Displaying set inventories
A feature that is often requested is to display set inventories. To do so requires a massive amount of data that Brickset does not currently have. There are three sites that do:
- BrickLink: This has the most complete set of inventories that have been collated over the last 12 years. Unfortunately, despite me requesting permission to license their data so I can display it here, I have not been able to reach agreement with their community, some of whom seem to be a little short-sighted in terms of seeing the likely benefit for BrickLink of doing so (it would drive traffic their way and generally raise awareness of the site)
- Peeron: Peeron has been in existence for a similar amount of time and has amassed a large number of inventories independently of BrickLink. Unfortunately it's as good as dead now, and no new inventories have been added since March.
- LEGO.com customer services: LEGO publishes partial inventories on their replacement parts page and this is a source that hasn't been 'exploited' by the fan community, until now....
The LEGO Customer Services replacement parts page is not designed to show complete set inventories and to be honest it's a bit of a PITA to use given it shows so few parts at a time, so I asked super-coder Brent to write something to extract the inventory data from the page, which I could then save in the Brickset database. He did just that and I've run it and the results are shown on the set details pages, top row of tabs.
There are inventories for over 4500 sets. Most are from 1998 onwards but there are few from as far back as 1980. The different parts in a set can be ascertained, but not the quantities. For some reason, it appears that none of the inventories are complete. I have no idea why this is, but if you look at, say, Palpatine's Arrest, it's as if the most desirable/rare parts are missing, perhaps deliberately.
Anyway, the script has run, the data is available and displayed on the set details pages. But is it actually any use? I'm not convinced that it is, but I welcome your views. Could the data form the basis of more comprehensive inventories compiled by Brickset users, using the data that's there and comparing it with that in the back of the instructions? That would not be without its problems and would still be a massive undertaking but it's certainly possible...