The 3rd Dimension – So little to say and so much time!!!


Some lego’s NOT ABS plastic?!
November 10, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

As much as I’ve ranted on lego building blocks and the industrialization of their inferior clones into malleable plastics I may have found something that has shocked me to the core. Certain Lego elements may NOT be made out of ABS plastic. Yeah I know what you’re thinking,     :-O      ,  so am I. How did this come about?

As detailed in my last post I found out the plastic I was melting (lego clone bricks) were not ABS at all so I decided to try and make authentic ABS sludge to supplement my WTF sludge made out of mixed plastics. To make authentic homemade ABS sludge only pure ABS plastic would have to be put into my acetone dip.

Where would I get ABS plastic? For the most convenient source in my house I would have to melt down some Legos. As much as I’d hate to sacrifice some legos in the name of progressive science I had to do it. Because of this fact and the fact that I love legos it was decided that I would melt down the most undesirable elements for this unholy experiment. My eyes instantly turned to the plastic bin of lego roborider and bionicle parts. (I consider bionicles and many licensed sets to be a travesty on lego driving the prices of regular elements up – grrr!)

I selected a small sampling of mixed bionicle pieces – 1 torso from bionicles and about 3 or 4 arm/leg/etc… limb ball socket pieces from bionicles/roboriders. The parts went into the jar last night along with the acetone dip. This is how we handle things down in Toontown…

This morning I checked on the birthing ABS sludge. The torso and various other parts were melting down pretty fast and looked like fudge at the bottom of this liquid dip. To my horror though THE BALL SOCKET LIMBS WERE UNSCATHED!!! THERE WAS NO DAMAGE AT ALL FROM ACETONE TO THE BALL SOCKET LIMBS. This could only mean one thing. Styrene plastics readily melt under acetone – ethylene type plastics don’t. ABS is the more or most expensive and highest quality of the styrene plastics. Does this mean *gasp* that the limb pieces are NOT ABS PLASTIC? WTF?

At first glance the ball socket pieces look just the same as any other – quality vibrant colors and tough lego resilience topped off with a microscopic “Lego” brand marking on each limb. According to all sources I’ve read each lego piece  is made out of the highest quality non-toxic injection molded ABS plastic (except rubber tires and other such miscellany). If what I perceive with my eyes is truth though I see that the Lego brand ball socket pieces are made out of a non ABS material. Could it be better? I don’t know but all I know is that these pieces don’t melt and therefore they are not ABS plastic.

I suspect these limbs were from the 90’s early 2000’s roboriders sets and not bionicle. Did early lego action figure sets use cheap plastics secretly? Lego how dost dare thine betrayl !!! Knowing something like this breaks my heart – seriously it does Lego. What was the lego executive board thinking? Probably the same thing when it decided to make Bionicles and Indiana Jones sets. Sadly this is what kids today want and what they will pay for. Maybe its’ time we split lego into 2 companies – Adult Lego stuff which specializes in Mindstorms/Lego Technic/rapid prototyping of robotics and mechanical pieces for industry and Kids lego with their movie sets and bionicraps.

Anyway my heart’s deepest wish tonight is to look at that jar and see those ball socketed limbs in a pile of melted debris as well and not in one whole piece. If they are still whole that puts them in the same plastic category as those non melting Polyethylene Mexican lego clone building blocks which will not fit onto any other piece besides themselves (despite having the same studded brick paradigm).

Update: The ball socket pieces are still whole – boo hoo hoo. Looks like we’re only making WTF sludge from here on out.

Update 2: About a week after I wrote this the Bionicle ball sockets have started to crack. The limbs themselves though are still as whole as they can be – just the ball parts are breaking down. So it seems like they may indeed be made out of an ABS plastic but modified or conditioned for extra extra toughness. I noticed this property with Lego Technic parts as well – they have that same “toughness glaze” that bionicle parts seem to possess on their axles and gears. Given this I forgive Lego for making some of their bricks out of a modified ABS plastic because it is necessary to make them better than ABS. The youtube videos of Lego pneumatic engines prove this point well – they can handle thousands of revolutions without snapping or flying off from the hinges etc… Not many plastic toys can boast of such robust quality – go Lego!

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