CHAPTER 75 - "OLO" EARLY TLG PRODUCED LEGO FOR JAPAN

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1970-78 LEGO OLO sales in Japan.

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the 1970-78 olo logo olo came out in japan at about the same time that minitalia did in italy but for different reasons the olo sets used the minitalia x bottom bricks and the same trolley baseplate with wheels and like minitalia olo was sold alongside lego in toy stores 34.0 lego olo sets parts 1970-1978 i would like to thank japanese lego collector yoshihiro kondo without whom my knowledge of olo would even exist all the images and most of the information in this chapter are from his collection the first lego was sold in japan in 1962 via sales agreement to asahi corp of tokyo they imported lego to japan until 1969 starting in 1969 fujisho corp took over sales and started lego production under the olo name in 1970 in addition to continuing to import regular lego 34.1 lego olo history 1970-78 olo was a short lived japanese variation of lego that was licensed by tlg to the japanese firm of fujisho co olo was sold on in a few basic sets but also had the lego parts pack sets available as supplemental sets the word olo does not translate into any specific meaning in japanese but its japanese character left is the emblem found on the inside of the hollow stud olo bricks although lego was sold in japan as early as 1962 it was considered somewhat expensive compared to other japanese toys and therefore sold mainly in larger city department stores and toy stores imports were difficult to sell in japan due to the business infrastructure and network practices there so lego was not widely sold for the first few decades after the 1962 introduction tlg wanted to 1

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expand the production network of lego sales there and one way appears to be via a license to produce lego parts there by a local japanese company rather than as a danish import a close-up of a corner of an olo basic set box showing the fujisho co name as well as patent numbers nowhere on the olo boxes does it mention lego this image is of the front page of the early 1970s olo catalog there is no mention of lego on this or any other page in the catalog the parts shown on this page are seen as identical to lego parts 2

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r oducedinthe the 1970-78 olo parts are all shown here except for the wheels/tires olo came out in japan at about the same time that minitalia did in italy but with fewer part types tlg wanted to expand the sales of lego in japan but was finding it difficult to do so as an import so sales were restricted to larger towns and toy stores by licensing a local company fujisho to produce building sets tlg was able to sell sets at a cheaper price than as imported lego the price difference was almost 1/2 the cost of imported lego the first sets were introduced in about 1970 production started in japan on olo at about the same time as minitalia in italy tlg decided that rather than use the regular lego patented tube bottom brick design they used the x bottom brick design another tlg patent possibly only used for olo and minitalia with regular small bricks this design was only used for 2x2 and 2x4 bricks for minitalia but for 1x2 2x2 2x3 and 2x4 bricks for olo although the 1x2 bricks did not have the x on the underside also olo did not have larger 2x8 or 1x2x10 arch bricks as found in minitalia also the introduction of olo in the early 1970s continued to use windows/doors that were of the classic scale door 3 bricks tall while minitalia used new windows/doors that were to be used later in the minifig scale door 5 bricks tall by 1978 it appears that the fujisho co licensed olo sales were coming to an end the sales of lego sets may have increased but they were still not up to what tlg was hoping for 3

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the 1970-78 olo bricks only came in 4 sizes 1x2 2x2 2x3 and 2x4 these parts were made of abs plastic had the olo japanese character logo within the brick studs and the patented x bottom bricks 34.2 lego olo parts 1970-78 olo bricks the olo bricks were made of abs plastic unlike early minitalia parts which were made of a composite softer plastic these bricks only came in 4 sizes 1x2 2x2 2x3 and 2x4 and only in red white blue and yellow there were no other brick sizes and no roof bricks in olo sets these x bottom bricks had pat pend on the underside common in regular lego tube bottom bricks of the 1960s and early 1970s the bricks also had hollow studs like minitalia but unlike minitalia there was an olo emblem on the bottom of each of the hollow studs the 1970-78 olo 2x4 brick left had 3 x s and pat pend on the underside 4

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the olo windows and doors only came in 3 types they were the 1x2x3 lego classic door and 1x2x2 and 1x4x2 lego classic windows all without glass olo windows/doors the olo windows/doors used from 1970-78 were all of the classic lego type used by tlg from 1958-70 with the long ledge and holes in top however there was no logo of any kind within the hollow studs also there was no glass in any of these the 1x2x2 and 1x4x2 classic windows and 1x2x3 classic door red was the only color available in olo sets these may have been leftover 1960s lego molds that were used for the olo windows and glass was never inserted note the 914 windows/door spare parts packs that were available as supplements with the olo sets did have glass in the frames and was also available in white olo baseplate/trolley the only other part that was available in olo sets was the gray 6x16 brick/trolley only the largest of the olo sets came with 4 red wheels with axles and tires that would make this a trolley all the smaller sets had these only available as a gray 6x16 baseplate only the largest olo basic set 100 came with 4 separate wheels with axles and tires none of the smaller sets had the wheels/tires 5

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this is the top and bottom of the olo 6x16 baseplate only the largest olo basic set 100 came with 4 wheels that could turn this baseplate into a trolley the olo 6x16 baseplate was available in all the olo basics sets only ever 1 per set however this baseplate could not be purchased separately as could other olo parts in the largest olo set basic set 100 this baseplate also came with 4 red wheels with axles as well as 4 black tires the axles fit into the grooves in the sides of the baseplate this 6x16 baseplate is identical to the one used in minitalia but in olo it is only available in gray and always without a rope 6

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this is the box for the large olo 75 basic set nowhere on the box is there a lego logo nor lego written only the fujisho corp is mentioned on the box top 34.3 olo sets 1970-78 there are 4 known olo basic sets more may have been produced later but no images have been found these basic sets were first produced around 1970 all 4 sets were produced by the fujisho co of japan and the company is mentioned on the box top the smallest of olo lego sets 1970-78 set set year description introduced #25 #50 #75 #100 small basic set medium basic set medium basic set large basic set 1970 1970 1970 1970 7

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1970-78 olo sets #25 small olo basic set ­ this basic set contains red white and blue bricks as well as a gray 6x16 baseplate #50 medium olo basic set ­ this basic set contains red white blue and yellow bricks a 1x2x3 red door 2 1x2x2 red windows 2 1x4x2 red windows as well as a gray 6x16 baseplate 8

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#75 medium olo basic set ­ this basic set contains red white blue and yellow bricks a 1x2x3 red door 2 1x2x2 red windows 2 1x4x2 red windows as well as a gray 6x16 baseplate #100 large olo basic set ­ this basic set contains red white blue and yellow bricks a 1x2x3 red door 2 1x2x2 red windows 2 1x4x2 red windows 4 red 2x2 wheels with axles 4 black wheels and a gray 6x16 baseplate/trolley base 9

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1970-72 olo parts packs this is the 1970-72 parts pack assortment for the olo series of sets these are regular lego spare parts packs of that era and contain regular lego bricks and parts with the lego logo these same packs were sold in japan with regular lego as well 10

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1973-78 olo parts packs this is the 1973-78 parts pack assortment from a japanese lego catalog that was likely used for the olo series of sets as well these are regular lego spare parts packs of that era and contain regular lego bricks and parts with the lego logo 11

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this image from a 1980 japanese catalog shows basic sets sold that year on the far left is the #1902 set with #2 on the side this box shows the green label on the box top as opposed to the blue label box top variety that the japanese version also came in when olo sales were discontinued in japan in 1978 lego sets were available in more and more japanese stores the above image from the 1980 japanese catalog shows the basic sets sold there that year included was a 1902 also labeled 2 set which had black windows and doors in that set that used leftover minitalia molds to create them by the mid 1980s lego sales in japan were still likely not to where tlg likely wanted them the lego dacta educational system sets however were found in schools throughout much of japan in 1986 tlg tried a different marketing approach across japan tlg decided to send school children home for their parents with a brochure for a lego dacta set 1400 this brochure mentioned that the sets would improve children s learning skills pending their parent s approval the children could order the set through the school lego dacta then delivered the sets to schools across japan filling the orders placed by the parents the result of this action was to get the parents of children interested in finding lego in local toy stores and where they were not available parents could ask toy store owners about getting lego sets this helped increase the distribution of lego sets to smaller toy stores across japan this was similar to a marketing approach that tlg used 30 years earlier in hamburg germany in 1956 tlg put lego advertisements into hamburg media so that when parents asked previously reluctant toy store owners where they could buy lego toy stores in germany began to order the sets from tlg for sale to the public 12

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the 1400 lego dacta set was only sold in japan starting in 1986 this set helped introduce lego sales across japan starting that year chapter 34 corporate credits lego lego dacta and olo are registered trademarks of the lego group chapter 34 image credits the lego group billund denmark yoshihiro kondo japan gerhard istok michigan usa 13

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