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The 'Golden Age' of Lego, is it now?

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#26 fyrmedhatt


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Posted 26 June 2012 - 04:05 PM

I agree with everyone that this is the second golden age of lego, with the first one being from 1978-1995, with the start of the modern minifigure until Lego started simplifying and juniorizing their designs in the mid to late 90's. Set design then was largely simplistic, but beautiful in it's simplicity, and part quality was at an all-time high. Today is easily some of the best times for lego, and I agree with those saying it started with the turnaround from 2005-2007, with sets being better designed today than ever before. The modular houses, Star Wars UCS models, even the average licensed/ action/ town/ castle theme model today is generally well designed with great functionality and looks, even if most things are a little larger than they were in the 80's.

As for those complaining about piece quality and cost in 2012, and somehow arguing that the end of the golden age was a couple of years ago all I can say is that the piece quality issue traces back to 2004 when Lego decided to stop using Bayer-supplied ABS and the Chinese plastic issue came about from around 2008, so they are not that recent. As for cost, when one takes into consideration the size of the sets in the 80's and 90's as well as inflation, today's sets are cheap, with them only being cheaper from 2004-2008 when Lego had to dump prices in order to recover from their great crisis.

#27 Eilif


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Posted 26 June 2012 - 05:50 PM

Hard to pick an exact age or year, but I'd say the golden era is '09 through the present.  I've been building/following LEGO since the early 80's.  I have alot of nostalgia for the late 80's and early 90's but...

We are finally seeing sets that thematically and design-wise match many of the great sets of the 80's but use parts and techniques that have been more recently developed.  LEGO is/has engaged with many great licenses, but the core sets are still great.  Also, the "Exclusives" line has grown to include the kinds of buildings, starships and other models that LEGO fans in the previous century could only dream of.  Lastly, LEGO is currently (in America and adjusted for inflation) as inexpensive as it's ever been.

Pack that on top of an active and growing AFOL community and this is the golden era.
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#28 Alasdair Ryan

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 10:20 PM

Every year is a good year in term's of technic, we see some new parts each year.Meny people liked the technic line in the late 90's (i was just getting into it then).I don't have a favorite year or time i would call the 'golden age' but instead i would rather say that every year is golden. :grin:

Edited by Alasdair Ryan, 26 June 2012 - 10:21 PM.

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#29 hellopike


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 01:54 AM

We live in a time with a LEGO Batman, Boba Fett AND Wolverine!  Definitely a golden age for LEGO.  :)

#30 prateek


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 02:31 AM

I would agree and say the Golden Age is right now, but I don't see how 2009 was. In my opinion Lego took a hit in terms of set quality in 2009, after improving from 2006-2008. After 2009 however, things have been good. :thumbup:

#31 Skipper


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 03:25 AM

View PostCommander Law, on 25 June 2012 - 03:00 PM, said:

I would have to say 2009ish or 1980 - mid 1990's. *huh*
I agree with this.   :thumbup:

I just don't like the direction TLG's going right now, one of the worst offenders being the minifig designs--too much detailing, distortions of the classic minifig shape, etc. (Jabba's Palace comes to mind). The quality decrease (debatable, I guess), increase in licensing  (my two favorite themes have been licensed) . . . these 'problems' are enough of a turnoff for me to have stopped buying fresh Lego from TLG (haven't bought a new set since 2010, I'm collecting the classic Pirates line to satisfy my Lego addiction =P). I see why a lot of people love where LEGO is right now though, and they're certainly doing well--it's just not for me.


Edited by Skipper, 27 June 2012 - 03:29 AM.

#32 Mr. Elijah Timms

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 03:28 AM

Great topic... I guess it all depends on how one might defend "golden."

I certainly agree that we're currently experiencing a prime era of quality and creativity.  But I'd also claim that the mid-80's set the bar in the first place... A Classic era by all definition.

One thing is obvious enough-- when you have so many AFOLs out there proclaiming the present and recent past as something special, it has to mean something. There are plenty of collectors with 30+ years of familiarity with the product, so if anyone's opinions should matter it's certainly theirs.

Edited by Mr. Elijah Timms, 27 June 2012 - 04:08 AM.


#33 Niku


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 04:48 AM

I enjoyed very much my childhood with Lego, I remember the catalogs from the late 80s and 90s, those which made my imagination to expand and dream. Now as an Afol I see this recent period as very attractive, on variety of themes, new techniques applied on sets, and of course that the personal budget is considerable larger than the one I had as a kid.  :laugh:
Would agree that both "ages" were-are golden, but I don´t think we have reached a peek still.
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#34 Aanchir


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 12:54 PM

I dare say that today's LEGO sets are perhaps the best out of all my time as a LEGO fan (starting around 1994-1995). I can't really attest to the quality of earlier sets because I have difficulty thinking of them in the context of when they were released. For instance, some LEGO Space sets from prior to my time as a LEGO fan were quite good, but paled in comparison to later designs. Likewise, there were some Castle sets before my childhood that were admirable in some respects, but also fairly simplistic. Obviously set design occasionally took a dive, particularly in the late 90s, so there may have been peaks in the 70s or 80s, but I have a hard time judging that since I didn't experience these sets in the sequence in which they were released so I have a hard time keeping track of what preceded and followed these fan-favorite set designs.

#35 Drock


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 01:40 PM

I have to agree that it was during my childhood LEGO days: 1985-1992 roughly.  I loved looking over the catalog.  It was really simple then.  They had Duplo, Basic, Town, Space, Castle, and Technic (I think they were just starting Pirates around the time that I got out of it).  I loved those original themes back then, especially Castle.  Maybe I've turned into a bit of a hypocrite now, because all I collect now are licensed sets.

I wouldn't say it is now, because it seems like LEGO is somewhat turning into an action figure line that includes building bricks.

#36 october


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 01:44 PM

city, space, castle, pirates, technic...the 80's

#37 Ash


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 02:45 PM

For me it's 1978-1980 or so. Castle, Space, Town, the rise of the Minifigure. I think it represents the birth of modern Lego. Despite minifigures becoming more detailed and having more accessories most of them haven't changed that much in basic design since.

As a company Lego is having a great time at the moment. Succesfully licenses, Lego Star Wars as a brand in it's own right, success with both Ninjago and Friends, adult interest (powered by both nostalgia and exclusive sets), it's all falling into place. But I really think those couple of years defined the Lego brand more than any other (the only thing that comes close being getting the Star Wars license).

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#38 Algernon


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 03:25 PM

Aren't these things usually defined in retrospect? I do agree, though, that LEGO seems to be doing exceptionally well in just about every department. Set designs are better than ever, they've nailed some AWESOME licenses recently, and great ideas like the CMF series or Monster Fighters and NinjaGo seems to be selling exceptionally well. There's no doubt that LEGO's future is bright.

That said, my personal golden age has got to be the early 2000s, since I remember them the most fondly from my childhood. It really has nothing to do with set quality or LEGO's profitability; it's just how I remember LEGO. Good times!

#39 Lego Amaryl

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 03:28 PM

I agree the "Golden Age" is 1980-1994... maybe I'm not objective because it was when I was a child, but it's a matter of fact that during that age we had the "boom" of Classic Town, Space, Castle and Pirates, and Technic started to become more specialized.

When I watch to the catalogs of my dark age, I don't regret having missed that period... while now we have a new period rich of themes, wonderful sets, lots of useful new elements and building techniques. But I wouldn't call this a new Golden Age, only a "Silver Age".
Because IMHO there is still something that I feel missing from the '80-'90: alternative creations on the box, idea books, basic and technic universal sets. In that period LEGO used to encourage children to build different creations with their bricks, now this is true only for "bucket" sets (too childish) and Creator (too specialized, even if the recent houses are a goog step in the direction of old BASIC sets). Technic does not have "multi-sets" any more. In additions, there are too many colours in which only few kind of bricks are available. Having more elements and colours is cool, but when I was a child I was able to build a set I didn't own or something from an idea book only with my bricks. If LEGO made something to address these issues, there could be a "golden age" again.

Edited by Lego Amaryl, 27 June 2012 - 03:46 PM.

#40 Hive


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 04:07 PM

I agree that alternative models should be brought back, they added a lot to sets from the 80s and 90s.

#41 Hammerstein NWC

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 04:51 PM

1988 for me BLACKTRON!!!  I was 11-12 years old and the slightly boring peaceful but still my favorite line of clasic space  was rocked by the introduction of BLACKTRON! In came these new BAD-A$$ guys with blacked out visors, cool uniforms and black sleek stealth vehicles. BLACKTRON FTW!
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#42 GRogall


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 04:54 PM

I think the "Golden Age" Started in 2007 and is still going strong today, although with the new price politics that is going on TLG might blow it.

My thought with the big direct exclusive sets released back then like 10179 USC Falcon, 10182 Café Corner and 10181 Eiffel Tower TLG introduced some of the best sets for that year and with other great releases over the years the sets
Have gotten more detailed and more realistic. But with the new prices of 10218 Haunted House at €179 or £149 for the same price of 10224 Town Hall which was released 6 month earlier but with 700 more  pieces I see this going in a bad direction!

In the future I will probable reduce the buying  of Large sets to AFOL days and double VIP points!

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#43 Vindice


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 05:08 PM

It's a golden age in terms of sheer commercial success but TLG also need to be carfeul. They have rival products that will in time get closer to them in terms of quality. And they have to be careful about oversaturating the market.

LEGO has a pretty timeless quality but i feel that they do sometimes live off their repuation and feelings of goodwill amongst customers who have grown up loving the products and have passed that on to their kids.

if they don't price carefully then people will change allegiances if there is a suitable alternative. We consumers are quite fickle!
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#44 prvi svog imena

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 05:35 PM

I think that LEGO has a golden age every 10 years or so, for me the first was 1990-1992, second around 2002, and the third is right now, a started with the new kingdoms theme after fantasy castle... Well that is my opinion any way...

#45 Lyichir


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 06:35 PM

It's hard for me to effectively judge whether we are truly in a "golden age", since those sorts of things are usually best defined in retrospect. After all, I was a fan of late '90s/early '00s themes like Rock Raiders at the time of their release, but looking back, that period seems more like a "dung age". LEGO is certainly better off than they were a decade ago, and lines like the Minifigures, which sell well largely as a result of their connection to the LEGO brand, would certainly suggest that we are currently in a "golden age". Personally, I think LEGO has never been better than it is now, despite minor quality issues that are continuously blown completely out of proportion.

But I have reservations about proclaiming the start of a "golden age", particularly with the future being such a nebulous thing. Perhaps LEGO will grow overconfident and make mistakes leading to a crash like that in the late '90s. Or perhaps LEGO will continue to soar upward (after all, while I remain skeptical of the upcoming LEGO live-action film, if done well it would truly be a hallmark of such an era). I prefer to ignore the nomenclature and just enjoy what we're getting now, whether it's a golden age or just another step on the path.

#46 BrickPicker


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 06:38 PM

Just my opinion, but LEGO's "Golden Age" started with the creation of the UCS(Ultimate Collector's Series) STAR WARS sets.  LEGO began to cater to the AFOL and the hobby of LEGO collecting improved from there.
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#47 vexorian


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 08:25 PM

LEGO is currently too license-reliant, and girls and boys are being segregated from each other with the themes. Prices per piece are so high that construction is becoming second or third priority bellow gimmicks and advertising. Does not sound golden.

Edited by vexorian, 27 June 2012 - 08:26 PM.

#48 Blondie-Wan


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 08:32 PM

View Postvexorian, on 27 June 2012 - 08:25 PM, said:

and girls and boys are being segregated from each other with the themes.

How would you fix this?

#49 kboleen

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 08:38 PM

I agree with Lego's Golden Age beginning in 1978 with the inclusion of the minifig. I received my first very own Lego set in 1978 for my twelfth birthday (up to that time I used my older brother's set), the Coast Guard set. But I disagree with the end time. I go with 1991. Because 1991 was about when sets began emphasizing themes more so than the bricks themselves. I think a second golden age began in 1999 with the introduction of Licensed themes (Star Wars).

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#50 vexorian


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 08:42 PM

I would reduce the stereotypical boyish stuff from the other themes, like flick fire missiles  and move it to second priority over the sets being aesthetically pleasant. More variety would not hurt either, not every single thing that happens in a set has to involve a fight. We could have pet stores in City, or exploration in dinosaur jungles or space without involving killing dinosaurs or aliens once in a while. It would not kill anyone if minifigs between friends and other themes were compatible either...

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