Ask a LEGO Fan

Clutch Power

Posted in Product Quality & Safety by lfanquestions on August 30, 2009

Desigrlee writes:

Hi LEGO Fan-

I am 35 and just started collecting LEGO again on behalf of my two young children. I also still have all of my original bricks from when I was a kid.  Some of my original LEGO was even stored, for the passed 15 years, as complete sets (ModelTeam).  I have since taken these sets apart and soaked them in warm water with SimpleGreen to remove the dust and crud.  I am now in the process of building all my original sets (as spec’d) using the instructions found through Brickset.com (awesome resource) as I hand them down my kids.  I have noticed while working with my original bricks, that they are much more difficult to snap together and take apart.

So here is my question:  Sometime during the last 10 years did LEGO tune the stud snap fit of contemporary bricks to be easier to assemble/disassemble?  Or do older brick become ‘sticky’ overtime.  Honestly, the contemporary sets that I have purchased do seem to fall apart rather easily and unintentionally.  I also recall struggling to get bricks apart have having to use my teeth to pry them apart.  I have yet to experience this with out newer sets.

Thanks-

desigrlee

Dear desigrlee,

I do think that bricks had more clutch power in the past.  Compare the underside of a 2×4 brick from 1980 with one from today.  You will find much more plastic in the old brick. More surface area of the walls of one brick was in contact with the studs of the other brick.

The LEGO Group is constantly modifying their bricks in order to create an enjoyable building experience for children.  Supposedly too much “clutch power” frustrates children of today.  That could lead them to not pursue building with LEGO bricks.  But this did not stop fans from our generation from prying two 2×2 plates stacked on top of each other apart with our teeth.  Fortunately, LEGO invented these: http://shop.lego.com/ByCategory/Product.aspx?p=630&cn=266&d=203

The plastic of the brick does age over time, which can change the clutch power.  In addition, clutch power is reduced in bricks each time they are used.

Sincerely,

LFan

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