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LEGO Catalog Sizes

Bricklink member viejos recently posted the following dissertation on that site's forum. Since the Bricklink forum purges posts after 6 months, I thought it would be beneficial to electronically archive that info in a blog post. We should be good until Google goes under.

CATALOG SIZES

I have recently run across a number of BL members who were having difficulty with the current size designations of Lego catalogs, and I thought I might clear things up a bit with some annotated images and a few words of explanation.

Four basic sizes

Sizes compared
These are Large, Medium, Small, and Mini. All Lego catalogs are considered to fit into one of these four categories, except for early catalogs (pre-1972), inserts, and some other odd-shaped items. In the first image, I have placed representative examples of these four sizes on top of each other, with their respective measurements tagged along the side and lower edge.

Keen observers will notice that all measurements are taken in .5 cm increments.  This of course does not represent reality perfectly, but it does allow a few millimeters for tolerances in cutting and folding.


Large

Large
The alternate Large size is what is commonly referred to as “DIN A4”, and this includes all US letter-sized items as well. Most Large entries of this sort on BL are dealer catalogs. There are also the Shop-At-Home catalogs, but these normally do not have the word “Large” in the Item Name.

Medium

The “medium square” size was actually the standard size for all Lego catalogs leading up to 1972, when a tiered system was introduced. Not pictured is the “upright” medium (21 x 15 cm), a simple reorientation of the basic medium size. Btw, all sizes can be flipped oblong to upright or vice versa - for all practical purposes they are the same size.

Medium
Small

Small
These are the most adorable little booklets. They remind me of “pocket” sized books, back when books were smaller and pockets were bigger. There aren’t very many of this size published by Lego (about 75 total) but the good news is they are still being produced. The modern one on the right (see fourth image) is from 2012. Notice that over all these years, since they were introduced in 1982, their size has only changed by a few millimeters.


Mini

Going by size alone, these are quite easy to get mixed up with Small catalogs.  But there is one important mark of distinction - mini catalogs are never stapled, glued, or otherwise bound. They are single-sheet flyer-type products, no exceptions.  And I can’t think of a single example of a Small catalog that ISN’T bound.



Mini.  Squee!
There is a certain variability in the size of “broadsheet” mini catalogs (as represented by the Belville catalog on the right). They were printed on a smaller sheet when they first appeared in 1984. They were also folded in 12 pages instead of 16. In addition to this, early US broadsheet mini’s used slightly different sizes of paper. Eventually, though, all mini’s were printed on the standard A4 broadsheet.

The early mini catalogs (pre-1984) were made from a strip of paper, not a broadsheet.  They are exactly the same size as the building instructions for small sets in the early 70’s.

Folding

Folds
Every catalog may or may not be given an additional “factory” fold in order for it to fit into the appropriate box or envelope. This additional fold does not affect the official number of folds or the official size of the catalog, but I suspect this “optional” fold was one reason the former BL Admin chose not to complicate the system with a catalogs size field.

Almost all mini catalogs have an additional fold, but because they have several other folds, this leads some to believe that their “front page” is a different size than it actually is. And TLG’s tendency over the years was to use more and more surface area of a mini catalog for the presentation (front page) image.  Compare the complete presentation images in the following BL catalog entries with the completely folded versions.



Catalog No: m80os  Name: 1980 Mini Overseas (106785-OS/IB)
*
m80os 1980 Mini Overseas (106785-OS/IB)
Catalogs: 1980

Catalog No: m96belv  Name: 1996 Mini Belville / Paradisa (4.103.796-EU)
*
m96belv 1996 Mini Belville / Paradisa (4.103.796-EU)
Catalogs: 1996: Belville: Paradisa

Catalog No: m02sw2  Name: 2002 Mini Star Wars (4172459/4172460)
*
m02sw2 2002 Mini Star Wars (4172459/4172460)
Catalogs: 2002: Star Wars

Catalog No: c12dup  Name: 2012 Small Duplo (6003864)
*
c12dup 2012 Small Duplo (6003864)
Catalogs: 2012: Duplo

The last few years of mini catalogs typically used an entire side of the sheet for one image, and they were sometimes confused with posters. The situation grew even trickier due to the single-fold mini variants that also cropped up during this time. These could be folded either 4 times (3 plus one additional) or only once. So in these cases the concept of the 7.5 x 10 cm “page” is understandably strained. But looking at the entire output of Lego catalogs as a whole, it makes sense to think of mini catalogs in their tiniest form (or next-to-tiniest, as it usually is).

Au revoir to the mini

The item on the lower right is of course not a mini catalog, but it’s the smallest catalog Lego currently makes. Mini catalog production fizzled out in the early 2000’s, and it is probably gone for good now. But there are still plenty of old mini catalogs out there waiting to be discovered.