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How determine production year of a brick


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#1 Superkalle

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 07:51 AM

I have this problem. At one time I de-parted a whole bunch of sets form various time periods (about 1990 and forward). Now I need to rebuild them, but I'd like to rebuild them with the "right" parts from the same time period so that the finished set doesn't look like a patchwork of old and new bricks.

I should mention that I'm aware that TLG have mixed bricks of the same type and color in their sets, so that you at some points would get both "new" and "old" bricks in the same set, but generally, how can I determine which year(s) certain bricks were made?

I know that older pieces have a denser plastic/color then the new ones which are more translucent. Also colors have changed ever so slightly over the years, with modern bricks having more vibrant colors, and molds on some bricks have changed slightly also. But the question is WHEN did all these changes occur, i.e. how can I determine roughly which year a brick was made?

Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks

#2 Artanis I

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 08:13 AM

If someone has many (as in MANY) MISBs of known production date they would care to open & analyse the pieces we could create an accurate & detailed photographic history of bricks/pieces and your answer would be found in that.
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#3 Fugazi

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 10:16 AM

It's a difficult task and I can only offer this interesting web site, in Dutch but partially translated, about variations that some of the bricks underwent through the years.

http://www.leggodt.nl/items/lego/en/

Peeron also distinguishes between major mould variations, but finer changes are (probably best) overlooked.

And of course there was the major palette makeover of 2004, when grays, browns and a few other colours were changed to their modern counterparts.
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#4 Superkalle

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 11:14 AM

View PostArtanis I, on 14 September 2010 - 08:13 AM, said:

If someone has many (as in MANY) MISBs of known production date they would care to open & analyse the pieces we could create an accurate & detailed photographic history of bricks/pieces and your answer would be found in that.
That is pretty much my question - and my hope was that someone has allready done something like that

View PostFugazi, on 14 September 2010 - 10:16 AM, said:

It's a difficult task and I can only offer this interesting web site, in Dutch but partially translated, about variations that some of the bricks underwent through the years.
http://www.leggodt.nl/items/lego/en/
Thanks Fugazi - interesting site, specially when switching to dutch (which is understandable for a Swede). However, the site seems to focus mostly on LEGO up until the 70's or 80's.

#5 Karto

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 02:46 PM

It would be really interesting to have an accurate database on the evolution of the parts. Unfortunately, TLG didn't keep one up until a few years ago.

I try to take a particular attention to this matter with my sets. I think I've gathered quite some experience over the years and I certainly would like to contribute if some people starts such a tremendous project. Most of my town sets have never been taken apart or mixed up with other sets.

Regarding the period you're looking for, I would say your problem is between 1990 and 1995. At the time, TLG changed a lot of molds for basic bricks and plates (I guess!), some of the newer 1xN plates for example had the hollow inner stud - which is still in use now. When I opened my Black Seas Barracuda back in 1989, I was intrigued by the presence of both old and new style 1x2 black plates. On the other side, the 1x8, 1x6 and 1x4 white plates remained unchanged for years. Another problem is the fact that lots of sets are packed on several occasions and may contain parts produced with different molds. The 6389 Fire Control Center is a good example of this (produced between 1990 and 1993).

Regarding the inner markings of the parts 'LEGO' and part numbers, I think that not much has been changed during the 90s. The end of the 70s and the 80s have seen way more:
- From 'Pat Pend.' inner marking and mold mark on the side of plates,
- Followed by two or three basic numbers as inner marking, with horizontal flat support bars. Larger plates had two mold marks on the side instead of three before.
- Next, the mold marks moved to the top of a stud.
- Next, lots of plate types had no longer inner markings at all (smaller plates, 2xN and 4xN).
- After this, we've got the serial number and shortly after it was accompanied with the brand name.
etc.
This is only an 'inaccurate' example. There were more changes like the location of the serial number which moved around over the years.

I'm quite curious to know if there are a lot of people out there interested by this, but I seriously doubt it :wink:

#6 Fugazi

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 03:12 PM

This would be a worthwhile endeavour, especially helpful for restoring old sets to a more period-accurate part selection. It would probably be impossible to derive precise dating for any part, because of the concerns noted above, but even an approximate bracket would be helpful.

I have always mixed my sets though so I can't contribute much to an eventual database. :blush:
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#7 CP5670

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 05:38 PM

This is somewhat harder to do with early to mid 90s sets, since as Karto said, there were a lot of changes to basic parts during that period. Molding mark positions, hollow/filled tubes on the bottom and marked borders on the undersides of plates are some things to watch out for. Many specific pieces like 1x1 round plates, minifig heads and several Technic bushes and gears also went through revisions in those years. Exactly what pieces a given set contains depends not only on the production year (which may be different from the release year), but also the theme and the country it was sold in.

If anyone starts a database of such things, I would be happy to contribute to it too. The quality reference thread lists some changes that could be considered defects (or fixes of defects), but many other changes don't fall into that category.




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