Ok lego kids how did you build your lego sets?

The very first fairing panels were used on four generic technical sets.

There was an update to the design of these pieces that first made an appearance in the Williams F1 Team Racer.

In 2009, the pieces underwent a major design overhaul and are the same principle design seen today. Rectangular versions first appeared in Bionicle sets the year before.

The 2009 technic sets made use of angular versions of these parts.

Perhaps this isn’t a complete list, but I don’t see any branded models.

The most recent of this style of panel was designed, and appeared, in 2013.

By comparison, the first branded car I can find that uses the latest style of panel pieces was produced the Porsche 911 produced in 2016.

I think your perception that LEGO designs parts to fit new branded models is generally wrong. LEGO design parts for lots of different reasons, it seems rare for new Technic pieces to make their first appearance in a branded set. The Williams F1 car is the only example I can find, though it is hard to pin things down to exact models / years.

They do have some downloadable material, and I did a tiny bit of mining. There are 57,380 distinct LEGO pieces, including colors. Excluding colors, there are 25,885 distinct pieces. That is a lot of pieces!

My first experience with these panel pieces was in the 2012 Jet Plane set.

https://www.lego.com/en-au/service/buildinginstructions/9394

There’s more, but it’s possible that you are a little closer to the truth here. Consider this piece from the Porsche:
https://www.bricklink.com/catalogItemIn.asp?P=64392&in=S

It says it’s used in sets from 2009 to 2021. The first uses in 2009 were from sets like the the Galactic Enforcer, which is from their internal brand (Space Police). However, in 2011 they released the Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 400 with the piece. So it’s later, but not that much later, and using the pieces in upcoming branded sets may have factored into things.

It’s hard to tell in other cases, because some of the more unusual pieces in the Porsche set are stickered and therefore say they appear in just one set. That’s a little unfair, but on the other hand I’m not familiar with their numbering system so I can’t reverse that out to the basic piece–if it even exists.

Overall, you have a point, but at the same time there was clearly a ramp-up in branded models over the past decade, and they had to have planned this, knowing that for accurate-looking models they’d need a diverse set of panels and such. I’m sure they had other motivations, too (just getting away from the more spartan look), and it does look like they mostly started using them on their internal sets. However, I don’t think it’s super cut-and-dried either way.

Ahh, found one. Incidentally, if you just use the initial numeric part of the code, you get the generic version of the part. This one was used from 2016 to 2021:
https://www.bricklink.com/catalogItemIn.asp?P=24119&in=S

And the very first use was in the Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

I had to look through a few of these before I found one where the branded model came first, so like I said, I think you are probably right that they mostly fleshed out the panels on non-branded sets. But that’s not 100% true, either.

Ahh, and I see that’s also the set you linked to above. It did contain at least one unique piece (at the time), so they hadn’t yet completed their collection of fairing pieces.

In the Brickset link in my previous post you’ll see that these panel parts come with numbers and that some numbers are missing in the sequence, suggesting that they intend to produce a piece to fill the gap in the future. It seems that the general concept of the part is produced for a general purpose, e.g., to provide for body/panel type pieces for whatever models may need them. Once that happens, some specific sizes might not be produced unless there becomes a specific need for them. That need may come from any model, branded or generic.

I’m not talking about my opinion. I’m talking about the facts I presented. It’s not my opinion that modern licenced Technic sets can be just as, if not more, mechanically complex than older sets - it’s a fact, as shown by my links. Fixating on panels doesn’t change that.

When you have presumed to talk about my opinions, what you imagine my personal likes and dislikes are, I’ve corrected you.

No, I get offended when you try and tell me what I do - and by implication, don’t - like.

There, now I’ve said my piece.


As to panels, I think a deep dive would probably show that it was the huge popularity (and financial success) of Bionicle that drove the early introduction of the pin+panel look-and-feel, and paved the way for it in mainstream Technic.

If I were of a mind to rail against specialized parts, Bionicle would be where I’d rage against, BTW, not the licenced vehicles. Soooo many specialized parts. But a LEGO-owned brand, which I guess doesn’t serve an anti-licencing narrative.

Well, that’s not exactly a direct contradiction of my original position. You’ve established that there are various generations of these pieces and that the fairings were not solely created to support their branded models. But you agree that any specific piece might well have made its first appearance (or most of its appearances) on said models. While my position was perhaps a tad overstated it was also not completely wrong.

We’re agreed on that point. I had almost forgotten about Bionicle, despite having a few of the characters. Absolutely the worst thing LEGO has ever produced. Even the plastic felt low quality.

I don’t want to contradict just for the sake of it.

They way you presented your position was more like LEGO getting a deal with Porsche, for example, and then designing a bunch of parts to make it look like a Porsche. I believe it is much more the case that they get a deal with Porsche, use existing parts where possible, and if there is seen to be a need for a new size within an existing parts catalogue (panels for example), they may make one or they may settle on a work-around. Furthermore, I think this is no different than the design process for any set, in other words the brand tie-in is irrelevant to whether or not a new part is made for a set.

I can’t remember where I saw it now, it was a video made about designing a particular model. What the designer said was that it is difficult to get a new piece made because LEGO are reluctant to do it unless a case can be made that it will have extensive use elsewhere. It is probably expensive doing a limited run of a custom piece. The context was that designers have numerous restrictions they have to work within, numbers of pieces, types, colours etc, they can’t just go and rattle off a bunch of “Porsche bits”.

I am not of the same mind, I loved Bionicle. At least, the early years.
IMO, the worst LEGO theme was Galidor (an attempt to recapture the original Bionicle magic, but waaaay shittier)

If I understand their usual design process, it’s much more likely that someone designed a 911 using existing parts, and then they approached Porsche to licence it. At which point they might look at a couple new parts.

It’s also worth noting that new technologies have meant that producing new parts molds and parts runs is much less onerous a process now, so they’re less reluctant to do so.

That’s fair. However, I think it’s also fair to suggest that, when a designer is advocating for a new piece, say a long shallow curve ideal for a roof or a hood, that they are likely to point out that the piece will be very useful for an F-150 Raptor or a Fast and Furious Dodge Charger.

If nothing else, the new-style pieces are an enabler of the branded, model-centric LEGO. It couldn’t have happened with old, sparse Technic. Maybe we would have gotten a few models using thin plate-stacking.

I’d never even heard of that, so I’ll take your word that it’s worse. It appears to have had a TV show tie-in. Bleh. Every other show in the 80s did that (GI Joe, Transformers, MASK…), and even as a child I knew that stuff was trash. LEGO doing it doesn’t improve things.

Congratulations, you’ve reminded me of something even more obnoxious than the current branded sets, and by a pretty wide margin.

Bear in mind that we’re not talking about completely new pieces though. The set of curved panel type pieces have been around for a long time. So no one pointed out these pieces would be useful for a Charger, they may well have said pieces like that would be good for creating vehicle body parts so that something like this (note that this set actually uses early generation panel pieces):

could be more fully realised as something like this:

But it is highly unlikely they would’ve had any particular cars in mind. It doesn’t even make sense to think of brands when you consider that all super cars look very similar, as do all trucks, so a part that works well for a generic car will work just as well for a branded car. I doubt they even had cars in mind. The pieces work well for any curved fairing, planes, trucks, bikes, cars, robots, boats, etc.

As an aside, I thought of another benefit that the current studless beams have over the old-style studded beams. A studless beam, like a classic 2x4 brick, can be made in a two-piece mold, but a studded beam would require at least a four-piece mold. Molds with more pieces are more expensive both to make and to use, so it’s natural that the company would be interested in replacing a large number of four-piece-mold pieces with two-piece-mold pieces.

On the other hand, the increasingly numerous pins still need 3-4 mold pieces.

I took a close look at the studless beam from my Mindstorms set vs. some of the studded beams, and I have to say I’m disappointed in the quality. The flat faces of the studless beam are obviously wavy. The faces of the studded beams are utterly flat, even looking at it from a shallow angle.

Probably some of this is due to the thinness of the face, but somehow it feels like old LEGO would have found this unacceptable. Yes, dealing with thermal contraction and such is a challenge, but it’s a solvable problem.

I am the youngest in my family by a fair bit (five years to the next oldest and 16 years to the oldest…four siblings).

By the time the Legos got to me the sets were long gone along with the instructions. However, what I did get was a big box loaded with Legos (probably a small fortune by today’s costs).

While I always wanted a set to build my parents would never get me them. They thought I had plenty of Legos. And they were right. Although this was the 70s and the fancy stuff like today was not out yet.

I ain’t complaining though (except when I stepped on one). I loved that big box of random blocks dearly. It gave me many, many hours of fun. In hindsight I would not trade it for anything (well…maybe $1 million).

the tv show was worse than the toys … even tho the pacific island themed bionicles never made much sense either …