(Written by Maxx)
When thinking of LEGO colors, RED, WHITE, BLUE, YELLOW and BLACK come to mind to those of us over 30. If you are younger, you probably know a lot more LEGO colors; like GREEN, PINK, DARK RED, and even SILVER. But you might be surprized to learn that in the early days of LEGO most of these colors were already around!
Here is a brief overview on how LEGO colors evolved:
1949-1956: LEGO bricks are called Automatic Binding Bricks, or ABB for short. Colors are plenty and we love seeing them, as plastic is new to us and these bright colors are great! LEGO comes in 3 different YELLOWs, ORANGE, 4 GREENs, 3 REDs, 4 BLUEs (with even LIGHT-BLUE), 2 WHITEs, TRANSPARENT, PURPLE, PINK and BROWN. A wild mix of colors!
And to top it all of there are even marbled bricks! These bricks had multiple colors in them, coming in beautiful swirls. Marbled bricks were considered second-grade quality and sold for less than the full color bricks. Today it is the opposite.
1956-1958: LEGO bricks are now called Mursten – meaning “brick”. The multitude of colors is downsized. We now have a steady supply of WHITE, RED, YELLOW, BLUE, GREEN and TRANSPARENT – with GREEN being very rare.
1958-1978: we now recognize bricks to be “real” LEGO, but something strange happened to them; apart from getting tubes underneath, something strange went on with colors….They all but disappeared!!!
For years on end, the only colors available became WHITE and RED. Great for building houses with roofs, but a bit boring.
There were actually a few other colors around – BLUE, YELLOW, BLACK and TRANSPARENT – but they were rare. GREEN is only seen as baseplates and trees.
Towards the end of this period we are slowly getting more colors again – BLUE, YELLOW and BLACK are becoming normal in the LEGO color mix.
With the Classic Space Sets LIGHT-GRAY reappears, and some GREEN and PINK also comes to join the LEGO world.
1978-1997: as far as LEGO colors these are the best years ever. Towards the end of this period LEGO is having a major 100 plus colors! WOW!!! Anything is possible! All colors are available! The sky is the limit!
But our dream could not last forever. The LEGO Group gets into some bad times and they are on the edge of going under. They need to reshape their product, and one of the things needed to save money is to use less colors. From over 100 different colors, LEGO goes back to about 50 colors. (At this time, DUPLO 2×2 bricks come in the most colors, numbering 46 different ones.)
1997-2003: luckily for humanity, LEGO survives and slowly rebuilds. Colors are kept to a minimum, but still we have a lot to choose from. We are happy, and can build rainbows and landscapes. Unaware of the horrible thing ahead of us…
2004 till present: the oldies amongst us think of this as a terrible, confusing period – one we would like to erase from common memory. LIGHT-GRAY got replaced by LIGHT-BLUISH-GRAY, DARK-GRAY by DARK-BLUISH-GRAY, BROWN by REDDISH-BROWN and our beloved PINK by BRIGHT-PINK. Some other colors are also changed, but not enough for us to notice.
Still LEGO is not ready with modifying colors! To save money, they no longer buy pre-colored ABS pellets (the plastic pellets LEGO is made from). They started to mix the colors themselves. The best example of this is the Harry Potter purple bus (set 4755) coming in multiple purples. Due to this change other bricks are becoming translucent against the light.
But in the end, we all love our LEGO and the colors it comes in. It feeds our imagination and makes it possible for us to build virtually anything and everything!