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When did LEGO start using SNOT techniques ?


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#1 drdavewatford

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:32 PM

I recently bought the Spiderman First Chase set from eBay (4850) and was disassembling the cars from the set (which use SNOT for front and rear lights etc.). It got me wondering when LEGO started to use SNOT techniques in their models. When I was a kid the piece selection didn't really allow the use of SNOT construction techniques, but now we're spoiled for choice.

Anyone have any idea when LEGO started to employ SNOT techniques in the sets, and which theme started it all off ?

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#2 vexorian

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:41 PM

I guess a better question is when did SNOT become so common in sets. Because I have seen some basic forms of SNOT in space stuff from 1993, which were nothing really impressive but still qualify as SNOT.

#3 Captain Green Hair

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:44 PM

 vexorian, on 10 August 2010 - 04:41 PM, said:

I guess a better question is when did SNOT become so common in sets. Because I have seen some basic forms of SNOT in space stuff from 1993, which were nothing really impressive but still qualify as SNOT.

Even back in the early 70's they used basic SNOT techniques.  :wink:
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#4 Fugazi

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:44 PM

To my limited knowledge, one of the first pieces used for snotting purposes was the Bracket 2x2-2x2, introduced in 1978 according to Peeron:

Posted Image

Those were used in the new Space sets of that year.

The headlight brick (Posted Image) was also introduced shortly after.

Any earlier ones?

Edit: Now that I think of it, these fence pieces Posted Image were introduced much earlier, but were they ever used for SNOT work in official sets?

Edited by Fugazi, 10 August 2010 - 04:49 PM.

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#5 Captain Green Hair

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:49 PM

I can't remember the exact set, but it had a connection with a 2x4 brick sideways stuck onto a 4x1x2 latticed fence.
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#6 davee123

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 06:36 PM

The trend in recent years seems to have favored nicer-looking models-- probably because kids aren't interested in simplistic ones as much as they used to be. To me, this is made clear in the increased use in SNOT, tiles, and slope/curve elements.

These days, a lot of models use tiles to hide studs-- back in the 70's and before, tiles were a rare commodity because they were only used when functionally necessary.  If a set contained a tile, it was because it was used for things to slide on, or perhaps to stick stickers to. That was still true through the late 1970's through the mid 1990's, except tiles also became common with printing on them. So, they were either functional or decorative with printing or stickers. But I'd guess sometime in the late 90's or early 2000's (I'm not sure), tiles started getting used for decorative purposes and hiding studs-- to make models look more realistic, and less like a building toy.

Same holds true with SNOT, except I think it's a tougher call to judge when it started happening. As noted, SNOT techniques have been used probably since the dawn of plates. I can find examples from the early 70's, and I'm reasonably sure there were older examples still.  The first brackets and explicitly SNOT bricks seemed to appear around the same time as Legoland sets in the late 70's and early 80's, and others were introduced gradually as time has gone on. But I think generally SNOT was avoided until recent years (mid-to-late 2000's), as we've seen a shift in set design.

One reason that SNOT techniques were avoided was because kids didn't "understand" it. If you give a child a bunch of bricks, they almost immediately grasp the concept of stacking bricks vertically, but don't think to build horizontally, except maybe in small chunks here or there-- much like the old 1980's Legoland line. Same goes with technic connections using liftarms-- kids can follow the instructions, but they have a difficult time simply creating in those same terms. Hence, LEGO attempted to keep the system simple so that kids wouldn't be frustrated.

The fact that they're using SNOT more commonly now may indicate that either LEGO can't compete with such simplistic designs, and/or perhaps that kids today are more capable of "understanding" the concept of SNOT, and aren't as frustrated by it. Quite probably both.

The upshot is that today's models, and MOCs made from today's element selections, can look AMAZINGLY realistic. The downside (aside from making older models look worse) seems to be a shortage of regular bricks and plates in your element selection. There are an increasingly large amount of specialty pieces (including tiles, curved bricks, SNOT brackets, etc), and fewer basic bricks.

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#7 Carbohydrates

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 07:21 PM

 davee123, on 10 August 2010 - 06:36 PM, said:

The upshot is that today's models, and MOCs made from today's element selections, can look AMAZINGLY realistic. The downside (aside from making older models look worse) seems to be a shortage of regular bricks and plates in your element selection. There are an increasingly large amount of specialty pieces (including tiles, curved bricks, SNOT brackets, etc), and fewer basic bricks.

DaveE
True, but I find myself using basic bricks less as well. Actually, looking at my last big MOC, a building with about 1500 pieces, only 97 of them are basic bricks. Comparatively, there are 347 plates and 62 snot bricks (1 x 1 with studs on one, two, and four sides, headlight bricks, 1 x 4 w/ 4 studs on one side, etc). If I had to guess, I'd say I've probably used less than 150 basic bricks in all my MOCs since my dark ages and most of them are 1 x 1 bricks.

I love the variety of exotic pieces available and am no longer interested in the "normal" style of making buildings. Why settle for a flat, plain wall when I know how to make it look like brick, horizontal or vertical siding, corrugated aluminum, logs, or anything else I can dream up? Today's part and color selection is an absolute luxury. For basic bricks, there are buckets and tubs, Pick-a-Brick walls, and Creator sets, especially houses, which seem designed around providing you a nice model with as many basic bricks and plates as possible.

Edited by Carbohydrates, 10 August 2010 - 07:23 PM.


#8 davee123

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 08:51 PM

 Carbohydrates, on 10 August 2010 - 07:21 PM, said:

True, but I find myself using basic bricks less as well.

Yep-- many AFOLs also have less need of more basic bricks because we've got childhood collections which were jam-packed with basic bricks.  But there's also great sources available these days like Pick-A-Brick, BrickLink, etc.  The trouble as I see it is more for people who aren't as experienced in building, that don't have an already large amount of basic brick.

It would be really interesting to me, actually, to compare (say) a bunch of 10-year-olds' creations from 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010. How has the piece selection affected childrens' abilities to build things? True, they're building different things these days than they were in the 1970's, but I'm sure many kids still try and build the standard things like fire trucks and police stations.  But has the quality of building improved with the different piece selection? Are kids actually *using* things like SNOT? Or are the more specialized elements actually more frustrating for younger builders to work with?

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Edited by davee123, 10 August 2010 - 08:52 PM.


#9 Fugazi

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 10:38 PM

It would seem that some early forms of SNOT were already used in the 1970 Gears sets (ancestor of Technic).

 davee123, on 10 August 2010 - 08:51 PM, said:

Are kids actually *using* things like SNOT? Or are the more specialized elements actually more frustrating for younger builders to work with?
Maybe that would explain why I have the feeling that kids 'MOC' less than they used to 'back in my youth', and play more with their sets built as per the instructions. On the other hand, I have only anecdotal evidence of this, so I shouldn't draw general conclusions.
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#10 happymark

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 10:49 PM

 Fugazi, on 10 August 2010 - 10:38 PM, said:

It would seem that some early forms of SNOT were already used in the 1970 Gears sets (ancestor of Technic).


Maybe that would explain why I have the feeling that kids 'MOC' less than they used to 'back in my youth', and play more with their sets built as per the instructions. On the other hand, I have only anecdotal evidence of this, so I shouldn't draw general conclusions.
i agree. Will they loss motivation after they compare their MOCs with offical sets?

#11 Pellaeon

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 03:59 AM

 davee123, on 10 August 2010 - 06:36 PM, said:

One reason that SNOT techniques were avoided was because kids didn't "understand" it. If you give a child a bunch of bricks, they almost immediately grasp the concept of stacking bricks vertically, but don't think to build horizontally, except maybe in small chunks here or there-- much like the old 1980's Legoland line. Same goes with technic connections using liftarms-- kids can follow the instructions, but they have a difficult time simply creating in those same terms. Hence, LEGO attempted to keep the system simple so that kids wouldn't be frustrated.

The fact that they're using SNOT more commonly now may indicate that either LEGO can't compete with such simplistic designs, and/or perhaps that kids today are more capable of "understanding" the concept of SNOT, and aren't as frustrated by it. Quite probably both.

Another possibility is that more complicated models have been made possible by better instructions. The instructions these days -- with piece call-outs, numbered bags, etc. -- seem to be much easier to follow than instructions were 20 years ago, even if the builds are more complex.

Edited by Pellaeon, 11 August 2010 - 04:00 AM.

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#12 Zzz

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 03:44 PM

Very interesting things here. What do you (or a kid) build when getting some pieces. How do you connect them, etc.

Do kids learn to use the pieces in a better way by getting advanced models? Or does the whole environment force someone reasoning more out of the box? Was the society and environment in the 70s and 80s different in a way of not motivating or provocing you to think horizontal AND vertical, as refered to building Lego? Is it a matter of inteligence, environment or simply, the new pieces?

Anyway, it's difficult to break it down to one specific set when they started SNOT technics. In general, a good example are the SW sets, if you compare the ones made ten years ago and these days, there is a huge difference in advanced technics. Actually noticing some advanced snot technics was the City trucks for me though. But then, it is difficult to get the meaning of SNOT. The front and back lights of the simple cars in the 80s, were they SNOT as well? I think it should be several parts together, forming an advanced design compared to the SOT, no? 4483 AT-AT is also a nice example. I remember fans being really scared off by it's look when it came out. Today it is the most normal thing in the world.

I realise I didn't give any answers so far, just some stupid brainstorming. To sum it up, SNOT came up during the past 10 years, around 2004 I would say.
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#13 Carbohydrates

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 06:38 PM

 Zzz, on 11 August 2010 - 03:44 PM, said:

But then, it is difficult to get the meaning of SNOT. The front and back lights of the simple cars in the 80s, were they SNOT as well? I think it should be several parts together, forming an advanced design compared to the SOT, no?
SNOT is, as the name indicates, Studs Not On Top. Headlights on City cars count, a banner sticking out of a wall counts. The difference to me is whether it's being used for small details as it has been since the 70s, or whether it's being used for more complicated constructions that flow into the rest of the model, like the sideways windows and upside-down trim in Fire Brigade. SNOT has been used for decades, but advanced building techniques utilizing SNOT and LEGO's 5:2 and 6:5 ratios are much more recent - in official sets, at least.

I never built complicated SNOT junk until I discovered the wonderful MOC communities on the internet, back when LUGNet was relevant and it and Brickshelf were the only places MOCs were posted. Back then, advanced SNOT construction simply didn't happen in LEGO sets and I had no idea LEGO could be put together that way. I think if I first started MOCing these days, I'd have a much more solid foundation of technique from sets like the Modulars and the LEGO exclusives. Like you said, even recent City sets have relatively advanced SNOT constructions these days - the front end of the 4 x 4 from the horse trailer farm set comes to mind.

#14 drdavewatford

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 06:55 PM

I think the first time I built 'official' sets which clearly used SNOT was the classic space sets, using the 2 x 2 bracket piece. Specifically, the set was 928 Galaxy Explorer, with the brackets used to mount large booster rockets (i.e. cones) on the rear of the ship and also on the 'wings'. I don't recall building anything before then where I was constructing anything fixed at 90 degrees to the horizontal ALTHOUGH thinking about it, some of the old wheels had studs on them so I often built on them, meaning you had pieces rotating at 90 degrees to the horizontal when the wheel was turning on a level surface.

Edited by drdavewatford, 11 August 2010 - 06:56 PM.

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#15 Rufus

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 09:35 PM

Posted ImagePosted Image

This was one of the first sets I ever owned.  It is memorable for a number of things:  the inordinate number of stickers; the then quite advanced techniqes of the jumper plate for the motorcycle handlebars and (if I remember correctly) a Technic bush used to secure the spare tyre; but also the lovely SNOT of the 'headlights' - two 1x1 yellow (not even trans-yellow!) plates in a fence piece.  

Notice also the 'kneeling man' with his trousers on backwards!  Well ahead of its time for 1978.

#16 Rick

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 09:30 AM

 Rufus, on 12 August 2010 - 09:35 PM, said:

This was one of the first sets I ever owned.
Same here. I really like the looks of the rally car. Too bad it doesn't seat a minifig. Oh, and you're right about the spare tire holder.

#17 Peewit

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 11:03 AM

I think 318 is the first official set that use SNOT. The year is 1963.

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Edited by Peewit, 13 August 2010 - 11:06 AM.


#18 Superkalle

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 05:31 PM

I know what SNOT is
And I know what snot is
I just never got the pun until recently
Isn't that strange  :grin:

#19 CP5670

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 06:10 PM

Quote

I realise I didn't give any answers so far, just some stupid brainstorming. To sum it up, SNOT came up during the past 10 years, around 2004 I would say.

That sounds about right. Curved slopes also became more common around that period, and tiles increasingly started to be used as purely decorative elements like davee123 said.

In fact, I think this was around the time when the AFOL community picked up all these techniques too. You occasionally saw SNOT back then but it wasn't nearly as widespread as it is today. I remember around 2000, the vast majority of things that showed up on Brickshelf and Lugnet used mostly traditional construction, including what were considered to be the best MOCs at the time. Today, it's the other way around.

#20 62Bricks

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 06:34 PM

 Fugazi, on 10 August 2010 - 04:44 PM, said:

To my limited knowledge, one of the first pieces used for snotting purposes was the Bracket 2x2-2x2, introduced in 1978 according to Peeron:

Posted Image

Those were used in the new Space sets of that year.

The headlight brick (Posted Image) was also introduced shortly after.

Any earlier ones?

Edit: Now that I think of it, these fence pieces Posted Image were introduced much earlier, but were they ever used for SNOT work in official sets?

The 1x4x2 fence piece has been around since the late 60s, and was certainly designed to be used as a SNOT piece. The earliest official application of it in that way that I find is the 1974 Tractor with Trailer. It was used in the gear accessory set from the same year, also as a SNOT piece

SNOT techniques were in evidence in the earliest idea books produced by LEGO in the 1960s. I would agree with Peewit's suggestion that perhaps the earliest explicit SNOT elements were the studded wheels, which provided a plane of studs 90 degrees from the orientation of the axle-holder brick.

There is also the precursor to the 4070 headlight brick, which was the old 1x1 window brick. Posted Image

There's an early documented use of the classic plate-wedge in the clock on the train station in this 1966 idea book.

From the earliest sets and idea books, LEGO has encouraged building in different planes. Look at the airplane models from this 1964 idea book:

And look at the buoys on this page from the same book. They're completely upside-down.

#21 Rumble Strike

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 12:33 AM

A very interesting discussion, makes for fascinating reading, thanks guys.

When we were kids we were really into Lego Space (the "Classic" stuff from late 70s/early 80s) and as well as those bracket things there were the 2x1x1 hinge blocks which moved orientation 90 degrees.  We always loved those pieces and used them on anything we built!

Back in those days the "blocky" look was accepted.  However pieces were being introduced, like the fences and headlights as seen above.  I also remember some Town vans had 4x4x1 hollow side pieces which meant it was easier to have space inside the van itself.

I showed my mum the admittedly gorgeously sleek and curvy Wreck Raider from Atlantis the other day and she said "It doesn't even look like Lego!" - she's not really up on SNOT, it seems :)

Edited by Rumble Strike, 05 November 2010 - 12:34 AM.

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#22 cksubs

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 07:14 AM

For what it's worth, in the early '90s this 2x4x2 studs-out was by far one of my most valuable bricks:

Posted Image

I had it in black, it probably came from a Blacktron II set. I remember coveting it because it was basically the only brick back then that let you build at off angles... hugely important for attaching wings to multi-colored space ships and the like. So the lack of proper snot ability was annoying even back then as a 10 year old.

It would be really cool to go look at the old pictures that kids sent in to LEGO Mania Magazine back in the day. See what kind of techniques they were using. That's probably the best collection of pre-internet MOC building around.

Also I believe the Deep Freeze Defender (Ice Planet capital ship) used this now popular/elementary SNOT technique to secure the black engines on top of the rear section:

Posted Image

#23 Fugazi

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 10:21 AM

 62Bricks, on 04 November 2010 - 06:34 PM, said:

There is also the precursor to the 4070 headlight brick, which was the old 1x1 window brick. Posted Image
Very interesting contribution, 62Bricks.

According to Peeron, this part was introduced as early as 1957, but I can't seem to find it being used for SNOT. I remember the front opening (window) wasn't compatible with a stud, but what about the back? Was it open and stud-compatible like the later headlight brick?

Of course the plate-wedge isn't a reccomended SNOT technique nowadays, but it was used in official sets indeed for a period.
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#24 badboytje88

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 12:11 PM

They used a SNOT technique in this set too. It's from 1977
Posted Image

#25 62Bricks

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 03:20 PM

 Fugazi, on 05 November 2010 - 10:21 AM, said:

Very interesting contribution, 62Bricks.

According to Peeron, this part was introduced as early as 1957, but I can't seem to find it being used for SNOT. I remember the front opening (window) wasn't compatible with a stud, but what about the back? Was it open and stud-compatible like the later headlight brick?

Of course the plate-wedge isn't a reccomended SNOT technique nowadays, but it was used in official sets indeed for a period.

I don't find any evidence that it was ever officially used in a set or idea book for SNOT, Fugazi. There were a few versions. I think the earliest version was the one that had a pointier, longer sloped sill on the front. Other variants had the sloped sill "chopped" off to give it a blunt face.

There were variants to the back, as well. One version had an open slot on the back with smooth inside walls that were 1 stud apart. These would grip a stud. Another variant had thinner walls on the back that were thicker at the bottom. The opening on the back of these was just a little larger than a stud, I think, but it's starting to look more like the modern headlight brick. Here's a picture of the backs from LDraw:

Posted Image

Seem to be having trouble linking the image...

Edited by 62Bricks, 05 November 2010 - 03:25 PM.





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