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I have seen the Electric, Plug Holder 4.5V/12V on bricklink a few times and have often wondered what it is for.

[Electric, Plug Holder 4.5V/12V

According to Bricklink, it was only ever produced in Light Gray and appeared in 3 sets between 1987 and 1992.

Two of the sets were just Service type sets containing cables and small elements with no instructions or suggestion of usage of the Electric, Plug Holder 4.5V/12V itself.

However, it also appeared in set 9700 Technic Control Center. Unfortunately neither Peeron nor LetsBuildItAgain have a listing for the instructions. So I can't see the step where any of the 5 that were included with this set are used.

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Well, it holds plugs, right? –  Joubarc Feb 27 '13 at 7:42
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

While researching information for this question, I stumbled upon the answer but thought I would post anyway to share my findings.

The Bricklink entry for the 9700 Technic Control Center set has a secondary picture which is the front cover of the instruction booklet. 9700 Technic Control Center instruction booklet

The 5 Electric, Plug Holder 4.5V/12V elements can be seen in use as holders for the shorter wires connecting to the motors that make up the model. Using the holders provides easy access to plug in longer wires from the control center unit. The holders are necessary because, unlike the connections on later 9v wires that can be built into a model like standard pieces, the connections on the older 12v/4.5v wires cannot.

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So basically it serves to hold plugs in place when they aren't plugged in anything, typically when extending wires. Contrast with the alternate build for set 7745 where the plugs just lie there inelegantly. In a way, I suppose you could compare this part to the new pneumatic connector which holds pneumatic tubes firmly into place. Of course, electricity tends to make wires move less. –  Joubarc Feb 27 '13 at 9:28
    
Also, notice the coloured plugs and tiles. As the plug holder holdes the plug connecting to the motor into place, you can safely remove the ones coming from your control center, and you won't have any problem knowing which one goes where thanks to the colouring scheme. –  Joubarc Feb 27 '13 at 9:32
    
@Joubarc Indeed - this attention to enabling the wires to be connected and disconnected is likely due to this being a dacta set and so will get a lot of use. Those coloured plugs are also unique to this set as far as I can tell. –  mcqwerty Feb 27 '13 at 18:36
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