Ask A Lemur – Sourcing LEGO, Old Grey vs New Grey & Gender Stereotypes

Greetings and High-Fives to all my good friends out there!

lemur thumbs up

It is I, A. Lemur, writing from The Brothers Brick’s compound! I’m here to answer all of your fabulous questions about anything and everything.

This last weekend, I attended Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle and I have to tell you, it blew my mind. So many new things! I got to attend with Andrew, Iain and Josh. Their invite kind of surprised me but I had a great time. Josh wanted signatures from all the celebrities and Andrew and Iain had a list of items they wanted as well. They had too many parties to attend or they would have stood in line themselves.

I was happy to do it and I got to meet all sorts of people in the lines. Some of them had the most interesting smells! The majority of the people thought I was “cosplaying”, whatever that means. I also saw a LOT of Super Heroes. That Spiderman guy really gets around. Seemed like every time I turned around, he was there. I think he was following me. Never saw him swing on any webs, even though I was watching. I probably missed it. The crowds were pretty packed and I had to be on my toes to keep from getting trod upon by stompy robots and such. That Doctor Who guy also was everywhere. He looked slightly different each time I saw him but I hear that happens, from time to time.

Oh, I almost forgot the best part! There was a Food Truck area along one of the nearby streets! When I wasn’t standing in line for Josh, standing in line for Andrew or standing in line for Iain, I was standing in line at the Food Trucks. They were so awesome!

Enough about me…on to your questions!

Where do I source the amount of LEGO needed to build these large displays I’m always seeing?

That is a great question. To begin with, let’s talk about large displays. Very few of the large displays or layouts that you see at conventions are built by one person. The majority are collaborations between multiple people, sometimes as few as two but often up to 15 or 20 people. This way one person doesn’t have to amass all the brick nor do they have to do all the work by themselves. Working with other builders is really the way to go if you have a large display in mind.

Regarding how to source brick, you can buy lots of sets but that is the most expensive way to do it. Buying sets is part of how you will build up your collection but it shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox. There are also LEGO Brand Stores scattered all over the world. If you have one nearby, they have a very important resource known as the Pick-A-Brick wall. They don’t stock every piece but they do have a quite a variety and you can buy them in bulk via large plastic “cups”. You can save a lot of money and acquire large amounts of specific pieces via “The Wall”, especially if you learn how to pack a cup properly.

It may not help with gathering specific pieces but you can build up your collection by keeping an eye out at local sales, Craigslist or by just word of mouth. There is a lot of second-hand LEGO sitting unused in attics and garages. You have to look for it, but it is out there.

Which is better: Old Grey or New Grey?

So apparently LEGO changed the color of their grey bricks many, many years ago. Many fans were angry about this, including some of the editors and contributors here. They were angry because they had copious amounts of the “old” grey and the “new” grey didn’t match. This was a valid point and much learned by both the LEGO company and the LEGO fans during this time. LEGO learned that the fans really cared about changes in their product and LEGO fans learned that anything can change without warning and no amount of whining will stop it.

Does it matter now? As a historical footnote, yes. Which color is better? LEGO was right, the new grey is better. I dug through Josh’s old and new grey (he is still sleeping off Comic Con and won’t mind). Most of his old grey is yellowed and/or grimy-looking. It also tastes pretty stale. The new grey looks better, fits better with the other colors, has resisted discoloration better and has a slight minty taste. I love it!

Does LEGO reinforce gender stereotypes?

I don’t think so. However, not very many lemurs play with LEGO so it’s hard to make any assumptions. For example, I’m the only lemur I know who has a LEGO collection and I’m a boy lemur. From that one fact you could make a statement that only male lemurs play with LEGO. However that would be silly based on your small sample size. I’m sure if more lemurs had access to LEGO, both genders would enjoy it equally. It’s so tasty, how could they not?

Thanks for your questions! It was another fun-filled time.

See you soon,
A. Lemur

21 comments on “Ask A Lemur – Sourcing LEGO, Old Grey vs New Grey & Gender Stereotypes

  1. gojira2002

    The new grey has made it much more expensive and harder to finally complete my Teknomeka build.

  2. legolover

    If this site doesn’t want to address gender stereotypes, then don’t. Do not instead make it a joke, especially one centered on a joke made usually in a racist context (“all [members of group X] look alike to me”). There is a strong argument to be made that Lego is fostering gender stereotypes: there can be female firefighters, police, astronauts, but only typically in sets with four or more minifigs. There is the whole Friends line. Yes, once Lego made a female scientist set after fan demand, but one limited edition set does not address the issues in the majority of Lego products that actually go to kids. My point isn’t to convince you that Lego encourages stereotypes, only that this might be a serious enough issue not to be the punchline of a joke.

  3. JW

    Does LEGO reinforce gender stereotypes?

    I think we’d appreciate it if you tried to actually answer the question.

  4. Josh

    @legolover – I believe that there are very few issues that should be off limits when it comes to humor. Gender Stereotypes is not one of them. It is a very important issue but not one that is so charged that a bit of fun can’t be poked at it.

    By the way, you actually have a problem with the lemur implying that there are no gender stereotypes in his society?

    I understand your issues with the lemur saying that he has trouble telling humans apart, even though he was referring to the entire human species, so I will edit his comment to make it clear he isn’t being racist. However, I think you are taking things too seriously. The issue of LEGO Friends and Gender Stereotyping comes up so often, the lemur can mention it if he wants to and he doesn’t have to address it seriously.

    The purpose of this feature is to answer people’s questions about the hobby in general, not to make judgement calls.

  5. Josh

    @JW – The question cannot be answered. It is so multi-faceted that asking the site to “answer the question” is ridiculous. If the issues could be resolved by one paragraph, someone better than the lemur would have done so already.

  6. davee123

    “Does it matter now? As a historical footnote, yes.”

    Maybe I’m one of the few for whom this is actually still the bane of my existence. I held off making “the switch” until I had enough of the new colors. But then I had a kid, and haven’t had time to re-sort our million-or-so piece collection back out into the component old colors. So I’m constantly fighting against trying to determine which color is which whenever I have to build a MOC or sort bunches of pieces. … It’s been 11 years, but it definitely doesn’t seem like a historical footnote yet. Maybe it will when I finally make the switch.

  7. travisco_nabisco

    Hi Mr Lemur, I’ve been lurking around the BB for years and have finally decided to register in order to pose a question to you.
    What is the best way to restore yellowed Lego Bricks? Specifically I have some Classic Space sets that I have recently acquired that I would like to look display worthy.

  8. Deus

    So what does the “A” in your name stand for? Also, is Lemur short for something? Like Lemuropold or something?

  9. Castleguy121

    I am amazed you could bring up the subject of buying individual parts without mentioning Bricklink or Brickowl. They are superior by far to the PAB wall unless you want extremely large quantities of a single piece, and also have a far wider selection of pieces. Is there any particular reason you decided to omit those two sites? (It’s impossible to have forgotten them, they are an essential part of the FOL community).

  10. hipp5

    Not to mention LUGBULK. The program obviously has some restrictions around it, but it’s definitely one way to have a large enough collection to do some major displays.

  11. Buffalorand

    Old grey vs. new or ‘bley’ grey is a dead subject for most fans and as time passes the subject dies for more and more. Old grey has been used as accent by the savvy builders – just peruse the BB pages for fantastic examples – and most collectors and builders separated out the two a long time ago so as to save their own sanity when building MOC’s. It is a hard time consuming process. Occasionally one will find a piece they missed when looking for just the right piece and find it in hard way but progress comes with sacrifices. As for progress and sacrifices…on to the subject of gender stereo-typing: I am very happy for the FEW who see this as an issue worth debating since those who do live in a society where the luxury of such a debate exists. Carry on with your bad selves.

  12. Dave

    Rumor has it that the PAB wall policies may be changing. This may make that outlet significantly less effective for amassing large amounts of the same piece at a reasonable cost.

  13. dodge

    @Travisco_nabisco – The bigger question (for the non-youtube roving generation) is how to restore our white bricks to their original luster!? The moral in my white brick bucket is so low whenever I add in some new bricks. The ones I’ve had around for years, now weathered and tinged cry themselves to sleep at the sight of these new, pristine white bricks! Help us Lemur, HELP US!!!

  14. sparkythedragon

    Is LEGO gender stereotyping? That’s a very loaded question, which is why Lemur probably didn’t touch on the subject much. Is it worth discussing? Absolutely!

    Here’s my take: The Friends line is an OPTION. LEGO does not force girls to get the sets, nor do the police boys from getting them. We could discuss day and night over the minidoll vs. the minifig… But according to LEGO, they playtested both with girls (yes, I realize that portion was gendered), and found that the panel (mostly consisting of girls that never played with LEGO before) preferred the dolls over the figs. We can at least give LEGO the credit that they made the line and characters on the same scale, therefore making accessories interchangeable… Which many fans can admit that the increased amount of parts and colors is wonderful when it comes to MOCs (there have been no more complaints of “killing purple”).

    But ultimately we have to admit that LEGO, when it comes to the Friends line (and extensions of), that they are no more gender stereotyping than the consumers that purchase them. If it was a huge, glaring issue, the line would have been a flop (think Clikits and Belleville, to name a few), rather than one of the most successful lines outside of City and SW. At least LEGO got it right in terms of providing more focus on building and reaching girls that would otherwise not think of LEGO as an option and getting them to build. With other non-licensed lines, TLG has gotten closer to a 3 male:1female ratio, which could be improved, but at least shows progress.

    From my perspective, I have seen parents force their kids towards or away from lines based off of gender (not TLG’s fault). I have also seen girls getting anything but friends, and boys getting excited over the Princess line (not including the Frozen set). As for myself, as a male AFOL, have already gotten all of the Elves due to the pieces and colors, along with a smattering of Friends and Princess sets. I dislike the minidolls, personally, but I have not found it difficult to find children of friends and family that gladly take them (even when I offer duplicates of minifigs, even licensed ones). To a degree I feel that some sets add pinks and purple for the sake of having the colors, but I gladly embrace the color variety and new pieces that have made their way into my collection as a result of those lines.

    Is TLG gender stereotyping? Perhaps, but no more than the consumers and the societies that they operate within already do.

  15. Magnus

    The grey color change was a mistake and handled poorly. The new shades (dark and light) are obviously brighter and look more metallic, whereas the old ones represent stone and rock better. It would have been nice if they could have introduced the new greys without getting rid of the old ones.

    Speaking for myself, I will say that the color change was one of key reasons I stopped building in the Castle theme and got into Military.

  16. LukeClarenceVan

    I find LEGO is doing a lot to avoid enforcing any gender stereotypes. Despite men being generally stronger and better suited to lifting people out of buildings, LEGO has several front-line women firefighters. Despite the majority of prisoners being men, LEGO has recently made a bandit woman. I think it would be very hard for anyone to back-up an argument against LEGO’s gender policies.

    On a lighter note, I think we’ve figured out that the Lemur definitely isn’t Nannan. He’d never bite a bley LEGO piece. ;)

  17. JW

    So long as Lego continues to sell girl-targeted Legos in this aisle over here, and boy-targeted Legos in that aisle over there, the issue of sexism in Lego’s offerings will continue to be a serious one. If you do not feel up to handling discussion of the issue, then don’t bring it up, and don’t evade the answer by having a cutsey fictional mascot say awful things like, “You all look alike to me.”

    Actually, a better way of handling it would be to add some people to your team who do feel able to handle discussion of the issue. Diversity improves us all.

  18. jaster


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