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6378-1: Shell Service Station
Published 1 year ago
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The build is 98% exact; apart from decals and stickers, only two parts are absent: #3135 2x3x1 Double-Slope Brick with Crane, and the Tow Hook with 2 Studs #3136 that attaches to it. I had to create a small '[MOC] Part 3135' as a substitute.


(Sticker sheet) https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?P=6378stk01&

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This set no. 6378 'Shell Service Station' came out in 1986, which might be one of the earliest Lego models I've submitted on Mecabricks so far.

The gas station has Shell Corporation's real logos, which was common until Lego invented a fictional "Octan" oil company in 1992. Lego worked with Shell in Europe for many years, since as far back as 1966, officially licensing its branding, plus occasionally creating exclusive promotional sets and polybags sold only at Shell gas stations. However, on the North American market, Lego released such models with "Exxon" branding until 1986, when their agreement with Shell Corp became transatlantic.

Hence, the 'Shell Service Station' is the first Lego model to sport the Shell logo in Europe and the USA. This set is the third generation of a "Shell gas station" in Legoland (excluding pre-minifig models). The first 'Shell Station' came out in 1978, set no. 377, replaced by a much more advanced 'Service Station' no. 6371 in 1983. It clocked at 270 parts and stood on a similar 32x32 baseplate (with no studs in the middle, though, and a different print).

The '86 version was a significant upgrade: it has only one vehicle, a tiny tow truck, so most of the inventory went into a ground structure. For starters, the new Shell Station has detailed and intricate gas pumps, very realistically mounted in the middle, so four cars can be filled simultaneously. There's also an air compressor station for tires, a mailbox, even a brush to wipe the car's windshield while the gas is pumping!

The roof is a massive, sturdy construction with layers of plates; looks pretty epic too! Unfortunately, there aren't any Shell stickers to replicate it exactly.

The shop and garage interior are scarce and bare-boned: a cash register, two "mini antennas" as only goods on sale, just a simple wrench and hammer for tools; plus, of course, an omnipresent blue mini-jack. The original set included some stickers for the front display, though. I also enjoyed the use of hinge bricks for all the outdoor signs, so neat.

Since introducing Octan in 1992, Lego stopped using real-life petrol brands in standard "Town" and "City" sets. However, Shell promos continued all the way throughout the 1990-2000s, and Lego would release some exclusive models or "collect-them-all" mini-series every few years. In 2014, the Lego Group finally dropped the long-running marketing agreement with Shell Corporation on ethical grounds, pressured by Greenpeace and other environmental agencies (since Shell announced plans to drill for oil in the Arctic).

Browsing Lego catalogs that featured this set was most amusing (at least for a cataloging nerd like me), as it was right around the time Lego began evolving their categories to better organize products.

The principal division was by children's age, with the LEGOLAND aimed at ages 6-12. Within it, Lego already had three distinct themes, interchangeably referred to as "Series," "Systems," or even "LEGOLAND Environments:" Town, Space, and Castle.

The 'Shell Service Station' first appeared in the '86 catalog, among over a dozen new "Town System" models. In 1987, the American catalogs featured a first example of "subcategories" to make navigating a growing stock easier. At this point, those were just subheaders on catalog pages, but some of them directly turned into the official "subthemes" in 1991.

So, the LEGOLAND Town System in 1987 featured "Transportation," "Repair and Service" (which included the 'Shell Service Station'), "Flight," "Fire," and "Police."

The iconic "LEGOLAND" brand went away with the eighties' era, just as nostalgic today for millenials as "Classic Town" must be for gen-z's. It last appeared in Lego catalogs in 1989-90, replaced ever since with a clean and straightforward "LEGO Town" (alongside Castle, Pirates, Trains, Space, Model Team, and, of course, Technic).
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6371-1: Shell Service Station (1983)
by @mestrini

6394-1: Metro Park & Service Tower (1988)
by @Superdooperhero

2554-1: Formula 1 Pit Stop (1997)
An example of the Shell promotional set released well within an "Octan" era
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