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Joost answered eloquently, but I'd like to add that while 44302 and 44301 were made to replace the finger hinge they wont work in all situations. The geometry of 4275 and 4276 allowed useful techniques - you could use it to reverse studs by 180 degrees in a small amount of space, 90 degrees, and more. The new pieces can't do the same, which is a shame. ...


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You also have to factor in the LEGO bricks like the NXT intelligent brick, which costs $150 alone.


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What I remembered of those parts was that force was needed to snap them together, and I believe I also have some that are broken over the years. The part was introduced in 1983, updated in 1985 and the last sets were released in 2002 with one set in 2004. In 2003 the parts are replaced by Hinge Plate 1 x 2 Locking with Dual Finger on End Vertical' (44302) ...


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Almost assuredly it is a move to reduce the amount of plastic used. It may seem inconsequential, but adding up hundreds of millions of these makes for a ton of savings. The same thing goes for the brick walls, but not in the case of the ones you show here. I haven't seen it in any 1x bricks, but in most 2x bricks these days, the walls are a tiny bit thinner ...



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