Understanding LEGO part numbers Brickset lego article numbers LEGO set guide and database
Understanding LEGO part numbers Brickset lego article numbers LEGO set guide and database
Thank you @Huw for this fantastic article! This type of data analysis is absolutely fascinating to me! Interesting. I was only just thinking a few days ago... now Lego have acquired Bricklink, I wonder if they’ll sync the colour palette names to match them up with the official Lego names. E.g, Tan on Bricklink is known as ‘brick yellow’ on Lego.com. Fascinating! I think rules on part numbering and descriptions generally go to pot in every industry over time. I used to be involved in the automotive industry, and even BMW's part numbers and descriptions for similar car components started going awry. And as anyone in the UK knows, one person's bread roll is anothers bap, barm cake, bun, teacake etc etc etc..... LEGO has names for colours, which are not the same as those that most AFOLs and BrickLink use. This is partly because the community named them before the company's internal names were known. Here at Brickset we show LEGO's names, but our colour table also gives the more commonly used name in brackets. I have been doing Legos for 7 years. I never really cared to learn what the codes meant though. However, I learned a lot from this article. Thanks for teaching me some new things! LEGO colour numbers are not exposed in set inventories or published anywhere, although the company has made information available to fans in the past, including the colour palette chart which can be used to navigate our parts database. @meesajarjar72 said: "^^yes I know. I was just simplifying it for people who call it ‘Legos’." They are no more wrong than anyone else. If they use LEGO as a countable noun, they are correct in how they form the plural. Fantastic article Huw! Lego part, design and colour numbers have confused me totally on Bricklink and other sites in the past, so your article is a huge help to me. Thank you! @greenhorn said: "That's an absolutely impressive photograph of that blue 3032 plate, Huw! Macro lens or microscope? ;-)" Panasonic G9, 30mm macro lens and plenty of light! @MasterT said: "Great article, very interesting stuff. I do have a question on numbering on a piece. Is there a way to tell the color of piece by looking at the bottom? I am talking mainly about small 1X1 pieces in old grey and light blue grey for example. Those are sometimes very hard to tell the difference between them by just looking at the color like on bigger plates and bricks that are easier to see the difference in color. Sometimes I get a bulk bit of bricks and trying to see the difference in those as to how to sort them can be challenging." Nope, no number on the part will tell you it’s color. @PurpleDave said: " @CCC : The founder of Bricklink added the parts numbered "1" and "2" to the catalog, so presumably he knew what he was doing. Rebrickable and Peeron use the same numbers for those parts, which is further evidence that he didn't screw up. Bricklink part numbers that start with a lower-case "x" are used to catalog parts with unknown design numbers. That numbering system didn't start until x11, so parts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 appear to be predecessors to that numbering system, while part 10 was a baseplate where the corners were either squared or rounded." It was actually Bricklink that copied Peeron. They also ‘borrowed’ all Peerons part and set images which allowed Bricklink to immediately be a useful tool for AFOLs. Without Peeron bricklinks growth would have been significantly slower. They benefited greatly from a solid community of AFOLs right as LEGO were experiencing their dark days. AFOLs today owe so much to those LEGO fans in the 90’s who were so dedicated to preserving the hobby even when so many people were getting less interested. @Zatth said: "It's been mentioned above by the perceptive joshcvt, but I too highly doubt that "links" is a typo. It's probably deliberate German for "left". Most likely a designer/tech slipped into his native language." Or Dutch. "Links" in Dutch also translates to "left". Just to confuse things further, some torsos are given different design numbers, including 88585 . I've no idea what the difference is. @Huw said: "^ I've asked many times over the years to talk to the department that issues set numbers but to no avail, sadly..." Hey @huw I have worked several years in the plastic industry and while I have never worked for Lego themselves, I can give you a little more insight into how companies come up with these numbers if you are interested. Great read! Very thorough. Question on the color palette: on the LEGO color chart, I don’t see bright bluish green . Am I missing it? I hope we get an updated version of that colour palette chart some day, since the 2016 one is pretty outdated at this point Excellent article and very helpful, thanks @meesajarjar72 said: "The plural of Lego is Lego, not Legos or Lego’s!!" No it isn't. There is no plural. LEGO is a company name and used as an adjective to describe something. It is one LEGO brick, two LEGO bricks,... Not one LEGO, two LEGO or two LEGOs. It is "I built it using LEGO bricks", not "I built it using LEGO". Using LEGO as a mass noun is a preference not a defined rule. ^ I've asked many times over the years to talk to the department that issues set numbers but to no avail, sadly... Teal is not on the colour chart because as others have said it was a retired colour in 2016, but it's in the database: set.com/parts/colour-Bright-Bluish-Green . If you've ever looked at the bottom of a LEGO piece closely you will have noticed that there's a 4- or 5-digit number visible, which is its design number. With bricksets hard hitting journalism unit I am shocked you can't get an interview with person at lego who assigns design ids. We see lots of interviews with set designers across the internet, it would be nice to see some from the manufacturing side. I read and appreciated the article. I now have a better understanding of the subject. However, don't ask me to pass a test 😉 This kind of article is my favorite. I have often wondered whether there was some system to the madness of LEGO part and element numbers. From my understanding 88585 designates torsos that are exclusively produced in China while 76382 is for all torsos with single-color arms, presumably because they are produced in factories worldwide. During 88585s introduction in 2010 the arms had square markings molded on the inside, somewhat visible but not really apparent until you disconnected the arms. They were only put into figure-centric sets like CMFs and Accessory Packs. You could easily tell these parts apart from other countries because of the excessively milky tinge. The same style of arm has also began being used earlier, in Magnet Sets, the kind without glue but with 2x4 magnet bricks. During 2013 the number started designating torsos with printed arms alongside CMF exclusive torsos for which it has been used consistently since. Between 2011 and 2013 the arms lost the square markings and both, the 76382 and 88585 torsos started using arms with numbers on their inside but the exact placement of the numbers has multiple variations. Before 2009 arms had no markings whatsoever, not even the regular design number which would be 3818/3819. The first time I spotted square marked arms was in January 2009, 852554 Magnet Set Vader/Chewbacca/Obi-Wan. It appears those sets still used the number 76382 internally because the parts were always in production due to other sets using the same torsos going into production earlier or simultaneously and the new number only came in effect once China produced exclusive torsos. Probably has also something to do with the logistics of getting those parts into Europe and have them available in Replacement Parts Service or packed into sets with otherwise only locally produced elements in europe or america. In my opinion these China produced pieces should always have used a different design number because of the new arm molds clearly making it a different parts and because the plastic has a milky tinge even to this day albeit not as prominently as it once was. Chinese factories introduced even more oddities than just this, for example there is also a Darth Vader torso with a print where metallic colors have been replaced with ark bluish grey. That might have been a first-run error of my copy as I have never seen anybody else acknowledging this variant. @CCC said: "It is interested to look at the numbers on bricklink. At some stage someone got confused between mould numbers and parts numbers. There are some homemaker parts with numbers below 10. There is even a part number 1!" Bricklinks numbers came from Peeron . I believe they were largely created by one man in the 90’s who decides he wanted to catalogue all lego parts. He used mold numbers where possible and made up numbers when there was no mold number. This was before lego made any information available to the public, not design IDs or even element IDs. Any catalogued parts pre 1995 are largely thanks to one mans effort. It is interested to look at the numbers on bricklink. At some stage someone got confused between mould numbers and parts numbers. There are some homemaker parts with numbers below 10. There is even a part number 1! @Librarian1976 said: "What about a non-identical element that is a slight variation on the underside. For example, a 1x2 jumper with bottom type A vs. bottom type B vs. bottom type C?" This is a good example because there is a functional difference between B and C, and type A doesn't have the helpful little groove. In this case it could be important that the correct variation is used or things will not work out during the build process. Alternatively, other differences are more structural. For people that want to part out a 100% authentic Cafe Corner, it will be necessary to track down 1x2x3 wall panel 2362b in white . This specific variant has skyrocketed in price on Bricklink, but the current version with reinforced sides is not overly expensive, having appeared in 62 sets to date. I think it comes down to how much you are willing to pay to have the correct elements, even if it's not explicitly needed for the model. And How much will that carry over to the next buyer? Will they care? Given a part's design number describes its shape and print you might expect designs to have names. But they do not. Elements have names, not designs. The names of printed elements include a number in several inconsistent forms. Taking the 2x4 tiles as an example again, some are named in the form Flat Tile 2X4 "No. x", while others don't include the double-quotes. Some use No as the abbreviation for number, others Nr, and both variants sometimes include a full-stop after them. From the outside we can only guess what is going on at LEGO HQ, but very interesting to see that there has been an attempt at a cohesive design color scheme, at least early on. As a data guy this article sums up a lot of what I have pieced together and draws some connections I hadn't made yet, and the timeframes are always nice to know. As a database that actually tracks all of these details, Brickset is in the perfect position to bring a dose of insight to this side of the hobby, thank you for the effort and dedication to doing things by the book. --Nathan @mfg3000 : That's usually part of an internal numbering system used by Bricklink. Part assemblies are marked by the inclusion of letters. Decorated parts are marked by the inclusion of letters. They strictly catalog everything by the mold design numbers, and sometimes those numbers weren't publicly available when the part was added to their catalog, so some parts use made-up numbers just to have a way to identify them. There might be a few other reasons why letters would be included, but any catalog number you see that includes letters is at least partly made up by the AFOL community. In part, this helps keep the system from breaking. If they had been assigning special catalog numbers by adding a single digit to a four-digit design number, things would have gotten messy the instant five-digit design numbers started being used. But using letters means there should never be any conflict between the two systems going forward. @jaredhinton : Those aren't batch numbers, since it would be prohibitively expensive to change those numbers out every time you ran a new batch, and you can't see evidence of changeable typeface impressed into the parts. My understanding is that those identify exactly where a part was molded. Usually these numbers are in - format, or sometimes just a by itself . The double-digit numbers are used to identify the mold . The single-digit numbers identify the specific cavity in which that part was formed. So, 2x4 bricks are produced on an 8-up mold, meaning each time you open the mold it will eject eight new 2x4 bricks. The mold that's currently producing parts may be 42, which will eject parts numbered 42-1, 42-2, 42-3, 42-4, 42-5, 42-6, 42-7, and 42-8. This allows them to track a defect to exactly what part of which mold needs to be repaired or replaced. Incidentally, 2x4 bricks have gone through a truckload of molds over the years. I just pulled a dark-purple 2x4 brick that I used to build a transport puck for a MOC I built in 2014 , and the mold/cavity number is 4-246. So, they've made enough 2x4 bricks that they'd worn out roughly 240 molds by the time that part was produced. @CCC : It depends on personal preference which is better. I build MOCs, so I need to be able to navigate the Bricklink catalog with far greater ease than I'd ever need this one for. Brickset allows you to catalog your entire collection, though, so someone who desires that more would prefer this system. @Judge_Fudge : Print differences are probably a lot more common between retail set minifigs and other sources than people think. The one I noticed was that the Lou Ferrigno Hulk had dark-green muscle print on the polybag minifig, but black muscle print on the keychain. @CCC : The founder of Bricklink added the parts numbered "1" and "2" to the catalog, so presumably he knew what he was doing. Rebrickable and Peeron use the same numbers for those parts, which is further evidence that he didn't screw up. Bricklink part numbers that start with a lower-case "x" are used to catalog parts with unknown design numbers. That numbering system didn't start until x11, so parts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 appear to be predecessors to that numbering system, while part 10 was a baseplate where the corners were either squared or rounded. Thanks to Tim at New Elementary, dulcaoin and Laz for their help with preparing this article. This article is filled with great information. Thanks! I've been wondering for the past few years how much small variations in elements matter to people, specifically to collectors. I have recently started parting out the retired Modular Buildings that I missed out on. The first one I parted out was 10224 Town Hall, for which I needed 72 of element 4164443-1 . This element was retired in 2012 and sold for a pretty penny on BrickLink. Luckily, as I was still collecting the elements for my Town Hall LEGO reintroduced this element with a new number so I was able to get the newer numbered ones directly from LEGO's Bricks & Pieces for a fraction of what the older numbered ones were going for on BrickLink. Are there collectors out there who are that detail oriented that my using the newly numbered element would impact the resale value of my set? What about a non-identical element that is a slight variation on the underside. For example, a 1x2 jumper with bottom type A vs. bottom type B vs. bottom type C? The plural of Lego is Lego, not Legos or Lego’s!! They first appeared on the underside of parts around 1985 but it's believed that they started to be used internally from 1968. @jaredhinton said: " @mfg3000 said: "Thanks, Huw! It's impressive that you can keep all that clear enough in your head to write about it so cohesively. The numbering system is interesting, though, and it's been helpful, albeit confusing, in trying to reconstruct sets from my nephews' decimated collection for their young children. I do have a question about what I think are element numbers that I see on Bricklink. Sometimes there seem to be lowercase letters in the middle of what I am assuming is an element number. and I always wonder what their significance is. Would you know what those letters mean? " EIDs never have letters in. You are potentially looking at BrickLink’s part numbers which is commonly not LEGO related. For example, for printed 2x2 bricks they’ll use the number molded on the part plus a ‘pb’ to signify a printed part, followed by a number which is sequential from the first printed version. EIDs almost exclusively begin with a 4 or a 6 . There are exceptions to the 4&6 rule for really early EIDs, these usually break the 7 digit rule too. " Thank you, that makes so much sense. I should have been able to figure that one out! This is a nuisance: you can be fooled into thinking that a part is new from its newly-allocated number, only to find later that it's just a re-introduced one. similar to 2012/13 when Lego ran out of numbers for sets and had to upgrade to 5 digit sets; given the number of new Designs and all the Patterns in the last decade, Lego must be running out of 5 digit numbers. Will be interesting to see what Lego decide's to do. The parts design pages indicate if there are other designs with the same name as the one you're looking at. There's a good chance they'll be the same, or at least similar. I can't claim to be an expert, but I thought it would be useful to others to write down what I've learned about them over the years. The article is not intended to be exhaustive or definitive but it will hopefully be of interest to those new to the hobby. The allocation and usage of LEGO part numbers is a complex subject that people have devoted their lives to understanding fully. This article has barely scratched the surface but nevertheless I hope you found it interesting and perhaps even learned something. So, what's the difference, how are the two related, and how are they allocated? I've been looking for era-correct pieces for vintage sets. If a plate has half moons at the bottom, it's the current era. We've been collecting this information for some years and re-purposing it to make it more useful than simply a list of parts in a particular set. Unlike other sites, we show it 'as-is', warts and all, so it can be considered an authoritative source of official information. Parts can be redesigned over the course of their lifetime, often indiscernibly, which necessitates the need for a new design number. There are other oddities, too. Some inverted 2x6 curved corner slopes, design 41765 , are called 'Left Shell 2X6W/Bow/Angle,Inv', some are 'Shell 2X6 W/Bow/Angle,Inv. L.' and one has what is presumably a typo in it ' Links Shell 2X6W/Bow/Angle,Inv'. Generally speaking, every printed part has its own unique design number and element number. Recently, LEGO has started producing parts moulded from two or more materials or plastic colours. Each different combination is given a colour number, starting at 500, and named in the form '{number} MULTI' or '{number} MULTIFORM'. To keep things simple here, all such parts are lumped together under a single colour, Multicombination @Galaxy12_Import I also imagine that there is no expectation of absolute fidelity to the original if one offers a set for sale as used. Just thinking about my own collection, I was an avid Castle collector as a child and had every set in that theme from 1984-1993. I often took all of them apart back in those days to build a mega-castle . Though they are all now reboxed, I am sure part variants got switched into the wrong set. The question is, by how much does that reduce the value? A few elements with 5-digit design numbers continued to be numbered in this way in the early 1990s, e.g. 3000001 , but the scheme was abandoned when the computer system SAP was introduced into the company in 1994, at which point elements, and everything else the company produced for that matter, were allocated a sequential 7-digit number, starting at 4100000. If you have LEGO news, new images or something else to tell us about, send us a message. If you have a lot to tell us, use this contact form . In addition to their actual shape, parts have another attribute used to identify them: their colour and, sometimes, the material they are made from or process used to colour them. Just scrolling through the two lists of torsos, one thing is very clear to me. 88585 includes a ton of CMF torsos, while 76382 does not. So, the former is probably the Chinese mold, and the latter is probably a European one. The reason why the elements are named rather than the designs is probably due to picking systems. The mold and the color are the critical bits of knowledge on the production floor, as they have no idea, in some of these cases, what the eventual element will look like . When you're picking parts, the element ID number is basically going to be used like a SKU. Type the number into a computer, and it will tell you where in the warehouse those elements are located. If you're picking parts, you would see the element name on the screen, which you would use to verify that you're picking the correct element. lego article numbers Since the same design can end up being used across a range of elements, it makes more sense to name the elements over the designs. @Librarian1976 : An element ID number is just a number. It's used to inventory elements internally while they wait to be packed into sets, or shipped out to customers who order replacement parts or B&P/Online PAB. It's not actually attached to the physical part, so there's no way to tell which element ID number that element shipped as, unless it has gone through variations that match up precisely with those EID changes. Take, for instance, the 2x4 brick. It has gone through several mold changes over the years, but as long as a red 2x4 stays in production it will never be assigned a new EID. Therefore, you can't tell anything useful from that number beyond the basic shape, the basic color, and the fact that it's unprinted. The 1x2 jumper plate, on the other hand, has gone through two mold changes in quick succession . If the jumper plate was released once in a color while the original design was in production, taken out of production for a few years, released one more time during the short window with the second design, back out of production for a few years, and a third time after the second change was made, you'd be able to match up all three sets that it came in with the specific design that was in production at the time. That would then allow you to determine the precise element ID number used for each version...but if someone really cares about it that much it's far easier to just ask by description than expecting anyone to be able to determine exactly which element ID number was applied to every part in their collection. @MasterT : Change your lighting. Seriously. Incandescent lights are the worst for telling greys from bleys. Cool white fluorescent works great, if you can stand it. I prefer daylight spectrum LED , and you want bright light . But no, the part molds are not modified whenever they do a color swap. They also don't stamp the parts afterwards to record that information. If it's seriously in question, I suspect they use some sort of color spectrometer to identify the precise color they're looking at. @meesajarjar72 : No, the plural of LEGO is LEGO _bricks_. Or LEGO parts. Or anything that treats the world "LEGO" as an adjective: "Proper Use of the LEGO Trademark on a Web Site If the LEGO trademark is used at all, it should always be used as an adjective, not as a noun. For example, say “MODELS BUILT OF LEGO BRICKS”. Never say “MODELS BUILT OF LEGOs”." Taken from s/legal/notices-and-policies/fair-play/ Hi Huw, is there any way of getting the spare parts for each set from LEGO inventories? The variations will no doubt be due to them being allocated at different times, often years apart, and probably by different people within the company, who have not done due diligence before naming them! Our database contains around 18,000 design numbers but many more have been allocated over the years but are now out of use, following parts being discontinued or redesigned, at which point they are given a new one. It's been mentioned above by the perceptive joshcvt, but I too highly doubt that "links" is a typo. It's probably deliberate German for "left". Most likely a designer/tech slipped into his native language. For example the design of this SNOT plate, one of the first, was initially numbered 2436 . It's since been produced with design numbers 10201 and 28802 . Thanks for this imformation, I got lost at one point but I understood the message. For example, design 2599 , pictured, was called Swim Fins when first released but is now called Frogmans Fins, while the some of the 16x32 baseplates, design 2748 , include the colour name in the design name, which is uncommon. Designs relating to minifig and minidoll parts which, as discussed above, have the same design ID for multiple colours and prints, will be among them, but there are also some whose name has changed over time, or which has been spelled incorrectly, inconsistently, or not translated from Danish. Nowadays, elements receive numbers in the 6xxxxxx series. The highest number in our database, which contains information on 43,000 elements, is currently 6360136 . A good way to identify new and recoloured parts in sets before LEGO has published the inventory online is to look for the highest numbered elements in the set's inventory at the back of the instructions. If there's anything else you'd like to know about parts numbering, please ask in the comments. All of this is a nuisance when you're trying to store them in a relational database and make them searchable... However, when you look at the parts listing at the back of instruction manuals, this number isn't shown. The 6- or 7-digit numbers listed there are element numbers. Fantastic article @Huw ! Thank you! What do you think about an article that explains how the set numbers were assigned in the 80's and 90's? For example: the first wave of Pirates sets had the following numbers: 6235, 6245, 6251, 6257, 6260, 6265, 6270, etc. The second wave had 6234, 6259, 6267, 6273. These numbers were not assigned sequentially. There were gaps between the set numbers for some "future reservation purposes". These gaps were always filled within the next years of particular series. I'm wondering what was the system of assigning such numbers during the initial wave of particular classic theme. Did they plan that numbers from 6232-6237 are reserved for impulse sets, another range of numbers for some bigger sets, and bigger and bigger? Based on the first years of Pirates sets we can discover that there is a relationship between the set number and it's box volume . Great article, very interesting stuff. I do have a question on numbering on a piece. Is there a way to tell the color of piece by looking at the bottom? I am talking mainly about small 1X1 pieces in old grey and light blue grey for example. Those are sometimes very hard to tell the difference between them by just looking at the color like on bigger plates and bricks that are easier to see the difference in color. Sometimes I get a bulk bit of bricks and trying to see the difference in those as to how to sort them can be challenging.
Common undecorated parts were given 4-digit design numbers until the mid 1990s when 5-digit ones starting at 30000 were used. Nowadays there appears to be no obvious logic to their allotment, with numbers ranging from 12029 to 79371 being assigned to the 1400 new designs have surfaced in sets so far this year. Love it--this is the kind of deep dive I would love more of, thanks for the write-up! @Librarian1976 said: "This article is filled with great information. Thanks! I've been wondering for the past few years how much small variations in elements matter to people, specifically to collectors. I have recently started parting out the retired Modular Buildings that I missed out on. The first one I parted out was 10224 Town Hall, for which I needed 72 of element 4164443-1 . This element was retired in 2012 and sold for a pretty penny on BrickLink. Luckily, as I was still collecting the elements for my Town Hall LEGO reintroduced this element with a new number so I was able to get the newer numbered ones directly from LEGO's Bricks & Pieces for a fraction of what the older numbered ones were going for on BrickLink. Are there collectors out there who are that detail oriented that my using the newly numbered element would impact the resale value of my set? What about a non-identical element that is a slight variation on the underside. For example, a 1x2 jumper with bottom type A vs. bottom type B vs. bottom type C?" I'd say some care, some don't 🙂 Personally, when I try to piece together a set from for example the 70's I make sure I get the period correct parts, as far as is reasonable. When it comes to newer sets, I do look at details like tile with or without groove. And for your example, if the part was in production when the set was released I'd say it's fair game whichever you choose. Lego themselves haven't been consistent over the years when older designs are in production alongside newer designs. So my recommendation, if the version of the piece was in production when the set was sold from Lego, just go ahead. I'd try to make sure all pieces of the same kind in the set are of the same version though 🙂 Of course, just my opinion! Yes, sort of -- a part's design and colour numbers define it uniquely. Initially, a part's element number was simply a combination of the two: the four digit design number and the two-digit colour number concatenated. So, a white 2x4 brick has an element number 300101 and a green spruce tree has an element number 347128 . This exception to the general rule is because torsos and legs are composite parts, made with up to 5 separate pieces in the case of minifig torsos, and each individual component has its own element ID, which is not exposed publicly. Another instance where the same part has multiple design numbers is when it's produced in solid and transparent colours. Because transparent parts are produced from a different material which requires a different mould to manufacture them, they have different design numbers. For example, the 2x2 brick: solid , transparent . Most enlightening! Love these sorts of articles, really gives an insight to our fascinating hobby. Thank you for taking the time to keep us educated! Interesting read! Makes me more appreciative of the Brickset admins who spend time figuring this out so we don’t have to. That's an absolutely impressive photograph of that blue 3032 plate, Huw! Macro lens or microscope? 😉 @mfg3000 said: "Thanks, Huw! It's impressive that you can keep all that clear enough in your head to write about it so cohesively. The numbering system is interesting, though, and it's been helpful, albeit confusing, in trying to reconstruct sets from my nephews' decimated collection for their young children. I do have a question about what I think are element numbers that I see on Bricklink. Sometimes there seem to be lowercase letters in the middle of what I am assuming is an element number. and I always wonder what their significance is. Would you know what those letters mean? " EIDs never have letters in. You are potentially looking at BrickLink’s part numbers which is commonly not LEGO related. For example, for printed 2x2 bricks they’ll use the number molded on the part plus a ‘pb’ to signify a printed part, followed by a number which is sequential from the first printed version. EIDs almost exclusively begin with a 4 or a 6 . There are exceptions to the 4&6 rule for really early EIDs, these usually break the 7 digit rule too. As a toolmaker who deals with plastic moulding, this was a great read. Thanks Huw! Super interesting, Huw! I learned a lot! 😀 I think you've more that "barely scratched the surface". Good work! I enjoyed this and would like to see more like it. Not every week, but occasional history/design/mythbusting articles would be great OMG. First time I heard about 'Identical parts' tab. It is amazing. Thanks, Huw! It's impressive that you can keep all that clear enough in your head to write about it so cohesively. The numbering system is interesting, though, and it's been helpful, albeit confusing, in trying to reconstruct sets from my nephews' decimated collection for their young children. I do have a question about what I think are element numbers that I see on Bricklink. Sometimes there seem to be lowercase letters in the middle of what I am assuming is an element number. and I always wonder what their significance is. Would you know what those letters mean? This attribute, which I'll simply call colour, also has a number allocated by LEGO. Colour numbers are three-digits and begin at 1, which is white. The majority of the numbers relate to the colour of the plastic the parts are moulded from but a few also define any additional finishes, e.g. 'cool silver drum-lacquered', colour number 298 , which requires a process to apply silver paint to the parts. @martinb said: "Fantastic article @Huw ! Thank you! What do you think about an article that explains how the set numbers were assigned in the 80's and 90's? For example: the first wave of Pirates sets had the following numbers: 6235, 6245, 6251, 6257, 6260, 6265, 6270, etc. The second wave had 6234, 6259, 6267, 6273. These numbers were not assigned sequentially. There were gaps between the set numbers for some "future reservation purposes". These gaps were always filled within the next years of particular series. I'm wondering what was the system of assigning such numbers during the initial wave of particular classic theme. Did they plan that numbers from 6232-6237 are reserved for impulse sets, another range of numbers for some bigger sets, and bigger and bigger? Based on the first years of Pirates sets we can discover that there is a relationship between the set number and it's box volume ." Yes, that would be interesting. One on the 5-digit numbers might also be, and they are slightly easier to get to grips with. As you say, the numbers initially gave come indication of the size of the set. My favorite part name is "Bribe Clergyman Headgear" I like reading this article. So informative. But don't you think here's a great knowledge to scammers as well. I have no clue but they can use it and what should true LEGO fans do then? @LuvsLEGO_Cool_J said: "I don’t see bright bluish green . Am I missing it? " Teal had not been reintroduced by 2016, so that color along with dozens of other "retired" colors are not directly linked. This website is the best! Articles like these are my favorite. Thanks for putting it together. Please log in to post comments on this article. The numbering series began at 3001 , which is the 2x4 brick. There was initially some logic to their allocation, with blocks of numbers assigned to the different types of parts being produced in 1968: This simple scheme worked at first, when design numbers were 4 digit and colour numbers only two but it started to break down once they were exceeded. Ah, Peeron. Just the mention of the name brings back happy memories. Pity that they stopped updating it years ago. Used to be my main LEGO resource long before I ever got to know and love Brickset. For example, see printed 2x4 tiles . This Friends tile has a design number 15904 and an element number 6055792 . There are no other parts with that design number. The parts names are a great example of what happens when you release a database that was not intended for public use to the public. Luckily we have sites like bricklink that use more systematic and sensible naming for parts. When a part of a particular design and colour is retired but subsequently returns to production, a new element number is allocated to it. Understanding LEGO part numbers Brickset lego article numbers LEGO set guide and database
Understanding LEGO part numbers Brickset lego article numbers LEGO set guide and database
Calling the number visible on the part the Design Number is a little misleading. As you point out prints get a new design ID but the actual part will show what is better referred to as the Mold Number. You can’t find a prints design number on a part or in a BI so are largely useless to most LEGO consumers. They’ll see and search the mold number or EID in the BI’s. You also excluded what most people call the batch number. These are numbers molded into parts and are usually 4digits with a dash in the middle . These numbers are used by lego to track when and where faulty parts may have come from. It’s unlikely you’ll ever get two parts with identical batch numbers even in the same set. These often confuse new LEGO fans. Very interesting article, indeed! I'd like to ask, is there any way to know what particular numbers should I expect in a set from, for instance, the 90s? I.e. if I have a set from the 90s, say 6097 as example, can I know what part numbers should I get? I'm a collector mostly, so it would be interesting knowing if some parts have been replaced when I buy a used set... LEGO does not provide lists of designs, elements and colours but it does publish set inventories at its Customer Services pages and, from 2006, at the back of all instruction manuals. @Galaxy12_Import said: "From the outside we can only guess what is going on at LEGO HQ, but very interesting to see that there has been an attempt at a cohesive design color scheme, at least early on. As a data guy this article sums up a lot of what I have pieced together and draws some connections I hadn't made yet, and the timeframes are always nice to know. As a database that actually tracks all of these details, Brickset is in the perfect position to bring a dose of insight to this side of the hobby, thank you for the effort and dedication to doing things by the book. --Nathan" Exactly what he said. --Joshua Terrific read. We need more just like it! However, as the parts palette started to grow, numbers were allocated more haphazardly, most probably sequentially as new designs were introduced. @shaase said: "similar to 2012/13 when Lego ran out of numbers for sets and had to upgrade to 5 digit sets; given the number of new Designs and all the Patterns in the last decade, Lego must be running out of 5 digit numbers. Will be interesting to see what Lego decide's to do." They have a while yet. There’s 90,000 different permutations of a five digit number, at best informed guess there’s 140k parts since the fifties. While it’s true LEGO make far more new design IDs, it’s unlikely they’ll run out in the next decade. "Links shell" for left shell is presumably a mental error -- translating Danish "venstre" into German "links" rather than English "left". Design numbers identify the shape of the part. @jaredhinton : What I meant was, if you go to the catalog pages, "Admin" is credited with adding the bookcases to the catalog and uploading the images. I wasn't aware that they lifted images to get started, but I didn't register until mid-2003 while the site was founded in 2000. At some point under the second owner, Bricklink changed their ToS to claim ownership of any images used in the catalog entries. As part of that change, they required any previous contributors to release the rights to their images so they would fit the new norm. If you gave them permission, it was like submitting a new image under the new ToS. If you denied them permission, they removed them and started replacing them immediately. If you couldn't be contacted, or chose not to respond, they were probably a little less urgent about it, but did eventually replace all of those images as well. So, at this point, any images that were lifted from Peeron are either gone, or they've actually received permission to keep them. I also remember that, at the time, there were three competing part catalogs running. Bricklink is by far the most successful of the trio, Peeron is no longer being updated , and LDraw was...a bit weird. At the time they relied not only on volunteer contributors, but those contributions required a lot of digital design work. There was some sort of agreement for a time that, if someone else had already added a part to their catalog where the design number was unknown, the other two sites would use that same catalog number to maintain some degree of consistency between the three catalogs. I suspect at some point Bricklink just started doing their own thing, but these days it's less of an issue as design numbers are readily available for any new molds. And I don't know what 90's you experienced, but that was really the birth of the AFOL community. Prior to that, there were people all over the world who would be recognized as AFOLs by today's standards, but very few of them were aware that they weren't alone. It was really the birth of the World Wide Web in the early 90's that brought internet access out of the domains of academia and the military into private homes that allowed the AFOL community to start coming together. The 90's weren't about preserving content, but about creating community, figuring out exactly what it meant to be an "AFOL", and developing new resources to help an undeveloped hobby grow. So, like the Rosetta Stone, these resources were not developed to preserve knowledge for future generations so much as they were to make it available for the present. lego article time magazine