LEGO answers some questions about Quality

Recently the Ambassador program was given a new line of communication for dealing directly with the Quality department. A number of questions were submitted and here are the answers.

QUALITY ISSUES & COMPLAINTS FROM LEGO FANS
1. Instruction booklets come loose in the boxes. They sometimes get damaged during transit. If they were tightly packed in polybags, it could prevent such damages. Stickers also get wrinkled, they could be packed with instructions.

A. Yes we know and we have started to package building instructions, labels and textiles in all sets with more than 1000 pieces in a poly bag. The current solution is a quick and dirty one. Version 2 will be ready with-in the first 3 month of 2011.

2. Fans are having hard time choosing colors from instruction booklets. Black and dark grey are especially very hard to distinguish.

A: It is not only fans that have the issue. All of us have. The last 4 years we have tried to optimize this 2 or 3 times by adjusting the printing technique with no luck. For 2012 second half products we will introduce an out-line for black elements – cross fingers that it will help.

3. Injection marks on transparent parts are ugly, fans don’t find them suitable for building. Especially window/glass pieces require more attention about molding.

A: There have been made some changes but give us an overview of the elements and we can verify/show if they have been corrected

4. Slopes come with different surface textures. Some are completely smooth while others have grain on them. It would be better if they were standardized.

A: 2 – 3 years ago we ensured that all roof tails’ have the same surface. By an unknown reason back in 2003 the surface of roof tails was changed from rough to smooth. All set manufactured the last 2 years should have uniform roof tails

5. Studs on certain parts are sometimes solid and sometimes hollow. This should be standardized too.

A: Sorry no. A hollow stud are there either because we need that building function (a tool for the minifigure fits on to the hole) or because we for technical reasons cannot make the stud hollow from the back. Look at the studs from the back on a plate. The studs is hollow otherwise we cannot control the dimensions.

6. Small tires are covered with some greasy material. Dust sticks on them and it’s hard to clean it.

A: We need the grease in order to remove the part from the mould. Yes it tend to be sticky and we are constantly trying to improve the materials used for tiers as they give other technically challenges.

7. There is a major tone difference in same colors. Dark red, red and yellow are the most troublesome colors about this issue. Also, some pieces are translucent, especially red ones. They look too bright next to other parts in same color.

A: We are constantly improving our colors and many improvements have been made the last 3 – 4 years. Please judge the current quality based on set packaged the last 6 months and feedback on that as we want the right quality.

9. Figure heads or torsos are problematic. Some heads don’t fit on some torsos, they stay too loose.

a. We need some examples, and please do so in order for us to correct the moulds.

If you have any questions or quality issues that you would like me to forward on to LEGO, feel free to do so in the comments. If you have quality concerns, try to be very specific. Links to a picture help a lot. If you have an issue with a particular part, make sure you include the mold and cavity numbers from the element. They generally look something like “3-1″. This signifies the mold and cavity from which your part came. It is a lot harder for the Quality department to look for problem if they don’t know which mold or cavity is causing the issue.

12 comments on “LEGO answers some questions about Quality

  1. legomason

    Regarding #2, instructions used to have black printed as black with white outlines but then it switched to dark grey and black outlines so the easy thing would just be to switch it back.

  2. Starwars4J

    First thanks to both you and TLG for fielding these questions, I know that for a company it’s always difficult to face customers’ complaints, but over all it yields better products, which ends up helping everyone.

    Anyway I guess I’ll ask the big question in the community, one that frankly I was surprised wasn’t included in the original list! What is being done about the Chinese-made figures? While yes, the quality of plastic and printing has improved since they first made their appearance, they’re still definitely distinguishable from their set-included cousins. I was wondering if there are any steps being made to completely homogenize the quality of LEGO figures?

    Thanks!

  3. Blackicep8ntball

    I’ve noticed recently a whole rash of inconsistencies between box photos and instructions and the actual parts that come in the set. For example:

    In General Grievous Starfighter, the 2009 version, Grievous is pictured on the front of the box holding all of his lightsabers straight up. (e.g. see the front of the box here: http://www.hetgroenedraakje.nl/images/8095_box_in.JPG). He can do this because two of his arms look like this: http://www.bricklink.com/PL/30377.jpg?0. However, the Grievous that comes in the package doesn’t have those arms; instead, all four of the arms in the package look like: http://www.bricklink.com/PL/bb462pb01L.jpg?1 So, the figure that actually comes with the set actually can’t hold his lightsabers straight up, or to put it more bluntly, the Grievous you see on the front of the box is not the Grievous you get inside.

    Another inconsistency I noticed recently was the trap door piece on the Toy Story Western Train 7597. The piece on the box photos and in the instructions is clearly this piece: http://www.bricklink.com/PL/30042.gif?0. However, the piece I got in the box was this piece: http://www.bricklink.com/PL/92099.jpg?1.

    Finally, the last inconsistency is the face of the dude on 7566 Farmer. The guy on the box has a plain black line smile: http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/AdditionalImages/7566-1/7566-1 (2).jpg. However, the fella inside has a different face (notice the smile: http://www.bricklink.co.za/LEGOShop/img/p/7566-977-thickbox.jpg.

    I’ve noticed other inconsistencies too, so I’m just curious why these happen?

    Thanks! Let me know if any of the links don’t work.

  4. Andrew

    I’m with Starwars4J on the lower-than-acceptable quality of the Collectible minifigs, Vintage minifigs, magnet figs, and others. No reliable source has confirmed that they’re actually made in LEGO’s Chinese facility, so I’m not labeling them “Chinese-made”, but the quality is very clearly distinguishable.

    Most specifically, the amount of dye in the ABS used for the legs is lower than the amount used in standard figs, and as such, the legs are nearly translucent. As a comparison, hold two dark tan legs (one from a Collectible minifig and one from something like Indiana Jones) up to a light.

  5. Catsy

    ^ I just compared a pair of my regular dark tan legs with a pair from the Aviator, and you’re right–I never noticed that before, but I can see the light through the holes in the back of the legs shining through the ABS.

    However, the fact that I never noticed and had to look really closely means I don’t really care all that much, unless it results in physically weaker elements.

  6. Wingtorn

    my main concern about quality lately is the minifigs. (number 3 bothers me as well.)

    as noted on the back of the series 2 and 3 minifigs, they are made out of plastic no.7. ( i cant noted series 1, as i no longer have the packaging for those right now on hand)

    plastic no.7 as we know, contains BPA. why is lego using these plastics to make the new minifigs? (also noted, that on boxes of legos in general, places where the parts are made are written, such as DENMARK, UNITED KINGDOM, CZECH REPUBLIC, etc. the back of the minifigs packaging, only reads “components made in CHINA.” i’m wondering if thats a factor, as they have been known to put lead paint in mattel products worries me as i get older, as i do want to share legos with the next generation.)

  7. Puddleglum

    @Blackicep8ntball

    On the question about the trap door, I think that is simply a matter of LEGO having two types of mold for the same part. Occasionally they make slight changes to a part that are not strictly functional, but are done to, for example, make the part stronger. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any reason at all for the change. Usually when a change is made, for a period of time a set might contain one part or the other, since they are sent to and then distributed from the same bins/containers. Anyways, Bricklink often distinguishes parts that LEGO considers to be the “same” part.

  8. legomason

    @Wingtorn

    Weird, I never noticed Lego having a recycling symbol on there before.
    But on Wikipedia it says No. 7 is “Other (often polycarbonate or ABS)”

  9. jediknight219

    With respect to the textures on slopes, the texture on part 3297 looks uneven, with the texture looking rougher towards the tip and smoother and too shiny towards the studs. This is especially noticeable with black pieces, and especially noticeable side by side with part 3298. It looks like a recent issue, since brand new slopes in set 10215 look like they have this problem.

    Comparing pieces in my collection, it looks like the pieces that have the part and mold information printed in the shallow end near the tip look good. The pieces that have the part and mold information printed in the deep end near the studs have the issue.

  10. Orthobotrex

    Newbie here…
    I was waiting for something like this to come out on the other prominent LEGO sites but it’s been too long already ever since this was brought up.

    My question is regarding the hend-held accessories for the minifigs that are coming out lately: why is there a disparity in the diameter/size of these things? Case in point would be the Spartan shield and spear. The shield slips in smoothly while the spear is quite stouter, so to speak. I’ve had broken minifig hands before, and I really don’t wont to add to anymore to those. Even if the collectible figs are made in China, maybe something could be done to improve this and make all rounded, hand-held stuff to be of similar diameter.

    Many thanks!

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