The Secret Language of LEGO: Decoding the Brick Culture’s Jargon

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If you’re new to the world of LEGO, you might feel like you’re learning a whole new language. From “minifigures” to “translight,” the LEGO community has its own unique jargon that can seem like a secret code to outsiders. But fear not! Understanding these terms is the key to unlocking the rich culture and history behind everyone’s favorite building bricks. So let’s dive in and explore the fascinating origins and evolution of LEGO lingo.

The Origins and Evolution of LEGO Terminology

Classic LEGO Terms and Their Roots

Joining the LEGO community means learning a new language of weird and wonderful words. There’s a whole dictionary of iconic LEGO jargon to wrap your head around. But once you know the roots and origins behind these classic terms, you’ll be fluent in brick lingo in no time.

Minifigure

These tiny LEGO dudes are the real stars of the show. At just 4cm tall, “minifigures” have been around since 1978, becoming the adorable mascots of the LEGO brand. They’ve gotten fancier looks over time, making them must-have collectibles for fans.

Clutch Power

The magic words that explain why LEGO bricks stick together so darn well. The “clutch” is that hollow tube inside each brick that grips onto the studs tightly. Thanks to LEGO’s precision, this “clutch power” lets you build towering creations without them falling apart.

Brickgreen

If there’s one color that screams “LEGO!”, it’s this iconic green shade known as “brickgreen.” Dating back to 1963, it’s the OG LEGO color that reminds fans of those nostalgic LEGO City, Space, and Creator sets. Brickgreen is the brand’s signature hue.

Prickhead

A fitting punk rock name for those spikey hairpieces LEGO dudes sport. “Prickhead” styles like mohawks and horns gave minifigures a cool, rebellious edge when they dropped in the 70s. These daring ‘dos let builders get creative with awesome character designs.

Baseplate

The flat plastic base every builder needs to get started. “Baseplates” provide a solid foundation to construct on and make it easy to move your creations without them crumbling. From small to massive sizes, these plates are a LEGO essential.

Bricklink

Not just a term, but the popular online marketplace where LEGO fans buy, sell and trade pieces galore. Launched in 2000 by enthusiasts, “Bricklink” lets you score those rare and retired elements to complete or customize your sets.

Modulex

Back in the 60s, LEGO released these huge, hollow “Modulex” bricks that allowed for mega-scale building. With all that interior space, these big boys enabled incredible detail and sparked iconic Space and Castle themed sets.

Maxifigure

Like minifigures, but supersized! “Maxifigures” tower at 8-10 inches with intricate designs and poseable limbs. First seen in the 90s Belville line, they’re the larger-than-life way to depict superheroes and licensed characters.

Studplate

A hybrid baseplate covered in studs to build directly on. “Studplates” seamlessly integrate your creations with the base, adding versatility to LEGO construction techniques in all kinds of colors and stud configurations.

Translight

The see-through bricks that let light pass through for cool lighting effects. “Translights” in clear, red, blue and more colors are perfect for windows, windshields and lenses to make LEGO models look extra realistic.

The Evolution of LEGO Language

As LEGO has grown and evolved over the decades, so too has its language. Many terms have emerged to describe new products, themes, and building techniques. For example, the term “SNOT” (Studs Not On Top) refers to a specific building style where studs are facing sideways or downwards, creating interesting textures and shapes

Meanwhile, certain themes like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Ninjago have spawned their own unique LEGO terminology, like “Sith Lord” minifigures or “Bionicle” action figures.

The Rise of Online Communities

The rise of online LEGO communities has also played a significant role in shaping and spreading LEGO jargon. Forums, social media groups, and websites like BrickLink have become hubs for LEGO fans to connect, share creations, and discuss all things brick-related. This has led to the rapid dissemination and popularization of certain terms within the community.

A quick look at Google Trends data reveals the growing interest in LEGO jargon over the years, with terms like “minifigure” and “baseplate” seeing consistent search volume globally.

JMBricklayer JMB-Lego Jargons-the google trend of minifigure and baseplate

The Impact in the Community

Facilitating Communication and Connection

One of the primary roles of LEGO jargon is to facilitate communication and connection within the LEGO community. These shared terms act as a sort of shorthand, allowing fans to quickly convey ideas, techniques, and preferences without lengthy explanations.

Online forums and comment sections are filled with discussions revolving around LEGO terminology, whether it’s debating the merits of different “clutch power” levels or sharing tips on customizing “minifigures.”

Building a Distinct Subculture

Beyond just communication, LEGO jargon has helped create a distinct subculture within the LEGO fan base. These shared terms foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie, reinforcing the idea that LEGO enthusiasts are part of a unique and passionate community.

The use of insider lingo also adds an element of exclusivity, further strengthening the bond among LEGO fans and setting them apart from the mainstream.

JMBricklayer JMB-Lego Jargons-what is lego subculture

Attracting and Retaining New Fans

Importantly, LEGO jargon can also serve as a gateway for newcomers to the hobby. By learning and adopting these terms, new fans can more easily integrate into the community, feel a sense of belonging, and deepen their appreciation for LEGO culture.

The accessibility of LEGO terminology lowers the barrier to entry, making the community more welcoming and inclusive. As new fans become familiar with terms like “minifigures” and “clutch power,” they gain confidence to engage in discussions, share their creations, and fully immerse themselves in the LEGO world.

LEGO Jargon and Corporate Strategy

For the LEGO company itself, jargon has become an essential part of its marketing language. A lot of terms are prominently featured in product descriptions, advertisements, and even set names, helping to reinforce the brand’s identity and appeal to dedicated fans.

Promoting New Themes and Series

LEGO also strategically introduces new terminology to promote its latest themes and product lines. For instance, the “Ninjago” series brought terms like “Spinjitzu” and “Golden Weapons” into the LEGO lexicon, while the “Bionicle” line popularized words like “Toa” and “Makuta.”

By creating unique jargon for each theme, LEGO not only generates excitement among existing fans but also attracts new audiences who are drawn to the sense of immersion and world-building.

Engaging with the Fan Community

Moreover, LEGO’s use of fan-centric terminology helps the company better engage with its passionate community. By adopting and embracing the same language as its fans, LEGO demonstrates its understanding and appreciation of the culture surrounding its products.

This strategic use of jargon fosters a closer connection between the company and its customer base, encouraging loyalty and fostering a sense of co-creation.

The Impact on the Secondary Market

Describing Product Condition

In the thriving world of LEGO reselling and collecting, jargon plays a crucial role in accurately describing the condition of products. Terms like “NISB” (New In Sealed Box) and “MISB” (Mint In Sealed Box) help sellers communicate the pristine state of their items, while “used” and “loose” indicate pre-owned or disassembled sets.

Influencing Pricing

The specific terminology used can also significantly impact pricing in the secondary market. A “rare” or “retired” set, for instance, can command a premium price among collectors, while a “bricklinked” creation (built using parts from various sources) may be more affordable.

JMBricklayer JMB-Lego Jargons-retired sets

Essential Knowledge for New Collectors

For those new to the world of LEGO collecting and reselling, mastering the relevant jargon is essential. Understanding terms like “brick-built” (constructed from individual bricks), “sticker sheet” (adhesive decorations), and “fig” (short for minifigure) can help navigate listings, negotiate prices, and communicate effectively with fellow enthusiasts.

Conclusion

As you can see, LEGO jargon is more than just a collection of quirky words – it’s a rich tapestry that reflects the passion, creativity, and camaraderie of the LEGO community. From the iconic “minifigure” to the latest theme-specific terms, this shared language has played a vital role in shaping LEGO culture, fostering connections, and attracting new generations of fans.

So, whether you’re a seasoned LEGO veteran or a newcomer just starting your brick-building journey, embrace the jargon! Learn the lingo, use it proudly, and let it be your gateway into the fascinating world of LEGO. After all, as this ever-evolving language continues to grow and change, who knows what new and exciting terms await in the future?

JMB-Samon

JMB-Samon

My fascination with building blocks isn't just about creating structures, but about the stories each piece can tell. For me, building blocks are a way of expressing my inner world.

33 Responses

  1. Prickhead is the most creative jargon term to me. Really, nothing beats a prickhead! This term suits my ex boss perfectly!

    1. “Prickhead” is certainly a creative and humorous term, though it’s best used with discretion and in appropriate contexts.

  2. My kids have a whole shelf of minifigures or minifigs that we cut baseplates to where fhey can stand up. I feel like these arensome of the more common terms and easily usable ones.

  3. I’ve always been a fan of BURPs and LURPs. Big Ugly Rock Pieces and Little Ugly Rock Pieces. Those formed rock structures that were everywhere in the late ’90s.

      1. I do “seven plate scale” so a person is seven plates tall, and you can make some neat figures with just the tiny one by one parts and some plates and brackets. Nanoscale is too small for me usually.

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