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New Plastic

A Member of LEGO Company's staff drops in here from time to time to answer questions from LEGO fans like you.

New Plastic

Postby Bruno » Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:15 pm

Is LEGO using new plastic? I compared helmets from an original Clone trooper and from a new one. Plastic appears to have different color, sheen and texture.
In my opinion, the older one looks to be higher quality.
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Re: New Plastic

Postby Solo » Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:19 pm

Yes.
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Re: New Plastic

Postby Joedward » Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:38 pm

Don is a man of ultimate wisdom
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Re: New Plastic

Postby Andi » Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:48 pm

Ha, so it wasn't my imagination. Thanks
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Re: New Plastic

Postby Iare Tosevite » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:47 pm

So what plastic is they using now? I know old one is ABS? Or is it just modified?
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Re: New Plastic

Postby ThinkingImpaired » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:55 pm

It's been a light shinier the past few years and just feels a lot cheaper. That's all I know.
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Re: New Plastic

Postby UOldPirate » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:43 am

If I remember correctly, Lego was going for shinier when they changed their plastics a few (4?) years ago. I'm pretty sure it was on Lugnet, but during the "Great grey to bley controversy", a lego rep posted some responses on a forum addressing the color issues. They changed their plastic formula to make the pieces shinier, brighter and less likely to fade or discolor due to light exposure or age. My 7166 - Imperial Shuttle from 2001 wishes they made this change sooner! :) It's like a school bus with wings.
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Re: New Plastic

Postby ellerb » Tue Mar 10, 2009 11:15 am

The difference is in how the plastic is colored. In the past, batches of each color were ordered in set colored pellets and molded into bricks. Now milky-white semi-transparent pellets (the basic color of abs) have color added to them during the molding process. It is much like having a paint color mixed for you at a hardware store. Several problems with bricks have occurred in the past few years. Bricks without enough base color are partially translucent. Heat and the size of the element effects the final color. This is why a dark blue 1x1 plate is much darker than a 1x8 dark blue brick. Certain colors such as white, light bley, dark bley, etc are often not consistent.

Why did LEGO make the change? My opinion is that it allows them to always have the colors they need, speeds up the production process, and reduces operating costs. Production of a set is not held up if they are low on color x pellets. Unfortunately, I do believe the old process usually had more consistent colors. Even in the past, colors did not always match (especially red) and hues changed slightly from year to year. Color changes where not as noticeable as they are today.

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Re: New Plastic

Postby UOldPirate » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:31 pm

Ooops, I goofed. In my previous post I thought I remembered the 2004 color change being tied a change in plastics, but after 5 years my memory is clearly foggy. I found the original post on Lugnet and and there was no plastic change in 2004, just new colors. In fact, Jake McKee (Lego rep.) said that the ABS plastic and molds were the exact same, so if they made any change in plastic it was after the 2004 color update. Sorry about the mix up.
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Re: New Plastic

Postby lordvader208 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:25 pm

Less likely to fade huh?

YES my ARC-170, Y-wing, and V-19 are saved...but my old RGS is not. Well I haven't had any yellowing in my Star Wars sets yet. My RGS hasn't turned into the school bus yet. But the pieces that I bought a long time ago that were in those buckets did turn from white to yellow. This is not the case with my Star Wars sets.
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Re: New Plastic

Postby speaknspell » Mon Mar 16, 2009 4:21 pm

go up and read Ben's post if you haven't already, then I'll just add a few thoughts. You have to remember also that ABS isn't the only plastic that gets used in LEGO elements. there's over 20 different kinds of plastic that constitute all of the different parts of the pallet. if I wasn't so tired I might remember some of them. I'll think about it and get back to you.

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Re: New Plastic

Postby natelite » Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:18 pm

i think there's definitely a new plastic. i recently bought loads of magnet sets and the red royal guard is the most obvious. the helmet is still in old red plastic and looks great. the minifig however is in an alien red color. not quite red, not quite dark red.
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Re: New Plastic

Postby Bruno » Wed Apr 22, 2009 12:20 pm

Solo wrote:Yes.


What is the new plastic?
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Re: New Plastic

Postby speaknspell » Tue May 12, 2009 12:31 pm

Its still ABS its just a slightly different formula. every supplier does it slightly differnet and we have multiple suppliers of it...we use a lot of ABS. Anyways, its still ABS, but you'll have one batch in one supply and one from another and this can cause some of the variations you see.

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Re: New Plastic

Postby pincplastic » Sun Aug 02, 2009 3:09 am

i guess lego is using a new plastic, but the plastic appears to have a different colors and textures..

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Re: New Plastic

Postby Raequan » Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:21 pm

At least now I know why my scout trooper became a bus trooper. Anyway, I've definately noticed a change in the minifig plastic. My Qui-Gon Jinn and Boba Fett look fine, but large cracks have appeared on the sides of Ahsoka, my clone gunner, Commander Fox, CW Mace Windu, and the majority of my clone troops. All of them are for display purposes and have never been handled roughly or taken apart, but they all have cracks from the edge of the torso to the arm socket.
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Re: New Plastic

Postby yankeeken » Sat Aug 08, 2009 10:54 pm

Really? I haven't had any cracks on my new Clone Wars minifigs. In fact I have far more trouble with my older minifigs. For example both my Jango Fett and my Anakin (the one from the original Naboo Starfighter) torsos have giant cracks, like the ones you described.
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Re: New Plastic

Postby Draykov » Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:39 am

Mostly those kinds of cracks come from separating the arms when they are in a position to cause stress on the side of the minifig torso. There is a proper way to do it to avoid those cracks. If you've not been removing the arms or bending the arms in the "raise your hands in the air like you just don't care" position, I'm not sure what could be causing it. I've not noticed anything like that other than on old (and I mean 80s/90s old) figs purchased off of Bricklink.
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Re: New Plastic

Postby yankeeken » Sun Aug 09, 2009 12:38 pm

I usually don't remove/change the arms on my minifig torsos, unless it is a torso I don't care about, out of fear of causing such cracks. Anyway, the crack on my Jango probably has something to do with the abuse he has dealt with when I first got him. As I was guilty of trying to make him fly (throwing him across a room and then trying to take a picture of him "flying").
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Re: New Plastic

Postby Chief » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:58 pm

Thanks to the quantity of Lego I see and handle at work, the variation of color and quality has never been clearer to me. Tan is one of the biggest culprits I've seen: a model that uses a wide variety of types of parts (plates, slopes, bricks, et al) has shades across the board. It's super frustrating.
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