Classic is an adjective used by the LEGO community to describe both an era and a style of design of LEGO sets. The term appears to have been popularized first amongst fans of Classic Space and then by Classic-Castle fans.
The Classic Era
Heavily influenced by the nostalgia of AFOLs in the late 20th and early 21st century, the Classic era of LEGO is usually defined as the time from the introduction of the minifig to the early 1990's. For many fans the introduction of non-smiley minifig faces and an increase in the use of juniorized elements were the hallmarks of the post-classic era.
Characteristics of "Classic" style sets
The different themes contain specific design elements which distinguish the classic style.
There are three design elements of the classic town style:
- colour - sets use predominantly the basic colours red, blue, yellow, black and white. Green is usually restricted to baseplates or plants.
- lack of a fourth wall - houses and other buildings are built with a maximum of three walls. These facades allow for easy play access from the back.
- 4-wide vehicles - cars and trucks in classic sets are built four studs wide as opposed to six-studs wide
There are two design elements of the classic space style:
- colour - sets use predominantly the basic colours blue and grey.
- blockiness - the spaceships and buildings produced for classic-space sets use rectangular bricks and some slopes to create blocky shapes.
The original pirates line is generally considered to be the last of the classic lines and marked the end of the era. Captain Redbeard and other characters in this theme were the first minifigs that did not have plain smiley heads. The use of castle wall and ships hull elements are sometimes considered to have reduced the creative possibilities of the pirate sets.