We are sad to hear that Erling Thue Dideriksen, LEGO designer that has contributed a number of iconic elements, including the headlight brick that was named after him – passed on quietly on 1st March 2023 in Billund, Denmark. Erling was born on 14 November 1944 and was 78 years of age.
The popular element that Erling designed and the one that LEGO fans may be able to relate to is the Headlight brick, also known as the Washing Machine brick. Within the LEGO custom creation community it’s also known as the Erling brick, one of few LEGO elements that has its own special reference name associated to it by LEGO fans, acknowledging the designer.
The element is popular for being able to create builds sideways instead of just a stacking approach, which is more popular known as SNOT (Studs-Not-On-Top) techniques. The official name of the element is the Angular Brick 1×1, with a LEGO Element Design ID 4070 designed in 1979.
Erling was also the Chief Designer for the LEGO City Theme and a patent holder for at least over 25 other designs listed. Based on the first patented element that we could trace back to 1976 and Erling’s last working day in 2004, his career spans over 28 years with the LEGO Group.
The element designed by Erling was designed functionally to be a headlight brick. Sets issued in 1978 and prior, such as the LEGO 420 police car featured a printed bricks for headlights. With the introduction of the new element in 1979, vehicles could now be slightly ever more accurate with the attachment of a transparent 1×1 plate attached to the front of the brick. With so much contribution to the world of LEGO, the headlight brick is one that LEGO fans all over the world will remember him fondly for.
Over the years the Erling brick eventually became such an important element, especially when used in complex designs that it became the representation of the Creator Expert Series in 2015. Made up of 6 pieces of the headlight bricks put together in the shape of a 3 dimensional cube – highlighting the complex yet elegant way they all fit together.
— LEGO España (@LEGO_Spa) June 26, 2015
Although LEGO has now since retired the the Creator Expert Series branding, the unique logo still lives on in some of LEGO’s website artefacts to date.
The fact that this 1×1 brick named after its inventor by beloved fans and is featured in over 2380 sets (and counting) after 40 years and 37 different color shades – speaks for how essential to any LEGO build is, and we have Erling Thue Dideriksen to thank for. Rest in peace fellow LEGO friend. You may not know the many fans you’ve inspired over the decades but your legacy and contribution will always be remembered and live on for generations to come.