LEGO 40179 Personalized Mosaic Portrait: downsized, but not in a fun way [Feature]

The LEGO Company is well-known for its excellent customer service. The products are generally high quality, and when errors occur they are quick to issue replacements. However, we recently encountered an unfortunate scenario that left a bad impression. While many of the products we review are provided for us by LEGO itself (which doesn’t mean, of course, that we always give them positive coverage), just like most of you, we also buy a lot of LEGO through regular retail avenues. That’s where I come in. My name is Chris Doyle, and I’m a contributor here at The Brothers Brick. Frequent readers may also recognize my name from the LEGO Art super hero mosaics I’ve been building lately. It’s fair to say I’ve spent a lot (a lot a lot a lot) of money on LEGO mosaic kits and related parts over the past year. When LEGO announced their new 40179 Personalized Mosaic Portrait kit, I quickly found an excuse to buy it. But what do you do when the 6,002-piece set you order arrives and it only has 4,502 pieces? Somewhere along the way, LEGO substantially changed the number of pieces included in this set. Here’s my experience.

This story begins on February 1st. The Pirate-themed VIP coin offer had just gone live, and I wanted to make sure I got one. But since you have to attach a VIP redemption to an order, I had to buy something. As usual, I wanted to get more parts to make my own mosaics. Unfortunately, the great parts-pack of the Harry Potter Mosaic set was out of stock. “No worries,” I thought. “There’s that new ‘Personalized Mosaic Portrait’ set. It uses square plates instead of the round elements in the Art sets, but I might want to try out a ‘standard’ plate image in the near future. $130 USD is more expensive than the Art kits, but it comes with 6,002 pieces, so it’s still a good deal.”

When I got the kit, I was in for some disappointment. First, my VIP coin’s case was all scratched up, thanks to the tissue-paper wrapping they ship in. But the bigger problem came to light when I was talking with my wife about the bulk plate in the mosaic kit…and noticed something shocking. The part count on the box was 4,502, not 6,002. That’s a 1,500 piece difference. The set is mainly 1×1 plate in five colors – black, white, yellow, dark grey and light grey. (For the curious, the other two parts are a brick separator and a grey baseplate.) So I was expecting 1,200 of each color, but the set only had 900 of each.

“This can’t be right,” I grumbled. “I know it was 6,002 parts on the site. I did the whole ‘price per part’ thing to try and see if it was better to get this or another Beatles art set.”

So I went back to the LEGO site, and sure enough the set information showed 6,002 pieces. But then I noticed the set picture showed a part count of 4,502. I fired off a few emails to customer support, and left a review on the site pointing out the problem. Here’s what the page looked liked when I checked on it on the 7th.

And then things got really weird. I was discussing the situation with fellow Brothers Brick contributor Edwinder Signh. It turns out he had downloaded visual assets for this set directly from LEGO around the time I ordered the set on the 1st, in preparation for writing an article about the mosaic software associated with the kit. And the picture of the set that was on LEGO’s site when I placed my order? It showed 6,002 pieces, too. I hadn’t made a mistake or misremembered the listing – it was changed. Unfortunately, I had just assumed I’d misremembered the box art when I emailed LEGO and left a review.

On the 9th my review went live – with still no response from LEGO (nor had I received a response to my emails–perhaps a result of the customer service delays that LEGO has been struggling with for the past several months). Note I still gave the set two stars. Even in my disappointment, I couldn’t completely pan the set.

With no direct response, I decided this was important enough to try and ping LEGO a different way. I wrote a very grumpy Instagram post and tagged their social media team. But my personal Instagram account is a small one without much clout, so once again it went without notice from LEGO.

Then, on the 11th, things got even more wonky. LEGO replied to my review, clarifying the expected part count. (I’m not sure why the timestamp on the response is backdated; maybe internal comments have to go through a review process before they go live on the site, too.)

Interestingly, they also updated the part count–to 4,702! That’s still wrong, of course, because the set actually contains 4,502, as shown on the updated box.

Why was this such a problem for me? Because the core draw of this kit is the parts. When you buy a model of an object–say, a Space Shuttle–and LEGO changes the design or gets the part count wrong, when you open the set and build it you still get a Space Shuttle. In this case, however, the set’s entire purpose is a parts pack. It’s not a set designed to build a specific object; it’s a kit designed to provide you the parts to build your own thing. The parts (and their quantity) is literally the most important thing about it.

At the time of this writing, I still haven’t heard back directly from Customer Service on this, and the part count on the site is still showing 4,702. This experience is really odd, and out of character for the great support LEGO has always given me in the past. If this were just a few parts I wouldn’t be so concerned. But for those of us who bought a set expecting 6,002 pieces, that’s a 1,500 part count difference, or about 25%. This is false advertising on LEGO’s part, and they need to address the problem.

To me, there are several key things that need to happen.

  • First and foremost, fix the product listing to be accurate with regards to part count
  • Second, contact anyone who purchased the set online between when it was listed and when things are finally fixed. Let everyone know about the issue, and let us know what happened.
  • Third, offer some sort of compensation. Send customers who purchased the set the missing 1,500 parts to get them up to the advertised amount, or offer a refund or credit.

In all of the above interactions I was acting as “just” an adult LEGO collector. (I didn’t bring up my association with The Brothers Brick to try and earn some sort of special treatment.) However, before this article was published, The Brothers Brick editorial team did reach out directly to LEGO for a comment. This is the response we’ve received so far.

[…] the issue was reported [to LEGO Customer Service] on Feb 6th, and while in communications with customers they have communicated the correct 4,502 piece count in the reviews section of the product page, an error is still showing the incorrect piece count on the site. We have requested they reopen the issue to resolve this, thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Update, Feb. 19: LEGO has provided us with a further response:

Thanks for getting in touch about the piece count listed on our website for the LEGO® Mosaic Maker.

Almost every LEGO set includes some extra pieces and the Mosaic Maker is no different. While the number of pieces on the box is shown as 4502, you’ll find the actual number of pieces is closer to 4700. We’ve included significant overfill because we know small pieces can easily go missing. We’d rather you have them on hand instead of having to search for them later.

We’re sorry for any confusion and for having the wrong number of pieces shown initially. It was never our intention to mislead or misrepresent what you’d receive. There was a mistake in some of our data and we’re taking the steps necessary to correct it.

Update Feb 21: Shop@Home has updated the product listing and details to show a 4502 part count.  They have also updated the Specifications text:

Creative people will love turning their favorite photos into awesome artworks with this LEGO® Mosaic Maker building kit. Upload a photo to the Mosaic Maker experience on and receive digital building instructions. The builder can then enjoy some quality time creating a mosaic version of the photo with 4,500 1×1 LEGO plates . There’s no limit on the number of photos that can be uploaded for building instructions, so the mosaic can be rebuilt unlimited times.

  • Awesome LEGO® Mosaic Maker building set, featuring a 48×48 gray LEGO baseplate and 4,500 1×1 LEGO plates in 5 colors to recreate favorite photos as mosaics.

Update Apr. 5: After a month of silence, I decided to ping Customer Service again. This time my email was responded to the next business day, and I think we’ve reached a positive endpoint for this whole kerfuffle.

Thanks for getting in touch about the piece count listed on our website for the LEGO® Mosaic Maker (40179).

Almost every LEGO set includes some extra pieces and the Mosaic Maker is no different. While the number of pieces on the box is shown as 4502, you’ll find the actual number of pieces is closer to 4700. We’ve included significant overfill because we know small pieces can easily go missing. We’d rather you have them on hand instead of having to search for them later.

We’re sorry for any confusion and for having the wrong number of pieces shown initially. It was never our intention to mislead or misrepresent what you’d receive. There was a mistake in some of our data and we’re taking the steps necessary to correct it.

Since I’m not able to send you the parts, I’ve added 3,250 VIP bonus points to your account. This equals out to a $25 discount voucher.

Let us know if you need anything else. Have a brick-tastic day!

So, there you have it. After a lot of drama, LEGO customer service came through for me in the end. This is the sort of response that I’d seen in the past, and I’m happy to see things are returning to that high level of service.

If you had a similar experience with this set, I suggest dropping LEGO a line and see if they can work things out with you, too.

24 comments on “LEGO 40179 Personalized Mosaic Portrait: downsized, but not in a fun way [Feature]

  1. Ian

    That is very interesting Chris, I noticed that in both images of the site, the box had 4,502 pieces on, below the logo, despite the site saying 6,002 and 4,702! I think LEGO has tried to cheat a little, or they must have copy and pasted the old set’s text and code, but just forgot to change the pieces. Either way this is a great find, and a well written article as well.

  2. jpl

    – and under “Bring your Mosaic to life” in the Features section of the webpage it STILL (Feb. 18) says “Each set comes with a grey base and 6,000 1×1 plates in four colors.”

  3. Chris

    This happened to me too. I bought and was disappointed. Sent customer service an email and just heard back the advertised piece count was wrong. So annoying since I bought it for the pieces.

  4. Dave

    I bought the original version of this in 2016 (same set number) from the Lego London flagship store which had a photo booth to get instructions. That set is 4502 pieces. So not sure what happened when they decided to sell online but I think the error was technical and the the set itself never changed. Not sure why the box art would have been altered unless they do plan to change and are selling off old stock.

  5. James Milner-Smith

    On a related matter, the FAQ page for the Grand Piano Powered-Up app clearly states (and has done so for months now) that “ Can I make my piano play my own music?
    Yes! If you create your own project in the LEGO Powered Up App you can code the piano using the different sounds from sound blocks.” which is also miss-selling, because that functionality does not yet exist in the Powered-Up app… Lego have confirmed that to me, but have so far persisted in not apologising for misleading me (and others) and don’t seem to see it as an important thing to correct their website when they know it is wrong… very disappointing from a Company who have otherwise offered excellent Customer Service!

  6. Jonathan A Mills

    I’m sorry you received fewer parts than you were expecting.

    I have a hard time taking this narrow use case seriously as a ding against Lego’s costumer service. I agree with the first proposed solution of correcting the listing, but I find the other proposals rather silly.

  7. Mike T-Bricker

    Lego is literally one of the largest companies in the world. With LITERALLY the WORST customer service known to mankind. Regarding their customer service, everything is NOT awesome.

  8. Justatoy

    There is pandemic going on in case y’all forgot. Mistakes happen and your acceptance of only the outcome you desire is not going to encourage better customer support. Articles bordering on conspiracy theories seem like the only big issue to me. The new Blacksmith set and previous Barracuda Bay are mind-blowing-ly amazing. You are adults who expect too much from a toy company who gets vilified based on a typo. I want more MOCs and none of this please.

  9. Sue

    I personally am not a Lego collector. However, I have a 40 yr old son and a 6 yr old Grandson who are leaning that way.
    I have recent had issue and contacted Lego..with no response! Their customer service is horrendous!

  10. Snell

    They still show a 6002 part count picture on the New products list as well (as of 2:47pm EST. February 18th).

  11. Jimmy

    This is a big deal, and it’s false packaging, and it’s quite illegal. There is at least one hard drive manufacturer who was sued (settled out of court, I believe) because the actual capacity of the hard drive did not match what it said on the box, and it was far smaller than the 25% difference here!

    This is far beyond “mistakes can happen, it’s just a typo, let it go”. Those numbers exist in multiple locations it wasn’t just a single mistake, and the fact that it is still wrong(just checked a minute ago!) is bad.

    Lego owes people the missing pieces, an equivalent value in cash, or the opportunity to return their set for a full refund including shipping.

  12. Jonathan A Mills

    I look forward to The Brothers Brick’s ongoing coverage of a class action lawsuit against Lego alongside their reviews of products provided to them by Lego.

  13. Alex

    You said this set was something you bought for parts. But that isn’t the intention. The intent of the set is to build a mosaic. When you compared it to the Shuttle set, I think you came to the wrong conclusion. Because you can still build the mosaic. It’s just that you are thinking of it as parts and not a set.

    I do think LEGO owes you an apology and an explanation, at least.
    The difference per piece comes out to $0.007. If you calculated and each part was $0.028, are you saying you would have said that was too much per piece? But $0.021 is acceptable?
    I don’t calculate price per piece so the difference seems extremely small.

    I don’t know if this would be considered false advertising or not. It really depends on how you view the set. You can still build the mosaic, but didn’t get all the parts shown on the box.

    Is that like buying a bag of chips only to find them all crumbs? Or is it more like buying a water filter that says it can remove 99% of the bad gunk but only removes 50% of the bad gunk.

    All that to say, I disagree with you. But it certainly seems like it depends on how you view a set. As spare parts or as a set to build.

  14. Chris Doyle Post author

    Hey all, OP here. I’m glad to see this is generating some discussion and interest. Let me clarify a few of my viewpoints.

    First, for those who are also critical of LEGO customer service, let me say again that this is totally an outlier in my experience. In fact, it’s the contrast to the high level of quality I normally get from my interactions with them that made this whole experience stand out.

    This is a Website and Marketing issue that has rolled downhill for customer service to have to deal with. And, yes, thanks to the pandemic they’re already swamped. Hence my trying to get this issue in front of those other teams to at least keep other buyers from having the same issue I ran into. And, from what we’ve seen here, that’s still an ongoing concern. I’m confident that eventually there’ll be a positive outcome from the Customer Service side of the equation, and that the website will get the needed edits.

    On the “.007 cents difference per part doesn’t seem like a big deal” front, it’s true there’s not a huge difference between 2 and 3 cents, but when you think about this at the scale of 1.5k missing pieces, it’s a larger impact. I look at it this way: Those missing pieces are valued between $30-$45, depending on which PPP number you’re using. Even taking the average, that’s ~$37.50 in parts I paid for but did not receive. That’s a pretty big hit, no? In trying to explain why this matters to me, I used that analogy for a “model” kit vs a “parts” kit. But it might also be worth noting that if I bought a 6002 piece UCS Space Shuttle, and the revised design and parts count was 4502…I’d probably still be upset. Again, it’s a question of scale. One thousand five hundred pieces isn’t exactly a trivial amount. And, at the end of the day, the product that I paid for was not the product I received. why is it unreasonable to expect some sort of refund or other correction? And why is it unreasonable to think that LEGO should do the same for the other people who bought the set under the same circumstances?

    Finally, to reply to the “you bought a mosaic kit, and you can still build that mosaic” threads…I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. A lower part count of each color means that the images that I can create are more limited. If the image is heavy on a single color (like, say, black), the reduced part count might not be enough. And that problem also scales up, as every color in the kit is impacted by lower quantities. So, even looking at this issue purely through the lens of “can I build my mosaic”, there’s still a problem.

    Anyway. Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts on this.

  15. John

    You’ve got to look at this as a story about customer service and commitment to customers. This is an example of a company taking little interest in it’s customers or service. Lego is in the fortunate position of having at least as many fans as customers, they’ll forgive things like this for a while.

  16. Jimmy

    Quoting @ Alex above “I don’t know if this would be considered false advertising or not. It really depends on how you view the set. You can still build the mosaic, but didn’t get all the parts shown on the box.

    Is that like buying a bag of chips only to find them all crumbs? Or is it more like buying a water filter that says it can remove 99% of the bad gunk but only removes 50% of the bad gunk.”

    In my amateur understanding, this counts as false advertising.
    The qty of parts in the set is a very specific quantifiable fact.

    For your bag of chips example, it’s not about crumbs, it’s about the ounces/grams of food inside the bag, which at least here in the USA is a pretty tightly regulated thing. Same for gasoline pumps, if I pump 20 gallons of fuel, I would be damn pissed if my tank ended up 5 gallons short! Food and fuel are fairly heavily controlled, but it’s the same for boxes of screws or a multi-pack of tshirts or anything else really.

  17. Bleugh

    Love the site, love your work, Dislike this article, it’s in poor taste.

    it’s clearly a goof-up. Videos of the leicester square opening clearly show the 4502 pieces part count on the mosaic maker. Articles about other store openings show the part count.

    Your article, whilst appreciated, is poorly researched, worded, and generally unpleasant.

    At no point did “LEGO substantially change the number of pieces included in this set”.

    At some point “LEGO goofed up” by listing incorrectly an inflated number of parts that never actually happened. (maybe it was planned!, maybe not, who knows?)

    Your enthusiasm for LEGO is clear, yes, however, your sheer abhorrence, public shaming and entitled response to what’s a fairly simple manner is, well, unpleasant.

    A little research on your side would be great! #
    A revised title would be useful…….someting along the lines of

    “Lego’s MOSAIC has just been listed on their site, should it have really been listed with 6000 pieces?, turns out it was an error, here’s my experience”

    Me, I bought one of these for the Wife. I was initially ‘dismayed’ at being ‘shorted’ 1500 pieces………
    I did a bit of research, have seen that it never was 6000 pices, have emailed Lego politley and asking what’s happening.

    at no point have I (or will I) DEMAND any form of compensation. At some point, lego may or may not offer ‘something’ as a token gesture.

  18. lolsen

    I’ve only ever had to contact customer service once (and I’ve literally hundreds and hundreds of sets) and when I did (a shipment was late by one and a half month, they promptly apologized, resend the shipment, and refunded my 850dkr. (approx. $120).

    To call that the worst costumer service ecer, is perplexing by my standards.

    Back to the topic, if it is stated that the set should include x amount of pieces, thebset should include x amount of pieces. End of discussion, simple as that.

    Write to the customer service, explain that your missing a certain amount of pieces, in relation to the number which was stated and wait… Their customer service have been laid down flat by the pandemic, it can take weeks before they reach your complaint, but they will… So… Wait…

    Simple, easy and without the need for further ado, conspiracies, etc.

    Simply, write, wait, enjoy.

  19. BrickTsar

    I bought it knowing it was a mistake on the website. The picture always showed 4502. Just wanted to complain. Set never had 6002 or 4702 pieces

  20. Pilop

    I’m surprised how many people defend Lego here and attack the author. Is Lego deliberately deceiving its customers? No, the wrong information was probably simply an oversight. Is Lego responsible for the mistake? Definitely! Due to the mistake, they advertised the product with a wrong, better number of parts. No customer should be required to study the picture of the box. One has to be able to rely on the description. In a product where, as the author has already pointed out, the number of parts defines the product. It is like buying a box of bricks, where a quarter of them is missing.

    Mistakes can happen, but then you have to admit them and act accordingly. This is where the real problem lies in this case. Not only was the error correction on the website sluggish, Lego has also obviously not acknowledged to this day that they made a relevant mistake here. A mistake that, due to the nature of the product, gives buyers a legitimate claim for compensation. Lego is also behaving absolutely clumsily here. The cost of compensation for all buyers who complain and demand one is small compared to the damage that such cases can have on their own image.

  21. Andrew

    Honestly this story doesn’t surprise me. Everyone always says their customer service is amazing, but whenever I interact with them online, they are borderline worthless and take several weeks to respond. The pandemic has been going on for a year now, it’s no longer an excuse. With that said — when I’ve called them and talked to someone, they are much more helpful and obviously quick to help however they can.

  22. Anuradha Pehrson

    Hi Chris, Thanks for taking the time to write your experience and I’ll be on the lookout for updates. I bought mine a couple of weeks back and it arrived yesterday. I plan to contact customer service just to be on record.
    I agree with you, I bought it for a great PPP and got 1500 fewer parts as than advertised.

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