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Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

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Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby buhs » Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:46 am

Sorry if this has been asked before - please point me to a link if it has: Why is there a black square on the front of the minifig neck? I can't deduce any logical reason for this marking, unless it has something to do with the manufacturing process (perhaps a marker so a printing machine knows which side is the front for printing torsos? Anyone know the answer to this riddle?
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby Jargon » Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:16 am

You are correct. It is indeed a part of the printing process and enables machines to distinguish between the front and the back of the torso.
    - Aaron
Image
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby Kevin Koala » Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:44 pm

What if there's back-printing. :O
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby MrCRskater » Fri Oct 16, 2009 5:38 pm

What if the machine prints the back print on the front of the torso? :O

Even with printing on both sides, the printing machine needs to know which side is the front side so it gets the correct print on each side.
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby The Guy » Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:19 pm

You could just flip the arms around if the machine printed on the wrong side. The only difference is the square in the back instead.
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby Solo » Sun Oct 18, 2009 10:17 pm

MrCRskater wrote:What if the machine prints the back print on the front of the torso? :O

Even with printing on both sides, the printing machine needs to know which side is the front side so it gets the correct print on each side.
The black mark doesn't indicate "print on this side" - it indicates "this side is the front" - it's there so the sensors know which way to orient it when placing it into the machine that attaches the arms. As far as I recall, it marks the neck at the same time it adds the front printing.

Kevin Koala wrote:What if there's back-printing. :O
In that case, the machine simply flips it over and prints the other side. *gasp!* :shock:
                                                                                                                           Image
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby banthafodder » Sun Oct 18, 2009 10:55 pm

How come we don't see the black mark on the magnets? Or is it just a crap shoot that the arms will appear in the right direction?
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby MrCRskater » Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:52 am

It's my understanding that the magnets are not manufactured at a LEGO facility under LEGO's strict guidelines (hence the reduction in the quality of the figs). Since those products have been farmed out to a 3rd party manufacturer, they probably follow a different process.
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby Gingerbeard Man » Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:02 pm

My collection seems to support the "printed" theory. Of my regular minifigs only those with printed torsos have a mark. Blank torsos, such as the women in Café Corner or Market Street do not have the mark.
Also the old 1979 stickered torsos do not have the mark whereas the 1980-something printed torsos do. Almost all newer torsos have some printing on them and also the neck mark.

Magnets are a mixed bunch. Very odd! I have two sets of the Boba Fett/Leia/Royal Guard magnets, purchased within a month of each other. Both Leias do have a mark on the neck. One Boba Fett does, the other does not. Neither Royal Guard has a mark. :S

Excuse the odd selection in the pic below. It's based on a random neck check. ;)
Image
Left to right:
1970's fireman with stickered torso - no neck marking
1980's fireman with printed torso - white marking on black neck
1970's spaceman with stickered torso - no neck marking
1980's spaceman with printed torso - black neck marking
2008 LEGO Factory "Star Justice" Astronaut with stickered torso - no neck marking
1970's or 80's generic blank torso - no neck marking
2008 Green Grocer girl with blank torso - no neck marking

The Café Corner girl also has a blank torso with no neck marking whereas the other figs in those sets do have printing on the torso and the mark on their neck. The same goes for the Winter Toy Shop - torsos with printing have the mark, those without (kids and female carol singer) do not.
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby meeotch » Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:46 pm

Gingerbeard Man wrote:Image


I never thought about it before now, but seeing your pic makes me want to make this custom minifig:

Image
Last edited by meeotch on Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby banthafodder » Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:48 pm

^ Lemarkian evolution of the kaminoans
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby Gingerbeard Man » Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:29 pm

Solo wrote:it indicates "this side is the front" - it's there so the sensors know which way to orient it when placing it into the machine that attaches the arms. As far as I recall, it marks the neck at the same time it adds the front printing.

Duh! Of course... Don is right. And the reason blank torsos do not have a mark is because they are symmetrical. There is no front or back so it makes no difference which way around the arms are attached. No need to run them through the printer just for the neck marking.

The only remaining mystery is why the "cheap" magnets can do without it. This morning I had another look at mine - the three with the neck mark (2xLeia, 1xBoba) do not have any rectangular indentation on their arm. They appear to be 100% regular LEGO minifigs. The other three (1xBoba, 2xRoyal Guard) have no neck mark and they do have the rectangle on the inside of their arms. At some point LEGO was obviously mixing regular and "cheap" minifigs in the magnet sets.
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby Skafte » Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:42 pm

The magnets sets are made in China, right? The lower wages there may justify a simpler printing machine where torsos are placed the right way up manually.
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby Solo » Tue Oct 20, 2009 1:02 am

Gingerbeard Man wrote:Of course... Don is right.
                                                                                                                           Image
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Re: Black marking on Minifig Neck: What's that about?

Postby Kevin Koala » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:25 pm

Sometimes... :lol: ;)
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