The early 2X4 and 2X2 LEGO® "target bricks"
    2X4vs? and 2X2vs? "target bricks" pip inside, unbranded
1st mold (red, green, yellow, white) introduced in 1949?
    Figure 1

German fellow collector Sven Köppchen called my attention to the fact that I had listed as clones bricks (see above) that were actually LEGO products. He informed me that he had seen two undoubtly original Automatic Binding Bricks (ABB) sets with such bricks. Danish collector Henrik Thrane and Dutch collector Richard Bintanja also confirmed the fact and Richard sent me images of two such ABB sets, one with only a complement of 2X2 and 2X4 bricks and the second with, additionally, a 10X20 thin plate as part of the set.

I made a careful examination of the bricks in my collection and the conclusions follow. I have to remind new readers that I proposed a system based on the molds used to manufacture the bricks and other LEGO parts, and so my appraisal of the products always takes into consideration the technology of their production.

The bricks illustrated above were undoubtly sold by LEGO although they are unmarked. Some distinguishing characteristics are:

  • The pip is inside, clearly seen when the bricks are turned upside down.
  • The mold used ejector pins set against the tops of some studs: (two on 2X2 bricks and four on 2X4 bricks). The studs on which the ejector pins press are lower and flat; the "free" studs are higher and have a protruding top with concentric, target-like markings (thus justifying the name) that result from the machine-cutting of the mold in the turns to add an extra plastic blob on top (as in the Kiddicraft bricks) possibly to compensate for an eventual cave-in (see figs 2 and 4 further down and the text on the "X-clone").
  • The mold likely produced 10 simultaneous bricks of both sizes with one slot or two opposed slots. Cavities are sharply marked with numbers from "1" to "9" and one 2X2 cavity is unmarked. The top of the studs does not show any apparent cave-in but the bottom does (usually the opposite happens with 2X4vs01- see figure 2 further down). Also apparent (see the red brick on the right side of figure 3) are flow lines in the pip region. These streaks are likely caused by a lack of sufficient pressure to fill all the cavities in a short enough time (the plastic starts to harden before the mold is totally filled) and give further proof that all the bricks in figure 1 came from the same mold.
  • The sprue was cut by hand and there are invariably scratches made by a cutting instrument around the pip.
  • The plastic is a hard and shiny thermoset, not unlike that used in the early Kiddicraft bricks.

The three images below depict one 2X4vs01 LEGO brick in the center, compared with two target bricks (one red 2X4 and one yellow 2X2) set on both sides.

Figure 2 (above)
Figure 3
Figure 4




The problem with this mold is that it does not fit on a series with the other 2X4 or 2X2 molds even if it is the very first mold made. So, I will not set it chronologically until more data is available. Indeed, the mold sports "modern" characteristics, like the clearly cut cavity numberings, the use of ejector pins and the large number of cavities (or molded bricks) to the mold, and "archaic" characteristics, like the omission of the "LEGO" branding and the low filling pressure that causes the streaking near the pip. It also has two unique features: the pip inside and the unbalance between the number of cavities and the conditions attainable with the machine (causing the flow streaks that I just mentioned). Further, I know of no sets using a mix of these bricks together with other types.

The LEGO Museum in Billund has on display an early plastic injection machine and mold (not the earliest, though). As seen, the mold is very simple, producing only three small bears and not the planes or the propellers needed to finish the full toy. Also, the simplicity of the machine and mold does not make the presence of ejector pins likely. A possibility that would explain all the incongruencies, is that these bricks, although used by LEGO, were produced elsewhere by subcontrating. Although there is some indication that this may have been the first mold actually used (at least it produces less perfect bricks than the mold used for 2X4vs01) it must be borne in mind that it was still in use in 1950/51 with the thin plates and thus cannot have been discontinued before 2X4vs01 entered service.

It may be stated with a measure of certainty that it constitutes an oddity among the LEGO molds and thus must be considered as a special case at least until its true status and chronology are set. It likely constitutes a parallel evolution line.

  "Target brick" doors and windows (introduced in 1949?)
Figure 5- Companion doors and windows to the "target bricks"

A further perplexity comes from the fact that the "target bricks" seemingly had their own doors and windows, as if they made a full LEGO subsystem manufactured elsewhere than Billund. Those are shown above with their pips set on top, often causing distorsion to the top pattern of the doors. Again, the mold uses ejector pins (the mark of one is seen on the bottom left corner of the green window at right). The usual colours are yellow, red and green, as used in the early LEGO sets made up with the target bricks, but there are also white doors and windows made with the same mold. These doors and windows are relatively common and may have been used with other bricks than the "target type".



    "Target brick" 2X2, 2X3 (?) and ...(introduced in 195?)
  2nd mold
Figure 6- Target bricks (2nd mold)




To complicate matters further, a second brick mold was likely produced in the early 1950s. This is similar to the first but there is no flow streking and the bricks now have what looks like the imprint of an ejector pin inside and around the pip (see the yellow brick above). I only have the 2X2 bricks above which are different on several counts from those produced with the first mold but are not enough to dwell in detail on the matter. There are some indications that this mold may, further, have produced at least 2X3 bricks which would set its date to the early 1950s.



João Manuel Mimoso , Lisbon, Portugal. Feb 06, 2010
Index of pages on the early LEGO®