62Bricks

If you use Bricklink to confirm set inventories...

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...you should be aware that something of a coup has taken place there recently and the catalog geeks are now in charge. These are all well-meaning people, but their priorities are quite different than most buyers, sellers and collectors in my opinion.

The new de facto policy is to catalog sets as they were packaged rather than based on the parts used in the main models which is how it has been done for many years, and which is what the actual catalog definitions still state.

Most people are aware that most LEGO sets come with "extra" pieces that are not used in the model. These are usually small parts. Bricklink policy used to be that the parts used to build the main model as shown in the instructions were put in the "regular" section and the other parts were put in the "extras" section of the inventory. The Bricklink definition of a "complete set" for the purposes of buying and selling is based on this policy. On Bricklink, "complete" means a set has all the parts needed to build the main and alternate models and does not require the extra parts.

These definitions are all still in place, but they are not being followed by the admins any longer. Instead, they are hunting down photos of sealed sets and bags to document how parts were packaged and making changes to inventories based on that. A problem arises with parts like 1x1 round plates, which for a time were packaged with two plates on a sprue. In the past, the plates were listed in inventories individually. That means if two plates were included on a sprue but only one was in the model, one went in the regular section and one in the extras section. But the new admins are now actively deleting these plates from the extras section and putting them back on their sprues and into the regular section.

The result is that the regular section now includes parts not used in the model. If you have any of these used sets listed for sale as "complete" they are now potentially incomplete. And if you're buying one, you should know that you might not get that extra 1x1 round plate. Perhaps not a big deal in the grand scheme, however there is potential for bigger issues if they keep following the policy. Some of the plumes from Castle sets that came packaged three on a sprue are fairly valuable parts, for example, but are currently listed in the extras section of some sets. If this new practice puts them back in the regular section, you might end up with an upset customer or frustrated seller whose set that was complete when it was listed is now missing a $10 part.

It is not only the older sprue pieces. BL also recently changed the definition of regular parts to make the small individually-bagged accessories, like the utensils in Friends sets, a single "piece" in the regular section. This has the same effect in some sets where not all the pieces in the bag are used in the model. As far as I can tell, this was done mainly because of another obsession of the new admin crew, which is to make the Bricklink inventory part count match the one on the LEGO box - this is despite the fact that over the years LEGO has changed what they consider to be a "part" for purposes of the part count, and until recently did not even include part counts on the box for most of the world.

I'm not averse to change - there are also some much-needed improvements being made to the catalog. But I fear this new direction is veering away from the idea that the catalog should reflect how the sets are bought, sold and collected.

 

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Thanks for bringing this to our attention.  I'm not sure of the impact long-term, but there will certainly be a transitional period where this causes issues.

I understand the need for all parts boxed in a set to be included to consider the set complete, but I feel that BrickLink should include a listing of all parts used in the model as well.  Perhaps it could be a new level of completeness.  Complete is all boxed parts.  Incomplete is obviously missing pieces.  But Model Complete or Fully Buildable (or some other such name) would be if all of the parts to complete the build are included.

My opinion, anyways.

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13 minutes ago, x105Black said:

Thanks for bringing this to our attention.  I'm not sure of the impact long-term, but there will certainly be a transitional period where this causes issues.

I understand the need for all parts boxed in a set to be included to consider the set complete, but I feel that BrickLink should include a listing of all parts used in the model as well.  Perhaps it could be a new level of completeness.  Complete is all boxed parts.  Incomplete is obviously missing pieces.  But Model Complete or Fully Buildable (or some other such name) would be if all of the parts to complete the build are included.

My opinion, anyways.

Not a bad idea, but unfortunately "extras" are not the same everywhere. In the past, at least, boxes packed in one factory might have different extras than those packed in another. This is why the definition of "complete" is based on building the models because presumably every copy of the set will have those parts in common. The new unwritten policy is in conflict with the established practice and the written definitions, and it is creating a needless inconsistency in the inventories.

 

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4 hours ago, 62Bricks said:

Not a bad idea, but unfortunately "extras" are not the same everywhere. In the past, at least, boxes packed in one factory might have different extras than those packed in another.

This was my first thought as well - will the "complete" inventory change based on the region of the seller or something crazy like that?  I assume not, of course, which then again adds more inconsistency and potential grief for users while solving basically nothing that I can see.  A needless change IMO.  Thanks for bringing it to light here.

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I am glad I just use it as an expanded pick-a-brick! 

It is a shame that people want to put their personal idea over a what the community needs.

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I was using it to check complete inventory of the sets, but stopped doing that, as soon as I burned my brain one entire afternoon because of some "missing" pieces I had on an Wall-e set. I realized that the inventory on bricklink was the "wrong neck version" of this set, so I just picked up the instruction manual, and did it like that. Nowadays, I just use the instructions manual.

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If I'd buy a complete non sealed set, I would not consider the extras part of the build.

But I do use the Extras section to check on loose pieces I have in storage boxes.

1x1 tiles,plates,antennas are almost guaranteed extras , but I have seen inconsistent results too with for example gemstones.

It also depends on the number of bags, so something like an Advent Calendar tend to have more extras compared to a few large bags.

Edited by TeriXeri

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14 hours ago, x105Black said:

Thanks for bringing this to our attention.  I'm not sure of the impact long-term, but there will certainly be a transitional period where this causes issues.

I understand the need for all parts boxed in a set to be included to consider the set complete, but I feel that BrickLink should include a listing of all parts used in the model as well.  Perhaps it could be a new level of completeness.  Complete is all boxed parts.  Incomplete is obviously missing pieces.  But Model Complete or Fully Buildable (or some other such name) would be if all of the parts to complete the build are included.

My opinion, anyways.

I guess this is where the argument lies - I don't understand the need for all parts boxed to be included to be considered a complete set.  The complete set is what you have when it's built, the extras are extras, and when I'm selling used sets I use bricklink inventories to make sure I'm giving the buyer a complete set.  I wonder how Brickset is.  I guess, if you have the instructions for newer sets, they list the set inventory on the last pages.

 

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1 hour ago, fred67 said:

I guess this is where the argument lies - I don't understand the need for all parts boxed to be included to be considered a complete set.  The complete set is what you have when it's built, the extras are extras, and when I'm selling used sets I use bricklink inventories to make sure I'm giving the buyer a complete set.  I wonder how Brickset is.  I guess, if you have the instructions for newer sets, they list the set inventory on the last pages.

 

Yes, the newer sets have a parts list, and Bricklink now uses those lists as the definition of "regular" parts in their inventories. However, they also follow LEGO's practice of calling the small bags of utensils (like this one) a single "part." In some cases, not all of the utensils are used to complete the model as it is built in the instructions. In the past, these parts that were not used would have gone in the "extras" section. Now they are in the regular section.

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On 12/19/2018 at 1:40 PM, 62Bricks said:

The new unwritten policy is in conflict with the established practice and the written definitions, and it is creating a needless inconsistency in the inventories.

+1 That basically sums up my opinion.

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There is a difference between the contents of a new set and a used set. For example, a Jungle Boy set contains two knives which are a single part on a sprue. For the set to be new, this single part should not be broken apart into two parts (two knives). Whereas for a used set, you only need one knife. The knife should really be listed as an alternate part to the two knives on a sprue, since only one is needed to complete the used set. However, the way BL works doesn't allow that, as if it is an alternate part for a used set, it is also an alternative for the new set.

Unless BL keeps separate entries for both new and used sets, there is no real way around this. If the knives above are listed as one knife in the set and one extra, then it is not strictly correct as they came as a single part in the new set. The current way works for new sets better than for used. Whereas listing them as one part plus an extra works better for used sets.

I don't think extras are affected, if they are single extra parts - aren't these dealt with the way they always have been.

 

I think part of the reason for this is for when BL starts to import inventories from LEGO. As sprued parts have one number, then that is what LEGO supplies in the online inventory and also in the paper copy and that is what will be in the BL catalogue.

20 hours ago, fred67 said:

 I wonder how Brickset is.

 

 

The same as LEGO, as they import inventories direct already. So sprued parts will be the sprued parts, not individual ones.

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Well... if that's really the main issue, I think I can live with it, even if I don't agree with it.  Bricklink has actually always had a lot of problems, even after the acquisition and subsequent improvements - which came along with some debatably  bad decisions, too.  How about BrickOwl?

 

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Honestly, I don't mind this change. I'd almost go so far as to say I welcome it. I remember being extremely bewildered that the Hero Core accessories that came with the 2012 and 2013 Hero Factory sets were listed as part of the main inventory for the hero characters (who used them as part of the build) but as extras for the villain characters (who didn't) — even though those parts were listed in the inventories in the back of the instruction manuals, were a standard component of those sets, and were even advertised on the packaging!

There are plenty of other examples of parts that remain "loose"/not built into a larger part of the model, but that nobody could reasonably consider an extra — for example, most single-piece animals, or soccer balls/basketballs in LEGO Sports sets. So I honestly think it was sort of a double standard that BrickLink inventories ever treated other purposeful parts of a set's inventory like extra shooter ammo, unused parts that as part of a larger pre-pack or sprue, single-piece accessories in buildable figure sets, etc. the same as run-of-the-mill spares.

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2 hours ago, Aanchir said:

Honestly, I don't mind this change. I'd almost go so far as to say I welcome it. I remember being extremely bewildered that the Hero Core accessories that came with the 2012 and 2013 Hero Factory sets were listed as part of the main inventory for the hero characters (who used them as part of the build) but as extras for the villain characters (who didn't) — even though those parts were listed in the inventories in the back of the instruction manuals, were a standard component of those sets, and were even advertised on the packaging!

There are plenty of other examples of parts that remain "loose"/not built into a larger part of the model, but that nobody could reasonably consider an extra — for example, most single-piece animals, or soccer balls/basketballs in LEGO Sports sets. So I honestly think it was sort of a double standard that BrickLink inventories ever treated other purposeful parts of a set's inventory like extra shooter ammo, unused parts that as part of a larger pre-pack or sprue, single-piece accessories in buildable figure sets, etc. the same as run-of-the-mill spares.

Now that almost all sets come with an "official" parts list, adopting that as the basis for sets that have parts lists makes sense. It simplifies the partout process for sellers and there is a clear source.

Exceptions arise for sets from before the time when parts lists became common. Those are supposed to be based as much as possible on on the instructions, according to the current definitions. So "loose" parts shown in the instructions - like single-piece animals and soccer balls - would be included as regular parts. Parts included but not shown in the instructions were "extras."

Essentially, they have re-written the rule based on new sets and are applying it retroactively to older sets, which is not clarifying things at all but is creating even more exceptions.

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On 12/19/2018 at 11:21 AM, fred67 said:

I guess this is where the argument lies - I don't understand the need for all parts boxed to be included to be considered a complete set.  The complete set is what you have when it's built, the extras are extras, and when I'm selling used sets I use bricklink inventories to make sure I'm giving the buyer a complete set.  I wonder how Brickset is.  I guess, if you have the instructions for newer sets, they list the set inventory on the last pages.

That's an interesting distinction.

20 hours ago, MAB said:

There is a difference between the contents of a new set and a used set. For example, a Jungle Boy set contains two knives which are a single part on a sprue. For the set to be new, this single part should not be broken apart into two parts (two knives). Whereas for a used set, you only need one knife. The knife should really be listed as an alternate part to the two knives on a sprue, since only one is needed to complete the used set. However, the way BL works doesn't allow that, as if it is an alternate part for a used set, it is also an alternative for the new set.

Unless BL keeps separate entries for both new and used sets, there is no real way around this. If the knives above are listed as one knife in the set and one extra, then it is not strictly correct as they came as a single part in the new set. The current way works for new sets better than for used. Whereas listing them as one part plus an extra works better for used sets.

I don't think extras are affected, if they are single extra parts - aren't these dealt with the way they always have been.

 

I think part of the reason for this is for when BL starts to import inventories from LEGO. As sprued parts have one number, then that is what LEGO supplies in the online inventory and also in the paper copy and that is what will be in the BL catalogue.

The same as LEGO, as they import inventories direct already. So sprued parts will be the sprued parts, not individual ones.

And this goes further into that distinction.

Complete New could be all parts in the box, including extras or sprued or bagged parts.  Alternates could include unsprued or unbagged versions of sprued or bagged parts, but complete sets (all of the feathers, or all of the coins, even if they aren't used in the build).

Complete could be all parts listed in the inventory.  This can deal with Complete New vs Complete minus extras.

Complete Used could be all parts required for the complete build.  Alternates could include the sprued or bagged parts that could be separated into the parts required for the build.

This isn't the perfect breakdown, I'm sure.  But again, there are ways to satisfy both groups.  I think they should look into some alternatives.

But it's probably more work than it's worth, and easier to change to a new paradigm and allow people to adjust over time.

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The general thinking among the small crowd of users who are actively involved in catalog matters seems to be if only they had a more complex system they could create all kinds of different inventories for each set. I disagree that more complexity is the solution. It is entirely possible to include all the information about the set as it came packaged and as it is considered complete "used" using the current infrastructure. It only requires a different outlook.

In the real world, we will never know how some sets came packaged new because there aren't any available to check. So setting that as a standard for the secondary market seems like a losing proposition from the start, to me. I think the BL catalog should be based on how people in the market and the hobby buy, sell and collect the parts and sets, not on a theoretical ideal new set. Dealers in sealed, new sets really have no need for the inventories to reflect the packaged items. Buyers and sellers of used sets or sets that have been opened or individual parts to complete sets are the ones who need an inventory that reflects how those sets appear in the after market.

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There has always been that conflict between being a catalogue of what Lego issued and what sellers and buyers want. They are starting to relax it a bit, for example, by allowing large figures such as Groot to be listed as a figure. 

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On 12/22/2018 at 12:52 AM, MAB said:

There has always been that conflict between being a catalogue of what Lego issued and what sellers and buyers want. They are starting to relax it a bit, for example, by allowing large figures such as Groot to be listed as a figure. 

While they are relaxing this in one area, they're tipping the other direction in others. The new parts administrator is really leading the charge to get rid of as many inconsistencies as possible, but there does not seem to be any unifying mission on where to draw the line between these two needs. The only solutions that seem to be under consideration involve adding more layers of complexity to the catalog. It already has over 800 categories. It's kind of like looking at a houseful of jumbled possessions and thinking the only solution is to build more closets.

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Last week I asked the inventory admins why they were moving parts from the extras section into the regular section in apparent conflict with the stated definitions. I got no response, but today (Dec. 23) they changed the definitions to fit what they had already been doing in practice.

The tail is wagging the dog, it seems.

Regardless of where one thinks the parts should go, I think this makes it pretty clear that the admins are deciding what they want to do first without regard to past practice or the actual written policies, then changing the rules afterward. It is just this kind of ad hoc administration that has led to the situation they are trying to "fix." I don't see it improving until they step back and make some basic decisions on a mission.

We're going to end up with a very pretty catalog with lots and lots of little rules to follow and exceptions to remember. It will be like fancy Swiss watch with so many little dials and numbers you can't actually tell what time it is.

Edit: Forgot to give the link to the "new" rules: https://www.bricklink.com/help.asp?helpID=1562

Edited by 62Bricks
Added link

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On 1/10/2019 at 11:33 AM, MAB said:

One of the main volunteer catalog / inventory admins that was doing a lot of this work has resigned: https://www.bricklink.com/message.asp?ID=1123830

 

Robert is a good guy who wanted to do right by the Bricklink community. I didn't know about the dispute over being paid.

So there would appear to be no catalog admin at the moment.

 

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On 1/11/2019 at 9:11 PM, 62Bricks said:

 

Robert is a good guy who wanted to do right by the Bricklink community. I didn't know about the dispute over being paid.

So there would appear to be no catalog admin at the moment.

 

Yeah, and was doing some good work. Unpaid of course, which seems to be the problem. They have lost three decent admins in the past month or so.

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