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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|m80os 1980 Mini Overseas (106785-OS/IB) |
|m96belv 1996 Mini Belville / Paradisa (4.103.796-EU) |
Catalogs: 1996: Belville: Paradisa
|m02sw2 2002 Mini Star Wars (4172459/4172460) |
Catalogs: 2002: Star Wars
|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.