The worst Lego piece ever made

In Lego fandom, the acronym "POOP" stands for "Piece Out of Other Pieces".

A POOP - adjective form, "POOPy" - is a single Lego piece that is larger and more complex in form than it should be.

Lego is all about putting pieces together. POOP gives you single lumps of plastic that should have been multiple pieces.

This concept needs a little clarification.

Almost every Lego piece bigger than a fingernail could, in theory, be made from smaller pieces. You also need some large-ish pieces to build larger models, or you'll end up with a creaking mass of tiny pieces that's aching to fall apart.

So nobody's arguing that every 16-stud Technic beam should be replaced by two 8-studs or four 4-studs. And, obviously, big flat baseplates of whatever type need to be big and flat and all in one piece.

And the old spring-loaded crane jaws may be one irreducible assembly which has only one real purpose, but that purpose is one that'd be very difficult to achieve with separate pieces. Fair enough.

POOPy pieces, in contrast, don't have any good structural reason to be that way. And when a piece's POOPiness makes it less generally useful and more forced to adopt one specific role - and, moreover, reduces the time you can spend having fun building a model - then there is grounds for complaint.

Apropos of which, I think I have found the single POOPiest, and therefore just plain worst, piece that Lego Group has ever managed to make.

The worst Lego piece ever made

And here it is.

It's the astounding #30295 Car Base.

And yes, it is all one piece.

I bought it as part of an eBay job-lot of odd pieces, including six of the unusual Car Wash Brushes, plus a couple of axles for them, but no holders.

My Car Base is in the old dark grey colour, which means it had to have come from a Rock Raiders Chrome Crusher or Loader-Dozer. I also got one orange piece #30619, indicating that the very POOPy #4652 Tow Truck had contributed to this lot.

The Car Wash Brushes are a fine example of very unusual Lego pieces that're not POOPy at all. They're made from a translucent hard rubbery polymer, do not resemble any other Lego piece I can think of, and appear to be quite specialised in purpose. But they can actually be used for all sorts of odd Technic-y things.

Lego themselves only ever included the Brushes in car-wash or street-sweeper sorts of sets, plus the instant-classic 10184 Town Plan, which features on the box the boy who, one or two years earlier, appeared on the box of set 248.

But if you want to make, for instance, a Lego printer or plotter, Car Wash Brushes may work a lot better for certain sorts of paper handling tasks than the plain old tyres that you probably first thought of.

The brushes would probably work very nicely in a Lego Roomba. They can also engage each other like fuzzy gears. So even though the brushes have a smooth, not cross-axle, hole in the middle, I'm sure some lunatic's found a way to use them as part of a torque-limited or variable-shape transmission.

None of this can be said for the #30295 Car Base.

It's a Car Base, and that's all it is. You'd have to work quite hard to get it to do anything else, if you didn't just use it like a flat plate in the middle of some other construction that managed to avoid interfering with the Car Base's wheel-studs.

POOP is similar to the concept of "juniorisation", in which pieces are amalgamated to allow the very young, or very stupid, to build large Lego models without having to deal with any, y'know, thinking.

For a while, Lego had a terrible case of POOP/Junior Disease, producing sets with more and more big single-function pieces in them. You'd find something that looked like a normal little Lego set, which in the olden days could be expected to have at least fifty pieces in it. Then you got it home and discovered that there were actually only 28 pieces, because the whole chassis of the vehicle was one stupid piece that could, and should, have been made from several separate components.

But as this interview with the current CEO of Lego makes clear, the company has now scourged itself with barbed wire and abandoned these degenerate ways, returning to the True Path of lots of smaller pieces that you can do whatever the heck you want with.

If the fun of building is not why you're using Lego - if, for instance, you're using it as a rapid robot-prototyping system - then you'll probably be able to find a use for at least a few giant POOPy pieces.

To everyone else, they're an abomination whose death we should celebrate.

18 Responses to “The worst Lego piece ever made”

  1. Stark Says:

    I actually purchased the old dozer set that this chassis was a part of back in '99 or '00. It was the first lego set I had purchased in many a year... and I was initially sorely dissapointed at that chassis piece. But then I realized something.... with the judicious use of my old collection I could make something "cool" out of it. I used it as a gear plaform (incorporating those handy wheel-studs) for a walking AT-AT. While I could certainly have built the AT-AT without that base it did make it a much stronger construction. Alas, my lego days are behind me - my whole collection was "lost" during a move back in '01 (along with a few other items). All I can say is I hope the kid of wahtever moving guy absconded with my 30L plastic bin full of Lego is enjoying it! I'd hate to think it just got dumped. :(

    Lego is coming back for me though... I've got a 3 year old now so I get to build a whole new collection that I may eventually let my son play with. I will of course be officially buying them for junior... but we all know the truth. Currently I'm still stuck at the Duplo level but a soon as he's old enough to be trusted not to eat a 1-stud I'll be fixing that!

  2. awollangk Says:

    Your link to should actually be (You missed a 't'.)

    [Fixed now. Thanks! -Dan]

  3. TimDurnan Says:

    Personally, I think it has to do with the over-commercialization of LEGO. Why does everything have to be branded to a major theatrical release?

    Compare catalogs:
    1990 SAH
    2000 Medium


    In my opinion, though, the POOPiest pieces are those damnable boats, both the big ones and the little ones. I mean, what else are you supposed to do other than, well, build a boat with them?


  4. Erik T Says:

    I'm okay with the large unibody boats, if only because they're effectively the only way to make a Lego boat actually float (believe me, I "researched" this extensively as a child).

    My personal feeling on the POOPiest item would have to be something like the pirate ship hull from 6285 Black Seas Barracuda or similar.

    At least the dozer chassis is usable as a flat piece, or built into something to make it hella-strong, and at least Tim's aforementioned boat shapes will float. What the hell else do you do with a pirate ship hull (IIRC, split into fore, amidships and aft sections)?

  5. corinoco Says:

    Ah, c'mon, part of the FUN is working out odd uses for POOP. I can think of a few uses for that car base - put some long technic beams onto those four studs and you've got a sturdy little walker chassis begging for some NXT goodness.

    I think Dan did an entry of The Lego That Should Not Be Named a while back, which is a wonderful example of uses for apparent 'single-use' itmes - such as tyres - I'm thinking of the Evil Sandworm one where the body is made of inside-out tyres.

  6. Daniel Rutter Says:

    The inverted-tyre-horror post was here.

    Re Lego having lots of movie licenses and special-purpose pieces: Yes, they do still have lots of that stuff; even more of it, now that they've wrested a couple of comic-book licenses away from the heretical Mega Bloks.

    (And talk about POOPy pieces - Mega Bloks have resigned themselves to being the best of the several imitation Legos, and are thus determined to make every possible thing that Lego can't bring themselves to make. This includes some really wacky GIANT pieces. Many Mega Bloks models don't look "Lego-ish" at all - their pirate ships just look like big plastic toy pirate ships. That's partly because of POOPiness, but mainly because Mega Bloks make many pieces that have only a few connection studs, and lots of single-purpose sculpted "exterior".)

    But these days Lego also have plenty of general-purpose sets. So if you completely ignore all of the licensed sets and Bionicle figures, you can still find plenty of Old-Fashioned Lego, just like the sets you remember from 1980 except not in those nice reusable-tray boxes any more.

    (Cheap eBay job-lots of mixed Bionicle bits can be very interesting for Technic builders, by the way. The figures have a lot of big single-purpose weapon pieces and masks and such, but their skeletons are all built out of Technic parts, some of which cannot be found anywhere else.)

  7. Itsacon Says:

    @ TimDurnan:
    What about the older, multi-part boat hulls? (Like this one or this one)? They had multipart hulls, but floated perfectly. They needed a bit more depth because of the external (counter-weighted) keel, and were still only usable as boats, but at least you could combine several into one very big boat.

  8. Changes Says:

    I'll second what was said on boat hulls being the only way to make floating LEGO ships.

    I vividly remember getting a large boat set (which I then gutted and turned into a self-propelled monstrosity, by the way), and thinking "this sucks, I can do this better myself!". I then armed myself with standard pieces and silicone sealant and got to work. The result looked impressive, but no matter how much silicone I used it always leaked somewhere. After the underside had become more silicone than lego (while still not managing to float more than a few minutes), I gave up in disgust and went back to the one-piece boat hull.

    Hmm, I wonder if LEGO could make a few rubberized pieces for the purpose of building watertight hulls... :P

  9. Itsacon Says:

    Never heard of a double-walled hull?
    Simply build two hulls, one in the other, with a liner of plastic in between. It'll be very heavy, but should be water-tight, as long as the plastic in between is a full seal.

  10. Erik T Says:

    It'll also be pretty stinking fragile, since you'll have some single-stud gap around an entire complex shape.

  11. Itsacon Says:

    Why leave a gap? plastic isn't that thick...
    Biggest problem have to be structurally sound, that's true. But hey, it's LEGO and you're building an oil tanker, what did you expect?

  12. xuth Says:

    The easy way to do a structurally sound double hull (with plastic in between) would be to make several smaller sealed sections with structural walls in between.

  13. Erik T Says:

    Even a thin layer of plastic is probably too thick to have Lego butting against itself. The tolerances are astonishingly tight for a kid's toy.

  14. Itsacon Says:

    Ok, now I'm wondering if I should dig up my crates of Lego to see if this is a feasable undertaking or not... Tempting, tempting, tempting....

  15. kamikrae-z Says:

    If looks aren't important you could simply wrap the outside of the hull with cling wrap and then tack it in place with a row of plates above the water line.

  16. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    I had the '95 Street Sweeper. Some great memories there - the Car Wash Brushes got left with the Technic Axle 6 and mounted separately on another vehicle, and the surround usually ended up flipped over as a snowplow.

    Thanks for the memories, Dan!

  17. skaar Says:

    water based model glue, i have found a lot of uses for it, it'd be perfect, excepting that it's water soluble. however, it brings to mind, there's got to be a similar oily glue that won't melt the blocks, and be removable, i've used plain model glue occasionally, it didn't seem to do much to them, but it was quite hard to remove.

  18. Itsacon Says:

    Or just do what they did with old wooden hulls to make them watertight: Tar them below the waterline...

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