I already blogged about some essential LEGO links. Yesterday I stumbled onto a new one, which may have relevance to my project: Classic-Castle.com. The site features a lot of LEGO Castle content, including a FAQ that has information on the different shades of grey LEGO uses. Apparently in 2003 TLG (the LEGO Group) decided, under competitive pressure, that their warm colors made LEGO look old. In particular, their grey, dark grey and brown. So, to the dismay of their fanbase, TLG changed these colors to cooler variants by adding a shade of blue (red for brown) to them – earning, from the irritated fans, the nickname “bley” (blue and grey). Officially the old grey was replaced by medium stone grey, dark grey by dark stone grey and brown by reddish brown.
Above, on the left there are some bley bricks (medium stone grey) from the new 7946 King’s Castle (2010), on the right grey from the old 6073 Knight’s Castle (1984). In the bottom middle there are four connected bricks (from left to right): old grey, new medium stone grey, old grey, new medium stone grey. (Note: You can click the images for larger versions.) The new grey is definitely a tad bit coolor and perhaps more sinister looking. Not a huge difference though, had I not read about this I might have assumed only aging as the differentiator. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any old dark grey or brown bricks to compare to. TLG did replace some other colors around the same time as well, so luckily Classic-Castle.com links to a great color chart on Peeron.
Now, to make things even more confusing, these old and new colors have many common names. Old grey: also known as grey, light grey, castle grey. Old dark grey: also dark grey. Old brown: also brown, officially Earth orange. New grey: also light bluish grey, medium stone, medium stone grey. New dark grey: also dark bluish grey, dark stone, dark stone grey. New brown: also reddish brown, red brown. The new colors may also be referred to as the “bley” colors. There are also language variations and abbreviations, such as grey being spelled gray, dark abbreviated as dk, medium abbreviated as md. Oh, and while old grey is sometimes called light grey (in BrickLink for example, important distinction for castle part purchases), officially – but rarely – light grey is actually a different color used in some Scala and DUPLO sets. Tread carefully.
Speaking of grey: Recently I posted my circa 1989 attempt at building a part of the 6080 King’s Castle. Digging in, I found the bottom parts of the gatehouse/tower I had made as a child. I attached the pieces and below is what it looks like, the entrance to a MOC (my own creation) mini castle. I couldn’t find my poor attempt at a portcullis (at least not yet) if it still exists in one of the boxes, but you can see the string that lifted it, dangling in the gateway. Seeing this in full again, I definitely remember that I had completed the mini castle, and the portcullis was operated by the winch (its top fit through the hole in the roof). I guess there must have been a second winch for the drawbridge.
Looking at the individual pieces, we can see that while some are just dirty, few of the bricks have been discolored significantly more than the others. I wonder why. BTW: The Classic-Castle.com FAQ offers links to discussions on discoloration and restoration.