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The event that rocked the AFOL world

On this day 20 years ago an alarming discovery was made when the first 2004 sets started to appear in the shops in the USA. It was so shocking that it prompted many AFOLs to question whether they wanted to remain engaged in the hobby.

I am of course talking about the change to light and dark grey pieces. The colours were adjusted to remove the yellowish tinge, making them more neutral, or bluish as was subsequently coined. Brown was also changed, to look more reddish.

The reason that people were so upset was because they felt that the change effectively rendered their collection of the old colour pieces obsolete, and they would not be able to add to it. Plus, using the two colours together in the same model looked terrible.

The backlash prompted LEGO's Community Liaison manager at the time, Jake McKee, to post a message on Lugnet in May 2004 explaining why they were changed, how the company hoped "that the change would go fairly unnoticed" and to "apologise for our poor implementation".

It was shocking and upsetting at the time, but in hindsight, it was a change that needed to happen: grey pieces were becoming more prevalent, particularly in Star Wars, and the old colours looked unappealing, dirty and faded, although that was not apparent until they were compared with the new ones.

It's a shame that white was not adjusted too, because that still has a yellowish tinge to it, something that is particularly noticeable after applying white stickers to white parts.

For a couple of years after the change, I quarantined all the new grey pieces I acquired in sets and would not use them. It was not until 2006, when Exo Force was released, that I decided to make the switch to the new colours in my MOCs, primarily because of all the new elements that were being made in them. At that point, I quarantined the old ones, and I've only just recently sold them in bulk to a BrickLink seller.

You can read the initial post by Joe Meno containing this picture, and the subsequent furore, on Lugnet, the prevalent LEGO forum of the day.

Were you around at the time? What did you think about the change?

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