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I recently noticed the tag. The tag wiki simply specifies, "Used for old vintage LEGO sets and pieces."

How old is old enough for a set or piece to qualify as "vintage"? For example, would Paradisa and Blacktron be considered vintage? 4.5 volt trains? Classic Space (mid-1980's)? Fabuland? The Yellow Castle? Only stuff from before 1970? Only the very early years?

My personal opinion would be that anything before my "dark age" (circa 1995) feels vintage, but I recognize that many people will have a different perspective. Is there anything approaching a consensus on what is and what is not vintage?

I'm not really asking for an exhaustive or scientific answer, and don't need an adjudication on a borderline case. What I want to avoid is, say, tagging a bunch of monorail questions as vintage and then getting stern messages that vintage means pre-1980 and not just discontinued.

Possible answers:

  • It's based on a set number of years (e.g. 20) elapsing since the piece, set, and/or theme was released and/or discontinued.
  • It's based on a holistic judgment based not only the passage of time, but on the use of parts, themes, or practices that have been obsolete for so long that the part, set, or theme just has the feel of belonging to a bygone era, yea, even the days of fluorescent jewelry, New Coke, and the 386.
  • The tag lacks sufficient meaning to differentiate questions in any meaningful sense and should be burninated.

My thoughts on the above is that #1 seems reasonable, but would imply that being is a moving target. That is, every year, another year's worth of media, pieces, sets, can now have the tag added to it. For example, if we use a target timeframe of 20 years since release, it would be appropriate for me to spend the year 2024 bulk-tagging questions about sets released in 2004 as vintage, and do the same next year for sets released in 2005. That seems like quite a mess and a lot of questions being unnecessarily bumped. On the other hand, #2 above seems difficult to adjudicate, and could result in edit wars based on personal perspectives of whether something is or is not vintage "enough" to be tagged.

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Looking at the questions we currently have tagged it does seem to imply "early 80s" at the latest - however as with cars and furniture, this is likely to be a moving target: would you consider the pre-realistic skin tone licensed sets as "Vintage LEGO Star Wars" for example, or just "Classic"?

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For me personally, vintage seem to be pre-1995 too (as this is where I got into Dark Age). This was 25 years ago, which is quite some time ago.

However I could think of a good point of time in LEGO history which could be considered a turning point here - change of Light/Dark Gray [BL] to Light/Dark Bluish Gray [BL] (and few other colors). It wasn't just a color change, but also quite drastical change in set designing approach as well as designers themselves.

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To second Alex's timeframe, the urban dictionary definition for vintage states:

An item of age, usually from around the 1920's to [approximately] 20 years ago. The items could be anything from furniture, children's toys, to clothing and household bits and pieces.

So that'd be anything before 2000 at this point. I wish Zhaph's answer was closer to the usage I'd heard, but it seems like I'm going to go feel old for a while now.

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    If we had to pick an arbitrary cutoff I think 20 years ago is reasonable.
    – qwr
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 0:31

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