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Lego Quality Reference


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#251 Lyichir

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 07:16 PM

View PostMikuri, on 17 February 2014 - 02:08 AM, said:

I understand it might not be a plastic issue, but then how is the molding the cause?
I mean the part is about the same, maybe not the texture of the slope, but the rest is the same, except the color, which looks trans instead of solid opaque.

You didn't mention the color issues initially. Those could possibly be a plastic issue (although it's probably more likely a dye issue). But as for the other issues you mentioned, they're related to the molding process. The texture on the slope has to do with the surface finish on the mold (issues with slopes being too smooth were so endemic half a decade or so ago that I was under the impression that the smoother slopes were a deliberate change being phased in), and I assume by "the stud looks softer" you're referring to the crispness of the mold and not literal softness.

I'm sorry if I was a little blunt, but having been a Bionicle fan I've dealt with the fallout of widespread oversimplification of part defects for a long time. In 2007 there was a bad batch of lime-green joint pieces that was extremely brittle, and it was initially blamed on "cheap plastic" (later, we got the official story—that this batch cooled too quickly and became brittle as a result—thus, the plastic formulation was the same). Then in subsequent years a new joint piece was introduced that also had a tendency to crack, and it was widely assumed to be caused by the same "cheap plastic" (even though it seems to have been a flaw in the geometries of the redesigned joint). Both issues were also widely blamed specifically on cheap plastic from China, even though to my knowledge the only Bionicle parts ever produced in China were the electronic "light-up" elements from 2006—a year before the fragile joints became a widespread problem.

Quality issues in Lego are a big problem, and one that the company has been shown to be very concerned about. But fan misinterpretations of defects, especially ones that attribute multiple types of defects to a single cause, make multiple isolated problems seem like a single endemic problem. That poisons the dialogue and leads to kneejerk reactions, including accusations, boycotts and demands issued at Lego based on flawed assumptions. Fans should definitely continue to report quality issues to Lego and share concerns with each other—after all, corroborating evidence can help to identify real large-scale quality issues when they occur. But pinning the blame on a single factor without the evidence to prove it makes it harder for other fans to tell isolated problems apart from widespread ones.

Edited by Lyichir, 17 February 2014 - 07:16 PM.


#252 DrJB

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 08:43 PM

View PostLyichir, on 17 February 2014 - 01:58 AM, said:

Please stop saying cheap plastic when you don't mean it. You listed a number of legitimate issues with the part, but none of them have anything to do with the type or quality of plastic used. They're all molding issues. Blaming any and all part quality errors on the plastic quality is one of the most ridiculous memes in the AFOL community.

In the end, it does not matter whether the issue comes from plastic formulation, mold geometry, or process (cooling too fast). What matters most is that the end user (Mikuri or anyone else) is not happy with the quality and that is reason enough for TLG to take note and remedy. When a part is defective, I do not care 'how' it became defective or what the specific root-cause is ... And it really matters not what you call it (cheap plastic or else) as not everyone understands fully (nor is expected to) all that it takes to mold plastic parts.

You are somehow 'separating' molding issues from formulation ... and I'd disagree, the formulation for plastic affects how easy it flows in the mold. What may appear as a molding issue might be in fact a process issue i.e., how hot was the plastic when injected into the mold. Formulation, mold geometry (mix of thin and thick walls) and process are all intertwined here. I've spent a great deal of my years in rubber/plastic molding ... and it's way more 'convoluted/complex' than the average Joe/Jane thinks.

Edited by DrJB, 17 February 2014 - 09:58 PM.


#253 naf

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 05:10 AM

Honestly, Lego produces billions of pieces each year.  It doesn't matter how good your quality control is, on that scale there will some defects that get missed and get into the wild.  Unfortunately some people are less lucky than others.  I've been playing with or buying Lego off and on since 1984, and I've never had a single missing or defective piece.  I think the difference is that in the Internet age people can report these issues to places like Eurobricks which makes it seem like it's a bigger problem than it is.

#254 Mikuri

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 01:33 PM

View Postnaf, on 18 February 2014 - 05:10 AM, said:

Honestly, Lego produces billions of pieces each year.  It doesn't matter how good your quality control is, on that scale there will some defects that get missed and get into the wild.  Unfortunately some people are less lucky than others.  I've been playing with or buying Lego off and on since 1984, and I've never had a single missing or defective piece.  I think the difference is that in the Internet age people can report these issues to places like Eurobricks which makes it seem like it's a bigger problem than it is.

Maybe you simply didn't notice. My lover didn't until I show it.
Some colors are easier to spot (YELLOW!!!!) but I've seen this problem with bluish light gray 1x1 round / square plates and pearl gold ones. Trans-light blue are easy to spot too, it's kinda blurry. Many 1x1 round brick trans light-blue have those.

I don't know about the spread of it, but when you take a closer look, you can find some more but that's the few ones I've see.

Curiously, I have yet to see a technic part with this kind of problem. All those issues were in Chima sets before the Outlands wave.

Edited by Mikuri, 18 February 2014 - 01:33 PM.

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#255 Wodanis

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 04:56 PM

View PostMikuri, on 18 February 2014 - 01:33 PM, said:

Maybe you simply didn't notice. My lover didn't until I show it.
Some colors are easier to spot (YELLOW!!!!) but I've seen this problem with bluish light gray 1x1 round / square plates and pearl gold ones. Trans-light blue are easy to spot too, it's kinda blurry. Many 1x1 round brick trans light-blue have those.

I don't know about the spread of it, but when you take a closer look, you can find some more but that's the few ones I've see.

Curiously, I have yet to see a technic part with this kind of problem. All those issues were in Chima sets before the Outlands wave.
If you are curious Mikuri, check out this thread: http://www.eurobrick...topic=50275&hl=

Yellow Air tanks are one of the pieces that I see with an obvious change. Various parts for Chima are produced in China. At least in 2012-2013, perhaps with the new wave they have moved the production back to Denmark or Hungary?

View PostLyichir, on 17 February 2014 - 01:58 AM, said:

Please stop saying cheap plastic when you don't mean it. You listed a number of legitimate issues with the part, but none of them have anything to do with the type or quality of plastic used. They're all molding issues. Blaming any and all part quality errors on the plastic quality is one of the most ridiculous memes in the AFOL community.

I disagree as well. If a part came out deformed then it is a molding issue. If there is a colour change or textural issue it is due to the material ie the plastic. It's basic common sense.

View PostDrJB, on 17 February 2014 - 08:43 PM, said:

In the end, it does not matter whether the issue comes from plastic formulation, mold geometry, or process (cooling too fast). What matters most is that the end user (Mikuri or anyone else) is not happy with the quality and that is reason enough for TLG to take note and remedy. When a part is defective, I do not care 'how' it became defective or what the specific root-cause is ... And it really matters not what you call it (cheap plastic or else) as not everyone understands fully (nor is expected to) all that it takes to mold plastic parts.


Completely agree. It is about the end result. Lego does have slips in quality control now and then. That is just expected. TLG makes millions of parts per year so it is bound to happen. However the company will replace the 'faulty' parts should you request it. I get disappointed when I encounter a lesser quality part but as long as the company helps to replace it then I won't worry too much.

Edited by Wodanis, 21 February 2014 - 04:57 PM.


#256 naf

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 06:51 PM

View PostWodanis, on 21 February 2014 - 04:56 PM, said:

Completely agree. It is about the end result. Lego does have slips in quality control now and then. That is just expected. TLG makes millions of parts per year so it is bound to happen. However the company will replace the 'faulty' parts should you request it. I get disappointed when I encounter a lesser quality part but as long as the company helps to replace it then I won't worry too much.

Exactly.  It's unrealistic to expect a mass produced product to be perfect 100% of the time.  Errors get through QC, it happens.  What separates the good companies from the bad is how they handle customer complaints.  Lego will always send free replacements for missing or defective pieces, no questions asked.  Other companies are not that service oriented.

#257 Mikuri

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 10:17 PM

View Postnaf, on 21 February 2014 - 06:51 PM, said:

Exactly.  It's unrealistic to expect a mass produced product to be perfect 100% of the time.  Errors get through QC, it happens.  What separates the good companies from the bad is how they handle customer complaints.  Lego will always send free replacements for missing or defective pieces, no questions asked.  Other companies are not that service oriented.

I do know that they take costumer services seriously. Had some missing parts with my Lion Chi Temple and they even called to make sure I they understand correctly which parts I was missing (like the Cross Axle 32L). That is, in my own language which is french and not a "almost good" french speaker neither.

Even companies from here don't offer me with that level of services or sometimes they don't even speak french or a very little. So yes, they do have some quality issues, but yes they do take care of the costumers, no matter what the problem is.

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#258 AndyC

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 10:29 PM

View PostWodanis, on 21 February 2014 - 04:56 PM, said:

Yellow Air tanks are one of the pieces that I see with an obvious change. Various parts for Chima are produced in China. At least in 2012-2013, perhaps with the new wave they have moved the production back to Denmark or Hungary?

Yellow is a colour Lego have seemingly had problems keeping consistent ever since the move from pre-dyed pellets to doing their own dying in-house. And that has been a problem since long before Chinese production. As I've said before, the yellow colouring on collectible minifigs (which are all Chinese made) is, if anything, much more consistently the same colour than parts coming out of other Lego factories like Denmark.

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I disagree as well. If a part came out deformed then it is a molding issue. If there is a colour change or textural issue it is due to the material ie the plastic. It's basic common sense.
The texture of surfaces can be just as much a mold problem as a material one, it's not nearly as clear cut as you suggest.
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#259 Faefrost

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 04:26 AM

Honestly by far the majority of the "quality" issues that most complain about stem from fairly major production changes that in the end give us far more benefits. Take the color injection system as an example. Instead of using pre colored plastics they can color neutral pellets as needed as parts are molded. There is a hair more variance in some of the colors. But the end result is we get far more parts in far more colors. Sets can be designed with elaborate enhancing color pallets, and not simply limited to available inventories. Take a look at how wonderfully elaborate the balanced color schemes on the Palace Cinema or the Parisian Restaurant are. All of the subtleties. Look at the council of Elrand set. These types of sets were made possible because of the color injection system allowing Lego to produce part X in color Y as needed, with much less logistical effort.

The same thing with the extremely rare damaged part. The sets are packaged by increasingly elaborate automated mechanisms. Very very complex machinery. By its very nature something will on occasion slip through and get mangled. Which would never happen in the old days of hand packaging or even less automated systems. But the benefit is they can package up a million of a given set easily and quickly. Which means they can spread the sets that we love further and faster.

No business will seek to reduce quality of the product. And contrary to common belief they will rarely seek to reduce costs by directly reducing quality, or reducing quality of materials for absolute cost reasons. Rather they will seek to increase production efficiency and flexibility. Reduce the input supply chain while increasing the variety and efficiency of the product coming out the door. Sometimes in doing so there are trade offs. If a production mechanism allows you to go from being able to package 100,000 sets per run, to 1 million, but on extremely minuscule occasions it may hiccup and mangle a part, say around 0.02% of the time! which is the better deal for you and your customers? How about reducing your supply logistics to a single neutral plastic, and being to generate any part in any color as you need it, when you need it? Is that worth the yellow not quite being as perfectly yellow as it used to be?

Oh and one more thing to keep in mind about perceived changes to quality. Not all of them are direct business reasons. Some may be regulatory changes or even a desire to be a more "green" company. There is a complaint that colors, particularly yellow, seem more translucent, and not as vibrant or opaque these days. Or that plastics feel different. A good chunk of those issues can be attributed to changes in the dyes to make them more environmentally friendly. Those old school bright yellows? Yeah it used to take a lot of real interesting substances to get them so nicely bright and yellow. Things like Cadmium or Lead. So which is more preferable? Brighter more yellowy yellows? Or not as bright yellows with substantially fewer heavy metals involved?

Remember it's all about trade offs.
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