Ask a LEGO Fan

The Infamous Color Change

Posted in Product Quality & Safety by lfanquestions on September 8, 2009

Mitchell writes:

Hi, I’d like to know why LEGO changed their brown and gray colours between 2003 and 2004 (Old Brown to Reddish Brown and Old Light/Dark Grey to Mid Stone and Dark Stone)
Mitch

BTW, I’m finding this blog of yours very interesting! Keep up the great work.

Dear Mitchell,

The LEGO Group claimed that they tested alternate color variations with children and the new brown and grey colors tested better than the old colors.  While this may be true, many fans doubt this is the real reason why the colors were changed.

Over the past several years, TLG has been cutting production costs to increase profits.  Instead of purchasing large quantities of pre-colored plastic ABS pellets from a wide number of third parties, they now color many of their own bricks during the molding process.  Achieving color consistency in certain colors such as white and the greys is difficult.  You may have noticed that the new white, blue, brown, and grey colors have do not have the same warm color because they are missing the “yellow” color component found in old bricks.

There are numerous theories on why this change was made.  Some say it helped reduce the “yellowing” of bricks in sunlight.  Others claim the blue and red dyes are more affordable to use in brick production.  Check out a few interesting articles on the subject here:

http://news.lugnet.com/lego/?n=1791

http://philbricksters.multiply.com/journal/item/139/A_Bit_of_LEGO_Color_History

http://www.fbtb.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=1859
Sincerely,

LFan

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One Response

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  1. Darin said, on September 8, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    The theory about reducing the “yellowing” is interesting. Recently I have been working on reversing my old yellowed bricks. There is a whole process that completely reverses it while not harming the plastic.

    The reason why new bricks don’t seem as warm is maybe TLG removed the chemical Bromine from the process. Bromine was used in ABS as a flame retardant and is the culprit to making old parts yellow. If they stopped using Bromine (which is yellow in color), it could explain why newer pieces don’t yellow as bad and why the colors aren’t as warm.


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