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#1 CP5670

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 01:30 AM

Has anyone noticed how the instruction manuals for Lego sets have gotten much larger over the years? The steps are spread out over a lot more pages than they once used to be and there are also more steps, with fewer things to do in each one.

Here are some examples of pages from late 80s sets:
http://www.hccamster...00/6393/002.jpg
http://www.hccamster...00/6987/022.jpg
http://www.hccamster...00/8865/016.jpg

They started cutting back on this in the mid 90s:
http://www.hccamster...00/6597/009.jpg
http://www.hccamster...00/8480/056.jpg

Recent sets have continued that trend even more. Compare this to the 80s stuff:
http://www.hccamster...00/7990/014.jpg
http://www.hccamster...00/7990/015.jpg
http://www.hccamster...00/8285/007.jpg
http://www.hccamster...00/8285/008.jpg

The instructions were too dense at one point but I think TLG has gone a little too far in the other direction in the last several years. There is so little happening on each page that the building process can become somewhat hard to follow, as you sometimes don't get a sense of the "big picture" unless you flip through the pages constantly. I often work on a couple of different steps simultaneously and gather the pieces for all of them at once, especially with Technic or UCS sets where they list the parts for each step. Does anyone else think that condensing the instructions a bit, maybe to the mid 90s point, would make them better?

#2 Svelte

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 01:42 AM

I don't have problems following the instructions but I'd love it if they were mere economical in how they lay them out, just to save on space. Those instruction books add up! I'm considering doing a purge of some of the paper versions and replacing them with PDFs just to conserve room.

However I don't think slimmer books are going to happen anytime soon. Last year saw the introduction of the extra 'never mix, never worry' approach to numbered bags and 'grass is bad' page. In 08 I've noticed with the new Mars Mission sets that the instructions now come with a *full-page* warning about projectile pieces at the end of the booklets. More lawsuits, more warnings! Maybe when the new magnets are released there'll be another page showing a small child eating a train coupling with a big red line through the middle :tongue:  

I also think in the interests of keeping the age-range of a set as low as possible they make the instructions as simple as possible for younger kids to follow. Lego does extensive product testing so I'm sure they're doing what best suits their market.

Below - how to say 'IMPORTANT: never modify the elements or use other projectiles than provided with this toy' in 29 different languages  :wacko:

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Edited by svelte_corps, 12 June 2008 - 01:50 AM.


#3 Deinonychus

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 01:50 AM

View Postsvelte_corps, on Jun 11 2008, 08:42 PM, said:

Maybe when the new magnets are released there'll be another page showing a small child eating a train coupling with a big red line through the middle :tongue:

God I hope so...I need a new sig image Posted Image

I kind of like the newer style of manual. I recently rebuilt some of my older sets and damned if I didn't miss quite a few parts because I didn't notice them added to a certain step. But I totally see them getting way out of hand if they continue any further. The no-mix-bad-grass page is a little annoying, and I'm starting to fill my file cabinet up with the newer instructions. Especially since even $40 sets now come with 2 books  :hmpf_bad:

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#4 Taheen

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 02:26 AM

I hear you.  I had to start finding a way to organize my manuals.  I have a bookshelf with a few binders like this on it:  (pardon poor cellphone pics)

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#5 Section8

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 03:01 AM

I also dislike the larger simpler manuals.  And the colors need to be tweaked; dark grey and black look way too similar in these manuals.

#6 xNick

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 05:31 AM

View PostSection8, on Jun 12 2008, 01:01 PM, said:

I also dislike the larger simpler manuals.  And the colors need to be tweaked; dark grey and black look way too similar in these manuals.

Yes! I wholeheartedly agree with you there. All too often I have to go back a couple of pages because I've used the wrong colour  :blush: . Also, from what I remember (I'm going off some dodgy recollection here) didn't some instructions also have the newer pieces in a bolder tone? Even so they were easier to miss...
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#7 Svelte

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 05:57 AM

View PostxNick, on Jun 12 2008, 03:31 PM, said:

Also, from what I remember (I'm going off some dodgy recollection here) didn't some instructions also have the newer pieces in a bolder tone? Even so they were easier to miss...

As Sinner has noted elsewhere, some instructions are now being released with highlighted borders around the pieces:

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#8 Oky

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 06:33 AM

Yeah, I've noticed the instructions getting larger! :sceptic: Now, instead of accidentally skipping one fatal step, you purposely skip pages because, being familiar with routine steps like putting tires on wheels :hmpf: , you know what to do for most of the steps and end up accidentally skipping some of the ones you don't know as well! :hmpf_bad: I kinda miss the old kind of instructions. :sad:

#9 xenologer

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 07:10 AM

Yep, boring instructions nowadays.

I tend to either:
skip pages and try to fill in the gaps on my own.
or read the whole book once, then try to build the set from memory without peeking

It keeps things lively in otherwise mind numbingly dumb instructions....

#10 keetong

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 07:15 AM

Actualy in a few of the new sets they seem to be smaller. It just could be a way of making the price of the product more :sceptic:

#11 simonwillems

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 08:49 AM

I have noticed this also, since I recently bought some new sets.

The instructions of set 4896 Roaring Roadsters is one of the worst examples of this: three big books, one for each model in the box!
Also the dimensions changed over the years: I like to store my instructions in ordners (A4- dimensions) and since a couple of years the instructions are a little bit smaller then that making them slide out of the plastic sheets more easily....
These big books from set 4896 use up almost half of one of my ordners.

The most extreme example of dense instruction manuals, according to me, is the instruction of set 8865: try building a supercar in 24 steps (!) nowdays... the new coastguard helicopter uses 54 steps for the helicopter alone (the liferaft has it's own multipaged instruction-manual).

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#12 ClubNinja

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 01:48 PM

I was just building the new Tower Raid (7037) a few nights ago and was shocked that this set needed two books to complete.  Also, while I've had trouble identifying colors before (as noted above), this is probably the worst set of manuals I've ever dealt with in trying to determine what's black or gray or what.

#13 CP5670

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 05:32 PM

I got an 8275 bulldozer a few days ago and noticed that it came with no less than three manuals, all for the main model only and each about 60 pages, which is what prompted this thread. :tongue:

As for the color issue, the main problem I notice is that the black pieces can be pretty hard to see in the first place if you don't have the manual directly exposed to light. At one time, black used to be basically what dark blay is now, but the modern black is close to true black, which makes all the stud accents (which are also black) blend in with everything else.

Also, I think the "grass" panel is actually referring to building on a carpet, which I do all the time. :laugh: Maybe they say that since building on baseplates can be difficult without a hard surface.

View Postsimonwillems, on Jun 12 2008, 03:49 AM, said:

The most extreme example of dense instruction manuals, according to me, is the instruction of set 8865: try building a supercar in 24 steps (!) nowdays... the new coastguard helicopter uses 54 steps for the helicopter alone (the liferaft has it's own multipaged instruction-manual).

There is one particularly crazy step in 8865 that I linked to in the original post. It uses over 120 pieces in itself. I think that's the single heaviest step I have ever seen with any set.

I almost prefer that to what we're seeing these days though, where half the steps add on less than 5 new parts. :tongue:

#14 Visorak-kal

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 06:10 PM

View PostClubNinja, on Jun 12 2008, 06:48 AM, said:

I was just building the new Tower Raid (7037) a few nights ago and was shocked that this set needed two books to complete.  Also, while I've had trouble identifying colors before (as noted above), this is probably the worst set of manuals I've ever dealt with in trying to determine what's black or gray or what.

I noticed this too while building my Troll Warship, and I think I know the reason.  They've included the new dark brown, and if you look the shades of dark brown/ new brown are very close so would be hard to distinguish in instructional manuals.  Therefore it looks like they made the new dark brown very blackish in the instructions, and made black more of a dull dark grey.  It can be tricky until you figure out what is what by looking at a box picture or something like that.  Once I figured it out, though, I was able to discern what color was what later on the building process.

I am not sure if this color problem only happens with the new Castle sets that include the dark brown, or in all new sets even without dark brown.

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#15 Shoc

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 06:26 PM

View PostClubNinja, on Jun 12 2008, 02:48 PM, said:

I was just building the new Tower Raid (7037) a few nights ago and was shocked that this set needed two books to complete.
Even more Shocing is that I recently bought the Exo-Force set Battle Aracnoid, a very very small 4.99 set, and it needs two instruction books!!!!!  :sing:  :thumbdown:

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Edited by Shoc, 12 June 2008 - 06:38 PM.


#16 JimBee

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 01:44 AM

yes, ive noticed this. what i do is just do several steps at a time. i think this is for kids to build the models easier (although they just end up broken [for the kids] anyway). What i also find annoying is the dummy guide: like the pics of bricks in the grass with a red line through it, or the pic with bricks sorted into piles organized by color and type, or the "no shooting anybody in the eye with the (very dangerous) flick fire missles. Also, the fig instructions. come on, we know that the head goes on the torso! and on a nature based note, its wasting paper.

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#17 CP5670

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 06:53 AM

Quote

the "no shooting anybody in the eye with the (very dangerous) flick fire missles

I bet that many kids would see that image, think it's a great idea and go and do exactly that. :laugh:

#18 Nikola Bathory

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 11:03 AM

Hm, You've got a point here.
Probably LEGO think that children are getting more stupid with every following generation, haha. It's sad but true, by the way!  :hmpf_bad:

#19 Mirandir

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 11:59 AM

View PostxNick, on Jun 12 2008, 07:31 AM, said:

Yes! I wholeheartedly agree with you there. All too often I have to go back a couple of pages because I've used the wrong colour  :blush: . Also, from what I remember (I'm going off some dodgy recollection here) didn't some instructions also have the newer pieces in a bolder tone? Even so they were easier to miss...

Yes there were some instructions way back that did this. Amongst others the instructions for 6054 Forestmen's Hideout used this.

#20 xNick

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 12:19 PM

View PostMirandir, on Jun 13 2008, 09:59 PM, said:

Yes there were some instructions way back that did this. Amongst others the instructions for 6054 Forestmen's Hideout used this.

Thanks Mirandir. That's exactly the thing I was thinking of  :thumbup: .
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#21 Shadows

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 12:19 PM

I built Forestman's Crossing tonight and I must admit, the old instructions are a lot more challenging at times, when dealing with mostly similar colours. In one step there might be 10 pieces added, which is fine, but I'd forgotten my old ways and was only scanning the instructions. More than once, I had to go back to catch a few pieces I'd missed.

Still, the one major difference for me was satisfaction. I got a lot more satisfaction out of finishing that set than anything I've built in years. Maybe it's because the instructions aren't as simplified, or maybe it's just because it's such a great set, and I practically paid nothing for it. Either way, win for me. :laugh:

View PostMirandir, on Jun 13 2008, 06:59 AM, said:

Yes there were some instructions way back that did this. Amongst others the instructions for 6054 Forestmen's Hideout used this.
It happened as late as some of the early Star Wars sets. I never cared for it.

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#22 Ralph_S

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 01:12 PM

I don't really see what everybody is moaning about. Who cares how many steps the instruction have and whether more used to happen per step in the nineties or eighties? I think it is a non-issue. The reasons why they've been made longer seem obvious to me, and have been mentioned by a few posters: it's to make building the models easier. Most of us hard-core LEGO lovers might not need all those steps, but younger children who build the sets possibly do. LEGO are playing it safe. They don't want children to stop building with LEGO because the instructions are too hard, so they make them simpler. Children and AFOLs for whom the instructions may be a bit too simple can simply browse ahead and skip steps.

Everybody is happy -even people who moan for the sake of moaning  :tongue: .

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Edited by Ralph_S, 13 June 2008 - 01:13 PM.

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#23 Shoc

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 04:29 PM

View PostJimButcher, on Jun 13 2008, 02:44 AM, said:

The "no shooting anybody in the eye with the (very dangerous) flick fire missles.
In the case of some sets, I fidn that warning especially laughable. Sure, with the springy missle launchers it could be dangerous, but some flick fire missiles (like in Batman's dragster) don't even fire, they just fall down.  :sceptic:  :laugh:
I like the picture used to warn you though... Anyone got a scan of it?

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#24 simonwillems

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 05:20 PM

View PostRalph_S, on Jun 13 2008, 01:12 PM, said:

I don't really see what everybody is moaning about. Who cares how many steps the instruction have and whether more used to happen per step in the nineties or eighties? I think it is a non-issue. The reasons why they've been made longer seem obvious to me, and have been mentioned by a few posters: it's to make building the models easier. Most of us hard-core LEGO lovers might not need all those steps, but younger children who build the sets possibly do. LEGO are playing it safe. They don't want children to stop building with LEGO because the instructions are too hard, so they make them simpler. Children and AFOLs for whom the instructions may be a bit too simple can simply browse ahead and skip steps.

Cheers,
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You have a point there...... But,

even if it is easier for the kids and AFOL's can skip steps, the issue of the storing space remains: I own 500+ sets all with instructions (stored away in ordners), thank goodness only few of those instructions are belonging to sets released in the past five years. Otherwise I'd find myself burried underneath a pile of ordners....  :wink:

#25 Ralph_S

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 05:51 PM

View Postsimonwillems, on Jun 13 2008, 06:20 PM, said:

You have a point there...... But,

even if it is easier for the kids and AFOL's can skip steps, the issue of the storing space remains: I own 500+ sets all with instructions (stored away in ordners), thank goodness only few of those instructions are belonging to sets released in the past five years. Otherwise I'd find myself burried underneath a pile of ordners....  :wink:

I know. I have a few hundred sets as well and have boxes full of instructions, but I reckon that storing the LEGO parts from those 500+ sets or the MOCs you build with them are a bigger issue. It certainly is for me.

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