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Rough Edges and Parts that Don’t Line Up

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Rough Edges and Parts that Don’t Line Up

Postby buhs » Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:18 pm

I’ve noticed lately that LEGO bricks don’t seem to be finished as well as they used to be. There seem to be a lot of “spars” and outcrops of untrimmed plastic on bricks. Additionally pieces don’t seem to match up smoothly (ie. There a gaps and uneven transitions between bricks (some bricks are slightly wider than others)… meaning when you run your finger across joined bricks there are definite transitions, rather than a continuous surface as in the past). With our age of CAD design, and micro-tolerance manufacturing, why are we seeing these inferior manufacturing differences appearing in LEGO products… one could say *gasp* that it’s getting into the realm of Mega blocks quality! What do you think? (Don’t even get me started about the missing/defective parts in 90% of the sets I’ve bought lately).
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Re: Rough Edges and Parts that Don’t Line Up

Postby bluemoose » Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:52 pm

buhs wrote:I’ve noticed lately that LEGO bricks don’t seem to be finished as well as they used to be.


As the moulds wear, there is more & more variability in the finished pieces; maybe LEGO are running the moulds a little longer before replacing/refurbishing them ? I was told, by one of the park model makers (not our resident one here), that traditionally they tend to get the last run of bricks from ageing moulds, as they are less worried about small variations (what with all the glueing).

I've noticed it a bit, and it is a worrying trend. I've also been seeing more mangled/mechanically damaged bricks in sets recently. IMHO Lego trades heavily on it's 'quality' reputation; if they lose that ... well, I'd rather not think about it.
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Re: Rough Edges and Parts that Don’t Line Up

Postby MrCRskater » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:17 pm

I've noticed this with increasing frequency in each of the sets I've bought in the past year. I figured it had to do with their new manufacturing techniques (especially color-matching issues) and hoped that LEGO would get it together sooner than later, but it appears to be continuing without sign of improvement. With their profits continuing to grow, there probably isn't any incentive for them to get back on track. . .
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Re: Rough Edges and Parts that Don’t Line Up

Postby legodavee123 » Tue Sep 15, 2009 2:25 pm

This has been noted starting (I think?) in the early 2000's-- I recall some people doing comparisons of "fresh-from-the-box" elements, stacking up 10 plates of older LEGO and newer LEGO. The stacks from older moldings lined up very well, the stacks from newer elements didn't line up as well. I think I noticed this personally for the first time in 2006 or 2007, by doing the 'finger test' described above-- build a flat wall, and run your finger along it, noticing the brick seams.

Certainly more recently, LEGO has consciously made cutbacks to quality in order to survive financially. Prior to Jørgen Vig's promotion to CEO, there was a huge focus on quality, and a very small focus on monetary result. As Jørgen reported, people used quality "as a crutch". "You can't do X because of quality" was a phrase he constantly heard when trying to restructure the supply chain, and it was a mindset he supposedly had to get people out of, because the relatively small improvements in quality that were being provided were costing a LOT of money when all tallied up. Hence, these small bits of above-and-beyond quality that we saw from LEGO in years past have been increasingly eliminated.

To give one example as it was relayed to me-- when LEGO was looking to make their micromotor, they scoured motor manufacturers for the best small-scale motor they could find. Not just "best in the toy industry", either-- it could literally compete with professional robotics motors and other industrial use motors. As a result, the motors cost an exorbitantly high amount to create.... But they were really awesome!

LEGO did things like that all the time, supposedly; in line with the old motto "only the best is good enough". But now, that's out the window. Now it's about maintaining profitability without sacrificing too much quality.

DaveE
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Re: Rough Edges and Parts that Don’t Line Up

Postby Mr.legoman123 » Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:00 pm

the only thing thats ever bugged me about recent parts is how hard it all of is to attach and remove a minirog head to and from a torso
NO ONE CARES ABOUT HOW YOUR DAD SHAVES HIS LEGS!!!!
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Re: Rough Edges and Parts that Don’t Line Up

Postby meeotch » Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:59 pm

^^^Not sure what exactly that sentence was, but it reminded me that my biggest irk is that half of my control-joystick thingies fall off the stud they're on and the other half stick on so tightly that I end up bending the actual control arm to get them removed.

eta: I think I figured it out. ;)
"Always carefully check the source of your internet quotes" - Abraham Lincoln
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Re: Rough Edges and Parts that Don’t Line Up

Postby Draykov » Wed Sep 16, 2009 8:30 am

legodavee123 wrote:LEGO did things like that all the time, supposedly; in line with the old motto "only the best is good enough". But now, that's out the window. Now it's about maintaining profitability without sacrificing too much quality.


I don't like hearing that. I understand the need to survive, but given the vast amount (and variety) of product LEGO is producing and their record profits in a time of economic downturn, my layman's perspective tells me they haven't quite struck the right balance between staying profitable and maintaining "enough" quality.
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