Quest for Inter-City train: One of the lessons I have learned while building the 6080 King’s Castle from spare parts, is how easy it is to underestimate the amount of bricks required. My building process has been constantly interrupted by some missing generic 1×2 brick or plate. You obviously prepare for the worst with special parts and more naturally pay attention to acquiring them, but with more than a decade of LEGO in my possession I was definitely feeling a little too invincible about my basic brick collection.

Unless you have an exceptionally large LEGO collection or sets very similar to the one you are building from spares, be prepared to be disappointed – or, better yet, come prepared. I certainly wasn’t going to repeat the same mistake with my new project, the quest for Inter-City train. Since I only had one or two relevant LEGO Trains sets in my childhood collection, and even those are smallish, I knew I had my work cut out for me – probably even more so than with the 6080 King’s Castle. There are hundreds of 1980s pieces I will need to acquire, some very specific and perhaps hard to get.

I started by looking at the parts list on Peeron. Alongside BrickLink, this is a very good source for parts information about past LEGO sets. I had a couple of options then: First, I could search my childhood collection for relevant parts. Second, I could acquire more through BrickLink and/or, where available, via the online LEGO Pick a Brick (PaB) store. The common wisdom would be to start with the existing collection, inventory what is there and then order the rest via BrickLink. This would be the most cost-effective process and would re-use as many of my existing bricks as possible.

With the 6080 King’s Castle one of my goals is to re-use and recycle my existing collection as much as possible. I decided against that this time, though. Three reasons: King’s Castle has really made me aware how easy it is to lack enough parts, especially with repetitive sets like castles and trains that require a lot of specific pieces. Second, sorting as well as washing hundreds of bricks is really tedious – I will eventually do more with my existing bricks, but I feel there are enough challenges here now even without that hassle. Third, ordering from BrickLink is hard as it is, with the minimum buys, limited selections at individual sellers etc., so let’s not make it any harder.

Therefore I gave myself a bit of a jump start by visiting the online LEGO Shop first and ordering as many of the bricks there as I could. This first step allows me to concentrate on the harder stuff. It turns out, I was able to source some 45% of the set brand new this way. Color changes were again a problem, had old grey still been available, that number would have been much higher. Color wasn’t as big of a problem as it has been with the 6080 King’s Castle though, since the predominant colors of the train set (black, red and yellow) have remained unchanged. Here is a picture of the delivery:

Perhaps the most surprising parts available, since I didn’t expect to find any 1980 LEGO Trains parts here, were the bogie plates that go underneath each wagon. Apparently this piece (if it turns out to be the same) was still used in the noughties. By the way, the great color chart at Peeron was again invaluable in confirming which colors were the same and which had changed. The bricks with shipping cost me 50 euros (incl. 23% VAT), so it wasn’t exactly cheap, but they are new and worth it for me to get a head start.

The Hulk freebie (again) and PaB order shipped separately from Köln and Strykow, both going via Hamburg-Allermöhe Germany and then on to, in my case, Finland. The Hulk took five days from order, the PaB shipped a day later and took seven days from order. This was the standard shipping option, the only one available with PaB. Funny that they’d send the freebie separately, the single minifigure actually came in a shipping box of its own – a box big enough to fit most medium-sized LEGO sets. Oh the crazy world of large business logistics. Better tracking than was again available at (not .com), just post there the tracking number(s) you get from LEGO’s order status page.

Although this purchase will save me from a lot of excavation and acquisition, it hardly allows me to start building now. After all, I am still missing about 55% of the 786 pieces needed. In comparison, the King’s Castle is only 674 pieces and after six months still isn’t finished. The next step will be to use that Peeron listing and go through my existing collection for as many of the missing pieces as possible. Then, depending on how I fare, I may start partial building. After that, it is time to hit BrickLink for the rest.

Next up: Setting the ground rules. How accurately am I going to build? What about the tracks? Will I build a larger system? I have some ideas about that.