History of ‘LEGO Brick Labels’
LEGO Brick Labels started in October 2013 when I purchased the #21050 LEGO Architecture Studio set. The set contains 1200 1White and 40Transparent Trans-Clear LEGO bricks which are perfect for building your own LEGO Architecture creations (including my LEGO Architecture 30-day challenge.) I started off with four Plano boxes, and quickly graduated to the Akro-Mils drawer cabinets with simple labels on each drawer.
Two months later, I purchased 50 pounds of LEGO on craigslist while visiting family in Virginia for Christmas. My goal was to separate out the most valuable sets, and keep the rest of the bricks to create my own LEGO models. I knew that the only practical way to do this was to carefully sort all of the bricks so I could find the parts needed for each set. This began my quest to learn how to sort a lot of LEGO efficiently, and figure out how to store all the bricks once they were sorted.
It did not take long for me to conclude storing your sorted bricks in clear plastic drawers makes it easy to find them when you need them. My favorite storage solution is the Akro-Mils cabinets which come with either 64 small drawers, 24 large drawers, or a combination of 32 small and 12 large drawers. Since most common LEGO components are very small, I find the small drawers are more useful as they take up less space. The large drawers are useful for larger parts which are very common, like the ubiquitous 2×4 LEGO brick.
Unfortunately, it is pretty hard to find the drawer you need when they are not labeled. That’s why I designed a collection of LEGO brick labels. I use the Brother P-touch printer because the labels are printed on a durable plastic material, and the adhesive sticks well to the plastic drawers. (The printer connects to your Mac or Windows PC.)
I decided to share my labels with other LEGO enthusiasts, because they are time consuming to make and I hoped that they would be helpful to others. This is when my “Brick Labels” version 1.0 was born. I know that LEGO Brick Labels is the best way to organize and label a large LEGO collection, because LEGO Fans from around the world continue to show their appreciation for the project!
The following history is in reverse chronological order (newest updates at the top), and focuses on the key new features and new parts categories included in each update. (The “VERSION_xx.txt” file included when you download LEGO Brick Labels includes a list of part ID’s added to each update since December 2015.)
September 17, 2020: Version 35 adds 77 new labels for a total of 1340 parts!
This is a very large update which reflects the continued evolution of the LEGO Brick Labels collection.
Major changes in this update:
- To keep the core collection focused on current parts, I have moved 44 retired parts to a separate folder. (Technic and Vehicle categories have not been thoroughly scrubbed for retired parts yet.)
- I added a new folder “ELECTRONICS” because this update includes labels for all of the new “Powered Up” hubs, motors, & sensors. (Every part in the new #45678 LEGO Education Spike Prime set is now included in the collection.)
- The “MINIFIGURE” now offers both the option of “category-level” labels for Minifig parts (ex: Tools, Weapons, Hair), as well as the option of sorting the most common pieces by part (with 18 new part-specific labels).
- This is the first update that includes a few “new” labels for long-retired classic parts, specifically the classic “3-finger” hinges of the 80’s and 90’s. (Per request by Robert Dickson and many others.)
P.S. In the interest of simplicity, I’ve removed the ‘.’ from version numbers, so this is simply version 35. (This is technically the 24th update in just over 6 years, since I skipped some decimals along the way.)
June 5, 2020: Version 3.4 adds 66 new labels for a total of 1263 parts! As always, this update includes new parts from recent years. It also ensures that the top 800 most-common parts are included in the list (unless it is highly specialized part without widespread utility). It also includes a thorough analysis of sets released in the past 10 years, to see if any of them have become common enough to include in the collection.
In future releases, I will move more ‘retired’ labels into a separate folder. This is necessary to ensure the main collection remains an accurate reflection of the most common parts available to builders today.
May 8, 2020: Added question about using Black labels to the FAQ. (Thanks to Shannon Peel for the photo.)
March 30, 2020: Added an FAQ to the main page at brickarchitect.com/labels. This was inspired by learning that the Brother P-Touch application for Mac will not print a full 11 ¾″ strip of labels with the ‘PT-D600’ printer. (Thanks to Lauren & Gabriela for helping me diagnose this issue.)
March 13, 2020: Significant Webpage Updates. The page to learn about LEGO Brick Labels and download them hadn’t been updated in 4 years! The updated page is shorter, easier to read, includes an up-to-date list of compatible Brother label printers, and encourages readers to visit my LEGO Storage Guide to learn more about storage solutions.
January 19, 2020: Version 3.3 adds 74 new labels for a total of 1197 labels! This update adds popular new elements from late 2019 and a few extremely useful parts which were just introduced in 2020. It also includes some parts that you requested, and older parts which continue to grow slowly in popularity.
(You can learn more about my criteria for adding labels to the collection in the release notes.)
I’ve also ensured that the top 600 most common parts from sets 2015-2019 are included in the collection. (Excluding weapons; they are already covered by generic labels for Guns, Swords, etc…) You can see the top 600 parts list here: 600 Most Common LEGO Parts. (The previous update only verified that the top 500 parts were included.)
I’m also trying something new—there are some less common parts like “Flex Axles” which come in several sizes. Rather than create a label for each size, I created one regular label, plus a key showing the part ID for each size. (I recommend putting the label on the outside of the drawer, and the key on the inside of the drawer.)
June 23, 2019: Version 3.2 includes 1124 labels! This update adds popular new elements from 2018 and early 2019, all of the Roller Coaster elements, a few parts that people have requested, and some common parts I had missed. (My article 2019 Most Common LEGO Parts“includes a list of the top 500 parts, so I’ve made sure they are all in the collection.)
I’ve also improved label text using extended unicode characters: replacing letter “x” with the multiplication sign “×”, compact fractions for 1/2, 1/3, 2/3, 1/4, 3/4 etc… (‘½’, ‘⅓’, ‘⅔’, ‘¼’, ‘¾’ at 9pt font), degree symbol for slopes (‘°’), and hair spaces (‘ ’) as needed to improve legibility. This makes the labels a little smaller and easier to read. This resulted in minor changes to most labels, but there is no need to re-print all of your labels for these minor improvements.
P.S. Apologies for the delay in releasing this update… (I’ve been busy defending my LEGO collection from the new addition to our family—he’s almost 9 months old now!)
April 4, 2018: Version 3.1 adds 48 new labels for a total of 1069 labels! This version focuses on two things: New parts released since last fall, and “common” parts which haven’t been added yet. This ended up including a lot of propeller parts, as they are quite common and were not included in the collection until now.
I define parts as “common” if they are included in more than 30 sets, currently in production, and useful to a broad range of LEGO builders. I am more generous with Technic parts, as a lot fewer sets are released every year, and more strict for Minifig accessories or Bionicle parts – only creating labels if those parts can easily be used in other ways.
September 6, 2017: Version 3.0 is a major update to the collection, adding 66 new labels, for a total of 1021 different labels!
This version also includes the following improvements: 1) Easier to understand file and folder names. 2) Increased consistency of spacing between labels. 3) Consistent scale for related LEGO elements, most visible with the Basic LEGO bricks collection. 4) I created a separate folder containing only those labels which are new for this version.
- January 5, 2017: Version 2.8 adds 55 new labels, for a total of 955 different labels! The focus this time is on Minifigures, Animals, Minifig Accessories, Plants, and Nature. For this update, I made a decision to offer broad categories in some cases, such as generic categories for “Mammals”, “Guns”, or “Skis & Minifig Footwear”. With such a large (and growing!) number of relatively rare accessories and weapons, it doesn’t make sense to use a whole drawer for each unique minifig accessory. If you have a much larger collection that I do, or are running a BrickLink Store, you might want to sort your collection by specific accessory.
- August 30, 2016: Version 2.7 update adds 50 new labels, for a total of 900 labels! There has been a focus on the many new elements released in the past couple years. I have done analysis of the most common elements based on currently available sets, ensuring the most common elements are already in the Label collection. To see the analysis, visit http://brickarchitect.com/bricks/. (The new labels are scattered across many different files, so please copy/paste only the labels you need before printing.)
- May 19, 2016: Version 2.6 is an unexpectedly MAJOR UPDATE, adding 78 new labels! (For a total of 850 labels!) The biggest change is the addition of a whole new collection – Wheels and Tires! This update also adds some common Bionicle / Constraction parts for model building. (NOTE: It is unlikely that I will ever add the more obscure Bionicle / Hero Factory parts representing faces, heads, hands, torso, armor, and other humanoid forms.)
- May 3, 2016: Version 2.5 adds 31 new labels. I used data to ensure that the most common LEGO elements really are included in the label collection. I looked at only parts which were included in sets released since 2010. (Thanks to Huw @ Brickset for a good dataset to start with…) This analysis revealed some important gaps like #4599 1×1 Tap, #30153 Diamond w/ stick, #4079 Minifig Seat, #6126 Flame, #64567 Lightsaber Handle, #4349 Megaphone, #4697 Pneumatic T-piece. Even with this update, there are a few common parts which are still missing.
- April 27, 2016: Version 2.4 adds 13 new labels and fixed minor consistency issues.
- April 19, 2016: Version 2.3 includes 82 new labels, completing the TECHNIC label collection.
- February 9, 2016: Version 2.2 includes 52 new labels, including a lot of new Panels and Windows. I also updated the “contact sheet” with the new labels.
- December 13, 2015: Version 2.1 includes 43 new labels, and a convenient “contact sheet” that you can print to help you organize your bricks.
- November 1, 2015: Version 2.0 doubled the number of labels in the collection. Labels are now organized into groups of related elements: Basic Elements (bricks, plates, tiles), SNOT Elements, Slopes, Wedges, Round, Curved, Clips/Hinges. Two additional groups are in “beta” because they aren’t complete: Technic, and ‘Other’. (I also moved the website to http://brickarchitect.com/labels/)
- January 31, 2015: Version 1.8 includes 40 new labels! NEW: bricks_large, wedge_plate, wedge_brick, door_rails. UPDATED: fence, bricks_curved_more, cones, slopes_3
- January 16, 2015: Version 1.7 includes fixed scripts to create your own brick label images using LDraw app. (also adds labels for some additional slope pieces.)
- November 17, 2014: Version 1.6 adds 32 labels to the collection. (hinges, turntables, click hinges, clips, and handles)
- September 30, 2014: Version 1.5 adds about 30 labels to the collection. (This is also when I moved the label collection to
- September 17, 2014: Added a table of compatible Brother label printers at the bottom of this article.
- September 13, 2014: Version 1.4 improves consistency and quality of text + images throughout the “All Labels” collection. This version also adds 8 new panel types, technic_pin_axle_connectors, and technic_misc labels.
- September 10, 2014: Version 1.3 adds many of the most common Technic parts including: Pins, Axles, Technic Bricks, Ball + Socket, Technic Plates + Rotors, Connectors. Gears, Pulleys and other specialty parts will need to wait for another day.
- May 30, 2014: Version 1.2 of this collection now includes most of the labels for a large general-purpose LEGO collection. Let me know if you like it by leaving a comment. Missing some important parts, let me know. In my next update, I hope to add common Technics pieces.
- April 2, 2014: Version 1.0/1.1 included labels for all of the parts in the 21050 / Architecture Studio set, plus a few additional common bricks.
The following resouces have been useful when researching LEGO Brick Labels…
- holly-wood.it “Adding unofficial LDraw parts to MLCad.” 2014.
Instructions to add unofficial LEGO parts in bulk.
- Ryan Howerter, “Color List.” 2015-Present.
The most complete guide to LEGO Colors through history. Also see his excellent Photo Gallery of rare colors
- Christoph Bartneck “The curious case of LEGO colors.” 2016.
Expanding on Ryan’s work, the Peeron Database, and other sources, Christoph examines the mismatching CMYK, RGB, and Pantone colors cited for common LEGO colors. (No clear answers, but good analysis.)