While I am on a Classic Space kick, I thought that I would write a bit about a few of my favorite elements from that era. In this post, I will be talking about the Classic Space control panel bricks—at least that is how I think of them. Yes, I know, these came to be used in many other types of sets as well. Still, they evoke Classic Space for me. In this post I will take a look at the original versions beginning in the early 1980s (actually 1979 to be exact).
The new lines introduced a wide range of new building elements, including the new control panel bricks. The new LEGOLAND Space sets were a watershed moment in the evolution of LEGO sets and a huge a step up in design from earlier sets with their much more limited part selection (compare them to sets such as the blocky Moon Landing set still in the LEGO catalogue as of the year before in 1978).
The computer panel bricks were printed 2x2 45 degree bricks, often called “roof” or “slope” bricks which date back to the 1950s. Part 3039, the 45 degree “bevelled” brick was released in 1959. The 3039 element was released in 1979 with new computer panel prints for the LEGOLAND Space theme. There were two different computer panel prints done on the 3039 2x2 brick, and each was done in two different colors. The first sets in 1979 came in both blue and grey (of course, we are talking about the “old” LEGO grey color (before the reformulation to what is typically called now referred to as “light bluish grey”). Later these computer panels would come in white as well and were included in a broad range of town and space sets from 1979 on. The white version was mostly found in town sets and the blue version mostly (but not exclusively) in Space sets. So that makes six different combinations.
Here they are with some more information on their production runs (based on the Bricklink database information):
Slope 45 2x2 with Computer Panel Pattern (Part No. 3039p34) (the “Button Panel”). According to Bricklink, this version had a release period from 1979 through 2001 and appeared in 67 sets. This version has a button panel on the left, a small monitor in the upper right hand corner with a panel of horizontal buttons below in the lower right hand corner.
Slope 45 2x2 with Computer Screen and Right Side Buttons Pattern (Part No. 3039p23) (the “Monitor Panel”). This element was in production from 1979 through 2003 and can be found in 71 sets. It has a larger monitor on the left hand side and three side buttons. And, while I must admit that I have never seen one, it appears that the Monitor Panel element was produced in red in one single set from 1985, the Delivery Center town set (Set No. 6377-1). If you have one in red, I would love to see a photo.
Blue Slope, Inverted 45 2 x 2 with Computer Screen and Left Side Buttons Pattern (Part No. 3660pb01). Of note is that there was actually a version of the inverted control panel that was only produced in 1979 and only appears in two sets from that year (in fact, two versions of the Alpha-1 Rocket Base set from 1979). It is different because the large monitor is on the right hand side when it is mounted, with the buttons on the left. If you have that set with this brick, I would also very much like to get a photo of that brick or any more information about how or why this variant exists.
Well, that concludes our in depth look at some old school control panel elements. If you are aware of any more information about these elements that may be of interest, I would love to get your comments and feedback.
Of course, there is no practical way that I could find the particular bricks from the set given that I now have several hundred thousand bricks in my collection. And it is quite possible that many of the bricks may have been lost by this time. That set was released in 1980 when I was six years old. However, I know that at least one particular piece from that actual set has remained with me all these years and I see it from time to time in a bin where it is stored (yes, kept for more than 40 years!). And there may be other distinctive parts—like the trans-green windshield and bricks or other printed bricks from the set—that I suppose I may get lucky and find. I have generally made a habit of segregating out some printed or unique older elements in my sorting and setting aside those older, special pieces when I run across them. So that is the first place that I will be looking. Then for the common bricks, I will try to stick to some level of fidelity by picking bricks in the “old grey” color as they would have been at the time. I may have to temper that against the time investment to gather the bricks if I can’t find a particular piece in the old color. The wheels should be easy, as I have a large bin of wheel components which I know has quite a few of older wheels used in the old Classic Space sets (i.e. the small ones with the red hubs). Well, I am embarking on this build and will update you later if I meet with success (or not).
I argued that Classic Space is the greatest LEGO theme of all time and deserves, hands down, to be in their Hall of Fame. It is iconic and beloved beyond all measure in the lives of many, many 1980s LEGO fans like myself. I would argue that it also was the springboard for LEGO's turn toward theme and subtheme differentiation in its sets. It is also synonymous with the launch of the minifigure itself. The classic space minifig is just about as iconic as anything else in the LEGO brand. There is a reason why Benny from the LEGO Movie serves to channel the nostalgia of AFOLs past. When I think of the "greatest" sets of all time, the Galaxy Explorer looms large in my mind. Certainly everyone has their favorites, as their entertaining discussion shows. Still, I suspect there are many like me who feel, with every fiber of their being, that Classic Space is the greatest theme of all time. It stands transcendent at the pinnacle of the Mount Everest of LEGO themes and smiles happily at all those who came after.
This post is about brick sorting and storage. A recent post featured my Spring 2020 castle build. As I said there, that build was due, in part, to the fact that I had so many grey bricks sorted (or at least assembled in one build) after I had done my Chartres Cathedral build. I did not want to "unsort" them by consigning them back to my build unsorted bulk brick bins. So I ended up trying to figure out a new sorting solution for those grey bricks (which ended up being very helpful in the castle build).