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When did the Lego bricks and plates start to have little holes in the bottom pins?

YellowKnightYellowKnight Member Posts: 3
I am re-piecing together some of my old eighties castle sets. When ordering light gray and black bricks and plates through BrickLink, I often get bricks and plates that have little holes in the bottom pins. I found out this is an evolution in the molds to spare some plastic. But I can't seem to find information to the time when they start producing these. I never had these 'back then' but it might be possible they already existed in the mid-eighties.

So my question is when they start using these molds?

Any tips and tricks on how to get the right time period for the bricks and plates in BrickLink stores might be helpful as well. There are some sellers who put more detailed information in their lot descriptions, but I presume this is very time consuming. Maybe there is some kind of list of sellers who sort out 'older' and 'newer' bricks.

Thank you for your help on this subject.


  • LusiferSamLusiferSam Member Posts: 574
    I recall seeing the pinholes for the first time in 2001. Looking back I recall finding some in late 90s sets, but not mid-90s. Now I could be incorrect on this, but it's important to remember with these minor mold changes there is never a clean-cut start and stop date. I'm almost certain these were not in use during the 80s and early 90s.

    What your looking for is either void era or early ID era elements.  The void era is right before ID era, so mid-70's to early 80's.  Sets from the mid-80s would be more likely to be ID era. The ID era has two distinct periods, the earlier era without a LEGO logo underneath and with the logo. Mid-80s sets would most likely be without the logo.  Again there is rarely a clear cut start and stop date.

    As far as finding period correct elements, look for sellers who specialize in things like void, ID era, solid peg, pip, or possibly pat pend. To do this you need to use the advanced search function and click the Search Comments box.  Anybody that list things like eras, pip locations, peg type or other details is worth looking at.  Now because this is very time-consuming, takes more storage space, and requires high attention to detail you are going to pay quite a bit more for these types parts.

  • YellowKnightYellowKnight Member Posts: 3
    Thank you for this very extensive answer! This will help me a lot to focus my little search.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 Member Posts: 11,454
    ^You have to take in account that there are part crossovers. There are plenty of sets that have both hollow pins and solid pins. I would imagine that Lego would continue to use old molds until they wear out. Same goes for minifigures. You will find that there are sets that have both solid stud heads and hollow stud heads during the transition period (1989-90)
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 Member Posts: 11,454
    Black seems to be the most abundant color and when ordering from Bricklink; it is a crap shoot on what era parts you get. At least with Light and Dark Grey/Gray, you can narrow it down better, but again, you don't know if you are getting Light Grey from 1985 or from 2000.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 Member Posts: 11,454
    All of this is maddening of course, but that is why I only buy sealed Lego sets, because you don't know exactly what you are getting. I am a bit more anal than the casual Lego fan and as long as the set is 100%, they don't care if the parts are from several different decades.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    Using the term maddening is a good term.... I've always called it LEGO Mayhem.  There is no right packing variation to LEGO sets.... when they ran out of one mold type part, they switched to the next.   You will find LEGO parts in the same set with mold pips on the studs or on the sides.... and 1001 other variations to the more specialized parts.

    Probably the most maddening was the USA Samsonite sets of the 1960s, where you could find up to 4 different LEGO logo on the studs of LEGO parts (never less than 3 different!).

    When dealing with used sets.... there is a little secret for determining if a used set has been assembled or is pretty much original.   That is the part conditions.  If there is a wide variaition in the condition of the LEGO elements... then it is likely a set that has been assembled from used parts of different sets.  Generally used parts from the same set have pretty much the same average wear to the parts.  It's not an exact science, but it is a pretty good indicator of whether your used parts set has been assembled.

    This process becomes more difficult when it's basically new parts.

    But I bet that many buyers have accused sellers of mixing parts... when actually that was done by TLG at set production time.   I've seen so many sets with different mold types within the same set, that it almost becomes the rule, rather than the exception.
  • YellowKnightYellowKnight Member Posts: 3
    Thank you for your thoughts. Learning a lot.

    There is a positive ring to the Lego mix. It keeps our feet on the ground when trying to be too picky with bits and pieces. :)

    The only thing I don't like is claiming an old set is complete, while complete means completed with a lot of newer replacements. You can get old bricks in a newer set but it can't be the other way around. Marty Mcfly might be able to pull this off. All other people should not call these complete, rather completed with replacements. On the other hand it is not that important, I presume... Just a little personal choosiness towards the sets from my childhood. That is already off topic in my first message on this very nice forum.

  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 Member Posts: 11,454
    I haven't completely given up on the process, but I am losing my patience. Minifigures from different eras are a lot easier to source than parts. I have my parts bins divided into years. Late 70's to early 80's, 80's, 90's, 2000's and 2010's. Again, this isn't an exact science, but it at least narrows it down. When I bought sets at garage sales and thrift stores, they were usually of the same era. A lot of sets I would buy were incomplete or the pieces were too badly damaged. If I did not complete a set, I would just disassemble the sets and throw in their respective bins. 
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 Member Posts: 11,454
    This might seem crazy, but I have bought some sets just to get pieces to complete my older sets. For instance, you can find cheap basic building sets with assorted pieces from the 80's to complete some of your 80's sets. These sets are usually cheaper because they did not contain rare minifigures or parts. You can try doing that. 
  • cthunter3cthunter3 Member Posts: 2
    An older thread, but this is the same question that I was trying to find an answer to.  Does anyone know a way to find the year that hollow pins were introduced? Particularly in 1x4 plates, etc.  I have the Space Shuttle (8480) introduced in 1996, and it has mostly hollow-pinned plates, but I think most of my sets prior to 1995 have solid pins. What I really want to know is the cut-off dates for hollow-pinned plates/blocks to be acceptable as good replacements in older sets.
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Member Posts: 2,696
    edited November 2018
    Hollow bottom plates were early 90's, your set should have mostly hollow bottom. There are no cut-off dates for revised parts as Lego uses the new ones when the old run out. That and there can still be old style designs in inventory while they are making the new style part. 
  • cthunter3cthunter3 Member Posts: 2
    Ok, thank you. Is it normal for a single set to have both hollow and solid bottom pegs? Even when considering only a single piece (ex. black 1x4 plates)?
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Member Posts: 2,696
    Yes, it happens.  If you suspect the set to be original, as in you bought it from what appears to be the original owner, I wouldn't worry too much. 
  • pxchrispxchris Member Posts: 2,388
    I've run up against this frustration as I have pieced back together my sets from the 80s and 90s. At first I was just pulling parts that were clean and with minor wear, but as I started paying more attention, the pin holes really started to bother me if they were mixed into an 80s set with plates that didn't have them. So then the hunt began to try to replace all those with more "age authentic" pieces.

    It's quite a cycle!
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