I can't quite believe I'm writing an article on such a seemingly mundane subject as the history of Technic pins but, given the popularity of last week's article about one such pin, perhaps there'll be similar interest in this one too.
The first Technic sets launched in 1977 came with just one type of pin; however, the very first 'Technic' pin produced predated them by some 7 years, and it wasn't made from plastic...
Metal pin (1970)
If fact, it was made from metal and appeared in 800 Gears. Motor and Bricks, released in 1970. It was designed to connect the new gears in the set to the existing train motor, which accepted the metal axles of train wheels.
That set also introduced the cross-axles that are still in use today.
3673: Connector Peg (1977 - )
The first six Technical sets, as they were called at the time, introduced many new pieces including beams, gears and connectors. This humble pin was among them. It was used to join beams together as well as at rotation points. Being frictionless, the resultant structures could be a bit floppy.
It's only ever been produced in light grey: old light grey prior to 2004 and light stone grey afterwards (from now on when I refer to light grey I'll mean both colours).
It's still in use where rotation is required.
6562: Connector Peg/Cross Axle (1978 - )
A year later this frictionless pin made its first appearance in 855 Mobile Crane, to mount wheels with axle holes to beams.
Originally it was mostly produced in light grey until being entirely replaced by the tan version in 2004.
There have also been black ones, in two space sets, and BrickLink alleges that a white version appeared in some versions of 8558 Cahdok and Gahdok although I believe the vast majority contained the friction version.
4274: Connector Peg W. Knob (1981 - )
This pin seems to have been originally designed for holding toothed angle connectors together in the 1981 Technic assortment, as can be seen clearly on 8845 Dune Buggy. That piece is now obsolete but this pin enjoys life nowadays as a means of interfacing Technic and System parts.
Until 2001 it was exclusively light grey but since then both grey and blue versions have been in use. Interestingly, the blue version appeared only in System sets until 2004, after which it also cropped up in Technic.
4459: Connector Peg W. Friction (1982 - 1990)
The original frictionless connector pin resulted in floppy constructions which must have been seen as a problem in the increasingly complex Technic sets of the early 1980s. This pin enabled beams to be connected together very securely. In fact, so securely that it's extremely difficult to get them apart again. The only way to remove this pin from beams is with pliers or teeth.
If you come across any, throw them away, do not mix with the later version or you will regret it!
2780: Connector Peg W. Friction (1990 - )
Like many of you, I suspect, I own more of this part than any other LEGO piece.
Officially, it's only ever been made in black but there seems to be a whole range of colours available on BrickLink, including transparent. Presumably they are LEGOLAND model shop or factory escapees.
6558: Connector Peg W. Friction 3M (1993 - )
Clearly LEGO saw this as a problem too because it was phased out in 2008 in favour of blue. I understand, from conversation with a System set designer at the time, that they were not happy about it because it had often been used for gun barrels and similar.
Let's not forget the solitary white one!
32002: 1 1/2 M Connecting Bush (1996 - )
When researching this article I was surprised at how late this one -- for connecting to half-width parts -- appeared, given that the first half-width liftarm (2825/32006) had been around since 1989.
The original dark grey version was superseded by tan in 2013.
32054: 2M Fric. Snap W/Cross Hole (1997 - )
I believe its original intended use was as a pin that can be easily inserted and removed to join subassemblies because its first use was in 8277 Giant Model Set which built various modular models.
32556: 3M Connector Peg (2001 - )
Eight years after the friction version was produced, this 3l pin surfaced first in four Bionicle sets in 2001 before finding more widespread use the following year.
It was originally light grey before being switched to tan in 2008.
43093: Conn.Bush W.Fric./Cross axle (2002 - )
It was originally black, which must have made finding it in a pile of similar pins nigh on impossible, so thank goodness it was changed to blue just a year after its initial production.
A white version was used for the teeth of Bionicle creatures in 8558 Cahdok and Gahdok, in 2002.
11214: Con. Bush 2M Fr. + Cross Axle (2014 - )
Until late last year it was produced only in dark grey but now it seems that it's been switched to red. I wonder how they decide what colours to standardise pins in...?
18651: Cross Axle 2M W. Snap W. Fric. (2015 - )
It's only ever been produced in black, so far...
So, who knew that the humble Technic pin, that we all have thousands of, could be so interesting? :-)
If you enjoyed this article do let me know. I might be tempted to write more...