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I was curious and wondering: How many different types of Lego bricks have been produced since the start of the company in 1949?

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    How many different kinds of bricks... or how many bricks in total? An all-time tally of all bricks ever made would probably be in the trillions. Dec 28 '11 at 8:05
  • Edited question to be less ambiguous.
    – daviesgeek
    Dec 28 '11 at 18:14
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    If BrickLink toutes already 59,338 items in its "Parts" section, how would we consider 2,200 or 4,000 or 219 even nearly in the right ballpark? Apr 26 '20 at 6:08
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    I think that all the other answers are wrong since BL holds nearly 60,000 parts in its inventory and yet we say that 2,200 or 4,000 is right when it's not, as @SanderVerhagen said. This question is impossible to solve, and even if we say that 59,338 elements were made since we rely in BL, then we would still be somewhat wrong! There has to be some moment in history where BL messes up, no one is perfect!! I think this question should be closed!! May 22 '20 at 11:11
  • @SanderVerhagen We are looking for types of bricks. The 60,000 BL parts are not types. This similar question from 2016 asked for "shapes" which can mean "types". One example: Today, there are more than 4000 different minifig torsos in the BL part list (1 type, 4000 print patterns). So, 2000 to 4000 might even be an upper estimate for 2011 (the year of this question). It definitely is the right "ballpark".
    – Aziraphale
    May 26 '20 at 19:20
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Around 18,000 as of October, 2020

A 2020 article on Brickset discusses part numbers that give us a rough idea.

Design numbers identify the shape of the part. ... Our database contains around 18,000 design numbers but many more have been allocated over the years but are now out of use, following parts being discontinued or redesigned, at which point they are given a new one.

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One source places the number of different types of LEGO elements that have been made at 2,200. It is unclear whether or not DUPLO, Clikits, or Bionicle etc, etc, are included in that count.

How Many Different Types of LEGO Elements Exist? 2,200 different elements—or types of pieces

How Many LEGO Elements Are Manufactured? Approximately 19 billion each year or, 2 million per hour or, 36,000 per minute

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    Where did you find that number?
    – Ambo100
    Dec 28 '11 at 21:40
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It really depends on your definition of a part. Does Duplo count? Do things like Lego branded paraphernalia with studs on them count? What about pre-ABS bricks? The old architecture sets? Do you count all the minor design changes as 'unique' elements? (The classic 2x4 brick has had probably a dozen minor changes to the molds over the decades, for example). You probably aren't considering color variations, but physical shape. Are pieces with differing paint jobs unique elements? A radar dish that is opaque is probably going to get use differently from a transparent one with space ship canopy lines on it...

I get the nature of your question, but depending on how you define it can have a big impact on the answer. I would throw out an order or magnitude answer and say that there are probably less than 10k physically unique pieces in existence. Anything more is going to involve a lot of decisions around what exactly is 'Lego'.

Any philosophy majors out there that are looking for a thesis, there you go. That one's on me.

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One source I found mentions that there are around 4000 different LEGO elements:

There are now around 4,000 different elements, as they are called at LEGO: round bricks, square ones, wheels, gears, and bricks with and without knobs.

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