Is this the rarest Technic piece ever?

Posted by ,
View image at flickr

I've been building a lot of Great Ball Contraptions (GBCs) recently for forthcoming public displays and have used so many 3l Technic friction pins that I almost exhausted those in my drawer. Languishing at the bottom I found this white one, which seemed a bit odd given that I've only known them to be black and then blue, from 2007.

So, I though I'd investigate. It turns out that it came in just one set that was available in a particular promotion in one country for 3 months in 2001, which probably makes it the rarest Technic piece ever to appear in a set.

The pin is now reunited with the other pieces in the set which has been reconstructed for your edification. Want to know what it is? And why this piece is white? Read on...


It comes in 1237 Honda Asimo which is a rare example of a promotional Technic set. It was available in Honda car dealerships in Japan from January to March 2001 as this contemporary account (in Japanese) confirms. What's also interesting is that I appear to have been the first to post about it on Lugnet, on 1st January 2001.

Asimo -- which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility -- was billed as "The World's Most Advanced Humanoid Robot". It made its first appearance in 2000 and went on to become the most famous humanoid robot before it was finally retired in 2018.

Like other small sets targeted at the Japanese market this one comes in a box with a printed polybag inside. I still have the box somewhere but I've no idea where so I'm indebted to Todd Kubo for this image of it:

Here's the polybag, with artwork similar in style to the boxed sets of the period.

Its 56 pieces snap together quickly and once complete the robot stands about 10cm tall.

View image at flickr

As well as the white pin there's another rare part: the cam wheel (part 6575) which in white has appeared in only three sets, from 2001 to 2003.

The set was among the first to include a 3-long beam.

View image at flickr

So, exactly where is the white pin, i hear you ask... It's used on the hip joint. But why was the piece produced in white when a black one would have sufficed? I have no idea...

View image at flickr

The model would originally have used black 3l and 5l axles and old light grey axle pins but I don't them to hand any more so I used modern equivalents in grey and blue respectively.

View image at flickr

It doesn't look much like the real Asimo but it's an interesting little model with an interesting story nevertheless.

The reason for the pin being made in white will have to remain a mystery. It was produced at a time when new parts in new colours were appearing haphazardly so the answer is probably 'because we could'.

Surprisingly for such a rare set, new examples are still available on BrickLink for a very reasonable $20 or so, but you'll find no white pins for sale there at the moment.

48 comments on this article

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

Interesting find. Thanks for sharing.

Judging by TLG's current trend of introducing Technic parts like pins, axles etc. in ever more outlandish colours, I wouldn't be surprised to see this part return in the not too distant future.

Gravatar
By in United States,

It's odd that the designer used it in white, it's totally unnecessary. Now I want that part....

Gravatar
By in Hungary,

Cool find in every sense of the expression.

Gravatar
By in Norway,

Thank you for a very nice and interesting reading!

Gravatar
By in Australia,

I don't buy Technic, but now I totally want to. Collector mentality, I guess. "It's rare..." then I wants one! :)

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

How long did it take you to find all the parts in your collection Huw? I'm imagining you to be a very organised person tho....

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I'm very organised, so about 10 minutes :-)

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

What a weird coincidence - I only found out this set existed a few days ago when looking up the cam piece to see if it was still in production (it should have been used in Dragon Dance!). How odd to see it twice in one week.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Think i have several in blue..

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Me too, I'd estimate about 20,000 of them!

Gravatar
By in United States,

Wow, I never even knew about this very interesting set - amazing you can still buy such a rare, short-lived set for such a relatively cheap price tag on BL. I just have to ask myself, why would TLG take the time to recolor a whole piece just to use it in one set....
I bet a lot of MOCers would find that pin useful.

I know this is comparing two totally different things, and I don’t want to get off track, but why on earth would TLG use blue pins that look so garish in the hood of the Creator Expert Ferrari F40, an AFOL collector’s model, but recolor a whole piece for a short-lived limited production set???

Gravatar
By in United States,

I’d like to take a class on the history of Technic pins....
By the way, @Huw, thanks for sharing!

Gravatar
By in Poland,

Somebody should sell it on bricklink for 1000$

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

^^ That could also make an interesting article!

Gravatar
By in United States,

This was amazing. I feel like I learned something new and it was very interesting in the process. If Brickset only made articles like this I would be happy. :)

Gravatar
By in United States,

A recolor for technic puns would have been great for Forma...

Gravatar
By in United States,

I wish they made pins, bushes, gears and axles in all colors like any other part. In the old days of grey and black it was acceptable as they didn't mess up the model's color scheme. Nowadays the color vomit is just out of control and inconsistent anyway.

Gravatar
By in United States,

It's probably cheap because... This model kinda sucks, honestly. Still don't fully understand why the price is so low, though.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Saw the ASIMO robot in person, they probably used the white pin because the joint at the hips is white.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Also, I thought the first picture was the lego rendering of ASIMO. :) but that would've been to good ffor 2001

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

@Octopus.Boy: funny, that was also my first impression.
But then I tought "Wow, that's a lot of highly spezialized LEGO pieces for one so obscure model."
;-)

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Octopus.Boy & @AustinPowers..

I thought the exact same thing at first. Thankfully it's not, or I'd be on BL right now parting it out..

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Octopus.Boy and others lol I did too! I was like, geez Galidor had nothing on those specialized parts, but it looks great! @Kookbrix2018, that's a good point... things that make you go hmmm, or wtf :)

Gravatar
By in United States,

I would enjoy reading an article series on rare Lego parts. Maybe a countdown of the top 10 rarest Lego parts.

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Huw thanks for the info, another obscure set added to my collection :)

Gravatar
By in Canada,

This is so damn nerdy but I do love "history of parts" articles like this one. Great job.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Not to outdo you because this is a really cool find but I believe I have the rarest technic piece. It is a transparent 2 long technic pin that was produced in an unknown quantity for the headlights on the life-size Bugatti Chiron. I have scowered the internet to find any record of this and there is none. Here are some images http://imgur.com/a/xhY1Gz0

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

^ There are also probably red test moulds and so on. My claim should probably have been written "rarest Technic piece ever that has appeared in a set"

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Fair enough, its still a pretty cool piece to have in my collection

Gravatar
By in United States,

Great article. Seems you went many steps further than I usually do when I run across a part that's a strange shape or color that I don't recognize. I just say "Where did THIS come from?" before shrugging and adding it to whatever I'm building or tossing it back into the container.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I tried building this set once, but I never knew it had a peice that rare.

Gravatar
By in United States,

With this story, and the 50th year for Duplo, I wonder what the rarest Duplo piece would be. ?

Gravatar
By in Venezuela,

It IS really rare piece, only present in one set

Gravatar
By in United States,

If it was used once and only a single ser, I consider that to be unique. Prior to the proliferation of mini figures, I used to be quite interested in unique elements. However with A multitude of unique mini figures parts and accessories being produced each year that interests has dramatically decline.

This white pin is a cool find. As to why it was made, it’s worth remembering Lego was making it a lot of bad decisions at this point in time. Somebody want it in white and no one was around to say no.

Gravatar
By in United States,

*sigh* Why did they make this one pin in white for one set? To vex me, of course. I cobbled together a copy way back 15+ years ago (put a half-pin in one hand so he could hold a katana), but of course, that stupid white pin is the only piece I'm missing (yes, _every_ other piece is the correct color, and oddly enough I managed to do this all before signing up for a Bricklink account). As soon as I saw the pin on the front page, I knew exactly what the rest of the article was going to be about.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

Wow nice to see such a detailed pictorial review of a (relatively) old and very obscure set^^ Thanks Huw!

Also on behalf of the Technic Bushes: Indeed there are quite many commonly called 'Q-Elements' that appeared in the oddest of colors, usually - and suspiciously - found at flea market sales in areas in or close to Denmark.
There was also a 2M Pin in Bright Violet (the color used for Cyber Slam and a few earth-based Bionicle sets) that had a slightly altered mould, probably meant for a cancelled Znap line I guess.

I also wonder how many people here know the difference between the modern black 'friction' Technic pin and the original one from the '80's... You really don't appreciate that difference without having them tested yourself!

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I want one now.... (sigh) why do I have to collect rare and interesting LEGO parts rather than something simple like CMF or the modulars ;-)

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

That was a fun and interesting story. Maybe a series of articles on rare parts?
I know a wannabe LEGO Ideas set which could use a lot of white Technic parts.:-)

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

That's a charming set - a very nice evocation of the original robot...

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

As said by Karl Pilkington ... It walks like it sh** itself.

Gravatar
By in United States,

And I thought the Dark Red Technic Pin Connector Round [No Slot] from the 2002 Jedi Duel set was hard to get. Also only available in that one set. And of course, the one piece I've lost that I've not been able to replace ever.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

^ Yep, common as muck, that part ;)

Gravatar
By in United States,

I'm about 3/4 of the way done sorting out 40lbs of Legos I got off of ebay, and just came across this piece. Must be Lego karma or something.

Gravatar
By in Hong Kong,

Back around 2003 or 2004, I was working in Japan at the time and saw this Asimo set on someone's desk one day! I also tried to MOC my own version of Asimo (this was before the era of easily finding Lego instructions online) because the Technic version was really quite poor, but nevertheless I failed badly! Now I feel like giving it another go. BTW, did Honda really retire Asimo???

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Atuin:
I've never actually used one of the original slotless friction pins, but I understand they were tough for even an adult to remove once plugged into a Technic hole.

@melvlee:
Back in June, apparently. Asimo has been through seven different iterations, but besides maybe being able to charge admission for people to see one, there's really no money to be had with Asimo directly. One of the seven models is reportedly now in a museum in Japan, and the technology they created during the 20+ years of development is going to be repurposed for actual paying ventures, like mobility aids.

Gravatar
By in United States,

After reading this article, I had to have this set. It arrived today, thanks to bricklink. New lego day is always a good day.

Return to home page »