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Is there a way to know if Lego has officially stopped making a certain Lego element?

As an example, from the 580 Lego set, I haven't seen this conveyor belt (along with those wheels and the "Legoland" stamped brick, etc) since the 1970's, so I assume it's out of production:

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But is there any official word from Lego that certain elements are no longer in production?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If a part hasn't been included in a set for some time, there's always a chance it may be in a future set. It's unlikely that a part that was last seen in a set over 30 years ago would still be in production. Bricklink will list the years the part was included in a set.

  • Certain elements may have been replaced by a superior mold for one more reasons. The old round 1x1 brick was replaced with a brick of the same name which had an open stud.

    Old moldNew mold

  • In some cases an element (a faulty piece of electronic equipment/pneumatics) may be recalled by The Lego Group and replaced with an updated part. Lego would no longer product a part that was hazardous or faulty. A list of currently recalled products can be found on LEGO's customer support site.

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2  
It might not be entirely accurate, but it seems the majority of parts found in this search query are discontinued. –  Ambo100 Feb 16 '12 at 16:47
    
That's a pretty good search query. –  LarsTech Feb 16 '12 at 18:00
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Yes a good example of parts re-appearing are the Technic ski-poles that have reappeared on the latest X-wing model. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Feb 16 '12 at 22:52
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The cost for producing an old element again is presumably lower than the cost to develop a new element altogether, as long as the molds still exist (monorail parts molds are rumoured to have been destroyed, for example). –  Joubarc Feb 17 '12 at 10:15
    
Given that the molds get worn out and need to be replaced after so many production runs, I think you can safely assume that a part is out of production if it hasn't been used in a set for at least 10 years - maybe less. Lego do have an internal 'bible' of parts that designers can use, but they haven't published this. –  Frankie Roberto Dec 20 '12 at 15:17

I don't know about official word, but according to BrickLink, that Conveyor Belt hasn't been included as part of a set since 1975, so I think it's safe to say that it's not in production any more.

However, if you're looking to buy one, people are selling them.

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The best way to get an authoritative answer would be to contact the LEGO customer service and ask if you can get a replacement for the part. They do have the necessary software to check if a part is available or not, but you'll need to describe the part as unambiguously as possible. Also, they may not always make a distinction between different versions of a part if there is no functionnal difference.

I believe LEGO certified professionals may have access to that information too, but if they do it's extremely likely that they are bound by a non-disclosure agreement about it.

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Sadly asking for replacement parts isn't (wasn't) a guaranteed way to check as some parts are not available for replacement - I bought a damaged box from a supermarket that was missing a hinge plate [part:6134:4] . LCS were unable to supply a replacement as "not all parts are available as replacements as the inventory we'd need to carry would be huge". This was some time ago, so things may have changed. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Feb 17 '12 at 11:42
    
Honestly, I translate what you were told as "Sorry, that part is currently not in production". I'm fairly sure you can order most parts currently in production, with some specific exceptions. They don't have a separate inventory for replacement parts, it comes straight from their regular stock. –  Joubarc Feb 17 '12 at 11:56
    
Well, the part in question had been in almost constant production since 1991 in the colour I needed :( –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Feb 17 '12 at 12:48
    
Hummm... indeed, that element doesn't look like it could have been out of production at any time. So either you managed to call at a time when it was not in production if there ever was such a time (maybe end 2005?), either I'm utterly wrong (it has happened before). –  Joubarc Feb 17 '12 at 13:05
    
Either of those are possible - it was some time ago, and things may have changed - however I got the impression from the response that they generally had access to "common missing elements" and the stuff from Pick-a-Brick, which was much more limited than it is now - it was back around 2002/3/4 IIRC ;) –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Feb 17 '12 at 13:24

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