuland sets in the 1980s across the three primary colours, usually paired with the iconic Fabuland Door 1 x 6 x 7 with Round Pane in 4 Sections (4072). However the first set it appeared in, 3664 Police Station, also included another pairing: Door 1 x 6 x 7 Barred (4611). It was the barred door that ensured this door frame continued to live on across a number of themes including Castle, Dacta (a castle set), Ninja, Time Cruisers, Pirates and its last appearance in 2002 within the Western theme.

Exhaust Pipes

11L vehicle exhaust pipes came in both left- and right-handed versions (4466 and 4467). They first appeared in Bright Red in this great little Fabuland set from 1983 called 3626 Roger Raccoon's Sports Car, the only set to feature them in this colour.  The elements also came in Bright Yellow in two further Fabuland sets.

You will also note the Box 4 x 4 x 2 with Semicircle Cutouts (4461) we mentioned earlier being used in Bright Yellow in Roger's car. Keep an eye on the wrench too as we move on to that element next.

During the 1990s, these same Fabuland 11L exhaust pipes were featured in six Town sets in Grey/ Light Grey and the beautifully bling Metalized Silver / Chrome Silver pictured above. Its final appearance was in Silver/ Flat Silver in one Racers set in 2003: 8385 Exo Stealth.  

Pipe Wrench

Pipe Wrench (4328) first appeared in Grey in two Fabuland sets from 1982 and then went on to appear in Bright Blue in a single set, the aforementioned 3626 Roger Raccoon's Sports Car from 1983.

While the popular Grey version appeared across a wide range of themes (including Technic, 9V Trains, Space, Star Wars, Creator, 4Juniors), the later Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Gray version was the last to appear in sets from 2004 to 2006 in themes including Dino 2010. The Exo-Force set 7701 Grand Titan is one of the 2006 sets that saw the original Fabuland Pipe Wrench used for the last time.

©2006 The LEGO Group
The Tool Wheel (11402) introduced in 2008 included a wrench, which is presumably what screwed this beautiful and popular Fabuland element forever.


Ladle / Spoon (4337) was first used by Peter Pig the Cook in set 3703 to serve soup from his pot. I'm assuming it wasn't pea and ham soup.

The ladle was usually available in Bright Yellow – within four Fabuland sets, four Belville sets and a couple of Harry Potter sets in the early 2000s. There is also a single appearance in Reddish Brown within 5962 The Tinderbox, a freakish set (even by Belville standards) from 2005.

Interestingly there are quite a few Dark Orange versions to be found, as shown in the image, but they did not actually appear in any set as far as I know.

As you can see, while the Fabuland theme may have ended in 1987, there were some elements that popped up in other themes well beyond this time. While the parts shown here no longer remain in production, there are still lots to be found in the secondary marketplace.

Did we leave out your favourite? Let us know in the comments, and what makes it such a great part!

This article was researched using the fantastic data created by the admins and users of BrickLink.com, Rebrickable.com, BrickOwl.com and Brickset.com.

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  1. The park bench is a beautiful element, but very prone to warping. :-)

  2. Considering that the whole Mickey Mouse theme, with all five sets, basically was a Neo-Fabuland, no Fabuland part appearance feels particularly surprising.

    Also, looking at that oversized Belville swing in 6547, I really miss the Fabuland swing from 3659 and 3676, that's much closer to minifig scale. The Paradisa set would have benefitted from a recoloring of the part(s). (There are so many playgrounds and amusement parks in the Fabuland theme, by the way. Those Fabuland animals really love to have fun, and just need a rudimentary police force to keep order.)

    And last, I wonder whether that red axe is a prototype part?

    1. Yeah I stopped listing the Mickey Mouse theme as it was more about interesting times when the Fabuland parts popped up rather than the couple of Mickey Mouse'neo-Fabuland' as you rightly say!

  3. Its a pitty they stopped making the monkey wrench part, the tool wheel is nice and all (with the adjustable wrench and socket wrench) but its no substitute for a proper monkey wrench IMO.

  4. My understanding being that most parts are test molded in red, I have my guesses about that axe.

  5. I had that Rock Raiders set but had completely forgotten about that Fabuland shovel. I do think Lego could do well to introduce a new, more appropriately-scaled spade-tipped shovel piece, perhaps in a collectible minifigure.

  6. Thanks for putting this article together! I think it would be cool to see another post in the series of some of the amazing MOCs out there inspired by this theme.

    1. That's actually been our intention! – yet to put much research into it though. Feel free to suggest!

  7. It was also the birth of the Pirate theme with boat hulls, the mast and steering wheel. And the birth of tan with the baguette ..

    1. Well, the theme contained a bunch of specialized boat parts, but the connection between the Fabuland and Pirate themes seem to be a bit of a stretch. And I don't think there was a specialized mast part in the entire Fabuland theme.

    2. Actually there was! Part 4844 (the long bottom section of the Pirate masts) started its life as the central support for Fabuland merry-go-rounds :)

    3. Good catch! I actually still own one basically complete merry-go-round set since my childhood. (Except for the box and instructions…)

    4. The other main boat parts, the small Fabuland boat and the steamboat hull never appeared outside of Fabuland, though. (A similar small boat appeared in the Pirates theme, but it was more narrow.) On the other hand, the half barrel tub part originated in Fabuland, and is still around, albeit with an added axle hole on the bottom.

    5. And yet another similar, slightly larger, boat appeared mostly in the Belville theme.

  8. Keep these commig, I love earning more and more about my favorirte theme!

    1. Thanks, Im glad you are enjoying them. There are a couple more in the pipeline and comments like yours inspire me to keep going :-)

  9. The Other Mike20 Aug 2020, 01:53:00

    I grew up in the '80s and '90s, but I remained unaware of Fabuland until the Internet age. Although I did have set 5510, Off-Road 4 x 4, which had the shovel. I remember thinking, "What the heck is Fabuland?" upon seeing it. Until I read this article, I thought the wrench was designed for Technic, considering my first one came in 8712, Technic Figures.