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Hi all,

Recently in a Facebook group I'm in I saw a discussion about a 'golden age of Lego' - I.e. A year or period when Lego almost always didn't disappoint with releases, or when a lot of innovations (I.e. Most useful new parts or Minifigure design techniques such as the double-sided head) were created. 

Most of us will probably answer this with rose-tinted glasses on, but what do you think was the golden age of Lego? Do you think we're in a golden age of Lego right now? Or has there ever actually been one? Discuss

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Hi St8. I was about to share my thoughts on this question, but your "Discuss" makes it sound like a school assignment! :laugh: 

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6 hours ago, TheAbsoluteSt8 said:

Do you think we're in a golden age of Lego right now?

As always it depends. Currently LEGO indeed seem to be doing a few things right in some of their product lines, but I wouldn't say that I would call it a "golden age". There is still this dichotomy of reasonably good, but usually expensive sets and a lot of mediocre or downright bad sets in lower tiers. You could argue that if you have enough money and can afford to always pick the best option, then indeed everything is roses, but if you have to make do with what you can afford it can just be as frustrating as it always has been, even more so since there has been a noticeable general LEGO price hike lately.

Other than that I don't think there can ever be something as a "golden age" in the more general sense. I still think most people are simply to easily susceptible to nostalgia and associate stuff with their own life experiences, which then of course colors their perception. People call me overly critical and cynical all the time, but I think objectively it's never really been any different. E.g. people claimed that the sets for the original LEGO Movie were better than those for the second part, but personally I can't see anything that would justify this assessment. Similarly, combing through other older series I find that they are just as hit & miss as today's releases. So from where I'm sitting we're not necessarily living in special times, but more like business as usual. It also stands to note that 2016 through early 2018 haven't been LEGO's best years overall, so in my view it's also a matter of current sets perhaps just being that tad better than some of the really terrible stuff we got in this "dark age", if you will.

Mylenium

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10 hours ago, TheAbsoluteSt8 said:

Most of us will probably answer this with rose-tinted glasses on, but what do you think was the golden age of LEGO?

For me that was the 80's through to mid 90's.

10 hours ago, TheAbsoluteSt8 said:

Do you think we're in a golden age of LEGO right now?

Definitely not for me.  Far too much reliance on licencing and pandering to social trends at the expense of original ideas and innovation.

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I can't help but think about this in terms of comics, where the term "Golden Age" has been settled pretty definitively for decades now - it was the first era, not necessarily the best era of the medium. I feel the obvious parallel with LEGO would be to define the Golden Age as spanning from the launch of the System in Play in 1955 to the advent of the minifigure in 1978.

Beyond that, trying to determine a Golden Age in terms of quality or innovation is, I think, inherently impossible. Different people value different things, and that will color their perceptions of what even constitutes quality and innovation.

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11 hours ago, Littleworlds said:

Hi St8. I was about to share my thoughts on this question, but your "Discuss" makes it sound like a school assignment! :laugh: 

I am in agreement with you, it was a quite impolite exhortation.

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3 hours ago, tafkatb said:

I can't help but think about this in terms of comics, where the term "Golden Age" has been settled pretty definitively for decades now - it was the first era, not necessarily the best era of the medium. I feel the obvious parallel with LEGO would be to define the Golden Age as spanning from the launch of the System in Play in 1955 to the advent of the minifigure in 1978.

Beyond that, trying to determine a Golden Age in terms of quality or innovation is, I think, inherently impossible. Different people value different things, and that will color their perceptions of what even constitutes quality and innovation.

Yeah. I don't necessarily think that there's a golden age for LEGO either. LEGO's best sets and themes over time have all been tempered by the company's poor decisions, or lacking success, or limited parts availability, etc. If I could guess anything I'd probably say now with their current success and well managed set design is the closest we've gotten, but even that's offset by some of the criticisms of LEGO for some things today. Like an over-reliance on licensed themes that outcompete original themes and limit creativity, and the production of absolutely massive and expensive sets that only a limited number of fans can afford, let alone display. That said, those aren't universal criticisms and the specifics of them are more nuanced than "licensed theme bad" and "big sets bad". So we definitely are close in my opinion. 

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18 hours ago, Mister Phes said:

For me that was the 80's through to mid 90's.

Definitely not for me.  Far too much reliance on licencing and pandering to social trends at the expense of original ideas and innovation.

I agree totally... Lego was never cheap, but in the 80s and early 90s, quality was good.

Today, the quality of bricks, stickers and boxes is poor, but the prices are beyond everything.
Technic sets consist if stupid and wobbly liftarms instead of solid bricks...

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For me, it was a few years ago when Lord of the Rings/Hobbit sets were out, Jamie was doing the modulars, the holidays were doing these great promotions like brick boxes, the monthly mini build was fun for the kids (all you had to do was show up on the designated day), and you could redeem VIP points in store on the spot.  

I would not say that it is presently terrible, but I can recall a better time.  There are certain things I am a bit concerned about that resembles some unpopular Disney decisions.  Price hikes seem to be frequent and are above inflation, at least where I live.  The VIP program has not changed for the better.  A lot of the promotions seem dumbed down, and the Brick Friday event in November is watered down as well from what it once was.  Hopefully some of the quality issues have been corrected, especially with the reddish brown elements.  Not to say there cannot again be a time as good as it was when I came out of my dark age, but there are some things to be desired.  

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I would say it was the late ‘70s with the advent of the articulated minifigure and the emergence of various ‘Classic’ lines such as Classic Space and Classic Castle.

But what constitutes a ‘golden age’ is inevitably highly subjective and my view is no more or less valid than anyone else’s.

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Posted (edited)

The Golden Age would vary heavily on interests, age and preferred style of a person. In Technic, most prefer the current sets (use of panels, almost no gaps, recent introduction of smart technology...) yet I prefer older sets as they are more visually appealing to me ( flexaxles, futuristic looks- specially 90s and 00s sets) and my budget is not of 300+ euro to buy a Bugatti or BWE and Powered Up is a no for me. As for other themes, I miss non-licensed stuff a lot. Specially Exo-Force with their unique anime-styled minifigs and badass mechas. Or castle/fantasy themes of which there are none currently (elves was nice but minidolls could use some extra articulation points). And of course the all-time popular favourite - classic space. 

To define a universal "golden age" in lego is an impossible task imo. 

Edited by syclone

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For me it was 1985-1995, but that’s because I am a Space theme fan.  

1994-1995 were the years of Spyrius and Unitron, which are the last two Space themes that I found really enjoyable.  The Space themes that came after, like Exploriens and Insectoids, seemed to have clunkier and less aesthetically pleasing designs.  I didn’t particularly like the two Mars series, or the 2013 series with insect-like invaders.  Space Police III in 2009 was good, as are many of the sets from The Lego Movie and TLM2, but there’s no consistently good space line anymore. 

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Posted (edited)

The early 2000's would probably be the golden era  for me. Pretty much all my favourite themes came out during this time, and it's the era where I feel LEGO peaked at it's very best. And It's also the LEGO era I am currently most invested into.

Edited by Lego David

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GWPs are currently a tote bag and a picnic blanket, so I think that rules out being in a golden age right now!

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Now or near future. Has to do with parts, colors, number of possible connections and thus total building potential.

Many seem to answer these frequent questions only thinking about official sets and not about the building potential after tossing aside the instructions.

For an MOCer, the best time is now.

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I think it's hard to define a true "golden age" for all of Lego as a brand because it really all depends on what you value, and in some cases the very thing that makes one AFOL overjoyed drives another away (e.g. Licensed Themes - is now a golden age because there are so many, or were the 1980's a golden age because there were cool original themes that pre-dated Lego Star Wars?) 

I suppose you could debate a "golden age of the mini-figure" Like comic books, those have certainly undergone surges in popularity, complexity and creativity over the years.  Personally, I don't really collect them so much as I accumulate them, but I know enough fanatics and vendors to realize there is a sub-culture out there with very strong opinions.

I don't know if there's a "golden age of parts" though I'm pretty sure there was a dark age of parts (about 15-20 years ago when there were far too many oversized, dedicated purpose pieces that were harder to repurpose for generic build than the modern orange brick separator).  I certainly appreciate a lot of the new molds (especially small generic pieces with lots of SNOT connection possibilities) that have come down the line in recent years.  The new parts have opened the door to new building techniques and more sophisticated MOC (and sets, to be fair) but it that really a "golden age" or a natural evolution as the product (and its audience) matures?

Colorwise, I think I'd prefer the term "Renaissance," especially with respect to the introduction of a more "mature" palette that began circa the introduction of Sand Green and Tan bricks and lead to things like Earth Blue, Earth Green, Dark Red, etc.  I grew up in the days of Black, White, Red, Blue, Yellow and Clear, very garish basic colors that screamed "I am a toy" no mater what you built or how much detail you tried to include.  The modern palette is a godsend by comparison.  Certainly it can be overdone (last time I checked I had so many shades of blue it was getting hard to tell a bad dye lot or UV damage from intentional shade variation) but when I think back on the old days of opening a box of basically white brick with red roof tiles and windows and anything green was already molded into a plant, breaking the seals on a modern castle and getting blocks that looks like slate, granite, sandstone and wood is just a joy that I think too many people take for granted.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

One area in which we have not had a "golden age" is LEGO windows.  The golden age for windows (9 matching types) died with the advent of the minifig in 1978... and that was the classic LEGO windows.  It is almost unfathomable that for over 40 years the worlds leading construction toy does not have a matching "System" of LEGO windows.  The last of the classic LEGO windows, the 1x2x2 ended its' run in 2003 in red and white (although blue and yellow ones were made in the 1980s and 1990s, with rare black and gray ones in the Train System from 1975-85).

But today we have the 1x2x2 and 1x2x3 with flat front windows.  Also there is the 2x2 arched top window, which finally got some glass.  And just this year the 1x3x3 came out in the same style as the 1x2x2 and 1x2x3, but so far only in purple.  It will take years for TLG to make a decent color selection in those.  To think that they are still using the back of headlight bricks for small 1x1 windows is pretty pathetic for the leading construction toy.

There should be at least 1/2 dozen matching windows available in a few select colors, to have anything resembling a LEGO System.

The true golden age for LEGO windows was the very short period of 1954-56, when 5 different window types came out in these colors (some of these are just discolored)....

8248009029_78a3397b7f_b.jpg

Edited by LEGO Historian

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It would be good to have a better range of sizes and all matching windows . I'm not too bothered by the glass. I used to be, but I started leaving it out and often find builds look better without it.

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On 8/19/2019 at 6:50 AM, LEGO Historian said:

It is almost unfathomable that for over 40 years the worlds leading construction toy does not have a matching "System" of LEGO windows.

Arguably, though, that's the problem with a lot of parts and their sub-types, not just windows. It always seems like they are merely advancing these issues on an "as needed" basis. It's alright to modify a part or create a new one if it solves an immediate issue for a given set, but one can't help but feel that oftentimes there are no long-term plans, leading to this all too well-known situation where parts disappear for years and/ or are ever only produced in small numbers and very few colors. Specific to the windows I don't see an easy solution without developing a ton of different shapes and types, though, especially if you want to reasonably represent real world types. There's just too many possible combinations. Settling on a few standard frames and arches is probably as good as it will ever get.

Mylenium

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Just now, Mylenium said:

Arguably, though, that's the problem with a lot of parts and their sub-types, not just windows. It always seems like they are merely advancing these issues on an "as needed" basis. It's alright to modify a part or create a new one if it solves an immediate issue for a given set, but one can't help but feel that oftentimes there are no long-term plans, leading to this all too well-known situation where parts disappear for years and/ or are ever only produced in small numbers and very few colors.

Very true. I guess they don't envisage people using these parts outside of LEGO's own sets. They don't seem to have a complete palette of existing similar parts in some colours. If grates me no end that, for example, they produce regular slopes for roofs in one colour and convex corner roof slopes in another colour and concave in yet another, but don't have uniformity in colours between these similar parts. For example in dark red the 2x2 convex corner was out 2004-2014, and the concave corner was 2010 then 2015-16. But with some of the newer colours such as dark orange, purples, lavender, azure, even good old green, all three don't exist.

They'd probably do the same with windows. You can have this size in this colour, and that size in that colour, but not all sizes in the same colour.

I think you are right that they produce something for a set or group of sets without caring too much if there is uniformity or consistency between matching with other parts in other sets.

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This is the 1960 list of LEGO spare parts boxes for getting additional accessories of all LEGO parts.  This was just prior to the 1961 introduction of black bricks.

Back then with so few part colors, having a complete "system" was easy.  Today it is not... which is why we have a hodge podge of window styles/colors, which in MOCs... often include parts that are not even real windows... just assembled to resemble windows.... :sceptic:  (numbers shown are the spare parts pack numbers)...

9606922196_79d397bf4c_b.jpg

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Posted (edited)

I think it's similar with those current "Classic" theme boxes, they got a whole rainbow of colors and only a few of each part/type.

More part types and colors can act both as a good and bad thing.

For something like a rooftop out of slopes, in the old days, while just red and blue were the most uses colors available, they were massable as well, can't say that for the newer colors right now.

Edited by TeriXeri

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22 minutes ago, MAB said:

Very true. I guess they don't envisage people using these parts outside of LEGO's own sets. They don't seem to have a complete palette of existing similar parts in some colours. If grates me no end that, for example, they produce regular slopes for roofs in one colour and convex corner roof slopes in another colour and concave in yet another, but don't have uniformity in colours between these similar parts. For example in dark red the 2x2 convex corner was out 2004-2014, and the concave corner was 2010 then 2015-16. But with some of the newer colours such as dark orange, purples, lavender, azure, even good old green, all three don't exist.

They'd probably do the same with windows. You can have this size in this colour, and that size in that colour, but not all sizes in the same colour.

I think you are right that they produce something for a set or group of sets without caring too much if there is uniformity or consistency between matching with other parts in other sets.

For what its worth, I share your frustration.  I waited for years for an inside corner 3x3x1 slope and finally got it in dark red with the Robie House and in Sand Green two years later with the Imperial Hotel, but then had to wait another 4 years to get the darned thing in Black (to match the case of 22.5 degree slope parts I massed) and it only came in one set with a $350 price tag - you get four in the Disney Castle BTW ;->

Now don't get me wrong, I really appreciate kits with detailed instructions for reproducing the model on the box, but I also miss the type of kits I remember growing up that were just a collection of bricks for say, building houses.  You got a range of roof tiles parts (in red of course) some doors and windows (also in red) an assortment of block for walls (mostly white) and some foliage parts (green).  Those weren't sophisticated sets, but, more in line with a tube of Lincoln Logs, it gave you generic parts that were earmarked to work together an a variety of forms with color continuity (slope 45 at various lengths, inside corner slope, outside corner slope, etc. - all in the same color).  I remember lusting after another set that was 90% blue, all different shapes, but blue so things could be color coordinated and not look like a blast shield at a paintball tournament.  

To be fair, they had a lot fewer colors and a lot fewer mold options back then, but that sense of completeness with respect to part families was really nice and I wish they'd make it easier to achieve these days. 

The Creator buckets they have today just aren't the same (if anything, the push you in exactly the opposite direction, a dozen assorted bricks each in a dozen colors).  

I liked it when the Architecture line offered a generic box (21050) of basically white and clear parts.  If they'd ditched the book (which was a nice enough book but I don't need five copies and I see sacrificing it as one way to get the cost down) and offered similar monochrome boxes of tan, black, light gray, etc. with "complete" families of bricks, I'd be all over it in a shot - but I suspect it would be a tough sell to the non-AFOL crowd.

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1 hour ago, MAB said:

Very true. I guess they don't envisage people using these parts outside of LEGO's own sets. They don't seem to have a complete palette of existing similar parts in some colours.

Well, tongue-in-cheek comment: LEGO will blame it on not being able to figure out what people actually want as in "If group A wants type X window frames in this color, group B will want type Z in another color and we can't cover all.". That and of course tackling this on a set-by-set basis gives them the perfect excuse for selling more stuff to people. They are on some level probably too deep into this and too afraid to really consolidate due to this bizarre mix of their own business interests and the horse literally having gotten too big to ride...

Mylenium

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