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History of LEGO colors...

macgeomacgeo Member Posts: 2
Hello- I'm an information designer who's interested in the history and evolution of LEGO. In particular, I'm curious about how the colors of the pieces have evolved over time. Somehow it never occurred to me before- but when I was building with my son yesterday I was looking at our collection (from my childhood, now mixed in with his- Blacktron all mixed in with City, it's great) - and I suddenly realized most of our pieces were red, blue, yellow, black and white- with few to no greens, purples or oranges.

So my goal is to figure out - and possibly create some interactive visualization around- the history of LEGO colors. Just started my research so I'm casting a wide net. Can anyone help steer me on this topic?

Some things I'd like to play with along an axis or two:

Quantifiable:
number of pieces, by color, over time
add dimension: area/pips, by color, over time
add dimension: amounts actually produced and/or sold (entered circulation)
known, named colors used and their "lifespans"

The Story:
what were the first LEGO colors? what are they now?
who decides what the colors are/how does LEGO decide?
what events, milestones, and other factors have influenced LEGO colors?
what are the hard boundaries- the rules, written or unwritten, that govern LEGO colors?
where's all this headed?

...that kind of thing, for a start. Really want to dive into this, and if I can create something fun on the other side, all the better. Who can help?

Comments

  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,457
    Here's a good place to start:

    http://www.bricklink.com/catalogColors.asp
  • BumblepantsBumblepants DFWMember Posts: 5,835
    Would be really cool to chart it graphically once the data is gathered. I would enjoy helping with that if you are interested.
  • leemcgleemcg Member Posts: 607
    The expert on Lego colours around here is @aanchir.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    Another thing might be to add the official "Lego Color" since they may have a couple versions of what we simply call 'Yellow' by the BL and Brickset standards.
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,936
    http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/1989/a-burning-question#latest
    Some of the info in here may be vaguely interesting. It focusses mostly on minifigs' skin colours, which might be pertinent, as it has changed/varied over time/between themes.
  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    The Peeron colour chart is useful. http://peeron.com/inv/colors
    richo
  • Farmer_JohnFarmer_John USA - 4,035 Miles from 62 West Wallaby St., Wigan, Lancashire, UKMember Posts: 2,404
    edited February 2013
    I ordered a two yellow plates through bricklink (same part number) from the same person and the two I received were a different color from each other. One was a deeper color yellow than the other and it was obvious. Both plates looked new (and were sold as new) and I was surprised at the different hues between the same part numbers. Having installed tile flooring in my homes from time to time, I realize that it is important to get the same dye lot for tile when you purchase several boxes. It could also be that one of the parts has aged more than the other. A bit annoying when trying to build a set, but also a learning process for me when I consider future part orders.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,809
    edited February 2013

    I ordered a two yellow plates through bricklink (same part number) from the same person and the two I received were a different color from each other. One was a deeper color yellow than the other and it was obvious. Both plates looked new (and were sold as new) and I was surprised at the different hues between the same part numbers. Having installed tile flooring in my homes from time to time, I realize that it is important to get the same dye lot for tile when you purchase several boxes. It could also be that one of the parts has aged more than the other. A bit annoying when trying to build a set, but also a learning process for me when I consider future part orders.

    TLG gets their plastic all from one supplier (except for parts made in China, for which I believe they have to make an exception since there are laws there requiring manufacturers to use a certain amount of material sourced domestically), but Nabii has explained some discrepancies in yellow colors and other colors as that their dye is sourced from a number of suppliers. This is because they don't want to be caught in a situation where they get all their dye from one supplier, and then have to hastily find another supplier with comparable quality if their regular supplier is for some reason unable to provide for them (for instance, if there's an incident causing severe damage to a chemical plant where they produce dye).

    Currently-produced yellow parts typically fall within TLG's accepted color tolerances, but dye from one supplier has skewed orangish and dye from another supplier have skewed greenish, so the discrepancy between any two yellow colors may be far greater than the discrepancy between either one and the "average/ideal" yellow brick. I believe it's a problem they've been attempting to address.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^^Thats exactly the case I was trying to point out. There is more than 1 kind of yellow, older is darker mustard and the new yellow is light, bright. Came across this when I did my Yellow/White VW Beetle project and noticed the differences in new part color. Then I checked my older Lamborghini Gallardo #8169 versus the newer Cool Cruiser #5767 to confirm its true. If I recall correctly, the official Lego color name were different with one being a 'sunburst yellow' or such. I have also noticed this for Dark Red pieces, with the older one looking more deep cherry and new one more purple in shade. Anyone seen or noticed this?
  • NeilJamNeilJam USAMember Posts: 271
    Am I alone in thinking there may be too may different colors now? Does the sparse use of some colors in sets make it more difficult to use those pieces in MOCs?
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,809

    ^^Thats exactly the case I was trying to point out. There is more than 1 kind of yellow, older is darker mustard and the new yellow is light, bright. Came across this when I did my Yellow/White VW Beetle project and noticed the differences in new part color. Then I checked my older Lamborghini Gallardo #8169 versus the newer Cool Cruiser #5767 to confirm its true. If I recall correctly, the official Lego color name were different with one being a 'sunburst yellow' or such. I have also noticed this for Dark Red pieces, with the older one looking more deep cherry and new one more purple in shade. Anyone seen or noticed this?

    No, the name for all yellow parts released for as long as I've been collecting is 24 Bright Yellow.

    The difference in Dark Red parts is something several people have noticed, and in fact it does seem like Dark Red has been reformulated at some point since the name for color 154 was at some point changed from Dark Red to New Dark Red. This is the only example I know of of a color name changing partway through its lifespan-- other examples of colors that were reformulated time and time again were either kept with the same name or replaced entirely with a new material ID (color number). It's not clear if the reformulation of the color was the cause of or an attempted response to the changing appearance of the color. It doesn't help that Dark Red has been one of the colors that has been somewhat inconsistent since the production line switched to using colorless granulate and dye versus pre-colored granulate, so it's entirely possible to get Dark Red parts that are either a deep red or a somewhat more muted shade.
    NeilJam said:

    Am I alone in thinking there may be too may different colors now? Does the sparse use of some colors in sets make it more difficult to use those pieces in MOCs?

    There are far fewer colors today than there were 10 years ago. There are around 64 colors currently on the color palette (you can see most of them by opening LDD in Extended Mode and going to the color selection menu for the Paint Bucket tool), whereas a decade ago the color palette looked like this-- and there are at least six colors, possibly far more, missing from that palette which were in use in sets at that time.

    What has changed more than anything else is that some of the colors that have been on the palette for over eight years are now appearing more prominently in more "mainstream" themes. Examples include Flame Yellowish Orange (on the palette since 2004, when it replaced Bright Yellowish Orange), Bright Green (on the palette since at least the 90s), Light Royal Blue (on the palette since 2004 when it replaced Light Blue).

    Additionally, there are a handful of colors — the six colors used in LEGO Friends, Olive Green, White Glow, etc. — which are in fact fairly new. But Olive Green fills a void in the color palette that has always been present, White Glow merely replaces the previous color Phosphorescent Green, and the new colors used in LEGO Friends fill a void left by discontinued bluish green, yellowish green, and violet colors. So I hardly would consider these colors superfluous.
    CCCBrickDancerhleonffu
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