It’s been a minute since I had an excuse to nerd out about LEGO colors, but with them just adding Neon Yellow to their line-up it’s time to talk. It’s not going to be an ultra deep exploration of everything and I’m just going to share a few thoughts, so don’t expect too much.
Getting the good Stuff – Set 60319
In order to even be able to talk about this new color of course I had to procure a set. It’s still early in the year 2022 and the pieces in these colors have not proliferated enough yet to be easily available on Bricklink or from LEGO‘s own Bricks & Pieces service. Therefore I ordered the Fire Rescue & Police Chase (60319) from the City line of products. It was cheap on Amazon and while certainly not the most exciting set out there, it looked okay for what I had in mind plus some potential for re-using its parts later.
The set is pretty much your run-off-the-mill variety and you have seen everything in it done a million times in as many combinations. That doesn’t mean that’s bad and for a theme aimed at being played with by younger kids there is certainly only so much you can experiment with, but it sure isn’t the most glorious aspect of LEGO.
The main attraction is the large fire truck, which is solid enough for some intensive play. The drone on its cargo bed feels a bit pointless in the sense that it just stinks of corporate-mandated “We need to have a drone because it’s hip!”. I’m sure even most kids would have preferred a utility rack or water tank in its place. the smaller black car is the escape vehicle used by the crook lady and while serviceable is still kind of terrible. It has large open areas and gaps, in particular around the mudguards and uses the bare minimum of parts to even hold together. I really thought I had forgotten to add some pieces underneath to cover the gaping holes, but no, there’s really nothing supposed to be there.
In addition to the two cars there is of course a police motorbike. Thankfully it’s printed, so despite being otherwise just a standard model it doesn’t look that bland. The small building represents an electrical power conversion station as you would find it in many areas to branch distribution lines and convert high voltage into household electricity. The front shutter can be opened and there is a “fire” element on a swiveling hinge on the roof that you are supposed to “extinguish” by firing water splotches from the drone and tip it over. There#s also very conveniently a water hydrant nearby. the traffic light is mounted on a ratcheted hinge as well and can be “run over” if you so desire while playing out your gangster chase.
The set does not contain too many fancy parts aside from the obvious Neon Yellow recolors, but there are a few interesting highlights. There’s the already mentioned “splat/ splotch” pieces, basically a round 2 x 2 tile with some protrusions and here you get two in Trans Light Blue to simulate water. In a static setup you would use them as puddles most likely. Then there’s also a new cat mold, actually a kitten/ young cat version of the regular one. It’s super cute and actually more appropriate to minifigure scale in terms of size since the normal cats often more feel like lynxes or small mountain lions. Colored hair pieces are also nice to have and then of course inevitably there has to be a new fire helmet in the new color.
For the 20 Euro I paid for this set this feels okay and now two weeks later you can get it even cheaper, but you could definitely find other models that are more attractive. If I wasn’t in such a hurry to satiate my own curiosity I’d definitely have looked into other options, but at least I got a cute kitty out of it…
Analyzing the Color
The set mentioned above contains exactly three (!) 1 x 2 plates in the Neon Yellow color and I used one of them for my little analysis simply because it would be easy to use other such plates for comparisons. It’s pretty much the only LEGO piece that at one point or another was available in any color they ever did and thus lends itself for these types of articles.
The color in question is of course pretty much on everybody’s mind, given that it’s widely used on all manner of rescue and emergency vehicles. Technically it’s RAL 1026 Tageslichtgelb (Daylight Yellow) and its matching counterparts from other color standardization systems. It was unavoidable that one day it would make an appearance in LEGO‘s portfolio, it was just a question of when. Competing toy makers such as Playmobil have had it since forever. Now the real question in a versatile system such as LEGO bricks becomes how useful it would potentially be for other applications outside serving as a primary warning color.
Despite being called Neon Yellow this color has a slightly green-ish tinge which in the real world has something to do with how it is supposed to reflect light in specific ranges of the spectrum. A quick side-by-side comparison with the existing greens and yellows shows that it doesn’t really fit that well with the more regular colors and always sticks out. If at all, it looks the least obtrusive next to the pastel-y Bright Light Yellow and Yellowish Green.The foregone conclusion therefore would have to be that it will be extremely difficult to integrate elements into things like buildings or non-rescue cars unless they are intentionally supposed to be very bright and flamboyant. It’s more likely we’ll see this sprinkled in as the occasional decoration and highlight.
My lousy camera doesn’t do a good job of capturing the colors correctly due to its limited dynamic range, but the intensity of the color is affected massively by the light situation. Under intense light it really pops or even stings the eyes whereas under dusky/ overcast light it exposes a slightly translucent quality where it gets toned down quite a bit. This is also important to keep in mind in context with other colors and can be seen to some degree on the firetruck already. It’s shadowy side makes the color appear slightly duller and the Red seems to bleed into the other bricks. These perceptional phenomena need to be considered carefully similar to when I wrote my article about the Coral back then.
While the Neon Yellow would be a strong contrast color to most others, there are a few where it is “harmonious” in terms of saturation and perceived brightness. Those are of course Coral and then also Bright Green, Dark Azure and Dark Pink. Dark Turquoise might also qualify to some degree, despite its own caveats and how it responds to different light situations. This is a rather abstract theoretical statement, naturally, as the practical integration would still be hugely affected by the ratio in which these colors are actually used. If you get into trouble, though, you should keep these colors in mind as they could be used to soften otherwise very harsh contrasts and can make things look more pleasant.
It would be an exaggeration to say that LEGO go out of their way to make the new color available, but they are introducing it on a rather broad basis with a good variety of pieces. There is a considerable number of City and Friends sets where bits and pieces are done in Neon Yellow. The problem however is that many of these new parts are not necessarily the most useful with many of them being wedge plates, brackets, lesser used brick types or large compound elements like a helicopter hull. On top of it the more regular elements are often only used very sparingly, with some sets only containing two of e.g. a 1 x 4 plate to barely cover what’s needed to represent pin stripes on a car. This is in particular limiting for MOC builders who at this point may not be able to find that particular piece they may need. This will of course improve rather quickly as more and more sets come out, but in the short term it could be difficult to source what you need.
New colors are always a good thing, but truth be told, despite it being sort of an inevitability based on the market, LEGO‘s competitors and the color being everywhere Neon Yellow would not have been my top priority. Using Bright Light Yellow as a stand-in substitute worked well enough and seemed to work well enough and kids couldn’t have cared less most likely. Most “serious” fans would simply have preferred other colors to be introduced or revived like the much-coveted Sand Red for architectural models or one of my personal pet peeves, a decent realistic plant green.
In the meantime we’ll most definitely be seeing the new color a lot, even when it’s only used on invisible elements inside the models for visual distinction in the building instructions. That’s all well, but I’m really hoping that we’ll be over that soon and LEGO have plans to give us other colors.