There have only been 3 + 2 official monorail sets by Lego. Three monorails:
- (Space, Futuron) Monorail Transport System
- (Town, airport) Airport Shuttle
- (Space, Unitron) Monorail Transport Base
And two boxes of extra tracks:
(For the track boxes, the theme is mainly influenced by the monorail set they were released together with. The tracks do not have anything that makes them special for one theme or another.)
Other than these, a couple of single replacement parts could be ordered, as well.
The above three monorail sets have several features in common:
- They contain a rather long (especially the Airport Shuttle, but also the Unitron monorail) track.
- They contain a motorized train.
- They contain two full-fledged stations.
- In the case of the Space monorails, they even contain an extra vehicle.
As a result, all three sets were among the biggest and thus probably most expensive ones in their respective theme.
This always struck me as odd: When I was a kid, I loved the Airport Shuttle, but I was unable to buy an extra station or train, because there simply wasn't any. Likewise, the Airport Shuttle was the only monorail set I happened to get1 - and I presume there are plenty of children who would have liked some monorail, but never had a chance to get any of these really huge sets due to their sheer price.
In particular, I contrast this with Lego trains, which have always been offered in quite a different way:
- There have been train sets of different sizes, in particular "starter sets" that only comprised a small oval of tracks and a short train.
- Train sets that brought trains would usually only include a rather minimalist station (for passenger trains, often just a simple platform that did not even span the entire length of the train), thereby keeping set size a bit down.
- Single train cars and engines were offered as separate sets.
- Stations of different sizes were offered as separate sets.
- At least in earlier years, there were also completely unmotorized trains as an alternative to the motorized ones, which further helped reduce the set price.
Hence, I am interested in the following: Is there any knowledge on why TLC decided to use a different pattern for monorail sets, by only offering very few, very big sets without any real extension sets (save for tracks)?
1: Although, I admit, this wasn't entirely the fault of the effect I focus in this question. The Futuron monorail was simply a tad too early and I "missed out" while it was still available, whereas I considered attempting to get the Unitron monorail, but ultimately did not like the set as it was designed - what's the purpose of that train (maybe that makes for a good separate question), transport its own cockpits? That seemed pointless, so I discarded the idea, hoping for the next monorail set ... that never came ...