Standard, Transparent and Glitter
September 14, 2023 5:16 PM   Subscribe

How Lego bricks went from five colors to nearly 200 and then back down to about 70.
posted by jacquilynne (13 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
[Archive - though some of the graphics don't work]
posted by jacquilynne at 6:02 PM on September 14

No black bricks before 2000? That can't be right.
posted by gottabefunky at 6:05 PM on September 14 [12 favorites]

I recently had to reorder a replacement technic piece because my kid managed to snap one in half. My kid's mind was absolutely blown that of the multiple colors of grey listed on bricklink I chose the correct one by sight. I was like, listen, kiddo, do you think you're dealing with an amateur? I knew what all the Lego greys were called and could recognize them by sight when you weren't even a twinkle in my eye.
posted by potrzebie at 6:12 PM on September 14 [11 favorites]

No black bricks before 2000? That can't be right.
Yeah, there was a whole space faction in the 1980s called “Blacktron”.
posted by migurski at 6:44 PM on September 14 [7 favorites]

Yeah there have been black bricks for decades. See for example this fire station from 1970.
posted by senor biggles at 6:53 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]

re: black bricks I feel like something isn't working right in the images in the mirror (I can't access the wapo article) or something was edited out? The dataset from rebrickable cited as the source includes the basic black color as being introduced in 1957. The dates jump from the original 4 colors to colors added since 1978? So I guess that's how black and many other colors get skipped?
posted by Wretch729 at 7:34 PM on September 14

The WaPo original has the same issue. It's also missing white. Curious that it says "since 1958"; it makes me think their 'original' color set is from 1958 and is missing black and white from 1957.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:26 PM on September 14

What I noticed when I started buying Lego for my daughter was that it took much longer to build up any kind of quantity in bricks of a particular color since the broader palette was more distributed among sets. So that pale blue house when broken down didn't get added to a pile of bricks including any significant number of that particular shade, and subsequent model purchases likely lacked that shade too. There are like eight shades of green now, while I remember just one from my childhood.
I suspect this adds to the tendancy among Lego fans today to leave the finished model complete for display.
posted by St. Oops at 5:14 AM on September 15 [4 favorites]

“We introduced a couple of themes targeted to girls,” said Weise. “So that meant the introduction of more pastel-like colors, lighter greens and lighter pink colors.”

As we all know, young girls' sensibilities are too delicate to lay their effeminate, impressionable eyes on anything north of a 50% tone.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:09 PM on September 15 [5 favorites]

@St. Oops - In addition to that, I've noticed that the ever increasing number of specialty bricks in each set has meant that my kids' Lego bin has a surprisingly small number of "standard" bricks (2x2, 4x2, etc). It makes it a challenges to be creative and building things that don't at least partly resemble the sets from which their bricks originally came.
posted by asnider at 12:24 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]

"[M]ore pastel-like colors, lighter greens and lighter pink colors.”

This is for the essentialist parents probably not for the children themselves as much?
posted by RuvaBlue at 10:54 PM on September 15

I still think that current colour palette count is way off. The twins recently received an instance of set 11027 each at their birthday and it’s got neon brick colours I’ve never seen before the last couple years.
posted by MarchHare at 4:25 PM on September 16

The neon bricks and these pastel ones were just added this year.

This 2014 LEGO color timeline is fun!

The timeline is referenced in this excellent 2017 New Elementary article about the (probable) history of the 5 Classic LEGO logo colors.

The article says that black bricks were introduced for in 1961, but Bricklink suggests that they were sold in set 220 in 1958.
posted by LEGO Damashii at 5:29 PM on September 17

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