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Lego Quality Reference


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#1 CP5670

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 07:07 PM

This is a guide to various quality-related problems with Lego, both past and present. I seem to have become the quality guy around here and often describe these things in isolated threads. :grin: I thought it would be useful to have a central reference for them. Some of the years given are quite rough, especially for older incidents, but they should give an indication of when a given problem was prominent. Note that actual Lego sets lag about a year behind production and Bricklink stores are a few more years behind, so it's common to see bad parts sold on Bricklink long after they have been fixed in manufacturing.

This thread is meant to be an informative article rather than a place to complain. I would like to keep track of new developments here and would appreciate any updates on these or other issues you may have discovered. I'm interested in widespread problems here that are noted by multiple people, not the one-off glitches that occasionally happen.


Color and opacity inconsistency
Yellow (2002-present)
White (late 2006-present)
Red (before 1988, late 2006-present)
Orange (late 2006-present)
Blue (before 1986)
Purple (2004)
Light bluish gray (2007-present)
Dark bluish gray (2008-present)
Dark red (2005-present)
Dark blue (2007-present)
Green (late 2009-present)
Reddish brown (late 2009-present)

There is a range of consistency problems present in a variety of colors. The typical issue is that many bricks in these colors look faded and partly translucent. The Lego logos on the studs are not as clearly defined as they should be and the studs cast noticeably dimmer shadows on the brick plastic. This applies to a wide variety of pieces in those colors. An example of this can be seen here, although the appearance of the bricks varies with ambient light and is hard to capture in a photo.

These issues go back a long way but became much more prominent at the end of 2006, when TLG switched from pre-colored to clear ABS pellets. At Brickfair 2008, a TLG engineer (Bjarke Schonwandt) confirmed that the first four colors are not meeting the company's quality standards, but claimed that yellow has been fixed in manufacturing and that the others should be also fixed by the next year. However, there continue to be reports of bad yellow pieces in recent 2009 and 2010 releases, even on new types of pieces that didn't exist in 2008. On the other hand, there are indications that white has been fixed in manufacturing.

Yellow seems to have been affected before the other colors, going by some sets I have. Red and blue also had the same issues in the past, during the 1980s. The grays were not among the colors mentioned by TLG, but although I have not seen problems with them myself, there have been a number of recent reports about them on EB. Green has not had problems during the last few years like the other colors, but some of the 2010 sets are exhibiting obvious flaws with it, and the same applies to reddish brown.

These color problems may vary with the theme as well as the location where the set is produced and/or sold, although I have not seen any correlation yet.

Untextured slopes (late 2006-early 2009)
All Lego slopes except for the cheese ones have traditionally had a rough, textured surface, but we saw a transition to slopes with smooth surfaces a few years ago. TLG has said that this change was unintentional and they reverted to textured slopes in manufacturing last year. They are still running through their stock of old smooth slopes, so we are currently seeing a mix of textured and untextured slopes in sets. Less common slopes like 2x4 or 2x8 are the ones most likely to be smooth.

Dull edged plates (2007-early 2009)
Some plates have blunt, rounded edges at the corners instead of sharp and well defined ones. This is mainly an issue with 2x6 and 2x8 plates, which can look bad if several of them are adjacent to each other in a model. I believe this has been fixed in production now, but there are still sets being sold with the old plates.

Weak brick clasping power (2005-2008)
There have been many changes to the gripping strength of Lego pieces over the years. Late 1980s bricks typically have a very strong grip, too strong for most purposes, but TLG steadily cut back on the grip over the next several years until a good compromise between strength and playability was achieved. It remained that way from 1995 until 2005 or 2006, when the clasping power was substantially weakened further. It is not clear whether this is actually a quality glitch or an intentional change, but the resulting pieces are considered too weak by many people and lead to flimsy models. However, there are reports that this issue has improved lately and the bricks in recent sets are staying together more firmly, although not at the 1990s level.

In my experience, the weakest pieces usually suffer from some other flaw as well, either a color problem or the blunt edges issue described above. Plates and tiles are affected by this more than bricks, and lighter colors tend to be weaker than darker ones. Large plates and wedge plates in any color seem to have an especially weak grip on the bottom.

Brittle and peeling stickers (1994-2005)
Some stickers will peel off by themselves over time, and if you try to push them back on, they will crack and break up into many pieces. This only concerns stickers printed on white paper (as opposed to clear, transparent paper), and only ink in certain colors. White, blue and red components of stickers are sensitive to it, while yellow and black components are immune. This effect is caused by UV exposure, but the stickers are much more sensitive to it than bricks and can go bad quickly even in a dimmed room. Taping over such stickers seems to be the only way to keep them intact.

I first saw this in 1994 Technic sets and last saw it in 2003 World City police sets, although it probably continued for a while longer. This was fixed by TLG at some point, since more recent stickers I applied in early 2008 don't appear to have any problem.

Oily tires (1997-present)
In 1997, TLG changed the material used on small tires to a sticky, gummy substance. The tires were usually packed with other pieces in the same bags and left a visible splotchy residue on the bricks. This substance does not come off under running water but can be removed with a soft cloth and alcohol, or by just rubbing your hands on the bricks vigorously. The tires harden over time and lose the stickiness if left on display for a few years. Last year, TLG switched to a rubber-like material that doesn't run off on other pieces. At this point, this problem seems to be specific to some locations only. The sets I purchased in the US after mid 2008 have all contained the new tires, but people in some other countries are still getting the oily tires in recent sets.

Crumpled instructions and sticker sheets (2000-present)
This has been an issue with large sets ever since TLG removed the plastic trays from big boxes in 2000. The instructions and stickers are no longer held in place by the trays and float freely inside the boxes, so they tend to get crushed between the parts bags and crumpled up. An obvious way to fix this is to put the instructions in their own shrinkwrapped packaging, which TLG finally started doing with some of the largest sets in 2011.

Confusing colors in instructions (2002-present)
It is often hard to tell the difference between dark gray and black in modern instruction manuals. This started around 2002 when TLG changed the appearance of the instructions, apparently in order to better distinguish dark gray (a color that was rarely used until the late 90s) from light gray. To make matters worse, the colors are not always consistent and can even vary between different pages of the same instructions, although this aspect of it seems to have improved in the last few years. Some other colors like blue and dark blue have also been mentioned as having the same problems.

Large window molding marks (before 1985, 2007-2009)
This is not really a defect as such, but has been the subject of many complaints because the molding marks look like bullet holes. :grin: In recent times, this glass piece has had a large blob-like mark on it, while smaller windows have four, small dots in the middle and/or faint circular marks along the edges. As of summer 2009, the first window seems to have been fixed, although some currently sold sets still include the older windows.

Deformable minifig accessories (2009-present)
TLG has recently been using a soft plastic for several minifig accessories that is flexible and has a brittle, waxy feel to it. It has been used for walkie talkies for a long time, but many other pieces use it now too. Several recent pieces made of this material have a problem where the part that the minifig hands clip on to is slightly too thick. Putting it into a minifig hand requires much more force than usual and creates noticeable scratches in the piece, and it can even cause fragments of the plastic to peel off. I have seen this issue on the tooth and spike parts in 5982 and the metal detector in 5984, and others have brought up the Atlantis trident, Castle broom and Pirate swords as well.

Oxygen-sensitive white bricks (1989-1996)
These look identical to normal white bricks but discolor much faster, in any ambient light conditions. It has been suggested that they actually discolor faster in the dark, although I haven't seen evidence of this myself. The yellowing is uniformly spread over the whole piece and is due to oxygen exposure rather than UV. Only some white pieces from that time period are affected. I have several 1990s sets (8839, 8858, 8880, 8480, 6483, 5581) that contain a few or many such pieces, but have not seen this effect in anything more recent. Many other sets from that time period don't have this problem either, so it may have been theme or location specific.

This issue seems to be amplified if the bricks are exposed to smoky air, in which case a lot more white bricks are affected. It can even be present in MISB sets that were stored in such conditions, especially if the box looks grimy and discolored. This mainly affects 80s and 90s sets, when the part bags were all perforated and not airtight. It should be possible to reverse the discoloring by using H2O2 as described here, although I haven't tried it myself.

Flaky chrome pieces (1996-present)
The electroplating on chrome pieces tends to come off in fragments over time, revealing a trans-clear interior. This is especially common with thin parts like antennas, as seen on various Model Team sets, while normal bricks are less prone to it. Apart from the costs, this seems to be one reason why TLG has heavily cut back on chrome pieces in recent years.

Printing discrepancies (all years)
It is common for the prints on two identical printed pieces to have variations in their brightness and position. This was quite noticeable in the 80s, especially on printed computer slopes, but it improved a lot over the years. However, differences in print colors are recently coming up again, particularly in "special" sets with non-standard numbers which seem to be manufactured in different factories. See This thread for more information.

Tough pneumatic hoses (before 1992)
The pneumatic tubing used in various 80s Technic sets is harder than the modern kind and grips pneumatic nozzles very firmly. Over time, it will wear down the plastic on the nozzles, discoloring them and shrinking the opening in them. If left on a piston for many years, especially in a colder room, it can develop such a strong grip that it may actually tear off the nozzle if you try to remove it. In 1992, TLG switched to a glossier and more flexible tube material that doesn't have any of these problems and is still in use today.

Cracks
A few specific types of pieces are susceptible to developing cracks or breaking up after some use:

1x1 headlight bricks: The cracks usually form down the middle of the lower lip in the front. Lighter colors like white or gray are more prone to it. A single crack will not make much difference to its gripping strength, but multiple cracks will weaken it.
1x1 transparent round plates : These often develop many small, vertical cracks after extended use, but it doesn't seem to affect their clasping power. This only applies to ones in transparent colors, which are made of PC instead of ABS.
1x1 cheese slopes: Many people have reported cracks forming down the middle of this piece, if left on a model over a period of time. Strangely, only some people are encountering this issue, but it's reasonably widespread.
Technic bushes and connectors (1978-1998): The older Technic bushes and various axle connectors like this and this can develop cracks when used a lot over time. TLG went through several revisions of these parts over the years before settling on the current designs, which seem to be stronger than the old ones.
Space robot arms (before 1991): The earlier versions of this piece were made of ABS and the clip could break very easily. In 1991, TLG started making them out of a softer material that was more durable, which is still in use today.
Old road signs (before 2000): It's common for the poles on these to bend or break after a lot of use. The newer signs made up of three different pieces are stronger.
Bionicle socket joints (2006-2008): The socket joints on various Bionicle pieces in the last two or three years are fragile and break off easily, much more so than older parts.


Broken functional pieces
Micromotor (1993-1997): This may lock up if not used for a while. I haven't found any way to fix the 3 (out of 9) broken ones I have, and they are expensive to replace.
Code Pilot (1997): A rare brick, but there are several Brickset reports of this breaking over time and not turning on. The problem on mine was simple to fix though.
Damped shock absorbers (1999): The initial batch of these often broke after some use, particularly those in 8448. TLG was offering free replacements back then. Newer ones have no problem.
Studless pneumatic pistons (2003): Some people have said that the top seals on the 8455 pistons have a relatively high failure rate. 8455 has been the only set brought up in this context.

Edited by CP5670, 20 May 2012 - 05:56 PM.


#2 Luke McAwesome

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 07:40 PM

You're on to something here, CP5670!

 CP5670, on Jun 21 2009, 12:07 PM, said:

Oily tires (1997-2008)
In 1997, TLG changed the material used on small tires to a sticky, gummy substance. The tires were usually packed with other pieces in the same bags and left a visible splotchy residue on the bricks. This substance does not come off under running water but can be removed with a soft cloth and alcohol, or by just rubbing your hands on the bricks vigorously. The tires harden over time and lose the stickiness if left on display for a few years. Last year, TLG switched to a rubber-like material that doesn't run off on other pieces.

I too have noticed this, and every time I touched the tires I had to go wash my hands. Not that washing your hands is a bad thing.  :tongue:
It really is quite annoying, and in all my 2009 sets they were nowhere near greasy and oily.

Quote

Color and opacity inconsistency
Yellow (2002-present)
White (late 2006-present)
Red (before 1988, late 2006-present)
Orange (late 2006-present)
Blue (before 1986)
Purple (2004)
Light bluish gray (2009-present)

Don't forget dark bluish gray.  :wink:

Has anyone noticed the different variants? There's dark-dark bluish gray, and light-dark bluish gray, and when put together, it can be very odd at times. I think it might be just year variants. LEGO released dark and light bluish gray in 2004, and it leads me too believe that they have used different shades since then after every year.

Either that or I'm just a bit color blind.  :wacko:

Thank you for starting this topic, CP5670! :thumbup:
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#3 CP5670

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 03:31 AM

Nice to know that you found it useful. I think many people encounter these issues but aren't sure what they are seeing, so this thread should help clear things up. I figured I can link to this in the future whenever one of these issues is discussed on EB.

You're the first person I've seen bring up dark bluish gray as well. Have you seen these gray variations before 2009? For the last few years both bluish grays have looked pretty good to me, but I don't have any 2009 sets with substantial amounts of those colors and the complaints on light bluish gray have all come in the last six months.

#4 Natman8000

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 03:45 AM

 CP5670, on Jun 21 2009, 11:31 PM, said:

Nice to know that you found it useful. I think many people encounter these issues but aren't sure what they are seeing, so this thread should help clear things up. I figured I can link to this in the future whenever one of these issues is discussed on EB.

You're the first person I've seen bring up dark bluish gray as well. Have you seen these gray variations before 2009? For the last few years both bluish grays have looked pretty good to me, but I don't have any 2009 sets with substantial amounts of those colors and the complaints on light bluish gray have all come in the last six months.
i haven't found too many problems with my grays, except for very off dark light blueish gray bracket. One part that has the least color control for me is lime, I have so many 1x4s and they all look different in someway.
Posted Image   Posted Image

#5 Svelte

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 04:17 AM

Great idea to have one central topic for this issue!

Light bluish grey has been at variance since at least 2007. 7094 King's Castle Siege contains several slightly differing shades. Some people seem to think that there are two or 3, others report more colours. It is mentioned somewhere in EB around the time of release, I will have to dig and have a look. Perhaps it goes unnoticed since it is a lighter shade.

Dark bluish grey again shows marked variation in colours, as anyone who has taken pieces from sets of different years for MOCing purposes (such as landscapes) can see. I suspect there has been a change in the colour mix over the years. The 7631 Construction site showed marked colour difference between the 1x6x5 panels and ordinary bricks so this issue is ongoing and seems to be related to ABS colour density.

Reddish brown was one of the early offenders and we still see problems - see my 7097 Trolls Mountain Fortress review for an example. I found the 08 Castle sets which had a mix of tiles and bricks to display similar inconsistency. The nadir was the 10182 Cafe Corner set as documented by Dunamis in his review with bricks of different sizes varying from pale coffee to normal reddish brown.

One thing that perhaps isn't strictly a quality issue but is definitely a change is the colour of dark red. It now has a distinctly brown tinge to it and isn't as vibrant as it formerly was. I only noticed it this year when comparing smaller curved slopes from 10193 with older identical parts, but it made me compare with other sets too. I think this change was introduced in the first wave of Clone Wars sets in 08 and it continues on. I have CW sets produced at that time from the US & Europe so it seems a phased change in both markets. In comparison, the Castle & Indy sets from early 08 which contain a lot of dark red (slopes, 1x2 plates, headlight bricks) are noticeably brighter than dark red bricks produced since the middle of 08. On the up side, the colour seems to be generally more consistent (10184 Town Plan's cinema was a bit of a mess). However the pics of 10197 showing the upper dark red floor also seem to show a fair bit of variation.

Dark blue has also been similarly refined. It was especially problematic in 2007's 10190 Market Street and this is well documented on EB. Newer sets which use a lot of dark blue (such as Agents and some Clone Wars) seem to have improved.

I will try and take some photos but as everyone knows it can be really hard to capture digitally what the eye picks up so much more readily.

#6 FiletOFish

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 07:24 AM

There was one Lego set I purchased (Aquaraider/Aquazone 2161) where quality was just totally down. I know because I have 2 of the same set and one was normal while the other was not. Also, like many people here, I've built a lot of sets and know how a set is supposed to be.

As I built my 2nd set, I realized that something just wasn't right. I noticed that the set was not locking right (for all pieces, not just a few) and making A LOT of noise as you press down on the pieces. I'm not sure how to explain it, but the set locked and made noise as if it was in snow for 10 years (but I purchased it new). I'm not sure what exactly happened with that set, but I hope to never receive a set like that again.

#7 avoidz

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 08:19 AM

That's a very interesting article, and good reference information. I enjoyed reading it, thanks  :thumbup:

Edited by avoidz, 22 June 2009 - 08:20 AM.


#8 Stauder

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 08:33 AM

Aye, great reference. Personally I have no bad experience with lego, exept the usual yellowing of white bricks, but that is not something that can be ultimately avoided.  :cry_sad:

Can this be pinned, or added to some index?

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#9 Yloquen

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 08:37 AM

I have most of my white headlight bricks cracked on the front and back lower beams. Light bley also seem susceptible to that. I also have a lot of cracked 1x1 bricks (I must which colors are worst) and an occasional 1x2 and 2x2 corner bricks. All my bricks are from sets 2006+.
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#10 CP5670

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 09:40 AM

I updated the initial post with the new observations so far, and added some things I had forgetten about earlier.

svelte_corps said:

Great idea to have one central topic for this issue!

Light bluish grey has been at variance since at least 2007. 7094 King's Castle Siege contains several slightly differing shades. Some people seem to think that there are two or 3, others report more colours. It is mentioned somewhere in EB around the time of release, I will have to dig and have a look. Perhaps it goes unnoticed since it is a lighter shade.

Dark bluish grey again shows marked variation in colours, as anyone who has taken pieces from sets of different years for MOCing purposes (such as landscapes) can see. I suspect there has been a change in the colour mix over the years. The 7631 Construction site showed marked colour difference between the 1x6x5 panels and ordinary bricks so this issue is ongoing and seems to be related to ABS colour density.

This is interesting and may suggest that it's theme or location specific, since the light blay I have (mostly from Technic and City sets in 2007-08) has looked pretty good, at least within a given set. If you can capture the look in a picture, that would be great.

Dark blay might be a more recent issue. I didn't see anything unusual with the dark blay 1x6x5 panels from the 7992 Container Crane (2008 copy), but I haven't compared it to parts from earlier years. Do either the panels or bricks look translucent to you if you try to look through them at a light source?

Yellow, white, red and orange were the four main problem colors that TLG had identified. There were 7 or 8 "secondary" colors that were also seen to have inconsistencies, but which TLG considered to be less severe. Bjarke talked about this in his presentation, but I can't remember which colors were brought up there. I believe dark red and dark blue were among them.

FiletOFish said:

There was one Lego set I purchased (Aquaraider/Aquazone 2161) where quality was just totally down. I know because I have 2 of the same set and one was normal while the other was not. Also, like many people here, I've built a lot of sets and know how a set is supposed to be.

As I built my 2nd set, I realized that something just wasn't right. I noticed that the set was not locking right (for all pieces, not just a few) and making A LOT of noise as you press down on the pieces. I'm not sure how to explain it, but the set locked and made noise as if it was in snow for 10 years (but I purchased it new). I'm not sure what exactly happened with that set, but I hope to never receive a set like that again.

That set is from 1997. The pieces in the 90s gripped together more firmly than modern ones and do sometimes make "squeaking" noises when you press them together. Is that what you are referring to? I have that set and haven't seen anything out of the ordinary.

Yloquen said:

I have most of my white headlight bricks cracked on the front and back lower beams. Light bley also seem susceptible to that. I also have a lot of cracked 1x1 bricks (I must which colors are worst) and an occasional 1x2 and 2x2 corner bricks. All my bricks are from sets 2006+.

Yeah, the headlight bricks have had that problem for decades actually. I added that to the last section.

#11 salty tbone

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 02:31 PM

Interesting compilation and a good idea for a centralized reference, I think.

The oily tires are my No. 1 annoyance. It's like I have to have a washcloth around when I handle them. I wonder if there's a way to make them lose the stickiness faster. I put them in "quarantine" in a sealed container, which I'm sure is just preserving their stickiness for future generations.

#12 Eilif

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 06:14 PM

Great resource you've started here. I can address one issue.

Large window molding marks, as seen here
Posted Image

This is not a quality control issue.  These mark is an injection point, where the plastic is fed into the mold. They occured because the first 1x4x6 window panes were intended for this frame Posted Image

This frame disguised the large molding mark that exists a third of the way up (or down) the pane.

When Cafe Corner came out, and introduced this frame...
Posted Image
... the same piece was used for the pane, and created the problem of the "bullet" hole look.

Just this year, LEGO introduced a new window pane mold to address this issue. It has not been cataloged on bricklink, but it is available on PAB online.  The mold injection points smaller and located in much less visible locations.

Edited by Eilif, 22 June 2009 - 06:17 PM.

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#13 green dewback

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 06:41 PM

I stopped buying City rubber-wheeled vehicles after multiple sets with oily tyres out of the box in around 2005 or 06 , can't remember exactly.
The residue smells bad and sticks to your fingers making you not want to play with your toy.

Small aircraft tyres didn't seem to be affected.

Edited by green dewback, 22 June 2009 - 06:44 PM.


#14 CP5670

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 06:53 PM

salty tbone said:

The oily tires are my No. 1 annoyance. It's like I have to have a washcloth around when I handle them. I wonder if there's a way to make them lose the stickiness faster. I put them in "quarantine" in a sealed container, which I'm sure is just preserving their stickiness for future generations.

They have to be exposed to the air in order to harden, and a cooler room temperature probably helps. I have most of mine on built display models.

If I rub the hardened tires against other pieces, the substance still comes off on them, but they don't feel that sticky anymore by themselves.

Eilif said:

Large window molding marks, as seen here

This is not a quality control issue. These marks are injection points, where the plastic is fed into the mold. They occured because the first 1x4x6 window panes were intended for this frame

Yes, that issue is something of an outlier, but there are a couple of reasons why I think it's still worth a mention there:

1: This concerns not only that piece, but also others like this and this which have several, smaller dots on them.
2: There have been many complaints about this on EB in a quality context. There is at least a perception of a problem here, even if those marks are supposed to look like that. The issue is not the presence of marks (which exist on any piece), but the fact that they are big/numerous.
3: As you said, the issue is being fixed. The big glass pieces in recent sets no longer have the big mark on them. I don't know if this applies to the smaller glass though.
4: The molding marks on similar types of separable window glass in past, like this and this, were much less prominent.

Edited by CP5670, 22 June 2009 - 06:57 PM.


#15 Eilif

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 07:16 PM

I didn't mean to imply that it shouldn't be included here. It's an issue that comes up frequently and should be addressed. I just wanted folks to know the "why" of this window, which is the one that is most frequently discussed and I think (I could be wrong) is the only one with the large centrally located blob.
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#16 CP5670

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 07:26 PM

 Eilif, on Jun 22 2009, 02:16 PM, said:

I didn't mean to imply that it shouldn't be included here. It's an issue that comes up frequently and should be addressed. I just wanted folks to know the "why" of this window, which is the one that is most frequently discussed and I think (I could be wrong) is the only one with the large centrally located blob.

Ah okay. Thanks for the explanation then. :classic:

I think that is indeed the only one with the big blob, aside from the early 1980s windows. The others have different kinds of marks. I will update that description a bit and elaborate on this.

#17 Lord Admiral

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 09:38 PM

The one problem that is very prominent is that the bricks no longer have the snapping power they once did. This is most noticeable on the bigger plates often used as base plates. It is present in all bricks, but because of the way other bricks are used, it's not as objectionable. Plates, base plates in particular, are connected to the rest of the structure sometimes with a few 1x2 bricks, a few as 4, so if I pick up a structure like that from somewhere in the middle instead of from the bottom, the bottom falls out from beneath me. Often, the baseplate is the weak link, but it can be any part of the structure that's a little weaker. I find this to be very irritating.

Black bricks appear to hold the best, and are the hardest. Some of the more exotic colors appear to be very soft, and bley in particular appear to be straight up loose, while the primary colors (red, blue, yellow, white, etc.) fall somewhere in the middle. And while I've always known that the black plastic is strongest while bley is considerably softer, the reliance of bley pieces everywhere makes me wonder if it's not a quality control issue, but a business issue.

I did a comparison of bricks in sets I recently bought to bricks that I bought around '01 and before. While the older bricks make a slight creaking sound when snapped together, the new bricks do not. The old bricks are glossy, while the new bricks are dull. And the old bricks feel harder and firmer, while the new bricks feel mushy, like 24k gold as opposed to platinum. Heh, if only the bricks were actually made of 24k gold or platinum.

The quality of the pieces actually has gotten better over the past 3 or 4 years. I have a couple of KK2 sets, and buildings from that line would go to pieces if even a stronger wind blew against them. For example, I knocked over 8799 when it was standing on a thick carpet. It fell onto the carpet, and pieces still fell off the top and the bottom of the set. It was flat out disgraceful, and I stopped buying sets for about 2 years afterwards. Even now, I am reluctant to buy the really big sets, for fear that there will be lots of bad bricks, and the set will crumble on me. I have the modular buildings, since they look sturdy enough, but that's about it. But the new castle buildings, especially the newest ones, at least feel sturdier, and this trend, should it continue, is a good thing.

I also have grievances against the really soft plastic that that they use. One great example of this plastic is the baseplate for 6241. While that particular instance is marginally acceptable, I've seen small parts that use the same soft plastic, and that really bothers me. But that's a trivial matter compared to the hold issue of normal bricks.

#18 Yeow

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 08:54 AM

 green dewback, on Jun 22 2009, 01:41 PM, said:

I stopped buying City rubber-wheeled vehicles after multiple sets with oily tyres out of the box in around 2005 or 06 , can't remember exactly.
The residue smells bad and sticks to your fingers making you not want to play with your toy.

Funny, I must be weird, as I like the smell of brand new tires XD. And the stickiness that comes with them usually disappears in a few weeks for me. Carpet seems to accelerate this.

#19 gratefulnat

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 06:11 PM

This last weekend I built SW 10018 RBR once again (I was trying to calm my excitement of seeing the new 10198, and good thing I did because nothing showed up  :hmpf_bad: ), and noticed that on nearly all white plates (4x6 and bigger) there was yellow discoloring around/on the studs where the mold injection is. This came out in 2002, so the plates weren't produced in the '90's. This is the only set (note: I collect only SW sets...yup, one of those SW nerds, that's me) where I've seen that discoloring take place, but I will be building a few other older sets soon just to see if this has happened in any other sets from '99-'03.

Quote

LordAdmiral:
'The one problem that is very prominent is that the bricks no longer have the snapping power they once did.'

Considering SW sets, the problem of clutching power reared its ugly head in 2007 - y-wing 7658 anyone?,  very frustrating and for me the biggest quality issue I have with LEGO. I also built the UCS MF this weekend, and though I enjoyed the build immensely, I also thought there were many pieces that were too loose, particularily smaller pieces like 1x3 plates. I've gotten all of the first wave of summer SW 2009 sets, and I have to say I believe the clutching power of the bricks is back where it belongs - and that makes me very happy! :thumbup:
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#20 CP5670

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 06:40 PM

Lord Admiral said:

The one problem that is very prominent is that the bricks no longer have the snapping power they once did. This is most noticeable on the bigger plates often used as base plates. It is present in all bricks, but because of the way other bricks are used, it's not as objectionable. Plates, base plates in particular, are connected to the rest of the structure sometimes with a few 1x2 bricks, a few as 4, so if I pick up a structure like that from somewhere in the middle instead of from the bottom, the bottom falls out from beneath me. Often, the baseplate is the weak link, but it can be any part of the structure that's a little weaker. I find this to be very irritating.

Black bricks appear to hold the best, and are the hardest. Some of the more exotic colors appear to be very soft, and bley in particular appear to be straight up loose, while the primary colors (red, blue, yellow, white, etc.) fall somewhere in the middle. And while I've always known that the black plastic is strongest while bley is considerably softer, the reliance of bley pieces everywhere makes me wonder if it's not a quality control issue, but a business issue.

That issue is probably worth having an entry on. However, changes with the brick gripping strength have occurred many times in the past, and some were intentional and beneficial. Ideally, there should be a balance between having the bricks stay together firmly and coming apart easily when pulled off. If you go back to the late 1980s, the pieces in most sets had a very strong grip and could become quite hard to remove. TLG steadily cut back on the gripping power in the early 1990s, and it remained roughly the same from 1995 up until 2005 or 2006. The best middle ground was probably achieved during this period.

I think the change that you are talking about occurred around the same time as the colors and various other defects in 2006, but it may have come a bit earlier. These pieces are definitely too far on the weak side. In my experience, the weakest pieces suffer from some other flaw as well, either a color problem or the blunt edges issue. Plates and tiles have been affected by this more than bricks. As for the colors, small black pieces have a reasonably firm grip, white and yellow are the worst, and light blay is somewhere in the middle. Larger black pieces I have are as bad as other colors. Large (bigger than 4x4) plates and wedge plates in any color seem to have an especially weak grip on the bottom.

gratefulnat said:

This last weekend I built SW 10018 RBR once again (I was trying to calm my excitement of seeing the new 10198, and good thing I did because nothing showed up default_hmpfbad.gif ), and noticed that on nearly all white plates (4x6 and bigger) there was yellow discoloring around/on the studs where the mold injection is. This came out in 2002, so the plates weren't produced in the '90's. This is the only set (note: I collect only SW sets...yup, one of those SW nerds, that's me) where I've seen that discoloring take place, but I will be building a few other older sets soon just to see if this has happened in any other sets from '99-'03.

Have you had the set for a while? What kind of light/air conditions were the bricks placed in? This actually sounds similar to an issue in the 1980s, where many pieces had some kind of sensitivity around the injection point and sometimes developed a dark spot there (out of the box), but I haven't seen the effect since then.

#21 gratefulnat

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 08:14 PM

 CP5670, on Jun 23 2009, 08:40 PM, said:

Have you had the set for a while? What kind of light/air conditions were the bricks placed in? This actually sounds similar to an issue in the 1980s, where many pieces had some kind of sensitivity around the injection point and sometimes developed a dark spot there (out of the box), but I haven't seen the effect since then.

I got the set from s@h back in fall '03, and it's probably been on display for a total of three out of the last six years. It spent about 2 months with afternoon sunshine sizzeling it before I realised the error of my ways. One front 'cockpit' sticker was fried, which I managed to get back together with tweezers and some good liquid glue. Since then when on display all direct sunlight is blocked, although some natural light hits it since I don't have curtains on my windows, but I shut the shutters during the summer days to keep the light out. Temperature and humidity are pretty constant in my apartment (about 20°C in winter/up to 25°C in summer, fluxuation of about 6-7°C over the year, and humidity I try to keep around 60%), and I use no air conditioners or vaporizers/humidifiers.

(off topic:
Princeton NJ: my brother and his family live in Hopewell, but when visiting I like to browse the second hand music shops in Princeton to get hold of live Grateful Dead   :skull:  CD's I can't find here in Switzerland.)
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#22 CP5670

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 09:23 AM

 gratefulnat, on Jun 23 2009, 03:14 PM, said:

I got the set from s@h back in fall '03, and it's probably been on display for a total of three out of the last six years. It spent about 2 months with afternoon sunshine sizzeling it before I realised the error of my ways. One front 'cockpit' sticker was fried, which I managed to get back together with tweezers and some good liquid glue. Since then when on display all direct sunlight is blocked, although some natural light hits it since I don't have curtains on my windows, but I shut the shutters during the summer days to keep the light out. Temperature and humidity are pretty constant in my apartment (about 20°C in winter/up to 25°C in summer, fluxuation of about 6-7°C over the year, and humidity I try to keep around 60%), and I use no air conditioners or vaporizers/humidifiers.

(off topic:
Princeton NJ: my brother and his family live in Hopewell, but when visiting I like to browse the second hand music shops in Princeton to get hold of live Grateful Dead   :skull:  CD's I can't find here in Switzerland.)

That environment sounds pretty normal. I would expect any exposed white pieces to get yellowed in that case, but not just the molding point only.

The related issue in the 80s was apparently caused by something in the air, rather than light. The most severe case I've encountered was an unopened 6395 set from ebay that seemed to have been stored in a smoke-filled warehouse, as many white pieces had slight yellowing and traces of a soot-like substance on them (the bags back then were perforated and not airtight as they usually are today). Most pieces in white, yellow and red had a black mark around the injection point. They aren't regular stains and I have not found any way to remove them. I have occasionally seen this on parts from other 80s sets too, but it's fairly rare.

It's cool that you have been in this area. :classic: I live about a 10 minute drive from the university, as I'm a grad student there.

Edited by CP5670, 25 June 2009 - 09:31 AM.


#23 mrpolyonymous

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 05:53 PM

Thanks for the post, CP5670, that's some great information.

Something I haven't seen mentioned here yet: two of the pneumatic cylinders in my 8455 backhoes were defective out of the box. (TLG did not replace them :thumbdown: ) I believe there was a problem with the internal seal, as you can hear the air hissing out of them when you try to use them. I haven't seen any problems in the pneumatic cylinders since, but then again, there haven't been that many pneumatic parts produced either.

#24 CP5670

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 07:27 PM

There may have been a more widespread problem with the pistons in that set. Mark Bellis mentioned the same thing here, although the ones in my 8455 seem to be fine. I think it's worth adding to the list.

I'm surprised TLG refused to replace them, as they are usually very good about that. I had a few broken ones (the nozzles had come off) that they replaced around 2001.

#25 Lord Admiral

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 07:13 PM

 CP5670, on Jun 23 2009, 02:40 PM, said:

That issue is probably worth having an entry on. However, changes with the brick gripping strength have occurred many times in the past, and some were intentional and beneficial. Ideally, there should be a balance between having the bricks stay together firmly and coming apart easily when pulled off. If you go back to the late 1980s, the pieces in most sets had a very strong grip and could become quite hard to remove. TLG steadily cut back on the gripping power in the early 1990s, and it remained roughly the same from 1995 up until 2005 or 2006. The best middle ground was probably achieved during this period.

I think the change that you are talking about occurred around the same time as the colors and various other defects in 2006, but it may have come a bit earlier. These pieces are definitely too far on the weak side. In my experience, the weakest pieces suffer from some other flaw as well, either a color problem or the blunt edges issue. Plates and tiles have been affected by this more than bricks. As for the colors, small black pieces have a reasonably firm grip, white and yellow are the worst, and light blay is somewhere in the middle. Larger black pieces I have are as bad as other colors. Large (bigger than 4x4) plates and wedge plates in any color seem to have an especially weak grip on the bottom.

I'd personally prefer a relatively stronger grip for bricks, and a slightly weaker grip for plates, especially the smaller plates. Specifically, I think the underside of a plate's grip should be looser than other pieces. I actually like the gripping power of the plates as they are now. I think the bricks are still too loose though. I don't know if gripping power is related to the material or the mould, but I'd rather adjustments be made to the latter than the former. It's probably easier to change the plastic than to add .001 mm to the mould.

I've never had discoloration or edge issues with sets from that time period, but I didn't buy too many sets after seeing my KK2 ones disintegrate so easily. My biggest gripe at the time was with bricks, though you're right about the plates. But the issue with plates and tiles should only crop up on poorly-designed sets or set features, while loose bricks will affect the whole set. Plate and tile hold issues probably affect complex MOCs, but as long as the sets are fine, I can't really complain.

I never really noticed a problem with white, and I don't have enough sets that are yellow to know for sure. I have to build 6242 to see how the whites currently are holding. I have 7628 (yes, despite the decals), and they seem fine, if slightly better in fact, than the bley of 7079. Funny thing is, bley and black are probably the colors I have the most of, mostly because I have mostly castle and Star Wars sets. The only yellow bricks I have a lot of are the technic bricks of old, and they seemed to be on par with the ones that were gray. Admittedly, gray probably has different hold properties than bley...

Anyway, as far as I can tell, the hold of all of the pieces is a lot better than before, even from sets I bought a year ago. As long as this upward trend continues, I can live with it. There are probably residual defective pieces from the years you mentioned still floating around in sets, but as long as there are pieces with a strong grip to connect them to, they won't be a problem.

Interesting anecdote: I once got a clone brand with terrible hold back in the late 80's, and I couldn't build anything with it. But as soon as I combined them with Lego bricks, they were immediately useable. The clone bricks still sucked, but the Lego bricks had such good grip that it didn't matter.



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