Friday, May 9, 2008

The taxonomy of LEGO

Organizing LEGO bricks and plates is a challenge. You've got a lot of options. You can sort by color, size, shape, or some complex combination of filing that only you can access and understand.

I settle for matching color and trying to sort from smallest to biggest. Before the containers are half-full, I am already beginning to think on how I may improve on the next iteration. LEGO organization says a lot about your style of building. The key is to figure out how to make your pieces accessible even as you build your collection.

At it's base level, the sorting and storing of LEGO bricks is a status symbol. If you've got enough LEGO bricks that you need an entire room for storage, then you're a bona fide fan. But it always starts small. A tub here, or a portable series of plastic containers- it's just a corner of the living room, honest. But then there's a sale or a store liquidation and suddenly the guest bedroom has a few rubbermaid containers under the bed. For now, I'm still trying to work through the first tub and figure out just what pieces I have to use.

After two hours, my neck is stiff and I've got a slight headache. The Sterilite tub of LEGO pieces is still more than half full. My hands and finger joints feel tight and I suddenly feel old at 30. But I'm smiling because I realize we're going to need a lot more storage containers.


Brian Jay Jones said...

I'm a Lego Amateur myself, but I've been messing with them for close to 35 years now, and I'll give you one man's opinion on sorting. Ready?

My brother and I always sorted by "model" rather than color -- that is, the "flat" pieces all went together (until they were 1-by-2 or smaller, in which case they were all sorted together with the teeny pieces), the "bricks" (2-by-2 or larger) went together, as did the "half-bricks," which can be of any length, but are only "one wide." All the "specialty pieces" go in one spot -- the wheels and round pieces and "computers" and ramps and antennas and so on -- as do the "teeny" pieces, generally the flat 1-by-one pieces, including the clear "lights" and the pieces with hooks and so on.

Of course, that's on the Amateur Circuit. I'll be interesting in hearing how the pros do it....

Jonathan Bender said...

It sounds like you were close to a pro even as a kid. Each person's system of organization really seems to be dependent on their building style and whether they're packaging bricks for resale.

Brian Jay Jones said...

RESALE? *gasp!*